That Empty Nursery

It was a strange thing to start getting the nursery ready a second time. The first time around I didn’t really have that much done yet. Uncle Dan helped me paint the walls and we had a friend help replace the window, and I had gotten used (see: inexpensive) flooring to replace the old carpet that was in here, but we hadn’t had the chance to put anything else together before we lost our first baby at 16 weeks. With Jonah, we waited until we passed that time frame before getting too crazy about setting things up. We had a few things and we got furniture from family and friends – the crib from a friend/coworker of Cassy’s and the dresser had been in the family for a long time before I refinished it – and put up some decorations. I’d imagine it was pretty typical for parents of a previous lost child to wait until they pass that benchmark, but getting it ready for Jonah became more of an exercise in faith for us than anything else.

We found out about a lot of Jonah’s defects at our week 20 and 24 appointments, and had a series of appointments with specialists and neonatologists afterwards. We were being told that Trisomy 13 is “incompatible with life” during the same timeframe that we were putting his crib together. We were informed that comfort care was typically advised before we had officially picked out his bedding or hung up his clothes. It was so unlikely that he would be able to come home – according to most of the doctors we were working with – that we may as well not have had a nursery at all. Our dedication to our son and our faith kept us moving forward, doing our best to be prepared for him to come and put this room to use. I built the shelves for his closet so that we had enough places to put extra diapers and baskets for his socks and blankets. It didn’t matter what they told us – it felt like we would have given up to not be ready to bring him home.

Now… it’s hard. The curtains for his room came the week after he was born and it felt like a kick in the stomach. I have a poster that I don’t have a frame for yet that was supposed to go on the empty wall to the left of his crib for “Where the Wild Things Are” – one of my favorite books that I was excited to read to him. We hadn’t had time to fully finish getting his room ready before he came, but we decided to finish decorating in the weeks after we came home without him. It’s so conflicting to go into his room and look at his urn, to see the sign I made above his bed, to open drawers and look at clothes and diapers he will never wear, knowing all the while that he were ready for him – and he was ready for us.

One day that nursery will have a laughing, crying, rolling child in it. Maybe we’ll have the same dresser and crib. Maybe we’ll have a boy and he’ll be able to use some of the clothes we had for Jonah or the hand-me-downs from his cousin, but all hope is not lost. Jonah’s crib is empty for now, but we hope it won’t always be. Much the same way that his spirit is carried on right here, his warmth will be felt in our home in the memories we have carrying him and spending those six hours with our child. Jonah would have loved having a brother or sister, playing that big boy role when he needed to protect them or jumping out at them when they came around a corner.

My heart burns to be able to father him on Earth instead of in Heaven, and it broke when he was called Home. But the day has not come when we don’t have hope for the things that will be. Every choice we make has the opportunity to blossom in ways we’ll never know if we don’t tend the seed. My faith lies in the Lord, my hope in Jonah, and my love as his father will carry this through.


I miss you every day, baby boy. I feel you when I see sunlight through the clouds, when the wind blows on hot days, and when I smell that first Oregon rain. I carry you with me in everything I do. Daddy loves you

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