Defiance of fear

Today I won a small victory against fear. I will be 11 weeks pregnant this week, rapidly approaching the mark in my pregnancy where I lost Knox and Lily. I try not to dwell on it, I try not to let the fear seep it’s way into my daily thoughts. There are fleeting moments where I think…”what if it happens again?” I can usually push it out and keep going.
But…
Every morning I am greeted with three tubs. They hold my maternity clothes. And I struggle.

The week before Knox was born, I had just unpacked all of my maternity clothes and hung them in my closet. I had finally told work I was expecting because my regular clothes were looking suspiciously tight and not in the “she ate too many chili fries” kind of way. Co-workers who knew me well had already guessed. So before we came back for our Thanksgiving visit, I unpacked, hung up and folded maternity clothes.
Then Knox died.
The night before I went to the hospital I stood in front of my closet and pulled all of those clothes out. I put them back in their tubs…I wouldn’t be needing them after all and I knew I wouldn’t want to pack them when I came home. I cried and I mourned and I was angry. I could hardly see through the tears I was crying as I folded my favorite black sweater I wore with Zeke.
So when I got pregnant with Lily, I decided not to get maternity clothes out until I had passed 15 weeks. I didn’t want to have to pack them away. But I had to pull a few things out because regular clothes were just too uncomfortable. I kept them in their tubs though. Nothing maternity went in my closet. And then she died too.
So now, here I am. Almost 11 weeks pregnant, starting to struggle to button my jeans and not look “frumpy” in anything else. There is a little bulge where this baby is growing and while most of the time it just looks like I ate too many donuts, I could use some clothes that are a little more forgiving. In addition to that, we moved 2 weeks ago and I really hate unpacking clothes. I’m sitting there thinking “if this baby makes it, I’m going to be putting these all away in a month anyway” (I hate thinking that “if” but it is a reality I know now).
But I haven’t been quite daring enough to take the lids off the bins that hold those clothes that signify the “thick around the middle” isn’t fat…it’s baby. I pass those bins sitting at the foot of my bed every morning when I wake up. They remind me of my fear, of my hurt and of the hope that just might be this time. Every day they have psyched me out and dared me to open them. And until this morning I have left the right where the guys who unloaded them put them.
Until today.
In a moment of defiance, of sheer “screw you fear”, I decided to unpack them. “It’s going to be a time waster to unpack my “regular” clothes now and put them away in a month”, I told myself. “They’re just clothes” I reminded myself as I pulled shirt after shirt, paneled pant after paneled pant out of the bin and put them in my closet. “This isn’t going to determine the outcome. God does.” Every so often I would pause and wonder if I’m doing the right thing…if I should wait until…
But I know that God has numbered this baby’s days before he or she was ever created. God knows. He has a plan. Psalm 139:13-16 says…

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

So I unpacked. And I prayed. I prayed for the health and safety of this baby. I prayed that I would find someone who would care for me, who would support me in my quest for another home birth or at the very least another VBAC.

They hang together in my closet, clumped to one end…but they are there. The empty tubs sit now in the storage room in our basement. If I have to put them away too soon, so be it, but today I defied the fear and the reminder of “what if” that has greeted me every morning.

Off guard

I was caught off guard today by my emotions.
I was going through some bins in our basement and came across our costume bin. As I was sorting through, towards the bottom there it was. The dress-up dress I have been saving since before I was married for my “someday daughter” and my breath caught in my throat. My eyes filled with tears at the reminder of the daughter I have lost and the son I still grieve. Both whom I long for.
I cried.
I grieved for the daughter I won’t be holding in November. I felt hot anger about the fact that I have a bin that is labeled “Lord willing girl stuff” and the womb where I carried my daughter is empty. I’ve hidden away a hand knit dress that a co-worker gave me when I was in California. I have a headband with a ridiculously gigantic flower on it and a pink onesie with little daisies around the collar. It’s all packed away in the back of the closet, waiting and hoping for a baby.
It hit me this morning…what if all it does is sit there and wait? What if there isn’t another baby, what if that daughter never comes? What it?  And the gravity of the grief came crashing down. I sat on my floor and grieved my children, my empty arms and the unknown ahead.
I sat and felt sorry for myself. But as I wallowed I saw…
Around the corner peeked two little eyes. In came a sleepy eyed little one carrying his sippy cup. He curled up on my lap and patted my arm. He looked puzzled at the tears on my cheeks. I inhaled and snuggled the warmth of his little bed wrinkled cheek. I thanked God for the blessing of my children. All of them, the ones I get to hold and the ones I don’t. He reminded me, while I grieve I should rejoice. I should delight and I should trust.
I was caught off guard today, but the Lord did not let me fall.

