I looked over at the faint glow of my clock resting beside the bed. 2:00 a.m.
How am I still awake?
I slide my hands over my belly that still bares marks of him; sometimes I can almost feel his little kicks inside of me, and I let my fingers imagine them again for a moment… If only for a moment.
October 29th was an ordinary Tuesday evening. Christian and I ate bowls of ice cream as we shared sweet conversation about what was going to be. I held my belly as I always did, dreaming about the day I would hold him. We were just four short days away from our son’s due date. Four days from what we knew would change our lives forever.
We just didn’t realize on that Tuesday evening that God had a very different story written than what we expected on how that would come to be.
That night I went to bed with contractions that continued until wee hours of the morning. By 3:00 a.m., Christian insisted we go to the hospital. We excitedly got dressed as I pushed through the contractions and smiled in-between because this was it. We were finally going to meet our sweet Levi.
It was pouring rain outside, but it only fueled the adrenaline rushing through us; it felt like a movie, and this was going to be our happy ending. Christian reached over the console, laid his hand over my belly, and said with anticipating eyes, “it’s happening, Laura. Can you really believe it’s happening? You are going to make the best mom. I love you.”
When we pulled into the hospital, a woman sat me in a wheelchair and pushed me into a delivery room. Two nurses appeared moments later with a heart monitor. They placed it on my belly, as my doctor had done numerous times before, to hear the heartbeat. I looked over at Christian sitting in a chair across the room with a knowing smile… Only a little while now.
The nurses continued to slide the monitor over me for several minutes without hearing a heartbeat, and that’s when I knew something was wrong. I looked over at Christian again, but this time with concern. He tried to assure me that everything was okay, as any loving husband would do, but he couldn’t have known it wasn’t.
After what felt like an eternity of searching, the nurses finally had an ultrasound machine brought into the room. The woman who operated the ultrasound could not tell us anything, and the screen was pointed away from us. It felt like torture. We looked at each other, both silently asking the same question, “what is going on?”
When she walked out of the room, I told Christian, “something is wrong and I’m so scared.” He took my hand in his and gently tried to reassure me again, but I could see the truth in his eyes… He knew it too.
Finally, the doctor quietly came in with a sober expression that immediately confirmed our fears. Softly, he began, “I am so sorry to have to tell you this, but we cannot find a heartbeat. I’m going to give you both time and then we are going to talk about how to go from here.” He walked out of the room, and when the door shut behind him, so did our world.
In a moment, everything that we thought would be came crashing into the reality of what is. This baby boy that I had carried for nine months was no longer with us… And I could hardly breathe.
Christian walked over to me, limply laying in the hospital bed with remains of cold gel on my abdomen from trying to find a heartbeat…A heartbeat that was lost forever. We embraced tighter than ever before then cried intensely in each other’s arms.
The grief came knocking as grief always does, promptly, but uninvited. It crashed over us like cruel, merciless waves, unaware of the lives they were drowning.
When the doctor came back into the room he was gentle and compassionate. He explained to us what he knew: Levi had grown full term. He doesn’t understand what happened, but he is hoping when Levi is delivered there will be some answers. He recommends starting an induction process, since I am not dilated enough, to get him here as soon as possible.
We tried to nod in understanding of his words, but we couldn’t possibly wrap our heads around them. And suddenly, the contractions were no longer an exciting challenge of what was to be, but a harsh reminder of our current reality.
The hours following felt much like a nightmare. Christian called our parents, and in-between sobbing breaths, told them their grandson was gone. He sent out messages to our close friends and family begging for prayer. I will not sugarcoat this time. It was the hardest, most painful moments of our entire life and it felt as though everything was broken. We did not think we would be able to go on. Our entire world felt shattered.
But this is when Jesus steps in, as He always does. Only in our brokenness can we witness His healing.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalms 34:18
Something happened in that hospital room that was rather unexplainable in our present circumstances. Something that those of us who witness can never leave unchanged. Holy Spirit happened. A calm, inconceivable peace covered the room. Joy and sorrow that were once assumed enemies quickly became close companions; for sorrow gives joy its validity and its ability to be trustworthy.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13
Family began trickling in and praying over us; we prayed with them. We felt God’s comforting hand like never before, and we knew that He hurt with us, but in a different way. He hurts for what we cannot see yet, while we hurt for all we can see now. For He, too, had to give up his only son; only He gave Him willingly — to save us. And this son, Jesus, who experienced every kind of suffering that we do, still had to ask God the question:
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” – Luke 22:42
For many of us in our questioning, it may be expressed this way: “Is there any way that I can experience Your purpose without the pain?”
The induction process began. As the Pitocin filled my body, and we watched the etchings of lines making mountains across a contraction monitor, we began praising. We played worship music and let the words of Hope overtake the disappointment. We read Psalms aloud and replaced the fear with Truth.
