For the Baby I Didn't Hold

A Poem for Grieving the Miscarried & Stillborn
On Sunday, August 25th, 2019, my nephew Timothy was stillborn. Named after my brother and our father (who died from cancer in 2011,) Timothy was given 38 precious weeks growing and kicking inside of his mother's womb. While I cannot compare the tragic loss of my nephew to the experience of losing a child as a parent, I wanted to share the poem I wrote to Timothy as we were waiting in the tension between the news of his death and of his birth. Timothy is the son of my brother and sister-in-law, and by extension, so much a part of me as well. 

This poem was written in response to desperation I felt to hold him—to get to meet him in person and to lay eyes on him for myself before he would be swept away from us into eternity. In my grief and sorrow, I languished over the reality that I would not have the opportunity to cradle him, hug him, or kiss him until heaven.

I imagine there are many families, like mine, who grieve the loss of babies they didn't hold. So, while this poem is for my dearest nephew, Timothy Sawyer, born 6 lbs. 5 oz. and 20 inches long, it is also for those who have walked alongside a grieving parent. May the love for and memory of that child never be lost minimized or forgotten, but fondly cherished as a reminder of the reunion that awaits those who've placed their faith in the resurrected Son of God, Jesus Christ. May we grieve, may we hope, and may we look forward to the day when sadnesses such as these will come untrue.
Now people were even bringing their babies to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them. And when the disciples saw this, they rebuked those who brought them. But Jesus called the children to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
– Luke 18:16
You bypassed us on heaven’s highway,
Without so much as a sign.
Into the arms of God Almighty,
Now I must wait in line.

What did you know of this mortal place?
Surely the choicest finds:
A mother’s warmth, a father’s pride,
Loved ones who’ll wait in line.

Adoration was your blessed blanket,
You had provisions of every kind.
Yet you preceded us in glory;
Dear baby, I will wait in line.

What are we but borrowed breath,
Fooled by the myth of “mine?”
But you were just on loan to us,
And now we wait in line.

Numbered were your precious days;
counted, the sands of time.
Travel well into the promised land;
Lord, help me wait in line.

We grieve with hope, and to this end, 
Crave eternity sublime.
Sad things untrue, the dead made new,
Dear child, I will wait in line.
Love will keep me in this line.
To hold you, I will wait in line.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
- Revelation 21:4
Helpful Podcasts for Grieving Parents & Families
Hope + Help for Sudden Tragedy with Cameron Cole
Hope + Help for the Broken-Hearted with Mark Vroegop
Hope + Help for Facing Infertility with Glenna Marshall
Hope + Help for Loss and Grief with Paul Tautges
Hope + Help for Grief Care with Nancy Guthrie
Christine M. Chappell
Author • Writer • Podcast Host • Speaker
Christine is the author of Clean Home, Messy Heart and Help! My Teen is Depressed. She hosts IBCD's Hope + Help Podcast and is passionate about advocating for biblical one-another care and discipleship in the context of the local church. Her writing has been featured at Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Risen Motherhood, Servants of Grace, and other Christian platforms. Christine blogs regularly at and lives in South Carolina with her husband and three children.
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