Rachel and Pete Schilling were excited to be expecting their first child. But soon after their son’s birth, their ultimate joy turned to unbearable sorrow.
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In 2005 I was working at Trinity Lutheran College, on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Pete and I had been married for five years and decided to start a family.
Isaac, our first child, was born on 30 January 2006. He was perfect. We began calling our parents and friends.
It was Pete’s turn to hold him and one of the midwives noticed Isaac ‘didn’t seem quite right’. She took him to the resuscitation table.
Isaac wasn’t breathing on his own. There were cords all over him. He continued to deteriorate.
A chaplain arrived and asked whether we would like to baptise Isaac. Pete took the vial of water and baptised him.
We talked with the neonatal specialist. The machines could be turned off now or later but Isaac wasn’t going to live.
I fell from the highest moment in my life to the lowest. Isaac was placed in my arms, dead.
And so began the questions. Why? Why us? And where was God?
The tears didn’t come until later, but then they didn’t stop. The pain was excruciating. All I wanted was to remember Isaac, to hold onto him.
I haven’t forgotten the pain, the tears and the sorrow. Probably because they have continued and always will.
Pete and I now have three children, Ethan, Anika and Pearl. And there is nothing more precious than these children. I cherish every single moment with them.
I still feel that pain of wanting to hold Isaac. But I have lived through burying my firstborn son. And I have come out the other side! I didn’t do that on my own. I am married to a man with whom I share life at the deepest level. We were also supported by my school community, church communities, close friends and family.
And I can’t imagine life without a loving God.
My God loves me so much he sent his only son who died, so that I might live with him forever. This is the hope I hold on to. I know I will see my son again.
We never found the cause of Isaac’s death. But God continues to work through Isaac’s life and death in ways beyond our imagination. This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t dearly love to have our boy back. But we have seen the ‘other side’ and know God goes with us – all the way!
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