I stood over my three-week-old son’s bassinet, hearing the dozens of monitors beep and watching the nurses check for any signs that he was recovering. The call I prayed I’d never receive came at 2 A.M. as I slept fitfully in my hotel room.
“Come quickly,” our nurse said, her voice shaking. “Kaden is crashing.”
Driving to the children’s hospital was a blur, but I remember sobbing through my prayers for God to heal my son, to let him live. I’d already watched my twins die in my arms a little over a year before. He couldn’t let this happen again.
I prayed over Kaden every day of his life. So did thousands of others. On the night he crashed, a hospital chaplain I didn’t know came to pray with us, and I felt a sort of panic about it: What did he believe? Did he understand how important our child was to us? Would he ask God for the right things?
My mind spiraled into ways to get prayer to work better. Perhaps we needed more people praying, and specifically more powerful people praying. A thought crossed my mind that if someone could reach out to Billy Graham—or the pope—their prayers would surely heal my little boy.
Instead, I lost my baby boy.
Prayer vs. Reality
My thoughts on prayer had changed dramatically in just a few years. Before I lost my twin sons at 20 weeks, I waited a week in the hospital trying to get them to viability before they were born. My water broken, infection a risk, and my life in turmoil—my prayers were made of complete terror for what I understood would probably happen. My sons were too little to survive, and outside the womb would be even harder on them. I remember lying in the hospital bed with tears pouring down as I begged God for a miracle, offering him a multitude of my human abilities if he answered yes.
They lived for three hours and three minutes after being born.
I remember leaving the hospital with a feeling of shame that was almost as profound as my grief. How dare I believe in something like a miracle when it was so obvious that one wasn’t going to happen? It was as if the faith I’d known and trusted had been shattered into a million pieces in that hospital room. I wasn’t sure how to approach what had happened, or how to talk about what I felt was an unanswered prayer—one that left me with PTSD and off-the-charts depression and anxiety.
Others have felt this similar desperation too. “I’d prayed for so many other people’s babies. When I finally got a chance to be a mother, I guess I expected God’s grace to grant me all the chances in the world to watch my son grow,” says a pediatric nurse named Lori Rapoff. “To have that time cut short to just 27 days and lose a child to SIDS, with absolutely no medical answers, was heartbreaking to say the least. I felt like I prayed and used my own abilities to help other babies and mine was taken away for no reason at all.”