Silence. Stillness. “I’m sorry . . . I can’t seem to find a heartbeat,” the ultrasound technician said. More silence. Everything in that dimly lit room was completely still and quiet. Too quiet! Just a moment before, my husband and I were chatting with the friendly technician. We had been a bit giddy as we were about to learn the gender of this little one growing inside me. But in an instant, the room had grown cold and lifeless. As the technician stepped out to call the doctor, the darkness of the room echoed the darkness that began to enshroud our hearts. It can’t be true… the doctor will come in, and he will find the heartbeat and everything will be all right… our hearts so desperately willed. On a bleak February day and in one sentence, death had altered the course of our dream.
As I write these words, it is late July, two years later. Today the air is thick with humidity, and nature is in full bloom, teeming with life. It is a fitting reflection of the life that has started springing up again in our hearts… in a place where we once thought it could not. As I hold my infant son, grinning at me with bright, laughing eyes, I feel a quiet awe rising up within me. He is now six months old, and we still find ourselves riveted by the wonder of this merciful gift.
We chose his name—Wilder—because he is a living reminder of God’s wild imagination and love. In living out the story that God is writing in our lives, we have tasted this wildness.
01. Letting Go
The story began several years ago when we had decided it was time to expand our family. This was anything but an easy decision. While we envisioned our daughter, Caroline, as a big sister and looked forward to her having the companionship of a sibling, this decision brought with it a measure of fear because I have a rare disease of pregnancy. Affecting about two percent of pregnancies each year, hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and vomiting. In the first trimester of my pregnancy with Caroline, I lost twenty-five pounds. During those first weeks, our thoughts immediately went to the safety of our unborn baby. The doctor alleviated our fears by assuring us that the baby draws all needed nutrients from the mother. This fact brought comfort, if not relief, to my aching body and weary soul.
On June 30, 2003, our baby girl, Caroline, was born. Today she is a vibrant and precocious five-year-old embarking on the adventure of kindergarten. My health was restored, and we settled into life as a family of three. In the end, it seemed a small price to pay for the abundant joy a longed-for child brings. So, about three years ago, we decided to try to have another baby, even though we knew it was likely that the HG would surface again. Foolishly believing that experience had taught us something about managing the disease, we moved forward with trying to conceive.
Only one week after celebrating our good news—a positive pregnancy test—the disease returned. Unfortunately, this time it promised to be an even more severe case. My doctor immediately began an aggressive treatment plan, including hospitalization. A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) was inserted into my arm, the long catheter positioned at my heart, where a constant flow of medications, nutrients, and hydration could be delivered directly into my bloodstream. I didn’t eat for four months, and I was nauseated every waking moment, vomiting multiple times a day. A host of family and friends took care of Caroline, prepared meals for our family, sat with me, and prayed for us. They were the hands and feet of Christ, and we have often wondered how we would have survived this time without our community.