Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Phoebe's Story, by her Mama

By Misty Jassey - Knowing Phoebe Ann

When I found out that I was expecting another baby, I was not flooded with happiness. We were in the end stages of building our house and facing another major move and we were not hiding our stress well. But, after my eyes went big and my shoulders fell, I remember smiling. Because, even in what seemed like the worst timing, my heart couldn’t help but be happy. I mean, it was a baby! What better thing could I fill up a new house with than a new baby? Nothing. 
So, we shared our joyful news and quickly planned to kick Troy out of the new office he hadn’t even had the chance to move into. But, as you know, our plans had to change. May 21st of this year, we found out that God did not have the same plans that we did and we had to lay them down. We were told that our daughter had a condition, anencephaly, and that her life could not be sustained outside of my body. 

In our fog of shock and grief, we heard the word "terminate" and together we firmly said, "NO". She was alive. She was our daughter. Above all, she was a creation and image bearer of Almighty God. We were completely devastated and completely honored to be chosen to protect her life, however long it might be. So, we made new plans. Now, we held them more loosely, but we made plans to hold Phoebe when she was born and we prayed expectantly, hoping that we could spend time with her alive on this earth. In fact, I changed the way I prayed to God. I still prayed for His will to be done in our lives and with sweet Phoebe. But, God knew my heart wanted more and I asked for it.

I asked to hear her make a noise. I asked to see her grasp her brother’s hand. I asked that Amelia could get her to suck her finger. I asked for more. I felt good about it and I didn’t see why God wouldn’t grant me these things. 
In the midst of celebrating her life and feeling her move, I kind of forgot that my plan might be different than God’s plan. On August 15th, God let me know, with a quiet stillness I hadn’t felt in months, that He heard me and still had chosen His way over my way. Nothing we ever wanted or ever planned was left before us. 

On August 25th, Phoebe Ann was born. And she was wonderful. It was 10 days between the time she passed and I gave birth to her body. Long story short, we chose a more natural induction method to keep our birth and burial plans in place. My body wanted so 
badly to do its job of keeping my baby where she should have been. There was much convincing that had to be done to change that and the wait was yet another trial. 

Phoebe's precious little body showed the signs of her being gone for many days. We never really saw her as she was. Seeing her, empty of all signs of life and seeing her with many signs of death in its place, was indescribable. After careful dressing her, we allowed her brother and sisters and then other family to see her. Her siblings thought she was the most beautiful baby doll they had ever seen and fought for turns to hold her. There was so much joy and so much grief together in the same place. It was not our time. It was not our plan. It was absolutely not our prayer. 
I read a beautiful book written by another mother, who also carried her baby with a fatal birth defect. She likened losing her daughter to Mary Magdalene, who broke the bottle of expensive perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet. She wrote that, “This offering was always meant to fall from your hands.”. I believe that. Phoebe Ann was never intended for me or Troy to keep. The way her body was formed was all in God’s design, in His plan for her and for us. He didn’t have His back turned and miss something. If I wanted to blame someone in this great tragedy of loss, I could blame Him. I have blamed Him. But, I also trust Him. I trust that no matter how good my plan seems, no matter how holy, His plan for us is better. I trust that no matter how right my way seems, His way is always leading to a more beautiful place. 
I would liken this experience much more closely to the scripture that tells us to take up our cross and follow Christ. But at every turn, He has asked us to lay down our arm loads of plans and desires to take up our cross and follow Him. Somehow, we gather more plans and desires along the way that are not always His own. And again, He asks us to lay them down, get a better grip and keep following. That sounds so inviting, right?
One thing I asked God for when we found out Phoebe’s diagnosis was for joy. It seemed so impossible then. But, I can honestly look back and see hundreds of joys. - People being the hands and feet of Jesus - The church being the church - Friends and family surrounding us with love - Growing closer to my children - Sharing with others who have lost and grieving with them - People taking our names and Phoebe’s name before the throne of an Almighty God in prayer (That always takes my breath.) - Feeling and knowing my precious girl as she grew - Feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit when we needed it most - Knowing His love in a whole new way
All joy.
But, the greatest joy I now have is the joy of the hope that is in me. The joy of knowing my Savior has prepared a place for me, a place for our Phoebe Ann, more beautiful, more wonderful, more glorious than any place I could give her on this earth. She is more loved, more whole, more perfect than we could have ever made her. My dream for my children is not happiness on this earth, but joy found in an eternity spent with Jesus and Phoebe is already there!
Why God chose me as the one person on this planet to know Phoebe Ann better than anyone ever could, I do not know. But, it is my greatest honor and I will forever be grateful.


Kellie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I really needed this today. I also thought I had accepted God's will, but then started making more requests similar to yours. My daughter was also born sleeping. She will be one in Heaven next month and lately I've forgotten the joy and the grace and I've been so angry. Thank you for reminding me that God's plan, although different than mine, is her intended plan. I miss everything about the day she was born. I miss holding her most, but very close to that I really miss the joy and the grace. I pray every day to feel it again, but also pray I will not have to endure another cross such as this to feel that grace. Thank you for your words.

Unknown said...

Beautifully written. Your words always bring a tear to my eye. You will never know all the people who cried with you and prayed for you. Be blessed. You are a loved daughter of our King.

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