By Any Other Name

When we were going through all of our consultations with doctors and specialists – perinatologists, fetal-cardiologists, and the like – I found myself grinding against something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. They would ask how the baby has been or if we’ve noticed the baby doing anything different. The baby. It took me a while to nail it down, but that was it – Jonah was just another baby to them. I understand the perspective involved where you work with so many that the names are a byproduct or their specialization makes situations like ours hard enough and you have to maintain that wall… but this was my child. In my eyes he deserved every bit of acknowledgement as any other child and was just as significant as one they may have had at home. Maybe it was naïve of me, but I couldn’t let that sit.

I mentioned in a previous post that our birth plan was very in depth. We spelled out the things we wanted to be able to take home as mementos, what his defects were specifically, what things we had been informed were priority with regards to immediate after care and what things we had decided were priority for ourselves. This was also my opportunity to make sure that he received the thoughtful care he deserved in many ways, but specifically that he be called by name – while we were being checked in during the labor process, walking through the halls – it didn’t matter. Jonah was his own person and had every right to be acknowledged as such. Thankfully I didn’t need to force the issue as all of the staff members who took care of us were wonderful about having his name on their mind. Looking back at it, I was taking an intentional step to establish an identity for my son. Whether or not made it through birth he was a person who was loved and cherished. His presence touched lives – something that many of us yearn to be able to do well into adulthood (myself included).

After having a good talk with a close friend of mine today, I’m realizing how truly difficult it is to give voice to your heart in a way that is defining. I’ve always worked hard to be a man of principle and that could be called on to be honest and fair with people. I’ve done my best to keep my sense of humor through dark stages and to search out the silver lining, knowing that all I had to do was pull back the curtains… but that didn’t define me. It took losing Jonah and spending time with myself to truly find my voice (thanks Scott). It took reflecting on the kind of father I want to be and the kind of husband my wife deserves in the worst time of my life to get to the point where I could be honest with myself about the things that are truly important in life. To take inventory and take action – let go of the things that keep me down or hold me back and step forward into the light. Because of Jonah I’ve felt a type of clarity that I worked years to get close to but was never quite there. It hurts to know that I’ve found it out of grief, but in reality finding myself in grieving is also renewing myself because of his life. My voice came from Jonah’s heart beating, not just from it stopping.

So this is where we end up, three days from Father’s Day. Am I the person I want to be right now? Absolutely not – I’m still being made by my maker and being shaped by the things I’ve come through. But every day I make a choice to take inventory of my life – people’s opinions, to do lists at work or at home, the people I choose to keep around and the ones that float in and out – and evaluate just how important they should be. Write them down if you have to, but be honest with yourself about how much of an impact you allow daily life to have on your heart. In my life these are the things that will be carried forward in how Jonah is remembered. To some he was an event during the course of a day at work, but we worked to show love to all of the people who’s lives he touched that day instead of heart break and that’s where all of this started. Unusual reactions in unexpected places, all because one little boy was given life in death.

Where will your voice come from?

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