Posted on June 27th, 2008 by Abby.
Categories: Meditations on Scripture, Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological).

“Everything that happens to you is for your own good. If the waves roll against you, it only speeds your ship toward the port. If lightning and thunder comes, it clears the atmosphere and promotes your soul’s health. You gain by loss, you grow healthy in sickness, you live by dying, and you are made rich in losses.

Could you ask for a better promise? It is better that all things should work for my good than all things should be as I wish to have them. All things might work for my pleasure and yet might all work my ruin. If all things do not always please me, they will always benefit me.

This is the best promise of this life.”

Charles Spurgeon, a meditation on Romans 8:28, quoted in The Promise by Robert J. Morgan

tiny one

Posted on June 24th, 2008 by Abby.
Categories: Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological).

Born 6/18/08 at 15 weeks gestation

The ultrasound appointment took an unexpected turn.
“I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”
Lost, lost.
Only last week I heard your strong heart beat.
Even now I thought I felt you move.
The doctors, the elevators, the green gown.
“Sign these forms. I’m so sorry.”
The blood.

You were our precious gift.
Our miracle child, we thought you would be
the easy one.
Your advent brought us laughter and hope
Separating us from the difficult past
and securing the future.
A measure of normalcy.
A healthy child, an Aaron for our feeble Moses.

You arrived in the night
in a rush I barely felt.
Is that the baby?
The tiny fruit of my too-soon labor.
Gone, gone.
The ultrasound shows a black cave now.

I thought I would wrap you against the December air and gaze into your eyes,
smelling your sweet baby skin,
as they wheeled me to the waiting car,
the regal rite of the new mother.
Instead I walk into the heat with nothing but a box
holding your tiny hat and the envelope they wrapped you in.

Our hearts ache for you.
We lost you and our hope and laughter all at once,

Will you grow up, up there with Jesus?
Or when we see you someday, will you still be
our tiny one?


Posted on June 19th, 2008 by John.
Categories: Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological).

Yesterday’s ultrasound had a couple of objectives. First, it was scheduled in order to evaluate the growth and development of the brain, in light of any possible genetic similarity to James’s holoprosencephaly. We both felt the probability of that to be remote. Secondly, at 16 weeks, we were hopeful that we might learn if James were going to have a brother or a sister. Internally, we’ve been thinking about the new baby as the “normal” one, and the one who would eventually be able to help us care for James.

In fact, we found out neither objective. At about 11:00 am yesterday we learned that the baby had been dead for at least 72 hours. The heart Abby heard beating strong in the 8th, 11th, and 14th week was finished. Liquification already begun in the brain. Red-brown amniotic fluid.


We were thankful that Abby’s parents, who are experts in James’s care and therapy, were at home with him. Apparently it made him cry to see them crying.

Abby was given a room on the 9th floor of Winnie Palmer, where some old friends from the NICU came by to offer comfort. Floor 2 is for labor & delivery. Floor 3 is the NICU. Floor 5 is antepartum, for moms-to-be on bedrest. Floor 9 is a gynecological floor that Abby had been to before for postpartum NICU moms, and is apparently also used for delivery of dead fetuses. We’re pretty sure the only floors we haven’t been to are the ones with all the mirth.

Abby was given misoprostil to force her into labor, which we were told could take 24 hours or longer. The baby left the womb somewhat more quickly, at 11:35 pm on Wednesday, 6/18. While we rested for a few hours, the nurse prepared a dignified basket and dressed the 1.6-ounce, 5.5-inch body in a cloth envelope and tiny hat that still looked huge on its tiny head. Early in the morning we had some time to spend alone to say goodbye. Pastor Curt came around 6 in the morning, sat with us, mourned with us, prayed with us, and entrusted into the loving arms of Jesus our second born child.

Since the gender was hard to determine, we won’t know for a few days until the chromosomal tests come back whether this was Dora Jewel or Isaac Theodore Gjertsen. We chose the names to represent this precious gift of laughter from God that we now give back to Him with tears.

The pathologists will work with the body and the placenta, but there is a significant chance we won’t ever really know anything about the cause. Obviously, in terms of planning in the future, it would be useful to know if there is some commonality in the genetic abnormalities of our two children. Just the idea that there might be has really underscored for me the miraculous nature that James is alive today. I tend to think of him as weak in many ways, but in light of what we’ve been through in the last 24 hours, he is more of a fighter than I had previously been able to visualize.



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