Reuben Hoekwater Speaks

OUR STORY

In late 2021, six months after an early miscarriage, we were excited and nervous to find out we were pregnant again. Prenatal visits kept anxiety at bay with the doppler playing the sound of a strong heartbeat. We were so excited for our 20 week ultrasound – seeing our baby on the screen was one of the most joyful experiences we have had in our marriage; unfortunately, it was closely followed by the doctor coming in and saying they were seeing problems – abnormalities of the brain, heart, and a bilateral cleft lip and palate.
Two days later, after additional tests, the doctors told us that our baby (a boy!) was presenting as a Trisomy 13 diagnosis. We were told that there was a very high chance our precious son would pass away in utero, or if he did make it to live birth, would likely only live for a few hours. We had prepared ourselves for a different looking future for our child after the initial ultrasound (will we need to buy a wheelchair, will we need to change our house plans and not build a second story because this child will not be able to do stairs, will we need to look at a specific school system that has a really great special education program and resources?) – but we had not prepared ourselves for a terminal diagnosis.
It rained while we drove home after that appointment and I remember thinking it was the Heavens weeping with us over the news, because we know God loves us and our boy more than we can imagine. We researched names that would be able to adequately carry the significance of this little life and chose Reuben Rafa William Hoekwater. Reuben means “behold, a son” and Rafa means “healed” – because we knew that our son would be fully healed in Heaven. William is in honor of two of his great-grandfathers who were there to welcome him to his Eternal Home.
After Reuben’s diagnosis, we were blessed with another 13 weeks of his life. We were supported by family, friends, our church, and were taken care of by dozens of amazing and compassionate medical staff in various specialties. We made a Reuben Bucket List and tried to experience all the things we had dreamed of doing with him, had he lived a full life (building legos together, kicking the soccer ball around, taking him to all our favorite places, etc.). Many family members were able to feel his little kicks, which was so special to have that physical connection.
On June 11, I hadn’t felt him move for several hours so we went into triage and were told that they could not find his heartbeat – they confirmed he was already in Heaven. We were transferred to the labor and delivery unit to start the unimaginable induction process which would inevitably end with a silent birth. Reuben was born at 10:03 am on Monday, June 13, weighing 3 lb 7 oz, measuring 17 inches. We got to document all the beautiful moments that we squeezed into our short time with our firstborn – us holding him for the first time, giving him a bath, stamping his footprints, meeting his grandparents, uncles, and aunts, praying over him, reading him a book, singing to him. The grief and devastation could have overtaken us, but that hospital room became a sacred space, thanks to the prayers of so many people.

PAYING IT FORWARD

We only got connected with Abel Speaks a few days before Reuben passed away. In those few days, I was able to delve into Abel Speaks’ posts and podcasts, finding support and comfort in the questions and topics they discussed – things we didn’t know how to ask or prepare for, like ‘what do I say to strangers who comment on my pregnancy?’ or ‘how do you prepare for the hospital experience?’ or ‘how do I prepare for the death of my child?’ For our story, the support of Abel Speaks after Reuben’s death has been the most impactful. They put a huge importance on faithfully remembering children who have passed away; whether through emails sent to us on anniversaries, or keepsakes sent in the mail (often arriving as a surprise on a day when I happen to be missing Reuben a little extra).
Reuben died before we could make many memories with him or introduce him to all our friends and family. Because of that, and because our culture generally isn’t very good at knowing how to support a grieving parent, I don’t often get to hear people say his name. Abel Speaks has been incredible with their personalized keepsakes – a beautiful memory box with Reuben’s name on the top, a Bible with his name in gold leaf on the front, an R necklace, a birthday candle with his name on it, just to name a few. Abel Speaks lives out their mission of supporting families like ours: during the unknown and the ‘waiting’ through mentorships and resources; as well as in the ‘after’ with mementos and retreats. I’m so thankful that we found Abel Speaks and I’m thankful that other families in a similar situation can continue to be supported by Abel Speaks through donations.

By faith, Reuben still speaks!

-Hilary & Chase Hoekwater

SUPPORT ABEL SPEAKS IN HONOR OF REUBEN

Your generous giving allows Abel Speaks to support families like ours. Thank you for your partnership as we seek to ensure that every family will cherish their child’s life and have hope in the midst of sorrow!

Abel Speaks is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and all donations are tax-deductible.

2001 W Plano Pkwy, Suite 1909

Plano, TX 75075

(972) 688-6405