Holding my stillborn son

Published 9:58 am Wednesday, February 13, 2019

My wife and I got the news on May 30, 1989. Our full term nine-month-old son was dead. Karen had not felt the baby move in a couple of days and when she checked into the hospital to deliver our son the worst news ever was reported; our son was dead. Something had happened. Somehow tragically the umbilical cord either had a kink in it or was wrapped around the baby’s neck but oxygen somehow had been cut off to our son.
I watched the delivery of my first two beautiful sons ecstatically celebrating each birth. Watching the medical team deliver Jesse Caleb who was now dead ranks as one of the most emotional gut-wrenching moments of my life.
When he was delivered the doctor wrapped him in a blanket and handed him to me to hold next to Karen. He was beautiful in every way. Physically he was perfect. Nothing at all appeared wrong with our son. There was just one major problem, he wasn’t breathing.
Karen was under anesthesia since the baby was taken by caesarean section. She had a very difficult afternoon of trying to recover from the procedure along with the emotional devastation.
I would spend most of the day holding our dead son. The hospital put me in a quiet room where I could hold him and hold him next to Karen. For several hours I held Jesse and cried. I felt like I was in a nightmare. I would look at his hands, feet and body and beautiful face and could not believe I was holding our dead child. Several times I prayed and asked God to please let Jesse breathe. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed that somehow I was in a horrible dream that I would awaken from. I went from every emotion possible. I begged God for a miracle, I pled for mercy and then I questioned why us? I went through every emotion possible from guilt to anger.
When something horrendous like losing a child happens every thought and emotion runs through your mind.
The funeral director would say the day that I took Jesse to the funeral home, “Glenn, my, my what a beautiful boy. I am so sorry.”
Three days later we would have a graveside funeral and bury Jesse Caleb. Karen and I were devastated. Actually, the loss of a nine-month full term baby is something that we never got over nor do most people.
Losing a child at any age is emotionally and physically devastating. We pray, we cry, we try to work through it, but it’s a lifelong ache that never really goes away.
I write this to say I don’t know how any woman or couple could terminate a baby. I am reading about babies being terminated at nine months. We could never had killed Jesse Caleb. He was beautiful. I don’t know how people can kill beautiful babies. Put them up for adoption if you don’t want them because thousands of people are praying for a child every day.
I do know that tough decisions are made every day. Karen and I years before had lost twins at Karen’s three-month stage of pregnancy. She was miscarrying and the doctors told her a D & C would be necessary. The emotions of losing those twins were horrendous.
Karen would later develop Multiple Sclerosis and die 12 years later. In my mind the emotional distress of losing children in such dramatic ways led to Karen’s physical debilitation that we could never overcome. It may not have caused her sickness but such distress is always detrimental.
A friend of my wife Carole died years ago from childbirth. In delivering the child she became toxic and not only did the baby die but she died as well. Looking back if the pregnancy had been terminated possibly the young lady might have been saved but it was a call that nobody made. Thus, the husband, parents and all were doubly devastated.
I don’t believe the police or lawyers or judges should ever be in the delivery room. Decisions must be made between the mother and the doctors. Sometimes decisions have to be made to save the mother.
I personally believe most women who have ever had an abortion live with guilt and regret. At least this is what I have learned from women I have heard from over the years.
I do believe in forgiveness. People make lots of mistakes and often feel they have no one to talk to about an overwhelming decision.
Today I am grateful for two beautiful sons, three lovely step-daughters and four awesome grandchildren. I am grateful. However, I’ve never forgotten holding Jesse Caleb.
(Glenn Mollette is a nationally/internationally read author of columns, inspirational devotionals and books. He is the author of 12 books.)

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox