Above and Beyond
by Heidi Ammons
My heart raced as our MOPS group hospitality coordinator asked the ubiquitous question she asks at every meeting: “Are there any new pregnancies to announce?”
At 13 weeks, I knew I’d better speak up or pretty soon it would be obvious. The roar of excitement and joy that erupted after my announcement was humbling. At that time, my husband and I were enjoying parenting our three-year-old daughter, but apparently my MOPS group thought it was high time we expanded as a family. The excitement was tangible.
Then we got a call that changed everything. My blood test gave questionable results, so my doctor recommended me to a genetic center for further testing and counseling. My Steering Team cried with me, hugged me, and prayed before the appointment. At our next MOPS meeting, just two weeks after initially sharing the pregnancy, our hospitality coordinator told the group that my baby had been diagnosed with Trisomy 13, a rare and fatal chromosomal disorder.
The ensuing months were long and difficult. My husband and I believe in accepting and loving our children unconditionally. We never questioned our decision to continue the pregnancy. Instead, we incorporated baby Jonah (which means dove, the symbol of peace) into our lives before he was born. We hiked in some of Colorado’s most breath-taking scenery, took family bike rides on summer evenings, and made sure Jonah attended a professional soccer match - one of my passions. Those memories will be cherished forever, and we hope Jonah sensed our enjoyment as we shared our favorite pastimes with him while he was in vitro.
Long before Jonah’s birth, my MOPS group devised a plan of encouragement for my whole family. In the spring, we moved to a new house. The thrill of a new, bigger home was lost on me until ten members of our steering team and twice as many preschoolers showed up for an impromptu unpacking party. I don’t know who appreciated it more – me for all the unpacked boxes or my daughter who had so many friends to play with that day!
Throughout the rest of my pregnancy, my MOPS friends sent me countless cards and emails. My phone rang daily with some kind of encouragement. I found myself eagerly checking my email for the words of hope and love I knew I would find.
When Jonah arrived three weeks early and rather unexpectedly while I was having a pedicure, my MOPS group stepped in. We received many phone calls at the hospital, but these weren’t simply congratulatory. These were calls from concerned friends asking how Jonah was doing, how we were doing, and most importantly, how they could be praying for us.
Jonah was a beautiful, strong little boy despite the physical effects of Trisomy 13. My parents, my in-laws and our daughter got to hold Jonah. We had an amazing, sleepless 33 hours with our precious son before he passed from his daddy’s arms into the loving arms of his Heavenly Father. That brief time we got to hold, love, and caress him made the long months of waiting and wondering worth every minute.
My MOPS group leader had organized for meals to be delivered to us every other day for almost two months, but rarely did the moms just drop off a meal and leave. They came to be with us, grieve with us, and love us. These caring moms never realized how much they helped me grieve as they listened about Jonah and cried with me. Some other MOPS moms organized play dates for my daughter, and some MOPS husbands came by to be with my husband.
As the day of Jonah’s memorial service grew near, my pastor's assistant assured us that she would organize food for the reception. She made one call to our MOPS coordinator, who arranged for the same moms who had already blessed us to do so once more by bringing food for over a hundred people.
To say that my family has been blessed by our MOPS group is an understatement. I am humbled to be associated with such a godly group of women. While none of the women in my group had ever been through what my husband and I experienced, their encouragement, love, and support continually pointed me back to the comfort of our gracious Heavenly Father who knows exactly what it is to experience the death of a Son. MOPS exists to meet the needs of every mom. I had a lot of needs that year, and the women in my group personified what MOPS is truly about. For the love, support, and friendship they have shown and continue to shower on us, I am forever grateful.
Heidi Ammons is a former high school teacher turned stay-at-home mom. She and her husband, Henry, and their six-year-old daughter, Emma, are rejoicing in God’s goodness at the birth of Hope Katherine who was born in September, 2008. Heidi has attended MOPS at Colorado Community Church in Aurora, Colorado for six years and was a member of her steering team for three years.