Dear Jellybean: In Honor of My Children in Heaven on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

1 in 4 is not statisticDear Jellybean,

It’s been five months since we lost you. We are not even at your due date yet, and I suspect the grief I feel is going to intensify as we approach the first week of January, when you were due. Usually when people grieve, the grief diminishes over time, but when a person loses an unborn child, I think that the grief has to get worse as the due date approaches, and then perhaps it can become less intense. I really won’t know how that goes for me for awhile.

Even though it’s been five months, losing you is still fresh. In July, you were joined by your younger sibling, and that was heartbreaking for us as well. You got to welcome that child into heaven, and someday you will welcome your daddy and me too. In the meantime, I believe Abba has called me to share our story here, to help others who are grieving the loss of their babies. God has promised to work everything for good, and this is one of the ways He’s doing that. If our sadness can be used to help others grow closer to God, then I will be grateful that it hasn’t been for nothing.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, the first one I’ve “celebrated.” I never even knew such a day existed before. But I’m glad that President Reagan and others thought that it was important to celebrate the lives of those who never got a chance to be born, or who died soon after birth. It really is important to do that, because their lives matter, and your life matters, my sweet child, and your younger sibling’s life matters. I say that in the present tense–not the past tense–because you’re really more alive than I am or that any of us on earth are, because you are in the world God created us for. We think we see clearly here on earth, but we really live in the Shadowlands, as the Apostle Paul and C.S. Lewis referred to this world.

I’ll be honest and tell you that, for a few months, I really tried my best to forget. I would never want to forget my own child, but really, it was just too painful to remember. So I got really busy with other things. I didn’t do it on purpose, but deep down, I knew what I was doing. I think a lot of people do that. And, really, I don’t have any memories of you, aside from the effect you had on my body and one ultrasound image that only exists in my mind, since we never got any printouts. I remember finding out I was pregnant. I remember telling Daddy. I remember him praying for you, talking to you, and kissing my tummy each day. We had only a few short weeks when we actually knew you existed, before the devastating news came that you would never be born in this world.

It’s going to be okay though. We know that we will get to be with you for eternity. We don’t ever have to question whether you will spend your eternity with Jesus. Though living without you seems like a tragedy, it’s really a tragedy for Christian parents to spend eternity without their children, because they chose to live a life contrary to their parents’ faith. We don’t have to worry about that with you, though, and for that we can be thankful.

One of these days, we will be there with you. Until then, know that we love you.

Love,

Mommy

A man changed my entire perspective on children overnight

By Heather Walton

My students are a blessing and a testimony to God's work in my life.

My students are a blessing and a testimony to God’s work in my life.

I didn’t even used to like kids. I didn’t want to have any of my own. I wanted to be a career woman with a big house (not sure why I wanted a big house, since I wasn’t going to have any children), a Mercedes convertible, and a Ph.D. I wanted status, comfort, respect, and power. But not kids.

I also was staunchly liberal, and as such, I was pro-choice.

Then something unexpected happened. I met a man and fell in love with him. He convinced me to forego my dreams of a charmed and “powerful” life. He even changed my opinion on abortion. Yes, I was smitten. Before I knew it, this man had turned me into a completely different person. I now wanted with all my heart to be a mommy and even to stay at home to raise my children–I decided that I really wanted seven. This man hadn’t just changed my mind–I really no longer even recognized myself because of his influence.

You might know this man, too. If you do, odds are that he has had this kind of effect on you as well. That man’s name is Jesus and He changed my perspective on everything.

My brother and sister with me at my wedding.

My brother and sister with me at my wedding.

I had grown up as an only child until I was 16. Then my mom remarried and had twins! I even took care of them for awhile, but it wasn’t till I met Jesus that I actually liked kids. The Lord literally changed my view on children overnight when I was 21 years old.

Though I had once believed in the “woman’s right to choose,” I ended up working in a pro-life crisis pregnancy center for a couple years, and even did sidewalk counseling outside of an abortion clinic for awhile.

cate grad 4

Me with my four living (on earth) biological children at my oldest daughter’s graduation from high school.

Though I had once not desired to have my own children, I ended up having four biological children, staying home with them for ten years, and homeschooling the oldest two for six years.

Though I had once not cared for children, I ended up becoming a

teacher, and I even started my own school, which I still run today.

So this woman who had no cares or desires for children, born or unborn, now has four living (on earth) biological children, three step-children, and two children living in heaven, whom I will meet for the first time when I join them there. (Interestingly, that’s a current total of seven children on earth, which is how many I had desired so many years ago.)

I’m so thankful for the man who changed my perspective on children, and I’m blessed that He called me to dedicate my life to ministering to them.

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'” (Matthew 19:14)

Our wedding party, which included our children and our niece.

Our wedding party, which included our children and our niece.

Running From Grief

By Heather Walton 

baby-feet1

I have been running as fast as I can from the grief process for about three months. For the first month after I lost our first baby, our precious little “Jellybean,” I sobbed daily and felt the intense sense of loss as I went through the motions of each day. But then I unconsciously decided it was time to move on. It wasn’t. It will never be time to “move on” or to “get over it,” because it is not possible to forget one’s child, even if the child was never born.

I immersed myself in my work, in solving other people’s problems, and finally, in a doctoral program, in order to run so fast, to be so busy, that I didn’t have time to think about our loss. It worked, too, until a couple weeks ago. I had a few very stressful incidents take place within a two week period, and the difficulty of those events brought back the trauma of losing our babies.

To add to the difficulty, a friend of ours is due at the same time I was, and I am witnessing all of the milestones I should be experiencing myself. And I am anticipating how difficult it will be when she delivers her child, and I will witness that child doing all the things mine should be doing, and at the exact time mine should be doing them. Don’t get me wrong–I’m happy for my friend. But I have to wonder why God chose for us to get pregnant at the same time, if He wasn’t going to allow us to ever hold our baby.

Many call it pregnancy loss,  but it’s really the loss of a child. Most Christians consider themselves to be pro-life. I personally used to work in a crisis pregnancy center,  pleading with women not to end the lives of their unborn children, using whatever means I could to prove to them that they were carrying children,  not mere embryos or fetuses,  but babies. Helpless babies. Human babies. If that’s true (and it must certainly is true), then why don’t we give much consideration to families that have lost unborn children? Why don’t we validate their grief and honor their losses?  Not simply the loss of a pregnancy.  The loss of a child.  The loss of a dream.  The loss of many of their hopes.

Back to my sprint from grief. A sprint, not a marathon,  because I couldn’t keep it up long enough for it to qualify as a marathon. A sprint because I was running as fast as I could.  In doing so,  I also was running from God. Not a good choice.

So now grief has caught up with me.  I must allow it to be my companion for a season,  or else I will spend my life running.

If you have lost a child before or at birth,  or if you know someone who has,  please be aware that Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is October 15 and October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The church especially should promote this cause, since God calls us to honor the unborn.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139: 13-16)

 

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