Monday, August 22, 2011

Moving Out

Todd and I are moving out of our apartment next week.

The apartment where Gideon lived his whole life.

The apartment where he left his body and went to heaven.

This apartment is where Gideon was conceived (I know, that's probably TMI, but thats how I am sometimes...oh ok, a lot of the times. hah.). I actually know the exact date.

The night before I took the pregnancy test, I had my suspicions that I was pregnant so I laid in bed and thought about the possibility of being pregnant.. First off, I just "felt" pregnant. And I could smell everything!! A few days before I took the test, I was driving with my windows down on 610. It was a cool day in October. Someone had run off the road and as I was driving past their car at like 50mph, I could smell the turned up dirt like it was right next to me! It was crazy how intense that smell was to me! So, the night before I took the test, I thought about that happening. I laid in my bed the night before I imagined what it would be like if I were pregnant, how I would feel, what Todd would do & say, how happy he would be. I imagined telling my family and my best friends. It was perfect timing too, because 2 of my best friends were getting married the next day and Todd and I were in the wedding party. So I imagined, while laying in bed what it would be like to tell them. My parents would be in town for the wedding too, and I imagined their faces. I was laying in bed hoping. Hoping and so excited. All those thoughts happened while I was laying in bed, in this apartment.

In our bathroom is where I took the pregnancy test that Saturday morning on October 23rd. I peed on the stick and looked at the test and immediately saw 2 lines pop up. But I didn't want to get ahead of myself and so I sat on our bed. I remember exactly where I sat on our bed. My heart was racing and I was so anxious. Todd was too, but he is so much more calm that I am. In my heart, I knew I was pregnant. After the 5 minutes were up, I stood and walked into the bathroom with my heart pounding loudly in my chest. I saw that the test was positive!! I said with a shaky voice and tears in my eyes, "Todd come look at this." He burst into the bathroom, looked at the test and I said "I'm pregnant." He looked so happy. And we hugged for such a long time and cried so many happy tears. That happened in this apartment.

In our bedroom is where I sent a text message with a picture of my pregnancy test to all my sisters and brother. And this is where I got each one of their very excited responses.

Todd couldn't go to my first ultrasound because he had to work, I called him right after the appointment, of course and told him that our baby had a strong heartbeat and that I could even see the baby's arms on the 8 week ultrasound!. When I got home with the picture, I showed Todd. The first time he saw a picture of our son, we were in this apartment.

In our office, near thanksgiving, was where I shared with the whole world that we were having a baby. I waited until after I went to the doctor to have my first ultrasound to tell everyone. I remember typing the words, and announcing to everyone our wonderful news. Right now, I am sitting in the same spot, in the same chair as I did that day.

This past Christmas, Todd and I decorated our tree in our apartment . I told Todd "This is our first year to decorate our tree with the baby, next year the baby will be with us and we can decorate it all together!" That will be our only Christmas with Gideon. The only Christmas where he will be with us on this earth. The only Christmas he would be here with us to decorate the tree. That happened in this apartment.

When I was 19 weeks pregnant to the day, I was on our couch. Todd was on the left of me, I was laying down and Todd put his hand on my belly. He used to do this all the time. He would constantly touch my belly to be closer to our child and to let the baby know they were loved. That day, it was a Friday, Todd's hand was resting on my belly and I felt Gideon move for the first time! It felt like a bubble popping. I didn't feel him again until the next day. We were sitting in the same places on our couch in the living room. Todd again had his hand on my belly and Gideon moved again! Three times in a row that time. This time it felt like a popping and fluttering feeling. And then later that day, same thing, Gideon moved while Todd's hand was resting on my belly. Gideon liked it when his daddy was close to him. All of that happened while in our living room in this apartment.

On St. Patrick's day of this year, Todd and I were in our bedroom, laughing and talking. I was laying sideways across our bed, across the pillows and Todd had his head on my belly. The next thing I know Gideon starts moving and kicks Todd in the head 3 times in a row! That was the first time Todd had ever felt Gideon move! Todd said "I felt that!" Todd was so excited to get to feel his child moving. Gideon kicked hard too. It was so funny that the baby kicked his daddy in the head! Then Todd rested his ear on my belly to see if he could hear Gideon. And he actually did. He could hear him moving around. I told Todd, "maybe that's just my digestive system" and he said "no, I know what your normal stomach sounds like, this sounds different, its like a sloshing." Todd was the only person in the whole world who heard Gideon moving inside of me. Todd felt and heard his son for the first time in this apartment.

