MY STORY: JULIE MARYANN REBUILDING AFTER BREAKING
Updated: Aug 12
I typically think that those of us that are suffering don’t always realize that we are, or that we have been. Does that resonate with anyone? Sometimes we grow so distant and so out of touch with who we are that we become hollow enough we feel we can reach inside our own hearts.
When I was 14, I was told I could never have children. And so, as a teen, I walked around mourning as adults would, yearning for babies I so desired but believed I’d never have. I had crazy health issues- at one point, I even bled non-stop for 11 months. I endured years of pain, health concerns, doctors’ visits- many that continued into my adulthood, with two surgeries, just last year.
I was married at 17, and by 19, almost immediately after getting off of birth control, I miraculously got pregnant with the baby I was told could never be conceived. And while I had all of the regular cravings and aversions, something wasn’t right. Throughout my pregnancy, my due date changed five times, I’d lost over 30 pounds, and the measurements never seemed to make sense. And because I was never expected to get pregnant in the first place, the conception date was never nailed down. I went to doctor appointments alone and this new baby in my belly hid during three different appointments when I tried to learn the gender.
Still, I was morning, mid-day, and night sick. I painted the guest-room-turned-nursery in pastel colors and filled an antique dresser with baby clothes and soft blankets. My due date changed again, to almost a full month past the original date. And at five and half months, on a Sunday afternoon, I felt my baby kick in the most crazy, intense way, like never before.
And then it stopped. I felt nothing else.
When I called to speak to the doctor, I was told that heavy women often feel all variations of intensity in baby movements; kicking or none was normal; just keep my next appointment.
At that next appointment, I learned I had a son. And my son had no heartbeat.
I learned that day that the child I was told I could never conceive; my wished for, wanted child, had died that Sunday. The kicking I had felt was likely during him fighting for his last moments as he suffocated due to sub-corneal hemorrhaging, yet I had had no bleeding. And instead of going to celebrate “It’s a boy,” I called our families to let them know I was being rushed to the hospital. I learned I was having a boy, then was questioned about what I wanted to do with his body after delivery.
And in that moment, I learned what being hollow feels like. If one could reach through their own chest and find “empty,” I have known that feeling too well.
I was taken for more tests to confirm my child had passed away. I was asked how I could sleep on my stomach by a nurse that didn’t know my child had passed. I was “comforted” by people that found they benefited from my loss.
My doctor came and opened a window of hope. He told me that God takes children that are perfect to be his angels before their feet even touch the earth. I was induced and delivered my stillborn son, Kristopher Isaac, the next morning. My silent son legally didn’t weigh enough to be given a birth/ death certificate. By law, he doesn’t exist. Yet, I felt him, named him, prayed for him, wept for him, wiped the blood from his eyes, counted his fingers and toes, and gave him away.
Words cannot begin to express how it feels to hold a lifeless child in your hands, yet it is because of him that I have been able to try again. The Lord has this intense way of rebuilding after breaking, and an undeniable way of knowing what he’s doing, even in our pain. Have you ever buried a child? Had one dissolve in your womb?
The doctor that gave me words of hope also advised me to get pregnant again immediately. My body suffered illness, false positives, eventually leading to two high-risk pregnancies, and eventually, these two amazing kids I’m so beyond blessed to have. I had two surgeries last summer to help heal my body, part of that also ensuring I’ll never have more children, and I didn’t realize until then that I was still hurting from loss… over 17 years ago.
For years, I pressed emotion and pain down into my belly, pretending life was okay. I wasn’t willing to heal, or even realizing healing needed to begin. I have these amazing children, yet there was still this pain that resonated deep within, and until I began to get very ill and very angry, did I realize what needed to be dug up and dealt with. Finality of surgery was heartbreaking and healing simultaneously, even though I had already known I’d never have more kids.
I would be a liar if I said life was easy or lacked suffering. But prayers from those that love me enough to pour into me when I simply couldn’t pour into myself are such blessings. God is a God of Love so beyond our understandings. Kristopher served his exact purpose while he was here. He showed me that life is filtered through hands of love, God’s hands. Despite how it often looks initially, my womb was opened, despite what doctors claimed. Life is often difficult and humbling, but situations must not define us. More so, when we truly look to who God is, we become overcomers. He makes no mistakes. And it’s okay to heal.
Jeremiah 17:14 (NIV)
14 Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.