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Dear Baby James,

Today is the day that we marked on our calendars in October as soon as we found out that you were growing inside of me. It was supposed to be your birthday. There isn’t something magical about July 3rd.  We all know that due dates really mean nothing and if your story had been a normal one, you still probably wouldn’t have been born on this day. You probably would have been stubborn like your sister and made me go a week past due just waiting to meet you. Instead, we met you two months early under circumstances that I never could have imagined. 

We only saw you moving through an ultrasound screen. For 11 weeks, we went into the doctor’s office just to look at you. I loved it when our doctor would come in and exclaim how strong our baby was. We were so proud of you and the amount of fight that you had. Somehow you survived for so long even with so much stacked against you. You were an amazing little boy.

Your daddy and I were talking just the other day about how I couldn’t imagine still being pregnant right now. Maybe that’s a small sign that we’re starting to realize that your life had nothing to do with July 3rd. I’m reading a book that talks about how to teach children to number their days, and to view their life intentionally and purposefully. This book also talks about when you are teaching a child it’s best to use stories to allow them to understand what you’re teaching them. One day, when Evy is old enough to understand that concept, I’m going to use your life as an example of how the Lord purposefully numbers all of our days and has a job for us to do. Your life was so short….but every week that you survived… every day that I felt like I couldn’t keep going, but you did… everything that your daddy and I learned about each other and our faith while we had you here on this earth…. every post I shared… every person who read about you… every conversation we have about you… every nurse, midwife and doctor who helped us walk through this season….everyone who watched us love you despite losing you…. they were all changed by you. Our good friend Buddy said yesterday that the ratio of how long you lived compared to the lives that you have touched is hard to wrap our minds around. It’s incredible.

We are still getting letters and emails, and having conversations about how you changed and are continuing to change other’s lives. Moms who have never healed from their own losses continually reach out to me. They explain how my sweet baby has allowed them to realize that they never allowed themselves to love and grieve the loss of their own. The way that God has allowed your daddy and me to walk through this season and share about your life is giving others FREEDOM to talk about the silent burdens that they have been carrying. Our hope in Heaven and our trust in our God in the midst of devastation is proving to a broken world that in pain there is still HOPE….. in trials there is still VICTORY… and in LOSS there needs to still be LOVE. Loving you and choosing to carry you and celebrate you was such a hard dance between pain and joy… but I wouldn’t have traded the way we loved you for anything. The way we loved you while you were here and continue to love you now that you’re gone can only happen because of the hope we have in the Gospel. Because we know that Jesus prepared a place for us (and you) in heaven and that God has a plan for every life, we were able to open our hearts and fall in love with our baby boy even though we were going to lose you.

James…. what your life has given me is the ability to trust our God in way that I never could have experienced otherwise. There is indescribable FREEDOM that comes from truly, completely, and wholeheartedly handing over my days to God. Everyday that you grew and continued to live inside of me, I had to give that day over to God and pray that He would allow me to have strength to survive the next. After living through what we experienced losing you, it would be natural for me to live in fear of horrible things happening to your daddy… or to your sister… or to our future babies….. but then I remember that my God is faithful and mighty to save. He rescues his people in their day of trouble. He walked with me through my darkest valley and He has promised to never leave me. He has proven over and over and over to me that He is trustworthy…. and your life is what has made me so sure of that. The trust I have in God because of you sweet boy has changed my life. Your life has given me a FREEDOM that I have never known before and it all makes sense now. For the rest of my life, the fourth of July will have new meaning. While the rest of the country celebrates our freedom as a nation…. I’m going to celebrate my son whose life allowed me and countless others to find freedom in the Lord’s grace.

I have cried while writing this to you. I’ve cried off and on during the last few weeks thinking about how much I wish you were here. We’re at the lake and I had envisioned either being really pregnant or having a tiny newborn on July 4th. Instead, I have a precious baby in heaven who I will never forget, who my heart aches for, and who I long to hold again. Sweet Baby James, you are one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It’s hard to write that, but I know that it’s true. Being your momma has changed my entire life and while there is still so much pain and sadness, I rejoice that you’re in heaven with our Savior. I praise God that I was chosen to carry you, love you, and deliver your precious body into this world. You will never be forgotten.

Happy due date sweet boy.

Love,
Momma

** To the mommas out there who are going through the unimaginable…. I have so much that I wish that I could say to you. One day I’ll find a way to share everything that I want to. But for right now, the main thing that I want you to know is that you can let yourself love your babies. That may sound strange… but I know that when you walk through what we walked through, our human default is to protect ourselves and to run from the inevitable pain and try to minimize it as much as possible. I’m telling you…. it’s worth it to let yourself fall in love with your baby while you’re losing them. It’s the healthiest and most fulfilling way to survive the awful season that you’re in even though in the moment, it makes everything more painful. I understand that it’s so scary… because it feels so dangerous to allow yourself to love and care for something that will be taken away from you…. but loving James wholeheartedly while we had him is what has allowed us to survive and even THRIVE in the midst of such grief and pain. Some days it seemed too hard to let my heart feel love for my baby who was dying…. but the closer we got to losing James, the more and more God allowed me to choose to LOVE him instead of disconnecting from him and trying to block out what was happening to us. I can’t explain how thankful I am for that. It changed EVERYTHING for us. I wish that I could hug you and tell you how much I understand your pain and encourage you that by the grace of God, you will survive this. **

Read other posts for Baby James below:

OUR FIRST LETTER TO BABY JAMES

BABY JAMES’ BIRTH STORY

xoxo, Katelyn
12 Comments Personal
  1. Sabrina Fields reply

    Even though our loss was different, my life has been touched by sweet friends who have experienced similar situations to yours. And because of them, I’m now a volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep to give families photos of their babies that they won’t be able to take home. And because of Jesus and now because of yours, Michael’s and James’s story, I’ll be able to love those families even better. Thanks for living out the gospel and pointing others to our true hope. Love you guys!

