Day 23 – Thank You

Today was certainly not one of the easier days to get through. I started reading a book called “I Will Carry You” by Angie Smith. It is an account of one family’s journey through the loss of an infant daughter at birth. (The same people that wrote the song of the same title mentioned in a previous post.) While beautifully and eloquently written, it is gut wrenching to read. I think I would be ugly crying if I were reading it outside of these circumstances. I’ve decided to put that one down, at least for awhile. Someday I’ll be ready for it, but not just yet.

image

This morning a dear friend of mine stopped by with coffee and a little something for me. The little something turned out to be a gorgeous knitted (crocheted?) baby blanket that a friend of hers had made for Baby. I was so touched by the benevolence of a complete stranger. If you’re reading this, Thank You!! :)

If anything, this tragedy has brought forth so many precious people, even a few new friendships. William and I are so blessed to not have to walk this dark road alone. I can’t possibly thank you enough for your love and encouragement. Even the people we don’t know personally, but who care enough to follow along through this blog, thank you. Please know that we cherish each and every one of your comments even if we haven’t directly responded.

Tomorrow is a new day. I’m thankful to have made it through this one! God bless!

Day 22 – Icing in the Cake

A beautiful day today without much event — reading and relaxing between loads of laundry.

We do have a couple things finally lined up to celebrate this little life. I have a 4D ultrasound scheduled for February 11th. I explained with a bit of awkwardness to the person that answered the phone that this wasn’t a typical joyous occasion. Perhaps taken a little off guard (I guess that’s not a call you get every day!), he explained all of the options available. I chose a half an hour session and opted to purchase a teddy bear with a recording of the baby’s heart beat.

Secondly, William spoke with our geneticist this afternoon. He called her to request that she send us our baby’s gender in a sealed envelope. I was given the awesome idea to take that sealed envelope to a bakery and request pink filling for a girl, or blue filling for a boy, depending on what it says inside of the envelope. (Thank you, Regina for the great idea!!) Not exactly sure when we’ll be cutting the cake… but I’ll be sure to post a video to share the moment.

In addition to requesting the gender, William also wanted to share this blog with the geneticist. I was astounded when William told me that she’s already gotten word of it and has been following along! Wow! (I hope my writings have been able to convey that I’m not still the unhinged disaster I’d suddenly become during our last phone conversation on January 9th!)

image

Another day has come to an end and we’re still breathing. We made it through another one, all thanks be to God. I am continually amazed by the strength and perspective that the Holy Spirit instills within me. All I had to do was ask. I am blessed and fortunate to have already had a sturdy infrastructure of faith in place — my safety net to rescue me out of a downward spiral. Not to imply that it’s 24/7 happy-go-lucky over here now. We, of course, have our frenzied interludes of tears and grief. It’s just different in that we realize we’re not taking up residency in the valley of the shadow of death. We’re merely walking through it.

Day 21 – Blue Skies Exist

When I really sit back and reflect upon it, I am actually astounded by the great faith that has seemingly sprung forth from within me throughout these recent weeks. There was never a time that I didn’t BELIEVE in God, but definitely a time in my life where I had little or no regard for faith in God. I’d seemed to be doing a pretty good job of things on my own, so what was it that God could possibly help me with? I spent much of my teen years and beyond in my lackadaisical fog believing that “bad things” only happened to “other people”. As we grow up, we all find out sooner or later that that just isn’t so. It’s not that trials in life MIGHT happen, it’s that they WILL happen. When they do happen people either become bitter and angry, dismissing God altogether, or they cling to their faith with all their might, allowing God to minister to them. When I was first given the terrible news about my unborn baby, you’d better believe I was bitter and angry. “HOW COULD GOD ALLOW SOMETHING LIKE THIS TO HAPPEN???” I shrieked from the floor of my bedroom. But like a wounded child, I allowed God to pick me up as I continued to weep. Instead of staying bitter, I could sense His arms wrapped around me and His great desire to comfort me. I willingly gave in and it felt so much better than the mess of anguish I’d been holding onto so tightly for two days. How could anyone possibly get through something like this without God? There is a much, much, much bigger picture than we could ever possibly wrap our little pea brains around. Knowing I could never make sense of it with my human brain, I’ve elected to simply trust God, just as it seems that He trusts me? I don’t necessarily feel that I’m being TESTED through these circumstances, but instead that I’m TRUSTED. God already knows my heart. There’s no sense in trying to analyze everything or to try to figure out the who, what, when, where and why of it all. IT JUST IS, and yes, God, you can trust me with this little life.

