“But God loves broken-hearted people. He doesn’t avoid them….God doesn’t ignore your tears or tell you that if you really had faith you wouldn’t cry. He wipes them away.” -Nancy Guthrie
One month. That’s how long it’s been since the day life left me feeling completely broken-hearted. This is Collier’s story….
About a year ago my husband and I felt the Lord leading us to expand our family once again. God has already given us two energetic little boys who have added so much joy and life to our family. After their 5th and 3rd birthdays, we realized how much we missed having a baby around the house and started praying about having another child. Just a few short months later, I happily walked out of our bathroom with a positive pregnancy test! Three tests to be exact (nothing wrong with being extra sure). All the emotions that I felt with my previous pregnancies immediately set in- excitement, being overwhelmed, a little fear, and a lot of gratitude. Life was good.
We kept our secret for a while, wanting the assurance of the first ultrasound before we shared our news. And we got it…a good strong heartbeat and a healthy baby! In April, we spilled the beans and in May we found out the gender…another boy! Now, I won’t lie to you. Part of me was hoping for a little girl. Not because I don’t love my boys, but because I thought we desperately needed another female in our house! Someone who shared my love of all things pink, polka dot, and girly. Someone who I could one day have a relationship with like I do with my own mom. And, while I’m being honest, someone who could ring the toilet! But all of my plans and what I thought I wanted were quickly replaced with excitement over our new baby boy. I realized that God obviously wanted us to have all boys, and while the thought made me feel totally unqualified, I gladly accepted the challenge!
We had already chosen his name, Collier Grant Davis. We started planning, decorating his nursery, and dreaming of what he would be like. Would he look like his brothers? Would he have hair? Would he be a happy baby or would he have the dreaded colic? What would his personality be like? What would he grow up to be? All of the things you can’t help but think about when a new baby is on the way. All of our family was excited. Everything was going well and I felt great! The best I have felt out of all three pregnancies, with the exception of a little morning sickness at the beginning. Our anatomy ultrasound in June showed that he was right on track and he was healthy. Everything was still good.
On July 25th I was 6 months pregnant and went to the doctor for a routine check-up. It was going to be one of those appointments where they check your blood pressure, the heartbeat, basically tell you you’re still pregnant and send you home. Uneventful. That’s the mindset I had going in that day. I figured within an hour I could be out and on my way to TJ Maxx or Hobby Lobby, like I usually did after appointments. About halfway through my time with the nurse, I noticed she was having a hard time picking up the heartbeat. She gave me no reason to be worried, but sent me to ultrasound just to be sure. I still wasn’t concerned because the same thing happened with Alex (my 3 year old) once. He kept moving and they couldn’t get a clear reading. I assumed it was a similar situation.
It wasn’t. Moments later I found myself in a puddle of tears, listening to the words that no mother ever wants to hear. I’m so sorry. There is no heartbeat. One month later and I still can’t find words to describe how incredibly painful it feels to hear those words. There isn’t language strong enough. The pain that grips your heart when you hear that your baby has died without warning just hurts, almost unbearably. Almost as if your heart has physically broken in two. Questions immediately started flooding my mind. Was it my fault? Did I do something wrong? Was this reality or a nightmare? Are you sure there’s no heartbeat? Can you check again? How am I going to explain this to my kids, who have prayed for their brother every day for 6 months? Is God punishing me? Why did I not have any warning? Why…just why?
My doctor and the nurses said and did so many things that day (that week) to try and help make things better. I’ll really never be able to thank them enough. But nothing helped. I was in shock, pain, and at the same time I felt completely numb. I knew what the next few days held for us, and I didn’t want to accept it. This wasn’t the way things were supposed to be. While we should have been planning his arrival, we were now planning his delivery and burial. Not a joyful delivery where we would be bringing him home – stillbirth. Every time that word crossed my mind I felt like I would throw up, and the tears would start all over again. Sometimes they still do.