  2. Nicole Taylor reply

    Thank you for taking time to write this…I know it’s only a fraction of what you’d like to express, but these few paragraphs have inspired me in faith. When I had my miscarriage, I grieved privately and didn’t want to share – I still search for the words to express myself. It’s easier to entrust your feelings to other mothers who have suffered loss, but I didn’t publicly acknowledge my pain, my love, my hopes, and my prayers that could help someone else who is privately coping with loss. Every obstacle we go through is meant to help someone else realize the victory that is possible with God. I’m praying for your family. Thanks again for your openness – xo

  3. Samantha Crawford reply

    My heart aches for you and your families. You have both been through so much and continue to have such a strong relationship, love and faith. Your family is an icon that many should follow and your precious words to other momma’s have given them hope! Thinking of you and your family always <3

  4. Molly Stillman reply

    I have tears streaming down my face as I read this. Thank you for sharing James’s story. Thank you for your faith. Love y’all.

  5. Marietta reply

    While not going through anything similar your words still strike a chord. Very many chords. Thank you for speaking up, for writing all these things. They’re precious, just like your little James is.
    Much love ❤

  6. Kathy King reply

    So sorry for your loss!
    We lost twin boys while I was 6 months along. Hard time!
    We named them Joshua and James.
    They wee adorable and looked like their older brother.
    I was angry, but not at God,
    I was not saved at the time. I asked the Lord to save me around Mother’s Day the next year!
    I told God to tell my boys that I will see them one day.
    Praying for you and your family!

  7. Katrina reply

    We just celebrated the 9th birthday of a baby we lost. His name was Jessie Blaire and the hope that I have to see him and another baby we lost, Jordan Blake, in Heaven makes that Place all the sweeter. We choose to celebrate both of their birthdays as a special family day – putting time aside to truly enjoy being together. My heart and arms still ache for my babies though their loss allowed me to have children I would not have otherwise had. Our Father makes no mistake.
    “His way is perfect though I cannot understand what lies ahead. I know He’s in control and He’s watching o’er my soul. ‘Cause His way is the best way, it’s the only way for me.”
    Our thought and prayers are with the families who have loved and lost and whose little ones gained Heaven.
    I sometimes say to myself that the Lord gave me four children to raise here on earth but He chose to raise my two others Himself. How special that is!

  8. Sara reply

    Thinking of you… I know the pain of reaching your due date when your baby didn’t make it to that date. It is so hard. I know that the moment we find out we are expecting, we are in love with our baby. Even with my sweet little rainbow baby next to me now, I can still feel the pain from losing my second baby. Even though I was pregnant for a short time, it was devastating and a traumatic experience. I think people don’t understand why I would still feel any pain but it is like ocean waves…up and down but never ending. While my heart has hurt for you and your family, I am so thankful that you knew at 20 weeks. If you had your nursery ready, a closet full of clothes, and went to the hospital expecting to bring home a healthy baby, and didn’t get to, it would have been even more painful and devastating than your experience already was. I feel thankful you were spared from that. I commend you for sharing your heart and hope you continue to. It feels like society expects us to always move on and not feel the pain but it doesn’t work like that. This is a lifelong pain but you will still have a very happy life. You and your James will help so many people and you will have so much compassion for people’s pain.

  9. K. Lenox Photography reply

    Katelyn My heart is breaking for you… and I’m praying for you all. Sometimes we don’t understand God’s plan… but you have faith and that is so special. xoxo

  10. Karen Julia reply

    Thanks so much for writing this. I *DO* hope that you write more about it in the future. Too many moms out there feeling alone during times like this.

  11. Jade Hall reply

    Katelyn- I have followed yours and baby James’ story. Your strength and ability to share with others in such an eloquent way is an example to all. Your faith is remarkable and an inspiration.

  12. Allyse reply

    Oh, Katelyn…I followed you a long while ago, as just a general fan of your beautiful wedding photography. I had sort of fallen away with my busy school schedule and a military move. My heart absolutely breaks for you… I went back and read all your James posts with such reverence. My husband and I lost a little boy at just shy of 17wks. I had contracted salmonella, it spread to the lining around him (chorioamnionitis), and it had spread to my bloodstream. It all happened so fast, he was already gone by the time we saw his sweet face. We had only just found out we were expected a boy earlier that week and we named him Matthew shortly after we got the news he was gone when I was still in the emergency room. The physicians and nurses who cared for me were so incredible…I felt like mentally I would have been so broken had it not been for one nurse in particular. She treated us (and Matthew) with such respect.
    When his initial due date came around it was such a whirlwind of emotions. That evening I got an email, it was my acceptance letter into nursing school. I graduated this last May. It’s been coming up on 3 years and Matthew is still *always* on my mind.
    Share, talk, and it’s okay to feel fear. I can attest that the waves of grief never go away, but you’ll become better at bracing yourself and seeing them coming. You’ll stand stronger than you have before because if you don’t those waves will just consume you. Sending love, light, and prayers to you and your family. There’s a special place in my heart that I keep Matthew. I’ll keep James in that same place. A family friend sent a condolence card and reminded me of Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

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