A Story of Stillbirth- Hello/Goodbye

I am so thankful for the hospital in which Cora was born, and for the staff that served us as we walked through the hardest days of our lives (see day seven for more on how I really feel about our staff). I have heard and read stories of women whose babies were lost too soon, and of staff that wouldn’t let them hold their babies or who didn’t treat the families as though they had experienced loss. If you experienced such hardship, I am truly sorry. I cannot imagine the added stress of not being able to see her or hold her.

Almost as soon as the frenzy started, it was over. I delivered the placenta easily and quickly, and spoke briefly with the doctor about my little girl. After Cora was born, my nurses whisked her away into an adjoining room, cleaned her up, and dressed her in tiny, handmade clothes made by sweet church ladies who feel called to minister to families whose babies are born too small to fit into store bought clothes.

My nurse brought her out to us, swaddled in soft clothes. I cannot begin to express how it felt to see my little girl; how it felt to hold her body. Her skin was thin and delicate, not ready to be outside of the womb and slightly damaged from her delivery. Her little mouth stood slightly open, and you could see a tiny tongue sitting behind her lips. Her nose was small and delicate, smaller than the smallest button that I’ve ever seen. Her little ears looked just like her daddy’s, only about a sixth of the size. She was longer than I expected, but skinny, having not had the opportunity to build up baby fat in my womb. She was beautiful, but she was gone.

It hurt so much to hold her. My heart and my eyes cried; sometimes together, sometimes apart. I had had dreams since seeing two pink lines on a pregnancy test, and for years before that, about holding my baby for the first time. I never imagined that she would have already died. I never imagined that I would say “Hello” and “Goodbye” in the same moment, trying my hardest to memorize her features, her smell, her weight and form.

We didn’t hold her for very long. My heart couldn’t bear it. A team from the hospital came in, that specializes in dealing with children who are lost or who have long term illnesses, and walked us through creating mementos of her short life by taking impressions of her hands, fingers, and taking photographs.

My dear friend from when we were still teenagers in college came and took beautiful photographs of her. After we were done with them all, we held her for one last time, and my nurse took her body away for testing.

After seven months of doing everything that I could to take good care of my girl, she was gone. My womb was empty, and so were my arms. They ache still to hold that baby that with the Lord, and they will until I reunited with her again in heaven.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

A Story of Stillbirth- Birth

At 7:30 AM, my water broke and I pushed the call button. My nurse rushed in, and I told her, “either the catheter just popped out, or my water broke”. She checked, and it was my water. She said that doctor would be in soon, and I would be checked then. I sent Husbandman to get breakfast, because I knew it wouldn’t be long before she came. I made him promise to not eat in the cafeteria and to come right back after he got his food. I sat and talked to mom for a while.

Five minutes after Husbandman left, I felt pressure. A whole lot of pressure. And like I had to go to the bathroom. (Apparently, that means that I felt like I had to push.) I told my nurse, who said that that doctor should be coming in at any time, but I asked her to do what she could to get him to come in. I needed the doctor to be there.

After what felt like forever, which really want’s long at all, the doctor came in. He explained that he was going to check me to see how close I was, and that I was probably ready for another dose of medication. He said that four hours after that dose, they would probably start a pitocin drip to help me progress further. In my head, the whole time he was talking, all I could think was, “No. I don’t need more medicine. It’s time for the baby to come now.”

He checked me, and as he removed his hand, he told the nurse to pull the cord, that it was time to deliver. I found out afterwards that after he checked me, Cora’s body was born. In two seconds, everything changed. Another nurse came into the room, and two other doctors materialized out of thin air. My nurse laid my bed all the way back, and Husbandman and my nurse held my hands. Momma stood at the head of my bed and stroked my hair. A senior doctor came in, because I was considered high risk because we didn’t know what happened to Cora.

Delivering her was a blur. I remember being confused and a little scared; Mom stroking my hair; Husbandman telling me that everything was okay; my nurse telling me that I was doing a good job. I don’t know how long the delivery took, but I knew that it was fast. The doctors told me to push, and I couldn’t figure out what they meant. I tried, and I guess it worked, because the epidural worked well enough that I didn’t feel much but they doctors told me I was doing well. After a few tries at pushing, I saw the doctor reaching for a scalpel, and I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. I asked him, and he told me that he was cutting the cord. I didn’t even know that she was born until then, because she didn’t make a sound when her body entered the world.

