Active Faith

Life Goes On

“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." by Allison McCormick

I was looking at the image on the ultrasound screen, hoping, praying for movement, something encouraging. I glanced at the doctor, willing her to say that all is well. I felt my husband Mark’s hand on my shoulder as we all watched. But the doctor shook her head, and quietly broke the news I had feared since the day before. There was no heartbeat.

The doctor took the equipment off me and left Mark and me alone.

“Not again!” I cried. “Why?” This was my third miscarriage, and even though we had three healthy sons, we were excited for one more. Maybe this one would be a girl. Mark had no answers, and after I had time to pull myself together, we opened the door to let the doctor know we were ready. I just wanted to go home.

The doctor was very kind and sympathetic. “These things happen, and we don’t always know why.” She gave me the option of going to the hospital to have the remains removed and avoid the wait for the inevitable miscarriage. But I was adamant. We wanted to have the body intact to bury at home. At twelve weeks, the miscarriage did not require a death certificate.

The pains began in the late evening, very mild at first, but I knew what they were. I slept very little that night, awakening often between the worsening pains and my troubled thoughts.

I kept asking “why?” I never asked for another pregnancy after the first two miscarriages. I was 40, and the baby was due in December, soon after my 41st birthday. I was finished with childbearing, or so I had thought prior to this pregnancy. I even started working a job I loved ten months before.

After I discovered I was pregnant, I received mixed reactions from friends and family. I took the mortified responses in stride. “You are HOW old? Don’t you know yet how this happens?”

Not long after, I went to see the doctor who showed me my first glimpse of the new life growing in me, and a month later, I saw another ultrasound and marveled at the change from the previous month. I saw a little body moving and kicking. The heartbeat was good, and I was in love. I was happy to accept the new responsibility God had placed in our lives, and I told Him so.

Now, a few short weeks later, I was losing the baby.

I finally gave up trying to sleep that terrible night. The pains were getting closer and harder. This was so much like the labor pains I had before when I birthed live babies.

I delivered the baby still in its water sack close to sunrise that morning. Mark was with me, and we decided to pop open the sack that resembled a water balloon. What we saw took our breath away. There in the palm of my hand was a perfectly formed baby boy, lifeless and still.

Our boys, ages 13, 12, and 10, knew I was losing the baby, and they had mixed responses when they saw him later. Andrew, our oldest, turned away trying to keep his emotions in check. John Mark and Luke were somewhat curious. All were quiet and reflective.

We wanted to bury him as soon as possible, so I wrapped him lovingly in a sock given to me in anticipation of his birth in December. It was made for a newborn-size foot, and it covered up his body. Mark had gone to the store looking for something that would serve as a coffin and came home with a wooden recipe box. It was the perfect size, and I was pleased that it was a pretty box for my tiny baby to rest his body.

We buried him later that evening near our house in our three-acre yard and planted a tree over the site. Later, our small group Bible study from church purchased a stone engraved with his name, Jacob Thomas McCormick and the date of his death 7-23-04.

“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

I would like to say that life continued as usual. We didn’t have to think about building an addition to the house anymore, and I would not quit my job at Thanksgiving to be a stay-at-home mom as we had planned. But my life was forever changed after those twelve weeks in 2004.

I cried often in the following weeks. I would go about my responsibilities like a programmed robot. Later, I would give up and go lie down and let the floodgates open again. I have to say most of my tears were angry tears. God had given me something I had to learn to accept and love, and when I did, He took it away. It seemed so cruel.

Sunlight finally came back into my soul about a month after Jacob’s death. I was sitting on our patio looking at the place where he was buried, the tears flowing freely. I was suddenly aware of the presence of the Lord, not in bodily form, but I knew He was there. I also believed He was weeping with me. I have no proof, nothing but an assurance. My anger, then, was gone in an instant. In its place was the knowledge that I was loved, and God was still good. At that point, I cried tears of joy.

Slowly, in the following weeks, I learned something about babies taken from the womb too soon. I did not understand why God would create life only to take it away so quickly. It made no sense. I had read Jeremiah 29:11 NLT, which reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” I always knew God had a plan for my life as well as for my family. He began to show me how His plan does not just end abruptly when the heart stops beating. His plan for us is eternal. He always had a plan for Jacob, but it was not going to be fulfilled here on earth. He used Mark and me to create that life, and I was grateful once again.

Life continued, and I still shed a tear now and then. We decided not to try again for more children, given my age and the fact that we did have three healthy sons, who are all grown up now. In fact, they got married in the order of their birth within a year and half of each other. Our family is still growing.

John Mark’s wife had an ultrasound. This one was quite different from the one I had in 2004. This one showed a child alive and well, and on August 11, 2015, our first grandchild, a boy, was born. His name? Jacob Thomas McCormick.

Life does go on.

This article was originally published in the March 2019 issue of The War Cry. Illustration by Sara Wong

Comments

ALL ARTICLES