I have a special memory of me and Gideon in this living room. In late March, Todd had gone out with some friends and I had a whole night planned for myself. I got some delicious take-out food and I sat at home on the couch and watched the concert version of my favorite musical, Les Miserables. I couldn't wait to introduce Gideon to theatre. So, I figured a little in utereo brain-washing would be in order. Ah, I love Les Miserables. As I watched, Gideon jumped up and down. Apparently he either really liked, or really hated to hear mommy sing along. I watched, listened, sang, cried and felt my son move within me. I remember exactly where I sat and exactly how I felt. I did that with Gideon. That happened in this apartment.

 I spent my birthday with Gideon in this apartment. We welcomed my 29th year of life in this apartment, just me, Gideon and Todd.  We spent time together as a family and just relaxed. In this apartment.

I saw Gideon move a lot of times while I was pregnant with him. The first time I could see him moving from the outside didn't happen here. But lots of the other times it did. Todd could see him move too. The first time Todd saw him moving was in this apartment. One time I had my arms on the top of my belly while holding a book and reading. Gideon started moving all around and so my arms were bouncing up and down and I started laughing and just watched my belly. I wanted to see every movement my son made. He was moving so much it had made my book move all around! I remember exactly where I was when that happened. That happened while I was on my couch, in this apartment.

I spent my first Mother's Day with Gideon in this apartment. We went out to eat that day to have a celebratory lunch. My first Mother's Day to really celebrate. After we got home. We just lounged around and watched some movies and television. I spent time with my 2 favorite boys, Gideon and Todd.

I spent many nights in this apartment, awake late, because I had a crazy sleeping pattern while I was pregnant. Gideon liked the nighttime. Both Todd and I like to stay up late (I usually stay up much later than Todd). Some nights, Todd would go to bed and I would stay up and Gideon would move around while I read a book, or watched tv. I loved feeling him move within me. I miss him.  Gideon and I spent a lot of time together late at night in this apartment. Some nights, we would lay in bed, me and Todd and Gideon. I would rub my belly and Todd would rub my belly. And I would drift off to sleep thinking about all the things I wanted for my family after Gideon was born.

My doctor had me start kick counts about 2 weeks before Gideon was born. Basically you count how many times the baby moves in 2 hours and if they haven't moved 10 times, then you are supposed to call the doctor or the hospital because something might be wrong. I loved doing my kick counts. I would lay on my left side on my couch and count his movements. It was such a beautiful time, just to lay and concentrate on my son. To really focus on his moving inside of me. I loved every second of that. Feeling his kicks and punches and rolls and jabs. It was one of the most beautiful things to happen to me. Actually Gideon was one of the most beautiful things to have happened to us. It was so much fun that I could get to know what Gideon liked and didn't like just by feeling his movements. He always passed his kick counts with flying colors. Except for one time. That was the day we went to the hospital. That happened in this apartment.

The last night of Gideon's life was spent in this apartment. I came home on Saturday evening after my baby shower and put all of Gideon's new, wonderful, fun things into the nursery. We spent some time that night together as a family; mommy, daddy and baby. A family.We made plans to go through all Gideon's things the next day.We were so excited about getting his nursery set up and ready for him to come home. I had no idea that time would be some of the last minutes my son would be alive. Those moments were some of his last on this earth, inside my body. I wish I could go back and stop time so I could memorize every second and every moment of my precious son. Todd and I went to bed that night with our son alive. I believe that Gideon passed away that night while I was asleep. That happened while I was in our bed, in this apartment.

While our family was together, in this apartment, our Gideon died.

Honestly, I am so sick of living in this apartment . I am over a lot of things about this specific apartment (lots of leaking pipes all the time, neighbors who play loud music, etc)  and I am so over this complex and the way it is managed. So as far as that aspect of moving, we are happy! And Its not like we were planning on living here forever.We weren't. Before Gideon died, we were planning on moving in December. Its not like we planned to raise him here his whole life. But the memories of his life, tie me to this place in a way that I have never been tied to a home.

