Looking back at my life prior to July of 2011 I would say I had it made in many ways. I married a man beyond my wildest dreams at the age of 21 and just shy of our third anniversary we welcomed our first child …. a little boy, Zealan Alexander.
This was all I ever dreamt of. I never had a dream career, but from as far back as I remember I dreamed of becoming a wife and a Mom. Despite the fact that we had to live even more humbly once he came along, it was worth it to me to sacrifice “things” to be home with my son. We moved to California when he was 4 months old & the dream just got better. A new son, a new lovely place to live and an amazing husband!
When Zealan was 2 & ½ we decided we wanted to make him a big brother. After 3 short months I got pregnant with another little boy and we were ecstatic! We told our families over the holidays & Zealan was counting down the days until he got to meet his little brother. He would talk about how he would teach him everything he knew and they would be best friends. Every time we left the house to go somewhere he would ask, “Can baby Jed in your tummy come too?”
I had two beautiful showers thrown for Jedidiah and although I had horrible heartburn the entire pregnancy, he was growing perfectly healthy and that’s what mattered to me! Being my second, I was organizing our house months before his estimated arrival and everything was in tip-top shape come July, so I was ready for him.
At the end of my pregnancy I was a total emotional mess and I was just done having indigestion, and Zealan at this point would not stop asking when Jed was coming … I was SO ready for him to come! It was a Wednesday, I had been crying all day and I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why. I was just a wreck.
I asked my husband to drop me off at the beach and I just plopped down on the sand and cried. When I got into bed that night Jed didn’t do his usual somersault and that was totally not like him. He was a super active baby and the more I thought back I couldn’t remember feeling him THE WHOLE DAY.
It had been such a weird day I was certain I just hadn’t noticed or maybe he was running out of room because at this point I was 9 days out from my due date and already dilated. After trying a few things myself I called the midwife and she recommended eating some sweet things, etc, etc and calling her back. I guess I was so exhausted from being hugely pregnant that I fell asleep and woke up at 3am which was about 3 hours later. I still wasn’t feeling any movements. I never was one to worry during pregnancies so at this point honestly, I still thought nothing was wrong and surely he was just getting into position.
My midwife had me come into the birth center to check everything. So having a sleeping 3 year old, I told my husband I’d just go by myself so we didn’t have to wake him and I’d be right back.
As I pulled away from my apartment I left everything normal and safe behind.
I remember saying to God on the way “God, you’re bigger than whatever is happening”.
She ran the doppler over my belly and after a few minutes of not hearing anything the fear began to rip into me. She then did a sonogram and saw a lifeless little boy on the other end of it.
“I’m sorry Embry, your baby has passed”.
Thinking about that moment still gives me chills and I still wonder how I got myself up off that table and kept breathing. I had to call and tell Steve over the phone so he could find a way to get to me … I had our only car with me. The next 12+ hours I was in “Mommy mode” with not much time to process anything as I geared up to deliver my baby …. my lifeless baby.
The hospital confirmed there was no heartbeat and induced me at noon. The next 11 hours we had to make a lot of decisions. A social worker came in to talk about way too many things and my biggest concern at that point was, how are we going to tell Zealan? I still get teary-eyed when I think about telling him and how much I felt I had let him down.
My parents got on the first flight from Texas and made it just in time for me to get induced and I was thankful they were there for all of it. I delivered a perfectly perfect boy that night at 11:47pm weighing 6 pounds & 14 ounces, 21 inches long. Long & skinny just like his big brother!
He looked totally healthy but the umbilical chord had wrapped around him and taken his life …. just like that. He resembled Zealan so much, but I could see how he was also just so perfectly “Jed”.
Our lives changed forever that day. Everything we thought we had known about God, or life, or love, or missing someone … everything changed. Some things didn’t matter at all anymore and a whole lot of other things DID. We began a long journey of finding God in the midst of the unbearable pain we were dealing with and learning how to not only grieve together as a couple and not let that tear us apart, but also continue to parent a 3 year old who was now so confused. I wanted to run from God so bad because it scared me to keep trusting Him, but by the grace of God and with the help of my husband, I decided to keep believing He was good and He had a plan in all of this mess.
I battled with Satan a lot of days to keep the peace that God was extending to me and I had to learn to walk bravely through a lot of painful situations and questions. We kept everything about Jedidiah out in the open because it was less painful that way. I knew if I tried to ignore what had happened or try to move on too quickly it would hurt my Mama-heart way too much so I talked about him and I didn’t care who felt uncomfortable about it, he was my son!
I forced myself back to church just 2 weeks after his passing because I knew even though it hurt to be there, it would hurt much worse to turn my back on God…..even when I had felt so strongly that He had turned His back on me. Everywhere I was looking people were getting pregnant and it was a stab in the heart to know God was allowing them to keep their babies, but why did He not let me?
My little sister’s wedding, the holidays, Zealan’s birthday -each special occasion was excruciating as I could not stop thinking about how I should have BOTH of my boys with me & every “first without Jed” was an uphill battle, but I was determined to not get stuck.
All the while we kept trying to get pregnant again and that was just another heartbreak. Come the month of May, I felt like God had done so much healing in my heart and I was not necessarily feeling “normal” again, but I think I had found a way to do this new life. I was figuring out the routine of grief I guess you could say and I was in a healthy place with God and trusting His timing in us getting pregnant again and also showing us His plan for this story.
I started writing within days of losing Jed and that began what became over 40+ posts about all God has shared with me through this loss. Many things loss-related, but also just things about Him. My husband and I shared our vision with our church about starting a bereaved parents group, they were on board and we were beginning to get a glimpse of Jedidiah’s legacy being played out.
In July 2012, on the weekend of Jedidiah’s anniversary in Heaven, we did lots of beautiful things to honor him. 1 year & a day after he went to Heaven we found out God & Jed had given us a very special gift …. a new baby. I was pregnant with Munsey number 3 and although I was an emotional wreck at the possibility of losing another baby, I felt like I KNEW God was going to give us this baby and it was going to be a beautiful touch of redemption in this journey of ours.
With much shock and horror, we found out at 8 weeks that our baby had passed. My body had experienced a missed miscarriage which not only meant that she was gone, but my body wasn’t recognizing the miscarriage so I had no choice but to undergo
a D&C to remove the baby.
I was taken back to that place of utter disappointment and anger with God and I was begging God to do a miracle. Before agreeing to the procedure I went for 4 sonograms weeks apart because I was scared to death of being unsure. I finally got a grip with reality and realized yes, this has really happened again.
Why would God allow this again, hadn’t we learned enough? And to have found out on Jedidiah’s anniversary, it should have so beautifully played out.
After a week or two of going through all of those same familiar questions, I decided I couldn’t get stuck there again and that I knew how to walk through this so I needed to just do it. It’s hard to grieve for the baby that I didn’t get to know like I knew Jed. I only know the hope she brought to our family and even though I only had 10 weeks & not 10 months of dreaming of my life with this new little one…it’s still 10 weeks. It’s still long enough to get excited and get hopeful and I had that same awful indigestion and was practically bed-ridden this time so I had definitely felt pregnant!
What we have learned though is God is still on the throne. He is still God and He is still good. These losses are good because He has a plan & believe he has given me a destiny to tell my children’s stories when they’re not here to tell it themselves. I could go on and on about the revelations God has given me over the course of these last fifteen months, but we’ll be here for months.
Never stop mentioning your sweet babies’ names. If you are a friend or relative of a bereaved parent: give them permission to talk about it. Time only heals if we allow ourselves to walk bravely through the grief.
Stare it in the face and say “You will not get the best of me, I am still a child of God!”