A Christmas Poem

Arthur

Kicking, squirming, and hiccupping;
Marinating in the deep.
Full of life, hope, and purpose,
Wooing the hearts who weep.

Your little life here on earth,
It’s purpose is so clear.
It points us to eternity,
To our God who is very near.

Champion of a better place,
A reminder of Whose we are.
You now see Jesus face to face,
Worshipping the Morning Star.

We miss you little Arthur,
Your precious gazing eye.
We’ll meet together soon someday,
To worship The Most High.

Love,
DaddyJack & MommyK

This was a Christmas gift to us, a poem in honor of Arthur, from his grandparents, who had the privilege of meeting him before he departed us.

We are thankful for the gift of being with family during this time and for getting to experience this Christmas through the eyes of our children. Through Adele’s eyes as she experienced Christmas traditions, and through Arthur’s eyes as we look and long for heaven, being face to face with Jesus.

The Christmas Blessing Stocking

I have been thinking about Christmas for a few months now and dreading going through the holiday with the prospect of Arthur not being with us. The holidays leading up to Christmas, while I was grieving the future we would not get with him here, he was safe and secure in my belly and we could make memories, taking every little moment we could to do what we would have wanted to do in a lifetime with him. When I thought about Christmas, he was most likely not going to be with us and I had no idea how I was going to get through it other than hiding away just waiting for it to pass over me. The only thing I thought would help us get through it was trying to make it a special time for Adele.

Now we are here on the other side, the side of life where Arthur is no longer with us. I’m tired. I’m weary. I’m achy from the months of carrying him, both physically and emotionally. His time with us was full and amazing, but the adrenaline from those days has worn off. I’m apathetic and having a hard time making decisions on little things. I’m thankful for sleep, but wishing I could be up multiple times at night feeding my baby. When Adele sees the blue and white blanket on our bed and says “Baby Arfur’s blanket”, tears come every time. I am sad I won’t get to see their sibling relationship this side of heaven. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about him. I just flat out miss that sweet and peaceful little guy so much.

I have read up some on dealing with grief at the holidays recently and a few sources have said incorporating your loved one in some way in your holiday traditions can be helpful in the healing process and make it more bearable. So last week, I began to think about how we could include Arthur in our Christmas. Adele is just over a year and a half, and as a young family we are trying to establish meaningful traditions to do at this special holiday, particularly ones that point each of us to Jesus and help us be more outward-focused, not just on ourselves. We somehow managed to get Christmas decorations up in our house this year (thanks to Arthur for sticking around through his due date). At both my family’s and Artie’s family’s houses, there are stockings for everyone. I didn’t have any for our house, but it’s something I’ve wanted to get for our little family. Thinking about getting stockings for our family has brought lots of questions: Should I get one for Arthur? Probably. We love him so much and he’s a part of our family. But wouldn’t it be depressing having a stocking up for him every year while everyone else has little gifts and goodies in their stockings? Maybe I shouldn’t get one then. But it doesn’t feel right to not include him. If I got him a stocking, what could we put in it and how could we use it?

This is what came to mind: Arthur’s Christmas Blessing Stocking.

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As soon as I thought of it, I felt a renewed sense of purpose for the holiday. The mommy in me had something to prepare for him and a tradition we could start to honor his life and the impact he has had on us. While it still hasn’t been fully thought through yet, the idea is that the things put in his stocking are things that can be a blessing to others. Some immediate ideas that came to mind were little toys that could be donated in his name, yarn to donate for baby hats and blankets to be made for families in need, and monetary gifts that could be used to donate to someone in need. Last week I ordered a special stocking with his name embroidered on it, and it arrived just a few days before Christmas. I can’t wait to see where this Christmas takes us with it and who will be blessed because of it. While nothing can replace his presence here with us, this feels like the perfect way to honor his place in our family. Although his life here on earth was brief, he blessed and enriched mine in more ways than I could have imagined and hoped for.

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These lyrics encapsulate what I feel this Christmas. It acknowledges my broken heart, but the joy that is found in Jesus, even in the suffering. From O Holy Night.

And while my heart hurts so much, what you are getting to celebrate with Jesus in person, Arthur, is something that makes me incredibly happy to think about. I can’t wait to join you in that celebration someday. Merry Christmas, sweet boy!

And thank you, Jesus, for humbling yourself, not counting your equality with God a thing to hold onto, but becoming a servant to those you will save by coming to earth as a child, being obedient to the Father’s will, even to the point of death, one you didn’t deserve, on a cross. You are worthy to be worshipped and praised! What a Savior you are!

Arthur’s Birth Story

Although we are incredibly sad, talking about Arthur with people brings a smile to my face. And talking about his entrance into this world makes me laugh. A good portion of my anxiety over the past few months came from thinking about this event – how he would go from my belly to the outside world. Would it be like a normal delivery, comparable to my labor with Adele? Would he come on his own? Will he come early because of excess fluid? Or will I have to be induced because his condition might hinder a natural start to labor? If it’s a long labor, will I be too exhausted to hold him and love him? Will natural labor be too stressful for him? Should I schedule a c-section to increase his chances of him being born alive? I was looking for anything to grasp that would give me and indication of what might happen. We eventually decided against doing a c-section and would seek to give birth to him whenever he decided to come, hoping we wouldn’t need to be induced.