Proverbs 3: 5-8

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart

And do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He will make your paths straight.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;

Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

8 It will be healing to your body

And refreshment to your bones.

 

 

I wonder

After losing 4 babies, 2 of them in the last 6 months, I wonder.
I wonder if I get pregnant again and if I get to carry that baby to term…if I will complain. I have wanted so desperately with my last 2 pregnancies to hold my precious children, I have longed to go to them in the night and snuggle them close. So I wonder…will I embrace it for the blessing it is? Will I begrudge the loss of sleep, the fatigue, the frustration?
i wonder, after spending 30 weeks in the first trimester, if I’m blessed again to become pregnant…will I pray for the nausea to go away? Will I gripe about not being able to eat or the feeling of constant motion? Or will I be thankful that I am carrying and growing a child?
I wonder too, at times, if I will ever be able to experience those things again. I wonder if my first home birth will be my last…my only. I am so very thankful that my very dear friend talked me into taking pregnancy pictures. 2 years ago I was big and pregnant and thought “this is old hat…there will be others…why take pictures?” But…2 years later…2 pregnancies…2 deaths…2 empty arms later and I am so very grateful for those moments captured.
I wonder what lies ahead for me and my family. I wonder if Zeke will ever get his baby sister that he prays for almost every day. I wonder if Otto will be able to talk to and tell stories to another baby in my womb. I wonder if I’ll be able to feel those first flutters for longer than a few days, if I’ll be able to experience labor and anticipate the birth of my child rather than dread what lies ahead. I wonder how God will use my children, my grief, our story for His glory.
I pray often about what lies ahead and I wonder.

One month

Today is one month since we held our daughter Lily for the first and last time. It seems so long ago. I think of both her and Knox every day. I wonder if I’ve been faithful to what God has called me to do. I wonder if I will ever be able to get past the second trimester with another pregnancy or if Titus was my last live birth. I dream of being able to hold our baby in my arms and not have to say goodbye.
In many ways I am still grieving for both of them. My heart aches for the children I don’t get to hold. My arms long to cradle a tiny baby. I want to smell the freshness of a new little one, to revel in her fingers and toes, to watch her breathe and sleep. I want to fall head over heals in love with a new creation, a gift from our Heavenly Father.
I want desperately to not have to mourn the loss of another child. I don’t want to experience that heart stopping feeling when you learn that the one you carry inside has already gone to be with Jesus. I dig my heals in at the thought of going through another induction, labor and birth only to hold a dead baby again.
I try not to worry about the possibility of it all happening again. I try to cast my cares on Him when they start to creep in and steal my peace. I struggle sometimes to not get lost in “what if” and drown in the unknown of the future.
Some days I have to make a conscious choice to count my blessings instead of my worries. To be thankful instead of angry or scared. There are days when every minute I have to remind myself to let go of the things I can’t control, to trust in the God who created me. There are days when I have to tell myself that my body is not broken. I am not defective. My God knit me together in my mother’s womb, just as He knit each of my children together. He knew this path I would be on before I was every born. He knows where the path leads and He goes before me.
Today I remember the life of my daughter Lily and the life of my son Knox, as well as the two other little babies I lost. Today I am thankful for all of my children, those on earth and those in the arms of Jesus. I am thankful that I am a mother to 8 children, 4 of them born to glory. I am blessed to remember the elation I felt when I learned I was expecting Lily. The thanks I prayed and tears I cried when I saw her heartbeat for the first time. And in a way, I am blessed to have gone through losing a son and a daughter in 6 months. It gives me a perspective many parents don’t have. It has allowed God to work even more powerfully in my life. I pray that I can be faithful to His call. I pray that there will be good that comes out of this grief. I pray that I can bring Him glory in all that I say and do.
I am reminded of a verse and a song.

