If Things Had Been Different

By Kristi Bothur © 2012
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

If things had been different, I would have a three-year-old little girl today. Maybe I would have dropped her off at preschool with her big sister this morning. Maybe she would be playing at my feet in the kitchen. Maybe she would be running around the house making a glorious mess. If things had been different.

My second daughter, Naomi, was due in August 2009. But in early March, our path took a turn I never anticipated. I was hospitalized at 18 weeks of pregnancy for abdominal pain that could not be diagnosed. As the doctors tried to determine what was going on, an infection from twisted intestines was growing out of control and infecting my baby, too. She was born “sleeping” on a Monday morning, having already flown to Heaven sometime during the night while in my womb.

ultrasoundThe days that followed were some of the hardest and darkest of my life. For the first time in my life, something had happened that I couldn’t fix or make better. There was no turning back the clock. I couldn’t get my baby back. I couldn’t sleep from all the tortured thoughts running through my mind. How could this happen? What had I done wrong? What if I had gone to the hospital sooner? Where was God? If he loved me, why had he not protected my daughter? Could I ever trust Him again?

I was desperate for answers and comfort. I scoured the Bible for any reference to babies, and not surprisingly, I came upon Psalm 139. A familiar verse jumped off the page at me: “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

I have never been much for knitting, but I love to crochet. I remember my grandmother teaching me to crochet—showing me how to loop the yarn on the hook, the thrill of guiding the hook in and out of the loops and seeing something tangible and even beautiful emerge from nothing.

Over the years, my crocheting projects have waxed and waned depending on my pace of life, but it's often been my fallback craft, the one my fingers remember how to do no matter how crazy life gets. In fact, in the first weeks after Naomi died, crocheting was a comfort for me as I threw myself into two projects.

The first was a baby blanket. The hospital nurses had wrapped our baby in a beautiful, soft yellow blanket, which I learned was one made by the nurses for occasions such as this. I determined that I would add to their collection and spent some of my recovery time making two small baby blankets to comfort other grieving mothers.

The second project was much more personal. I wanted to crochet a gown for our baby girl. I intended it to be her burial gown, but I ran out of time, and she was buried instead in a gown made by a dear friend. I finished the dress anyway and have it in a box of memories from her short life, each stitch representative of all of the dresses and booties and birthday cakes I would have made her in her lifetime.

Images of these projects and others flashed through my mind as I read the Psalm again. I know what care and precision and love I put into each stitch. I pictured God doing the same with our baby, stitch by stitch, cell by cell, beautifully knit together. When my husband and I held our baby after she was born, we were amazed at how perfectly formed she was, even at her young age, down to her tiny fingernails. Our God is a master of details, and nothing is unnoticed by him, even in the secret place of the womb.

That image was the beginning of my healing, and the beginning of my journey back to a place where I could again trust God with my future. I don’t know why He did not have Naomi grow up with us. I doubt my brain could handle knowing His reasons. But I do know it was not for lack of power or lack of love.

Because the same God who knit my little girl together also knit me together, and saw each of my days, including the darkest one I thought I would never recover from. He saw them not only from the beginning of my earthly life, but he saw them from the perspective of the cross, where Jesus laid down His life for me, and for her, and for you. His sacrifice there ensures that although we grieve, it is not without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

And it allows me, with the psalmist, to pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).

Father, I confess that I don’t understand your ways or your reasons for why things happen the way they do. But even when I don’t understand why, help me to believe in your love, to trust you with my future, and to cling to you with all of my strength. Lead me in the way everlasting. Amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristi Bothur is a pastor's wife, teacher, and mother of five - two on earth and three in heaven. She has a heart for other women who have experienced the loss of children during pregnancy or in early infancy, and she has a passion for sharing the truth of God's word in a way that makes sense in everyday life. She and her husband are the founders of "Naomi's Circle", a ministry for parents of babies in heaven (www.naomiscircle.weebly.com). You are welcome to contact her at naomiscircle@gmail.com. Kristi lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and son.

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