Even though I no longer want to live here, it is hard to leave it. I am sitting here weeping as I relive all of these memories. My heart physically hurts because I wish Gideon was still here. Hurts more than I can express. With all of my heart, I wish we could continue to make more memories with him. But that will never happen. The memories we have are the only ones we will ever have.So, it is so hard to say goodbye to all of the beautiful and wonderful memories of Gideon's life. All the times that Todd walked through the door home from work, to give me a kiss and rub my stomach. All the times when Todd would lean over and say "I love you, Gideon" or jokingly scold him for making mommy's back hurt. All the times that Todd and I played dominoes on the floor in our living room; me playing a game with my boys. All the times, Todd and I sat on our couch or laid in bed making plans for our life with Gideon. Its difficult to move away from all the good times, the place where my son lived.

However, Its not hard to say goodbye to all of the horrible memories, the memories of this apartment after he died; of me crying myself to sleep, of me weeping on the floor in a ball, of Todd holding me so I wouldn't lose control, of Todd crying out in pain, of me breaking down while and getting physically weak because I got overwhelmed with emotion, of seeing the would-be nursery everyday, of being physically ill because of grief, those horrible first 10 weeks or so after he was born. So much deep anguish, so much intense pain.  I know it is the right time for us to move. Not that these emotions and all of the hurt will stop when we move, because it won't. We will still cry and our hearts will still be broken. Our hearts are still feel deep and wretched anguish.. There are still many times when I curl in a ball and weep in agony and don't want to get out of bed. There are days when Todd and I cry and cling to each other. Those things won't be changing anytime soon. I will still weep every single day. I will still look at Gideon's pictures daily and sometimes hold his clothes in my arms. But a change of pace will be good for us. A different place, a change of scenery, will help us.

Gideon lived inside of me and I inside this apartment. And wherever I go, no matter where we live, I will remember that is where he lived, in my womb. Whenever I see my stretch marks on my belly, or feel that my stomach is softer than it used to be, I will remember that is where he lived.

For some people I know, it would be impossible for them to move from the place where they lived while their child was alive. And I truly understand that. For us, though it will be hard, we can do it because we are truly learning that everything in this life is temporary. I know that nothing on this earth is permanent. The Lord is showing us that this place is truly is not our home.
This building will break and this apartment will crumble and someday will no longer exist. But God will never break or crumble. He is permanent. The beginning and the end. And Todd and I, one day, will live with Him in His house with Gideon. Forever. And from His house we will never have to leave. Gideon has been living there since he passed from my womb. And where he lives now, that is way better than an apartment in Houston. Where he is now is better than a mansion in Hawaii. Gideon is in the Father's House in the arms of Jesus being loved beyond measure. Forever.

So we say goodbye to this apartment, but not goodbye to the memories, because those are always with us. As is our son, who is in our hearts wherever we go. Love is what really binds us together. Because of Him and because of the love that comes from Him, Gideon is bound to my heart. No matter where we live.

 "My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."-John 14:2-4

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Letter to My Son

To My sweet Gideon,

Do you know how much you have changed me and your daddy? From the moment you were conceived  you changed us. You changed our hearts in so many ways, more ways than I can even explain. Your daddy and I have never known love like this before. I have the ability to love more deeply because of you. From the moment I knew about you, my heart opened up more and more as I loved you more each day. You gave me the ability to love more fiercely and purely.
The day you were born changed us even more. Looking into your face, holding you, kissing you, becoming a family. Seeing you, laying eyes on you.  I miss every moment of that. I can remember exactly the way it felt to hold you, to have your hand in mine, to kiss you. I was so afraid I was going to forget how it felt, but I haven't, I remember exactly, and I never will forget. You are a part of me. It has been 3 months since I held you, 3 months today, and we miss you more than ever.

Gideon, your daddy said when he held you it was like holding all his sorrow and all his joy at the same time.

He was so right on that. Gideon, you were the joy in our lives, you still are. You know that you brought more joy to us than any other person on earth? You still are our joy. And yet, holding you, after you had passed away was the most sorrow we had experienced. Our hearts were broken because you were gone from us. I also think holding you was like holding all of our love in our arms.We love you so much. We love you more today than yesterday. My love for you will grow every day of my life.

