The End of Joel’s Journey

I have five draft blog posts waiting to be finished; one for each week of the remaining five weeks of our pregnancy.  But today we learned that we actually have no weeks remaining.  Joel has reached the end of his brief journey on earth and is safe in the arms of Jesus.  As of my last post, I felt so ready for closure… so ready to be delivered… so ready to move on.  But now, so suddenly, I’m not so ready.

While visiting on Thursday evening with dear friends who had stopped by to bring meals for us, I realized that Joel had been very quiet all day.  “When did I last feel him move?” I wondered.  I’d been on-the-go all day, so I wasn’t surprised that he’d been sleeping.  But when he didn’t stir even after I sat down to talk, I made a mental note to watch deliberately for kicks.  Joel’s movements have been very limited and weak in comparison to the gymnastics of our healthy babies, and I’ve been used to long periods of stillness from him.  But when he didn’t stir all that night nor the next morning after waking, and when he didn’t respond to my eating of sweets nor to my poking/prodding/coaxing throughout the next day, I began to suspect that he had passed.

I had been asked to call if I didn’t detect movement in a 24-48 hour period, so this morning, I made the call I dreaded to make, knowing it would set into motion a plan I didn’t want to follow.  Jeff and I made our way to the labor and delivery department at York Hospital around noon, where a brief ultrasound confirmed no heartbeat.  Joel is now breech, but the perinatologist, doctor, and nurse all strongly recommend an induction of labor rather than a C-section.  They said we should prepare for this process to take 2 or 2.5 days and that because of his condition and its possible implications for my health, we need to start within the next two days.  So, tomorrow morning we will get a phone call to let us know when a bed is available, and we’ll head back to the hospital.  We could have begun immediately today, but we felt we needed to spend this evening with the children, to process the news with them and help them pack to spend the next few days with my parents and sister/cousins.

To say that I am overwhelmed at the thought of such a long induction would be an understatement.  The longest I’ve been at the hospital prior to any of our four natural deliveries is 2.5 hours!  I know that God will be with us through it, and I know that you will be praying.  These are tremendous comforts.  I’ve been having strong contractions while I’m moving around, but they don’t continue when I’m at rest.  Though it usually takes up to two weeks after an intrauterine fetal demise for natural labor to begin, God is able to bring this about even sooner if He wills.  Tonight, would you please ask Him, with us, for strong,  continuous, effective contractions that will bring about real and natural progress toward Joel’s delivery?  Any help toward reducing the medications needed tomorrow or the overall time needed for induction would be a great mercy from God.

We see God’s fingerprints of grace on our lives during the past week to prepare us for this earlier-than-expected delivery.  My leg has gotten significantly better each day and for the past two days has been almost completely pain-free.  Certainly this is attributed to your prayers and maybe also to Joel’s flip back to a breech position.  Sweet friends and family have brought meals each day this week, allowing me to keep my leg elevated more than usual.  I was mentally resisting this help, “knowing” we still had five more weeks to go and not wanting to be a burden.  But now, as I realize that it was actually our week immediately prior to delivery, I see how God was providing these meals so I would feel more rested and also more caught-up on housework prior to labor.  Isn’t He good to provide exactly what we need, even before we realize we need it?

Thank you, dear friends, for loving us in such practical ways and praying for us through this journey.  We don’t know if we’ll be able to blog from the hospital, but we’ll attempt to update Facebook after Joel is delivered.



One thought on “The End of Joel’s Journey

  1. Dear Jeff and Gwenyth,

    I cried and ached with you this morning when my Mom called to ask us to pray for you today and shared your news. We asked our church family to pray, and you have been on my heart and in my prayers today! May God continue to strengthen you as you walk this painful path and embrace this gift of suffering and sorrow. I deeply appreciate the motto you have with your facebook profile photo. He truly does work ONLY and ALWAYS for our good and for His glory! I am praying that as you grieve, you will sense His tender arms carrying you all and see, as you did in His kind meal provisions, His gracious, providential hand in every step of this hike through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

    Grateful to God for your faithful witness to His goodness, even in the midst of great pain!

    With love,


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