It was the beginning of my fourteenth week of pregnancy when I went in for a routine ultrasound and prenatal appointment. I had been eagerly looking forward to this day for many weeks. Those fourteen weeks seemed to pass by painfully slow as I waited for our scheduled appointment. It seemed so strange to be this far along in our pregnancy without having yet seen this precious life forming inside of me. I’m still not even sure why I was not able to get an appointment to see our midwife for the entire first trimester, but it was a difficult wait! The previous few days had been really busy for our family, so my husband decided last minute to stay home with our boys while I drove off with our three-year-old daughter to finally see this smallest addition to our family.
On our way to the appointment, my daughter squealed, “Mommy! I am so excited to see our baby!” As those words left her little mouth, a giant pit formed in my stomach, and suddenly I felt all sorts of anxious. Something just didn’t seem right anymore. I tried to shake off that feeling, reminding myself that I was fourteen weeks along and had never experienced any symptoms of a possible problem. Surely we were in the clear! Still, I spent the entire drive fighting back nervous tears and asking God to fill my anxious heart with His perfect peace.
We arrived at the doctor’s office and were almost immediately called back for my ultrasound. As the first glimpse of our little one appeared on the monitor, my mommy heart knew that something was not right. He was not as big as I had expected for a baby who had completed its first trimester of development. And he was completely still. It hadn’t taken me very long to realize that Schmidt babies are never still.
After a few moments of searching our ultrasonographer confirmed what I already knew to be true. His heart was not beating…and mine was aching. I looked over at my daughter, who was sitting in the chair next to me. She was beaming. Completely unaware of what the ultrasonographer had said, she was watching the screen. She knew she was looking at her baby and she could not have been more proud! A pit formed in my stomach for the second time that morning as I called her over to sit on my lap and explained to her that our baby’s heart was not working, and that God had decided to take the baby to be with Him in Heaven.
Tears formed in her tender eyes as she said, “Oh, I am so sad that our baby’s heart is not working, because we will really miss our baby.” Then she paused, cupped my chin with her sweet hands and said thoughtfully, “But aren’t you glad that God has let me be with you for so many days?” What a precious glimpse of God’s grace through the eyes of that wonderfully dear girl. I didn’t think I would ever be able to stop hugging that her.
I was moved into another room to wait to meet with other nurses and doctors who would tell me what to expect in the coming days and weeks. As I sat in the silence waiting for the first nurse to arrive, and trying to find the words to tell my husband what had happened, I could hear from the room next to mine the sound that I had been longing to hear just a few minutes before. It sounds like horses galloping under water…the sound of a tiny heart beating from inside its mother’s womb. But it was not the heart of my little one. My eyes filled with tears. Oh, how I wanted him here with me!
The midwife came in, tears in her own eyes, as she explained what my options were. I could either schedule a D&C to have the pregnancy removed right away, or I could wait for my body to recognize our loss and miscarry naturally. My heart felt like it was being twisted up tight as I thought about having our sweet baby removed from my body in the same way as an unwanted baby is removed during an abortion. I just couldn’t do that. I wanted that baby! I wanted him with the entirety of my heart. I was sure I was going to get sick right there in the exam room at the thought. Choking back that nauseous feeling, I told her I would wait and allow my body to miscarry on its own.
Before my appointment was complete I asked my midwife for our ultrasound picture. Everyone was surprised by my request. I guess they figured that I would want to put this day behind me. But, even though our little one’s life on earth was so short, God gave him to us. He chose to add him to our family. And we will never be able to put him behind us, because every day we are looking ahead to the day that we will see him again in Heaven. Our best days together are yet to come.
When I finally left the doctors’ office several hours after I had anticipated being there, I wept. All the way home I wept. And when I walked in the house and sat down on the couch next to my husband, we both wept together. From the very first moment that we found out that God had begun new life inside of me, that sweet baby was deeply loved. I was due just a few days before our daughters fourth birthday, and we couldn’t have been more excited. We firmly believe that children are a blessing from the Lord, and through that little life God has blessed us beyond what we ever believed to be possible.
With grateful, joyful hearts, we celebrated the news of our pregnancy with family and friends. And with heavy hearts, just a few months later, we mourned as we shared the news of his death.
We had planned on spending the rest of the day in Chicago with family and decided to go ahead with our plans. For a while we dropped off our kids with my husband’s sister and her family while we spent the afternoon walking around downtown. My body felt raw and numb as I thought of carrying the lifeless body of our little one inside my own. I wondered if that was why I had felt off for the past few weeks…because some part of me knew that his life had been taken from this earth. My husband and I grabbed some dinner and decided to name our sweet boy, Simeon.
