You are loved: losing a child

baby_3

On February 9th my husband Grant, my 1.5 year old son Finlay, and I went to Santa Fe for a routine 20 week ultrasound.  The ultrasound went very long, and at the end the sonographer brought a doctor to the room to tell us that our second son has a birth defect that is “not compatible with life”: he is missing most of his skull and brain.

We had to wait almost a month to see a specialist in Albuquerque, and on March 6th we received the official diagnosis: our son has three defects: anencephaly (missing most of his skull and brain), an umbilical cord defect (one less artery than normal), and a hole in his heart.  I was also diagnosed with polyhydramnios (excessive amniotic fluid).

Anencephaly is obviously the major defect present, and it means he will either die while I am pregnant with him, during labor, or shortly after he is born (hours or days).  There is a very small chance he could live long enough for us to take him home for a few days or even weeks.  We really have no way of knowing what his outcome will be.

We named him Royce Quill.  Royce means “son of the king”, and we know with certainty that this child is a son of God.  Quill means “bear cub”, and since we will never know him as an adult, he will always be our little bear cub.

For two weeks after the first ultrasound, I lived in a complete haze.  I honestly don’t know if I can remember many details from those two weeks.  After that, I began to slowly attempt normal life activities (like grocery shopping without bursting into tears……..sometimes), but life is still hard and dark.  I feel despair and loss almost every minute of the day, even during the brief moments when I feel slightly happy and normal.  But through every emotion, thought, and feeling, there has been an underlying theme: you are loved.

Royce Quill, You Are Loved.

When we did our second ultrasound on March 6th, RQ gave us a little gift: we watched him playing with his hands and sucking on his fingers.  He is not a vegetable, despite his massive lack of skull and brain.  In fact, while he is still in my womb, he is very much like a normal little baby.  He will potentially experience seizures in utero at some point, he can’t really swallow, and he does look different.  But aside from that, he is a normal baby rolling and kicking away, sucking on his fingers and discovering his small world.

All that being said, we would love him even if he couldn’t kick his tiny little feet or suck his fingers, for one simple reason: he is ours.  We have wondered whether or not we’ll try for a third child after we lose RQ.  But right now, all I can think about is how much I don’t want another baby; I want him.  I can find a little bit of rest and relief in knowing that this child is so wanted and so loved.  And not just by his mother and father.  We are not the only people who have cried over the loss of this child, and desperately wished we could keep him for longer.  We have been surrounded by friends and family who feel just like we do.

Royce Quill, you are so loved by your parents, brother, and so many others.  If that is the only thing I can give you in your short life, let me be satisfied in that.

Jamie, You Are Loved.

I am sad.  I am covered by a darkness and heaviness that is inexplicable.  No parent should ever have to lose a child.  No parent should ever have to spend time preparing for the loss of their child, calling funeral homes and getting estimates for cremation, trying to figure out how long you can hold a baby after he has died.

And I do feel alone.  We are hundreds of miles from our friends and family, 1-2 hours from medical care, and 1 hour from any sort of grief counselors or loss support groups.

But I am not abandoned.  Rather than feeling like God has punished us, or forgotten about us, or left us to carry this grief alone, I feel more loved than I ever have.  When I am in my darkest moments and feeling my deepest desire for RQ to live, I feel God there.  I feel convinced that He has experienced inexplicable sorrows, and one of them is RQ’s brokenness.

I am not alone in grieving for my son.  God is grieving with me, and possibly even more deeply than I can imagine.  I am loved.

Parents, You Are Loved.

Full disclosure: I am pro-life.

Many mothers who carry babies with lethal birth defects like RQ choose to abort their babies or induce early, so there is obviously a moral and political aspect to what we are experiencing.

There will be some people who are pro-choice who think what we’re doing is ridiculous.  I am putting my life at risk (every pregnancy is a risk) for a child that will absolutely not live.  I am using the medical system for a child who has a terminal defect.

There will be some people who are pro-life who think what we’re doing is a symbol to all other mothers with terminal birth defects that they can and should do the same as we are.  They see us making some sort of statement to the world.

To those pro-choicers and pro-lifers, I want to tell you something: you’re missing the point.

So instead of talking to those people, let me talk to every single mother and father who chose to have an abortion, or considered an abortion and decided against it, or induced a pregnancy early, or carried a baby knowing that baby would die.

You are loved, you mothers and fathers.  But more than that, you are worthy of love.  I don’t know what it’s like to consider an abortion because culture forces you to, or because your family situation forces you to, or because you have no money, or because the child will have no family.  But I do know what it’s like to be presented with the option of early termination instead of spending five months carrying a child I know will die, and then potentially having him die in my aching arms.

I don’t care what you chose.  I don’t care if you chose the abortion or to have a baby that will drastically change the rest of your life.  I don’t care if you chose the early induction or to carry a baby who will die.  Whatever decision you made, you were in a position that no parent should ever be in.

And whatever decision you made, you are still worthy of love.  I love you whether you carried or aborted.  God loves you whether you carried or aborted.  Please take one moment as you finish reading this blog to feel loved and not alone.

