Mary’s third child, a daughter, Moriah Keeper was diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia and only lived 20 minutes outside the womb. This is her story of hope on how each of her children changed her and her husband Sean’s lives.
Mary’s Story of Hope
Our son Ian changed our lives.
Sean and I had prepared for his birth by taking a six-week labor and delivery class, eating lots of salads, singing to him in the womb, making our birth plan and using our exercise ball… but nothing prepared us for the extreme physical sensations and intense teamwork of labor and delivery.
As I pushed and struggled, I remember looking at my husband helplessly and saying words that this type A go-getter hadn’t said very often in her life, “I don’t think I can do this!” Sean started to pray out loud and fervently, in front of all the nurses, asking God to help me and he did.
I left the hospital in awe of my weakness turned into strength, of the power of commitment and prayer, and holding our little boy in my arms.
Our daughter Audrey changed our lives.
We were “pros” at the whole labor thing by now and enthusiastically prepared to welcome a baby sister into our happy family. I felt strong and confident; we were all so ready to meet her.
A week after her smooth healthy birth, I was in unbearable pain with breastfeeding gone wrong… not enough supply, thrush on both sides, open infected wounds from latching wrong- I didn’t see an end to it and could only barely stand the night feedings by the comforting presence and constant cheerleading of my own mom, mother to eight children, who sat with me and made cheesy eggs almost every night.
Months later as I happily nursed our growing girl, I could only just remember the sacrifice and pain of those first weeks, and I realized the truth of my mom’s motto: “If you’re having it rough, take courage it’s just a phase. If you’re having it easy, be thankful it’s just a phase.”
Our precious girl is still growing well.
Our daughter Moriah Keeper changed our lives.
When we learned at her 20-week ultrasound that she had a diaphragmatic hernia and that her lungs would probably not develop enough to live outside the womb, we took up the challenge of our faith and began to ask God for her complete healing. Sean and I were aware that the deep, living peace we felt day by day did not come from ourselves, and we grew together as we hung on to the hope of her healthy birth.
At 38 weeks gestation, Moriah was born alive here at CMC Main on Feb 26, 2017, and lived for twenty minutes. As I held her tiny body in my arms and Sean prayed for her, I saw a picture in my mind of our girl, cradled in the same way, but in Jesus’ arms. Instead of giving a healthy cry of life as we so hoped for, our girl opened her eyes in Heaven and saw Jesus holding her and gave a beautiful laugh!
We miss her so much still, and we think about Heaven a lot more now than we ever did before! We live with the daily reality that this life is not the end and we will really get to play with our girl for eternity.
God’s love is like that… the end is really the beginning.
Our son Collin is changing our lives.
Growing strong and healthy, he is more active in the womb than any of our other children (or maybe I’m just feeling everything this time…). His life is a gift we treasure in deeper ways- snuggling with our big kids and explaining to them often that this boy gets to come live with us before he goes to Heaven.
We have a shared experience with so many other moms and dads of a “rainbow baby,” a child of covenant and comfort to us after such an unexpected and heartbreaking loss.
We look forward to meeting our new baby boy with joy and will not take for granted the long nights and sticky days of parenting to come.
It all comes down to how I respond to change in my life. When I’ve let go, leaned in, and trusted, I am learning to see that change done God’s way is always for my good.
I experience the love and support of friends and family more clearly through the pain and discomfort of change. I am more aware of our Creator and his sovereign designs as I surrender my “best-laid plans” and let him lead. Fear of failure and fear of the unknown are uncovered for what they really are, thieves of today’s joy and tomorrow’s hope.
Let our family’s story lift your hearts today to seek God’s comfort, and let our imperfect perfection encourage you to let go, receive God’s love, and let yourself be changed.
This is an email that was sent by Mary and Sean to their friends abroad right after Moriah’s Birth…I think the tone and words are hard to miss…only hope and peace from Jesus can give you this perspective so soon after the loss of a baby…
Sean and I really wanted to be together with you today to share our thanks and love with you for carrying us in your hearts this weekend through Moriah’s birth. We are well, at peace, healing and grateful for each of your kindnesses to us and your faith standing with ours during this time. You’ve already read our short update, but I had to share with you one more time the continuous rolling overwhelming reality that we are experiencing which is God’s love for us.
You all know that everyone enters the earth with a cry, but did you know that we will enter Heaven with a laugh? On Sunday night as we prayed resurrection over our girl, feeling her move less and less, and then not at all, I got a picture of her being held in the same way I was holding her, except Jesus was doing the holding… and instead of crying she was already laughing! She is already experiencing every joy of being with Jesus, and I know he is delighted with her, as she delights in him. I want you to see this picture the way I see it and be strengthened and refreshed and focused as you head into your next faith adventure.
God is shouting loud and clear to us, day after day, “YOU ARE LOVED! The main reason you get to be here, the jetpack on your back propelling you into the next weeks and months and years with God is his deep real living love for you. He chose you to carry his love to people who have done way too much crying and not a bit of real eternal laughing… yet! And through his resurrection power and abiding love, your obedience to him will result in many many more laughing faces joining our precious Moriah Keeper around God’s throne. To God be the Glory, it’s an awesome truth!
Sean y yo realmente querìamos tomarnos un tiempo para compartir con ustedes nuestro agradecimiento y decirles que les amamos. Gracias por sostenernos y llevar nuestro corazón este fin de semana en que pasamos por el nacimiento de Moriah. Estamos bien, en paz, sanando y agradecidos con ustedes por sus bondades hacia nosotros y por su fe unida a la nuestra durante este tiempo. Ya leyeron nuestra breve reseña, pero querìa hacerles llegar este escrito que describe nuestra realidad y que estamos experimentando el amor de Dios de una manera continua y asombrosa ¡EL nos ama tanto!
Ustedes todos ya saben que todos entran a este mundo con llanto ¿pero sabìas que entraremos al cielo con risas de gozo? El domingo al estar orando por la resurrección de nuestra hija, al sentir que se movía cada vez menos y finalmente ya no se movió tuve una visión donde pude ver que Jesús la estaba abrazando como yo la estaba abrazando en ese momento y en lugar de estar llorando, ella se estaba riendo. Ella ya está experimentando todo el gozo de poder estar con Jesús y yo se que El está feliz con ella, disfrutándola, a la vez que ella se goza al estar con EL. Quiero que tù te puedas imaginar esta escena como yo lo puedo ver y que seas fortalecido y refrescado , enfocándote en esto cuando salgas a tu siguiente aventura de fe.
Dios nos està diciendo con voz fuerte, cada dìa: ¡“Tù eres amado/a”! La razón principal por la que estàs aquí en esta tierra es el amor de Dios por ti, un amor real, vivo, y profundo, y este te impulsarà durante los próximos días, meses o años que vendrán. El te escogiò para que lleves su amor a las personas que ya han llorado demasiado y que no tienen la esperanza del gozo del cielo…todavía. Y por medio del poder de su resurrección y su amor que te envuelve y no cambia y tu obediencia a EL, podremos alegrarnos con lo que resultarà de esto, que será que habrá muchas màs caras sonrientes, llenas de gozo junto con nuestra preciosa Moriah Keeper alrededor del trono de Dios. ¡A Dios sea la gloria por està verdad asombrosa!