In July, we found out we were pregnant with our first child. Cody and I had only been married about 7 months at that point, and the thought of a child absolutely terrified me! Of course we were excited, but financially we were in a tough spot and the thought of providing for a child seemed so unrealistic.
Also to clear something else up, I have never been a baby person. Meaning that I am never the first one to ask to hold babies, and if someone happens to hand me one I pass him/her along at the first sign of any bodily fluids leaving them. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are cute! I just choose to admire from afar.
Those things being said, when we found out we were pregnant I felt very ill-equipped to be a mom. My mother is like superwoman, and I very much did not feel like that myself.
We made our very first appointment with a local care center to confirm our pregnancy, and a couple weeks later we went to (what we would find to be) the most amazing and caring OBGYN office.
At this point, the idea of having a child had become a little more real. God was certainly preparing our hearts and minds for this moment. As we watched the ultrasound screen for the first time we were amazed. There was a child there. A little heart beating. A little body developing in the warmth of my belly. And we were parents to this amazing creation.
We noticed the nurse seemed perplexed about something. She stepped outside with a photo from the ultrasound to talk with our doctor. I felt like I could hear my heartbeat echo in my ear drums. The nurse came back in and took us to a room where the doctor met us shortly afterwards.
She explained that our baby had formed a “Cystic Hygroma” on the back of the head. This meant that he/she had a genetic disorder of some kind. The possibilities were endless and nothing could be answered that day.
We were in shock. I broke down in sobs, feeling so incredibly overwhelmed. Our doctor cried with us. We didn’t know what to say or do, or how to function. They took some tests and Cody held my hand tightly as we tried to get through it together.
Then there was the waiting.
Months and months of ultrasounds and tests and waiting. We prayed for God to heal our child. So many others prayed with us. We prayed for the joy of the Lord to be our Strength. And it was.
One day, a while afterwards, our doctor called us and told us we were going to have a baby girl. She also told us that she had something called Turner’s Syndrome. Turner’s Syndrome is a genetic disorder that means only one ‘x’ chromosome attached at conception. It’s a fairly rare occurrence and totally random.
Questions flooded my mind.
Why her? Why us? Why does this happen? I still can’t really tell you the answer to those questions. I got really angry. Angry that everything doesn’t work out. Angry that every child doesn’t get to live.
Every doctor’s appointment we got an ultrasound and saw our daughter and the cyst on her head getting bigger–the fluid in her chest expanding. The chance of a girl making it full term with Turner’s Syndrome is very rare. Most of the time her heart will stop beating within the first couple of months. In my anger, I found a quote by Joni Eareckson Tada (if you don’t know who she is, you should look her up) that said,
“Gut wrenching questions honor God. Despair directed at God is a way of encountering Him, opening ourselves up to the One and only someone who can actually do something about our plight. And whether we collide with the Almighty or simply bump up against Him, we cannot be the same.”
I still remind myself of that every day.
One day Cody and I were talking about names. We have complete and total opposite taste in everything, so it was quite a feat to think of a name we both liked. But this particular day, Cody looked at me and said, “We should name her Alethia.”
I wholeheartedly agreed.
We named her this because it means “truth” in Greek. We knew that whatever happened with Alethia, that God’s Truth tells us that He cared about her before the foundation of the world. He formed our daughter’s inward parts, and he held her life in His hands. If she never took a breath on this earth, it was because she was meant to be in the arms of her Father.
And that’s where she is today, tomorrow, and for the rest of eternity.
On December 2nd, our doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat. That night we went to the hospital to start the process of delivering Alethia Belle (we picked Belle as her middle name, it means beautiful. Our Beautiful Truth).
It was a long process, and we are so thankful for supportive families who helped. I went into labor the following evening and, after a fairly painful time, we delivered Alethia. I can’t even to begin to describe the feelings of joy and immeasurable pain we felt that night.
It was one of the most special moments of mine and Cody’s lives, but also the lowest. The only births I’d really heard of ended in a crying baby being put into a mother’s arms. But that is not what happened that night.
The week that followed, we buried Alethia and held a service for her. So many family and friends were there that day, and many days afterwards bringing us food and praying with us and sending us the most encouraging letters. Cody is the strongest person I have ever met and cared for me more than I thought was humanly possible.
It’s been almost two months since we lost her.
We are still really struggling. I explained it the other day as feeling like I have PTSD. When you are going through something like this, all you can focus on is the next step. After something so traumatic, we are stuck in the emotional and spiritual aftermath.
I know the truth, but most days I don’t believe it.
“As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
We live in a world that tells us that her life didn’t matter.
But if that is the case, I don’t know how to explain the emptiness of losing her. Alethia made a bigger impact on my life than any other person has, and she only lived to be 5 months old. If she wasn’t considered to be a life, then Cody and I aren’t parents either.
But I can certainly tell you that we love Alethia more than I thought possible and cared for her as parents would and should. So for those women and men who have lost a baby, however far along you were, whatever your experience was, it is okay to hurt. It is okay to grieve that. It is okay to talk about it. It’s not shameful, it’s not invalid, and it’s not unnecessary.
Alethia didn’t draw a breath on this earth, but her little life impacted us and everyone around us to God’s glory. Even though she didn’t “make it” her life still had value. I am thankful that we got to see her value and love her so fully.
I know it’s scary. I never thought I would ever be sitting in a doctor’s office hearing my options of termination because my daughter probably wouldn’t “make it.” It was never an option for us, but I know for so many others it is.
We have this desire for life to be easy and to never have to make any form of sacrifice. We can do better than that. We can give these little ones the chance to live out their lives, even if by some people’s standards they aren’t really living.
I can’t imagine the pain that some women go through after an abortion, when the pain of loss is too much to bear. I am sorry that this world let you believe something for its own gain.
I’m sorry Alethia Belle, that this world doesn’t want to see your value. I’m sorry that there are some who don’t see how astonishingly beautiful your life was. Thank you for being our daughter, and our Beautiful Truth, we love you.
This story was submitted to us by Lauren C.