Psalm 30: 10-12

10 “ Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me;

O Lord, be my helper.”

11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;

You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,

12 That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.


And a favorite song of mine that has been on my heart yesterday and today.
http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=9FM21MNU

Beauty For Ashes lyrics

Crystal Lewis, Ron Kenoly

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair 
When sorrow seems to surround you
When suffering hangs heavy o’er your head
Know that tomorrow brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said
He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair
When what you’ve done keeps you from moving on
When fear wants to make itself at home in your heart
Know that forgiveness brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said
He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair
I once was lost but God has found me
Though I was bound I’ve been set free
I’ve been made righteous in His sight
A display of His splendor all can see
He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

 
 

What the heck is wrong with me anyway?

So after losing 2 babies in the second trimester in 6 months, my doctor and I decided maybe we should run some blood tests “just in case” there is something up with me that we don’t know about. We got a few answers this past week and there are still more tests that have to be done and referrals and unknowns to deal with. My fantastic doctor, I really mean that and I’m a hard girl to please, called me Tuesday night at 8:30pm to discuss my labs with me because he was going out of town. I can’t say enough about how happy I am with my doc (and this coming from a L&D nurse who had a homebirth…I really am tough to please).
Here is what we know, what we don’t and where we go from here…

I have 2 genetic mutations that affect my ability to clot blood. One is called Factor 2 mutation. We each get 2 copies, one from our mom and one from our dad. I have one normal copy and one abnormal copy, which means I am called heterozygous. In a nutshell it increases my risk of developing blood clots, especially during pregnancy. Here’s a link that goes over it pretty simply…http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/110/3/e15.full
Factor 2 makes fibrin to make clots along with platelets. My factor 2 works kind of in overdrive.
There are some other tests that need to be done to determine how we’re going to treat this for future pregnancies. There are some liver proteins (called Protein S and Protein C) that need to be evaluated at the end of June (when the pregnancy hormones are out of my body). The most likely treatment for this issue will involve blood thinners during pregnancy to decrease the likelihood of clot formation in the placenta and umbilical cord.
The other genetic mutation is called MTHFR. We all have 2 genes that code for this and we get two copies of each gene, one from our mom and one from our dad. I have an abnormal copy and a normal copy of each set of genes, which makes me compound heterozygous for this condition. We have another blood test to determine if I have another complication associated with this condition and complicates the long term outcome for me. We will be looking specifically at my homocysteine levels. The higher the level, the higher my risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension and neural tube defects in babies (none of my kids have had these). It is treatable with extra folic acid and another medication.
So basically it’s this…I have 2 heterozygous genetic issues that both can cause complications during pregnancy but can be treated if we know how severe they are. It also means that I could be prescribed a baby aspirin every day for the rest of my life and then get injections of blood thinners while I’m pregnant. I would also require closer monitoring during pregnancy. There are some hurdles to cross if we get to full term at the time of birth. Some physicians insist on an induction at 39 weeks (this can’t happen for me because I have had 3 c-sections), but a surgical birth isn’t the ideal option either.
There are more labs that need to be done to have a full picture of what we might be dealing with and how it will affect future pregnancy management. I have to wait until my body knows it isn’t pregnant before we can draw those labs. I am going to have those labs drawn at the end of June and then I will be referred back to maternal fetal medicine and also to a reproductive endocrinologist for evaluation.
It isn’t uncommon to have uncomplicated pregnancies and then be diagnosed with these issues afterwards when other complications arise. It does mean that I need to 1. lose weight (being over weight increases my risk of blood clots). 2. Not take hormones (birth control pills, hormone replacement) ever. 3. Decrease any cardiovascular risk I have (eat right, exercise etc).
The doctor also mentioned that I need to have my platelets (the other pieces in my blood that clot with the factor 2) checked to determine if I have an autoimmune disease called ITP (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura). My platelets were normal in early pregnancy but abnormal when I was admitted to the hospital. It is possible that the ITP is only active during pregnancy OR that my platelets were used up making clots as part of the factor 2 issue prior to the losses (which is the most likely scenario).
So that’s what we know and what we don’t. The blessing is that it can be treated, although it complicates things a bit. The additional lab tests in a few weeks will give us more information and I’m praying that God will give my doctors wisdom and willingness to help me have as “normal” of a pregnancy and birth (Lord willing) as possible in the future. I had such and awesome homebirth the thought of not being able to do it again, makes me a little sad. I’m hoping that there will be some way to help it happen again.

