We had no warning before Jairus died. 6 days before he was born sleeping he received a perfect health score during an ultrasound. Shock is the only way to describe it. But within days, we began to identify that there were actually many ways in which God had gently been preparing our family for this loss. And though it feels sometimes like He led us blindly toward this tragedy, we can see that He was really ahead of us on this path, waiting with open arms so that when Jairus left us to go to his heavenly home, we would catch a glimpse of how God sustains and provides for His children. Here are (in no particular order) a few of the blessings God gave us in preparation for this season of sorrow...
1. Chest freezer - for a couple of months I'd been looking into getting one so we could buy food in bulk and stretch our pennies further. In early November a coworker of Marks passed him in the hall one day, stopped in her tracks and offered Mark hers. Free of charge. We were really excited then, and even more grateful now, as without that freezer we would not be able to accept the overwhelming blessing of food that has been given to us from friends and family since losing Jairus.
2. Community - We started getting involved with our church the summer of 2005. Through relationships with people at Hope we have received endless support, care and love. We couldn't get by without our church family. We had no idea 6 years ago that we would come to love and depend on those true friendships so much.
- Last spring we met the Pipers just before getting pregnant with Jairus. They were the first family we had ever known personally who had lost a child in stillbirth. Their understanding tears, wisdom and comfort have been priceless. Thanks to God bringing them to Hope, we have never had to walk alone.
3. Marriage - All last year I really had our marriage pressed on my heart. (you can read more about that here) God was working in me about my communication (or lack there of) with my husband. We struggled and began the work of moving toward one another more intentionally. Marriage is a continuous, ongoing battle for love and unity, and I can see how last year's struggle for communication is helping us as we grieve for our baby.
4. Ultrasounds - Due to a blood condition and complications with each of my previous pregnancies, I received more ultrasounds with Jairus than most women get with their babies. I had the opportunity to see him on the screen over and over. I watched him move, knew that he had hair, even saw him smile. I got so many ultrasound photos I have lost track of some of them (which really drives me nuts but hopefully they will all turn up eventually).
5. Dream - This is not something I have come to terms with entirely, it makes me confused and sad, BUT it was definitely a preparation...when I was 4 or 5 months pregnant with Jairus, I dreamed about him. We did not know his gender and had been discussing boy and girl names for awhile. We had agreed on a girl name, but not on a boy name. Mark really liked the name Jairus, but I really wasn't sure. One night I dreamed I was holding my baby in my arms. I knew that this baby had come early and in the dream he was sleeping in my arms. I looked down at him and said sadly, "Oh, his name IS Jairus." When I awoke I was really confused, and thought my sadness was because I wasn't sure I liked the name.
6. Being home - We returned home from celebrating Christmas with family the day before Jairus was born. You can read the story of his birth here. Which was a bit unusual because it was only 2 days after Christmas and we usually try to stay longer when we go. But Mark had to be back at work on Tuesday so home we went. I'm really grateful we were home when I went into labor. Really grateful we had that last dinner as a family of 5. Grateful my kids were sleeping peacefully in their own beds, totally unaware of what was going on. We went to our own hospital and our own doctor delivered Jairus and cared for us afterward.
7. Giving away our car - All fall we talked about getting rid of our second car. Our friend Laura was going to take it off our hands for us. One week before Jairus was born, Laura came to our house to look at the car. She'd never been to our house before and didn't know where we lived. At 3:45am on December 28th Laura answered her phone and jumped in her car to come to our house and be with the kids while we went to the hospital.
8. Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep - As previously stated here, I learned about this organization while I was pregnant with Jairus. It scared me to think of needing such a gift. But because we knew who they were, we were able to immediately have them contacted. Our photographer was able to take photos of our son within hours of his birth.