September 15, 2012

Dear Friends,

What a joyous and unforgettable day we had on September 10 as we welcomed our son, Amalya Nathaniel, into the world at 7:51 AM. From the moment the doctors placed him in our arms, we were absolutely in love. Amalya was more precious than we could have ever imagined. He never moved or made any sounds, but he did open his eyes, and we know he felt our love. We spent about 30 minutes as a family in the operating room as the doctors finished the surgery. During those precious minutes, we told Amalya how much we loved him, we snuggled and kissed him, and we held him close. We were so thankful that he was born alive, and so proud to be his parents.

After the surgery was complete, we went back to our room where Amalya was greeted with overwhelming love from the rest of his family. We are so blessed to say that all the grandparents and great-grandparents were able to hold Amalya while he was still alive. We had prayed for this, and we were thrilled that the Lord granted our request. After a very fast 80 minutes, our sweet little boy took hold of the Lord’s hand and entered into the loving arms of his Creator. Although his time with us was short, it was much more than we had expected, and every moment was filled with overwhelming amounts of love, praise, and joy. He never struggled or appeared to suffer while he was with us; rather, he looked calm and peaceful the entire time.

After our sweet one had passed, we spent the rest of the day letting family and friends hold and snuggle him, as we celebrated his life. In the afternoon, we had a birthday party, complete with cupcakes, a birthday banner, a candle, and a tiny “Birthday Boy” party hat. We all sang “Happy Birthday” as we choked back tears. We were blessed to be able to do several memory making activities such as putting his hand and foot prints in our Bibles, printing his hands and feet in clay, changing him into different outfits, and taking tons of photos.

By 8:15 PM it was time to say goodbye to our precious Amalya Nathaniel. Before letting him go, we had a time of prayer with everyone gathered close, and then let each person hold him one last time. Once everyone had left the room Eric and I spent a little time showering love on our sweet baby, and savoring our last few moments together as a family. Handing him over to the nurse for the last time was the hardest thing Eric and I have ever done, but in that moment, we felt the Lord’s presence and comfort in a new way. As we are promised in scripture, the Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and comforts those who are mourning. This became very real to us, as we felt the Lord’s presence in the room bringing comfort and a peace that surpasses understanding.

During the last few weeks leading up to Amalya’s birth, we went on several more memory making activities, and found ourselves blessed in many ways. One of the biggest blessings was a miracle which occurred on Friday, September 7. With only a few days before his birth, we found out that Amalya would be able to donate his liver, pancreas, and aorta to various research studies (not transplants), as well as participate in a whole body donation for training doctors in a specialized pediatric procedure. We had been told on several occasions that all doors in regards to donation had been closed, and that there would be no possible way for him to donate. Yet, in one short day (instead of what normally would have taken weeks), the Lord worked out all the details, and allowed our little guy to be used in many ways after he had passed. We had hoped that Amalya would be able to donate one organ, yet the Lord allowed him to donate three organs, his whole body, and donate blood and DNA samples for two other research studies. On top of everything else, the organ recovery was able to take place right down the hall from our room, so we were only separated from him for a short time.

It would be a lie to say that the September 10 wasn’t a difficult day, because it was difficult, but we feel that the 10th brought more joy then difficulty. We feel so extremely blessed that we had some time with our sweet little boy alive, that we were able to share his life with our family and friends, and that he will continue to be used for medical research after his death. We are so thankful for this work of the Lord that was placed in our lives. We are forever changed because of our precious Amalya Nathaniel and we will always hold him close to our hearts. It would take a book to describe all the things that the Lord did in and through our son. We know our little boy impacted the lives of many, and we hope his story will continue to minister to others. We are thankful to serve a mighty Lord who holds our best interest in mind, even when He allows us to walk through difficult times. We feel blessed that the Lord allowed us to be a part of this special boy’s life.

We want to close by thanking everyone for taking part in our journey and walking with us for the past several months. We have been so blessed by the enormous amount of support, love, encouragement, and prayers we have received. We want to say an extra special thank you to our families who helped carry us through when things were difficult, helped us to create special memories during our pregnancy, and celebrated every moment of Amalya’s life. We know he felt your love!

With hearts full of love, gratitude, and praise
Eric and Bethany

“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.”
1 Samuel 1:27-28

When I Get Where I’m Going
By Brad Paisley

When I get where I’m going,
And I see my Maker’s Face,
I’ll stand forever in the light
Of His amazing grace.
Yeah, when I get where I’m going,
There’ll be only happy tears.
I will love and have no fear.
When I get where I’m going,
Don’t cry for me down here.