Delivering a Stillborn Baby Taught Me the Transience of Death

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When I found out about my daughter’s condition, I felt the destruction of my plans and hopes. But this place of limitation also revealed God’s profound love.

“How do you prepare for a birth and a death at once?” I asked a friend one morning in mid-July. “Can anything be more unnatural?”

Two months before, I had sat in a medical office listening to a doctor. His voice was unduly loud, as if he were speaking to a general audience. “Thanatophoric dysplasia is best described as a form of severe dwarfism,” he said. “This particular chromosomal abnormality will result in death either immediately or soon after birth.”

At the next appointment, I made my intentions clear. “I want to carry the baby to term,” I said simply. The consultant took his glasses off and swung them to and fro between his thumb and forefinger. He did a poor job of masking his surprise. “Well, of course, there is no pressure to make the decision quickly,” he said. “You may need more time to consider.”

I had made my decision, but it meant great pain in the days to come. I wanted my child for myself. I wanted a baby to hold, a toddler to laugh with, a daughter to teach. I did not want a deformed baby and I certainly did not want a dead one. But God began to challenge me: What if the days ordained for her do not include a birthday?

During those early months, I meditated on the verse in Isaiah that says, “He grew up before him like a tender shoot” (Isa. 53:2). The passage refers to the Messiah who would come as the suffering servant to carry the sins of the world. But the “him” in this verse was a parent—a parent watching a child grow knowing that child would ultimately die. God was not asking me to do anything he had not already done himself. I pictured, then, the circle of unbreakable love that exists within …

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