“Jesus called them to him, saying,
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”
(Luke 18:16, ESV)
With low amniotic fluid, none of the ultrasounds would reveal whether the baby was a boy or a girl. We couldn’t give our child a name.
Still, I pressed my fingers against the little feet poking my stomach as they stretched out in my womb.
I hoped my little one could feel my touch and know me in some way.
On December 5, 2003, stabbing pain sliced through my stomach every few minutes. Thinking I was in labor, Billy drove me to the hospital.
The maternity ward was full that afternoon. We had to sit for a long time in the waiting room. A young woman with a swollen belly like mine took a chair next to Billy and me. She looked like she was about seventeen and was giving birth alone.
As we talked, I found myself starting to feel jealous of this young girl who was probably going to have a healthy baby. Why couldn’t I have a healthy child, too?
The girl left to have her baby, and I was left to struggle with trusting God. The “why” of suffering threatened to overwhelm me and steal my peace. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, focusing on the truth. God is letting me go through this valley of grief, but He is not going to leave me. He hasn’t turned His back on me. Will I turn my back on Him?
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4, NASB)
My peace returned when I thought of Christ’s unfailing love for me displayed in His suffering on the cross. Despite my sinfulness and brokenness, He still loved me. I could still trust in the One who died for me. Billy and I prayed for the girl that she would come to know Christ and know that she was never alone.
There were no rooms available, so we were ushered to a bed separated by curtains from other patients. The labor was long, and it was hard telling each nurse attending us that our baby was going to die. One nurse, who was sympathetic to our situation, found us a spare room.
It was about three o’clock in the afternoon and the time had come for the baby to be born. A resident doctor originally from India took up the assignment to deliver our child. She was young, but I felt confident I was in good hands. As I gave the final push, the nursing staff stood by, quietly awaiting to attend to our baby.
As soon as I gave birth, the doctor gently unwound the umbilical cord that was wrapped around the baby’s neck. She delicately passed our child over to the attending nurses.
Everyone was silent.
Billy watched as the nurses checked over the baby and wiped it off. They swaddled the baby in a blanket. Billy cradled the little bundle in his arms and looked at our child so sweetly.
“It’s a boy,” he said with tears glistening in his eyes.
This stunned me. I thought our baby would be a girl, maybe because we already had a daughter.
I reached out and placed my hand on his little head.
Luke Joseph Griese is name, and he is our son.
Billy gently handed Luke over to me. He wasn’t much heavier than the blankets he was wrapped in. His eyes were shut tight.
My heart overflowed with love. I didn’t realize how much I already loved Luke, until I saw him face-to-face.
I wanted so much to hold his little hands. I unwrapped his right hand and held it. These were the five miniature fingers that I longed to touch as he pushed against my womb. Now, here he was, nestled up to my chest, so small, so precious.
A few close friends and family members came to visit. My small group leaders Mark and Cecilia Groff, my uncle Donald, and Billy’s family.
Everyone gathered around us to admire the beautiful creation laid in my arms. We were surrounded by love.
I wanted everyone to hold Luke and get a chance to experience him. We all felt so rich to hold in our arms this little gift.
Cecilia, suggested to me that it would be a good idea to nurse him. I was reluctant at first, afraid that he would choke. But, after some thought, I reconsidered. When I tried to nurse him, he was too weak, and by the time I finally gave up, both Luke and I were frustrated.
Mark read to us from the book of Revelation, a passage that vividly described the future city of God, the eternal home of His children. As he read, Luke stopped breathing. His lips paled. I felt him slipping away. We silently prayed for him and waited.
He moved his arms. His rosebud lips turned pink and his cheeks became rosy. He cried and put his hand to his mouth. Was he hungry?
I attempted to nurse him again. This time, successfully. We lay there together in perfect peace. Luke opened one eye to peek at me. He caught a glimpse of his mommy who loved him with all her heart.
Luke’s was breathing, but he still had Potter’s Syndrome. His lungs hadn’t fully developed, and he had no kidneys. I knew he wouldn’t have much time with us. I thanked God for each hour that I got to spend with my little boy.
“Love never ends…So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:8, 13)
For Part 1, click here.
Part 8 is found here.