It was set. The scheduled c-section delivery of our son on February 12th, early in the morning. The nursery was complete, the bags were packed and the car seat was in the back of the car. We were ready, and we couldn’t be more excited to meet our son, Whitson Reed Cole. The pregnancy had gone well, with very little sickness. While I had issues of low iron and swelling, it was all so worth it because this was actually happening. Towards the later parts of the pregnancy (around 34 weeks), I showed a couple signs of early preeclampsia, but nothing too severe to cause the doctor to deliver early. Around 36 weeks, I was having occasional contractions, some that were pretty painful. I called my nurse and she said, “just to be safe, why don’t you come in (to labor and delivery part of the hospital) and we’ll get you on the monitors”. So in we went. After seeing smaller, irregular contractions and checking my cervix, they concluded that it wasn’t time. Luckily my doctor, (who is the best doctor in the world by the way) was on call that evening so he was able to see me. I specifically recall him saying, “I’m looking for every reason to deliver you now, but there just isn’t a good enough one”. This was because delivering before 37 weeks did present other risks, as well as guaranteed NICU time. I trusted my doctor, and both my husband and I said okay and we went home. Already considered a high risk pregnancy because of my type 1 diabetes (since I was 7) and previous preeclampsia, they monitored me weekly.
On Friday, February 9th, we went in for our last appointment before delivery. We took our 4 year old daughter to this appointment, and she was so excited to finally be able to go an appointment with us. I was so excited because of just how close we were, and at that point I was just done being pregnant. I remember the doctors assistant specifically. As she walked me back to our small room, I asked how her day was and she said, “honestly, it’s been kind of rough”. She didn’t go into detail but yet, she had no idea how much worse it was about to get. I hoisted myself onto the table and they proceeded to hear the heartbeat with the doppler. As she pressed into my belly in different areas, she seemed to have trouble. “Don’t worry, we’ll find it”, she said. As she continued to move it around, I sensed her stress level rise. I remember asking my husband to come over and hold my hand as mine was too. Then she called an ultrasound technician for back up. When they both came back in, they checked again. After 30 seconds or so of looking, the doctor’s assistant walked out of the room and I could tell she was tearing up. That’s when the tears started to form in my eyes as an old too-familiar pain took my heart my surprise. We started praying. Then my doctor came in, he seemed hurried. By that time, I remember praying out loud and crying out to God that this had to be human error. After searching for that hovering helicopter noise of a heartbeat, he said, “Gosh guys, I’m not finding it”. I’m pretty sure I was screaming in tongues at that point. “God breathe your breath into his lungs!” “God please don’t let this happen again!”. I knew that when the emotions came from my doctor, that is was confirmed: no heartbeat. We were just in shock of what possibly happened in just hours? He had to leave the room also, and the nurse took Kennedy to another room. We were told we could stay in the room as long as we’d like, as our doctor had to consult with his teammates on how to proceed. After about 20 minutes, he came back in and said that we would proceed with a c-section first thing in the morning. Prepared with that plan, we left the clinic and went home. Before we even got to the front door, we were met by our Pastor. He proceeded to follow us home, where we were also met by close friends.
That night we prayed like we’ve never prayed before. While we earnest wanted God’s will, we prayed for a miracle. A miracle that the doctors somehow could be wrong, and that somehow Jesus would save Whitson and let him live. The crazy thing is that I could still feel movement that night, going into the next morning. When I told my doctor this, he said it was just Whitson in the amniotic fluid and not his actual movements.
We delivered Whitson on February 10th, and I prayed so hard that the biggest mistake had been made and that when they pulled Whitson from my body , that we would just scream out like a precious new baby when seeing the light of day for the first time would. But it just didn’t happen. They cleaned him off and gave him to me. He was absolutely perfect, all 8 pounds of him. At least 5 of those lbs. were probably in his cheeks alone as he had such cute huge cheeks, along with tons of beautiful strawberry blonde, wavy hair. The nurses and hospital were the best. They gave us permission to have him in our room whenever we wanted.
They let us also meet with a childhood psychiatrist with our daughter, as it was very difficult for her to understand that his body was here with us, but he was already with Jesus. Our parents held him, our friends held him, and we even had pictures taken of him and us by a local group that offers photos for bereaved children.
