By Nicole Trapani
Special to The Witness
MARION — In the face of the culture of death, they chose life. Emily Meyer bravely shared her heart-wrenching story of love and the loss of their firstborn child, Bennett, at the Catholic Evangelization Outreach’s event on Nov. 13 at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
While still newlyweds in college, Emily and Jordan Meyer were pleasantly surprised to discover that they were expecting their first child. They were blessed by the Clarity Clinic in Dubuque with free ultrasounds during the early weeks of pregnancy. However, the ultrasound with their OB-GYN at their 20 week appointment relayed frightening news; their baby had a chromosomal defect that would likely cause multiple organ abnormalities, as well as mental retardation.
The diagnosis was ultimately “incompatible with life.” The doctor highly recommended that their baby be aborted because there was no chance of survival. Undeterred, Emily and Jordan insisted upon protecting their unborn baby’s life. Unsatisfied with their decision, the doctor sent Emily to speak with a counselor who insisted that it would be cruel of Emily to bring this baby into the world only to suffer; aborting the baby would be the nice thing to do. Emily still chose life.
The counselor then stated that there was a 97 percent chance that Emily’s marriage would end if they decided to have this baby. Emily boldly shared that she and Jordan were up for the challenge. Upon hearing this, the audience at St. Joseph Catholic Church roared with applause. The results of an amniocentesis had confirmed the diagnosis of Trisomy 13, and the struggles began to mount for the young family. With the future uncertain, Emily and Jordan began forming a relationship with their child in utero. They discovered they were having a boy and named their son Bennett John, meaning little blessed one. One day, Emily felt a strong pull from the Holy Spirit to pray inside a local church. She and Jordan knelt down in a random pew.
That’s when she noticed the Novena to St. Jude, worker of miracles and impossible cases. Emily looked around and realized that this prayer wasn’t scattered throughout the pews – only in the exact spot where they sat. Before their subsequent appointments, they prayed that novena. They developed a deep connection to St. Jude, and their faith and marriage were strengthened by the power of praying together. Emily made booklets for her family so they could pray the novena as well. At each appointment, fewer and fewer abnormalities were discovered on baby Bennett.
God was working miracles right before their eyes. Nonetheless, the stressors of continuing college, finding housing and planning for Bennett’s arrival took a toll on Emily’s blood pressure, and pre-eclampsia set in. Weeks before Bennett’s due date, Emily was induced so as to save her life and the life of her child. On Oct. 24, 2007, Bennett John came into the world crying like a healthy baby. Minutes later, Bennett stopped breathing and was rushed to the NICU. Emily was told that she couldn’t join him; it was days until she was allowed to hold her baby. When the time finally came, amidst fears that Bennett’s health was rapidly failing, Emily held her son close and baptized him.
Moments after the sacrament of baptism was complete, Bennett’s health began to improve. After 11 days, Bennett Meyer was allowed to go home. Emily and Jordan rejoiced in God’s goodness and enjoyed every moment together as a family. Motherhood filled Emily’s heart with a joy that transformed her. Worldly aspirations faded as her desire to be a great mother blossomed. When Bennett was 6 weeks old, he was admitted again to the ICU due to trouble breathing. Miraculously, just 10 days later, Bennett was allowed to go home again. This pattern of being well and ill continued for months. One spring day, after being resuscitated at home, Bennett was admitted again to the hospital. There he fought through repeated needles and intubation until he could fight no more. Emily and Jordan recognized that their son was ready to be with Jesus.
They held Bennett close as he peacefully slipped into eternity on Easter Day 2008. Today, Emily is a dedicated wife and homeschooling mother to her four living children, and their family continues to grow. Her witness to the sanctity of life and the power of love, prayer and the sacraments has touched the hearts of many.
For videos and podcasts of Emily’s witness and others, please visit crceo.info.
PHOTO: Emily Meyer is pictured with her firstborn son, Bennett John. Her son was born with health difficulties. She shared her family’s story at a Catholic Evangelization Outreach event Nov. 13 at St. Joseph Parish in Marion. (Contributed photo)