Hopal McClintock wrestles with God after the loss of her baby.
Our world was shattered, turned upside down and sideways in a matter of seconds. Forever our hearts would be left with the scar—a hole that nothing on earth can fill. It felt like God had let us down, like He was nowhere to be found when we really needed Him. Where was our miracle?
Let me back up a little.
It had taken us only three months to fall pregnant. Our families were ecstatic—the first grandson on one side of the family, and the third on the other side. Every day of the pregnancy we prayed for Bub. Every day we sang him beautiful Bible songs and told him about Jesus.
The nursery was fully decorated and ready for its tiny new occupant. The hospital bag was packed, ready to go at a moment’s notice. Bub himself was in perfect position. Only the arrival day was taking its own time. We tried everything to encourage Bub to come but nothing worked.
At last, the much-anticipated day arrived and we headed off to the hospital. It was June 1, 2013, the day we would finally meet and hold our son. In the labour ward I tried to brave the pain as yet another contraction ripped through me. I buckled over, stooping to catch a breath. I was wearing a track in the tiled floor, pacing back and forth, back and forth in a vain effort to encourage my baby to come quickly and to try to relieve the terrible pain.
One particular memory stands out vividly. If I close my eyes, I can see it as clearly as if it is happening right now: a woman stands in the doorway of a hospital labour ward room. Our eyes connect briefly before she returns to looking and cooing at the sleeping baby in her arms. Despite the pain, I smiled at the thought that it would soon be my turn to cuddle and coo and love a baby, our very first—a boy named Kaelen.
It was pure exhaustion, pushing and pushing, but still Kaelen didn’t want to come. I remember asking my husband to pray that God would help Kaelen to come out right now. I was tired, the epidural was wearing off and the pain was intensifying. Ken bowed his head against mine and asked God for help.
What happened next is still too hard to comprehend.
I changed position, hoping that it would prompt Kaelen to come. Exhaustion turned to fear when the nurse reattached the CTG machine—Kaelen’s heartbeat could not be found. The labour pain was so horrific that I didn’t even comprehend what that might mean. Nurses rushed me to theatre for an emergency C-section. I gave my consent to being anaesthetised and started counting. I made it to five before I went under.
I awoke groggy and confused. The room was crowded. A doctor walked over to where I was lying and said those dreadful words, “Your baby didn’t make it.”
My reply to the news was, “God knows best.” To this day, I don’t know where in my soul those words came from.
They placed Kaelen in my arms. He was warm. Beautiful. Motionless.
We bathed and dressed him, took photos and cuddled him. He “slept” in a cold cot in the room with us. Throughout the night we prayed, pleaded, begged, hoping for a miracle. I listened out for a cry that would tell us that Kaelen was alive, but in the morning our baby remained silent and still and cold.
It felt like God had let us down in a gigantic way. That day challenged our belief in a God who is kind, loving and ready to answer our desperate prayers. Where was our miracle? Where did our prayers go? Why did this happen to us?
Thus began our journey of grief.
It was a slow, painful journey. Choosing the tiny white coffin, the tear-shaped silver urn, the order of the funeral service, closing the door to a nursery full of toys and clothes yet empty of life, recovering from a C-section with nothing to show for it, swallowing the two little pills to stop my breast milk coming in, days of asking God why.
The support from our families, friends and church family was amazing and helped us through those dark days. We clung to the promise of the resurrection and our hope in Jesus. Precious Bible verses comforted us, as did prayers for peace and healing. God was there through it all, our source of strength.
As I type this, it has been four years and two weeks since that wretched day. Time has flown by swiftly. Today, while there is scarring on our hearts, we can smile and laugh again and the pain has dulled, somewhat. We always remember Kaelen and his birthday. Occasionally we still ask God why. “Why did Kaelen have to die? Why didn’t You answer our prayer?” But no answers are forthcoming.
If I never have another child this side of eternity, I know that God knows best.
We thought we would have at least two other children to fill the quiet nursery by now. But after nearly four years of trying, praying, lab testing, doctors visiting and trying some more, we remain inexplicably childless—childless despite the numerous people who have been praying for us.
I often wonder what has happened to all those prayers. Why does God seem to turn a deaf ear? Why do those who don’t want children, or who abuse, neglect and mistreat them, seem to pop them out in droves, but those who want them can’t conceive? Why do unbelievers and atheists have their families, but God-fearing Christians languish with empty hands and full hearts with no child to love?
And why do some people get their miracle—people whom doctors think will never be able to conceive? Yet people like us, for whom there is no medical reason for their infertility, are still praying, hoping and losing hope, because there seems to be no miracle for them?
I remember a recent Mother’s Day clip that was shown in church about a double miracle: the miracle conception and birth of two babies when all hope for even one was gone. The video mentioned thanking God for mums. But what about those women who long to be mums but for whom there is no miracle? There was no assurance about the enduring love of God or the example of God being seen in those would-be mums. It felt like we were forgotten.
I know there are many women wearing my shoes. It’s not something we talk about because it’s so heartbreaking and we believe, rightly or wrongly, that people with kids just can’t understand our struggles. But many of us are struggling through our smiles.
Usually, when you read an article like this, there is the thrilling news at the end about how God has finally answered prayers and delivered a miracle. But that isn’t so in this case. Our arms are still empty, hope has almost flickered out. Yet we still cling to the tiny flicker that is left, that maybe, just maybe there is a miracle for us.
And if there isn’t . . . Then even though hope dwindles, we still have faith. Faith in a God who is merciful, kind, compassionate, loving, gracious and full of wisdom. We know that God knows ultimately what is best and He desires, above all else, our eternal good. God will not withhold from me even one blessing that it would be for my best good for Him to give.
So if I never have another child this side of eternity, I know that God knows best. He will strengthen me and soothe my aching heart. He will give me peace and dry my tears each month when nature makes its round and I stare at yet another dying ember of hope. He is my Father. He loves me and cries with me and longs to reveal His plans and purposes. But for whatever reason, He hasn’t. He might not answer my “whys” but He is interested, involved and active in my life though it doesn’t always feel that way and at times I get frustrated with His silence.
Maybe my destiny in life is to love other people’s children as I would my own. Maybe this is the only way to guarantee my eternal salvation. Maybe this way, through my testimony, many people can be brought to a saving relationship with Jesus. Or maybe there is no particular reason or purpose and this is just another effect of sin.
All I know is that without God this journey would be ten-fold worse, but with Him I can endure emptiness, loss, grief, pain and disappointment. With Him I can smile at the storm and find peace and joy despite our circumstances.
I look forward to the second coming when Kaelen will be returned to our arms. When others like me, who missed out on parenthood this side of heaven, will be given their own precious child to love. Don’t give up on God because He will never leave nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
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