When Carver A invited the congregation to stand up for a prayer of healing adding that anyone could “stand-in” for someone not present, Annie rose quickly. She decided to ask for the healing for our unborn baby who had a diaphragmatic hernia and who was not expected to live after birth.

Immediately upon standing, Annie noticed that there was something very different about her lower abdomen: It was heavy and it felt like it was distending. Becoming alarmed, she thought, “It’s my womb. I’m carrying a child. It feels large. How could I not have known I am pregnant!” Annie then realized that Jesus had heard her prayer asking for the healing of our baby. She believed that the “baby” she was “carrying” was our unborn child.

Carver A then began to pray over the people and asked them to imagine Jesus standing in front of them with a kind smile of love, with His wounds shining red and dazzling. “Imagine rays of beautiful red and white light coming from the wounds, and from the white light a dove appears which is the Holy Spirit.” In her imagination, Annie could see the dove getting larger and larger as it came closer and closer and then suddenly she needed her imagination no longer. She felt a mantle enveloping her; the Holy Spirit was absorbed into her with a wonderful vibrating heat.

Then with a feeling of shock, the 'child' within Annie wriggled about and it seemed like it was being manipulated professionally and decisively by invisible hands. A wonderful Dencorub-type heat came in waves, beginning in Annie’s head, neck and back and travelling down to her feet and hands. With a feeling of excitement, Annie believed she had received a great grace from God. She believed that Jesus had healed our unborn baby.

Our world was turned upside-down when an ultrasound revealed that our unborn child had a diaphragmatic hernia. We were told that it was unlikely that our baby would live after birth. What should have been a routine procedure turned the happy event of pregnancy into a nightmare. There was so much pain and despair as I thought of the birth and probable death of our child. I didn’t feel strong enough to cope and did not think that I would be able to hold my dead baby in my arms. The only way out of the situation was to pray that God would heal our baby. Of course, the doctors told me to face reality and not bury my head in the sand: I had to prepare myself and our other children for the death of our son.

I had no doubt that God could heal our baby and refused to accept the doctors’ prognosis. I searched for a doctor who also had faith, who believed that there was a greater Power than the medical profession. And then I prayed. I prayed to all the saints I could think of. I prayed every prayer that I could find, believing that if only I could fill up my prayer bucket, God may listen to me, heal our child and prevent me having to endure the unimaginable pain of giving birth, holding our dying child and then burying him.

Annie phoned me. As she told me the events of her evening with Carver A, I sank to the floor, tears flowing down my cheeks. There was a feeling of relief and thankfulness. I knew Annie’s story to be true: she loves me and would never deceive me with a cruel story.

“We need to have faith”, Annie said. Faith? What is faith? I believed God could heal our baby. Did I believe he had done so? I thought to have faith was to believe without doubt that God had healed our baby the night of the supernatural experience. God would reward this faith with the miracle. I tried to remain positive and not allow doubts to enter my mind. I felt I had to go out on a limb and proclaim my faith in the power of God. I told my doctor of Annie’s experience. I asked him whether it would be immediately obvious if God had healed our baby through a miracle. He looked at me with glazed eyes, barely hearing me and continued his efficient check-up examination. Catholic or not, the doctor still thought our son would die. There was no room for miracles. Some days I wondered if he was not right after all. I’d return from the surgery with despair in my heart. Sitting in the bath, I’d lean against the cool tiles and sob letting the tears drip continuously into the water. Afterwards, I’d feel guilty. Where was my faith? Perhaps God would change His mind about the healing because for a time I doubted.

Our baby was born. We named him Thomas Augustine. He was not given to us to be held close and to be examined lovingly. He was immediately wheeled away to Neonatal Intensive Care. Our son had not been healed.

Thomas lived 28 hours and died in our arms. His suffering was at an end but ours was stretched out before us. For the first week after Thomas’ death, we were very busy with friends who came to visit and busy organising the funeral. But the day after we buried Thomas, I became angry. I was angry with both God and the doctors who had predicted that Thomas would die. I thought that God had tricked us. I’d done my best to trust God and have faith and God had let Thomas die and the faithless doctors had been proved right.

Looking back, I know that I didn’t understand what having faith really means. I discovered that having faith means putting my trust completely in God and accepting whatever He sends for me as being best for me even if it doesn’t appear to be so in my human eyes. I should have prayed for a miracle but have been willing to accept that God might know better and left it all up to Him. Instead I was side-tracked by Annie’s experience. I couldn’t leave it all up to God because the thought of Thomas dying was unbearable. I had to believe he was healed. If I’d had true faith I would have known that God would not let anything happen that I could not cope with. He would be there to give me strength.

Over the following months, I thought a lot about Annie’s supernatural experience, the meaning of faith and miracles. Annie was devastated that Thomas was not healed. She wrote to Carver A hoping that he could tell her what the “healing” had meant. A letter was received and in it, Carver A reassured us that Annie did feel the Holy Spirit. He continued, “Sometimes we interpret what the Holy Spirit is doing as what we want to believe is happening…What you were experiencing was the Holy Spirit saying Thomas is His and that Thomas will be with God in eternal joy.” Even after receiving this letter, we were no closer to understanding Annie’s experience but there is one fact that Annie is absolutely certain about: the ‘baby’ felt overwhelmingly joyful as it was touched by the Holy Spirit. I think of Thomas being that joyful with God and I am comforted.

