What can be said about a little life, a little baby? When I was only 12 weeks pregnant, expecting our ninth child, our little baby was diagnosed with an encephalocele. His brain did not develop inside of his head. The doctors gave a poor prognosis for life outside of the womb.
In most cases, babies with this birth defect miscarry around six to seven months. If I did carry him to term, they expected him to die within minutes.
The specialists that we saw encouraged us to terminate many times. Always, our answer was “no.” He is our child. He is God’s child!
The prayers from friends and family began. We were all praying for a miracle for him, but mostly God’s will. Seven months came and went and our little boy, whom we named Thomas, continued to grow and develop.
On Aug. 18 at 5:10 p.m., Thomas was born via c-section into this world in a body that was not made for here. He was baptized right away and given to us. He was so awake and alert and peaceful. He then went to meet his brothers and sisters. He was held by all of them and was awake for all of it. He didn’t cry; he just looked around at them. It was such a sweet time filled with love. We cried at the miracle of him.
He was then moved to my chest to rest skin to skin, where he was happiest. His heart rate increased, his color improved, and he rested well. He snuggled and made all of the normal baby grunts and noises. This was music to our ears. He was given some food to fill his little belly, and he did well with that.
He stayed on my chest while he slowly passed away so very peacefully at 11:10 a.m. the next day. It was the most beautiful 18 hours of our lives. Our proudest moment was bringing this little boy into this world.
I have heard it said, “God’s will will never take you where his grace will not follow.” This is so true. It was at times very heart wrenching, and we were filled with tremendous sorrow knowing our sweet little boy was not going to live. We also knew that God had a plan. His plan is perfect, even if we don’t always understand it. We just need to cooperate. He always wants what is best for us: always. God’s hands and his grace were all over this.
Thomas has brought so many people to God. People started praying who haven’t prayed in a long time. The story of Thomas spread, and strangers from as far away as Japan started praying to God for him! We saw a community rally around our family and give to us unselfishly of their time and prayers and words.
Our parish priest, Father Paul Beach, graciously honored our request to join us in the operating room when Thomas was born. We wanted to make sure that Thomas was baptized right away. “Wherever you need me to be.” he said. What a comfort! In a follow-up visit with my obstetrician she told me how many of the hospital staff were so moved and touched by Thomas. We, as a family, have witnessed the hands and feet of Christ, and it has humbled us. It has drawn us closer to Christ. So, if one soul has been saved; if one soul has turned back to God because of Thomas’ life, it is enough!
I can’t imagine not having had Thomas. The thought of never having had him makes me cry. This sweet little soul changed us forever. We would have missed out on so much. God’s grace showered us abundantly. If we would have said “no” to God; said “no” to his will, we would have said “no” to all of the blessings and graces that came with carrying this sweet cross. I think of the many mothers and fathers that say “no” and about all that they are saying “no” to. If they only knew. I then think of the cross that they carry now, and I pray for them.
Kirsten Butler is a member of St. Martin of Tours Church.
If you have a story you would like to submit for, “A View from the Pew,” contact Sal Della Bella at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-585-3291.