I have never heard such deafening silence. I had spent seven months imagining what she would be like when she was born, and when it actually happened, my heart broke. Instead of being flooded with relief and more love for her tiny life, my heart learned what loss truly felt like.

It was 8:24 AM on August 7th. All that I could cling to was that I knew the first voices she heard were mine and Husbandman’s, but the first face that she saw was God’s.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

A Story of Stillbirth- Rest

When my second dose of medicine was administered, the doctor found that the first dose hadn’t dissolved completely. So, I got the equivalent of one and a half doses at once. An hour after, there was no more card playing, and I was in so much pain that I couldn’t sit still. I had hoped that I would be able to deliver Cora without an epidural, because of the potential side effects it could have had on her, but that didn’t matter anymore. Emotionally, I was already devastated, and your emotional state during a delivery greatly affects pain. And when you’re being induced medically, often your contractions don’t have a break between them. Mine never stopped. I got no breaks. Eventually, after lots of back rubbing and quite uncomfortable wiggling (and crying, let’s be honest), the doctor can in to give me my epidural. She had some trouble with it, and I still have a sore spot on my spine as I write this. It took her four tries to get it in, over an hour of me sitting as still as I could on the bed, trying to not move. It was not a comfortable experience, especially because I had to sit still for such a long time through contractions.

But, once it was in, I felt like I could relax. We had had such little sleep all week, first from worry and then from grief, that after I got the epidural, I slept. Even though I was in labor, I slept (sort of). When Mom and Husbandman were out of the room, my nurse stayed with me. I cried with her, and we discussed God’s goodness, and how I wouldn’t be able to handle this without God’s grace.

I woke up about every two hours, and my medical staff were merciful enough to let me sleep, trying be as quiet as possible when they came to check on me every hour though the night. God quieted my thoughts as I waited, and I’m thankful for the mental rest that He gave me. I couldn’t think past a few minutes from what I was experiencing right then, and if my mind had wandered further than that, I think I would have been consumed by fear and anticipatory grief.

That night, when I woke up, all that filled my head were hymns. Old hymns that had been sung at my childhood and teenage years, hymns that I’d sung with people that have been absent in body and present with the Lord for a long time. Although my voice to sing was choked with grief, my heart sung praises to the Lord when I didn’t know what else to do.

My nurses changed shifts at about 7:00 AM, and by that time, I had a feeling that delivery wouldn’t be long. My nurse that day reminded me of my girl friends from college. I was thankful to be in good hands that felt familiar that day, because things were about to start moving much more quickly than planned.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

A Story of Stillbirth- Induction

On the morning of the 6th, I woke up dehydrated and hoping that it was all a bad dream. It wasn’t. The baby, my baby, my Cora, was gone. After a tasteless breakfast, because I knew they wouldn’t let me eat while I was being induced, we left for Dr. W’s office and the hospital. Without going into too much detail, the testing was hard. It was done in the same room where we’d found out that Cora wasn’t with us anymore, and took a couple of tries for the doctor to get enough of a sample to work for the testing that needed to be done. Physically, it hurt, but emotionally, it hurt worse. The point of the procedure was to obtain a sample of amniotic fluid, and it was guided by ultrasound. I hoped beyond hope that the Lord had seen fit to start her heart again, and hoped that when they looked at her little body, her heart would be beating again and she would be moving. That didn’t happen, and we proceeded with the test as planned, with Husbandman holding my hand and our staff talking us through what was happening.

After the test, we were sent to labor and delivery to get checked in for induction. As we waited for our room to be prepared, I intentionally made eye-contact with no one, and kept my big purse in front of my belly. I didn’t want to talk to anyone that was waiting there; fearing that they would ask me why I was there and when my baby was coming. I neither wanted to darken their happy visit nor give them fear for their own child. I also didn’t possess the strength to talk about what was waiting for me. I knew that God was giving me enough strength to sit there, and that when the time came when I would have to speak about my baby’s death, that He would give me that strength too.

