When Alex Seaman was expecting her son, Forrest, she experienced a normal pregnancy with nothing to worry about — that is until five days before his birth. Seaman, who freely admits to being averse to lots of medical interventions, went through all the usual tests and regular visits with her obstetrician, but chose not to have the ultrasound given in the latter stages of pregnancy. As she explains: “According to everyone, all was okay.”
However, as the baby went past his due date, doctors wanted to check on his development. So at 41 1/2 weeks Seaman had an ultrasound that showed her little boy had limb anomalies, and that he was also breech. Seaman’s plans for a serene homebirth — well, as serene as any birth can be — were destroyed and she was sent straight to hospital for a C-section.
Forrest was born a perfectly healthy little baby who happened to be missing both his legs and his left arm, with a right arm that had grown but whose bones were fused in his hand. The doctors were unable to give any explanation why Forrest’s limbs had failed to develop. Obviously Seaman had to contend with becoming a first-time mom, as well as the emotional turmoil of delivering a baby without limbs. While it would be totally understandable for Seaman to talk about these mixed feelings, she decided to focus on the “path toward community and wholeness” that she felt in response to her prayer.
Her prayer was one that any mother might ask for their child: “That everyone who knows him surround him with the same unconditional love and acceptance that we felt for our son.” And as Seaman shares, her prayer “was not only heard, but answered.” And it was this response to her “rare but deeply honest call for help” that helped her understand what a past teacher had once told her: “I do not believe in miracles — I rely on them.”
And in this case, the miracle was her community. In answering her prayer this group of the “most prayerful and faithful” people rallied around her. Not only did they give practical help in the form of donations for his future needs, diapers, therapists lending their skills; they were also offered more spiritual donations in the “forms of prayers, and well-wishes, and love.” And this was just the beginning.
The community prayed together, with one lady offering to introduce Forrest to her church so he could be blessed by the minister, and thoughtful designers sent adapted clothing. It was truly a case of people selflessly thinking of a newborn and his parents and giving him a welcome that all babies deserve. As Seaman adds: “We received hugs from strangers, everyone reminding us again, that God is good, and he is at work.”
With her community offering such support, Seaman explains how she didn’t have the opportunity to feel down, she wasn’t given the chance! “At every corner I turned, there was another human reminding me that life works in mysterious ways, all of which lead us back toward the truth.” And for Seaman, her family, and her community, the truth is “We’re all in this together.”
However, Seaman is aware that the family will face some difficulties further along the line, and they could “fall back into the old habits of blaming or doubting ourselves.” So she wants to sustain this call for help, reaching out to her community for their continued prayers and support. As she says: “If more of us admitted that we don’t feel okay, or that we do need each other, it would give more of us the chance to serve.” And after all, isn’t that the reason we are on this planet?
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