Mommy and daddy miss you so much, every moment of the day. Every minute of the day you are with me in my heart. I take you with me wherever I go. I think about you all the time. I thought about you as we traveled to Niagara Falls while your daddy and I held hands watching the water flow powerfully. I wanted you to see the beauty of that moment with us. I think about you while I watch your cousins play, there will always be one cousin missing. I think about you while I am at the grocery store wondering what food you would have liked. I think about you when I look into your daddy's face because your face looked so much like his. I think about what you are doing right now, in the presence of the Lord. I  wonder, what exactly are you doing, my little love? Are you dancing, singing, eating, talking, playing baseball? What are you doing? Oh Gideon, how I wish I knew what you were doing right in this moment and how I long to be with you.

My sweet Gideon, Saying your name is precious to me. Having your name cross my lips is as sweet as drinking cold iced tea on a hot day. It is as sweet as a soft kiss. It hurts every single day that I dont get to say your name while looking into your face. So I look at your pictures and tell you "I love you, Gideon" every day. I want to whisper your name to you while I tell you goodnight. I want to be able to yell your name at you when you have gotten into the candy jar and its 10 minutes until dinner. I want to say your name and you look at me and smile. Your name is so precious to me. But, you know what Gideon, since losing you, the name of the Lord has become more precious to me. His name is above all other names. You, your life, your earthly death and your eternal life has made me love Jesus more.You did that for me. Jesus is more precious to me than ever. So thank you, my son, for giving your mommy that gift.

I look at your pictures every day. I long to feel you and kiss you again. I long to have you back in my arms. It has been 3 months since I delivered you. In some ways it feels longer, but mostly it feels like just yesterday. I am sad every day that I miss out on the things we would be doing together. I wanted to make your Halloween costume this year (you were going to be a little golfer, since your daddy loves golf so much. I was even going to make you a golf bag with golf clubs in it!). We were looking forward to every thanksgiving and Christmas. Buying you gifts and writing your name on the presents. I was so looking forward to the day when I heard you pray out loud for the first time. I wanted to teach you about Jesus and who He is. Daddy and I bought you a book about 2 weeks before you were born. I was so looking forward to reading to you. It is called "What is God Like?" I was excited to get to share with you who God is. But, you know what God is like better than I do now. You are right there with Him, and you have been every second for the last 3 months. Instead of me teaching you what God is like, because of you, I am learning more about God is like than I ever did before.

Thank you, Gideon, for changing my life. Because of you, I love Jesus more. You have changed so many peoples lives. Did you know that? Your life has brought people closer to the Lord. I am so proud of you. I am so proud to be your mommy. You have given me a drive that I have never had before, a drive for your life to be remembered and more importantly a drive to see people getting closer to God. That is the way it should be, my son. We are all supposed to be living for the Lord. And that is what I truly want to do.

Honestly, I would rather have you here, in my arms. But that cannot be. I would rather be changing a dirty diaper than sitting here writing you a letter. But I look forward to the day when we can be together again.  I am so looking forward to when the new heaven and earth are created, and the old has passed away. My whole family worshiping the Lord together. As much as I want you back, I believe that Jesus has a purpose in all of this. And as much as I want to hold you, I would never take you away from Eternity because I know you are completely happy, completely in peace and have complete joy. What kind of mother would I be to want to take you away from that?

My sweet boy, you are loved beyond measure by me and your daddy and your whole family. I cannot say enough to you. No amount of words would be enough. There will always be more that I want to tell you. But I will say this now. I love you, Gideon. I love you for being the most precious gift God has given us. I love you for being you.We love you in a way we have never loved before. I love you. I miss you so much.


See I will create a new heaven and a new earth, the former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  Isaiah 65:17

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gideon's place

Gideon's place....sounds like an old 1970's tv show.

That is what I have been calling Gideon's burial plot. His "place." I dont know, it just sounds nice to me. Better than saying his "grave". I dont like that at all. I had been trying to come up with what to call his place. And I just started saying "Gideon's place." So that is what stuck for me. Todd has been calling it his "Houston address." Thats pretty funny.

