05 July 2009

100

I had some unique jobs in my single adult life, like working for a Christian music missionary organization for seven years. I also spent a short time working as a receptionist for a high-end jewelry store in Portland, Oregon... that's a story in itself for another time. That job left me with psychological scars! (All better now.)

The "job" that left a permanent mark on my heart was the time I spent working as a chaplain at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, one of the country's best for babies. (Remember Baby Faye?)


I was assigned to the neonatal intensive care unit as well as labor & delivery, and the mother/baby unit. If the patients were moms and babies, they were in my care, so to speak. It was an amazing experience.

I went through the hospital's Clinical Pastoral Education program, and became a resident chaplain. I spent my days visiting the patients and their families, offering support, prayers, a listening ear, and celebrating the many miraculous recoveries I witnessed.

I was also there for far too many deaths.

I have been rendered speechless by the weight and intensity of the grief of parents who have just watched their child take her last breath. I have cried with them and had my heart broken over and over and over... and I learned how sacred death is... how holy. God is there, my friends. Smack in the midst of that terrible pain, He is there. He gives life, and He is present when He takes it back.

I've held in my hands the perfectly formed little body of a baby who died in-utero at 18 weeks. I studied every centimeter of that precious child and marveled at the miracle of her, and felt the crushing grief of her mother and father over her death. Her name was Brianna. She fit perfectly in my palm. Perfect, delicate, tiny features... lips, nose, eyes, ears, fingers, toes... breathtakingly beautiful.

I was honored to sit in a rocking chair with a baby boy born with severe physical deformities. His heart was on the wrong side of his chest, his ribcage virtually missing so that you could literally see his heart just beneath his skin. His left arm looked as though it was backwards, and his internal organs were a mess. His distraught parents couldn't bring themselves to watch him die, so from the moment of his delivery, I sat with him, wrapped in a blanket, and rocked... and sang to him... and prayed. Oh, how I prayed.

For almost 45 minutes I held this little boy until at last, his heart simply gave up, and he went back home to the Lord. I will never, ever forget him or those 45 minutes. His name was Thomas. I tried my best to convince his parents to take my place in the rocking chair, for I didn't want them to miss those precious moments, but they simply couldn't do it, so I promised them their son wouldn't die alone on the warming table.


I kept a little book of all the babies I met and their parents. I wrote down their names and stats, if I baptized them, when they died, or when they went home healthy. Dozens of names and stories... many of them sad, but some miraculously joyful. It's just a small notebook, but it's one of my most treasured possessions now.
It's full of little people who changed my life and taught me so much.



Life is sacred. Life is amazing. It is a miracle only God can create. I was confronted with the stark reality that the babies I held in my hands, the ones I baptized and dressed in doll clothes so their parents could take a picture to remember them... they are killed every single day all over the country in "procedures" that are protected by law and called a "right."


It is incomprehensible to me. Satan has so corrupted our thinking and poisoned our hearts. He has convinced us, particularly women, to insist that we have the right to murder another human being if we so "choose." It is unspeakably evil.

This is my blog's 100th post. A milestone, I suppose. I mark the occasion by sharing a bit of my past experience, and honoring life and the memories of many lovely people this world never knew. I met them in their last moments on earth and watched them depart for heaven. Many of them I was blessed to hold in my arms. Thank you, God, for the awesome privilege.

Friends, let us work with every ounce of vigor and strength we have to end abortion in our nation. Let us defend LIFE and fight for those who are voiceless and defenseless. May God show us mercy and grant us victory... soon.


Blessings,

6 comments:

Anne said...

Jennifer, thank you so very much for sharing your experience working in NICU with those precious, suffering little ones. You know that poem/prayer about mothers having a rocking chair in heaven to hold all the little babies? You've already been given that rocking chair here on earth, how especially blessed you are! You have a heart of gold!

Your stories might make a good book! Your heart is in those stories, those lives and that personal experience could certainly draw many others to love life as you do.

Congratulations on your 100th post. I pray you reach 1000! I will read and cherish them all! You are an angel!

carmelitemom said...

Beautiful touching thoughts! What a grace to fulfill that role. Thank you for being a voice for the unborn.

Sarah said...

What an amazing privilege, Jennifer, to have loved those precious lives at the moment of their holy deaths! That you did that for parents that were too heartbroken to do it themselves. That you gave those little children comfort and love for their short moments on earth. You cuddled them as they waited for their Father to call them home. You are a beautiful witness and advocate for life! I am honored to know you! I agree with Anne, those stories would make a beautiful book, if you feel so called to sharing them ... Congrats on your 100th post! It was a really beautiful one!

Brian said...

God bless you Jennifer, you make me cry when you speak of the tiny babies you held in your hand. How precious they are - made in the image of God. It brings me back 26 years ago. My wife went full term and gave birth to a baby boy. We named him Ryan. Ryan was a "Trisomy 18" baby - he lived only 30 days. For a week my wife was in one hospital, our baby in another - a real roller coaster. Ryan had many problems, he could not eat through the mouth, only a feeding tube. When my wife left the hospital, we were with Ryan everyday holding him, feeding him. We had him Baptized - he died in my wife's arms. Ryan was a beautiful baby - how anyone could say he was not a precious human being with a soul is beyond my imagination. Yes - the devil is at work here. We have to keep up the good fight - the fight for life - no matter the persecution, Our Lord Jesus is with us. Thank you for this special reflection.

rgds
Brian

Michelle said...

Congratulations on 100 posts. I'm glad I actually paid attention to your email signature and noticed your blog address. I look forward to reading more from you here.

And I'm making chocolate cookies right now.

Connie V said...

Got here from the Catholic Report. This is a beautiful post. I will link to it.

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