Five Minute Friday — See

A Five Minute Writing Challenge <—click to tweet this!

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on:
 

See…

Life experience gives you the opportunity to see things from another perspective. In the last 6 months I have lost two children in my second trimester. I have been given the opportunity to see life from the perspective of patient (instead of nurse), grieving parent (instead of blissfully ignorant), offended mother, hurt and wounded. But I have also seen compassion, caring and consideration in each of these situations.
I can see the love of Christ in each kind word spoken, each act of service that has been extended to me and my family. God is showing me that even when I feel alone, I am not alone. He has a purpose for bringing me on this journey. I don’t understand why, but I am beginning to see.
Sometimes when we are on a road like this it’s like hiking a trail in the mountains. We can only see a little ways ahead. We can’t see around the next bend. If we could, we wouldn’t keep walking because we wouldn’t like the rocks, trials or the steepness of the trail. But there is something about the unknown up ahead that beckons us to keep walking…to keep going and see what is in store. Sometimes it is more of the same, sometimes it is a soft shady place to rest, sometimes it is just another bend. But we can never see more than what we are meant to see. Life is much the same.
We see what we are meant to see. Never more, never less. Only what God wants in our focus, only what He reveals, urging us on to the next bend, to keep moving. To see.
 

Why?

That’s really the big question in all of this isn’t it? Why did it happen? Twice? To us? Why would a loving God let something so horrible happen?
Here is what I’ve come up with as I’ve tried to answer this question for myself.
First of all, it isn’t His fault. It is easy to blame Him for the bad things that happen, but truthfully when we blame God we are blaming a perfect and holy God who created a perfect and holy world for the unholy and sinful things we have done. When God created the world, it was perfect, it was sinless and it was beautiful. In fact, God says it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). But it didn’t stay that way. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and follow the advice of Satan. Because we are all part of Adam’s race, we have been living with the consequences of his disobedience.The moment that sin happened, perfection became imperfection and “good” was replaced with “not so good”. Adam moved away from God’s perfection and took all of us with him.
But praise God that we have a way to be redeemed! The cool thing about it is that when we trust that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, paying that penalty we’re brought into a relationship with God better than the one Adam had! My husband preached a sermon on this very topic several weeks ago in Romans. You can listen to it here.
The truth is Satan is a thief (John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly). That’s his strategy, to steal the good and joy that God created, replacing it instead with false promises and destruction. Jesus rescued us from all of that by paying the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:6-8 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.) We still have hurt and pain because we’re still living in a fallen and sinful world. We know that God will win the war, but there is still a battle going on here on earth, we still live on an earth where the enemy has freedom.
So really, this whole thing happened because we live in a sinful and fallen world. That’s the big picture answer, but to be honest as a grieving mother that didn’t bring me much comfort. It seems too easy, not personal enough. I want to know why this happened to me.
I have decided and am still learning about why I have lost 2 children within 6 months, why I have been dealt this horrible blow to my “mommy ego” and my ability to carry a pregnancy. One of the reasons, I think, is reflected in 1 Peter 1: 6-7. “6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the  proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”
God’s goal for my life isn’t for me to be without trial, easy going, nothing touches me. His goal for my life is that He will be reflected, I will become like Him in character and heart. God uses the pain and the hurt I have encountered to refine my character. To teach me grace, forgiveness, compassion, endurance and to develop a heart like His. In doing so, His work is able to be reflected in my life. It is to bring Him glory, not me. God is not the cause of my pain, He is not the orchestrator of my hurt, those things come from living in a sinful world. But He uses those things to bring about change in my life, in my heart, in my soul. He uses them for His purpose.
Do I know what that purpose is? Nope. I know that it will bring Him glory. I don’t know what big lesson I’m supposed to learn or what I’m supposed to do if anything other than be humble and be ready. My prayer since the loss of Lily is different from my prayer after Knox died. When Knox died I prayed desperately for the hurt to be taken away, I prayed that I would be able to have another child, I prayed that it wouldn’t happen again. My prayer this time has simply been “use me”. I want to continually be in a place where I can be used by God. I have prayed that God would use this experience, this grief, the lives of my children in Heaven to bring Him glory and that I would be ready, humble and obedient to do what He asks of me.
That is why this has happened.