Gideon's memorial marker (headstones are called a memorial marker nowadays) was installed last week and we went and visited his place on Monday. It is the first time Todd and I have gone out there alone together. The past times we have been, other people have been with us. We wanted time, as mommy and daddy to sit where our son's body rests. Todd and I like the cemetery where Gideon is buried (if you ever can really like the place your child is buried), it is truly a peaceful place. Quiet and beautiful. After we parked our car, we slowly walked to Gideon's place, it doesn't need to be marked for me to know where it was, I know the location exactly. As we walk across the grass, past other plots, other baby plots, I spot the newest memorial marker. I take a sharp breath in and a long breath out. We approach in silence. Our eyes fall upon his marker, and we both break down into tears.

It was so hard to walk up to this piece of granite and see "Gideon Mitchell" engraved in it. Permanently. Etched in there forever. So harsh, so beautiful, so much pain. Our son's name in granite. Something I never wanted to see. I never wanted my child to die before me, but it is something I am glad is there now. I am glad we have a space to mark where he is. But it shatters my heart. Seeing his name made his death seem even more final. It made it even more real to us that he truly will not return to us. Just another thing to remind us that we will not be with our son again on this earth....Our son, lying in a casket, feet under the ground, with a place to mark where his body is. Its was too much. We sat with tears streaming down our face and looked at his name and his date for a long time. Todd cried and said "There is no dash, Its so hard. He doesn't get a dash."

I know Gideon isn't actually there, but it was so nice for us to be near where his body lays. To be in close proximity to his shell. I pushed my hand into the dry soil so I could be even closer to him. Even if it was only millimeters closer. I wanted to be as close to my son as possible. I ran my fingers over his name on his headstone, and felt each one of the letters. Todd and I sat right next to his place and we wept.

We miss him so much.

We put some flowers in Gideon's vase and sat next to him. I love these flowers, the colors of them. I wanted them to be exactly what I liked since those were the first flowers that we placed at our son's memorial. I didnt want them to look too girly. But Todd told me that all flowers are girly. Ok Todd, you are right, that's true. But we both agree, that they are beautiful and look gorgeous in our son's vase.

We chose the phrase "our little warrior" to go on his marker for many reasons, the first and the most simple is that Gideon means "warrior." In the Bible, the person Gideon was basically a war general and was in command of his troops. His army of just a few hundred beat the opposing army of thousands and thousands. He was faithful to God, believed in Him, was obedient to Him and fought for Him. There is a lot more to that story though, it is in Judges chapter 6 through 8. We named our Gideon after the biblical Gideon. Another reason we put "our little warrior" was because God spoke to us to tell us that our child would bring many to Him. We prayed that our Gideon would be a warrior for the Lord throughout his life. And that is precisely what Gideon has done and what he is doing.

As Todd and I sat next to Gideon's place, the tears flowed and they flowed heavily. My heart was breaking all over again. I replayed the moments when I held him in my arms just 12 weeks ago. I wanted so badly to be under the ground with Gideon, just so I could be close to him. My sobs came out loudly and Todd silently wept as we grieved the son we love so much. I wanted to kiss him again. I wanted him to be back with us so badly. I started to feel frantic. Like I was teetering on the edge of insanity. My arms were aching to hold him and my spirit was growing weak. Amazingly in that moment, I began to have peace fall over me. I didn't even ask for it, and yet God brought his peace like a soft breeze sweeping through my heart. I did not feel any less sad, but His peace came. I was able to be more calm and we were able to sit, with our hearts bleeding, but sit in silence and bask in God's peace and remember our sweet little boy Gideon.

Gideon's name is written in that granite until time on this earth ends, however there is another place where my son's name is written permanently, and in that place, his name is truly permanent; it cannot be broken and cannot crumble like his headstone will. My son's name is in the Book of Life. No one can erase that. I realize that the Book of Life is a metaphorical book, not a literal book one can look through. But it means that God knows who belongs to Him and who doesn't. And I know that my son is His. For eternity.

"All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are Mine."--Revelation 3:5

Friday, August 5, 2011


It is crazy the things that knock you down while you are grieving.

A friend of mine said something about their baby boy being held by his great-grandmother. Right then, I thought "yeah, my son is probably being held by his great-grandmother too" I burst into tears.

