All Held Together

“Imagine a priceless vase or ornament is dropped on the floor and smashed to pieces. The woman who loved it kneels down. She picks up the pieces, one by one. She looks at each one in detail, turning it round, as if to remember where it once belonged. The vase was loved and so when it was shattered, every piece was worth picking up, no matter how small. A grieving person will often want to talk about the smallest detail of their loss. It is as if every broken piece is taken up and wept over. When you listen, you may feel that the detail was small, but it is part of something that was supremely valued, part of something dearly loved” (Colin Smith). Our Hope Babies are unique, precious, supremely valued, and dearly loved gifts from God to us; through this series, we speak about them together and remember them.  

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together
Colossians 1:17b

Our third child enters the world. The room is silent. There is no noise, only hushed commotion—no cries from my babe. The air is thick, but peace is present. I look up and ask my sister, “Does my baby look like a baby?”

“Oh goodness, yes,” she replies.

I then ask, “Is it a boy or a girl?”

All goes quiet for several seconds, and Dr. G gently replies, “It’s a boy.” Brandon lets out a cry from the sitting room.

The nurses gently clean off my son. They weigh and measure him. 6.6 ounces and 7 inches of perfection. They wrap him in a tiny blanket and place a tiny hat on his head. He is little, yet amazingly formed. The nurse brings him over to me to see for the first time. She encourages me: “Remember him like this, Mom. His body will change rapidly. Remember him like this.”

She asks if I want to hold him. She has already cautioned the family to be careful, as his body is quite delicate and he could easily slip out of the blanket that holds him. I can’t risk that happening. I want to hold him, but will wait until I’m able to sit up.

We name him Chance Michael. Chance is my biological mom’s maiden name. My mom is with Jesus, so passing on her name to our son, who also resides in heaven, just seems to fit. Michael is Brandon’s middle name.

I eventually hold him. The second I look at his face, a deep peace rushes through my body. I feel this deep peace every time I take in his tiny features. His nose is by far the cutest nose I have ever seen. Everyone is commenting on his nose. Every detail of his body is perfectly identifiable. It is breathtaking to hold such a tiny, complete being in your arms. I want to take in every second. I want time to stop in Room 307 because if I could just stop time, my son would always be with me. His body wouldn’t start to decompose. This moment wouldn’t come to pass. His mouth is open, and I gently press it closed with my fingers. The sting of death is less obvious when his mouth is closed. I stroke his cheeks ever so softly and rub the yellow hat that sits gently on his head.

I have a son, I keep repeating in my mind. God, I don’t know why we are walking this road, why you gifted us with a son only to take him away, but I’m choosing to trust because You’ve not let me down before. My trust does not take away the incredible sense of pain I feel, but I will praise You through the pain. Give me Your strength, Father, because the hours ahead, the inevitable, the saying good-bye, might literally rip my heart from my chest.

Family members hold Chance and spend time admiring his cute-as-a-button nose. They comment on his features. Tears are shed, but so are smiles and laughter. God gifts us with what feels like a celebration, despite deep hurt. It’s a celebration of His love and faithfulness and peace, despite great loss, despite holding death in our arms. Death was present in our very room, but with this death came the reminder of the sweet afterlife. Heaven never felt closer than when cradling a life already living there.

. . .

Held While Sharing His Story

Writing out and sharing Chance’s birth story, remembering the details, his features, his nose, his tiny lips and head and hat, his perfectly formed footprints, and the way he fit on my arm, has been extremely healing for my heart.

Tears accompany the sharing, but it is through the sharing that I am reminded that Christ is still on the throne. He tells us He is before all things and holds our unique circumstances together. While I was given only five hours to hold my son, Christ holds us indefinitely, eternally.

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together
Colossians 1:17b

He holds us when dreams are shattered.

He holds us through the pain and trauma.

He holds us when the delivery room is silent.

We weep, while also rejoicing in this truth.

As Hope Moms, it can be easy to assume that the details are too small, too mundane, or that since our friends or family can’t truly understand, it better to remain silent instead of share our babies, our memories, with the ones we love.

Sweet Mama, can I encourage you to share and remember? Your Hope Baby is unique and valued and crazy loved. You have permission to share your Hope Baby with the world.

Held While Sharing Traditions

In addition to sharing Chance’s birth story, our family has several yearly traditions in honor of our son.

On April 4 of each year, Chance’s birthday, we visit his graveside (all wearing blue) and release blue balloons. Our two daughters come with us and participate. Our youngest daughter loves running carefree on the lush, green grass proclaiming, “Happy birthday, baby Chance. I love you!”

Such a gift and sight to see and I can’t help but imagine Chance, doing the same, running around heaven with Jesus, without a “care in the world.”

After the graveside visit we make our way home. We enjoy dinner as a family followed by cupcakes with blue icing, complete with candles and the Happy Birthday song, just as we would if he were a living member of our family here.

This is how we honor, cherish, and remember our son, Chance Michael.

There are tears, but there is overwhelming peace and hope and trust that even still, my family is held in the mighty arms of Christ.

Christ held us then, April 4, 2015, and He holds us today.[1]

How do you remember your Hope Baby?

Please share in the comments; we are honored to hear and remember with you.

[1] Credit for a portion of this post belongs to Desert Song: Claiming Joy While Walking in the Wilderness, by Brittnie Blackburn

- Brittnie

Hope Mom to Baby A and Chance Michael

Brittnie lives in Sugar Land, Texas and enjoys writing on her blog and other outlets, baking, lingering coffee dates, and soaking in moments with her family. She is a wife to Brandon and a mom to Clara, Camille, and Hope Mom to Baby A (Clara’s twin) and Chance. Psalm 62:1-2 is her go to verse when she needs quick encouragement. She is author of Desert Song, and you can visit with Brittnie at her personal blog, A Joy Renewed, where she shares her faith and family, and encourages her readers to claim joy despite circumstance.

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