After a while, we were taken back to our room, and I was introduced to my nurse, told to change into the butt-showing hospital gown, and stationed in the labor bed. Before the doctors came in, our pastor and a friend came to see us. They stayed and talked for a while, and encouraged us as we prepared for the long wait ahead. They got Husbandman Chick-fil-A for lunch (I wasn’t allowed to eat), and did everything they could to let us know that our church and our friends were praying for us as we walked this hard road.

A resident came in and explained the process of induction to me, checked me, and administered the first dose of medicine. My mom arrived, and we got set up watching HGTV and playing cards. I’m so thankful for Mom and Husbandman being with me at the hospital. Not only did they cry with me and do everything that they could to support me physically and in my sadness, but they laughed with me and reminded me with their laughter that the paralyzing heartbreak that I felt was only for me. My baby was with the Lord.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

A Story of Stillbirth-Too Soon

The weekend of August 1st, I realized that Cora hadn’t been moving too much. She wasn’t a very active baby, but her movements had been slowing down. Over the weekend, I watched her movement closely. On Monday during the day, she didn’t move at all. I waited until the night, her most active time of day, to see if she’d move before I let myself really worry. That night, we had another strong thunderstorm. In the past, she’d always woken me up kicking when there was a loud storm. Monday night, she didn’t kick at all during the storm. On Tuesday morning, I called my OB’s office as soon as it opened. The told me to come in at 10:00 AM so they could check on her.

Working that morning was torture. I couldn’t focus on anything, and drove to the doctor’s office as soon as I could. After a long wait, they took Husbandman and I back to the ultrasound room. The ultrasound tech verified that her heart was still beating, and tried to get her to move. Usually, she wouldn’t sit still during an ultrasound for anything. She would move and flip and kick and let her displeasure at being poked be known. She wouldn’t move. The doctor came in, and spent a long time looking at her. He saw a few things that looked questionable, and told Husbandman and I that he wanted us to go the University hospital to get a second opinion. He said the issues could be nothing, but that he wanted a second opinion.

That night, we both struggled to sleep. I couldn’t get comfortable, and was very anxious to find out what was going on. Eventually, we slept. When we woke up, we went to work and tried to focus again. Husbandman picked me up from work at lunch time, and we drove the hour to the high risk OB’s office for the ultrasound. We got checked in, and tried to distract ourselves as we waited in the waiting room.

They called us back, and the ultrasound tech talked to us as she started taking measurements. After she took a few measurements, I noticed the bar at the bottom of the screen that was supposed to show Cora’s heartbeat. It didn’t have the regular pattern that the ultrasound the day before had shown. As she started to say “I’m having some trouble…” there was a knock at the door. Two women walked into the room, and the first introduced herself. She took my hand and said, “My name is Dr. W, and I’m sorry to have to tell you that your baby doesn’t have a heartbeat.” My heart shattered.

The staff in the room asked us if we needed a minute alone. After they’d left, Husbandman leaned over the take and held me while we both cried. He prayed that God would bring us through this, and after trying to get ahold of some of our family members. All that I could think about what that I would have to deliver her soon, and that I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t strong enough. I asked the Lord to give me the strength that I needed as I needed it, because I knew that the next few days would be very difficult. Eventually, after I’d cried as much as I could and more, we opened the door and asked the medical staff to come back in the room.

Dr. W came back in, and asked if it was okay if they did another ultrasound to find out what there was to be discovered. She was wonderful. She walked us through everything that she was doing, pointing out every feature of our precious little girl that she saw. She printed ultrasound picture after ultrasound picture, making sure that we had every picture that we could.

We then started talking about “what would happen next”. Dr. W told us that it would be best for my labor to be induced, and that we could have that induction at the local hospital or at the University hospital. We eventually chose the University hospital because I knew that the hospital had a bigger staff and was better equipped to help Husbandman and I through what was to come. We also chose to have a few extra tests ran at Dr. W’s office before the induction to try and find out what had caused Cora to die. We scheduled everything for the next morning, because we weren’t prepared to stay at the hospital physically (we had no bags with us).

