Deep Love

I woke up thinking about Ezra this morning, as I have every morning since his “birthday.” I was recalling something I didn’t share much in previous posts: One thing that truly amazed me throughout the whole experience was the power of motherly instincts.

Even though I knew in my mind that my baby was dead and with Jesus, my heart could not handle the thought of my sweet boy suffering any pain or loneliness. I didn’t want him to be born in a toilet; I didn’t want him to lie in a morgue, cold and alone; I didn’t want him to be opened up for an autopsy. It all seemed cruel and uncaring, and it didn’t seem fair to my baby.

While I held his tiny, frail body, I made sure to support his head like I would with any newborn baby. My heart broke as his skin deteriorated, his shoulder came out of socket, and his little fingers and toes began to detach. I sent for the nurse to take him away because I could not handle it anymore. My heart couldn’t grasp what my mind knew: My baby was dead and could no longer feel anything.

Maybe it was best that way. Maybe it was best for my heart not to understand that my baby couldn’t feel me holding him, touching his tiny lips and face, fingers and toes. Maybe it was best to let my heart believe that Ezra could hear mommy and daddy assuring him that we loved him and would miss him every day but that we were happy he was with Jesus. Maybe it was God’s grace that let my heart be fooled. 

But as my heart has come around to what my mind knows, I have been comforted knowing that God’s love is far beyond any earthly love: including the seemingly boundless and powerful love of a mother for her son. I will never sing, “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” without being reminded of this. For unbearable pain I sent my baby away, just as the song reminds us: “The Father turns His face away, as wounds which mar the chosen one bring many sons to glory!” He watched His Son die an undeserved death on the Cross of Calvary so that a sinful people could be saved; there was a greater purpose in his pain.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand (Isaiah 53:9-10).

God is not ignorant of the hurt that I have endured since the passing of my son. I believe He feels it just as I do, as my Father who deeply loves and cares for me. There are so many passages showing Christ’s compassion for His children. Isaiah 69:3 says, “In all their affliction, he was afflicted.” He feels the pain of His children!

As I cling to this belief, I must also grasp for the hope that there is`a greater purpose for my pain that my Father would look on as I suffer this loss on earth. He will show His power in my pain, and He will receive glory in this tragedy.

And if that is not comforting enough, I can rest knowing that, as a sweet friend reminded me, “Ezra will never suffer the pain of this life. All he knew of life on earth was the love and safety of being inside of you, and all he will know for eternity is the love and glory of Jesus.” There’s no risk that he won’t know Jesus, and there’s no chance of him ever feeling pain, heartache, or loneliness.

I can’t yet say that I am pleased the Lord would take my son. I’d give anything to have him in my arms now, and especially come September 23, but I have to believe it is far greater for him to be with Jesus, even if for reasons I won’t fully comprehend until I see HIM face-to-face.

Until then…

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me (Psalm 137:7-10).

Oh, how He loves me!

I’m going to India!

When we found out that I was pregnant with Ezra, we were a little disappointed by one thing alone: I wouldn’t be able to go on our survey trip to India. We came to this conclusion based on my last pregnancy in which I was sick 24/7 and had a hard time accomplishing even small tasks. We figured that a 17 hour flight and 9.5 hour time difference as well as temperatures above 100 degrees would do me in.

At orientation at the beginning of May, however, Bro. Austin Gardner encouraged me to go to India whether it be now or later…AND I decided NOW was best! My morning sickness was tolerable, and I had the second trimester energy I never seemed to find last time around. PLUS: I only needed to seek care for one child and did not currently have a nursing baby to provide sustenance for.

When we returned home from orientation, Paul began the process of applying for my visa. He had the paperwork completed and was going to send it out on Tuesday the 14th. However, that day was also our ultrasound appointment where we found out that our sweet baby was no longer living in the womb. The process was halted as I went into labor and was resumed a few days later.

We praise the Lord that even though this process was started late and halted for a bit, we were able to buy a ticket for the same flight that Paul had booked for himself, and I just heard yesterday that my visa was approved by the consulate and is on its way to our house! Pray with us that it’s not “too much too soon” and that my physical recovery will be entirely complete when we leave June 10th.

It really is a dream come true to go to India with my husband, to finally see the country the Lord has put on our hearts, and to see my sweet friend Autumn who, I’m sure, has very much to teach me from her first few months on the field!

New Delhi, here we come!

Ezra Coleman

I wanted to share a little bit of how our sweet boy’s name came to be.

