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Hope in The Darkness

March is a special month for me. It is the month my husband Nick and I welcomed our son Jack into the world. His time on earth was short, but since we just celebrated his first heavenly birthday on March 5th, I was reflecting on the roller coaster of events and emotions that happened this time last year.  With Easter being earlier than usual this year, I honestly think that it was God's way of helping my heart continue to heal.  


Jack Joseph March 5, 2023 - March 5, 2023

As we approach Holy Week and Easter, I have been reflecting on the sorrowful mysteries and the station of the cross. Our pregnancy journey with our son Jack was my walk with my personal cross to carry like Jesus.  


It was an early Sunday morning when I woke up and knew something wasn’t right. Nick and I went to the ER and they confirmed that my water had broke. I was only 19 weeks pregnant. When receiving this news we had all sorts of questions and emotions.  What now? Is the baby ok? Will I be ok? Will the baby continue to be ok? 


After we received the news, the medical staff gave us a list of options—a list of all the pros and cons of what could happen if we continued with the pregnancy.  If we were to continue, our baby could survive with no amniotic fluid but there was a risk I could get an infection from the tear in the amniotic sac. That infection could lead to sepsis. There was a risk that our baby may not form correctly because there wasn’t any amniotic fluid to protect and allow the baby to stretch out. 


We had to make a choice. We could have ended the pregnancy that day or continued the pregnancy with the hope that our baby would make it to 23 weeks in the womb. After that, the hospital could step in.  Before 23 weeks, the baby is too small and underdeveloped for the hospital to step in.  We chose to continue with the pregnancy. That’s when the fear started to set in. 


I was reflecting on the first sorrowful mystery, Jesus’s Agony in the garden.   Jesus knew he would soon suffer pain, so he went to the garden to pray.  That was all he could do. He prayed to his father that it may all go away.  All Nick and I could do was pray. We prayed that the tear in my uterus would heal and start to hold amniotic fluid again. We prayed I wouldn’t get an infection. We prayed our baby would survive and fully develop.  We prayed God would take away the pain and fears and our dreaded thought that our baby would not make it. We just prayed. 


When we accepted our new reality was not going away, we officially had our cross to carry, like Jesus in the second station.  The following two weeks were hard.   I am the type of person who is always on the move and on the go. Almost to a fault, I keep myself busy. It was really hard when the doctors told me I had to be at home on bed rest. Especially because I wasn’t in any pain and I felt like my normal self. I was just leaking abiotic fluid when I was in an upright position or walking around.


 When an extroverted person, like myself,  is left alone for too long they start to get in their head.  



This is where the 3rd sorrowful mystery, the crowning of thorns, comes into play.  I was at home most days, majorly by myself, due to Nick being a farmer. It gave me a lot of time to think.  Too much time to think. I would start playing mind games with myself.  Was I doing all of this to keep this baby alive for their sake or was it for me?   The doctors said the baby might not have a full quality of life or may have a lot of developmental and physical delays.   Was it fair that I wanted the baby here on earth so much that they might suffer because of me?  Was I being selfish? Day after day I would have this battle in my head. Who are we really doing all of this for? 


During this time, I would also have many visitors who reminded me of the greatness of God and that I needed to continue to pray. He had a plan for this little baby, and we needed to trust Him. Jesus willingly let Veronica wipe His face at one of His lowest moments, knowing she had no judgment towards him, this is how I felt when my family came to visit. They never commented on my random burst of tears and would quietly bring me back to having a more hopeful look at the outcome of our situation. They would just let me vent my frustrations without offering suggestions. They would sit and listen.  I now realize having them there silently listening is what I needed the most.


When placed in a delicate situation where my medical decisions were no longer just about me but also included a baby that relied solely on me, all the different medical opinions and advice from our regular doctor and the specialists started to get overwhelming.  They all pretty much gave up hope and said for the next two weeks we were on our own until the baby was “viable.” I realized that like Jesus, this journey was not looking to have a good outcome.  I finally asked for a referral to someone who would help us. When they referred us to a hospital in the cities that would step in to save our baby at 22 weeks, I felt like we were no longer alone on this journey. Some people wanted to help us, like Simon in the fifth station, when he helped carry the cross. He was helping take a bit of the heaviness away from Jesus on his journey to Calvary.  The staff at the new hospital answered many of our questions and helped us lift the load. 


Two days before my check-in date at the hospital in the cities, my body went into natural labor overnight.  We went to the hospital because of the lower back pain I was experiencing. They confirmed I was in labor and after that, it was all a blur. From the time we got to the hospital to the time our baby Jack was born, only 45 minutes had passed. After he was born, the nursing staff stood silently as it was not your usual happy birth. We knew that baby Jack was born at 21 weeks 5 days and that St. Cloud Hospital had a strict 23-week policy at their hospital. As I now reflect on this moment, it makes me think of Jesus dying on the cross.  All of the prayers we prayed and all the hope we had faded. Our journey was finished. 


When they placed him in my arms for the almost hour he was alive, all I could do was pray to Mary. I heard in a podcast once that Mary is our heavenly mother. Being a mother, she has the maternal instincts to know what we need when we don't have a clue or can’t see what we need.  I prayed by asking her, “Where do we go from here?”  She also had her perfect son placed in her arms, and she could do nothing.  She had been in the same position and could tell me what I needed next. I prayed that she would give us hope. Unlike Mary in the moments after Jesus passed, she didn't know about the resurrection. Fortunately, we do! While sitting with Jack, I was able to smile for a moment. As much as that moment sucked, I had the hope of one day being with him again.   


Laying baby Jack to rest.

As we laid Jack to rest, I once again prayed to Mary. She too had to bury her son and lay him in a tomb. She luckily got to see him again 3 days later but I have the peace knowing that because of Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice one day we'll be reunited.  Until then, he is buried on top of my mom, and the two of them are having one heck of a party with our other baby Kelly up in heaven until we can meet up with them. 


Coming up to the celebration of Easter, Jesus is the reason we have hope. That when we are done here on earth, we have the rest of eternity to spend with those who have left us too soon. Forever I will be thankful for his sacrifice for us. We don't have to live in a dark space of grief for the rest of our lives but because of his love and sacrifice for us, we can have hope for what’s to come.  


Until next time,


Maria Heinen


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2 Comments


Wow. What a beautiful story of strength and love. I am so sorry for your loss❤️ Thank you for sharing!

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Wow. Thank you. We all understand there are others who would see this in an entirely different light. I wonder, after they read this personal story, if they could honestly continue with that line of thinking. A friend recently lost his 29 yr old son. His son was healthy, athletic, young, productive, funny, caring, kind, etc ,etc,etc, etc and, now, dead. Heart breaking. Yet, what is the difference in that life and your son? Some years? Thank you for a lesson in love. Whether for a few seconds, a few weeks or a few years, it is love we need to have. For each person. Regardless of age, health or position. Have love. If it costs you a tear …

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