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Joshua Melvin

Joshua, baby with anencephaly

 

God blessed us with our second child, Joshua Melvin, in February of 2011. We were so, so excited for our son, Cody, to have a little brother, and so excited to meet our newest little one!

Sadly, at my 17-week sonogram, we learned that Joshua had a condition called anencephaly and was not going to live after his birth. As you can imagine, this was devastating news. Words cannot express the depth of our longing to watch our beloved son grow up, and our sadness at learning that this was not God's plan. So many thoughts and questions rushed through my head in the days and weeks after Joshua's diagnosis: Would I be afraid to look at my own son? How could I possibly handle waking up every morning with a big, pregnant belly, knowing that my child was not going to live?

But, after the initial shock wore off, we were blessed with peace truly beyond all understanding! We felt excitement again at the thought of our beautiful son growing and kicking in my womb! We knew in our hearts that no level of deformity could overshadow our love for our son, and our desire to hold him and cover him with kisses from the moment he was born! We were, and still are, madly in love with our smallest saint.

As painful as it was to know that we would not have the chance to watch Joshua grow up, we felt so blessed to have even a small window of time together with him. Throughout my pregnancy, it was our prayer that Joshua would live to full-term and that would be able to have even a few precious moments with him.

God answered our prayers! We welcomed our beautiful Joshua into the world on November 14th, 2011, and were blessed to spend an incredible 9.5 hours with him before he was called Home. It was the most blissful day of my life. Praise be to God!

Looking back, my pregnancy with Joshua was a beautiful one. I had a very difficult pregnancy with our first child, and my experience with Joshua was far more enjoyable, despite his diagnosis. I had some morning sickness that lasted throughout my pregnancy, but with the help of anti-nausea medication (a huge blessing!), I felt just fine most of the time. I loved every minute I was blessed to spend with our beautiful boy!

We were incredibly blessed to have the overwhelming love and support of both of our families (we are a tight-knit bunch), as well as our friends and church families. (I am Catholic and my husband is Protestant, and we are very involved at both churches.)

Don't get me wrong--there were, of course, many difficult moments for us throughout my pregnancy, but overall, it was a truly beautiful experience, and a very positive one.

In addition to making arrangements in advance for Joshua's funeral, memorial service, and organ donation, I spent quite a lot of time during my pregnancy making sure that everything was ready for Joshua's arrival! I had my sister-in-law sew beautiful onesies for Joshua out of my husband's favorite t-shirts, and I made matching shirts for our son, Cody, and my husband. (I appliqued cute matching "ties" to all of the shirts/onesies.) I made sure we had materials to take molds of Joshua's hands and feet at the hospital, as well as special paper and ink for additional hand- and footprints. Another sister-in-law crocheted several beautiful hats for Joshua (in different sizes, so we would be sure to have one that fit), and we received two beautiful blankets from family friends. By far the most wonderful decision we made in preparation for Joshua's birth was to have a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer present at his birth. I looked up all the NILMDTS photographers in our area, browsed their portfolios online, and individually contacted the ones I thought did the most beautiful work (I'm so glad I did it this way instead of leaving it up to chance who would show up at the hospital to take photos). One of the photographers I contacted was unable to be present at Joshua's birth, but offered us a free maternity session instead! What a blessing! So, in addition to the phenomenal photographs we had taken at Joshua's birth, we have beautiful maternity pictures that we will treasure forever.

We were blessed with a wonderful, pro-life doctor and nursing staff from day-one of our experience with Joshua. Having read many horror stores from people for whom this was not the case, I will be forever grateful for the medical help we received throughout my pregnancy. I had a planned C-section with Joshua due to my having placenta previa, as well as complications from my pregnancy with our first son. I am so grateful that this was possible for us, because after Joshua was born, the surgeons said that there was essentially no way he could have been born naturally and survived. He did NOT want to come out of mommy!

We had a planned C-section at 38 weeks, and my recovery was a dream, minus the temporary discomfort of breast engorgement. Once Joshua was born, they moved us to a room on the Women's Care floor of the hospital (instead of the maternity ward), where we recieved the best and most sensitive care possible from the moment we arrived. Joshua lived 9.5 wonderful hours, so our families had plenty of time to hold and cuddle him, as well as us having plenty of time with him ourselves. Once Joshua passed away, we had time to take more foot-and handprints before we said our goodbyes and he was lovingly taken by the hospital staff to go for his organ donation surgery.

Throughout this entire experience, I cannot emphasize enough what incredible peace we were blessed with. No part of Joshua's birth experience was traumatic for us, with the exception of a few tears shed right before I went in for my C-section. Joshua made the cutest little squeaking noises from the moment he was born, and as his heart began to slow, his breathing sounds changed. Because of this, we were able to tell exactly when he began to pass away, and at that point, we asked our families to leave the room so we could be with him alone as he passed. I can't even begin to describe what an incredible feeling it was to be holding our precious baby boy and to literally feel his soul leaving his body and ascending into Heaven! It was a miraculous experience that I will remember on my deathbed.

After a three day stay in the hospital, I was released just in time for Joshua's funeral as planned (on a Friday). We had a full Catholic funeral Mass for Joshua, with just our closest friends and family in attendance. The next day, at my husband's church, we had a HUGE celebration of Joshua's life to which everyone was invited! Well over 200 of our friends and family came out to see Joshua's slideshow, pictures, other mementos from his birth, and to eat pie and drink hot apple cider with us. It was even more wonderful than our wedding reception! I had a local artist make us a "fingerprint tree" upon which everyone who attended the reception left a fingerprint as a sort of guest book for Joshua (we also had an actual guest book--I recommend doing both). The tree turned out beautifully, and now hangs in our upstairs hallway. I will treasure it forever.

In his 9 months on earth, little Joshua touched more lives than some people might touch in a lifetime. I am continually amazed to see God's beautiful plan for Joshua's life unfolding, even now that he is with Jesus.

Thanks be to God for his Indescribable Gift! (2 Cor. 9:15)

To read more about our experience with Joshua, please visit our CaringBridge site

To see Joshua's slideshow and the photos from his birth, please visit youtube.

If you would like to contact me directly, I would love to hear from you! Thank you so much for taking the time to read our story! God bless you!

 

Last updated December 13, 2016