Before you think for a moment that we were so “strong” to have that kind of response in the face of this, know that it was only by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of Christ in that moment. Our strength did not exist. It drowned with the waves of grief that happened hours before. The only strength left was God’s, and we witnessed its power that day.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” -Psalms 73:26
Early Thursday morning, the doctor broke my water and the delivery of our son began. Suddenly, I felt so scared. So incapable. I requested to see my mom and she quietly came in with a smile on her face. She put her comforting, reassuring hands on me and whispered, “you are going to get through this because God will give you the strength to. We are all praying for you outside that door.”
When Christian came back into the room, I felt a new determination. I may be exhausted emotionally, mentally, and physically, but God is not. He is ready to carry me in this, and I am only moments away from seeing my son. Christian held my hand, kissed my forehead, and said, “are you ready for this?” to which I replied with a new sense of purpose, “yes.”
By God’s grace, our boy came quickly. And on October 31st, 2019, Levi Christian Good was born in body, though his spirit was already in heaven. All 8 pounds and 4 precious ounces of him.
When we saw him for the first time, we cried tears of joy and sorrow equally.
All of those kicks and hiccups and fist bumps in my belly were finally given a face, and he was absolutely beautiful. We felt all the same feelings we imagine other parents experience when seeing their child for the first time: overwhelming pride, joy, and completely undeserving of this gift. Only those feelings were joined by sadness, too.
Our family came in to meet their grandson and nephew, surrounding us with support. One by one, they hugged us and looked at him and expressed words we knew they were saying but did not have to. They felt it too.
The most painful moment of that day was letting Levi go. We knew when the time was right, but it did not make it any easier to face. I cried bitterly as I held my son for the very last time on this side of heaven.
The post-partum room that I was transferred to was so quiet. The silence only reminded us of the baby cries we longed to hear — that we would never hear. And that is when it began: the letting go of dreams. Taking him on a walk in the stroller, putting him in his crib at night, riding in the tractor with daddy, reading bedtime stories, teaching him how to ride a bike, watching him make friends, mama dancing with him at his wedding, together loving on his wife, and witnessing him grow.
Every vision that we had over the past nine months floated away into the silence that now filled the room, ruthlessly empty of the life we had hoped for.
And then came the funeral arrangements, which no young parent ever expects to make. But there we were, with questions of where we would bury him, what we wanted in the service…All of it. But God’s grace presented itself in many forms over those days, one being our family and the funeral directors stepping in to make this process simple for us. Truly, we can never thank them enough.
When we left the hospital the following day and stepped into our vehicle where an empty car seat and full diaper bag lay, we wept. When we reached our road and slowly passed by the fields of our farm, realizing we would never get to show them to Levi, we cried again. We let the pain come, and every reminder of what would not be was laid at the feet of Jesus, followed by us desperately trying to accept this story He had for us…The story we would not have chosen.
We were blessed with family and friends who brought meals, cards, and support of numerous forms to encourage us. If I didn’t know the impact this kind of support made before, I know now; God used these people in ways they will never know to comfort us in that time.
The funeral came quickly, and it was a powerful day. We prayed for Holy Spirit to be present, and He was. We lifted our hands in praise as we sang “It Is Well with My Soul” and “Your Grace Is Sufficient for Me.” With every soul in that building, we proclaimed together: and if not, You are still good.
The days, weeks, and months that followed were incredibly hard. Since it was impossible to walk around this valley, we were forced to walk through it. Let me rephrase that: we are still walking through it. If there is one important piece we have learned about grief in the light of being a believer who has hope in Christ, it is that there are moments of questioning that are followed by moments of trusting, and healing comes when we embrace them both. As Charles Spurgeon put it, “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me against the Rock of ages.”
We never did get answers about why Levi died so soon, because science and medicine just couldn’t make sense of it. But we did get an answer from God that fills us with peace: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)
Our days are numbered, according to God’s purpose. Though Levi’s tiny feet never touched earthly ground, He had a greater purpose for his days being so short… An eternal one. We are watching it play out every single day. He has changed us and our perspective. He has made us see God for the compassionate, merciful, loving Father He is; not in spite of suffering, but because of it. For how it brings us to Him — where we should have been all along. For how it teaches us how to love our neighbors, and how it reminds us that this is not our home.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
I want to leave you with a poem that Holy Spirit put words to in the early days of this year that truly encapsulates what we have learned through our son’s life. And my hope is that wherever you are in this great world… Whether living in blissful normalcy or in the agonies of deep grief… you will see God in it. For He is there if you will notice, working out an eternal purpose for our good, and He is patiently waiting for you to open your hands in surrender so that He can close them again with His promises.
He cares for you.
Oh, what a merciful Savior!
Who gives and takes away
I cannot grasp His purpose,
But I trust Him anyway
A life so short and fleeting,
I dare not waste the time
Yes, while my heart is beating,
I will let His glory shine
His will, who can know it?
Only eternity comprehends
Our hearts on earth are broken
Wounds only He can mend.
But, oh, what a merciful Savior!
Who gives and takes away
I cannot grasp His purpose,
But I choose to trust Him anyway
All professional images taken by the incredible Sarah Pearson Photography. Thank you for the memories you’ve given us and the compassionate presence you had in those moments. We are so grateful.