Parents: Carrie and Jonathan
Hometown: Pensacola, Florida
Carried To term, born asleep
Zachary David’s Story
At their first ultrasound, Carrie and Jonathan’s doctor saw that their baby Zachary David had a cyst on his brain and clenched fists. They were referred to a specialist who urged them to have an amnio in order to have a certain diagnosis. Carrie and Jonathan chose to wait; they knew they would carry their baby to term regardless of the diagnosis. When she was in her 7th month of pregnancy, they decided to have an amnio so they might be able to know exactly what to plan for with baby Zach’s delivery.
Carrie writes, “We were very open with our family and friends about our situation from the start. Our oldest son was only 2 at the time and so we weren’t sure of how much he could understand. It wasn’t until I started having frequent contractions that we began talking to Noah more about his brother. We just told him that Zach was very sick and that we didn’t know how long he would be with us. We were 12 hours away from family and so our church family helped us enormously during this time. Zachary passed away in-utero. Carrie and Jonathan were sent home to await their induction. “Throughout all of this, we’ve tried to be very open about what we are going through. We personally needed the support of family and friends. By allowing our family and friends to share in this with us, they share in the blessings of God and God can use this in their lives as well, to draw them closer to Him. When they sent us home to await the induction I just knew it was going to be a very long day. But actually, with all of our friends calling and coming by, it went by quite fast. As 5:30 drew closer, I could tell that Jonathan and I were getting really uptight. In one sense, I felt as though the mystery of how it would turn out had been solved—it was over. But by no means was it over. I still had labor and delivery to go through. Our doctor didn’t even offer a C-section. If he didn’t have to put me through a major surgery, he wouldn’t. But to induce labor at my stage could mean 2-3 days before Zach was born. I prayed so fervently that God would bring him quickly.”
“I cannot begin to describe what it felt like to carry my child, knowing that he had passed away. I kept waiting to feel him move. I missed that. I felt so incredibly empty.”
Carrie and Jonathan arrived at the hospital at about 5:45pm. For most of the night they were surrounded by friends. At 7am the next morning (August 13th) they began to induce labor. By 10:30 Carrie was given an epidural for the pain. At about 3:30, Carrie began feeling a lot of pressure. Jonathan asked everyone to leave the room and found Carrie’s nurse. Carrie remembers, “When she checked me, a look of panic came across her face. She told me I was dilated completely! She left the room to contact my doctor. By this time the pressure was becoming intense. Jonathan was with me and I told him I was scared. I felt I needed to push but there was no nurse, no doctor! I hit the nurse’s call button and told them I needed a nurse “NOW!”
Three nurses arrived at that time. Carrie’s nurse was one of them and she apologized for being gone so long and said she wouldn’t leave me again. She also told me that a different doctor would be coming to help me deliver, as Carrie’s doctor was with another patient. Carrie would have preferred her own doctor, but she had prayed that the right doctor would deliver Zach. It was then that one of the other nurses spoke up and said, “Do you want your doctor here?” Carrie said, “Yes, yes I do.” She left to find him. Carrie writes, “The pressure grew intensely and I asked if I should push or not. My nurse’s fearful face revealed her uncertainty. Through tears, she apologized for being so incompetent. She said, “Carrie, you are more prepared for this than me.” My other nurse came back in. With her, she brought a much needed calm and assurance. I was shaking and exhausted from trying not to push. She told me my doctor was on his way. Seeing how distraught I was, she told me to go ahead and push if I have to.”
Through all of this, Jonathan was standing quietly holding Carrie’s hand. Everything seemed to be happening so fast. “Nurses were coming in and out setting up equipment and amid the chaos I am pushing. Finally, our doctor arrives. By this time Zach is almost halfway out. The doctor is jumping around trying to get his surgical wear on before I need to push again. It was almost comical if I didn’t think about what the rest of my night held. At last, all the equipment was set up and unlike Noah’s birth, the room held only our doctor and our nurse besides me and Jonathan. With just 2 more pushes, Zach was born at 4:14 pm.”
