When our daughter started Kindergarten, her P.E. teacher was expecting a baby. She went into preterm labor at about five months and lost the baby. I thought to myself, “That would be the hardest thing to go through”.
That next summer, my sister had her first child. While in the waiting room, many were crying. A full term baby had died and the family grieved that precious loss. I thought to myself, “That would be the hardest thing to go through.”
Years later, in the spring of 2001, a friend told me of a family with four children who lived in West Texas. One of their children was swimming in a neighborhood pool and accidentally drowned. My friend and I talked about children and death and how that would be “the hardest thing” as a parent. At that time, we had three living children ages seven, five, and three, and were expecting the fourth child – due December 12, 2001.
My obstetrician had retired from delivering babies, so I had to change to a new one. The new doctor was nice, but not as personal. He had a more military-style demeanor that I wasn’t really used to, but he seemed very thorough. At one appointment, the nurse took some blood and later mentioned that it was some kind of test for abnormalities. I had never done any of those kinds of tests before. I never wanted to because I knew I wouldn’t do anything if something happened to be wrong with one of our babies. Healthy or unhealthy, disabled or not – it wouldn’t matter to us. But, the test was done, and I didn’t realize what was being done until afterwards. I thought, “Oh, well. It won’t matter. It’s just a test.”
A few weeks later I had a message from the doctor. They needed me to call for an appointment. I did and was told that the alpha fetal protein level was higher than normal. More testing was recommended. I was transferred to a doctor who specialized in problem pregnancies and was scheduled to see her the next day.
The morning of that appointment, I sat down to pray and read the Bible. I randomly opened it to a passage in the Old Testament. The first thing I saw was the name, Caleb. We weren’t sure if we were having a boy or a girl, but we knew if it was a boy, the middle name would for sure be Trent, but we had been thinking of Caleb for the first name.
My husband and I went to the appointment and the new doctor did some tests. Because of the longer ultrasound needed to check for problems, we went ahead found out then that we were having a little boy. We were excited! Our family would be one girl, then three boys. Everything seemed fine to the doctor, but she told us that with the AFP level being abnormal, the chances of the baby being born with some sort of defect was almost certain. We were concerned, of course, but knew everything would be okay, even if our baby had a disability. We were prayerful that everything would be okay. The next appointment was scheduled for August 2.
On the Sunday evening of July 28, our church young adult group had a special prayer was for us, for our baby, and for his health. That was such a special time being with Christian friends and knowing they were praying about our precious little one and for God to strengthen us for what we were about to face.
The week of that appointment the kids and I went to visit relatives. I noticed that week that I hadn’t felt the baby move as much.
The morning of August 2nd, the kids and I loaded up to leave for the doctor’s appointment. The kids were hungry, so we stopped at Sonic for lunch. Since I had been craving BLT’s for a while, I ordered one, but noticed something strange – I wasn’t craving them any more.
We drove about an hour to the doctor’s appoint. My husband met me there. My mom also came and took the kids shopping. The nurse began to do the normal things before the doctor came in. As she tried to check the babies heartbeat, she couldn’t detect it. She tried again. Still nothing. She left. They moved me to another room to do an ultrasound. The doctor checked for a heartbeat and movement. Nothing. She told me she there was no heartbeat. I replied, “I’m not surprised.”
Just to be certain, Dr. “L” ordered an amniocentesis. It proved what she thought and what we also believed. Our little baby had died. At 20 1/2 weeks, our precious little boy was gone. And then I realized something that had been a fear of mine…something that I never thought I could ever do: I was going to have to delivery a baby that wasn’t alive.
Dr. “L” wanted me to take a day or two and go home. She said I could come back when I was ready and be admitted to the hospital for the delivery. I didn’t want to wait. I wanted to go to the hospital right then. As strange as it seems, it was like I had been preparing for that day – or rather GOD had been preparing me for that day – for a long time.
Mom brought the kids to the hospital. We talked to them and told them what was going on. Our preacher and his wife came to the hospital and stayed with us the entire time. They helped us so much and it was comforting to have someone there with us during the hours we were waiting for the delivery to begin. We all cried together and at times we were even able to laugh together.
When little Caleb Trent was delivered, it was very, very different from all of the other births, of course. He was stillborn on August 3, 2002. He was so tiny – only 10 ounces. He was tiny, but very perfect. In fact, he looked like our youngest son.
The only thing that the doctor noticed was that the umbilical cord was small. In fact, at the end by his tummy, it was only about the diameter of a toothpick. It appeared that an amniotic band wrapped around the umbilical cord, restricting the food supply and eventually cutting it off completely.
After delivery, our friends prayed with us over our son.
The hospital staff made this extremely difficult time very special for us in many ways. They gave us lots of time to hold Caleb. They filled a little sea shell with Plaster Paris, making a casts of his hands and feet. A special little gown was given for him to wear. The nurses took pictures for us.
The next few hours were extremely difficult. When the man from the funeral home came, it was hard to let him go. I was supposed to carry my baby out of the hospital, not someone else.
The nurses couldn’t understand how we were so strong while waiting for the delivery. All I could tell them was that God must have known that I was stronger than I believed I was.
After delivery, they moved us to a regular room. They didn’t want us to hear the bells ring when a baby was born. They didn’t want us to hear babies crying. But we wanted to hear those sounds, and told them so. We wanted to know that babies were being born alive and healthy. It gave us hope.
The next difficult thing was going to the funeral home. I remember saying, “I can’t believe I am sitting here doing what I’m doing.”
I busied myself with planning the service. It helped me to plan it – that’s just my personality. I felt like I was doing something for my child as his mother. It was something I needed to do for me.
Caleb Trent’s memorial service was held on Monday, August 6. We had a grave-side service followed by a family meal, which provided by our church family. Our children were given helium-filled balloons, which were released at the end of the service.
During that time, God proved to me (even more) that His promises are true. He showed me that I could get through something that I feared before, something that I thought I would never be able to go through. But, I was only able to go through what I did because of the strength He gave me.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
God showed me that I could get through something that I feared before, something that I thought I would never be able to go through.
In March of 2002, we found out we were expecting again. The baby was due in December, just as Caleb had been. It was a perfect pregnancy without complications. Tyler James was born on December 5th, 2002, healthy and perfect.
We all look forward to seeing Caleb Trent again some day in Heaven, but for now we know he is healthy and happy and whole. God’s plan for Caleb was different than my plan. But, God is in control and I’m not. And, unlike before, I don’t ever think about what I “could never handle” or what would be the “hardest thing to go through”. God is able to give me the strength that I could never have on my own and for that, I’m extremely grateful.
God is able to give me the strength that I could never have on my own and for that, I’m extremely grateful.
by Lori Waugh