Ezra: Nothing particularly special about this name, although it is a good Bible name. Kind of ashamed to say this, but It actually was brought to my attention on two shows I was simultaneously hooked on when Jolynn was still a tiny bit. I thought it was a cute name that you don’t hear too much, and I stored it in my mental “baby name bank” for future reference. After getting pregnant, I didn’t think of names too much. It always stressed me out last time, so I thought I would wait until we knew what we were having to really start the great debate! However, when our ultrasound appointment came, and our precious tiny baby no longer showed us a heartbeat, we decided we wanted to name our lost baby (at this time we did not know the gender). Since the whole hospital process was a whirlwind, we didn’t have much time to ponder. However, moments after seeing our sweet baby’s face, I recalled the name “Ezra.” The next day, after he was officially named, I looked it up, and Ezra means, “God helps!” How perfect is that!?

Coleman: The middle name, “Coleman” immediately followed which was kind of strange because that name had never been on any list or in aforementioned mental “baby name bank.” Coleman is my grandfather’s name (my dad’s dad, a great man who loves the Lord), and when it popped in my head, I knew it was right! I kept these thoughts to myself (as I did most thoughts during these days) until Paul asked me what I wanted to name our little boy. I said, “I’m thinking ‘Ezra Coleman.'” He said, “I love it. It’s perfect.” I think so, too!

Ezra’s Story: Part Three

“Thank you” to all who have read the previous two parts of Ezra’s story. We have been so encouraged to hear from all of those praying for our family from all around the world! We have also heard from families whose lives have been touched by his story, and we pray that this trend will continue. This will be the last part of the chronological story of Ezra’s short life, but I will continue to share about our sweet boy and how his little life has affected ours in such significant, lasting ways!

While the labor and delivery of our sweet baby boy was painful and exhausting, perhaps the most trying part of the entire experience for me were the next few hours.

Paul called our families to tell them of the news of Ezra’s birth. We hesitated, at first, to share the news because we knew that they were exhausted from travel and would have just returned to their hotels to finally rest. However, our nurses warned us that Ezra’s body was deteriorating quickly and that by the time our families arrived, they likely would not be allowed to hold him.

They were happy to return to the hospital to comfort us and to hold their new grandson. We all wept together over the loss but marveled again at God’s handiwork evidently seen in the tiny details of our little boy. We shared the name we had chosen: Ezra Coleman. We all agreed it was the perfect name for our handsome boy (I have a post written about his name to be shared later).

Our families returned to their hotels to rest and give me time to recover. I still had to pass the placenta, and we dreaded the possibility of a D&C. Though I was physically and emotionally exhausted, I worked along with my midwife and doctor to avoid  this possible surgery. After two tiring hours, it was able to removed! We praised the Lord for a quick delivery- just 15 hours of the projected 1-3 days! My doctor shared with us that this was the fastest still birth delivery she had ever witnessed! We were so relieved and so incredibly thankful the Lord had answered our prayers!

Ezra had been taken away to have his newborn pictures taken by a professional photographer on staff at the hospital. The deterioration along with the manipulation of his body for pictures made it difficult for us to continue to have him with us in the room. His unsettling smell, cold skin, and deteriorating limbs and appendages were too much for this mommy’s heart to handle. We spent a few more minutes saying goodbye to our sweet boy and thanking the Lord for the few hours we were able to spend with him.

We called our nurse to take him from our room, and we wept at the thought of not seeing him again. Paul reminded me, however, that this would not be the last time; we would see our Ezra walking on streets of gold! What a comfort Heaven is!

I would rest as much as I could until I was released from the hospital on Wednesday evening.  My doctor wanted to keep me for monitoring, but we were anxious to get home, to see our daughter, and to prepare for Ezra’s memorial service. We promised my doctor that I would remain on strict bed rest until we held his service, and he was understanding enough to let us go!

While I was relieved to go, the full weight of the past two days’ events hit me as I sat in the wheelchair to be taken out of the hospital. That room, the only place where I knew my son, would soon hold someone else happily embracing their bundle of joy. We would soon be home, where we would try to live life as normally as possible while hurting inside from the crippling loss of our child.

The nurse sent Paul ahead to get the car, and for the first time I felt alone. The teddy bear given to me to avoid leaving the hospital with empty arms was not enough to comfort me. I tried my best to hold my emotions intact as we passed hopeful, waiting families. I felt their stares and saw the pity in their eyes, so I stared at my hands where I held my precious boy’s tiny knit hat.

