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Josiah Taught Us What It Means To Trust
May 16, 2002

It was right after our 18 week ultrasound that we first found out there was a problem. My doctor called me at work and asked me to sit down, then told me there was something wrong with the baby's heart. She said that normal babies have 4 chambers in their hearts, but ours only had 3. I didn't know what that meant, but it didn't sound good. She wanted me to go see a Perinatologist (a high risk pregnancy doctor) to get a second oppinion and confirmation.
Unfortunately, we found out just 4 days before my husband was to leave to lead a youth missions trip to Mexico City. We were unable to get an appointment to see the doctor before he left so we had to decide if he should go at all or go after we got in, or whether we should wait to see the specialist after he got back. We consulted the doctor to make sure our waiting wouldn't harm the baby, then we prayed for God's guidance and help.
I felt like the Lord gave me Psalm 46...the end of that chapter says: Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. I knew then that he had to go on the trip and that God would guard us both.
The trip was an amazing one for him...God did some powerful things in my husband's heart and helped him to trust God with everything. While he was gone, I heard the Lord speak to me, He said, "Name him Josiah Robert, in honor of Bob (my husband's dad)." God gave me the feeling that it was to honor Bob because Josiah was going to die, but I didnt' want to admit or acknowlege that even to myself.
When he got back we went in for the appointment with the specialist and we got the confirmation of his heart condition, called "Hypo-plastic Left Heart". It's a defect that is fatal to the child without a series of 3 surgeries or a heart transplant, because the heart can't pump oxygenated blood to the body due to the missing or underdeveloped left pumping chamber.
We gathered all the information we could then made the choice to proceed with the series of sugeries (to reroute the blood through the heart to make the right side do all the work). The doctors assured us that the baby would be completely fine until after his birth and was not in any pain as my heart was doing most of the work for him.
As we worked to understand and accept the diagnosis and the reality that our son may not live for more than a few days, we spent a lot of time in prayer. Our whole church and friends all over the nation and even the world were praying for a healing, and for God's peace. God really protected my heart and prepared both of us for the possibility of Josiah's death.
The rest of my pregnancy was very normal in it's progression until a month before I was due. I was diagnosed with toxemia (pre-eclampsia), a very serious illness that can cause the mother to have seizures or stroke in it's more severe stages. Josiah wasn't going to get any bigger and my health was in danger too. The doctor put me on bedrest and had planned to induce me the following week. Apparently though, Josiah didn't like that idea and decided to come on his own.
I went into spontaneous labor 4 weeks early and had him in 8 hours. He was only 3lbs 15oz and 17 inches long, so he was tiny. He was taken immediately to the NICU (neonatal ICU) and put on all kinds of wires, monitors, iv's etc. The doctors and nurses in the NICU did a fabulous job and cared very tenderly for him.
The cardiologist and surgeons met with us two days after he was born and talked to us about the seriousness and implications of his surgery and his likeliness of survival. If he had been and 8lb baby, he would have had very good chances for survival, but being so small, his chances were reduced to less than 50%. But, we realized that without doing anything, he would have no chance at all to live and we felt we needed to give him at least a chance to live. He went into surgery 4 days after his birth.
One thing in particular was that I felt like God was saying to me during my pregnancy was that, like God asked Abraham to do with Isaac (his child of promise), God wanted me to sacrifice Josiah to HIM. I thought this meant in a "symbolic" way, in my heart. I reasoned that Abraham had to actually tie Isaac up, lay him on the altar and put the knife to his throat before God stopped him. I fully expected that even if Josiah didn't make it through the surgery that I would somehow get him back.
That day was one of the longest and worst I have ever lived through. Josiah did great through the whole surgery. It took about 8 hours to do. They finally got him settled into his room in the Pediatric ICU (neonatal didn't deal with heart surgery patients) and let my husband and I go in first to see him. It was so hard to see Josiah with his chest cavity still open and all the tubes and wires coming out of him--even knowing that they were keeping him alive. I just couldn't stay there watching him sleep, knowing that I had been the one to put him through all that so I kissed him goodbye and walked out of the room. The rest of our family got to go in and see him too then we decided that since he seemed to be doing okay, that we'd go down to the cafeteria and get some dinner.
On the way though, my mom came running down to get us and told us that there was something wrong. The surgical nurse also came running towards us and told us that he had gone into cardiac arrest and the doctors were doing heart massage. We waited for the next 20 minutes all on pins and needles. I kept thinking, "Okay God, this is where You give him back to us right?" (Meaning that like Isaac, God gave him back to Abraham).
When the nurse came in and looked at us and just shook her head no, I was just in shock. I thought that God was going to give him back to us. Instead I realized that God had been trying to tell me that we would lose Josiah. I hadn't tied him up and put him on the altar before God with a knife to his throat, I had anesthetised him and let the surgeons put a knife to his heart. It's an extremely harsh thing, I know. I never thought God would ask me to give my first son, my only son, back to Him.
When I had first heard about Josiah's heart defect and the reality that I could lose him, I just cried out, "Oh God! I don't want my baby to die! I haven't even seen him or held him yet, but I love him so much it hurts!" I felt the Lord say quietly, "That's how I felt when my Son died on the cross." God didn't take my pain away or tell me Josiah wouldn't die, He told me He knew how I felt, and in a way, it brought comfort to know that the Creator of the Universe, my Father God, knew exactly how I felt.
I think the one of the hardest parts is wondering, "Now what do we do?" What are you supposed to do when you lose a child? How do you go on, and how do you pick up the pieces? It's not natural to bury your kids. It jars against the natural flow of life. You somehow expect to lose your parents, and even your spouse someday. But your children...it just doesn't seem right. And then of course, there are all the "Why?" questions. I'm not sure why God answered me in my questioning, but He did. I actually didn't ask, "Why?", I asked, "Who? Who did this? Who is responsible for my baby's death?" The Lord answered me and said, "This didn't happen by My hand. Satan asked to sift you like wheat, just like he did with Peter. But I AM your hope. You can trust Me."
It's been six months now since Josiah's death and we're starting to see that God is truly faithful. He is using Josiah's short life to bring Himself glory. He is slowly healing our hearts. He is slowly bringing back some of the joy we used to have.
I feel older now, much older. I don't take some of the things I used to, for granted anymore. I tell those around me how much I love them and appreciate them. And I hope for the future and for the other children He will give us someday. I don't think Josiah would want me to withhold joy from my life to remember him, so I'm trying each day to let go just a little more.
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