Continuing to tell the “whole story,” here is Chapter 3:
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I barely remember the summer of 2007. I know that we spent June and July in a kind of fog, mourning the loss of our baby. We literally grieved him as if he were dead. It is difficult to describe the overwhelming sense of loss combined with the surreal feeling of the baby still kicking and moving inside my growing tummy.
We were so overwhelmed by the love and support of our friends and family during that time. Everyone we knew, and many others that we’d never met, were praying for us and for our tiny baby. I truly felt physically and emotionally supported. The feeling was as real if a strong man’s hands were holding me up at and at the same time holding me against a comforting shoulder – and without that, I never would have been able to get out of bed every day and take care of myself and Micah. I don’t know how Aaron kept going to work each day, except that those strong hands were supporting him, too.
“We need to name him,” I said to Aaron just a couple days after we found out “he” was dying. “I want him to have a name before he dies.” I wanted a name to remember him by – a name to give to our little soul that would be waiting in heaven for us. And, I wanted to tell everyone his name – so that they would know him and have a specific name to pray for.
Previous discussions of names had been difficult – Aaron and I generally had a tough time finding one we could agree on. Usual discussions went something like this:
“How about Gabriel? I really like the name Gabriel.” I would start.
“No, my grandparents had a dog named Gabe. What about Alex?”
“Hmm, I kind of like Alexander.”
“Not Alexander! Just Alex. But NOT Alexander!”
“Oh. I would want it to be the whole name. Michael?” I would suggest.
“Too common. Besides, didn’t YOU have a dog named Mike?”
“Yeah. He was a good dog, though. Not smart, but very cuddly.”
“Um. . . we do already have a boy named Micah. Micah and Michael could get confusing.
“Oh yeah. It’s a great name, though. I do really like those ‘M’ names. Sorry – my brain sometimes does weird things when I’m pregnant.”
“Which is why you should let ME name the baby!”
“Nice try, mister. I’m not having a Darth Vawter.”
This would generally go on until we were both out of options, then we would campaign for our favorites despite the other’s objections.
But this time was very, very different.
“Do you have an idea of what you’d like to name him?” Aaron asked.
“I think maybe he’s my Matthew.”
“O.k. He’s our Matthew. . . . Hi there, little Matthew,” Aaron said, gazing at my tummy. “Sorry about all of this, little guy. You don’t deserve any of it.”
We had discussed the name Matthew in the past, many times. You see, it was one of my favorite names. I love St. Matthew, I love the way it sounds, and I love that it means “Gift from God.” But, it wasn’t one of Aaron’s favorite names. He didn’t mind it – he thought it was a good name, but he wasn’t a big fan of the nick-name “Matt,” mainly because it is a pretty common name. We did know a lot of people named Matt – but they were all really great people! We also weren’t sure we wanted to start the “M” trend with our children. But, none of those things were going to matter with this baby. He would be our Matthew, and he would be in heaven.
Most people think that Matthew’s middle name, Nicholas, is for Saint Nicholas – the patron saint of children. (Think Jolly ol’ St. Nick). And, it is . . . in part. But, Matthew’s middle name is primarily for the lesser-known Saint Nicholas of Tolentino (click here), who is the patron saint of babies and dying people. (It just seemed to fit at the time.) What caught my attention about Saint Nicholas, though, was his reputation for being a “wonder-worker.” He spent his life caring for the sick and dying, and was known for many miraculous healings, especially of children. He is even reported to have resurrected many children who had died! I knew Matthew needed a miracle, so having St. Nicholas on board would help.
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How we felt during all of this is the most difficult part of our our journey for me to describe. Maybe it is because I think I need to tell you why we felt a certain way – but I don’t always know why. This is one of those times. After a couple weeks, we had a great peace about the whole thing. Yes, we grieved, but we were at peace with the situation. We knew that our baby would go straight into God’s hands. We were grateful that the diagnosis was so clear – we were thankful that we wouldn’t have to make any “tough calls” medially. It was very clear – he had no chance of survival, so we would choose comfort care only. If I didn’t miscarry him, we would be able to have him in Yakima, close to friends and family, because we wouldn’t be needing extensive medical care. The doctors in Yakima could keep him comfortable. And we would be o.k. – we had those strong hands holding us up, and we were at peace.
I didn’t know where we would bury him, though. That was going to be tough.