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I’ve always loved naming things. I collected stuffed animals and lovingly named each one. I named my childhood home house Blue, an obvious choice since it was, well, blue. When I was 10 years old, I started on ongoing baby name list. Back then, I thought you got to choose how many children you had, their genders, the age gap between them, and whether or not they were multiples. As misguided as I was, I did eventually get to name two babies. I did not, however, get to name the two babies who were gone before I could even learn their genders.
Rooted in Truth
I didn’t learn about the Moms in the Making ministry until late in my fourth pregnancy, after nearly three years trying to conceive my first child and two pregnancy losses. When I learned of the Moms in the Making Conference, a part of me still longed for healing from my losses and my time with infertility. At first, I didn’t think I would be invited since I already had my miracle babies. After weeks of following the conference updates and being assured and reassured that “Moms Made” were welcome too, I bought my ticket. I had no idea what to expect from a conference intended for women in the wait, but I knew I was not done healing.
Both my pregnancy losses were early. The first was at 7 weeks, and the second at 4 weeks. Since they were so early, I never had the joy of hearing their heartbeats. I never got to connect with them by knowing their genders and choosing names for them. I hadn’t yet seen a doctor when signs of miscarriage began, and I was left to cope with the losses alone and confused. My babies were not any less loved or longed for just because I lost them early. In a society that responds, “At least it was early,” “It wasn’t meant to be,” “At least you know you can get pregnant,” “This was your body’s way of telling you there was something wrong with the baby,” and “It just happens,” I was isolated, invalidated, and expected to “get over it” in a timely manner. I took two weeks to grieve each of my nameless babies and went on with my life the best I could.
Weeks after my first loss, I saw in a dream a little girl about two years old, wearing a dress with her hair in pigtails. She was skipping around the house, talking, and jumping off the brick fireplace. I had never met her, yet felt like I knew her. I knew it had to be my baby. My baby was a girl. For years after that loss, I went back and forth about giving her a name. I struggled with the idea of giving her the name we had chosen for our hypothetical firstborn girl. I felt silly wanting to flip through baby name books in search of a name for a baby I never got to meet, but I knew it would give me closure. I held onto our baby girl name until my pregnancy with my second son before finally deciding to give it to my first baby gone too soon.
Her name would be Evelynn Jayne– Evelynn possibly meaning “wished for child,” -lynn after my mom who passed when I was 19, and Jayne meaning “gift of God,” for my nana who passed when I was 22. It was the perfect name for a baby we had wanted for years. Finally, I felt closure. My baby was real. She was wished for. I could let go now and remember what I knew of her until we meet again.
The Hand of Jesus
Worship is my favorite part of service. I have always enjoyed singing (I’m not too bad at it either), and God has spoken to me through music since I was 15 years old. If you know a little bit about me, you know I am a new Christian, and one of my favorite ways to measure growth in my faith is how comfortable I am becoming with worship. On the first day of the Moms in the Making Conference, emcee and mom in the making Melanie Murphy invited all the conference attendees to be free in their worship and to let the Spirit move them. Wow, did the Holy Spirit move worship leader Veronica, who explained how she “shakes off the bad stuff” while dancing for Jesus.
Throughout the two days of worship, I became more and more comfortable with dancing as I had never danced before. I was free to move however the Spirit called me. I was shaking off the bad stuff. On the second day, during one of the slower songs, I had my eyes closed and my hands out to either side, palms up. I’d heard repeatedly (like in yoga practice) that facing your palms outward opens you up to receiving, so I made a habit of it. During this particular song, with my palms out, ready to receive, this happened (as written in my journal immediately afterwards):
Jesus took my hand. I felt it, warm and strong and familiar. He was holding my babies– one bundle in each arm. He handed them to me. I held my babies, one in each arm, and He gave me the name.
He showed me the dream I had while pregnant with Theodore– the one where I was at an ultrasound and could see the baby but not the gender. That was Leander, not Theodore. I didn’t know the gender because he left too soon. God took away the blame– the blame on myself for not taking baby aspirin and my blame on the medical field for not teseting me sooner or caring or preventing the loss of my baby. For a moment, I held all 4 of my babies.
Thank you, Jesus.
The conference fell on the weekend of International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In the dining hall at the conference, there was a remembrance tree to honor all the babies we had lost. I had seen remembrance trees like this years before but blissfully passed by them. On Conference Day 1, I hung two hearts on the tree: Evelynn Jayne and Baby King. Now the unnamed Baby King had a name.
A recurring theme in the Bible is God giving parents the names for their children. Now He had done the same for me. Leander. In 16 years of keeping a baby name list, it has never made the list, but I like it. It means lion, a fun name when paired with our last name, King. Anyway, who was I to argue with God?
I knew there were prophets in the Bible, but I didn’t realize that they were actually giving prophecies, that there were so many, or that their gift was taken so seriously. I am learning that prophecy, or prediction, is considered a spiritual gift and that we can all practice it. “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy” 1 Corinthians 14:1.
At the end of Conference Day 1, all the attendees were to receive a “prophetic word,” written on cards from the team of I Am Fruitful, creators of Joy Comes In The Morning: Coloring Through Infant Loss And Miscarriage. I was so excited about this that I began rushing up the stairs to my prophetic word, slowing down at the top of the stairs when the crowd thickened and when I remembered that no matter how quickly I rushed or how many other women I felt stuck behind, I would get exactly the card that was meant for me. My prophecy said this:
The prayer has been to have children. It’s time to pray over them. He already has a future for them. Isaiah 54:13 is what I heard for you! ‘All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace.’ He has a plan AND peace for them. Be confident on their future.
The word “sons” was in the center of the card and was underlined. My immediate reaction was that it validated that my unknown baby was a boy after I had just received his name and a moment to hold him. My next reaction was that yes, I do have “sons,” plural: my two rainbow baby boys, Abel and Theodore. “Children’s,” plural. Yes, I have children. “Has been,” past tense. Because I already have children. And now “it’s time to pray over them.” The language of the entire card spoke to me as a Mom Made, even though the conference was primarily intended for Moms in the Making.
Validation. Closure. Freedom. Peace. These are some of the many things I received through attending the Moms in the Making Conference as a Mom Made. I am changed and healed in so many ways. Thank you, Jesus.
Do your babies in heaven have names? How did they come to you?