I was pregnant with our fifth when we moved in with my parents. We had moved out of our southern Indiana house, and had not found another farm at that time. We were planning on moving back to that area, but God had another plan.
To make a long story short, my husband, Tony, lost his job and we no longer had ties to that area. The field was wide open! Tony started diving in to find another job, but for awhile there were no prospects. I thank God that we moved in with my parents, for we would have lost our house. He was taking care of us! Yet, it was a stressful time, not knowing where He wanted us and not getting any confirmation or guidance. He was silent.
I was 37 weeks pregnant, and was heading to my OB appointment with my mom, my daughter, Kaila, and my son, Zeke. Kaila had an orthodontist appointment, so my mom took her there while Zeke and I went to my appointment. At that time, I suddenly felt sick with worry. I didn't remember feeling my baby, Gabriel, move.
I believe at that point, the Lord was preparing me for what was to come. But, when we arrived, my midwife found his heartbeat and everything seemed normal. I told her I was worried, so she proceeded to do a stress test. As she had me turn on my side, I felt him move and kick. Yet, when she tried to find his heartbeat again, there was none. An ultrasound confirmed that he had died right there in the office.
It took awhile for it to sink in. I was shocked and filled with so much emotional pain that it was almost unbearable. My poor son, Zeke, was in there with me and bless his heart, wasn't sure what to think.
The whole process of going through labor with a stillborn is quite emotional. I am so thankful that my family was there and the nurses were wonderful! I can't describe exactly how I felt and how I did it, but God was my Comforter. He gave me peace even though I was hurting. He was merciful and held my hand through it all.
I am thankful that I got to hold my Gabriel. He was a perfect little boy with dark hair, so beautiful! He weighed six pounds and two ounces. He looked as if he were sleeping. We found out that the cord was the cause of his death. Oh, how I longed to hold him forever! To kiss his cheek and feel warmth instead of a cold softness, to hear him cry, to nurse him and comfort him. I ached so much at times I didn't think I could bear it, but God took that pain upon himself just enough to keep me going.
They say that at times like these, it can make or break a marriage. Praise God that our marriage became stronger. Tony was wonderful to me and helped in so many ways, even though he was grieving as well. I clung to him through it all, sometimes desperately, yet he understood and held me and comforted me.
One night shortly after we went home, Tony and I were sitting on the deck, looking at the sky. There were no clouds, just a deep, dark blue. I needed reassurance from God. I knew Gabriel was in Good Hands, but I just wanted to know for sure. I prayed to Jesus, asking Him to just let me know that He is taking care of him. As I sat there in silence, I saw one huge cloud in the sky, shaped as two enormous hands cupped together. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, so I counted the fingers, ten! He had given His reassurance to me in a way that was unforgettable!
Grieving is different for everyone, and I threw away all of the grieving process books that they gave me. Being able to smile and go on with life after a year and a half was a normal grieving process according to those books, and to me, that was not encouraging! I let my Comforter take care of my grieving! He is my Counselor. He knows what is best for me.
Tony did get a job, but on the opposite end of Indiana! As we were moving to our new farm, I was pregnant with our sixth and he was due on the exact same day as Gabriel was! Some think that would be hard to deal with or that our new one would replace Gabriel. They just don't understand for they have never been through it. I saw it as a blessing! His precious gift to us! So, Titus was born and he did look a lot like Gabriel, but nothing could take away the bond we had in that short period of time. No one could replace him.
I learned so much during that year of trials and triumphs. The year before it all happened, my children and I were memorizing the first chapter of James. It was all in His timing because I had to put those verses into practice in ways I would never have imagined.
We learned to;
"Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2)
I clung to this verse and;
"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12)
It was hard to find joy at first, but finding blessings in everything is what I have learned to do a great deal of these past few years. For that was not the end of our losses.
I wanted more children. After losing Gabriel, my views had changed on having children. The sky is the limit! Tony wanted more as well. So, in 2011, we were expecting our seventh. At that time, our market garden was growing and was double the size it was the previous year. It was hard work, and I mean hard!
We had finally found a wonderful church that we had been going to for a couple of years and had some wonderful Christian friends. Despite the extremely busy time with the garden, things were going well for us.
I was back at the farmer's market, and 20 weeks pregnant with Levi. We had a few long days in the garden prior to going to the market and I was pretty exhausted. While at the market, I once again realized that I had not felt him move. I blew it off, thinking I had been too busy in the garden to feel any movement. But, there was no movement.
I became sick with worry, yet clung to some slight movements, hoping it was Levi. Tony and I went to the midwife to make sure that I really was feeling him move. But, once again, there was no heartbeat. I really did not think I could handle another loss. There were times when I just wanted to give up.
When we pulled into the graveyard for the funeral, again, I almost panicked. I didn't want to get out of the car. I did not want to face another little box with my baby in it. But, I did.
The Lord pulled me through when I did not think I could do it, again. He gave me strength, courage and peace through it all. Oh, how I love Him and thank Him for His blessings. I cannot question Him, I cannot get angry with Him, I cannot go back and think about all of the 'what ifs'.
But I can worship Him, I can praise Him, I can love him with all of my heart in any situation, I can be thankful in everything,
"For I know the plans for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:12)
To be honest with you, it's not easy writing this. It would be easy to keep it to myself. Yet, I know we are to share our struggles and triumphs with one another. And if I can encourage one person who has gone through a time of trials by reading my story, then that makes it all worth it. Please feel free to email me with any questions, comments or just wanting me to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Persevere, dear one. Persevere.