image

On these long stretches of gloomy, cloudy days, it’s easy to forget what the warmth of the sun feels like. But I never assume that the sun doesn’t exist.  I might not be able to see it or feel it, but I know it’s still up there. If I just keep my head up long enough, I WILL see glimpses of blue sky peeking out from beneath the clouds — proof of beautiful days and that the sun does indeed exist.

Day 20 – Time

It was a relaxing, uneventful day that concluded with Breakfast for Dinner, which was coordinated by dear friends. I appreciate being able to laugh, relax and take in the moments of joy. Now that the burning shock of our baby’s diagnosis has sunken in, it’s safe to say that William and I are at peace with the hand that we’ve been dealt. The peace serves as a soothing aloe that alleviates the pain of our terrible sadness. It’s been possible to settle back into the remnants of our normal routine of day to day life.  I delight in this state of surreal quietude, the calm before the storm? Were it physically possible, I would gladly spend the rest of my days in a perpetual state of maternity cherishing all the little heel and elbow pokes from beneath my skin.

However, time stands still for no one. There’s “no app for that”. The future is uncertain and will inevitably be here before we know it. I was amazed at how fast the past three weeks have flown by. Assuming that this pregancy goes to term (which we have been given no guarantee), that gives us about twelve weeks to go — twelve weeks that will fly by at an equal speed. Past that point the deadly waves crash and roar in the distance.  I can’t let my eyes stay focused on them because I know that God will put them into proper perspective once they are upon us.  He will not allow them to take us under.

Tonight I was given a prominent reminder of God’s unique and amazing ability to create beauty from ashes in the form of a text message.  The text message was from my birth daughter, out of the blue, thanking me for giving her life, and telling me that she loves me.  She is my ever glowing rainbow as a result of that long ago storm.  A time when I thought for certain I would drown — now radiantly beautiful.

Day 19 – I Will Remember You

Years ago when women learned that their babies would not live long after birth, they were strongly encouraged not to bond with the baby. If you weren’t attached to something, you wouldn’t have to waste time grieving over it, and you could just get back to life after all was said and done.  I’m not sure how someone could possibly have imagined that this was a good idea nor can I imagine being forced to deal with the loss of an infant in such a way.

One of those unfortunate mothers was my now deceased grandmother. During the 1940’s her first born daughter, Marilyn was born with a heart defect.  The details are sketchy, but it is my understanding that Marilyn lived a couple of days or weeks. My grandmother had limited contact, and was told that her baby was “just in the next room”. Never given the chance to say even one last goodbye before Marilyn passed on, my Grandmother lived the next few years in a deep state of depression. As if that was any wonder!

image

I’m so thankful that that mindset is now a thing of the past. I am moved to tears to see all of the beautiful ways families are now encouraged to celebrate the short lives of their tiny babies.  We are able to not only create memories, but we’re able to preserve them with foot prints, hand prints, locks of hair, and photographs.  Proof to us and the world that our treasured babies EXISTED even if only for a short time.

