Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Valley of the Shadow …


I have been intending to write this blog for some time now, but for whatever reason I have not been able to bring myself to do it.

I really do not want to be the girl with the depressing life that writes the depressing blogs but in this season of my life it has felt like living in the shadows rather than basking in the sun.

On September 18 the life of my family took a tragic and gut wrenching turn. My nephew, Connor Charles Neagle, was born and died the same day. He lived about 3 hours … all but 15 minutes of it sustained by life support. He was full term and a seemingly healthy 8 lbs. 14 oz. What happened you say? That is what we have been grappeling with for weeks and the answer finally came this week. There is no answer. There is no “reason”. It was a one in a million (actually more than that) unfortunate set of circumstances. The shadow.

My sister in law is built to have babies … period. She is one of those lucky women that if her husband looks at her funny she could probably get pregnant. It happened on their honeymoon. Literally. Nine months later they welcomed a healthy, beautiful baby girl, Taylor Dawn, into this world. She was 8 lbs. 12 oz. and perfect in every way. Thank you Jesus! When she was two they tried for their second baby and were pregnant instantaneously (it seemed anyway). They pregnancy progressed uneventfully and at the 20 week sonogram they were declared to be expecting a baby boy who was healthy by all accounts. I may be wrong on some of the details but the gist is at 26-28 weeks her doctor reviewed the sonogram and mentioned their could be some complications. Connor apparently had something called Single Umbilical Artery (one umbilical artery instead of two). 93% of the time it is nothing so they were reassured, but referred to a neonatalogist. The neonatalogist was reassuring as well, but also referred them to a pre-natal cardiac expert. He gave further reassurances “Your baby has a beautiful heartbeat!” We were all encouraged and just ready to focus on welcoming this little one into our family. Delivery day arrived and I waited all day as any expectant aunt would for the phone call that would send me soaring up to the hospital to greet my nephew. The call came, but the news was ….

Connor was born and immediately they began to “work” on him. We were called and asked to pray. We did. We were called again. We rushed to the hospital, not because we anticipated the worst but because we wanted to be there for support, help, encouragement. The rest  is kind of a blur. They came in and told the family he would not survive. Everything was perfect on the outside but the inside was another story. We would find out later that internally he never developed past the 8th week. How is that even possible? I don’t even know. It is unbearable. He could survive as long as he was in his mommy but as soon as the umbilical cord was cut he could not make it on his own. His lungs never developed. His heart was not in the right place. His kidneys were malformed and unattached. And that was only part of it. Why? Why? Why?

How could all of this go wrong and NOTHING show up on a sonogram? How is that possible? How can a expert proclaim a heartbeat beautiful when the heart is not even in the right place? In this day and age of 4D sonograms and excellent pre-natal care it seems impossible and yet it is not. These are the questions my precious family has been left to confront. How his momma and daddy have gotten out of bed and faced each day displays a strength that is awe inspiring. Somehow in the midst of all of this there is a grace given to them to realize and believe that their son is in heaven and the baby they held as his spirit passed was not who he was anymore. He was gone.

To be absent from the body it to be present with the Spirit.

We laid Connor to rest as a family on September 21. He has forever changed our lives and impacted each of us in a way that is beyond words or explanation. We are all still struggling, especially his parents. Blessedly and painfully life marches on, especially with a neaarly three year old. They face each new day. They overcome. I don’t know how and yet I do because of Jesus. We cling to him. We cry out for him. We search for Him in the midst of the shadows … and he finds us. He never leaves us. He never forsakes us.

Yey though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death you are with me …

God reminded me the other day that death is but a shadow. The light, the Son, is real.