That day we did the only thing we knew to do. Pray. Even though we didn’t know how to pray or what to pray. We called and texted those closest to us asking them to pray. We went to Facebook and asked everyone to start praying for us. Thank God for other believers. In times when you don’t know how to pray for yourself, it’s comforting to have others who come alongside you and carry the burden for you in prayer. Hundreds and hundreds of people starting praying that day– people that we do not even know. I don’t usually like posting stuff like this on Facebook, but that day I was thankful that it helped spread the word so quickly. Knowing how many people were praying for us is the only thing that carried us through those next few days. And a very specific prayer was answered.
Peace. God gave us incredible, indescribable peace. Apart from Him, it does not even make sense to have peace in a situation where you feel like your heart is broken and your world has been flipped upside down. That week, all I could do was cry- weep– and beg God to please let this be a mistake or a nightmare I could wake up from. Several times I went into his nursery and sat alone crying, until it physically hurt and wore me out. Knowing that I would never wake up to him crying in the middle of the night. I would never get to feed him or rock him to sleep. Never change his diaper. Never dress him in all the clothes that were waiting for him to wear–the same ones his brothers wore. Never sing to him like I did his brothers. Never watch his first steps or hear his first words. Never read him a story. Never would I even hold him alive. But even after mourning over all those things, there was still peace that no matter what was happening, He was there. God kept the promise He made in His Word to give us “a peace that passes all understanding that will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7).” Even though at that time He felt very far away, I knew that He was actually carrying us every single, painful step.
As much as I didn’t want it to, July 28, 2017 still came–the day that Collier was born. Without a doubt, it was the hardest day of our lives. Physically speaking, it was the most difficult thing I have ever done. Again, there just are no words. There is something very painfully eerie about giving birth to your child and there is no sound. No heartbeat being monitored during labor. No cry. No life. Experiencing birth and death at the very same time. Holding my son for the first and last time here on this earth, knowing that he’s not even there. Trying to study every feature of his physical body while I held him, hoping not to forget a single thing. Saying goodbye before I ever even had the chance to say hello. Tears flow and pain fills my heart every single time I think about it.
But God….He gave us His peace that day too. Yes, it was unbelievably hard. It hurt terribly. It still hurts me terribly every day, as I’m sure it will for a while. But God was there. His presence was felt in our room that day, not just by us but by others who stopped by to pray with us. He helped us have faith, which He made evident to others as well. Even our doctor and nurses noticed a difference in us, which can only be explained by God working through us at our lowest low. I can promise you at that time, faith was the last thing we felt we had.
In addition to His overwhelming peace, God also gave us the strength we desperately needed and a likely explanation for his death (umbilical cord). But even more than that, He kept reminding us of the joyful promise that Collier is now very much alive. As much as I wanted so badly for him to move or open his eyes that day, not for a second would I want him to exchange the life he has now for what he would have here. As his mother, I can’t do that. I know that in heaven, with Jesus Christ himself, Collier is experiencing life more fully than he ever would have here. While I may never understand why God took him the way He did, as early as He did, I am thankful that my son has never experienced anything other than being in the presence of the One who made him and “ordained all of his days, before one of them came to be.” (Ps. 139:16)
Naturally as a mother, I want the absolute best for my children. I want to nurture them and care for them. I want health, joy, purpose, safety, and love for them. I want them, as they grow, to know God and make Him known with their lives. I want them to be a living testimony for what God has done and is doing on the inside of them. God wants all of those things for them too, so much more than me. And He can accomplish that even after a person is gone. That’s my purpose for starting this blog. I want to allow God to take Collier’s story, and all of the things He’s teaching me along this journey through grief, to bring hope and healing to others. To allow Collier’s life to be a living testimony here, even though he physically isn’t. To give God a chance to bring beauty out of these ashes. That’s what His Word promises to do. “To comfort all who mourn, and provide those who grieve…a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 66:3
For now, I’m taking it one day at a time. Some days, it’s been more like an hour at the time. But I have hope….the hope that I will hold Collier again one day, and he will be very much alive!