Gift from God
At 42-years-old, I felt like my life was pretty great. We had four kids—two boys and two girls. Our oldest was 17, our youngest was 9. We were in the thick of raising our children and our family felt complete. Well, at least that’s what we thought.
We soon discovered God had a different plan for us.
When I missed my cycle one month, I thought I was heading into the early stages of menopause. I never guessed I could be pregnant. No, I couldn’t be! We were done with the baby stage of life. It had been nine whole years! We had already given away all of the baby stuff.
I am not going to lie, I wasn’t too thrilled about the unexpected news.
Four months into my pregnancy I was still struggling to accept this new change, but it was time to face reality. It was time to tell our children. We had a special meeting to tell them the news. They were ecstatic! They discussed all the things they were going to teach the baby and all the fun things they were going to do together. It brought me so much joy to witness, and helped change my attitude. Their enthusiasm was palpable and filled us all with excitement for this new addition.
They were right. This really was the best news ever!
At our 20-week ultrasound, the technician announced, “It’s a BOY!” But then the ultrasound also showed something else—a problem. Our baby boy had a heart defect.
The doctors explained to us that a healthy heart has four chambers. Our son’s heart had only two—the weaker two. So what did this mean for our little boy?
There were options, but ultimately they couldn’t create what wasn’t there. They couldn’t miraculously grow the rest of his heart. There were surgeries that could possibly prolong his life, but with only the weaker half of a heart, one can only live so long. And then there were all the complications he would face because his other organs would be compromised. He would be fine throughout the pregnancy, but once I delivered him, we weren’t sure how many hours or days we would have with him.
We were devastated. There was no way to prepare for this news. We were sure there must be some mistake. It took some time for the information to get from our heads to our hearts, but once it did, we broke down and sobbed.
I felt so much guilt.
I was sure it was all my fault because I didn’t want to have another child. God was punishing me for my bad attitude. I cried uncontrollably to my husband, feeling certain I had caused this. He looked right in my eyes and told me there was no way that God did this to punish us because God does not work that way. He gives us challenges for a reason, but not for that reason. There is something we need to learn and He trusted us to bring this little one into the world and into our family.
The following months were probably the most difficult months of my life. Although I understood it wasn’t my fault, I was still completely devastated. I would sob every morning in the shower and the warm water would pour down over my face washing away my tears. I would plead for strength to get through. There were days that I was mad at God and would ask Him, “How could you do this to me? How am I going to be able to bring this little one into the world just to watch him die? How am I supposed to go on, knowing that my perfect, little child will never have a full and normal life?”
That December, I remember being at a Christmas program. They showed a video of the Birth of Christ, and a song started playing that caught my attention. The tears poured down my face uncontrollably as I listened to the words about Mary, the mother of Jesus.
When I heard those words, I felt a closeness to Mary. In a very small way, I could identify with what she must have felt. I felt her grief and pain. I was a mother just like her, and those words in the song expressed exactly what my heart was feeling.
Then the reality of what she knew about the eventuality of her son’s life hit me. She was giving her son up for me. She gave her son as a gift to everyone. She knew what His mission was, and that He would not live a normal, long life. She knew what He was coming to earth to do, and she was willing to do what her Father had asked of her. She had faith in His plan.
My heart was full of gratitude to her and her strength. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to have the faith that she had. If she could do what she knew she had to do, then I could too. She loved her son just as much as I loved mine, as much as any mother loves her child.
These words lingered in my head, “Do you wonder as you watch my face, if a wiser one should have had my place, but I offer all I am, For the mercy of your plan.”
He had chosen me to be the mother of Nathan. I needed to trust Him because He would not leave me to do it alone.
Nathan was born February 15, 2007. Just getting him here involved many miracles. He was only 4.5 lbs when he was born—a little guy, but perfect in every way. When looking at him, you would never know that he had something wrong with him.
The following days were filled with love, trust, turmoil and ultimately peace as the spirit filled our home. Not knowing when our Nathan was going to pass away made many moments seem too difficult to bear, but my Savior was right there with me—my comforter, Mary’s son. Many of the answers we received through prayer were not what I wanted, or even what I expected, but we knew they were right for Nathan and Heavenly Father’s plan for him. In this, we found peace.
Nathan taught our family so much in his short time here on earth. He lived 18 days. We were able to take him home and love and enjoy him. While he was with us, our home became a sanctuary from the world. There was no contention, no worry, no unkindness—only peace and love. All of us wanted to be our very best. It was amazing what this tiny, perfect being did to all of us. His little heart changed all of ours for the better. Nathan means “Gift from God” and he truly lived up to his name.
My sweet gift is now with our Savior—our greatest Gift from God. Through Jesus’ life, ministry and sacrifice, we can be made whole as mothers, as daughters of God and as a family. We look forward to the day when we will see our little Nathan again, because we will see him through our Savior. Christ has given us the greatest gift of all—a family united for eternity.
Special thanks to