That knocked the wind out of me because my grandma passed away 3 weeks before Gideon died. She always said she would live to see my brother get married (which he did, over a year ago), and me have a baby. Well, when she died, I was upset because I really wanted her to get to see Gideon. I wanted her to get to hold him. But she probably got to hold him before I did. I thought that since that was her goal, to see me have a baby, that when she died, that meant that Gideon would be fine...I was wrong.

The night that Gideon passed away I had a dream about him. In my dream, I had to deliver him early and I was scared. They had to do an emergency c-section and he was so small when he came out (similar to the size he was in real life). I walked outside to tell everyone that he was ok and as I opened the door. I see my grandpa (who passed away when I was 16) sitting in a garden and my grandma walks up and I tell them "You will get to see Gideon soon" and I walked back through the door to go back inside.

Strange huh?...My grandparents did get to see Gideon that night. They got to see him before I did.  I don't believe that most of my dreams mean anything. But for some reason I think this one did. I have had just a few dreams before that have come true, I have had 2 dreams about the same friend on 2 different occasions that she was pregnant, and when I told her about the dream, she told me she really was pregnant. I believe this was one of those dreams. When I got up, I didn't think anything about it really. I told Todd about my dream and I was freaked out by it because in my dream Gideon was born early. And I was like "ah, well, my dreams are crazy."

I didn't think about that dream again until that night after the nurse told us Gideon had died. I thought, "grandma and grandpa do get to see him, right now."And I wept.

I was joking with Todd one day that when Gideon got to heaven, Grandma was probably hanging out with my Grandpa and her sister Stella, and looks up and sees Gideon and she is like "Gideon, what in the world are you doing here?" And then I can see her getting annoyed about it. Like "um, this wasn't part of the deal, Lord."...Wait, can you get annoyed in heaven? OK, probably not. But it makes me laugh to think about...maybe that isn't really funny, but I think so....

I have had nightmares since Gideon was born and I don't usually have nightmares.

I actually had a nightmare the other night and in that dream Todd died. It was terrible, in my dream no one would tell me anything, the nurses and doctors at the hospital kept saying they didn't know anything. As I was walking down the hall, I kept saying "My son just died, my husband cant be gone too. No, this cant be. My son just died, I cant live without both of them." Finally a nurse brought me into a room, and she was going to show me Todd's body and it was behind this curtain. Well, luckily I can sometimes control my dreams so real-life me realized what was about to happen, and I told myself to wake up. I did. Luckily Todd was at home and not at work that day and he held me while I cried. I do think that I cling to Todd tighter than before because I am so afraid to lose him too. I would be desperately lonely if I lost him. But I also know that God is teaching me that no one in my life actually belongs to me. They are His. Not mine. I do not have claim on anyone, not even myself really. I belong to Him, Todd belongs to Him, my nieces & nephews, sisters and brothers, parents, friends all belong to Him. He may do with all of us what He wills, even if that means he is done with them on this earth.. I am trying to truly submit myself to that fact. Not just say I submit to it, but really do it.

About a week after Gideon's funeral I had a dream I was holding his body. He was limp in my arms. But as I was looking at him, he started to move and breathe! Oh my gosh! He was alive! In my dream I thought, "it is so beautiful to get to see him move!" And I ran to tell Todd and my family that he was alive; it was all a mistake! Right before I got to Todd, Gideon was, once again, limp in my arms. It was horrible. Horrible because that had been my reality. Even at night I cannot get relief from the pain. Every night, in every single dream, I either mention Gideon or he is in my dream.

This is one of the most vivid dreams I have ever had. We were in a public place and there was a huge staircase and I had Gideon in my arms. He was about 2 and a half months old (the age he would be if he had been born alive) and we were all shocked that he was alive and growing because he had been gone, but God brought him back to us. Someone in my family was worried he would have brain damage, and I said "I dont care, he is alive!"  We were holding his warm pudgy body. We started taking a ton of pictures in my dream of him, pictures of him changing. He got bigger and fatter and got cuter. I held him on my right hip, like a pro. In my dream, Todd made him laugh. It was a sweet, sweet sound. A daddy smiling and playing with his son, and the son cracking up. I wish I could hear that every single day. We got to see him smile, a cute toothless smile. We got to feed him and take care of him. It was wonderful. We sang a worship song to the Lord, the song that was sang at his funeral....But I had to wake up. I didnt want to. I wanted to stay like that forever. I wanted to stay with my husband and my son. Happy and whole. When I awoke, I started bawling because this dream will never be. I would not call this a nightmare, because it was wonderful. It was one of the best dreams I have ever had, while I was dreaming, I was happy. But the horrible part, the part that breaks my heart is that we will not get to see any of these things. We will not see our son grow and change. I will not hold him on my hip as he squrims around. We will not see his smile. Todd will not make Gideon laugh.  Not in this world.

