Dad called last Tuesday. He said Kendra and Matt were on their way to the hospital. Mom was with them. They had gone in for a routine check-up but the doctor could not find a heartbeat. Kendra was 28 weeks along. Only 12 to go. I was in shock. Ben spent the rest of the day watching Clone Wars on DVD so I could just sit and try to process the news.
The next morning I took Ben to school and planned to drive up to Wisconsin after his half day was done. I decided to go to chapel so I could worship the God I was clinging to for comfort. I made it through the whole service, until the last hymn. The last verse of the last hymn to be specific. It started, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow....". Every Eldor Bickel family member who is reading this can imagine the effect that had on my heart. I started weeping in front of a row of 8th graders and decided to make a quick exit.
Ben and I made it to Germantown around 1 pm. Josh and I talked tupperware, Ben pulled out puzzles, Dad was doing the dishes. All in all a fairly normal day at the Janetzke house. Then the phone rang. Josh answered it. "Kendra just had a boy." Dad took the phone and got instructions for him, Lydia, and I to head to the hospital to be with Kendra and Matt.
On the ride there Lydia kept thinking of people we needed to call. She would dial and as soon as the person would answer she would choke up and couldn't talk. She handed the phone up to Dad the first time...that didn't work very well. So there I was driving down to Sinai, telling my brother Ben that Kendra had a baby boy.
We arrived at Kendra's room and there was a small picture of a leaf with a raindrop taped to the door so the staff would know the situation before they entered the room. Kendra was lying in bed, Matt was sitting on the couch next to her and Mom was pacing around the room in doula mode. Their baby boy was lying in the bassinet off to the side of the room. I was not prepared. Dad had told us in the van that he was small and gray. He was only 1 lb. 15 oz. and 14 inches long. It must have been the effect of looking at that tiny face through aunt's eyes because all I saw was a beautiful baby sleeping peacefully. I took him in my arms and awed at the wonders of God's creation. Strangely there were no tears as I looked at his face. Only peace knowing Jesus had wrapped his arms around my nephew. Lydia took a turn too. She is such a good aunt. She deeply loves her nieces and nephews before they are born.
We shared tears and hugs with Kendra and Matt but mostly we listened to them recount the delivery. Mom was so proud of both Kendra and Matt for their strength, love, and determination during such a difficult process. And all without any training or planning. Kendra was still pretty woozy and exhausted so after an hour or so we decided to head out and planned to see them once Kendra was home.
The remaining Janetzkes, minus Ben and Christina, met at Chad and Erin's for dinner. That's where we found out the name they had picked. Johnathan Luke. I couldn't help but get a bit choked up knowing Kendra's son shared a name with my son. We stayed for awhile and just enjoyed each other's company before heading home.
The next morning Mom and I planned to run a few errands to pick up some things Kendra might need. Things I wouldn't have known to get if it wasn't for some very good advice from my cousin, Anna. Mom realized quickly that morning that she had come out of doula mode and was being thrust into mom/grandma mode. She kept a hankie close throughout the day. Turned out I could've used one too. Standing in Wal-mart looking at blue keepsake boxes and blue journals made the journey Kendra and Matt would be taking the next weeks, months, and years very real and I hurt for them.
I had the chance to go up and hang out with Kendra and Matt that evening at their place in Port Washington. It was an evening of tears, stories, advice, hugs, and even some much needed laughter. I am so proud of both of them. They are handling this whole situation with such poise. I can't imagine being in their position. There are just some things in life you never plan on having to experience. Saying goodbye to your child is one of them. But in the midst of their grief they both cling to the knowledge that Johnathan is safe in the arms of his Heavenly Father.
Tomorrow is the burial. We will all gather to support our sister and brother (in-law) as they do the unimaginable. I have to tell the boys about it tonight so they are prepared in case there are tears when we get back to my mom and dad's house after the service. I think it will be hard to do but I just keep going back to the place where I know for certain that Johnathan is safe and happy. My tears are for my little sister, who has to wait for Forever to hold her first baby.
Sorry to ramble. Needed to get all it out. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to our family. We are so grateful for the support and love.