charlie's song

Moments of Impact


For many years, I’ve thought about starting a blog.  I’ve hesitated, because I really believe that in these precious years when my little ones are little…I would rather be with them than be writing about being with them.

But in life, there are moments of impact. Moments that change you, and all you knew of life…forever. And this week…on January 28th, 2013…we experienced the deepest, most heart-wrenching, life-altering moment of impact we will probably ever face.

Our precious son, Charlie James Zeller was born without a beating heart.  His body was whole and beautiful and perfect…but the breath of life was gone. No words can fully describe the sorrow and torment in this moment of impact.

Last Sunday night, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I just hadn’t felt Charlie kicking very much.  Of all of my children, Charlie was the only one who I had felt kicking very much to begin with, so I was more concerned than I normally would have been.  Since I was at 37 weeks I felt that things were fine and that I should just go in for a quick stress test.  I didn’t even pack a bag.  I went alone.  Utterly and confidently alone… because I didn’t know it was going to be the darkest night of my entire life.  I just didn’t know.  I got to the hospital and the nurse came in to check on my sweet baby’s heartbeat.  Every other time we’ve checked for the heartbeat it has taken but a moment.  Charlie is my little kicker.  His heartbeat is also easy to hear and fast to find.  And yet, as the nurse waved her little wand around my belly…there was just silence.  Silence forever.  Finally, I told her, “This just isn’t normal…it never takes this long.”  And so, an incredible doctor who just “happened” (one of a million mercies of God) to be on the floor that night, said he would come take a look with his ultrasound so I wouldn’t have to wait an extra hour for the on-call doctor to arrive.  By this point…I knew.  I knew what silence means, but I still couldn’t comprehend what that moment of silence would mean for my night, for my week, for my life.

The doctor came in and after a few moments of looking at my belly, at Charlie’s home, he said, “I’m sorry.  I don’t see or hear anything.  Your baby is gone.”  I couldn’t even cry.  I couldn’t even comprehend.  I just kept moving.  Through the worst phone call of my life…to the person I love more than anyone in the world who was so very excited to meet his new baby boy.  Through six trys and retrys of an epidural that would not even end up working. Through a long night of labor that would not end in joy, and an even longer night of the soul.  Through that ultimate moment of impact when Charlie came out and we didn’t even know it because of the silence.  I remember looking at this beautiful, perfectly formed, and absolutely precious little body and thinking, “There he is.  He is finally here.  And he is gone.”  I knew…I knew beyond any doubt that his body was here in the hospital room of earth, but that my little boy was not here…I knew our baby was already with the Lord.

I love theology and could wax poetic on all of the verses of Scripture that bring confidence to my heart that Charlie was immediately with Jesus in heaven, but for now I’ll save those.  What matters is that I knew.  And knowing was enough to get through the night, and give grace for that moment.  Those moments of holding him, this hot little weight in my hands…who had Emma’s feet, Sophie’s nose, Freddo’s crazy hair, Mommy’s chin, and Daddy’s lips.  Feet I so badly wanted to hear running along behind the “big kids.”  A little nose I wanted to wipe every time he fell and scrapped his knees in the true fashion of a little boy.  Hair I wanted to tousle, lips I wanted to kiss.  And all of that…ALL of that was gone.

And then, in that moment of utter darkness the Lord brought the Bible story of Hannah and her little Samuel to my mind.  I didn’t remember the exact words at the time, but one thing seemed very real to me…Hannah had given her son into the Lord’s hands…to live not with her, but with Him…for Samuel’s whole life.  I felt like the Lord was saying to me in that moment, “Will you give your precious son to me?”  Will you trust Charlie into My safekeeping…in a painful and profound way…for every moment of his life?”  “
Will you do what Hannah chose to do, not because you chose it, but because I have chosen this for you…I have chosen this for him?  Because I have chosen to take Charlie’s life.”

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.   -1 Samuel 1:27-28

When we think of what we pray for our children above all else, it is that each of our kids would know the Lord Jesus and walk with him their whole lives.  And even though our hearts are breaking, and we would have loved every minute of life with our precious little boy…the dream is the same.  Being pregnant with three other kids means you just don’t think about the fourth kid as much as if he were your first, but over the last nine months the one thing we have prayed for most for our sweet Charlie James is that he would know Jesus someday.

Someday came so much earlier than we would have liked.  But Someday came.

