I fight the feeling that we had time with Jonah taken away from us. We went into a marathon day of appointments ready to check his heart and body expecting to have around three weeks left only to leave being told we only had three days. We stopped to grab some snacks before driving home when we got the phone call – Dr. Shaffer needed to see us one more time. As we would be told, preeclampsia – likely brought on by the Trisomy according to research – had cut us short.
I’ve been both furious and heart broken about it still. We spent every day together knowing every day was special, and then less of them would be. Every chance I had to feel him move was one more moment that I could get to know my son, and every time Cassy would tell me about how he must be comfortable or how active he was after eating made that window to his personality open a little more. Torn from my grasp, my chance to know him. We prepared to meet him in three days by putting the finishing touches on our go-bag and ensuring we had things in the nursery ready should he come home. We had a weeks worth of clothes so that we could stay in the hospital together, close to our little fighter. Tuesday night we went to sleep clinging to the chance to know him deeper, and two hours later we were on our way to the hospital. Wednesday afternoon, he came.
We both went back and forth over all of the decisions we made about his care, wondering how we would ever find the right combination of things that would increase our chances of living a life with him in it. Monitor or not, delivery or surgery, close to home or with the specialists. We planned for everything knowing we could control nothing. In the end, though, Jonah came when he was ready to. I was prepared for the process – approvals, discussing our birth plan, reinforcing the need to stay together. I was prepared for an hours-long fight against both time and pain in all the ways a husband and father could.
But I’m still waiting for those last three weeks.
This Jonah Experience has taken hold in my heart in a way that I could never have expected. Watching it all unfold, telling stories of each chapter in his book will hopefully be something I am able to carry forward until I find a peace that it isn’t needed anymore – maybe even that there are more resources for other fathers and that I was a part of that solution. Something I’m realizing only recently though is that my son wasn’t early. His birth wasn’t a mistake and the decisions we made don’t need to kind of scrutiny we both fight with even still. The effect my son has had on our lives and hopefully the precious ones touched by his spirit could never have happened if he hadn’t come when he did and how he did. My sweet Jonah, all six pounds and six ounces of him, came just at the right moment.
It doesn’t matter how many times I rehash the events of that morning or all of the appointments we worked through to get there; my son’s life happened the way it did so he could bless this world one way or another. I could never go back to the way things were, but why would I want to? His life carries on in these very words, and his heart will shine on in the depth of my darkest days. My son taught me about life and love, and about the fragility we all take for granted. For me, the things I wanted to experience in those three weeks have continued through these last six months, and will continue to until I take my last breath. Thirty-seven weeks in our presence and six hours in our arms, and the amount of change he has created is something I only wish to come close to. My son, who never took a breath in this world, is my hero. He came and saved my heart.
If you do one thing today, take a step back and look at the things that brought you where you are today. There are things you wish would have been different, sure. But would you really want to? Those events brought on real change in ways we couldn’t even dream before them. Children, families, experiences… take inventory of the blessings we have despite the heartache – that’s where a legacy is found. How we carry it is up to us.
It turns out that despite those lost three weeks, my Jonah was right on time – looking out for daddy and I didn’t even know it.