God has chosen to give us a new, sweet baby.
But, He has also chosen to only allow us to meet him/her on the other side of this life.
Thinking I was approaching my 12th week of pregnancy this week without complications, we began to tell some of our family and friends the exciting news this past weekend.
We told the kids several weeks ago, and they did well keeping our secret!
They have been so excited!
Especially Eva...who has rubbed my tummy and asked me numerous times if I have felt the baby move yet. She even looked up how big the baby should be in our "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book.
We talked about baby names several times throughout our Northeast Family Trip the past couple of weeks, and we were pretty sure we had found a few we really liked.
Then, yesterday, I started bleeding. And this morning it was worse. I knew something was terribly wrong.
And I knew in my heart that this baby had a special purpose that I would not immediately understand.
Susan, my midwife, visited at 11:45 today, talked with me, and listened for a baby heartbeat with the doppler. I laid on my bed hoping upon hope that I would hear the swish-swish of a tiny beating heart.
Susan said, "That's your heartbeat..."
And, I thought, "Who cares about my heartbeat? My heart is breaking!"
An ultrasound was scheduled for 3:45 this afternoon with Kelly Ultrasound Imaging in Greenville - a private and independent ultrasound company.
The office and rooms were decorated in modern decor with deep reds and black. I thought, "How appropriate. Blood and death. What a perfect place for someone to tell me that my baby is dead."
....(the above was written Wednesday evening, October 10th. I was unable to continue until the evening of Friday, October 12th)...So, here's the rest...
The ultrasound technician was a young, pleasant woman who obviously had no idea what to say to me. She didn't offer to turn on the large overhead monitor for me to see the ultrasound. "Not a good sign, " I thought.
I twisted my head over my right shoulder, determined to see what she saw on that tiny computer monitor she was hoarding. I've seen healthy baby ultrasounds 8 times, and I knew what a tiny baby with a beating heart should look like.
And that wasn't it.
The rest of the procedure seemed to take an eternity. The technician was quiet. The only thing she said at the beginning was, "I'm sorry you're having to go through this." Then click of keys, more clicking, more clicking...and I felt and heard my tears dripping down across my ears and onto that pitiful sheet of paper on that cold table. I was so mad that she wouldn't say anything.
"Say SOMETHING!!" I wanted to scream at her!
I remember looking at the clock above the door and the second hand was stuck on the big hand. The clock was wrong. I thought, "How appropriate. Time has stood still."
After the abdominal ultrasound, the techncian said we would need to do a vaginal ultrasound also. Feeling numb, I obeyed her directions. As the vaginal ultrasound took place, I literally fought the urge to jump off the table and scream at her to stop. What was she looking for anyway?!? Why couldn't she let me go? She already knew the news wasn't good. I thought I was going to suffocate if I stayed in that room another second. I needed air!
Instead, I gritted my teeth, and held Gregg's hand, and watched his face as he watched the tiny hoarded computer monitor. Would there be a glimmer of hope in his eyes?
So, the technician left, called my midwife, then reentered and told us we could leave. Our midwife would call us with the results soon.
"How lame, " I thought. "I'm not an idiot."
The technician said, "I'll show you out." She proceeded to walk us to the exit door and to fresh air. Then she said the stupidest thing ever (poor fool) - "Have a good afternoon...Uhhh...under the circumstances, I mean." (proceeded with a nervous giggle)
I don't think I even looked at her. I don't think I was very nice to her at all, actually. I'm sorry now.
I actually felt sorry for her then. And for myself. And for my baby. And for my poor children at home awaiting the news. For Gregg, who was at a loss for what to say, how to feel, how to care for his family.
So we drove home, and Eva met me before I could even get out of the van. She was jumping up and down so glad to see me, so excited for the news of the ultrasound.
"Is the baby alive?!?" she squealed, fully expecting me to say "Yes!"
I thought my heart was going to split into a million pieces at that moment. I just looked at her, and I felt the lump in my throat and felt the tears threatening to flood my cheeks.
And then she knew. Eva stopped and looked at me, and then she did the sweetest thing...
She crawled up into the van onto my lap and cried with me. Oh, how I loved stroking her golden hair and hugging her. I loved how this precious daughter of mine was weeping with me. For our baby. Although only 9 years old, she was created by God to be a nurturer (is that a word?). She understood enough to hurt with me. She was feeling the hurt of expectations and longings for a new little one that would not come to be.
Eva took it upon herself to slide off my lap, and to run tell her brothers the news. A few minutes later, I heard her in her room weeping. When I went to check on her, she was on her floor with Kedesh, age 14 months. She had taken her baby sister from her crib and sat on the floor with her. She had told Kedesh about the baby and was crying while Kedesh just looked at her. How precious a moment - I will never forget it.
I sat with her and held her again. Gregg joined us, and we just sat on the floor and whispered comforting words to each other.
Samuel joined us, too. He's only 4 and too young to really understand. But, he did provide us some serious comic relief!
Susan called. She confirmed what we already knew. According to the ultrasound, the baby had stopped developing just over 6 weeks gestation. There was no heartbeat. No viability. But, my body did not recognize this until now. She had told me what to expect with a proceeding miscarriage. She prayed with me and said she would check on me later. She gave me instructions to call if I needed her.
Gregg and I decided to take everyone outside. The fresh air felt good.
Several of the kids had places to be that night, but we decided to keep them home. Something about a tragedy makes you want to keep your entire family close.
It was a beautiful fall afternoon. We watched the kids ride bikes and scooters and play football.
Eva mixed hot chocolate in "fancy" cups and saucers and asked me to sit on the porch swing and drink hot chocolate with her. How could I resist? Gregg decided to take a few pictures. I was glad God gave me Eva. I thought, "One day we will look at these pictures and remember a very special time we bonded." I thanked God for hot chocolate with my 9 yr. old daughter.