The emotions to say the least, were the most difficult I have ever experienced. We had moments of shear horror, and also sweet moments of just holding our son and singing worship songs to him. (He moved so much when I would sing/worship, as if he was playing drums and giving me a down beat from the inside)
On the 12th (original delivery date), we came home to our Worship leader and his wife already at our house. They sat with us, sang with us, and cried with us. Such a sweet time together. Then not even an hour later, a funeral director came to our house to assist us with making funeral arrangements. We went into a total opposite mode of planning our son’s funeral. We had to pick out a casket for our son, and pick out songs and scriptures that would be read and sang.
I remember just kind of floating the next couple of days until the funeral. There were over 200 people at my son’s funeral, and so many people spoke about the hope that is gave them. We played the song “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells, and I still can’t hear that song today without tearing up. As badly as our hearts were broken, we truly knew that God was still in control and that He was still for us and near us (as much as He seemed so far away).
A couple days after the funeral as family started leaving, we hit the road; all three of us. We escaped town as much as we wanted to escape where we were emotionally. We traveled to go see other friends and family and drove hundreds of miles. We even considered extending our trip as we just didn’t want to go home. We would have gone anywhere, but home. Home to a completed nursery, crib, clothes, etc.
Emotionally, I was at a point of saying “I just don’t want to grieve again!” I didn’t want to be back in that lonely dark hole of grief. I didn’t want everyone to be constantly asking me how I was doing. All I wanted was my son in my arms. I remember saying to my husband, “If I could just go buy a baby right now, I would”, as the feeling of my empty arms was the worst feeling in the world, times 1000.
But thankfully, my friends and family didn’t leave me alone. We were surrounded by cards, texts, public posts and comments that were so encouraging. I remember telling people when they asked how we were, just saying, “we truly feel carried”. Not only by the support of our inner circle but by the Lord.
About three weeks after that, we received a call from my doctor. He gave us the news that they found a chromosome mutation in the amniotic fluid tests that were ran. Whitson had what they called “Trisomy 12”, which meant he had three chromosomes in the 12th pair. When receiving this news, I felt relief and almost resolve, as the whole time I’d been thinking that it was my fault. I could have taken better care of my diabetes, or paid closer attention to my blood sugars.
In speaking with a genetic counselor, she said that she had never seen a trisomy case go so far into pregnancy than Whitson. The test report read, “the Trisomy is not compatible with life”. What does that mean? Aren’t we made in God’s image? How can babies not be perfect? That’s where God’s sovereignty makes up for our sin. In reviewing every single ultrasound, Whitson was perfect. His physical appearance never let on to any condition, which made it that much more difficult not knowing what happened.
Shortly after knowing what happened to Whitson, I was getting ready for work (as I went back just a few short weeks after) and I was just talking to God. I was in a bitter, angry mood and I was telling God that I was just having a really rough morning. I remember saying, “And to think that we prayed for a miracle!” IT was then that God let me know that he did give me a miracle. Whitson never had to breathe the disgusting air of this world, he never had to see the sin and cruelty of others, but instead, he woke up in the arms of Jesus. He never suffered, and he never had to undergo treatments or surgeries as he might have if he would have lived. I do believe that God spared me from watching my son suffer in a life that he was never meant to live. That would have been a trillion times harder on this mama’s heart.
Whitson was one of four other babies that went home too early. While he was by far the farthest along, every pregnancy lost was so painful. Especially the first one, just a year and half after getting married. In each circumstance, different emotions have came and gone and come again. There is no right way to grieve, and you must give yourself permission to feel whatever it is that you are feeling. God knows how upset you are even if it’s with him. He is big enough to take our anger , fear and sorrow, because he loves us that much. He didn’t take my baby from me to cause the pain and suffering, but rather He chose to save our babies from possibly something worse later on and took them straight to Glory.
Choosing to give my grief to God is a daily choice. Every day when I walk by Whitson’s still painted mountain wall in his room, seeing the framed picture of his precious feet on the wall outside of his room, I choose joy. I choose to move forward knowing that God is still for me and not against me. You see, I have this hope. It’s more like a promise. It is the promise that when my time on earth is finished, I will live in eternity not only with our creator and savior, but with my (what I picture to be) cheer squad. And when they see me, they will know me and I will know them. They will scream and say, “Well done Mom, you made it home. We’ve been waiting for you!”
I know that if I give God back the testimony that He has allowed me to have, he will get the Glory and that is was I truly desire. My goal with forming “Foreknown Ministries”, is to extend the encouragement, strength and hope that I have received myself. To let people know that they do NOT have to walk this road alone, and that God is walking it with them.