We drove home in the sun. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how the sun was still shining when my little girl was gone. We tried and failed to process what had happened. After making phone call after phone call, we got home, tried to eat, packed, and eventually fell into a fitful sleep.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

A (brief) Introduction to a Birth Story

So many of my friends and bloggers that I respect, have shared their birth stories on their blogs. I have spent no small amount of time pouring over their stories, laughing and crying at the highs and lows, wondering what birth story my children and I would share in the future. My first and currently only child was named Cora, and her birth was very different that what I expected, and much sooner. Her birth story begins with us learning of her death, but it is not a story of sadness, although the days leading up to her birth and her birth were the hardest of my life. It’s a story of hope. My little girl Cora was born when I was just over 27 weeks pregnant. She never got the opportunity to live outside of my womb, but I take hope in her short life. God heard my prayers for her, and loved her more than I am capable of loving her.

You may ask why her story is not one of ultimate sadness, and rightly so. Her story is sad for me. My home doesn’t have the sounds of a tiny human filling it, and what was to be her room won’t be used for that purpose. She’s not here, and as the date that she was supposed to be born nears, I am sad that I don’t get to be with her anymore. I am a mother without a baby to mother right now. But, I will see her one day. Although scripture doesn’t directly address what happens when a baby or small child dies, every reference to Christ and children is one of grace and love. In Matthew 19:14, when the disciples tried to keep children from Him, Christ said ““Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”” (ESV). The Psalms 139:13 shows the psalmist saying of God “[f]or You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” I believe that my daughter was more known and loved by God than myself the moment that she began to exist, and that she is with Him now.
Her birth story is one of hope because God is still good. He has sustained my family throughout my pregnancy and loss, and He continues to do so. He is still good to me, and is good to you as well.

I want to share her story with you, not to elicit sympathy or pain, but to share for those whom miscarriage and stillbirth will touch. I want to help lift the stigma from discussing this sort of loss, and to encourage you to use your voice if you wish to.

May you find hope in your life in Him, not in spite of but because of your circumstances. May you see God working even when His movement is painful.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media.

Hopeful Grief

hopeful grief series header

If I were a tree, and the years of my life were measured by rings, this year’s ring would be dark and jagged, betraying a fire in my life that has left an undeniable scar. I don’t yet have all the words to describe the pain and sorrow that has beaten me like waves on a small pebble, throwing me to the left and right. I may never have accurate words, but what I have, I choose to share. 

Even as a pebble is thrown around by waves, it is smoothed. The rough edges are removed, and the pebble becomes a treasure for a small child combing the beach. When a tree goes through a fire, unhealthy growth is burnt off, and the tree is able to put its strength into growing up instead of maintaining useless growth. The dark ring gets covered by new growth, and eventually becomes a point of beauty and interest in the tree’s history. 

On August 5th, my heart was broken and will never be the same. Husbandman and I found out that our baby, Cora Lorraine, had died in my womb before she got a chance to take a breath on her own. I was seven months pregnant.

This month, I am joining a host of fabulous writers who are writing every day in the month of October. (To see my posts from last year, click here.) As we approach what was supposed to be her due date, I will share her story, process my grief “out loud” with you, and offer encouragement that there is hope, even through the loss of a child. Although it is my prayer that you, my precious reader, never have to know the feeling of stillness in a full womb, you may experience this pain through your own loss or the loss of a loved one. According to the American Pregnancy Association, anywhere between 10% and 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. One in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. I am no expert in dealing with grief, and I am not far removed from my grief. But, I am committed to sharing this pain with you, in hopes that my baby girl’s life will continue to honor God. My prayer is that your heart would be moved to worship God because of her life, and that you would be encouraged to speak about your own loss or fear of loss if you feel so moved. My prayer is also that those who surround a family going through loss would feel the freedom to support them, and would recognize that grief for a loss of life at any stage is just as true and as real as grief for a person who walked the earth on their own.

Come back to this post every day this month for a link to a new post. You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, newsletters and personal updates exclusively for those who sign up, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. You can also connect with me on social media, using the buttons to the right.

Day 1- A (brief) Introduction to a Birth Story

Day 2- A Story of Stillbirth-Too Soon

Day 3- A Story of Stillbirth-Induction

Day 4- A Story of Stillbirth-Rest

Day 5- A Story of Stillbirth-Birth

Day 6-  A Story of Stillbirth- Hello/Goodbye

Day 7- A Story of Stillbirth- One Less than Planned

Day 8- In Praise of Nurses

Day 9- A Story of Stillbirth- Home

Day 10- A Story of Stillbirth- Hope

Day 11- It is Well

Day 12- I Need Thee Every Hour

Day 13- When My Feet Fail

Day 14- Deep Love

Day 15- Pregnancy Loss

Day 16- Torn Asunder

Day 17- Why worship?

