Toban Josiah Zechin
May 1, 2020
As an “older” couple, my husband and I joyfully started our family. Our firstborn son, Kevan Scott Zechin III filled our lives with a deeper love than we have ever known. We eagerly wanted to give him a sibling and we actively attempted to get pregnant for months in 2019. In Ohio, my mother had a serious health crisis, which diverted my attention in October. When we stopped trying, we conceived. I was so surprised when I tested positive on November 6. God had miraculously saved my mom’s life and had given my womb new life in the same month. My husband and I could not hold in our excitement. We made ecstatic announcements to family, friends, church community, and practically everyone who would listen to our good news during the holidays.
On January 15, I took big brother Kevan and the three-year-old for whom I provide childcare to Cradle of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center for a free ultrasound so that they could see the baby forming within me. The ultrasound technicians were quiet at the time, but after I left the office, they called my nurse-midwife. Kendra called me later in the morning with an immediate ultrasound appointment at the hospital. What began as an ordinary day quickly changed to a day that we will never forget. The ultrasound very clearly showed that our baby’s heart and all of our baby’s organs were outside of the body. I gave blood for testing. A few days later, Kendra called me and declared, “It’s a boy.” She also explained that our little boy had Trisomy 18. That day, I turned my focus towards naming him. My husband and I chose the name Toban, which means “the Lord is good” and Josiah, which means “God heals.” We had to make so many phone calls and announcements with the new facts, which usually led to streams of tears. What had once been so exciting now seemed so sad. At that moment, we had a choice. We chose that Toban Josiah would have a legacy that was greater than the sadness of his diagnosis. We chose and spoke life over him. I started a journal on Caring Bridge so that the story of his life, no matter how long or short, would matter, would make a difference and would glorify God.
At the end of January, we met our amazing team of doctors and nurses at the University of Iowa. Every ultrasound showed more signs of Trisomy 18. The doctors explained that his brain was not fully formed, his spine was broken, his hands were clenched, his bones measured too short, his weight was too small and his feet were clubbed. From his head to his toes, Toban was very special indeed. Every part of him seemed wrong, but when we looked at the screen, all we saw was the little boy who was filling our hearts with a deeper love than we have ever known again. We prayed over him. Hundreds of people prayed over him. Toban’s story quickly spread across the nation and around the world. Every time we saw his ultrasound photo and every time we heard his heartbeat, we rejoiced as our son continued to defy all odds and lived.
On April 19, I took a step in the store and suddenly could not put any weight on my leg. The pain shooting through my hip and leg was the worst I had ever experienced and I could not walk. On April 20, we visited our local nurse-midwife. Kari strained her hand and kept the heart monitor on Toban. We listened to his strong heartbeat for several minutes. We did not know that it would be our last time to hear our baby boy alive. On April 25, our sister-in-law took maternity photos of our family of four. On April 26, I preached a sermon that encouraged us to share our stories and I ended with Toban’s story. On April 28, our firstborn celebrated 21 months of life, but our nurse-midwife Kari could not find our second son’s heartbeat at my 30-week check-up. Toban’s very special heart had stopped.
On April 29, my husband and I entered Henry County Health Center with our baby boy still held within my womb. We began the induction process. On May 1, I would have been 31 weeks pregnant. At 9:30 am, my amazingly perfect and peaceful boy entered the world. He weighed one pound and eleven ounces and he measured eleven and half inches long. Toban Josiah Zechin took our breath away because he was absolutely adorable. For the next twelve hours, mommy and daddy never let him go. We held him, cuddled him, sang his favorite songs like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Happy Birthday” to him, prayed over him, dedicated him to Jesus in a service that we had to lead ourselves because we could not have any outside visitors, snuck in his big brother so that we could take some family photos, laughed as his big brother gave him the biggest raspberry kisses, marveled as his very tiny fingers wrapped around one of our huge fingers, spoke messages of love in his small ears and kissed his cold cheeks. He never cried. He never moved. He never opened his eyes. Yet, we could not take our eyes off of him as we memorized every part of him. After twelve beautiful hours with him, we said good-bye to our precious son. Toban Josiah never took one breath here in this world, but his legacy was filled with unconditional love, grace, hope, strength, courage, determination, patience, kindness, compassion, joy and faith! His 31 weeks of life within my womb touched more people than we could probably expect to reach out to in our entire lifetimes. Our lives were forever changed by the incredible blessing that God gave to us and we look forward to the day when we will meet again our precious son who taught us that “the Lord is good” and “God heals.”