I had another dream last night about my sweet son. He was about 8 months old and was walking around. He had chubby little hands and strawberry blond hair, but was pretty slender. He was heavy to carry around, but was so soft and warm and sweet. He liked being held, but he liked to explore and was interested in everything. He would walk away from me just so he could see what was going on around the corner. He just wanted to experience life and touch and see and smell everything. We saw a dog and Gideon kept saying "dog, dog, dog" and he loved that little dog. It was seriously so cute. While I was dreaming, the real-life me, thought "I wonder if Gideon would really have been like this." And honestly, I think so. I think maybe God is giving me these dreams to show me who Gideon would have been if he had still been here, just glimpses of who he would have been on earth. And glimpses of who he is now. Gideon gets to touch and see and taste everything right now! The interesting thing is, I didn't cry when I woke up. I was happy. Happy that God gave that to me. Happy that these dreams remind me that my son, whether right now in heaven he is a child or an adult, that he is whole....but oh, it still hurts constantly because we have to live without our sweet boy.

These dreams will never come true. Not exactly. I may never hold my son as a baby again. Like I said before, I have no idea how it actually works in eternity, but I am assuming that I will never get to teach him crawl or see him learn to walk, or feed him or teach him how to say "dog". I hate that I will never experience those things but, the amazing thing is this, it doesn't matter because Gideon is alive! I know he is alive! Gideon is more alive than he has ever been. More alive than I am, more alive than Todd. Because of Jesus, because of my Savior...Gideon's Savior, my son is alive. He is whole and joyful and has complete peace. One day, we will see him alive. I may not get to change his diaper or rock him to sleep but I will get to see my son alive again! And that is good! I believe I will get to wrap my arms around him and talk with him and laugh with him. Gideon is alive today because Jesus is alive!!!

"For as in Adam all die, so as in Christ all will be made alive." -1 Corinthians 1:20

Monday, August 1, 2011

What happened?

"Why did Gideon die?"

I wish I knew.

I have gotten the question a few times since Gideon died. But I also think that people are afraid to ask what happened. It's ok to ask. I don't mind talking about it. Not at all. Please don't be afraid to ask me about him, you can ask anything. Ask away, if I don't want to answer, I won't. But, really, I always want to talk about him, his story. And unfortunately, his death is part of that story.

We do know what happened, but there is no medical explanation as to why it happened.

We chose not to have a autopsy performed. If we had chosen to have that, they would have taken him very quickly from us after he was born and we didn't want that. We wanted time to see him and hug him and kiss him. We wanted to be with him until we were ready to let go of his body. Also, the doctors and nurses told me that in most cases, the autopsy comes back inconclusive and they aren't able to find the cause of death from the autopsy. So we chose to not have it done. And honestly, the idea of having an autopsy done on our son was horrifying to us. I understand why people choose to have it, but we couldn't.
Since the cause of death could have been related to something that was wrong with me, I have had every single test run on me in the past 11 weeks that could be run. I have had probably 15 or so tests done on me. I have met with two specialists, my ob/gyn and my family doctor to try and find an answer. After all the testing, it has been determined that there is nothing wrong with me physically and nothing in my body did anything to Gideon. And there was nothing wrong with Gideon. He was perfect and was formed perfectly.
They also tested Gideon's placenta and umbilical cord. That is where we have found the best answer as to what happened.  It was the placenta that caused his death.

