A Heavenly Melody

Image for A Heavenly Melody

Four years ago, I wrote in the AFM magazine about how on Valentine’s Day, our children, who were eager to have a younger sibling, encouraged my wife and me to consider having another child. Shannon and I had prayed about it many times over the years and agreed that we loved having children in the home, the blessing they are. In November 2018, our family celebrated the birth of our daughter Selah Joy. True to her name, our daughter has indeed brought our Thai friends and us much joy!

Over the last few years, we have considered having another child to be a close sibling and friend to Selah. Our daughter Alina has now gracefully flown the coop, so to speak, and Jeshua will be following in his sister’s footsteps by attending an Adventist boarding academy in the U.S. this fall. Looking ahead to this reality, we realized that Selah would then be spending much of the next 12 or so years with us as an only child. It would not be the end of the world for Selah or us, but we thought, “What if. . . ?” We thought and prayed about it a lot, actually. We felt a bit nervous due to our ages and the associated risks. But then we decided to go ahead and try for one more. Many months, one sad miscarriage, and another false hope later, we began to feel like maybe God was telling us we were done! So in early 2022, we quit trying, at peace with the idea of raising Selah without any near siblings.

Then one evening in July of 2022, after Selah was down for the night, Shannon invited me to go for a walk with her, where she dropped the bombshell announcement that she was pregnant (or at least, that’s what the tests were saying). W-H-A-A-T? I was shocked — ecstatic — after all the recent disappointments.

One week later, an ultrasound confirmed that a baby was indeed on the way, and the due date was calculated to be February 12, 2023. Since Alina happened to be home with us for the summer, we decided to announce the pregnancy before she returned to the U.S. So we invited some friends over for a party with a note taped inside a pizza box saying, “Eat up! Because your mom doesn’t want to be the only one with a big belly!” Above the note was an ultrasound picture of the cutest little alien-like fetus you have ever seen. It turns out that Alina and Jeshua had already suspected that their mom was pregnant, but they kept quiet and played along great. As for Selah, she was as clueless as a four-year-old should be, though even she had noticed and asked many times, “Mommy, why do you not like salad anymore?” and “Why do you not like chocolate anymore? Why, Mommy?” Selah’s pestering interrogations and Shannon’s evasive answers had to be near-giveaway clues for our older children.

Months passed. Baby and belly grew as expected, and all monthly ultrasounds indicated everything was normal. But this child, one of the most proper and modest unborn babies ever conceived, simply refused to reveal its gender. At 37 weeks, the ultrasound showed that the baby was in a breach position which our doctor said would require a c-section. No! Shannon didn’t want that at all. So she hit the floor, praying that God would help this baby to come out naturally head-first. She also did several gymnastics and yoga-like postures that she had read might help flip the baby around. One week later, an ultrasound showed the baby had turned and was now head-down. Praise God! It also showed us, finally, that we could be expecting a girl! So, at last, we could stop calling it an “it.”

When our February 12 “D-day” arrived, the doctor said everything looked good, but we should consider medically inducing in the hospital the next morning. Shannon wasn’t too eager to do that because the doctor said doing so would increase her chances of needing that unwanted c-section. So we asked to wait, and the doctor reluctantly agreed, warning us that waiting too long increased the risk of placenta breakdown, which she said had caused one of her patients to lose her baby.

With that reasonable concern, we researched low-risk ways of inducing labor naturally, like eating foods high in bromelain and walking. So on the evening of February 13, we sat down to a delectable buffet dinner of fresh pineapple and dates. I ate three dates as a show of solidarity, while Shannon downed seven big ones. Go, Momma! And then we put on our track shoes and walked and walked . . . and walked some more. Shannon’s tummy started contracting quite a bit! By 10 p.m., contractions came regularly. And at midnight, they were so close together (two minutes apart) that we decided it was time to drive to the hospital.

Finally, at 2:31 a.m., we received a most precious Valentine’s Day gift, a beautiful and healthy 2.970 kg, 51 cm-long (6.5 pounds and 20 inches) baby girl! The poetry of the timing was beautiful! Like book-ended events, Valentine’s Day has special meaning for both our young daughters: the hope of Selah Joy (our “musical meditation of joy”) and the birth of Aria Celeste (our “melody of heaven”) five years later. What this child will become and do for God’s kingdom is yet to be seen. As music missionaries, our prayer for Aria Celeste is that her life will be not only a cause for much celebration and happy music in heaven but also be a channel by which a bit more of heaven’s music comes to Khon Kaen, Thailand . . . and beyond. Thank you all for your faithful support in bringing songs of heaven to the people of Thailand.