Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My apologies

I’m sorry to have kept some of you in suspense. Many people emailed me asking how I was doing, and I feel guilty for not updating, especially since everyone was praying so hard for me. When I saw in my Google Analytics that this blog is still getting hundreds of hits, even though I haven’t posted in over a week, I knew I needed to come in and say something.

I canceled the surgical procedure. Have you ever had a feeling in your soul that you just should not do something? Just an overbearing feeling that you can’t seem to kick? Wednesday morning (the day that I was supposed to go in for the procedure), I woke up and started praying, and felt led to pray for exactly five minutes about the procedure. So, I went over and set the timer on the stove for five minutes, and prayed. When the alarm went off, I knew I needed to go call the doctor to say I couldn’t do it. Between the known risks of the procedure, and the bad feeling I had about it, I felt good about my decision. Telling the doctors my reasoning was a completely different story!

But now, we’re praying for direction, and for miracles. I want to have babies. Many of them. I want to be free from the fear of miscarriage. But I don’t want to put my future in doctors’ hands — I want to give it wholly to God. I need prayer.

Can I be vulnerable for a minute? (Please, be gentle in your comments.) It’s been a long time since I was genuinely happy. Sometimes I forget what it feels like to have that bubbling-over excitement that I used to get all the time about the future. I am still very much in the throes of mourning. And I desperately want to be a mommy again—the hope of new life would be the one thing that could bring my smile back.That’s not to say that I don’t have some OK or even good days, and I certainly don’t cry every single day, but that deep sadness weighs over me. It’s most present when I see babies, especially newborns, or babies the same age as what Grace would be now. It forces me to wonder what she’d look like now, to think about what she’d be doing now. It’s absolutely overwhelming. Which brings me to the next part of Grace’s story...

I have 2300 words of it written, but I just can’t seem to finish the entry. Somehow, by finishing it, I feel like I’m closing the book on her *life*. Saying “The End”. And writing about her birth, the most sad moment of my entire life, is gut-wrenching. When I write about Grace, it eats my entire day because I am absolutely overcome with anguish. Just writing ABOUT writing it is making a lump form in my throat and my eyes well up.

But, it’s coming.

To God be the glory!

"I say to God my Rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?" My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, "Where is your God?" Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:9-11).

Thursday, August 13, 2009


As I have sliced my finger open and am having a hard time typing, I will post the next part of the story next week.

I want to ask for your prayers, though, as I am having an exploratory surgery of sorts on Monday to find out answers on why I have had now two miscarriages in 2009, both completely unrelated to anything else we've experienced in the past. We know that our God is the HEALER, the CREATOR, and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, so I know that in faith we can believe that I am already healed.

So that is what I'm asking you to pray: that they find nothing! That I am healed!

ETA: We have had to reschedule the surgery for Wednesday. Please keep up the prayers!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Grace's Earthly End

Today, August 4, 2009, Grace would be nine months old, and I’d be planning her first birthday party. I'd plan to have a pink & brown cupcake party, with gluten free cupcakes, and Grace would have her first ever taste of sugar. She’d wear something beautiful in the same brand as her coming home outfit (Biscotti), or maybe a fluffy tutu-dress from Belle Ame.

But here, instead, is the beginning of the story of her only birthday. The only day I ever got to hold Grace in my arms.

Grace’s last weekend

I don’t usually write about the weather. I feel like that’s a tactic only used by fourth graders and lousy Christmas family newsletter writers. But when my daughter was last living, it was the most beautiful late autumn Jeff and I had ever seen. We’d had our wedding in the fall only three years before, and back then I would have paid thousands for trees this colorful. The vibrant fall seemed to sum up a perfect pregnancy, and seemed to signal the start of a new season of our lives, one of sheer excitement! (Now, with all the feelings of loss associated with it, I wonder now if I’ll even like the season ever again.)

Our third wedding anniversary was October 29, and we didn’t do much to celebrate – besides, what gift can you give one another that is better than the gift of new life, a child?! We were GIDDY!

Saturday…I ventured out to a brunch with my mommies group of all pregnant women, and held the first tiny baby born to the group. Soon, I thought, I would be holding my very own baby in my arms! Everyone reminded me that it was November 1, only 19 days left until my due date!

Sunday…we went to church, and Grace jammed out to the worship music! She always seemed to have a lot of fun in my belly! I felt extra special that day, and had worn a black dress with four-inch black heels (I’d been so thankful to never get any swelling, allowing me to wear heels!). I was enormous, and it seemed like every stranger I passed congratulated me. Our drive home, we passed the hospital where I would give birth, and I got all excited thinking about how in two weeks this same drive home would be the most happy drive of my life—with a baby in my arms!