At the time, this supernatural experience seemed very important. What did it all mean? Where did the experience originate? I couldn’t make sense of it. Now some years later, its meaning is no longer important to me. What is important is that I have a friend who loved me so much she wanted to ‘stand in’ for me and prayed with all her heart for my baby’s healing. Annie, you may think we didn’t get our miracle but we did. With God’s grace and the help of special friends like you, I survived the death of our child. That was a miracle.

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  1. Dear Sue,

    I became a bereaved mum in 1989, it is only recently that I had been able to write my book.

    I was googling bereaved mothers when I came to your link.

    There is no accident that God led me to your site.

    My family are Roman Catholic but I decided to become a Baptist when I was in my mid 20s.

    Otherwise how our lives mirror each other.

    I shall follow your site and get to know more about you.


  2. Ann, it is good to meet you! Thank you for stopping and sharing a little of your story. Yes, God is good at connecting us together. We shall get to know each other better! God bless you.

  3. http://annkitsuetchin.blogspot.com/

    Dear Sue,

    Thank you for commenting that post. It is like looking for a hneeedle in a hay stack and you found one of my best post.

    In this book blog, I posted the beginning chapters of my book.

    Yes, we both belong to the same club who have gone one step further. We wrote to help others.

    I am sorry you had to go through a harder situation tthat you had the hope that Thomas would get better, The disappointment must have been so heart wrenching.

    I didn't know Andrew was sick until he was 5 hours old. Once we were explained how sick he was, we accepted it was God's will, and I never asked why me.

  4. Sue, your faith is amazing. I am sure the "doctors who were proved right" were moved by your strong faith despite your loss. Perhaps that is one of the goods that God will bring out of the loss of Thomas Augustine. By our faith, we know that He can bring good out of the worst tragedies. I know that I am certainly inspired by your continued faith despite the fact that you have suffered such an unimaginable loss.

    Ann and Sue, I am keeping you both in prayer. God bless you both and your families. Please know that there are people out there who are inspired by your continued faith in God and His Goodness.

  5. Ann, I am so pleased you have returned so we can share some more!

    We started grieving for Thomas 5 months before he was born, although we tried to have hope too that he would live. I have wondered if it would have been easier to have found out his health problem after birth and at least enjoyed his pregnancy. But I don't think so. God arranges everything the way it should be. I cannot see how you would have grieved any less than me though you didn't find out there was a problem until Andrew was 5 hours old. We lost our sons, such a great suffering.

    Despite all the pain I am glad to belong to the exclusive club of the bereaved, to understand, to have compassion and to be able to support others. Thomas' and Andrew's lives may have been short but they were so valuable and they live on in our writings. I hope some good comes out of sharing my son's story.

    I will return to your blog to read some more. I'd like to read more about your book. You will find some of the stories from my book on this blog. It is good to share, Ann. God bless you!

  6. Stephanie, thank you for sharing my story and writing such beautiful words. My faith felt so baby sized. I didn't feel I did very well at all. But God is good. He rescued me.

    Yes, God brings such good out of bad. I could never imagine how Thomas' death could be good but I can see now how God has used Thomas' story. I felt so alone after our baby's death. I knew hardly anyone who'd lost a baby and no one close to me. I think there is comfort in hearing other people's stories, knowing others have experienced what you are going through. And this is one of the reasons I write. I also write about Thomas because I love him and I want to share my son with whoever is kind enough to read.

    Thank you Stephanie for your prayers. And thank you for reading! May God bless you and your family.

  7. Thank you for being so open and laying out your true feelings. Reading that felt like I was experiencing it with you. It's hard when we feel He is answering but we get the opposite answer. When my mother passed away, I remember spending a day in deep prayer, making all kinds of promises if He let her live (I was 20 years old) and really felt His Peace. I did have His Peace but I interpreted that peace as she would be better. well...she was better...she went to her eternal home and lives in joy and peace. Wasn't the answer a 20 year old daughter wants but I remind myself He knows what's best. It's hard to think of these situations as best for us but it did deepen my faith so that's always good.
    you'll hold Thomas one day, that beautiful precious baby. Have you read Heaven is for Real? You would enjoy that...I loved it and read it in 5 hours.
    God Bless you!!!

  8. Sharon, I am so pleased you stopped to comment. Thank you for sharing your own story. I am very sorry you lost your mother. Yes, our loved ones are at peace in Heaven but the thought of losing them... Of course, with God's help we survive but we still miss them!

    It's strange how we can so easily misinterpret things. I guess we are influenced by what we want to believe. But we both accept what God decided regardless. Isn't He so good?

    I will look up the book you mentioned. God bless!

  9. Hi Holly, your story is so touching and moving. I could feel your emotions of hope and despair as your story unfolds.

    I blogged about you today in Holly's Pay if Forward meme so your story is linked on her blog (A Life-Size Catholic Blog) and I posted it on mine! You have been a dear and wonderful friend to me for these past 7 months of blogging and I wanted you to know it! God Bless!