And so we give our little one over to the Lord, born into the arms of Jesus… for his whole life.  I don’t want this.  I don’t want this to be God’s will, but I am absolutely convinced that it is.  After many blood tests the doctor said he is almost certain that somewhere during Charlie’s 37th week of life, the placenta became unattached from my uterine wall and our Charlie was gone in an instant.  Even if I had felt it, even if I had known…nothing could have been done.  I have asked God a thousand times “Why?”  “Why now?” Why him?”  “Why this?”  but there is only one answer to that question though we keep on asking.   It is the same answer I give my kids when they ask me “Why?” about something and I just need them to trust me…“Because I said so.”  Some moments the grief is so utterly overwhelming I don’t even know how we will ever go on through another day of life without our baby boy.  But I know that this is our story because God said so…and that though He slay me…though He shatter my dreams, bring to pass my deepest fears, take away what I love most…yet somehow I can really say just as Job once said, “I trust Him.”


11 thoughts on “Moments of Impact

  1. Misty you have grown into a beautiful person. Just want to send you love at this time!

  2. Thank you for sharing your heart and story so bravely and beautifully. love you.

  3. So very very sorry…it is almost more than a heart can bear. I send my deepest sympathy and love. I know that many will find comfort in your words and honesty. Blessings to you all.

  4. My sweet, sweet Misty… thank you for sharing these words. I cannot tell you how they bring me comfort in a week where 3 people I know have died, one of whom was a relative’s dear baby boy just born. Our Lord can be trusted, and it is Charlie’s song sung through you that reminds me so. Thank you a thousand times! I have been praying for you and Reid, amazed also at your strength in celebrating little Fred’s birthday just days after; you are a wonder of a mother. Christ in you. Miss you my friend.

  5. Misty, your words brought tears to my eyes. We will be praying for you and your family. Thank you for sharing Charlie’s precious story.

  6. You, your family, your children, your baby… have been on my mind every single day this past week. Your words are beautiful. Your faith is astounding. Your pain is also my greatest fear…. thank you for sharing… thank you for spreading Jesus’ love, grace, and hope while you are in the moment of deep suffering. I will keep praying!!!!!

  7. Thank you for sharing so profoundly and honestly about your deepest loss. Even though we haven’t met you MIsty, there is a connection through the privilege of prayer. We will be praying for you and Reid and your family. We remember Reid-O as a kid when we all lived in St Louis with World Impact….

  8. Misty, your faith and your love for Charlie is inspiring. Thank you for sharing. What a beautiful picture of a mother and her love for her son.

  9. Hi Misty, I’m a friend of Kailoni’s from seminary and wanted to reach out and say how sorry I am for your loss; so profoundly painful, I cannot imagine. We lost baby #4 around week 10, but it’s very different than your experience. You are an incredible writer and did such a beautiful job holding forth the glory of God in the midst of such darkness. Thank you for your example of ruthless trust in Him. Wanted to pass along an old friend’s blog (well, she is the wife of my youth group pastor years and years ago): they lost their first baby in very much the same way you did, almost to the day that you lost Charlie. On January 29, they “celebrated” Joy Emma’s homecoming after 11 years. God has used Julie, the mama, in incredible ways to minister to others in the midst of such loss and pain. At the top of her blog, is the link to what happened with Joy Emma. Perhaps, her words and story can be a small stepping stone in your own healing. I am in prayer for your family.

  10. Misty, we don’t know each other but a friend sent me the link to your blog. You are an incredible writer and it’s amazing to see how you are relying on God during this difficult time. Your words have impacted me so much. My firstborn, Elaina Hope, was born sleeping at 40 weeks almost 2 years ago. Like your Charlie she was perfect and beautiful, also like your Charlie, the doctors said her placenta pulled away and she died instantly. I had no idea she was gone or that anything was wrong until my 40 week appt. She was born the next morning. Your posts about hearing Charlie’s name and how you felt when he was born into silence could have been written by me too. I love Elaina’s name, I’d had it picked out since before I’d even met my husband and dreamed of the years I’d say her name and call to her. Now, when her name is said, it’s surrounded by pain and awkwardness by those who hear it. I’m so sorry for the loss of sweet Charlie, I’m sure my baby girl was right behind Jesus to welcome him into heaven and to introduce him to all the saints. I wish I could give you a big hug right now and let you know you aren’t alone.

  11. A friend posted a link to your blog, I don’t even know you, but I’m praying for you and your family. Your faith is amazing and I believe this is the most well-written blog I’ve ever read…thank you for sharing your story and bearing your soul, I know your words will be salve to the hearts and souls of others. Though very different than yours, I too have experienced loss in my life and you and your sweet boy Charlie have reminded me that God’s plan is so perfect and Holy, that sometimes we simply cannot understand it, but we are to simply have faith that it is good. Thank you.

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