I am not strong

I am just like you. Going through the loss of our son Knox in December and Lily this last weekend does not make me strong. It makes me reliant on God.
The loss of my children has brought me to my knees. It has shaken the very core of who I am in some respects and has made me question why God allowed this to happen to our family. Before I lost my children, I felt sorry for women who experienced loss  and wondered how they were even upright and talking. I couldn’t imagine what that mourning must be like and I was sure I could never endure it. When Knox died that little wall of safety during pregnancy came crashing down and completely shocked me. I grieved not only the loss of my child, but the loss of my security too.
When Lily died, I wasn’t naive enough to believe that there was that magical “safe” point in my pregnancy. I knew it could happen. But it doesn’t make the hurt any less. I still grieve the loss of my child, the rest of my pregnancy, her birth and watching her grow up. I grieve the loss of inhaling deep the smell of a new life, cuddling that tiny warm body and staring in awe at her beautiful face while she sleeps. In my selfishness, I even grieve the fact that I have spent about 6 months in the first trimester…the morning sickness, the food aversions, the just feeling rotten and I have nothing to show for it except the ashes of my children. It isn’t fair, I don’t understand it and I grieve.
The loss though, and my ability to endure it has nothing to do with me.

I am weak.

I have moments where I just don’t think I can go on. I get so angry at the unfairness of it all. I have struggled with bitterness towards women who got to have babies they didn’t want and complained about when they got pregnant. I have struggled with bitterness towards the joy of others. I am ashamed to say how many times I have wanted someone to hurt just as bad as I have. But my mourning shouldn’t take away someone else’s joy. My grief is my journey. It is a journey I am on as a mother, but I am not alone.
The loss of my children has brought me to the point where I realize there is no one left for me to rely on but God. Only God can share my grief, only God can help me reconcile my feelings and forgive. Only God can give me the strength to take one step after another. No one else. Not Kerry, with all his leadership, love and compassion can identify with what I feel down deep inside. Not my children or future pregnancies will redeem the feelings of bitterness and anger I have felt. Only God.

Psalm 121: 1-4

1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;

From where shall my help come?

2 My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not allow your foot to slip;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

4 Behold, He who keeps Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

My reliance on God is the only thing that has allowed me to continue on this journey. The help from my God, is what enables me to wake up every morning without crumbling under the tremendous weight of my grief.

Jesus has conquered the pain of this world. Because we still live in a fallen world full of sin, we still experience the pain and grief of losing loved ones. BUT…Jesus has conquered the world and all the pain in it. We may not experience freedom from that pain in this life, but we will certainly experience it when we die if we trust in Christ as our Lord and Savior.