  10. Noreen, Wow! I didn't understand this comment until I visited your blog. You have really touched my heart. Thank you for all those kind words. You are very special, Noreen and I treasure your friendship. I really am speechless which is unusual for me! Thank you dear friend. May God bless you!!

  11. I’ve been staring at my computer screen for a while now … trying to gather my thoughts. You have touched my heart and soul with your story. The peace that you have come away with is an inspiration to all of us. May God bless you and all those touched by such tragedies in life. My heartfelt love and prayers are with you all. Thank you for linking up to “Pay It Forward” and sharing with us~

    May God’s grace bring lasting comfort…

  12. Dear Holly,
    I am so pleased to meet you. Thank you for visiting my blog and sharing my story. I am always delighted when someone takes the time to share my son, Thomas. I love writing about him. He was a great gift from God. The peace you mention? That is God's gift too. He is so good!

    Noreen, dear friend, gave me a gift too this morning. She thought of doing the link up. Isn't she so very kind?

    Thank you so much for commenting, Holly. I know it can be difficult to know what to say after reading a grief story. Your comment is beautiful. I am impatient now to visit your blog and to read your story. God bless!

  13. Sue, I goofed with my last comment to you because I was addressing you and explaining about Holly's meme and got it turned around. Sorry! My post is all about how wonderful you are!!

    I've known Holly for about one month now and she's been encouraging me to participate in her Pay it Forward meme (I don't really know what meme means??) and today I decided to sit down and do it and of course, you were my first choice! I was a bit confused on how to complete all the steps (due to my technologically challenged mind) but I think with the exception of my typo comment to you (I'm embarrassed about that... sorry!) it all turned out.

    Holly is doing a great job at gathering like-minded bloggers and I wanted you to meet her.

  14. Noreen, I worked out what you meant! It was easy after hopping over to your blog and reading your beautiful post. Thank you! I am so blessed. I have been blogging for 9months now and have reached my 100th post. It is a good time to stop and have a think about things. And the conclusion I am coming to is that I am so very grateful for all the beautiful friends I have made in the bloggy world.
    I am looking forward to getting to know Holly too. She has already visited and she took the time to write a most welcome comment.
    God bless you, Noreen!

  15. What a beautiful and touching story! Your faith and acceptance are inspiring!

  16. Thank you, Anne for visiting my blog and sharing my Thomas story. I am so pleased you stopped to say hello. I will visit your blog too. It's good to make new friends. God bless!

  17. Sue, I thought you'd been blogging for a long time! I had no idea you started a couple of months before I did. I'm glad we found each other so quickly then!

  18. Sue, I remember going through this exact same thing when my sister's baby was diagnosed, in utero, with Trisomy-18 (incompatible with life, they said). When Baby Bridey was born and died 15 days later, I didn't understand.

    Nor did I understand when my own 2 year old boy, Charles, was taken from me in a hit-and-run accident three years ago. I prayed for that reversal of time - can't I go back and do this trip over? - for my boy to be given back to me, even as I knew the utter impossibility of it.

    The more I think and the more I read, and talk with other bereaved mothers, the more I realize that understanding isn't the point. Only faith, then acceptance, then love and gratitude. Thank you for sharing yours.

  19. Kathleen,
    Thank you for stopping and sharing your story and your thoughts. I am so sorry to hear that you and your sister have suffered sorrow over the loss of your children too.

    Thinking and reading and talking with other bereaved parents does help I have found. This is one of the reasons I blog and share Thomas' story. Sharing our grief lessens the aloneless of our situations and puts us in contact with others who have a good idea of how we feel.

    Understanding? Maybe after nearly 12 years I am getting just a glimpse of understanding. I know Thomas' very short life was very valuable. He isn't suffering. Sorrow is mine, not his. I have yearned to have my son here with me for my sake. But I feel God is using my child's short life. I have connected up with so many people through Thomas' story. Maybe he is bringing hope to parents who grieve. If I hadn't had Thomas I wouldn't be sitting here writing about him and the whole grief experience. Maybe this is a job God has given to me. And I am not only willing, but grateful to do this job. I think I wouldn't be 'me' without Thomas. He has changed me in so many ways.

    I was thinking the other day how blessed I really am. I used to wonder, "Why me?" Now I think of Thomas as a great gift. I really love him. That love grows every year. Yes, sometimes I wish he were here with me. But I have him still. To me his presence is very real. I am also amazed at how he is affecting our lives. It is not an experience I 'got over' and moved on from. No, Thomas is a very special part of my life. This doesn't mean I don't still sorrow. But his death doesn't seem meaningless any more.

    I am sure your love for Charles is so strong too, so strong it hurts. And he is part of you, an essential part of who you are. Because of this he can't be taken away.

    That feeling of wanting to go back in time - yes, one day our world is normal and safe, and the next it has been turned upside down and will never be the same again. Acceptance is not easy. Nor is trusting God. But I had to because where else could I turn? How could I survive on my own?

    Kathleen, I hope you feel you can return and we can share our sons and our sorrows. I will keep you in my prayers. May God bless you.


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