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JJ's Story

This story was posted here on HopeMommies.org

My husband, Josh, and I started trying to get pregnant in January of 2017, and it took us almost two years to get pregnant with our first baby. We found out at 12 weeks that our sweet baby girl didn’t have a heartbeat anymore. We were completely devastated. While attempting to heal from our first loss, we decided to start trying again right away because we didn’t know if it would take a while again. To our great surprise and delight, I was pregnant again after our first month of trying. 


The first 34 weeks of pregnancy were so smooth. My husband is the youth pastor at our church, and we felt the Lord telling us early on to be very open with the church through our journey to parenting. They were with us through infertility and miscarriage, and now our whole church was rejoicing with us at the news of our pregnancy. I had the most beautiful baby shower, decorated the cutest nursery, and took maternity photos to document my bump. 


At our 34-week appointment, the midwife said that I was measuring small and ordered an ultrasound. At the ultrasound, they found that my amniotic fluid was very low and the baby was very small. I was transported by ambulance down to a hospital in Los Angeles that has the best NICU. The doctors said they weren’t concerned about his survival, but needed to keep me monitored in case we had to do an emergency delivery. 


A few days later, we had another ultrasound with the high-risk doctor who found that not only did I have absolutely no amniotic fluid, but our son’s lungs were severely underdeveloped and his chances of survival were almost zero. Our hearts stopped. We could not believe that we were once again receiving news that we were going to go home without a baby. They decided to keep me in the hospital with monitoring and hoped I would make it to 36 weeks before delivering. 


We told the doctors to expect a miracle and started praying. We put it out on social media and had thousands of people praying for a miracle. I had more hands laid on me in prayer that week than I can even count. We had people calling in from all over the world to pray over our unborn son. We hadn’t shared his name yet, but decided that we wanted people praying for our Josiah Joshua (JJ) by name. Everyone was so confident that God was going to perform this miracle and grow JJ’s lungs so he could breathe and survive. 


Our time in the hospital were excruciatingly difficult. We begged the Lord to save our baby. We were so confident in His ability to do it, but so scared He would say no. Those weeks held some of the hardest moments of life, but some of the sweetest moments of marriage. Josh slept on an air mattress for almost three weeks. He would snuggle up on my hospital bed and hold me until I fell asleep every night. We also got to spend two and a half weeks memorizing JJ’s heartbeat on the monitor and soaking up every kick and movement of our boy in the womb.


The doctors told us that we would try for a vaginal birth as that would be best for me, for JJ, and for future pregnancies, but would have to go into an emergency C-section if JJ’s heart couldn’t handle labor. By God’s grace, JJ was able to handle labor, and I delivered him at 1:45am on October 4, 2019. As soon as he was born, I screamed, “God, please save my baby!”


The doctor held him up so I could see him and then very quickly handed him over to the NICU team waiting in the room. The doctors got him on a breathing machine and hooked up all kinds of tubes to him. They told us that if they could not get him stabilized, they would just bring him back so we could hold him until he passed. The next hour waiting in the delivery room was gut wrenching. Every time the door opened, our hearts stopped with fear. Finally, the doctors came and told us that JJ was stabilized and we could go visit him in the NICU. 


The next four days were the sweetest and hardest days of my life. JJ’s health was a roller coaster. Almost every hour he would take one step forward and three steps back. When we did get some sleep, we would be awoken with changes in his status. By the third day, the doctors told us that all of the life-saving measures were affecting his brain, his organs were shutting down, and he wouldn’t last the night. 


Our parents were basically living at the hospital and sleeping in their cars so they would be close if we needed anything. We invited our siblings down to the hospital and had the sweetest night holding JJ on his NICU pad, sharing him with our family, and telling him stories about how we met and silly stories from our youth—the kind you usually wait until they’re older to share. 


When JJ made it through the night, the doctors told us that we would have to make the decision to pull him off of life support because all of his organs were shutting down. We wrestled and prayed about this decision. This just kept getting harder. I felt my heart shattering. No parent should ever have to make this decision. At the end of our fourth day with JJ, Josh and I sang “Jesus Loves Me” to him, put him back in his NICU bed, and kissed him goodnight. The song was such a perfect reminder that when I am so weak, God is so strong. 

That night, the nurses woke us up in the NICU and told us that JJ’s oxygen numbers were falling quickly. Soon after on October 8, our Josiah Joshua went to be with Jesus. God graciously took him before we had to make the hardest decision ever. 


As we held JJ for the first time not hooked up to any tubes or machines, the room was thick with God’s presence. As tears streamed down my face and I held my son tight, we sang about the goodness of God. I could feel the Lord holding me as I held my lifeless son. I had the sweetest picture of Jesus holding my baby in one arm and me and my husband in the other.  We were literally walking in the valley of the shadow of death and God was so tangibly there with us. 


I will never take for granted the fact that I got to hold and kiss my sweet baby boy. He was never awake or conscious, but I got to change his diaper, feed him drops of breast milk, and be his mom. If I knew from the beginning what was going to happen, I would do it all again for those four days with my baby. I know that I know what a mother’s love is because I literally would have yanked out my own lungs and given them to him if it would have allowed him to live.


In the months since, I have been through every single emotion in every single order. I had to recover physically from having a baby, but my arms are empty. My emotional pain has manifested itself physically. I’ve been completely overwhelmed that I had to watch my baby die. I’ve been angry that God would allow my baby to die and have been coping with the knowledge that God could have saved my baby but chose not to. I’ve been hopeless and hopeful. I’ve been unable to breathe from sadness, and I’ve been filled with joy at the hope I have in Jesus. 

I returned to work, making it seem like nothing was different, when in reality, everything has changed. I have had to figure out how to talk about JJ even though it makes people uncomfortable. I have longed for heaven—where my heart will be healed and my soul satisfied—more than ever before. Heaven is so much more real to us now. It’s not a figment of my imagination. It’s a real place where my son lives and breathes with perfect lungs.


When my heart has felt completely defeated, I have clung to the truth that I know. God is good. He is faithful. He loves me. He has won. He may have allowed this to happen, but He has held me and wept with me through the pain. I don’t know what God has in store for us as far as family here on earth. I desire it so deeply, but I know it isn’t a guarantee. However, He has promised us eternity in His presence with no pain, and I know my daughter and son are there. That is what I will cling to with everything I have. 


I could go on for pages and pages about all the ways the Lord has been kind and faithful to us through this time. I have watched Him use my son’s life to bring people closer to Him. My heart was shattered into a billion pieces and it still just doesn’t seem fair. But every time the Lord uses my sweet JJ to bring glory to Himself, it’s like He takes one of those shattered pieces and puts it back in place. And one day, when I meet Jesus face to face, it will be whole.


Josiah means “Jehovah has healed.” And truly, He has healed my son. 

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