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The last time I used this app, was during my labor with Adele. Apparently, 14747 hours between my 2 kids.

Tuesday December 8th. Two days past his due date. Most of my family was in town at this point. Most of the previous days I was met with the question, “So, anything yet?” Nope. Just the same back aches and tired legs. Artie and I had a staff Christmas party we planned to go to that night after dinner. We packed up our “white elephant” gifts and decided to grab a quick dinner together, just the two of us, before heading over. In the car, I felt a very mild contraction. I mentioned it to Artie, but I wanted to eat. We were headed to Panera and I told him I’d record what was happening in our handy dandy labor app on my phone. I thought being out and about, eating dinner would help settle things down if it wasn’t real labor starting. Well, in between bites of my Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, I was grasping the table and taking deep breaths. By the time we left Panera, my contractions were averaging just short of a minute long and were 6ish minutes apart (from the beginning of one to the beginning of another). They were mild, but stronger than the one in the car. Needless to say, we were not going to that Christmas party.

When we returned home, I immediately got into some cozy clothes and parked myself on the couch, dealing with mild to moderate contractions and having some back labor just like I did with Adele. A little after 9pm, things took a sharp turn. Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and we were still at home, 20 minutes away from the hospital. I could barely get into the car, they were that close together. Fortunately for me and Arthur, we had a great labor team: Artie (Daddy), our coach; Jeanne (Artie’s mom, Grammy to Arthur), the veteran L&D nurse; Kelly (my mom, Kommy to Arthur), the utility player; and Jack (my dad, DaddyJack to Arthur but Adele has been affectionately calling him… Jack), the occasional back-rubber and driver. We arrived at the hospital shortly before 10pm.

Upon arrival at Carolinas Medical Center, there was a slight delay in getting us into a labor room. But after waiting a few minutes in a triage room, I was carted to our delivery room, contraction on top of contraction, maybe having 30 seconds between the end of one and the beginning of another. I was in the room for 2 or 3 contractions when I felt the urge to push at the end of the contraction. To my relief, my midwife gave me the go ahead. But my water hadn’t broken yet.

Two words to describe Arthur’s delivery: rapid and forceful.

Rapid, because my first contraction was at 6:27pm and he was born at 10:20pm. That was an answer to a specific prayer request I had given to people leading up to his birth. It was fast, but not too fast. We were able to make it to the hospital for him to be born there, but we were only there about 20 minutes.

Forceful, because of what I’m about to share. Disclaimer: I am about to share in some detail, so if you are not a woman who has given birth or if you are not interested in this sort of thing, you can skip the next paragraph. In a different scenario, I probably wouldn’t share this part so publicly, but it is a part of Arthur’s story that makes me laugh (although I was not laughing at the time) and will be a memory that everyone who was in that room will remember forever.

Babies with anencephaly typically have more amniotic fluid surrounding them in the later part of pregnancy. When my midwife had checked me earlier in the day at my appointment that morning, she told me there was quite a bit of fluid. The water not breaking for most of the labor was extremely helpful for Arthur. It provided some protection for his head and had helped labor progress quickly up to that point. But when I pushed during that contraction, it could be contained no longer. As was described to me later by everyone else in the room, a tidal wave of fluid came out, covered the midwife and everything behind her, including the wall, TV and chair. Artie’s mom, a labor & delivery nurse for a few decades, had never seen anything like it. The midwife, had never been doused like that. Nurses who witnessed it came to our postpartum room the day after and were still talking about it. Artie said it sounded like a bucket of water had been dropped from 3 stories. I didn’t see anything, I was just focused on getting Arthur out, but it felt like a canon shot off.

Another contraction came shortly after. One long push and Arthur was out. A moment of relief followed by the question I didn’t want to ask, but wanted to know: “Is he alive?”

“Yes, he is!”

Tears of joy and relief. The moment was finally here and God had answered my only other specific prayer request, the one I pleaded with him in private, in my heart of hearts. “Lord, if you could give me anything in this, all I want is to see him alive. Oh God, would you please do that? That is my heart’s desire – but your will be done.” And boy, did he answer that. And give me so much more.

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How You Can Help

I am so grateful for the many people who came out yesterday to celebrate Arthur’s life. While we are sad, we are hopeful. It brought so much comfort to my soul to see and hug so many of our friends. So many of you have sent messages, emails, texts over the past week. We have read each one with gratitude and received much encouragement from your thoughtful words. I am also thankful for all of the messages I’ve received about Arthur’s impact. His life here on earth may have been short, but it was extremely meaningful. I can’t wait to share more of him with you!