John 16:33

33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

We will have tribulation, but we are to be courageous, we are to be peaceful because Jesus has overcome this world. That is where my hope comes from, that is where I draw strength to move from day to day. I still hurt, I still get angry, but I give those feelings to God. I ask for His strength. Not strength to make it through the month, the week or even the day. I ask for the strength I need to make it through the next hour, sometimes the next minute or next conversation. And He delivers. He doesn’t often give me more than what I need, but He never gives me less than what I need.

Psalm 16: 1-2

1 Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2 I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

I choose to walk daily trusting in God for the strength I need. God has a purpose for these challenges, I know that He is using this journey to make me into the woman He wants me to be. I surrender daily to His will, even if I don’t understand. It is His strength, not mine that allows me to make that choice and move forward one step at a time.

Journal entry for 5/18/12

This is the journal entry I made on Friday night. I’m still trying to find the right words to describe what I’m feeling this time. It feels, in a way, familiar  yet so very different.
May 18, 2012
It is so hard to believe this is happening again. I don’t feel as shocked, but I still feel heartbroken and wonder why. But the shock has  been replaced by numb this time. With Knox, we were so floored by the loss of a child. It was such a gut check. We’d had 4 healthy boys, although we’d had early losses, it came as such as shock to lose a baby at 15 weeks. When we got pregnant this time we were surprised but delighted. Our delight though, was slightly tainted because we knew that there was no “safe” time during a pregnancy. I was just starting to really let myself hope when we went for our first appointment with Dr. Growney. When we saw a heartbeat I was so happy I cried.
But…
I knew something was wrong. I could tell by what wasn’t being said by the sonographer. I hoped I was wrong. Until I got a call from my doctor setting up an appointment with maternal fetal medicine. But I still hoped. I hoped that it would be unnecessary and that our baby would be fine. While I was concerned about the CVS, I was peaceful that day. Even more hopeful because the NT measurement was down, there was no other edema and our baby looked “good”. I allowed myself to really hope and fall in love with the tiny profile image from the sonogram. I began to dream what the future might hold for our little one.
For 3 days.
When our results came back with Turner syndrome 3 days later I was shocked. A long shot at survival. 1% to be exact. But I still hoped, despite the genetic counselor’s dire outlook. Surely! Surely! We would not be asked to go down through the loss of another child in our second trimester. Surely, this baby would survive. But over the course of 4 days (from results to today), our baby died.
We heard her heartbeat for the last time on Tuesday morning before Kerry left for work. It was gone by Wednesday and today I sat with my doctor staring at her silent chest on a sonogram machine.
My hopes for a live birth, a normal birth, a redemptive birth were gone. I sit here tonight numb, disappointed and confused. Emotionally exhausted from the rollercoaster we’ve been on. Stunned a bit at the irony of it all. Today was Knox’s due date, today was the day we found out his sister died as well.
I don’t understand. I mourn this loss. I know have just as many children in heaven as I do here on earth. I have mourned the loss of as many children as I have rejoiced in their first cries. It seems so wrong and unfair. I don’t know why we’re here again. I was so hopeful for this baby, this pregnancy and this birth. My hope though, is due elsewhere. My hope must be in Christ. It is my God that I have to rely on, hope in and trust. What other choice do I have?
My peace and my hope can’t be based on my circumstances, my pregnancy, or the life of my child. My peace and hope must come from the person of Jesus and His presences in the midst of my pain and my grief. Afterall, He conquered it already on the cross.

