Beautiful Isaac, the very beginning of your life was in February. I learned of your existence almost right away, taking a pregnancy test at 3:00am one day. I had many doubts about it, after several months of negative tests, I knew the pain of getting my hopes up and seeing a negative result.
This time, it was the positive result I had been waiting for. It was a joyful, but an early morning because I wasn’t falling back asleep. This was the day I borrowed the bible verse from Samuel, “For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted the desires of my heart.” I thanked God for you over and over again.
Nick was heading out of town for work that morning. And I had made the mistake before of telling him about our pregnancy with Miranda early in the morning. Lesson learned: McQuillans require a cup of coffee and a few hours of awake time before sharing any information you wish for them to fully comprehend. Instead, I sent him a text saying “I ordered you something custom and it finally came!” Little did he know, I ordered it from God and it was the most perfect, custom-made child. I wrapped the test up in a box and impatiently waited for him to come home. He opened the box with a joyful, “no way!..really?” and there began his relationship with you, Isaac.
There is no one on this earth who loves you more than your mother Isaac, but I think I’m a pretty close second. It is different being the father; Dads don’t get that special one-on-one time while you grow inside your mama. The best we can do is support her as she carries you, and occasionally get lucky enough to feel one of your kicks from the outside of her belly. A father really doesn’t get to start parenting their child until they are born, and I was very much looking forward to that first day that I would finally get to hold you.
Being pregnant with you didn’t come with the usual difficulties, I felt blessed that I could just bask in the joy of carrying you. Even before I was “showing” I often held my hands to my belly, knowing the preciousness it contained.
June 20th marked the 20-week ultrasound and after much deliberation, we decided we wanted to find out if you were a girl or a boy. We covered our eyes when the ultrasound technician scanned to find out and she put the information in a sealed, “TOP SECRET” envelope for us to open when we got home. As Nick leisurely went about business as usual when we got home from the appointment, starting a bath for Miranda, I waited in suspense for him to acknowledge the envelope and finally agree to open it. (One of us is more patient than the other) I got the honor to open it as Nick recorded a video on his phone… “It’s a boy!” We were overjoyed. Immediately I was imagining and hoping for you to be a full-fledged mama’s boy and how perfectly you would make us a family of four.
I really didn’t think you were a boy. I’m not exactly sure why; I just had a sense that you were going to be another girl. To some extent every dad would like to have a boy though. Someone I can pass down all my manly knowledge too; like fixing car engines or surviving in the wild. Things my Dad passed on to me. Still, finding out you were a boy was a bit scarier to me. Boys tend to turn out somewhat like their fathers, and looking back on my life I wasn’t so sure that was such a good thing. I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me. But those anxieties were outweighed by the thought of having a little buddy to hang around with.
June 21st marked the day of diagnosis. We were utterly blind-sided when we were told you had a 1 in 6,000 fatal diagnosis called Trisomy 18 and only an 80% chance of making it to term. We were told we could end the pregnancy because doctors were certain you wouldn’t live. Define ‘live’. Your life began at the moment of your conception and would continue despite this diagnosis. Your life grew within me for 29 weeks; we had several ultrasounds and I saw your growth progressing from a tiny grain of rice to your perfect, 1 lb., 8.4 oz. self. I carried you as close as one human could possibly be to another. You gave me such cause for joy and enlivened my faith in God in impossible ways. I saw your beating heart on the ultrasounds and listened to its rhythm on the Doppler, I felt your movements. You were very much alive.
We were devastated when we learned about your condition. I felt so helpless. What do you do when the ones you are charged with protecting need help and you are completely powerless to do anything? I didn’t see it at the time, but learning of your condition was the moment that you started helping us. It was the moment your perfect purpose began to be realized. Being so powerless to help you, we did the only thing that anyone can ever do; pray. We prayed for you. We prayed for a miracle. And we prayed as best we could to accept God’s will for you and for our family, no matter what that was. Though certainly not perfectly, we began to rely on God more than we ever have before. Anyone who can accomplish that for their family in just 29 weeks is saintly indeed.
We spent the day in prayer and contemplation. We wanted to give you a name. Several candidates came and went, but when I suggested the name Isaac to Nick, he nodded his head in immediate agreement. We reflected on the story of Abraham and Isaac; God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, whom he had long prayed for and loved deeply. A heartbreaking request, yet one that Abraham accepted because of his faith in God. Though we cannot begin to compare ourselves with the faith of Abraham, we do draw parallels from this story and will forever think of you whenever we read it.
August 26th marked the day I couldn’t find your heartbeat on my monitor. The day we went to the hospital and I could no longer see your beautiful, tiny heart pumping life through your body. This was the day we learned Christ Jesus was cradling you in His arms, near his Most Sacred Heart. If only I knew the unfathomable peace and comfort of that place, perhaps it wouldn’t be so hard to let you go.
This was the second call I got from your mother while at work, in tears. “You should come home” she said. “He died”. She had told me she was having trouble finding the heartbeat, but that had happened before so I assumed it would just take a while and she would find it. I wasn’t ready for this. I left immediately and the whole way to the hospital I prayed for a miracle. I prayed that God would send you back to us because we so badly wanted to meet you. Just a few more months, God, that’s all we’re asking for. But that was the wrong prayer. You were now in the place that we spend our lives struggling and suffering trying to get to. You were now home with your real father. No Trisomy 18, no fear, no pain. Just perfect Love. It was my weakness that wanted you back.
August 28th marked the day our faces beheld one another for the first time. After inducing labor, we waited for you to make your appearance. It took several hours to progress, but near the end, I began to cry as the reality of it all washed over me. I realized that no longer would I be able to hold you at every moment, that your earthly life had ended. Dr. Paquette asked if she could pray with us, I nodded my head. Her prayer was one of the greatest gifts we have received. She prayed for God’s will, for strength and peace and comfort. She prayed when I could not find the words or physically do it myself. I pray that God blesses her abundantly for that gift.
You were so fragile, only 1 pound and 8.4 ounces, exactly 12 inches long. I took your tiny hand and you held my finger, I cradled you close, examined your perfect toes, snuggled your fuzzy cheeks and kissed you all over. Your big sister Miranda gave you a kiss too. Grampy, Grammy, Bompa, Mina and Aunty Ally all got to see you; your earthly family loves you so much. You’ve given us even more of a profound reason to strive for heaven. Sweet boy, please pray for us all, help us to achieve our perfect purpose in this life and guide us through this sorrow. We thank God for the honor of being your parents and protecting your precious life. Be near to us, until we can one day, by the Grace of God meet again in Heaven.