After more than 14 years of hoping for a pregnancy, I was shocked by the the explosive joy shown by so many people when we announced Lisa was with child. My soul was overwhelmed as I stood in awe before God at the ultra-sound on November 18th. "It's a boy!" we celebrated; "and he's a ninja!" cried Asher as we were blessed to see him kicking on screen. The boys picked out outfits with the giant Superman S on them. We named him -- Titus James Catherman. November 18th and the previous 21 weeks were a gift from God.
On November 19th, Titus was born. As I held him, watching him pass from our fallen world to be with God in paradise, my heart was shattered. I grieve the untimely birth of my son. However, like David, I know I shall go to him, but he will not return to me (2 Samuel 12:23). My heart also breaks for so many who will not go to him. While I can confidently say that Titus is with the Father, right now cheering on those of us who truly follow Christ, sadly I cannot say the same will be true for many people I know and love.
The God who spoke Titus into creation and gave him life is the same God who speaks to his creation through his Word, the Bible. I believe this because it is true. I realize many reject the Bible for all sorts of unfortunate reasons. They think it's outdated or not translated correctly or they just simply are too proud to submit their lives to the revleation of the God who made them. But in rejecting the Bible, they also reject the only one who can give them life -- Jesus Christ.
Through such hardship and sorrow now, I am comforted in Christ alone. Because Jesus is who he says he is. Period.
The last five months have been filled with an inexplicable joy. My good God granted me a pregnancy I never expected and had always longed for. He blessed us at a time that we did not understand; yet we knew was His perfect timing. On August 1, 2013, we saw that plus sign on a pregnancy test for only the 2nd time in nearly 15 years of trying to conceive. We lost our first baby at 12 weeks. We wept with joy over this new pregnancy and others rejoiced with us. It was a time of much celebrating. I never complained as I vomited. I rejoiced that everything was going well. We rejoiced as my belly began to grow and I began to feel movement. We celebrated my birthday in October by going on a maternity clothes shopping spree. I was so excited to actually need maternity wear. It was a season of much, much joy.
As we waited patiently for the day, which we would be able to see our child on the ultrasound and discover the baby’s gender, we longed for the life we would enjoy with this precious soul. We prayed over the baby. We read to him. We sang to him. The night previous, we discussed the names we had chosen. We wrestled still with the girl name, but Titus James settled on us like a balm to our souls. We felt so confident in his name that we began to truly feel like God had blessed us with another son.
When November 18th arrived, we were overflowing with joy. I felt some physical pain that day, but I dismissed it as possible constipation – something common in pregnancy and prayed that God would bring relief for my physical body. God did bring relief that day for a time. As we wept over seeing our son kick and move on the computer, we knew the life God had formed in my womb was precious and loved. Everything on the ultrasound was perfect! Titus was perfect!
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. “ – Psalm 139:13-14.Asher and Daniel were so excited for their new baby brother to arrive, that we took them shopping to pick out an outfit or two for Titus. We called our friends and family and we celebrated that day. It was a beautiful day. My physical pain began to increase again that evening after God had blessed me with many hours of relief. I slept restfully that night. I woke early Tuesday the 19th. I immediately began working out on our elliptical, hoping that exercise would bring some relief to this “constipation.” I pushed through the pain in the light workout, praying to God for relief and continued protection of my baby. As I finished, I went to the bathroom and noticed a gush of blood in the toilet. The pain now had become almost intolerable. I screamed to Bryan. We scrambled to get the boys up and dressed and to the neighbor’s house and were in the ER by 7:20. By now, I was screaming and crying out in agony and pain.
When they wheeled me to triage and checked me, the doctor could feel my amniotic sac and said I was dilated to a 10. "NO!!! How could this be?" As they wheeled me into a labor and delivery room, my water broke. Titus was coming into this world and we knew immediately, he’d also be leaving it.
We had three short hours in the morning of weeping and praying with our pastors, our children, and my mom, having some relief physically due to the epidural and other drugs that I had been given, and just waiting for his arrival. At 10:55am, Titus joined us, ever so shortly. As I continued to push out his placenta, I asked the nurse to clean him and hand him to daddy. Bryan held our son as he died in his arms. At 15oz and 10 3/4 inches long, he was perfect. Perfect fingers. Perfect ears. Perfect toes. Perfect everything. God’s creation amazed me!
The hours in the hospital were surreal and short. After a few hours of holding our sweet son, we decided it was time to let him go. We knew He was already dancing with Jesus and celebrating eternity in the presence of our Lord, but we needed that time with his body. We kissed him and let him go. We were able to come home late that same evening because I was physically doing very well. My bleeding was pretty minimal, the drugs had worn off, and I was able to easily get myself to the bathroom. At our release, the doctor suggested that the premature labor was likely caused either by a uterine infection or possibly incompetent cervix. He said we might never know the cause for certain.
Now we grieve. We grieve the nursery we don’t get to prepare. We grieve the pitter-patter of his little feet that we don’t get to experience. We grieve the missed kisses and hugs and his sweet little voice. We grieve every memory and every moment we had envisioned having with him. We grieve. We weep and God sustains us. Some moments are more difficult than others. Some moments, I question God. I cry out to my Lord. I question why He would allow me to even experience the pregnancy in the first place, but I know my God is good and loves me. I know He is sovereign over all and my suffering is not in vain. We suffer to better understand Christ in his suffering. We suffer to proclaim God’s love and goodness. We suffer to know Him better. We suffer because He first suffered. He sees me and knows me. He suffers for me. He weeps for me. He wipes my tears and comforts my soul. May Jesus Christ, my Lord, my God be ever glorified through the short life of my sweet Titus James.
Bryan & Lisa Catherman