Romans 1:17

17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

 

Lily's Birth Story

On Friday May 18, I went to the doctor to have baby Lillian’s heart beat checked because May 18 was the day Knox would have been due and I was anxious. Kerry took the boys to the park so they wouldn’t have to wait in the waiting room and because it was a beautiful morning. I was hoping that it would be a quick in and out trip, my fears would be relieved and we would go on and enjoy the day as a family. In my gut though, I had a feeling that I was going down a road I had been on before. A road I didn’t want to be on again.
The nurse practitioner saw me and tried to remain upbeat while she searched and searched for a heart beat. I knew that when she didn’t hear them within a few moments that we wouldn’t be hearing it at all. Dr. G took me for a sonogram and we both anxiously watched the screen. We could see our little baby moving, but only with my heart beat. There was no spontaneous movement on her part and her chest was silent. I think we were both heart broken. I am so thankful that he printed some pictures for us. I really feel thankful for the physician that I have, and it’s only the loss of Knox that ever brought me in to him as a patient. I can’t put into words how grateful I am for what and how he spoke to me that afternoon. It wasn’t just that he was sorry, but he too, was deeply grieved for us. I know that he genuinely cared for me and my husband not as patients but as people.
We were given options about when and how to give birth, Kerry and I elected to go in on Saturday for an induction. Dr. G was going to be out of town, which was my only hesitation, but he assured me the doctor who was covering for him was wonderful and would take good care of us. Indeed he did.
On Saturday morning, we took the same walk we took when we were admitted with Knox. The same admission clerk checked me in and I was in the same room where he was born. I held it together fairly well on that walk past the nursery and to the nurse’s station, until I heard a fetal monitor and a mother being coached to push her baby into this world. I wanted to tell her how blessed she was, how much she should hold that child and just cherish the moments she had, instead I cried and quietly told the nurses who I was and why I was there.
The admission process was pretty much the same, vital signs, IV, orientation to the room and plan of care for the day. My nurses were caring and kind, something that was a bit lacking the last time we were there.
My day nurse called the doctor on call for Dr. G and asked him to come in so we could meet him. He was very nice and although he talked quickly was willing to listen to what we were saying and what our experience was. He was a believer and that was important to us. We talked about things we would do in an effort to avoid going to the OR again this time.
And then we waited. I waited for the medicine (cytotec) to work, I waited for the hours to pass, I waited for the inevitable. My mind telling me that it was okay this (the labor) was happening, it needed to happen, but my heart was so resistant. No matter how much I tried to relax and let the contractions come and wash over me, I could feel  deep down my body resisting because no matter how much this “needed” to happen, it shouldn’t.
My labor was similar to that with Knox, but my progress seemed slow. Around 4:30pm my water broke and I thought that things would move a little faster now. But instead, they seemed to slow down and even move backwards. The contractions didn’t worsen, the medication didn’t seem to have the same effect and still my body fought. I tried talking to myself, I tried talking to Kerry about it, I tried to emotionally process it all, but there was resistance and it’s still hard for me to pinpoint it. It came from somewhere I couldn’t reach with my mind (I realize this sounds a little new agey, but it’s the only way I can describe it). No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t let myself accept this was happening. My nurses commented  that my cervix seemed to be moving up instead of down, that it would come down a bit one time and the next time it would be further up and almost moving backward.
I was discouraged and exhausted by the time my next dose of medication was due at 10pm. The Dr. K had written orders to stop the induction and wait until morning to resume the medication again. I felt defeated, but I didn’t know what else to do. I don’t know what it was about that plan, but it seemed to accelerate my labor. I don’t know if it was the fear that this labor was going to go on forever and that I would be locked in this battle with myself all night or that I just wanted so desperately to be out of this waiting stage, but things started to happen. The nurse brought in some medication to help me sleep, but I had a feeling I shouldn’t take it.