Many people told me, “If there is anything I can do for you, let me know. I would love to help.” As someone who has been on the other end wanting to help someone in their suffering, I’ve said similar things. Knowing specific requests has been helpful. I wrote a similar post a few months ago after we first found out Arthur’s diagnosis. While many things are similar to that time, many are different. The grief we experienced over the past few months was more anticipatory – grieving the things that were to come. While there is much to rejoice in (and we have done and are doing that), we are now in a new season of grief – aching for the presence of our son, in whom we found so much joy.

Like I said in my previous post, these are thoughts of what could be helpful to us – not expectations. This is written for the people who have genuinely said, “If there is ANYTHING I can do to help, please let me know.” So let me help you help us:

Donate

This wasn’t something we initially thought about but many have asked if there is a way to make a donation in memory of Arthur. Below are a few organizations that have been a rich blessing to us and many others.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep – this organization provides professional remembrance photography to families suffering the loss of a baby, free of charge to the families.

Anencephaly Hope – this woman provides hats and other little gifts specifically for babies with anencephaly. Many of the hats Arthur wore were given to us, free of charge, by her. She can only do this when she has the funds and supplies available. Consider making a donation or sending yarn in Arthur’s name.

Campus Outreach – Artie and I have been working for Campus Outreach – a Christian college ministry – for the last seven years. Our ministry seeks to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with college students, establish and equip them in the Christian life, and moblize them to be used by God in the world. It is through this ministry that we learned what it is like to live out our faith in Jesus and cling to the hope of the gospel – even in the hardest of circumstances, like the one we find ourselves in today. If you would like to donate to our ministry on behalf of little Arthur, please follow the link.

Help

We have a wonderful church family and support group here. Leading up to and through Arthur’s birth, we have been well taken care of. We have an abundance of meals and food to last us through the holidays and we will be around family and friends over the next few weeks, therefore will have plenty of help with Adele. When we are settled back into a “normal” family routine in January, there will most likely be needs in those categories.

Many of you don’t live near us, but can love us from a distance. Letters, messages, and packages were always a comfort to receive. Again, these are just ideas – ideas of things we would use if we were to receive them – not expectations. If you want some gift card ideas – restaurants, Etsy (for personalized keepsakes to remember Arthur), Shutterfly (if you couldn’t tell from the blog, I love pictures and plan on doing some photo book crafting to document all things Arthur), massage/spa (for the postpartum recovery and physical toll that grief can take on your body). If you need our address, please message me through the blog or through Facebook.

Remember

Remember that Arthur is my second child, my firstborn son. Recall with joy the amazing time he spent with us. Reach out to us on the important dates – Mother’s Day, July 10th – diagnosis day, his birthday, and his heavenly birthday.

Prayer & Patience

Everyone grieves differently. My grief will look different from Artie’s. The way we grieve this together might be different from other families who have gone through this type of loss. I can’t predict how it will all play out and for how long it will last. The coming weeks will be hard for us. My body is ready to take care of a baby with no baby to feed and to hold. The holidays will be both a reminder of our missing family member and a distraction. Getting back into a normal schedule will probably not feel so normal for a while. This next year will be a year of firsts without Arthur with us. We are not going to shy away from being in community, we know we need you. But if you would graciously give us understanding and patience if it takes us a while to emerge from the fog, we would be greatly helped by that. Continue to pray for our family as we ache to be reunited with our son.

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We feel extremely grateful for all the wonderful people who have been here for us, the people near and far who have not only spoken of their love for us but have displayed it. Arthur has a lot of incredible people who loved him and his family well in his short life here with us.

Arthur’s Memorial Service

A celebration of Arthur Neale Van Sciver’s life will be held tomorrow, December 12th, at Christ Covenant Church* in Matthews, NC at 11:00am with a reception afterwards in the lobby of the church. Childcare will be provided.

It would mean the world to us, if you are able, to have you join us in celebrating his life during this time.

It would also be so good for this momma’s heart to hear from you who have been following our story, how little sweet Arthur has touched you. I have received some messages over the past months that have been such an encouragement to me during this difficulty. You can submit these here:

*Christ Covenant Church is located at
800 Fullwood Lane
Matthews, NC 28105

Our Angel Baby

We are so sad and heartbroken, but Arthur, you are more than we could ever have imagined or wanted. We know you are healed and whole now. We love you so much, dear son.

Arthur went home to his Heavenly Father tonight peacefully in my arms with his Daddy holding his hand, just like he came into the world. Thank you all for praying for us and for him. God has given MUCH grace to us. Arthur has brought us much much joy and has changed our lives forever. Please continue to pray for us over the coming days, weeks and months ahead.

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Headed Home

I can’t believe it, but we are heading home with our boy this morning! Milestone after milestone we never knew we would get with him. Little things and big things. We changed his first poopy diaper this morning (who knew that would feel so special) and he has been with us 36 hours. 

Please continue to pray. We will have hospice care for Arthur at our home, receiving the same treatment he would get at the hospital. There is no indication of how long we will have with him, but pray that his time at home would be peaceful for him and for us.