Prior to knowing anything was wrong with this little one, there are ways I had hoped to simply honor the memory of this pregnancy. In all likelihood, this would have been my last pregnancy. I wanted to remember this time with a professional maternity / family photo shoot, a 4D ultrasound, and a cast of my belly. I realized today that I still want and need to create these memories, but now for other reasons than this being my last pregnancy.  I also think that as hard as it might be to know and imagine the specific loss of a little boy or a little girl, these are the moments that I still have with my little one. Our original plan was to wait until the baby was born to find out. However, that was with the notion that we’d have a normal lifetime with this baby to enjoy all the little girl or little boy things that were to come. That luxury has (seemingly) been ripped out from under us. I imagine how precious it would be to know if these little nudges and prods were gifts from a beloved little son or daughter. “Who’s in there?”

Day 18 – Tiny Ripples

I spent a good part of the afternoon relaxing in a warm bath, which seemed like the best place to be on a cold rainy January afternoon.  It was hard to be in that place at first, as that’s where I was when I received the devastating phone call from our geneticist.  However, I quickly relaxed, and let the sweet little pokes and jabs that were protruding from my belly surface occupy my attention. 

image

I watched as the literal ripples traveled across the water, and thought about the figurative ripples that this baby’s life would also create here in this world.  God has something beautiful in store here.

Day 17 – Clarity

The bout of worry that plagued me today was wondering if I would have the mental clarity to know what measures to take once this baby is born.  We have been told by the doctors, and read in other’s accounts that the medical community is not enthusiastic about rescusitating T18 babies.  In most cases, the attempts are futile.  I understand that.  But at the end of the day, these doctors and nurses get to go home to their families and our situation was simply just chalked up to one of those sad days that goes along with the territory of being in the medical field.  This isn’t going to be just a “sad day” for us that we can brush ourselves off and walk away from.  Every decision we make that day will live with us for the rest of our lives.  Will we be inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering on this child if we insist on surgery to repair the heart defect?  Or will we be okay with solely offering care and comfort (DNR), letting nature take its course?

Based on many of the stories of other T18 babies I’ve read, there are many people that have been okay with taking the route of offering just care and comfort.  I think, ultimately I would be just as okay with that (as anyone could be expected) but for the fact that I come across these other stories featuring pictures of cheeky 1 and 2 year olds smiling from their little Bumbo seats, etc.  These are the T18 babies who have made it past those first hours, days, weeks, months.  Could my baby have been one of them, had we insisted on “drastic measures”?

I know there is no sense in worrying about the future when I really have absolutely no idea what to expect.  I do need to come up with a birthing plan though.  Fortunately, that is nothing that is written in stone and we can change it at any time, but it gives our doctors and nurses an idea of what our situation is and what we’d like to have take place once this baby is born.  Problem is, I just don’t know right now, not knowing exactly what we are facing!!

Just as God has given us the strength and the tools to have gotten through these past 2 1/2 weeks, I know that He’ll pull through for us when that time comes.  Please pray that William and I will have the mental clarity and Godly insight to do what is right for our baby, according to God’s will.

Day 16 – What to Plan For?

I just received a package in the mail from a bereavement counselor I spoke to a couple of weeks ago.  There are several brochures on grieving the loss of an infant, memorial ideas, and how to help other children through the loss of their sibling.  I’m sitting here in my car in the parking lot of Greta’s dance class skimming through these brochures and had to put them away. That anyone should lose an infant, let alone myself, is just unbearably sad.

While I feel this tiny little person kicking around inside of me, it somehow seems wrong to be grieving his or her death.  I don’t know that I’m ready to do that, but yet I want to be prepared and have funeral plans, etc. put into place should the need arise.  I really don’t know what to do with all of this. I wonder, am I just avoiding this whole mess or am I staying so focused on God and the present?  By making preparations for this baby’s death, does that somehow discount my faith in a miracle?

Day 13 – A Heavenly Adoption

I’ve been thinking lots about the indeterminate loss of this baby versus the sacrifice that was made in parting with my first born.  There is definitely a congruity that can be drawn between the two scenarios.