I got up to go to the bathroom one last time before we settled for night and there was a little more bleeding. I mentioned to the nurse that this is kind of what happened before Knox was born, but my cervix was the same and nothing “seemed” to be changing. She had another nurse come in and check the bleeding, but since it wasn’t significant, we decided to keep an eye on things. I don’t know if they called Dr. K to let him know about the change.  I told my night nurse I was going to eat a little pudding and then take the medicine and go to bed. I could only eat about 2 bites and lost my appetite. I shifted my weight in bed and our daughter was born. Just Kerry and I were in the room, it was surprising to me and I was a little shaken up, I wasn’t prepared for it to happen that way. Lillian Faith was born at 10:40pm, she weighed 2.5 oz and 4 1/2 inches long.
I called my nurse, who handled things very well although I was her first “demise” patient (I found that out later). There was another nurse who stepped in for a few minutes, but left pretty quickly afterward. I heard her say “I have to step out”, but I could tell she was bothered by what she was seeing and what was going on. I found out later she was about 8 weeks pregnant and it was understandably emotionally difficult for her to be there. We were able to hold Lily and take pictures. I didn’t get to hold her or sit up as much as I did after Knox was born because I was bleeding a little more, but I’m thankful for the time I did get to spend with her.
One thing that was so striking to us was how much smaller she was. Knox died at 15 weeks, Lily died at 14 weeks. But she looked so much smaller. Her fingers and toes were delicately formed. We could see the tiny ribs, her nose, her little calf muscles that were perfectly formed. It is astounding the perfection of such a tiny body, the creation and handiwork of a great and mighty God. As grieved as we were, and are, we couldn’t help but be in awe of the creation we were holding in our hands.
Dr. K came in and we tried to get the placenta to come. It was painful and it didn’t work. Around midnight my bleeding had increased enough to be concerning and the doctor felt it would be best to go to the OR to avoid a repeat of my stay with Knox (ie blood transfusion, very low blood counts etc). I was disappointed, we only had an hour and a half with our daughter. It felt like minutes and it was hard for me to leave knowing that I wouldn’t be holding her again. Kerry prayed with me before I left. I have been thankful many times over for his spiritual leadership and sheparding during this time.
Dr. K stood with me and talked with me before I went into the OR, after they gave me preop meds I don’t remember much about the actual procedure. They hadn’t given those to be before Knox, so I remember everything until I went under with him. My doctor tells me that there was quite a bit of bleeding we hadn’t seen, so much that even the everyone was a bit surprised my vital signs had remained so stable, but the procedure itself went well. I didn’t lose as much blood as last time and I didn’t need a blood transfusion.
I got back to my room around 2:30 in the morning and we didn’t get much sleep that night. Hospitals aren’t known to be places of rest, there were lab draws, medications, blood pressures and IVs to change. Morning came and I was so thankful to eat breakfast!
I was incredibly sore and very tired on Sunday. Because of the things we had done to try to get the placenta to be born and some complications with bleeding afterward and the subsequent interventions to stop the bleeding, my abdomen was very tender to the touch. I hadn’t taken pain medications after Knox was born, but felt I needed them this time. My doctor didn’t want me to go home because there was some packing to prevent bleeding and he wanted it to stay in for 18 -24 hours. He consented though, if my labs remained normal(ish) and I wasn’t symptomatic (dizzy when getting up) that I could go home around supper time.
We had the same day shift nurse on Sunday as we had the day before and she asked if she could see pictures of Lily and sat with us for a little while in the afternoon. I appreciated my nursing care this stay as it was very different from last time.
Physically I’m doing okay. I’m not as tired or weak as I was after Knox was born. I’m sleeping better, which I’m thankful for. Emotionally the grief is different this time, I’m not totally sure why. I still feel numb and it’s difficult for me to formulate completely coherent thoughts, but I don’t quite feel the same hole in my gut as I did last time. I’m working on trying to put just why into words still, but I do think it has something to do with the lack of shock this time. The grief, though, is still very real.
Kerry and I have talked a lot about trusting that God is still good and that all things He does work together for the good of those who love Him. Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Sometimes we have to know things even if we don’t totally feel them. It’s hard for me to see that good can come from losing a second child in 6 months. It’s hard for me to understand, but I know that God is faithful and I know that He has a purpose for bringing us down this road again.

Psalm 139: 13-16

13 For You formed my inward parts;

You wove me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,

And my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Your book were all written

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.