Grateful for the Baby We Never Knew

“How do you feel?” My husband’s voice asked through the anesthesia. My hand moved heavily to the spot where a baby had grown.

 “Empty,” I whispered. He scooped my tear before it hit the pillow and then wiped his own. 

It was a hard loss the day the ultrasound recorded no heart beat, made worse by being far from home. 

“You already have three healthy children, you should be happy,” the nurse told me. “Three is enough.” 

Three little girls budding with childhood maternal instinct shared the confusing grief. 

“Your daughter,” the teacher told us months later, “draws pictures I think you should see.” 

I held out my hand and she placed into it a penciled portrait. A stick-figure-stiff family of five, held hands across the page. A baby drawn apart, alone, lay at the bottom.  

It was a hard loss. 

Then I got word across the ocean my Dad died. Like backwards math, the subtractions added. The equation equaled more pain, and we all hurt. Inside me a gaping cavern grew.  

“Are Grandpa and our baby holding hands?” The whispered question came from our middle daughter who couldn’t imagine anything worse than no hand to hold. I looked down to where her little hand lay in mine, her blue eyes big.     

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16 NIV

My husband and I have a ritual. Every night before we fall asleep…ok, sometimes there are very long pauses and one of us has to jar the other just slightly… we pray for the four children God entrusted to us. Four. It’s a wonderful number which has been tried severely through the years, and I have marveled more than once to be able to say, “I have four children.”  

We pray nightly for our four children’s spouses and our fourteen grandchildren. And then in the dark of our bedroom, my husband unexpectedly thanks Jesus for a baby never born. It takes me by surprise, and brings me back to long ago and far away. 

“Thank you Jesus,” he prays into the quiet night, “for the baby we never knew.”

What price tag, of what value is a life never lived? 

Sometimes my husband and I feel our days numbering, piling up, bumping into each other. They demonstrate with an ache here or there, a name forgotten, or the all encompassing weariness of a day. 

Then we remember, all the days ordained are written before one of them came to be. The before-bookend of an unborn child and the last bookend of a long life. 

Both testify of a Father who marks every life with purpose, every soul with inestimable value.   

The month of October highlights remembrance of pregnancy and infant loss. In the frenetic beating of our world and our wants, little unborn souls may seem not much more than an inconvenience. Oh, but in God’s providence they are priceless.   

How much can an unborn child influence the life of another? So much. Even yet, even now.

I lie in the silence, remembering the fear. Yet, another pregnancy teetered on the jaws of miscarriage. With three healthy children, and a difficult recovery after our hard loss, the doctor advised me to terminate.

That of course was never an option. 

“It’s not yet viable,” were his last words to me.

Our transatlantic flight only hours away, had been set long before baby sickness doubled me over on my knees in the bathroom. The timing for morning sickness and health concerns fought against our plans. After an uneasy seventeen hour flight home, we met almost immediately with another doctor. 

“I think we will know soon,” he nodded confidently, hooking my belly up to an array of machines. 

My husband’s hand squeezed mine so tight it hurt. We held our breath. 

And suddenly the quiet room was filled with the glorious swish, swish, swish of our son’s heart. 

Tonight we prayed for our list of four and their families. Side by side with sleep blurring our edges, we prayed for the now grown-up daddy-son God

 brought to bookend our family.  

And, together we thanked Jesus for the soul we will meet one day in eternity,   “written in your book before one of them came to be.” The baby we never knew, God knows well.

27 Replies

  1. Jeanie Williams Reply

    I am thinking of end of this life — and eternal life in heaven today. My dear friend, for whom I have been a caregiver for the past 18 years, passed into the presence of Jesus Oct. 22, Though I will miss her, we know she is now jubilant in heaven, she can talk, she can walk and is healed from her limitations all these years!! She loved to hear me read the Bible to her and she could sing a hundred hymns by memory with me! Blessed assurance, she knew Jesus as Savior!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      I am so sorry for your loss. Eighteen years is a long time. Surely her joy will be victorious! What a tribute you write of her loving to hear Scripture and singing hymns. I am grateful you can be assured that you will see her again. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Mark Heidebrecht Reply

    This great article highlighting the son you never knew touched my heart and renewed my emptiness from us loosing Evan some 42 years ago. It is a void that only God can fill, and yet the emptiness somehow remains. I will always miss him so much. I’m so glad I will be able to hug him in heaven someday soon.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks so much Mark. That was a deep loss indeed. I remember it. There will be great reunions one day. I appreciate you sharing that experience and the hope which accompanies it.