As in making an adoption plan, I have prepared myself for our possible worst case scenario of going home without a baby.  I guess the big difference is that I don’t feel like I really have a choice this time.  In an adoption, I at least knew in the back of my mind that I could reverse my decision at any time before I signed the papers.  Not that I WOULD HAVE, but that just seemed to give me a sense of control over everything.

The beautiful similarity is this:  If I were considering adoption right now, and I were going through the piles of adoptive family profiles that are typically given to a prospective birth mother, and I came across God’s profile, how could I possibly pass it by?  Maybe it would say something like this:

Dear Birthmother,

I’m so sorry for the burden that has been placed on your heart right now.  I know that pain intimately and you are not alone in it.  I would love to take the pain away from you right now, but I promise you there are beautiful things to come as a result of this pain you are enduring. I will walk with you through it and I will hold you up when you can’t walk on your own.  

For reasons unknown to you right now, this tiny baby is not able to be a part of your family as you know it and as you had expected.  I know that wounds you deeply, but I also know that you want the absolute best for your little one.  You can rest easy in knowing that I can provide that in more ways than you could ever possibly fathom.

Life for you on earth, as you know by now, will be speckled and marred with hardships, even though that was not my original intent for you.  The same would hold true for your precious baby if he or she were to come live on this earth with you.  What would you say if I could guarantee you that your child would never ever have to face any of these hardships and trials of life?  He or she will be destined to paradise, forever in the arms of his or her heavenly Daddy and surrounded by hosts of angels.  There are no tears, pain or suffering here.  Not even a little bit.

I’d love to say you could come and visit when ever you like, but you will someday see that what seems like “forever” to you now is just a blink of an eye compared to eternity.  Before you even realized what happened, you will be reunited with your sweet precious little one.  I think you already know what that is like, as I gave you a glimpse of that here on earth with your first born.  Imagine having another one of those reunions, but this time it will be in my Heavenly Kingdom!

Please don’t worry about what the future holds for you or for your baby.  I promise you it is going to be beautiful in the end.  Just as you carry this baby, I will carry you.

Love,

God

There is no question.  Perhaps this baby is THAT special, that no, William and I are not fit to be his or her parents.  Only God can fulfill that duty.  While there are times that I feel uncomfortable with the lack of control I have here, I am learning more and more every day to release all that I want and think I need to control, and surrender it to God.  He knows what is best for us better than we do.  Can I just trust Him?  Yes.

Day 12 – Shared Sorrow

I am so deeply moved by the outpouring of love from my family and friends over these past days.  My husband was first on the scene, the first one I clung to, the one who held me up when I felt like I couldn’t stand on my own two feet.  Then came my Mom, my sister, my Dad — dropping what ever it was that they were doing to be by our sides.  To help us break the news to our kids, to help us make sense of the broken shards we were in the midst of, just to simply be there when we needed them most.

I’m so touched by my friends and family that showed up bringing food, offering to take my kids out for awhile, lending shoulders to cry on, even just stopping by to see how I’m doing.  The BEAUTIFUL flowers, the dinners, the chocolate covered strawberries, the cards, the books, the e-mails, the text messages, the voicemails, the prayers, the masses being said on our behalf, and even the Facebook posts and comments. It is awe inspiring to know that there are people praying for us who I do not even know.

During a toast at my wedding, my Dad mentioned a quote he had once heard, “Shared happiness is twice the joy, and shared sorrow is half the pain.”  That is most definitely true as it pertains to my husband and myself, but through your willingness to share in our sorrow, you have generously lightened our load.  Someday when we see the beauty that is to come, I can’t wait to share that joy with you too.

I want each of you to know how much you mean to me and that your prayers are not in vain.  I can assuredly feel God’s comfort and peace surrounding me right now like I never have before.  Just 12 days ago, I thought I would never ever smile again, and wondered how life could possibly go on.  Joy has been brought back into my life and for that I am so thankful.