Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hunter Hope

One of my favorite things to do as a child was snooping through the haphazard boxes of mementos and photo albums in my mother’s wooden hope chest upstairs in their bedroom. I loved finding old black and whites of grandpas when they had hair and sports cars, a golden lock from my first haircut, and once, a box of my brother’s baby teeth.

Somewhere in that mess of memories, I distinctly remember a brown Statesman Journal article with a 4 column photo of my dad playing baseball in high school. The headline proudly yelled, “HUNTER DOES HIS JOB.”
I don’t even know if I ever read the article, or figured out what “job” my father, Scott Hunter, had done, but for some reason, that headline and that photo have always stuck with me.

I think it’s because that headline is so much my dad.
He does his work, no complaints, no dilly-dallying, he just does it.
I don’t think anyone would ever describe him as lazy.
Tired, maybe. But not lazy.

I can just imagine his high school baseball coach yelling out, “C’mon Hunter, do your job!”
And he did it.

I always wanted a son named Hunter.
He would play baseball, like his daddy.
Some coach would yell out, “C’mon Hunter, do your job!” and I would smile and think about my daddy.

I had plans for Hunter.

Three weeks ago, I held my son, Hunter, for the first time.
And I didn’t even know it.
There’s a reason why you are told the gender of your baby at the 20-week ultrasound.
I learned this because if your baby is only 14 weeks, 3 days old, you can’t really tell.

When our breathless baby was born 174 days too early, I thought at first, “It’s a boy,” but then the nurses guessed otherwise and we settled on the idea that the baby was a girl. When we told Cayden that she had another baby sister, she looked confused and said, “Huh? I thought it was a brother.”

The genetic tests done in the weeks after the baby’s birth told us his chromosomes were XY – male.

This rocked me.

My heart had settled on my daughter Hope.
I had grieved my daughter Hope.
And now, I had to grieve a son too.

We named him Hunter.
Hunter Hope Bernard.

I remember watching Hunter on the ultrasound at 10 weeks, somersaulting around and making it hard to catch a profile.


I’d never seen a 10-week ultrasound before (usually coming in at 8 weeks) and I was amazed at his arms and legs flailing around. The curve of his belly when he faced down, the outline of his ear. 



One month later, they couldn’t find his heartbeat.
I saw him on an ultrasound that day too, so much more grown up, but not somersaulting this time.
The next day, I got to hold my son.
If anyone knows about losing a son, it is my Heavenly Father.

God didn’t take away my son, He let me carry my son for a few short months.

He let me love the thought of my son growing inside of me, and He let hold my baby.

I never got to feel Hunter’s sleepy weight under my chin or see him wiggle his precious toes, but I did get to love him, and he made me a better mama.
He reminded me how miraculous bringing life into this world is, and how quickly good news can change to heartbreaking news. He showed me that my healthy children are to be snuggled and kissed every day because we never know how much time we have.
Hunter taught me many things before I even knew he was my son. To think of the things he would have taught me, had he lived, breaks my heart, but I have hope, and I am thankful.
I had always wanted a son named Hunter, and God gave me one for 14 weeks and 3 days.

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