Day 18- I am 1 in 4

Day 19- Share Your Joy

Day 20- Watch Your Words

Day 21- Say Her Name

Day 22- Cry

Day 23- Tired 

Day 24- Offer 

Day 25- Pray

Day 26- Don’t be Afraid

Day 27- Move

Day 28- Emotions Lie

Day 29- He is 1 in 4

May you be encouraged in your own grief. May we all see God as good, even when we are in pain. May we praise God all the days of life, because one day in His presence is better than thousands elsewhere.

Just Enjoy

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. Want to read all of my posts in this series? Click here

Day 31

It’s the last day of October! I can’t believe that this day has come. It’s been such a fun month of making new friends, learning about writing regularly, and growing in a community I didn’t know about.

So, as we come to the close on this Halloween Day, it’s time for one more #write31days confession.

I don’t understand my husband. He’s an alien that lives in my house. He eats strange things, falls asleep like it’s his job, and has a strange way of focusing on only one thing at a time. Often, when we’re snuggled on the couch or in bed, I look at him as ask him what he’s thinking.

And he looks at me and tells me, “I’m just enjoying.”

This used to drive me crazy. How could he not be thinking? How can he just be 100% here? It makes zero sense to me. How is his mind not working?

This process of working through our year of waiting has made me reconsider how crazy I think he is. I want to “just enjoy”. I want to be 100% here, in this moment, very happy to have accomplished the goal of writing thirty one days, but even happier that God has used this process to bring new friends into my life and to help me grow with Him.

So, let’s “just enjoy” together. What are you “just enjoying” right now?

Thank you for waiting with me.

It’s not “Going to be Okay”

 

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. Want to read all of my posts in this series? Click here

Day 29

When I’m having a rough time, I feel like the world is going to end. When I don’t know what choice to make, when my heart hurts because it longs for something that it’s not quite time for, when Husband-Man gets crazy sick out of no-where, when when Husband-Man and I aren’t speaking the same language, I feel desperate. I feel alone and hopeless. And I forget who God is. I forget His faithfulness.

My internal dialogue when I start to notice that I’m getting desperate and hopeless has been, up until this year, “it’ll be okay”. But that stopped helping me this year. Looking at the phrase, it doesn’t apply to today. It only applies to the future. It doesn’t speak to today. It doesn’t touch now. It tells my heart: “just wait. For some undisclosed future moment. One day, you’ll be fine. Today, you’re not.”

Looking at how God describes Himself in scripture, “it’ll be okay” doesn’t match. In Exodus, when Moses was flipping out about doing what God told him to do, the Bible says “God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14, ESV) God calls Himself “I am”. That, grammatically, means that God spans past, present, and future. Think about it. “I am” speaks to all of time. He is God and He is good across time. He is as good tomorrow as He is today. So “it’ll be okay” means that God is only good tomorrow to my heart. It means that I’m waiting for the end of whatever is making me panic and I’m not seeking God in the process.

I’m not working to honor Him now. I’m not praising Him for going through what hurts but is ultimately for good.

So, instead, I say “it’s okay now”. Why? Because God is good all the time. Because I don’t need answers or resolution. I need Jesus. And I can draw near to Him NOW. That’s the only thing that helps.

What is “okay now” in your life?

Endurance

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. Want to read all of my posts in this series? Click here

Day 28

This Tuesday, the last Tuesday in October, I wanted to share the most significant scripture to me in my time of waiting. It’s one that took a long time to come to peace with, because I struggled with it’s truth.

Romas 5:1-11 (ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

My suffering produces endurance, that endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

It has nothing to do with things getting better in a physical sense. It has only to do with drawing closer to Christ. That’s it.

This truth doesn’t feel good at first. I want to be rescued from my pain. But instead of my idea of a rescue, I am rescued by a God who sees fit to allow me to suffer to draw me closer to Him.

When you consider it, it’s good. It hurts, but it’s good.

So, my friends, endure. Hold on. And rejoice in your suffering.