  3. Nancy E. Head Reply

    Sylvia. Wow. Such power in this account. May it go far and wide to touch hearts and bring healing (and teach nurses not to make insensitive statements).

    Beautifully presented. God bless, Sylvia.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Nancy, thanks so much. I am always honored by your encouraging words.

  4. Larry Reply

    Thirty eight and a half years ago, my wife and I held our still born son. We then endured 13 miscarriages over the next 7 years trying to conceive . Psalms 139 is so important to us, knowing amidst all the pain, GOD is sovereign in ALL things.
    Thank you for your thoughts, telling us once again how precious the little ones are to our Father.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Oh my. I am sure there was a lot of pain in those losses. This assurance that God is Sovereign in All things is exactly the testimony which encourages and strengthens others. May He be honored, and thank you for sharing.

  5. Lois S. Reply

    Thanks for sharing, Sylvia. I am thinking at this moment of a dear young couple in our church who have lost seven. And finally have a second living child.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      There must be deep heartache in those losses. I am grateful for the knowledge that God knows each of their names. Thanks Lois. I’m always thankful for your input!

  6. Barbara Latta Reply

    I know your pain is deep and my heart goes out to you. We do have the eternal hope of all holding hands again. This separates is from the hopeless world. Thanks for sharing your story, Sylvia. I pray for those who need comfort and hope for the same situations to find and read your words.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Barbara. My desire is for those who have experienced the death of a pre-born child will recognize how valuable the baby is as well as God’s sovereign plan for a little soul. I appreciate your insight. An eternal hope does separate us from a hopeless world.

  7. Donna Lynn Hogue Reply

    Thank you for this beautiful celebration of life–even the one who did not come to fruition here on earth but resides eternally with our Father. I, too, experienced miscarriage at age 30. It was my first pregnancy and of course I was devastated. I screamed at God for a year! Then I yielded to His sovereignty and before I knew it I was pregnant again! He allowed me to have 3 beautiful children, 2 boys and a girl. I still think about my unborn baby, and wonder whether or not it was a girl or a boy. Only God knows. I thank Him for holding me and my sweet husband through that experience.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Donna. I always thought to have miscarried the first would have been so difficult. I am so glad God gifted you with 2 boys and a girl later. Thanks for your testimony of God holding you and your husband. We will know someday if it was a girl or a boy!

  8. Jeannie Waters Reply

    What a tender, precious story, Sylvia. Thank you for sharing it here. As always, your posts show us God’s sovereignty.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Jeannie. I am so grateful you see God’s Sovereignty in the post. It is what I want people to see.

  9. Katy Kauffman Reply

    I have friends younger than me who have multiple little ones in heaven. Thank you for sharing your story and hope. You’re shining a light in some of the darkest places of grief and struggle.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Katy. It was a long time ago, and the waters have definitely calmed since then, but I know baby loss, is a difficult road. I am so very sorry for those who suffer it multiple times. The comfort is in knowing they will be waiting in eternity.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Katy. I’m grateful and honored God uses our stories.

  10. Annie Yorty Reply

    You’ve written such a moving tribute and testimony to the goodness of God. I’m with you–every life has purpose in God’s eyes. May we see with His eyes.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Annie. Your testimony is strong as to the value of life. God is good, and yes, may we see with His eyes.

  11. Katherine Pasour Reply

    What a beautiful story, Sylvia, so tender, so loving. I love the picture of God holding your baby in His loving arms, telling him all about his earthly family and in just a blink of an eye–the baby God knows and loves will be reunited with his earthly family, too. Meanwhile, God will take care of the little one.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Katherine. You said it beautifully. It is a wonderful hope.

  12. Sharon Reply