Simeon. His name means, “The Lord has heard.” It is a word that was used in response to a cry for help. Our hearts had been constantly crying to God for help as we journeyed through the pain of loss, and we were filled with a full assurance that God had heard us. Day after day, He continually and graciously supplied all that we needed to continue to trust in Him, His goodness, and in His plan for our lives. He indeed was our Peace.
Simeon is also the name of a man in the New Testament who spent his whole life waiting expectantly for the coming of the Messiah. When he was moved by the Spirit to be at the Temple the same day that Jesus had been brought there as a baby he saw his Savior and cried out, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your Salvation.” (Luke 2:29, 30) Likewise, we have great hope in God through salvation that one day we will be reunited with our own little Simeon in Heaven.
During the days and weeks that followed, every time I felt a slight flutter inside of me I would picture him moving around, stretching those ever growing limbs…only to remember that he was no longer growing, breathing, living. And Heaven seemed so far away. The first Sunday after finding out we had lost our baby, even though hardly anyone knew we had even been pregnant, I felt like everyone could see right through me, knowing that I was no longer carrying life, but death. I felt dirty, broken, and exposed. The visible signs of pregnancy were constant reminders of the loss that we suffering through. Every day I would pray, “Father God, I know that you are more than capable of restoring life to this stilled little heart, but if that is not your plan for us, please teach me how to honor you through this loss, because I can’t do this without You!”
A few weeks later, my husband and I went to a follow up appointment to determine if my body was starting to respond to the loss. We had another ultrasound to verify that our baby had stopped developing. And while it was so hard to hear the confirmed diagnosis, my husband affirmed the truth that was so evident on our daughter’s face just a few weeks earlier. We were so proud of our baby! As we saw him one last time, we were honored to have been chosen as his parents.
I had been told at my initial appointment that most women usually miscarry spontaneously within a few days after finding out they have lost a child. However, rather than preparing for miscarriage, my body was responding as though it was still a growing baby. My uterus had continued expanding and hormones were still increasing. The doctor began ordering weekly blood draws to track my hormone count in order to determine when my body would begin passing the baby and complete the miscarriage.
Weeks later, and there were still no signs that my body was willing to let go of this pregnancy. Because the risk of infection was now much greater, the doctor strongly recommended that I have the D&C done. At this point, even if my body naturally miscarried, there was still a good chance that it would not be able to get rid of all of the tissue which would require that I have it surgically removed anyway.
I wept all day. Yet another layer of loss was uncovered as I realized that I was not going to labor this sweet baby out of my womb. I was angry at my body. Why wouldn’t it respond to this loss of life? Why couldn’t it let go?
For the next few days I prayed and prayed and prayed. My heart felt so unsettled at the idea of going into surgery to end our pregnancy. Even though our little one was already with the Lord, I hated the thought it his little body being torn from mine. This wasn’t the way I had wanted it to end. But God. Oh how those two words have transformed our loss. But God was faithful. But God surrounded us with caring hearts and serving hands. But God filled my aching heart with a peace beyond measure. But God was always there – every moment – through it all.
The day of my surgery arrived, and although I had not slept a minute the night before, I was covered with a calm that can only come with the Father’s presence. I have never felt His presence so fully. I literally felt like I did not take a single step all day. I was being carried by The One who had also endured the death of His own precious Son.
Surgery did not go as planned either. Although I was not aware of any of that until I woke up from the anesthesia. The procedure usually takes between twenty and forty minutes to complete. However, because of the length of time that had passed since we had lost the baby, all of the tissue supporting the pregnancy had begun to degenerate. It took the doctor three times the usual amount to complete the procedure and remove it all. I lost a significant amount of blood and almost had to go in for a transfusion. But even in those details, God was sovereign. It would take my body three months to regain the blood volume lost during surgery, but through the days and weeks of dizziness and weakness that resulted, I was constantly reminded of how God’s strength is most evident in the moments of my greatest weakness. He was my strength when I could not be strong on my own.
My husband and I have spent many evenings together missing our little one and letting all of the real and raw and rough bits of our hearts pour out into each other’s arms. Knowing that we are on this road together…and each step is bringing us closer to God and each other. Even during those days when my body felt all kinds of terrible and the pain was a constant reminder that our baby was no longer with us…yes, even then I had hope.
Hope in the God who desired to bring Simeon into existence.
Hope in the God who saw fit to take him home before he had suffered in this world.
Hope in the God who chose Simeon to be in His presence, giving him the very best!
And my heart rejoices that right now, my sweet baby is enjoying that Psalm 16:11 fullness of joy as He lives forever in the perfect presence of our Great God! I look forward to the day when I will wrap my arms around him for the first time! When I will see him face to face – full of life! When I will be able to tell him just how much we love him, and just how much he has changed our lives and touched our hearts! Someday we will join him in God’s glorious presence. But until then, we will long for Heaven and treasure our little one in our hearts while living each day on this side of eternity for the glory of our God of Hope!