Dr. Nick Hudson is discouraged. His work isn’t satisfying. His marriage is falling apart. When he and his wife, Shayla, made the decision to move to Haiti as full-time missionaries, Nick had been sure that it was God’s will for them. The missionary hospital needed a skilled doctor. Plus the school nearby needed a good teacher. Both spoke French, having met in a college French class. The young couple had been drawn to missionary work since their teen years—long before they even met. Haiti seemed like such a good fit for them. The funding they would need came in easily for them. Surely it had been a “God-thing” that led them to where they were.
Nick isn’t so sure anymore. He wonders if maybe he and Shayla were too young to really know what God wanted. Maybe they were just too eager to be used somewhere that they jumped too quickly into the Haitian mission. They really had no idea how difficult their lives in Haiti would be. “If you had known how hard it would be,” a young teen had asked the last time Nick and Shayla had been in an American church, “would it have made a difference in your decision?” They had looked at each other and smiled before Nick answered, “No one ever said doing God’s work would be easy. But seeing a family bring Jesus into their daily lives is worth it.” Now, though, Nick could see that answer for what it was—a rehearsed response, the answer that others wanted to hear. Was it really what he felt? At one time, maybe. But not anymore. Now he was almost certain that if someone had told him just how difficult his journey would be, he would have stayed in America. Even if he was unappreciated there, at least he would have a decent bank account.
Shayla Hudson wants only one thing in life—to have a little one call her Mommy. It was a simple thing, something that she saw happen to other women all the time. Never did she imagine it would be so difficult for her. Getting pregnant didn’t seem to be a problem; in her ten year marriage, Shayla had been pregnant 4 times. Three of the pregnancies ended in miscarriage before her fifth month of pregnancy. The final pregnancy was full-term, however the child was stillborn. Shayla carried a picture of her baby—a little girl they name Chloe—with her everywhere. She would pull out the photograph often, imagining what could have been. Someday, she hoped, God would answer her prayer. She was sure that she and Nick would be blessed with a child to love and raise together.
Shayla’s desire to be a mother was a big part of Nick’s problem. Sure, he wanted a child, too. He remembered how beautiful Chloe had looked, so much like Shayla. He still cried every now and again when he thought about her and about all of the things that she would never be able to do. There was an ache in his heart that he was sure would never, ever go away. He had never told his wife, but he felt like it was his fault. After all, he was a doctor. He should have taken better care of his wife and child, should have been able to keep her alive. Never mind that her death was caused by the umbilical cord being wrapped around her neck and that no one could have prevented what happened. Nick felt like he was somehow to blame. The pain had been etched on Shayla’s face every day for months afterward. Nick was so helpless to take away that pain. He didn’t want to ever see her go through that again. And if that meant no more children, so be it. He loved his wife too much to let her be hurt again.
Nick’s reaction to the loss of little Chloe hurt Shayla as much as the loss had. She felt like she had let her husband down by not being able to give him a healthy child. Even worse, she felt like she was a constant reminder to him of what they had lost. She’d seen Chloe’s face. She knew how much that face resembled her own. And she knew that Nick had to have noticed the resemblance as well. It was the only reason she could think of for how distant he had become. She felt the loss of little Chloe all over again every time she tried to get close to Nick and he would push her away. Shayla often wondered if the baby had been a boy who looked so much like Nick, would she push him away the same way that Nick was pushing her away? She couldn’t say for sure, but Shayla really hoped she wouldn’t treat him that way.
Six months after little Chloe’s death, Nick and Shayla are living more as roommates than as husband and wife.