I waited for what felt like hours for my husband to arrive in the circle with our car. I’ve never been so happy to see him! He held my hand the whole way home as I stared in silence at the long road ahead. 

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18).

Ezra’s Story: Part Two

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

I’ve been struggling thinking about drafting this post. I have come to my computer several times since I woke this morning, but the words just won’t come. I have begged God for discretion on what to share and what to leave out. Our story isn’t pretty, but it’s the one God gave us, and I believe it is to be shared to bring Him the glory that belongs to Him.

We arrived at Northside Hospital around 3 pm on May 14. Our brother-in-law, Will, and his brother Chris arrived within a half hour of us getting there. The rest of the Taube family was in Savannah, GA where they had vacationed for a few days, and my parents were on their way from Ohio. They would arrive in intervals throughout the evening, each visit blessing and encouraging us more and more as the night became more difficult to endure. We would also hear from our missionary friends all over the world throughout the night who were laboring in prayer for our family. We are so very blessed!

We were overwhelmed with information from nurses, doctors, and hospital staff. We were informed that the induction process could take 1-3 days, and that we should be prepared for a long, painful delivery. We prayed along with family and friends that our baby would come quickly and that the Lord would show His power in my pain.

Surprisingly, time passed quickly as I tried to rest, curled up in the fetal position in my hospital bed, eyes and teeth clenched tightly. I told Paul, “It doesn’t seem fair for this to hurt so much physically when it already hurts so much emotionally.” When I had Jolynn, I knew all the pain would be “worth it,” but I had a hard time sensing this at this time, knowing my pain would not result in a healthy, thriving child lighting our lives up with the joy of infancy.

We sent family away and prayed together. He read to me from Romans 8. I treasured this verse: Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (26). I didn’t know what to say or how to pray, but God knew my heart and would meet my every need.

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (27-28).

We knew in our hearts that this was for the good, that God would receive glory in doing His will in our lives, and that we needed to honor Him by taking it as graciously as He would allow. It didn’t take the hurt away, but it helped us to see the bigger picture of it all. It wasn’t just us, grieving parents, writhing in pain from a loss no one should ever have to bear; it was a small taste of the sufferings of Christ, a more perfect understanding of the painful results of sin on the world, and a glorious glimpse of the true beauty of the gospel.

The night wore on, most of which was a blur. We tried to pass the time with idle conversation, mindless television, and competitive card games. I was so happy to have family there to distract us from the painful reality, but I knew the time was coming when we’d have to face it alone.

Hours passed, pain increased, and I could tell that the time for our baby’s arrival was near. I prayed a few things: that my baby would not be born in a toilet, that a doctor or nurse would be present (although we were informed they most likely would not be) and that our family would not be there when the delivery occurred. I received light pain medication intravenously (the nurses called  this a “medical margarita”) and requested an epidural an hour later.

Most of our visitors had left by this time, and the last, my parents would leave shortly after midnight. My dad had been up since 3 am the previous morning, but he lovingly stayed by my bedside until we assured them it was okay with us if they left. I knew it was hard for them to see me in pain, and I wanted to avoid sharing the trauma of the delivery with them. They would be supportive and strong, but I couldn’t bear to have my parents experience what I knew would be a painful experience for all.

A short time after they left, before I would receive my epidural, I felt an urgency to use the bathroom. Shortly after, a nurse came in to deliver pillows to Paul, and she helped me get up. As I stood up, blood and fluid dropped to the floor, the pain peaked to a whole new level, and she helped me to sit down to alleviate the pain. A few sharp contractions and a few seconds later, at 12:35 am, my precious baby met the reality I hoped he wouldn’t. My prayer for a hospital bed delivery went unanswered, but thankfully a nurse was present, and our families were not.

I heard myself scream and sob as the nurse and my sweet but strong husband held me. With the help of these two, the Lord allowed me to compose myself, and they helped me stand as another nurse came in to cut the chord and collect our baby. The shock of it all was overwhelming. It felt like a horrible dream or a movie I’d like to turn off. I refused to turn around and look in the toilet, and I prayed my husband would do the same.

As I returned to the bed, I watched as the nurse cleaned and cared for my child, wrapped in a small blanket. It seemed too small to hold anything at all, much less a child. They worked to  stabilize me, physically and emotionally, and minutes later, I was holding my beautiful baby boy! All the pain melted away as I stared at my perfect, tiny blessing and marveled at the intricacies of the work of God’s hands on my precious baby. 

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