“What I remember most is the silence. I found myself waiting to hear my baby cry even though I knew that cry would never come. The doctor wiped him off and told me he was as beautiful as his mom. He then handed Zachary’s frail little body to me and Jonathan. He was beautiful! Jonathan and I held each other as we held Zach and wept. It is a sadness that runs so deep. I didn’t know how I would handle seeing and holding my lifeless son. My love for him and ease with him came instantly. Our nurse stayed with us. She helped as Jonathan bathed him in our room and Jonathan dressed him. We took our time, taking plenty of pictures, a lock of hair, and hand and footprints. We had asked that Noah be brought up to the hospital to meet Zach. Noah came in before we let the rest of the family in. He was kind of scared. He didn’t know what to think. Family then came in to Zachary. That time is so precious to me. Everyone got to hold him and we were knit together even tighter as we mourned his loss.” Carrie had been in such pain after the delivery that she didn’t get to hold Zachary very much. Carrie wondered “How do you fit a lifetime of holding into just a few hours?” They had been unsure if they would have friends come in but ultimately asked their closest friends in to meet Zach. Carrie recalls, “As praise songs played from our radio that we’d brought, we enjoyed the company of family and friends. It was hard to believe that such a sorrowful day could also bring such happiness. Happiness was found in the love of our family and friends and it helped us face such a hard and trying night. God poured out His love on us on that warm August night in the darkest time of our lives.”
They were moved to a different room in the hospital. Everyone had seen Zach except for Carrie’s very close friend “H”. “She had made dinner for our family and taken it by the house. She was trying to get up to the hospital as fast as she could. H. had become like a sister to me. We share a kindred spirit. I don’t know if I could have gotten through it all without her. I really wanted her to see Zach but death had begun to take its toll on him. His color was darkening and I knew it was time to let him go. We called the funeral home director to come and get him. God worked it all out. H. was finally able to see and hold Zach, we spent time with Zach and our family privately and said a final prayer with family and friends before the director came to get Zachary.
Carrie and Jonathan were grateful for the time they had for planning Zachary’s arrival. “We developed a birth plan once we confirmed Zach’s diagnosis. We ended up not needing to use it because Zach passed away and was stillborn. We knew that we wanted to keep Zach with us until the funeral home came to get him. We also knew that we wanted our family to come in to see him and be with us after Jonathan and I spent some time alone with him but we weren’t sure about having our friends come in so we just basically played that by ear. We did make arrangements for his burial after confirming his diagnosis and prior to his passing. We found a funeral home that donated their services and then a cemetery plot was given to us. All we had to pay for was his little casket. We were so glad that we had this taken care of and didn’t have to deal with it all and make decisions after Zachary arrived.”
Carrie and Jonathan share how faith played a role in their decisions. “Our faith was foundational to all of our decision-making. The Lord is everything to us. We knew He was guiding us each step along the way.”
Carrie has many memories with Zach that are so special. She remembers the first time she held him. “I wasn’t sure how I would handle holding my lifeless child but it really did come so naturally. I cherish the memory watching my husband, with tears streaming down his face, gently bathing and dressing our little Zach after he was born.” “Our friends, after discussing it with us first, threw a party in celebration of Zach. We believed very strongly that we needed to celebrate Zachary’s life, though short it may be. He was truly a blessing in his life and death. A baby shower was inappropriate and our friends wanted do something for us to show us they loved us. One close friend made a beautiful quilt and had people sign each of the panels at the party. After Zach was born, she gave us the quilt as a reminder of Zach and how much we were loved. The quilt represented a rainbow which had special meaning for us because throughout our ordeal with Zachary, we were continually reminded of how “God Keeps His Promises” to us. He would see us through it all.”
As an artist, Carrie found painting to be helpful in dealing with her grief. “I painted a very precious moment when my husband and I saw a rainbow stretched out across the road we were traveling on after Zach’s funeral. I knew that rainbow was made just for us by God to remind us of His unfailing love.”
Carrie and Jonathan also made cards for all of the babies that were born the same day as Zach. The card said:
Happy Birthday! My name is Zachary David. You and I share the same wonderful birthday! Because of a very serious illness, I will not be with my Mommy and Daddy for very long. Though they are very sad about this, they have found peace, comfort and hope in knowing their future and my future. We would like to share that future with you and your Mommy and Daddy on this special day!