I kept wondering what to expect. I was still bleeding, but only a little. I was told my body would continue to miscarry over the next few days or so.
It just didn't seem quite real.
Around midnight Wednesday night/Thursday morning, I woke to a pool of blood about the size of a basketball in my bed. I was slightly frantic, and so was poor Gregg.
I jumped up, and screamed as I cut the lamp on. Then I stumbled to the bathroom. I remember thinking, "Gregg needs his sleep. He has to work tomorrow. I shouldn't have screamed! I'm so selfish!"
But, the truth is I really needed him, and he was there immediately. I could tell he was a little scared along with me. I tried to be calm - for Gregg and for me. Susan had warned me that there would be heavy bleeding.
I showered while Gregg cleaned the mattress and replaced the sheets with clean ones. My dear husband. What would I do without him? I felt so weak. So hopeless.
It was a restless night as I woke several times. Each time I woke, Gregg was awake and would talk with me. I'm sure he must have no idea how much that meant to me - to hear his voice...to feel his hand in mine.
By morning on Thursday, I felt like the worst was over. The bleeding was much less severe. Before leaving for work, Gregg gave the kids instructions to do as much of their schoolwork independently as possible. He also gave them instructions to take care of each other and let Momma rest. He also forced me to drink juice. I couldn't bear the thought of food, so I was too stubborn for him to win on that one.
Have I mentioned how amazing my children are? They literally took care of each other - quietly. They washed breakfast dishes, fed baby Kedesh, changed diapers, the older ones helped the younger ones with school work, and Caleb checked on me several times in order to "boss" me into drinking plenty of fluids. I'm pretty sure he enjoyed that!
Samuel was playing with his doctor kit and asked me if he could listen to the baby's heartbeat. Isaiah promptly told him, "The baby is dead, Samuel." (Isaiah is my very blunt, very literal, matter-of-fact, no fluff child.) I said, "Let's don't say that. Let's say that the baby is with Jesus." Samuel said, "No, the baby is with God." (Samuel has been fascinated with God for months now.) ...Okay...anything besides saying, "The baby is dead." I can't bear it.
Later they helped me prepare lunch, and cleaned things up while I rested.
Then, around 1:00, I began to bleed severely again. I began to ache. Around 2:15, I felt a large mass of tissue pass. It was the placenta that was supposed to be nourishing a healthy baby. My body no longer needed it.
I thought I might pass out from the ache in my heart. From being alone in my bathroom at this moment.
And what happened to the tiny sac with my baby in it? If this was the placenta, how did I miss the baby?? I felt my heart panic! The tiny sac, which should have been about the size of a small chicken egg, must have fallen into the toilet without me realizing it. I hated myself for missing it!
The only thing I can think is that the scare at midnight was the severe bleeding preceding the passing of Baby. And then, it took much longer for my body to pass the placenta. Susan had warned me that heavy bleeding would precede both events. In my fear at midnight, I must have allowed the sac with Baby to pass into the toilet.
Is it possible that both of these events could happen as much as 12-14 hours apart? I don't know. I don't know WHAT to think. But, I know I missed the baby somehow. And my heart aches more than ever at the thought of it.
After passing the placenta, I felt very weak, and numb - both physically and emotionally. I didn't want to see or talk with anyone.
Gregg called and decided to leave work early. He took Eva to dance and the boys to football practice. I just couldn't bring myself to get out of the house - even though the bleeding was getting better.
My sweet Nathan finished his schoolwork for the day, cleaned the house, and cut the grass. I've decided he deals with his emotions by staying busy. Ummm... just a little like his parents, I think.
By Thursday night, when the kids all arrived back home from practices, I was feeling stronger. We ate supper together, showered, read, and went to bed.
Sleep is a beautiful drug - it allows the mind and body to sense pain no more. And, God gave me sweet sleep last night. I rested late into the morning, and then forced myself out of bed to start a "normal" day.
School to teach, clothes to wash, meals to cook, orders to fill, etc, etc, etc.
The kids were back to their normal rambunctious selves. Grumbling about schoolwork, pulling each other through the hallway on blankets, bumping heads, throwing cars, wrestling, begging for juice and snacks...
And it was all okay. This afternoon, I sat on the front porch swing with my sweet baby Kedesh, and watched the kids ride bikes and scooters again. The dryer buzzed to tell me another load was done...and I left it there. Eva brought piggy tail holders for Kedesh, and we had the best time playing with her tiny bit of hair.
Gregg finished the laundry and cooked supper, and I let him.
In a way, I know life must get "back to normal." But, by doing so, I feel like I'm letting my baby go for good. Like I don't care.
Everyone else around me is going through the motions of life - work, school, church, football games - and I feel like it just needs to stop for a while. I need time to miss my baby.
I hope God is letting our little one know how much they were longed for and how much we are going to miss him/her.
I have the hope and assurance that one day I will meet our baby in heaven. I KNOW this. It just sounds like such a cliche right now.
But, it IS true, and until that day, Sweet Baby, please know that you are dearly loved.
(October 23, 2012)...It has taken me some time to decide to publish this post. I wrote it for me, and for my husband and children, so that Baby would not be forgotten. I'm not sure I ever intended to post it for others to see, but I feel that there is someone - somewhere - that is supposed to read it. So, I'm sharing.
One week after we knew we would never see our baby face to face here on Earth, I was riding in my van and heard the following song on the radio. It's been one of my favorites by Chris Tomlin for quite a while. It was balm for my soul that day, so I wanted to share it also...
"I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.
You are yourself the answer.
Before your face questions die away.
What other answer would suffice?"
- C.S. Lewis