…That evening, we went to the last session of our Bradley natural childbirth class. And Grace kicked all the while. Jeff said how excited he was about labor (ha! I was like, of course YOU’RE excited! I’m the one pushing this thing out!) —we were ready for this! (I was well prepared to give birth without pain medications or interventions, and felt very confident in the technique—I’d told everyone about it so I’d keep accountable!) Then we went home and Jeff videotaped actors for his Grace Epidemic project. (It is eerie watching that video now, knowing that it was the last day my Grace was alive.) And Grace kept right on kicking, as she always did. Later, Jeff gave me my nightly back massage—he’s the best husband ever—and we watched Grace move around in my belly (for what we didn’t know then would be the last time ever).

We headed to bed and I reached over and put my hand in the bassinet attached to our mattress, as I had gotten into the habit of doing, and imagined how in a few short weeks I would be stroking my peacefully sleeping baby there, admiring her, my offspring, the greatest blessing I’d ever received.

I prayed thanks, and fell asleep.

November 3, 2008

It was a dark day out, starting to drizzle, but my first thought was how something great was about to happen. I said aloud to Jeff, “For some reason, it feels like Christmas morning!” I cannot get over how weird that feeling was. Maybe God was trying to bless me with a calm before the storm…

…because the rest of that day can only be described as the worst of my life.

Jeff left for work, and I went downstairs to make Grace and I breakfast. I sipped my OJ, but Grace didn’t kick like she usually did with that jolt of fructose. Odd, I thought, but I wasn’t overwhelmingly alarmed, and went on talking to her, telling her I loved her as I always did. I was awake a little earlier than usual, anyway. I showered, but Grace didn’t move like normal with the water’s warmth. I poked the spot where I knew her butt was, but she was obviously sleeping. Still, I thought, it was early. Yet, when I got out, I really started to worry.

I went to the nursery and lay down on the floor next to her crib (like Jeff had been doing each morning as he prayed for her, for nine months) and gulped cold water, hoping it would wake her up. My heart started to race when she didn’t wake. My doctor’s appointment was scheduled for 9:30 that morning, and I left the house as quick as I could, speeding down the road and arriving ridiculously early. At the stoplight before the doctor’s building, the word started flashing through my head, stillbirth stillbirth stillbirth. Everything was a blur, as they weighed me, took my blood pressure, and Jeff arrived. All I could think or say was “I haven’t felt her kick this morning.”

The fluorescent lights in the room made it look so cold and horrible in there, increasing my panic. I could hear heartbeats from Dopplers thumping loudly through the thin walls of the rooms on either side of me. But when they tried to listen to my child’s heartbeat, it wasn’t there. “No,” Jeff said to me, and grabbed my hand tightly as the doctor rushed off to find the ultrasound machine. “She’s fine; it isn’t what you think; they’ll find it; please God.” (How would I have ever survived if Jeff hadn’t come to the appointment that day?)

The doctor rolled in the ancient-looking machine and fumbled the cord, clearly flustered, and got another doctor to help her. When they finally got it to work—my stomach is in knots as I type this—the ultrasound machine showed a lifeless little girl, a beautiful heart, but one that had stopped beating forevermore.

"I’m so sorry," was all the doctor said. I put my hands on my face, where they remained for the next several hours, and whispered, "Oh my God. Oh my God." This is when shock set in—the body’s gift to its emotional state—to help me survive the blow. I had become numb, and would stay that way for the next 24 hours. I thought back to my childhood, about the night when my friend’s dad had passed away in a tragic car accident, and about how we had gone to the hospital that night and saw the family. I remembered how I had hugged my friend and sobbed uncontrollably, but that she was strong and wasn’t crying. I finally understood it. That’s how I felt now. Crushed, flattened, beaten down to silence, to numbness. I couldn’t even cry.

Suddenly, I had to get this baby out. She seemed heavier than ever before. I hated how stiff her body felt, preventing me from even being able to expand my lungs and get a full breath, and then I hated myself for disliking anything about my poor child. But I couldn’t handle having this dead baby inside me. I needed her out NOW – it was URGENT! I repeated it to each of the doctors, but didn’t watch to see if they responded or not. Everything was so blurry.

Walking out of the office, I noticed that my hands were still on my face. I wondered what everyone in the waiting room thought of me – what did they think was wrong? Were they panicked about their own babies? I thought about all of those people on the news all the time, those women in Iraq or Israel after a bomb exploded and killed their families, and how they would always be running around, screaming and crying. I wondered when or if I would get to that point. Right now, I pretty much felt dead.

In the car, I saw our new pink baby carseat all strapped in and ready to go. Overcome with too much emotion, I’m pretty sure I almost passed out. We rushed to the hospital, where the marathon of labor and delivery—that grueling emotional and physical journey—began.

The Hospital

We walked in and although we’d already taken a tour of the hospital, were absolutely clueless where to go and wandered around blindly. Jeff asked someone at a desk where labor & delivery was, and with major attitude, she pointed down the hall, and said, “Um, In labor and delivery.” So strange, I thought, how people have so much anger. I had just lost my daughter and I wasn’t as angry as her.

