My Birthday Present

I’ve gotten to the point in life that when asked, “What do you want for your birthday,” I usually respond, ” Nothing.” I know this is a frustration to my wife and kids, but stuff is not as important to me, now. So, when my wife asked me THE question on Wednesday in anticipation of my birthday today, I got on and ordered a few camera accessories that should arrive in time for my birthday…not spending much because I’m not sure how much more I want to tie up in my current camera.

My birthday was shaping up to be a low-key affair with some lunch and supper plans with a few friends and family. However, as we know, plans can change in a second. Late last night, we got a text from our middle daughter, Katie, letting us know that she was having some issues with her pregnancy and that she was going to the hospital. Only about seven months along, her water had broken.

The news of her pregnancy originally came to us as she traveled back to Texas after having spent Christmas with us. She had not felt well the entire holiday, so she bought a pregnancy test in Kansas. It was positive. However, her feelings about the pregnancy were never really positive. After delivering her first child last September, this was an “unexpected” pregnancy. But beyond that, something didn’t feel right.

So, when at ten weeks the sonogram technician exited the exam room, saying she needed to get the doctor, my daughter’s feelings were confirmed. She was told that there appeared to be only fluid where the brain should be. While it was too early to conclusively diagnose, the couple was told that it was either anencephaly (absence of all or major part of the brain) or acrania (partial or total absence of the skull).

At that point the question had to be asked… terminate or carry this baby. We sought to instill in our daughters a respect for the sanctity of life and they have personally embraced that tenet of faith as their own. So, Katie and her husband, Daren, didn’t wrestle with that question; she would carry this child and trust God. We were grateful that the healthcare professionals truly supported them in this decision. As Katie sought God’s direction on how to pray for this child, she wrote:

The Spirit has only revealed to me to pray for Life… which could mean spiritual life for my non-Christian friend, life for another child from my baby’s organs, or life for my child.

As the months passed, a clearer diagnosis emerged; acrania, the skull was not forming, a condition that results in death at birth or soon afterward. They also discovered the child was a boy. Soon afterward, they met with a transplant specialist to consider options and discovered the point of viability for transplantation. The baby’s weight would need to be five pounds , so a C-section would be scheduled close to full term. Of course, my wife and I would plan to be there for the birth to have whatever time God might give us with our first grandson.

Those plans,however, all changed with the developments of last night. At 11:40 p.m., we received news that an emergency C-section would occur in the next few hours, giving us no opportunity to be with the kids at this critical time. Due to the premature delivery, transplants would not be possible, either.

As the midnight hour passed, it dawned on me that my first grandson was going to be born on my birthday. Although I would not see him this side of eternity, he would always be my “birthday buddy.” He would be my birthday present on reserve, a treasure in heaven I will one day behold AND hold, healed and whole.

Through a series of texts, I can only approximate that Silas was born between 2:00 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. He lived for about six minutes. Though we will grieve his short earthly life, we have hope that through Jesus Christ, Who is the way, the truth and the LIFE (John 14:6), Silas was welcomed into eternal joy and glory early this morning.

I’ll see you later, Silas! I look forward to unwrapping all that there will be to know of your experiences in the unfettered presence of the Lord!

– Love, Papa

POSTSCRIPT: A few days after my daughter had Silas, she gave a status update on Facebook. I wanted to add her words to this post –

I just wanted to say how unbelievably thankful I am for the prayers, thoughts, love, flowers, meals, and support my family has received over the past several days (and months)!

I am honored to have given Silas Lee 29 weeks of life in my womb and 6 minutes outside of it. His short, sweet life has forever changed Daren and me; we are eternally grateful for our son. Although the heartbreak is very real, God’s peace and absolute goodness through the months of suffering has been, oh how, indescribable.

Thank you again for all the love…we feel it!

Postscript: The above picture is a key fob a friend gave me shortly after Silas’ death. It is the actual size of a premature baby around 1lb 6oz…about Silas’ weight at birth. This has been on my keychain since then and serves as a daily touch point to my first grandson to this day.

21 thoughts on “My Birthday Present

  1. I am heartbroken to hear of your loss. I know that God will be close to you and your daughter’s family. The BCI Staff and the Crestwood Church family in Des Moines will be in prayer for you all.

    In His Service,

    Jon Ole Olsen Publication Editor Iowa Baptist News


    • Thank you, Jon, for your heartfelt expression of sympathy and commitment to prayer. We are already experiencing God’s grace through the love and support of His followers. I am grateful for your editorial contributions to the Baptist Convention of Iowa!


