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Parenting Begins at Conception

September 7, 2009

Dayna, Eric, and Ethan in their two hours together

Last Friday was the first time I attended a funeral for a baby, the son of my Center for Reconciliation colleague Dayna Olson-Getty.  In May, at their first ultrasound, Dayna and her husband Eric received the devastating news that their baby had a birth defect and would die either in Dayna’s womb or shortly after birth.  Just two weeks later was our first Duke Summer Institute, where learning to lament was a major theme.  Dayna’s presence made it real:  “Why God?  Where are you in this?” Yet  somehow Dayna and Eric decided that every day over the coming weeks with their son Ethan would be a gift.  They seemed to receive joy at his every kick in the womb.  Dayna said their great hope and prayer was to share as many minutes as possible with Ethan after birth before he passed from earth.  Last Monday Ethan came quickly:  Dayna went into the hospital at 3 pm and Ethan was born at 5 pm.  He never breathed yet lived for two full hours.  What incredible determination that boy had to spend those minutes with his parents, and what joy they received him with.  The photo tells the story.  Never before have I understood that parenting begins at conception.  His mother and father cherished each day and moment they had with their beloved son.  I cannot imagine their pain in this journey.  I do know what I have seen every day with Dayna in these weeks.  It brings to mind a poem by e.e. cummings, a deeper vision of time:

wherelings whenlings

wherelings whenlings
(daughters of ifbut offspring of hopefear
sons of unless and children of almost)
never shall guess the dimension of

him whose
foot likes the
here of this earth

whose both
this now of the sky

— e. e. cummings

Amid all the noise and clamor and worries of our days in this world, thank you God for giving us the family of Dayna, Eric, and Ethan.  Over these weeks you have revealed to us another dimension through them:  to love even one glimpse of the sky, to cherish even one moment of footing on this earth.  May we receive each day you give us with such a spirit of gratitude and trust.

(Read Dayna’s blog about Ethan)

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 9, 2009 11:23 am

    Dayna will find my wife’s book Mommy Please Don’t Cry a very helpful comfort in this time of grief. May the peace in Christ be upon you all.

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