It’s 11:34 p.m. right now. I have been up for the better part of 70 hours, and I feel like God is telling me to write this down now, while it’s raw. As I sit next to my wife, who is trying to recover after childbirth, my heart hurts with a pain that I have never, ever experienced in my life, and I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Before I go on a rant, let me stop myself and start from the beginning of it all.
Mon, 28 May, 9:00 p.m.-Midnight- I kiss Emily goodnight, as she needs to head to bed early because she has work early the next morning. At this point, I have been up for just over 24 hours, since I worked all weekend, and was trying to get my body back on a day schedule for my off days. For the next few hours I treat it like a normal night, watching netflix in the living room. Right as I am about to call it a night, I hear Emily shriek out my name. I sprint to the hallway, and see first-hand my wife’s water breaking. Immediately my heart skipped a beat, and all of the sudden, I was stricken with fear. See, Emily was only 34 weeks pregnant, this wasn’t supposed to happen for a few more weeks. After a few phone calls to immediate family to warn them, we went into survival mode. We had only started packing the “hospital” bag a few days earlier, and it was no where near close to go. On a lighter note, I was slightly excited for the drive to Portsmouth, because I envisioned in my head being able to speed and ACTUALLY give the excuse my wife is in labor if I got pulled over. Back to reality, we were both genuinely concerned about this happening so early. We had only vocalized it a few days earlier our only wish is that Harrison would wait until after the wedding of my brother Friday. A classic example of God working on His time, not ours.
We arrived at the hospital around 1:30 a.m., and checked into the labor and delivery unit. After filling out the required paperwork, we were ushered back into an exam room, where they checked Emily’s vitals, and would search for Harrison’s heartbeat. I fancy myself a pretty decent person of picking up signals people emit. I could tell after the first 30 seconds when our nurse was scanning for the heartbeat there was a problem. After a few minutes, she called in a 2nd nurse, who couldn’t find anything. That triggered a doctor to come in, who told us matter of factly she did not hear any heartbeat. She called in the head doctor, for a second opinion, and when he confirmed, it confirmed our worst fears, that Harrison would not make it to this earthly world alive.
Ever since we were given the original diagnosis back in week 24, we knew that Trisomy 18 carried the possibility of death at any stage, any time. I can tell you Emily and I prayed and prayed and prayed about this specific occurrence, death, that is. I am sure many of you prayed for us in this regard as well. It’s a often taboo subject to talk about, death. Humans are so scared of it, that they run from the subject instead of facing it head on. Many people I know will not watch the news, due to the fact much of it revolves around death. I want to remind you we all have a finite number of days, a number which only one knows.
We talked with a few of the doctors about the delivery, and a little while later, we were whisked off to a delivery room. At this time, Emily was only 1cm dilated, so we knew this could be a while. With our families all coming down from Ohio, I want to be frank with you. The devil was playing so many mind games it was unbelievable. See, the devil hasn’t had much success with us so far regarding this matter. From the get go, Emily and I have made it our personal witness to keep Christ lifted up no matter what happened to our son. Satan has tried every day to wrangle his way in, and tonight was no different. But God continually has our back, just solitifying His stance where he won’t give us something we can’t handle. Emily is a nanny, and Heather, the mom, was a complete Godsend. She took it upon herself to come visit at 4:00 a.m., hours before our families would arrive. Heather, I know you will read this, let us say this. THANK You for being there, for being that angel that was with us during an otherwise dark time. I want to encourage anyone reading that you may not know your complete surroundings. Your greatest witness may be your actions, and someone you know little about may depend on that.
After many hours, many different methods to help induce labor, epiderals, drugs, and what not, the time was nearing. Around 6:45 p.m., most everyone had either gone to the waiting room, or to get something to eat. All of the sudden Emily started really cramping, and the doc came in. She took a quick look and said it is go time. I should mention that the doc when we first checked in asked a very peculiar question, one which I was taken back by at first. She asked, “I need you to know that your baby is going to come out with abnormalities. Are you ok with seeing him like that?” At first I was angry, and then I understood a bit. Society bases the definition of normality by popular opinion. And as Christian’s we know that most of the time popular opinion does not equal our beliefs or values. Abnormalities suggests imperfections, and I telling you, OUR BABY WAS P-E-R-F-E-C-T. But I am jumping ahead.
