If I ever thought that I was in control of my life, the events of December 7, 2003 proved to me otherwise. But the story doesn't start there. It really starts earlier, back to the spring of 2001. My husband-to-be and I had talked several times about whether we would start a family once we were married. I was 39 and already had a 15 year old son that I had raised alone since birth. I thought I was too old to start again with kids. My husband had never been married and did not have any children of his own. Although he would have liked to have children, he listened to my concerns and accepted my eventual decision to not have any more children. Shortly after we were married, however, I started to have a change of heart. We talked again about starting a family and agreed to put it in God's hands, accepting whatever He decided, not knowing how hard that was going to be.
After almost two years of "trying" with no success, we figured that God's plan must not have included any children for us as a couple and in our minds, we moved on, content with my son and our two dogs and two cats. But we were wrong. At end of July 2003, I started feeling nauseous and took a pregnancy test. My husband was already in bed. Instead of waiting the recommended three minutes, I looked immediately, saw the test was white and left the room. I went back and checked a while later and even though it is not recommended to read a test after about 10 minutes, I looked anyway and the test was positive! I woke my husband up and showed him the test. He drove to a 24hr. drugstore in the middle of the night to get pregnancy tests. Four home pregnancy tests later, we finally believed that what we had hoped for was coming true...I was pregnant!!
Whoever decided to call the pregnancy nausea "morning sickness" really had no idea. Like my first pregnancy, I had nausea day and night into the 2nd trimester, then started feeling better around 16 weeks. We had ultrasounds at 6 weeks (to determine a due date) , 14 weeks (due to a very slight bleed one day) and 18 weeks (our Level II ultrasound), all indicating that Ben was growing normally.
On Monday, December 1, 2003, I started bleeding. I went to Labor and Delivery, at which time another ultrasound was done. To our relief, Ben was doing fine. However, my cervix was already dilated to 1cm. I was put on Magnesium Sulfate for 24 hours to stop any contractions I was having. The pain was intense, like someone sitting on my chest, but I was willing to go through it if it meant Ben would be ok. The next morning I was taken off the MS but stayed in the hospital for observation the remainder of the day. At 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, the doctor decided I could go home on strict bed rest.
For the next four days, my husband and son took care of me, cooking meals for me, getting books from the library, cleaning the house and doing laundry. Jake and Luke (our Labrador Retrievers) spent those days up on the bed with me. Jake, especially, is very tuned into how I'm feeling. He has always known if I was sad or upset and loves to snuggle up close to me to comfort me.
On Saturday, December 6, 2003, I was experiencing an extremely sore back. I was unaware that this was an indication of premature labor. Several hours later, I was bleeding slightly, so I called my doctor, who did not feel I needed to go to the hospital. So I laid down and tried to sleep.
Around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, 2003, I awoke with what felt like contractions. I timed them for a while...they were 5-6 minutes apart. I called the doctor who told me to meet her at Labor and Delivery. When we got there, I was examined by my doctor, who told us the devastating news that I was already dilated to 4cm and that there was nothing she could do to stop my labor. Our baby would be born, and at 22 weeks gestation, would not survive. The hospital did not have an advanced neo-natal unit that could handle babies born before 24 weeks gestation. I wish I had known this beforehand as I would have had my husband take me to the hospital in our county that might have been able to save him!
After an hour of getting poked and prodded for an IV and another hour waiting for an epidural, I was finally feeling no physical pain....but the emotional pain was just beginning for us. To know that you would give birth to a baby that would not survive is an indescribable pain. We were blessed to have a wonderful nurse sit with us. She had lost a daughter at 20 weeks gestation several years ago, so she knew first-hand what we were experiencing. Having her there with us, holding my hand, coaching me through the delivery meant so much to us. In fact, the entire nursing staff, as well as my doctor and the anesthesiologist, were very kind and compassionate towards us, helping us to make it through this terrible day.
At 10:38 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, 2003, our much loved and anticipated son, Benjamin Edward Chapman was born. He weighed 1 lb. 4 oz. and was 11 inches long. Ben was born alive, and we got to hold him in our arms. He was perfect in every way...and was a carbon copy of his daddy, from his nose and lips, to his hands down to his feet. Shortly after his birth, with his daddy holding him, Benjamin leapt into the arms of Jesus.
Later, we received the pathology report and found out that Ben's premature birth was caused by a massive Group B Strep infection which had breeched the placental barrier, as well as his umbilical cord. Group B Strep is not even routinely tested for until the end of a pregnancy. I never heard of this until it happened to our son!
It's been almost six years now that Ben has been gone. We're not angry with God. We never asked "Why us?" We did ask "Why at all???" Why give us this precious little boy, only to take him from us. God gently reminded me that we had agreed to accept whatever His plan was for us. He is in control. Romans 8:28 says "In all things God works for the good of those who love him." So through the pain, through the tears, we gave Him the glory. We have faith. Ephesians 6 says "Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." We KNOW we will see Ben again and what a reunion that will be!