Dear Baby James,
Today is the day that we marked on our calendars in October as soon as we found out that you were growing inside of me. It was supposed to be your birthday. There isn’t something magical about July 3rd. We all know that due dates really mean nothing and if your story had been a normal one, you still probably wouldn’t have been born on this day. You probably would have been stubborn like your sister and made me go a week past due just waiting to meet you. Instead, we met you two months early under circumstances that I never could have imagined.
We only saw you moving through an ultrasound screen. For 11 weeks, we went into the doctor’s office just to look at you. I loved it when our doctor would come in and exclaim how strong our baby was. We were so proud of you and the amount of fight that you had. Somehow you survived for so long even with so much stacked against you. You were an amazing little boy.
Your daddy and I were talking just the other day about how I couldn’t imagine still being pregnant right now. Maybe that’s a small sign that we’re starting to realize that your life had nothing to do with July 3rd. I’m reading a book that talks about how to teach children to number their days, and to view their life intentionally and purposefully. This book also talks about when you are teaching a child it’s best to use stories to allow them to understand what you’re teaching them. One day, when Evy is old enough to understand that concept, I’m going to use your life as an example of how the Lord purposefully numbers all of our days and has a job for us to do. Your life was so short….but every week that you survived… every day that I felt like I couldn’t keep going, but you did… everything that your daddy and I learned about each other and our faith while we had you here on this earth…. every post I shared… every person who read about you… every conversation we have about you… every nurse, midwife and doctor who helped us walk through this season….everyone who watched us love you despite losing you…. they were all changed by you. Our good friend Buddy said yesterday that the ratio of how long you lived compared to the lives that you have touched is hard to wrap our minds around. It’s incredible.
We are still getting letters and emails, and having conversations about how you changed and are continuing to change other’s lives. Moms who have never healed from their own losses continually reach out to me. They explain how my sweet baby has allowed them to realize that they never allowed themselves to love and grieve the loss of their own. The way that God has allowed your daddy and me to walk through this season and share about your life is giving others FREEDOM to talk about the silent burdens that they have been carrying. Our hope in Heaven and our trust in our God in the midst of devastation is proving to a broken world that in pain there is still HOPE….. in trials there is still VICTORY… and in LOSS there needs to still be LOVE. Loving you and choosing to carry you and celebrate you was such a hard dance between pain and joy… but I wouldn’t have traded the way we loved you for anything. The way we loved you while you were here and continue to love you now that you’re gone can only happen because of the hope we have in the Gospel. Because we know that Jesus prepared a place for us (and you) in heaven and that God has a plan for every life, we were able to open our hearts and fall in love with our baby boy even though we were going to lose you.
James…. what your life has given me is the ability to trust our God in way that I never could have experienced otherwise. There is indescribable FREEDOM that comes from truly, completely, and wholeheartedly handing over my days to God. Everyday that you grew and continued to live inside of me, I had to give that day over to God and pray that He would allow me to have strength to survive the next. After living through what we experienced losing you, it would be natural for me to live in fear of horrible things happening to your daddy… or to your sister… or to our future babies….. but then I remember that my God is faithful and mighty to save. He rescues his people in their day of trouble. He walked with me through my darkest valley and He has promised to never leave me. He has proven over and over and over to me that He is trustworthy…. and your life is what has made me so sure of that. The trust I have in God because of you sweet boy has changed my life. Your life has given me a FREEDOM that I have never known before and it all makes sense now. For the rest of my life, the fourth of July will have new meaning. While the rest of the country celebrates our freedom as a nation…. I’m going to celebrate my son whose life allowed me and countless others to find freedom in the Lord’s grace.
I have cried while writing this to you. I’ve cried off and on during the last few weeks thinking about how much I wish you were here. We’re at the lake and I had envisioned either being really pregnant or having a tiny newborn on July 4th. Instead, I have a precious baby in heaven who I will never forget, who my heart aches for, and who I long to hold again. Sweet Baby James, you are one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It’s hard to write that, but I know that it’s true. Being your momma has changed my entire life and while there is still so much pain and sadness, I rejoice that you’re in heaven with our Savior. I praise God that I was chosen to carry you, love you, and deliver your precious body into this world. You will never be forgotten.
Happy due date sweet boy.
** To the mommas out there who are going through the unimaginable…. I have so much that I wish that I could say to you. One day I’ll find a way to share everything that I want to. But for right now, the main thing that I want you to know is that you can let yourself love your babies. That may sound strange… but I know that when you walk through what we walked through, our human default is to protect ourselves and to run from the inevitable pain and try to minimize it as much as possible. I’m telling you…. it’s worth it to let yourself fall in love with your baby while you’re losing them. It’s the healthiest and most fulfilling way to survive the awful season that you’re in even though in the moment, it makes everything more painful. I understand that it’s so scary… because it feels so dangerous to allow yourself to love and care for something that will be taken away from you…. but loving James wholeheartedly while we had him is what has allowed us to survive and even THRIVE in the midst of such grief and pain. Some days it seemed too hard to let my heart feel love for my baby who was dying…. but the closer we got to losing James, the more and more God allowed me to choose to LOVE him instead of disconnecting from him and trying to block out what was happening to us. I can’t explain how thankful I am for that. It changed EVERYTHING for us. I wish that I could hug you and tell you how much I understand your pain and encourage you that by the grace of God, you will survive this. **
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