From the start of “Go-time” to the birth was not long, exactly how long I do not know. My wife is an incredible woman, who I am beyond honored to be married to. Let me say, childbirth is an incredible thing. When I saw Harrison for the first time, I had a flood of emotions fill my head. I knew that he was not living, but I didn’t even think of that. All I could think about was how amazingly beautiful and wonderfully made he was. Our God trusted us with one of His creations. He handpicked Emily and I to be the parents of this amazing little man of God. I cannot thank God enough for this chance. At our request, they took Harrison away to clean him up, and put on the outfit we had chosen for him. I could not stop looking at my wife with an adoration I never knew I had for her. This amazing woman of God has been a rock this entire time. She has put her faith before all else, and completely and wholly trusted in the Lord. I repeatatdly prayed to God thanking him for her.
(Warning: This next section is a bit graphic, but I feel its best to be as candid as possible while staying tactful)
What seemed like forever went by, and there was a knock on our door, asking if we were ready. I speak for both of us saying we have been ready since the moment we found out we were having a baby. He was brought in by way of a beautiful little basket, with an ornate blanket surrounding him. When they peeled back that cover, I stand before you to tell you it was the second happiest day of my life. I looked past the “abnormalities”, the blood spots, and the fact he wasn’t breathing. Instead what I saw was an amazing little disciple of Christ. One, who like many before him, has touched the hearts of thousands he has never met. I finally got to meet MY son’s physical body. See, I know my real meeting with Harrison is when I meet his spirit one day in heaven. More on that later.
After we spent some mommy and daddy time with our boy, we brought the family in to meet their Nephew, Cousin, and Grandson. It was obviously an emotional time, with many tears shed. Most of them by grief, and some of them pure joy. I don’t say joy to be satirical. Joy can come in any form. Pictures were taken, and then the families left for the evening.
Emily is still recovering as I type this. Her body has been drained in many ways; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The doctor prescribed sleep for her physically. Our Lord prescribed continued prayers for a sister in Christ emotionally/spiritually. I also know that even at this second, Harrison is sitting next to Jesus, watching out for us. He is not only our little miracle, he is our little angel.
This gets me finally to the title of this post. The Lord Giveth, and The Lord Taketh. The Lord has given us a few things. He first gave us Harrison. He also has given us a platform to reach people we may otherwise not have reached. Emily and I are determined that as long as The Lord give’s us a voice, we are going to use it until he takes it away. I would encourage each of you who reads this, however you find it, to do some searching. God can and will use you, if you allow. He doesn’t use everyone in the same way, so do not be discouraged, rather, be encouraged that you are able to be used for His Will.
I’m sure some are wondering either how I am doing this or why I am doing this so soon. I truly feel like God wanted me to do this while it’s fresh. You reach people not by cliches and feel-good statements, but by candidness, openness, and a certain amount of vulnerability. I can assure you tears have been shed, and they will continue, it’s only human nature. But instead of blaming God for taking away our child, we will choose to praise God for giving us so much through this experience. Please know we will continue to blog for as long as it feels right to do. Your continued support and prayers have played a huge role in allowing us to handle this as mere flawed humans. God has placed each and every one of you reading this in our lives for a reason, so from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU. We want to end tonights post by sharing a picture of our beautiful family. We want you to be able to place a face to the name you have been fervently praying for all this time.
Please ignore the puffy cheeks and saggy eyes of the big oaf to the right :)
One final note, from father to son:
“Harrison, I want you to know that your mother and I have loved you from the moment we knew you were coming, and we will love you forever. You will never be forgotten, and we vow to be the voice for you. I say this from the bottom of my heart-Son, we cannot wait to meet you in heaven. We love you so much.”