It was dark and empty in there that day. The nurses were all huddled around the nurses’ station, probably talking about who they were going to vote for, as it was the day before the presidential elections, and they all turned around when they saw us coming. Immediately, we told them who we were, and silence fell.

I felt ill. This was not how it was supposed to go at all. I was supposed to walk in here in labor, already six centimeters dilated, and near ready to push, with everyone in awe at my strength and supernatural pain tolerance. And I would breastfeed my baby girl right away, and dress her in her beautiful pink lacy outfit (that was sitting inside the suitcase in our bedroom, already clean and ironed) and bring her home in that pink carseat to a house all set up just for her. But this? Nurses feeling sorry for me? I wanted to turn around and walk right back out.

A nurse brought us to a room on the quiet, empty side of the maternity ward, probably so we wouldn’t have to hear other people giving birth to living, crying babies. I wondered how they assigned a nurse to us. Did they draw straws? Did she owe someone something? I can’t imagine anyone volunteering for such a horrible event.

I think we must have been there over an hour before we even thought to call someone. How do you tell your parents, who have been looking forward to meeting their first grandbaby for nine months, that they will never get to? I hated that we would have to make one of these kinds of calls, the kind nobody ever wants to get, the kind that you think are only made in later life when your grandparents are getting on in years. That we would have to make one of those calls now, as healthy happy people in our twenties, it was too much to bear. I told Jeff he could call, but he didn’t have to if he didn’t want, and I sure wasn’t doing it.

He was so strong that day. He made the calls to our parents, one by one, out in the hallway. I’m so glad I didn’t have to see his face as he spoke those words. And he called his boss to tell him that he wouldn’t be back in for a very long time. Months later, we learned that his boss actually called our church that day to let them know about the situation, and thus we had our church praying for us from the very beginning.

On the phone, my dad didn’t believe the words that Jeff told him, saying that He knew our God was a miracle worker, and that Jesus could raise our baby from death. Until the next day when we left the hospital hours after Grace had been born, Dad didn’t believe that she was really gone. In my shock and numbness, I didn’t have the faith to believe that kind of miracle could happen. I loved my dad for it though—I loved his faith, and I loved his deep love for his granddaughter. If only I could go back, with the faith that I now have, and experience that day, I wonder if that miracle could happen? Could I have believed God and allowed him to work in such a big way? Maybe I wasn’t giving Him an “in.”

But God was there, beckoning me to him. Whether I wanted Him or not. All those years of my asking him to “be with me” to “comfort me” to “strengthen me” to “guide me” were coming to fruition. He was answering those prayers when I needed them most.

A song started playing in my head, one that I didn’t know I knew, but the words kept playing… “You spread out the skies, over empty space, said let there be light, in a dark and formless world…”

“Ugh,” I thought, “Go away music. Go away feelings. Go away everything.” I didn’t want to think, or pray, and I definitely didn’t want music. But the song kept right on playing in my head. “Gosh, where is that song from?”

Our nurse sat down on a stool in our room and asked me a gazillion questions. The doctors did too. Had I fallen recently? They all seemed to ask that question. Because, you know, there has to be someone to blame. Had the baby been kicking regularly the last few days? Car accident?

Everything had been so normal, the whole pregnancy! I felt not an ounce of guilt. Boy was I thankful at how perfectly I had treated Grace in there all nine months. There wasn’t anything I did that I wouldn’t do again. I wracked my brain, but no, there was nothing. This was as random and tragic as you could get.

Before beginning the induction, the doctor came in and prayed with us. One of the great things about our doctors’ office is that it was a Christian organization, and they were very open about the fact that they prayed for their patients. I don’t remember much about the prayer, except how I thought it was odd that she opened it by calling God “Daddy.” Maybe she did it on purpose, or maybe God just wanted us to hear it, but, He was a daddy too, and He too lost His only child.

Because it was so cloudy and gross outside that afternoon, you couldn’t tell if it was day or night, but it seemed like we’d already been there an eternity when 1:15 rolled around and it was time to get things started.

As it was still two weeks before my due date (I was 37 weeks and 4 days, to be exact), my body wasn’t even slightly ready to give birth. My belly hadn’t dropped, there was zero dilation, no contractions, no effacement, zip. It looked like Grace hadn’t planned on making her grand entrance for quite a while; she would have probably come quite late. We were well aware that because my body wasn’t ready, this induction may not work, and we could potentially end up having to go home and try this again on a different date or have a c-section—both which sounded like ways to somehow make my worst nightmare even worse.

In a small way, though, we felt like that part of things was already taken care of. People were praying for this delivery to go smoothly, and we could already feel God working through those prayers. This induction was going to work. And I was going to deliver a baby—who was no longer living. I’ve never been more scared in my life, or dreaded anything as much as I dreaded what was ahead of me.