By: Courtney Maynard, Mother of Christian Maynard
Mommy. A name I’ve dreamed of being called since I was a little girl. Christian Bryan’s Mommy. My favorite title to date.
In 2009, my husband, Jeff, and I married in a beautiful ceremony in Knoxville, TN. We always assumed we’d get married, buy a house, and have a baby. That’s how it’s supposed to happen, right? To make a long story short, we have gone through 9 years of infertility. The last 2 years have been filled with 4 IUIs and 2 IVF procedures. None resulting in a baby. Little did we know, God was preparing our hearts and had a much bigger plan than we could have ever imagined.
In June of 2018, Jeff and I were approached about adopting a baby boy through an independent adoption. Baby Christian was born 10 days after that first phone call on June 30, 2018. I had the honor of being in the delivery room with Christian’s birth mother when he entered into this world. Seeing his precious face and hearing him cry was simply the most beautiful moment of my life. Jeff and I brought Christian home and were enjoying life as a family. Christian was showered with love from family and friends near and far. I have never seen so many people come together to love on one child.
After 8 weeks at home with Christian, it was time for me to return to my teaching job. For 2 ½ weeks, I struggled to learn the ropes of being a working mom. Even though I was learning the true meaning of “mom guilt,” life was going great. On September 18th, I shared our first professional family pictures on social media with the caption, “This season of life is best described as PURE HAPPINESS!” No one knew that less than 24 hours later our world would come crashing down before our eyes.
On September 19th, Christian was put down for a nap at his sitter’s house. Christian never woke up. I was at work when our school resource officer came to get me out of my classroom. It was the 2nd worst moment of my life. The worst being the moment the doctors, nurses, and chaplain came into the small room at the hospital to inform us Christian had passed away.
In the days following Christian’s passing, our family, friends, and entire community came together to support us. A local church, Shoreline, reached out and offered to hold Christian’s funeral. Our little man had made such an impact on this world. We were afraid the funeral home couldn’t accommodate the number of people who would show up at his services. From the moment we walked into the church, Jeff and I had an overwhelming peace and assurance that Shoreline would be our new church home. The Lord was making sure our family was taken care of in our deepest time of sorrow. He never left our side.
In the months since Christian’s passing, we have been showered with the love of Christ. We hold onto the scripture, Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” We do not know why our son had to die. We don’t understand why we have to go through life without our precious baby. However, we do know that the Lord has a plan and path for us .The amount of people that God has placed in our path to encourage and support us has been astonishing. One of these special families is the Weavers. The day after Christian passed away, Brittanie Weaver reached out to me. We instantly began to communicate over email and text. I nervously asked her questions about burying your baby that no parent should ever have to ask. Without hesitation, Brittanie answered each question with love and honesty. As I got to know Brittanie a little better, she shared how her and her husband, Ben, started a nonprofit organization (MAW’s Cause) for SIDS awareness and research. Their son, Mason Archer Weaver, had passed away under very similar circumstances as Christian. Jeff and I found strength from participating in their annual 5K Walk/Run. Our family and friends were excited to participate along with us. We were surprised to hear that we had the largest group at the race. You can imagine our faces when the Weavers announced MAW’s Cause was donating $10,000 to Boston Children’s Hospital in Christian’s name. The way they were honoring Mason and other SIDS babies was so inspiring.
After a few months in prayer, Jeff and I decided we could not sit and watch other families experience the same loss we had endured without trying to help. The Christian Bryan Foundation was born. The Christian Bryan Foundation’s mission is to provide support, education, and resources to parents, families, and childcare providers related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. We also hope to provide funds to further scientific research on SIDS.
Although I miss our son terribly and long to hold him against my chest one more time, I praise God for the time we had with him and the blessings he brought us. I choose to focus my energy on the good. Christian’s death has taught us to love one another as if it is your last day. Christian has brought an entire community together to love on his family. I have become a part of a “club” I never wanted to join-The Bereaved Moms Club. Although I don’t wish any person into this club, I have met some of the strongest, bravest, and encouraging women. They have helped me survive the hard days. They’ve offered prayer, a listening ear, a hug, and some downright difficult advice. Jeff and I are back in church and surrounded by a church family that loves deeply. The church we are attending has a heart for foster care and adoption. Something we have become passionate about in the last 6 months. Most importantly, our Savior used Christian to bring his parents closer to Christ. For that, we are eternally thankful. We look forward to the day we see our precious son again. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Courtney, Jeff, and Baby Christian