When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.
– William Shakespeare
That night, I cried. I cried over him, Colton, my son. I didn’t give anything to him to make him laugh because his face was so beautiful and still, just like the final touch of an artist and Marie was the canvas that helped paint the perfect picture. His rounded off nose reminded me of his mother, he had a curved chin that myself and my father carry in the Juchniewicz family of men. That was not the reason I cried. In Marie’s post, There Is No Heartbeat, she describes what her experience was through her lens, my story is vastly different. You can compare my experience to what a football player might feel sitting on the sideline of their championship game, watching their teammate continually getting hurt over and over again, not being able to do a single thing about it.
It was Monday, April 24th, 2017 and we couldn’t find his heartbeat, I didn’t know what to do except be optimistic to my dear, sweet wife who already knew he was gone. As the whaling cried out of her pierced heart, I took her in my arms and just held her, not saying a thing. The doctor looked at me with sadness in her heart and felt our pain instantly as if being consumed with the flood of disbelief that was dominating the small room. Talking to the doctor more we went over options that needed to be done right away, getting the baby out. A C-Section was out of the question, not only would it leave a horrible scar but the memory of going through something like this was not something we needed be reminded of. We decided on starting the process now and admit Marie immediately to the hospital next door to the medical clinic.
I didn’t want to make the call to Marie’s parents, but I dialed her Dad’s cell and told him what happened, they rushed over to meet us at the hospital. What seemed like hours was only about 30 minutes before we went out the back door to escape the already heartsick atmosphere of the doctor’s office. We met Marie’s parents at the front of the hospital and greeted them with an iron-clad embrace of sorrow. This was really happening.
Ascending to the third floor for labor and delivery there was an eerie, numb feeling that I was struggling to shake off. I knew I had to be strong for Marie at this time, but still trying to process why we were even in the hospital. After getting checked in, Marie squared away into her bed, a nurse carefully gave her medicine that made her extremely loopy and tired “looking” but still coherent. I pulled out my phone and dialed my friend Andy to come be with me while all of this is going on.
What do you do when you know that your wife still has to give birth to a lifeless baby? How do you act? What to say? How in the world do you know that everything will be, just fine as they say. The answer is simple and may sound like a 1st grade Sunday school answer, but it’s Jesus. Yes I know, I didn’t promise you all fireworks or special computer graphics that will wow and bedazzle you, it’s just the stupid simple truth. I can honestly admit and say that I would have frozen up and gone running for the hills if it had not been for the purpose of not only my marriage but my relationship with Jesus to stand there arm-in-arm with my scared and broken wife.
Andy went out and brought over dinner, we ate, hugged and talked some more. The current pastor of our church, Bridgepoint Bible Church, Tom, came by and checked up on all of us to see how we were doing. Now, this is same guy who after meeting me once, called me the next day on my cell phone welcoming me for checking out the church when Marie and I were brand new. We talked about how I would break the news to my mom and my brother who didn’t know yet. The fact that she was 1,700 miles away in California and couldn’t be near her son to console him, it would break her heart. As a group, we prayed over that phone call specifically to allow God to soften the heart of my mother and provide comfort to her through Paul, her husband. I decided to walk out to my car to get my backpack and get some fresh air. Strolling through the hospital I didn’t know what to think about except just making it to the next step, and then the next step, adding them up to reach the end result of being at my car in the parking lot. I looked around at the different staff, wondering if they had any idea that my wife had our lifeless son inside of her, probably not. I finally made it outside and with a gut reaction held my phone up to my mouth, held down the iPhone 6 button and said “Call James Nunno”. The witty phone responded in a female British accent, “Calling James Nunno”. On the third ring my best friend who I met in kindergarten answers. I struggle to get the words out of my mouth, almost choking on the idea of telling him that his future “nephew” status label was about to be taken away. After 20 minutes of tears, sympathy, and wishful thinking, I hung up the phone feeling actually better that he knew Colton has been welcomed into Heaven.
It was time to call her, I dialed her phone number and made sure that Paul was home and she wasn’t alone. The tears instantly started to cover my face as soon as I heard my mom’s voice. I told her the news and there was a shocked response of “What!?, what happened?” from her voice followed by a whaling tone as if she was shouting to me from California to Texas and I could hear her cry. We talked about what happened, how she was heart broken and in pain for Marie and I that she could not be there to hold me and comfort me as a mother. It hurt me so bad to have to break this news to her, I still was trying to figure out what all of this meant and how to process things, it continued to feel as if it were not happening. Paul prayed while on the phone and we reached a point to where we were able to talk without crying to end the call.
The rest of the night was spent hanging out with Andy, his wife Alissa, Marie’s parents talking about the situation we were in, why it was happening, lot’s of what if’s.. and it made me think about one of my favorite versus in the bible that I learned when I was in sixth grade that has been a key value my whole life.
Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17
We all leaned into one another, supporting, praying, and encouraged that God has a plan and it’s perfect. We would get through this difficult time, it was just a matter of that, time. Without our faith we would be nothing, hopeless and purposeless to have the strength to move forward one step at a time.
Later that night we were visited by an amazing nurse named Allison, Al for short. Al was involved in a ministry outside of the hospital that she did on her own time which involved helping couples that have lost a child and walks them through the process of remembering their child and preparing them for the transition home. She provided resources such as a list of local grief sharing groups in our area, a large list of local funeral homes and cemetery’s, information on how to deal with our situation, and an organization that volunteers to take professional photos of your family that has lost a child. Al explained the process to us of what would happen after Marie delivers Colton the next day. Earlier on in the day I was thinking that I don’t want to see him afterwards because his face would be stuck in my mind and I wanted to have my own mental image of what my son looked like. The same feeling was creeping up inside of me as I sat there and listen to Al continue on about the joy and freedom it provides when you see your baby. She touched based and encouraged us that we are still his parents, we have been for the past nine months, and that won’t change.
Al coming and talking to us was probably one of the top influencers for myself that day. She helped paint this picture of hope and love through seeing and talking about Colton. He as a real person, not just a deceased baby. I continued to think about my wife, being a mother, how all of this was impacting her and I wept inside I couldn’t take the pain away. As a husband we initially want to fix things and tackle them head on. When we are challenged with patience and trusting our pain and suffering to God it can go against our natural tendencies. However, God prepared me for this at the start, nine months ago. To be there for Marie, for Colton, to allow friends and family members to help where needed, it all was planned before we were even pregnant.
Marie and I ended the night talking a bit about seeing the glory in all of this while not forgetting how sad the reality of now is.
With a somewhat peaceful heart inside both of us, we went to bed knowing our little angel man was with his creator, watching over us and would be a huge part of our story in the days to come.