April 2012, 24″ wide by 24″ high, © 2012, Maria Elkins, All Rights Reserved.

Surrender by Maria Elkins

We were thrilled when we found out our daughter and son-in-law were expecting their first child! However, when she was 11 weeks pregnant, she had an ultrasound which revealed that the baby had a Neural Tube Defect known as Acrania. This defect occurs shortly after conception and is typically discovered at the end of the first trimester. With this condition the baby’s skull from the forehead to the base of the neck does not form or develop. This condition then progresses to become Anencephaly, which is where the brain does not develop fully or is destroyed by the acidic amniotic fluid. Babies with this condition are typically stillborn or die very shortly after birth. (If you want to research Acrania and Anencephaly more, I would just like to warn you that this can be a very disfiguring disorder and the images provided on the internet can be very graphic and disheartening.)

amalya29After several heart-wrenching days, they made the decision to celebrate this precious baby for as long as they were given. At their second ultrasound, they learned that the baby was a boy! They named him Amalya Nathaniel. Amalya means “work of the Lord,” and Nathaniel means “given by God.”

I made the quilt shown above to honor the life of little Amalya, as well as the many other precious infants who have been miscarried, stillborn, or died soon after birth. “Surrender” is the picture of unconditional love in the face of inevitable loss.

On September 10, 2012, our daughter had a C-section, and we rejoiced that Amalya arrived alive at 7:51 AM. He was 4 lbs 9 oz and 16-1/8″ long. Mommy and Daddy had some very special moments alone with him. Then the three sets of grandparents all had an opportunity to cuddle him and love him. Amalya peacefully passed into the loving hands of our Heavenly Father after one hour and twenty minutes. He knew nothing but love his entire life. Even after passing, other family and friends spent time holding him and admiring him. We felt so blessed to have this short time with him. You can read more about our experience on my entries for September 10, September 11, and September 17.

Surrender , detailThese are the monthly update letters our daughter and her husband shared with family and friends while they waited for Amalya to arrive:

amalya28-bearIf you’d like to read more about Amalya and this quilt, follow the “Surrender” category.

Our other daughter wrote a special song for him, which she and some friends recorded ahead of time and played at the memorial service. I wanted to share the lyrics with you.

LITTLE ONE (Amalya’s Song)
© 2012 Lydia Elkins

We rejoiced when we heard you were coming, Little One,
And we laughed as we each made the claim
That we’d hold you the most,
And we reveled in how great a blessing
God would make you to be.

Then we all settled into our waiting.
We knew the day when we’d finally meet you
Would surely arrive.
And we let minutes slip by into weeks…
But then came the pain.

For God knit you together in your mother’s womb,
But He didn’t knit you for this world.
So we knew when you joined us you wouldn’t stay long
Before God’s call brought you home.

We placed our grief and our hearts alongside you, Little One,
And we laid them together with you in our Father’s arms,
And we chose to embrace every moment He let you remain.

Then we set about bringing you with us
To experience each joy in life
We could think to share,
And we made each a small celebration
Of our time here with you.

For God knit you together in your mother’s womb,
But He didn’t knit you for this world,
So we knew when you joined us you wouldn’t stay long
Before God’s call brought you home.

And when God knit you together in your mother’s womb,
Not a stitch of His work went awry,
But He followed a plan that was higher than ours,
So we’ll love you all the way home.

We rejoice that our God sent you to us, Little One,
And we marvel at all that He’s doing
Through your brief dash of life,
And we revel in how great a blessing
God has made you to be.

( )

(Many thanks to those who helped make the recording of this song possible: to Susan Strong for lending her lovely voice to the vocals, to Laura Leighninger for turning a bare melody line into a beautiful keyboard arrangement, and to Mark Ash for his time and work on the technical aspect of recording and sound editing. Song and violin by Lydia Elkins.)

Special thanks to EJ Fleck of Bella Baby Photography of Dayton, Ohio for patiently and tenderly taking so many treasured photographs.

By Marc James
© 2000 Vineyard Songs

I’m giving You my heart.
All that is within, I lay it all down for the sake of You, my King.
I’m giving You my dreams, laying down my rights.
I’m giving up my pride for the promise of new life.

And I surrender, all to You, all to You.
And I surrender, all to You, all to You.

I’m singing You this song, I’m waiting at the cross.
All the world holds dear, I count it all as loss.
For the sake of knowing You, for the glory of Your name,
To know the lasting joy, even sharing in Your pain.


Surrender — 10 Comments

  1. Speaking as a mother who lost an infant shortly after birth, my heart aches for you all. Love & prayers to you & your family.Your quilt is a work of heART.

  2. Dear Maria,
    Your quilt is the one I will always remember from the NQA show 2012.

  3. Dear Maria:

    We have not met, but perhaps at the Atlanta Quilt Show…. You and your dear ones are in my heart.

    My first son lived for 3 and 1/2 months, far beyond expectations, with an inoperable heart defect. We were told, in 1980, to forget, “let go” (hard to do when little one was still breathing), and more than anything, not attach to him. Needless to say, we disobeyed doctors’ orders.

    At the time, a kind and experienced friend suggested that we get a scrapbook, not a baby book, to record Brian’s accomplishments (he breathed room air), and hold and love him with all our hearts, as long as we could. We followed that suggestion, and our lives were forever changed.

    All the love you can give your sweet son/daughter and grandson will be felt, I’m pretty sure, no matter if his future is different from that of others. Early childhood education professionals actually have a better understanding, now, of pre-natal development, and it turns out that all the singing, talking, stroking, and patting that loving parents give their little ones in utero is communicated, and understood, at some level, by little, tiny folks.

    Take care of you – all.


    • Thank you for your encouragement, Karen. We are definitely doing everything we can to express love to this precious little boy. We’re thrilled that in two weeks we will all get to see him in a new way through a 3-D ultrasound. We can’t wait!

  4. Maria: I am so, so sorry. I am sure that little Amalya is so special that God’s Heaven is just not complete without him, so He’s taking him back home. Isn’t it joyful to know that you all will be reunited with him at God’s perfect time.

  5. Maria,
    I KNOW that God will provide whatever you need to support your daughter and son-in-law. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you on the morning of Amalya’s birth. And now he has an additional pair of arms to welcome him – your dad’s.

  6. Thank you for sharing your family, love and live of your wee one. Soooo many feelings of long ago came back to me when I lost our little Anna at birth. I always knew she was a gift from God … God bless

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Caroline. Thank you for sharing. We do feel Amalya was a very special blessing, and as difficult as it was, we loved every minute with him immensely.