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15 thoughts on “You are loved: losing a child

  1. Jamie what a special Mama you are and Grant is such a special Daddy. Then there is little Finn, who we already know how special he is. RQ is just as special as his family is. God loves all of you so much and will guide all of you through this dark time in your lives. Please know you are so loved.

    Aunt Sally

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  2. You have touched me so much with your outpouring of love , faith and your concern for others at this time of sorrow in your life. I hope you hear from parents who experienced your pain and some how those stories can be your support group. I was so lucky to have healthy pregnancy but I do have a friend whose child died while she was pregnant and she carried the baby till her due date. She grieved so but went on to then have a healthy baby boy.! I send prayers but Gods love is what will bolster you🙏🏻💕

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  3. Jamie and Grant– our thoughts, love, and blessings are with you. Even though this is a terribly difficult time for you, you are facing it with much dignity, love, and faith. I admire your strength and courage. Take good care of yourselves.

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  4. Jamie and Grant,
    I pray for you and your family – I know God is carrying you thru all of your trials, struggle, grief, etc – and I am so touched how you poured out your heart to all parents – every mother and father – as you gave an incredible word – whatever their decision was – regardless every mother and father is Loved by God: regardless their decisions may have been. We are all loved my a Mighy God who does grieve with us and love us so passionately. I can hear God thru you – as I know many others will be able to as well.
    I know you are strong and courageous – as God has been giving u strength and carry you: I know u both are standing firm in faith, strong: as u Trust in the Lord with all your heart mind and soul. You have displayed that you are not shaken or frightened by those in any way whom may oppose you: your hearts are steadfast – trusting and believing in Him: I know you both rest in Him: and know and believe He will protect you. I know you both Take refuge in the shelter of His mighty wings – as it has been poured out with your testimony. My family and I are standing firm with you and praying for you and your family.

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  5. Jamie, Grant, Finn & RQ..so much love, sadness & pain/ if only we could do something..,
    You are in our prayers & our hearts..

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  6. Jamie, my heart aches for you. There isn’t a right way to handle this and you are doing exactly what is right for you and your family. I am sending my love and prayers to you for comfort during this time.

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  7. I know you are a strong women and if anyone can make it through all of this it is you Jamie. I think about you and your family everyday and it hurts my heart when people that deserve to have children and that will love them more then anything, have to go through something like this. I don’t understand it I can’t wrap my mind around it. It is pretty amazing to me though that these little one’s who have not yet had the chance to live in this world are just as happy and comfortable in their little cozy homes with Thier mommy’s protecting them from all of the world at that moment. Even with everything going on RQ is just as happy as can be finding his fingers rolling around and kicking as if his mommy’s womb was a playground. Just a little baby boy being a little baby boy:) I think to myself when we think we are at the worst moments in our life, we think we can’t go on, we are depressed, we shut out our friends and family, and think it will not get better. We should think about RQ and all the babies that will not get the chance to live in this world. That even though he is being faced with all this he is still just a happy little baby boy playing in his mommy tummy making the most of his life and living his life to the fullest. I can’t say I know exactly how you are feeling Jamie, but I do know that when I was pregnant with twins my one daughter lived and my other daughter only lived her life inside of me and did not get to experience life here on earth. When I delivered them I just wanted them to help her but they couldnt. I was mad like why couldn’t they do something. You are so full of emotion because your a mom and it’s our job to protect our children and when you can’t do anything you feel like you have failed as a parent and that is one of the worst feelings ever. Know that there are certain things we can not control and don’t let yourself give up. Because that is not what your child would want. When I start to get down on myself or I feel like everything is falling apart I think about my little girl and how she didn’t give up she went on as long as she could. If I can give you any advice just hold him Jamie as long as you can because you will not get those moments back look at him and know you protected him as long as you could and did everything you could for him. That’s what matters. That he loves you as much as you all love him. That he will look over and protect you and your family from that point on. I hope this helps you and your family through. I know for me it was the most hardest thing Ive had to go through I’m my life. I love you guys and your in my prayers.

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  8. Thank you for sharing such raw emotion and your hope, for viewing your pain by the light of the gospel. I praise Jesus for the work he must have done in your life to enable you to respond with such vulnerability and faith. You have touched me and surely many others. May God comfort you. May He welcome and restore Royce with joyful, open arms. Much love from your Portland cousin-in-law, Jessica ❤️

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  9. I saw you mention your situation on a Facebook group and I’ve been praying for you and your son. I didn’t know that you were a sister-in-Christ until I saw your blog today. This incredible post lets me know a little more how I can pray, and this post is incredibly encouraging to me! We just lost our second little one at the end of the first trimester, and it was (and is brutal). Yet we saw God’s comfort and are daily encouraged by His hope. Your words and example are so helpful to my grieving heart, and I will continue to pray for you and your family as God demonstrates His grief, comfort, and love through this time!

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  10. Jamie, thank you for sharing your thoughts, wisdom, love and journey with us through your writing. I first “met” your family when your sons were dedicated at Redemption Tempe. I just came across your post as I saw photos of friends with Royce Quill shirts. May you continue to feel God’s presence, as He embraces you with His love and peace. May you experience hope even on the darkest of days. You are loved.

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