Walking With You was created by Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. To join in on Walking With You please visit Kelly's blog.
This 3rd week we will be sharing about the birth of our babies and the moments we spent with our children after they were born.
Wow. It's not easy to relive those moments. Especially with the benefit of knowing the outcome. But I feel grateful to have this opportunity for you to glimpse those precious moments of Leila's birth.
It was a Thursday. Six weeks ago yesterday. May 21, 2009. I was 19 weeks, 5 days pregnant.
My husband owns a franchise, and we had set up to do a pizza-making activity with about 15 mentally challenged teens and their staff at our local MR/DD school. I hadn't been feeling well, actually had been on the fence about canceling for that night and rescheduling. But I couldn't disappoint those kids.
They had an amazing time. Everyone made some pretty cool pizzas, and they were outside enjoying them in the sun. When I realized that the recurring pain I'd been experiencing for the last hour or so was my body contracting. I thought, "Braxton Hicks, no biggie. I'll go home and lay down." On the drive home, I started timing them and realized they were about every 3 minutes. I walked in the house, opened my dog-eared copy of What to Expect, and saw that it said "if you're having more than four contractions an hour, call the doctor". So I paged Dr. O, she said to have her called when I got to the hospital's maternity department.
I grabbed my library book, Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake, and off I went. The hospital's only a 5-minute drive. I called Yasar and let him know what was going on. I sang along with Blessed Be Your Name on K-Love. I checked in to the hospital, oblivious.
Nikki and her student nurse got me comfortable and situated in a room. I remember her putting the fetal monitor on my tummy and chuckling at how my little girl was kicking it. The contractions were still coming, and I was trying to breathe my way through them. Dr. O got there, checked me, and said the most wonderful words..."You're still closed." Oh, how I thanked God for that! Not that I ever really thought anything could happen to me, those kinds of tragedies only happen to other people, right?
They tortured me a little. I mean, put the IV into my arm, then into my hand. The ultrasound tech came in. And them the bomb dropped. "You're 50% effaced. You have a 45% chance of walking out of the hospital still pregnant." No, it wasn't put to me that abruptly, but that's what it boiled down to. Nikki suggested I call Yasar and have him come in. I called, asked him to drop Andrew off with my friend, and get in here. And then I prayed. I prayed so hard.
Yasar got there. Dr. O went home. Nikki checked me and I was 4cm dilated. I don't remember how much longer it took, but fast forward to a contraction that turned me on my side. I reached down and felt the bulge, and yelled at Yasar to get Nikki, the baby was coming now. He couldn't find her, so I called her on the phone. She came in, and my body betrayed me. Pushed my Leila out into the world way too early. 10:54pm. Everything came out at once - Leila trapped in her unbroken amniotic sac, the placenta, all at once. Nikki wrapped everything up into a towel, put her on the unwarming warmer, and started cleaning me up. Yasar was sobbing in the bathroom. I was numb. Nikki was crying. Dr. O came back and lookedd at Leila with tears in her eyes. And yet, I couldn't cry for my daughter. Even after they cleaned her up and I got to hold her, I couldn't cry.
But I couldn't get over how beautiful she was. What a miracle. Tiny hands, complete with fingernails. A sweet little mouth. My son's nose. Yasar's big, flat toes. Perfection. Just too soon.
Around 1am, I sent Yasar to pick up Andrew from my friend Christine's house and take him home to sleep. I called her once Yasar had left and gave her the news, still utterly calm. Told her that Yasar would be there shortly, thanked her for watching my son. I remember her being terribly upset, and comforting her. Nikki came back into the room and asked if I needed anything. I told her I was hungry, could she find some food? She found some Pop-Tarts, oreos, a sandwich. I ate the sandwich. I called my friend Melissa, a night owl who lives in Arizona, but I was shaking so bad that I couldn't really talk. I passed out. An hour later, I woke up to vomit up the sandwich.
Around 3am, Nikki came back with Anita, another OB nurse and an amazingly talented photographer. They brought Leila back to me to take some pictures of us together. I was still numb.
4am, I woke up to go potty. And it hit me like a herd of elephants. My daughter was gone. I sat in that bathroom, sobbing, my heart splitting into tinier and tinier pieces. I went back to bed and spent the rest of the night crying and listening the doors open and close all around me as others made their way towards their happy endings.
Yasar came back around 8:30 with Andrew. Seeing Andrew was the best thing in the world, he made me switch gears from Leila's grieving mommy to Andrew's in-control mommy. Darla, my morning nurse, brought Leila back in so Andrew could see her. He was sad for about 10 seconds, and then found all the neat buttons on the bed. I'm so glad he had the chance to hold his little sister.
And then came the "what do we do with Leila now?" conversation. I wasn't sure - she was below the 20 week cutoff where you had to make arrangements for her remains. Yasar and I were at odds with how to handle this, but I knew, once Darla told me what would happen to her if we'd turn her over to the hospital, that we wouldn't be treating our flesh and blood like bio-waste. And I'm eternally indebted to Darla for her gentle insistence that I don't want to turn Leila over to the hospital. Without her guidance, I probably would have made the biggest mistake of my life, and would be aching over it now and forever.
Dr. O came in and cleared me to leave (a good thing, since I probably would have left AMA anyway). I went home with my son, called the funeral home, and sent a mass email out to friends and family. And then I fell apart.
I don't know why God chose this road for my family. But I know I'm at ease with His decisions. As hard as this was for us, to lose this amazing gift, I've never stopped thanking Him for her short life. He's definitely used this experience to bring me closer to Him. And I'm so thankful to know my Savior, to have Him living in my heart, and to know that, because of his sacrifice on the cross for my sins, someday I will get to skate on a snowflake with my daughter. I will see if those eyes came out my somber brown or her daddy's sparkling green. I may not have her on this earth, but soon I will spend all of eternity with her. Thank you, God.