  2. We lost our second baby. The baby was not far along, so I didn’t experience all that your daughter did. However, I know that God’s plan has a purpose. I can say that for a short time, the joy and hope that we all experienced through this unborn child was utter bliss! I can still remember exactly how we rejoiced. I still grieve for that baby, but I also know that in heaven, we’ll meet face to face. For now, however, I do my best to hold on to that feeling of knowing God had sent us that child, if only for a short time. My prayers are with your family.


    • Pam, thank you for your prayers. I can not begin to fathom what it is like for a parent, especially the mother, to lose a child whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or some other catastrophic event. But even more unimaginable to me is facing this kind of life issue without Christ and His church. I’m glad you have the confidence in the hope we have been given that one day there will be a resurrection and joyous reunion.


  3. So sorry to hear this and our condolences to you and your family. Your words bring sadness, and at the same time your words bring strength and understanding during this hardship and lifts our Faith in our Lord Jesus. God Bless you, your family and Silas.


    • Tom, thank you for your words of kindness and encouragement. You and your wife know all about facing trials with a faith in God. Thank you for the example you set!


  4. Yesterday Cali Purdum brought her three youngest kids to the birthday party my daughter Erica planned for me, and shared the news that Silas had been born on our birthdays and after a few minutes was ushered into heaven. I also am heartbroken for you and share your pain. “Weep with those who weep” is a command I gladly follow in your circumstance. Although it is a great comfort to read your confidence and peace in knowing Silas is being “whole” in heaven, I know your whole family is immersed in grief. I pray that God will give you immense peace and grant you a healing love that will bind your family even closer together and fan the flame of His love brighter in your hearts. We are praying for you and will miss you here in Creston.


    • Dawn, thank you for your kind and sympathetic words and prayers for God’s peace. We have certainly experienced the reality of His comforting grace. Look forward to being back with you all next week.


      • By the way…I hope you had a fun birthday celebration. My granddaughter, Charlie had birthday cupcakes and a balloon waiting for me when we arrived in Texas. 🙂


      • God bless Charlie! And yes, my kids and lots of dear friends made for a very special day. I also got a balloon! I’m so glad your family can celebrate during your short visit as well as supporting each other during this time of loss. We missed you today and will pray for your safe return.


  5. I began by wanting to wish you a happy birthday, but although I do want to do that, I also want to extend my sympathy and prayers to you and your family. Thankfully, I don’t know from experience how this feels but I do know the hope of seeing our family members again in heaven and I’m thankful that even while grieving, you live in that assurance as well.



    • Thank you for your expression of sympathy and prayers for our family, Janet. I don’t know how we’d get through life without hope! I am glad you share that same hope.


  6. I can barely type through the tears as I grieve with you and your family. I am encouraged by the peace, strength and comfort you have received through the Spirit, and I pray along with your daughter that life will yet flow from the testimony of your family of the love of the Lord and Silas. May He continue to enfold you during this difficult time. ((hug))


    • Your words of comfort are a blessing. Thank you for joining us in prayers for life. Katie and Daren’s witness of faith through this pregnancy has touched a number of lives.

      The name Silas was a name she picked for a son years ago. During the pregnancy she texted: “I was just reading a description of Silas in my Bible… At the end it says…He took advantage of opportunities to serve God and was not discouraged by the setbacks and opposition he met along the way. Silas, though not the most famous of the early missionaries, was certainly a hero worth imitating!” Although our little Silas was unable to bear a verbal witness here, he has played a role in bearing witness of the sanctity of life and is certainly serving the Lord now in the presence of His glory.

      Again, thank you for sharing your kind words of sympathy, Rene.


  7. So so sorry to hear of your loss and thought your daughter’s prayer demonstrated amazing faith in God’s ability to work everything out. This was a very uplifting story. I know you will get to meet with Silas and enjoy the beautiful relationship that only grandparents can have with their grandchildren. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless.


    • Thank you for your kind expression of sympathy, We have been blessed by an outpouring of support. To see those who we have never met face to face reply to this blog has been especially humbling as God’s people rally in prayer around one of His children (my daughter) and family. I appreciate your caring comments and hope to one day introduce you to Silas, Gale.


  8. I didn’t see this I guess, but it is still very precious, and know that each year you think of your birthday buddy, how old he would be, and also how good God was to carry Katie and Daren through a very difficult time. Thank you for the testimony as well as their openness to share their love of life and their son’s short life as a testimony of God’ s peace and comfort through it all. Love you, Karen

    Liked by 1 person

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