The placenta had what is called a membranous insertion. When an umbilical cord implants into a placenta it implants into the center of the placenta. Well, Gideon's umbilical cord was implanted into the side of the placenta; into the membranes of the placenta and not the placenta itself. This happens in 1% of all pregnancies, and in 30% of those cases, the baby dies. So basically this is fatal to 3 out of 1000 babies. We did not know this had happened, it was not picked up in the ultrasounds and in most cases it isn't caught on an ultrasound.. But, even if it had, there is really nothing you can do about it, it cant be fixed. Gideon's placenta seemed to be a more extreme case, which is probably why he died. When this happens, the baby doesn't get enough nutrients, no matter how much the mother eats, no matter how many vitamins she takes. And because of this, Gideon was small for his gestational age, he was physically perfect, just small. He wasn't able to pack on the pounds because the umbilical cord couldn't get enough nutrients from the placenta to him.

In addition to the umbilical cord being implanted into the membranes of the placenta and not the body of the placenta, the bottom of the umbilical cord, where it is attached to the placenta, is not covered in protective jelly like the rest of the umbilical cord. So since it is not protected, the cord can be compressed by the baby and that will cut off nutrients and oxygen to the baby. Usually if the baby has compressed it, they will move off of it and all is fine. But if the baby compresses his or her cord too long, or too often, that can be fatal. We don't know exactly if Gideon passed because he had gotten too big and the placenta being as it was couldn't support his life, or if he compressed the bottom of his cord. Either way, he would have fallen asleep and passed away. My Gideon simply fell asleep and woke up in Eternity to see the face of the Lord.

So why did this happen? We have no idea. There is absolutely no medical reason for why it happened. The Internal Fetal Medicine doctor I saw a couple weeks ago told me it was a medical fluke. And that there isn't any reason why it happened, or any reason why it would happen again. I am at the same risk of it happening again as I was this last time. In some ways that made it harder. If there had been a reason, then there would be something we could do next time, a medicine to take, or a procedure we could do, but there isn't. So, if Todd and I are blessed to have more children some day, then we will just have to sit back and trust the Lord (while going to the doctor lots of times!) and hope that our next child is one we get to bring home. It is going to require so much more faith and trust in the Father.

I had someone basically blame me for what happened because they didn't understand the medical side of things. This person was told what happened, then they said Gideon died because I don't eat enough, that's why it happened, that's why he wasn't getting enough nutrients. Todd quickly corrected this person, but I still don't think this person understands. Maybe they needed someone to blame, maybe that made them feel better if they could point the finger at someone. But, it had nothing to do with how much or how little I ate (and for the record, I ate plenty, I ate the amount I was supposed to eat and I have a big booty to prove it!). It hurt me because this person should know better, they know how much Gideon was wanted and loved. I would never ever do anything to hurt my child. This person supposedly loves and cares about me and Todd and they blamed me! That was so hurtful.

The last thing you want to do is make a grieving parent feel like they did something wrong. Like they were at fault, I can guarantee you, they are already blaming themselves.  Still birth is caused by so many different things. Anywhere from a placenta problem, or a cord accident (like a knot in the cord or a cord around a babies neck), or a genetic disorder in the baby, or a blood clotting problem in the mom that causes clots in the placenta, or an incompetent cervix that causes premature labor, or an infection in the placenta, or maternal diabetes or maternal high blood pressure and many other reasons and some cases there is no explainable reason. 50% of moms and dads never know exactly what caused their child to die. Yes, there are women who do drugs, or smoke, or get no prenatal care and their babies might die, but most mom's take care of their child the best they can. They do everything right, and their child still dies. The statistic for still birth is about 1 in 160 pregnancies. That is a very high number of precious babies who die and that is a lot of parents who have to grieve their children.

I had a lot of guilt after Gideon was born. I blamed myself for weeks. I would replay over and over what happened, what I could have done differently. I would (and occasionally still do) think "maybe if I had gone to the hospital sooner, or maybe I should have known something was wrong." One day I was driving and I was thinking these things and blaming myself, God spoke to me and told me I did nothing wrong and that no matter what Gideon would have died. That there was nothing I could have done and there was nothing I didn't do that caused this to happen. The Lord spoke to my heart and told me that He ordained the number of days Gideon was to live and I am not in control of life and death, He is. Thank you, Lord for showing me that and reminding me that You are the one who is truly in control. Thank you,, Lord for speaking to me and ridding me of those feelings of guilt and please help me to keep my eyes on You and the truth, not lies from the enemy.

Why does this happen to so many babies? Why do Todd and I, and all these other incredible mommies and daddies have to live without their children? Why doesn't God heal every single one of these babies? Because He can, I believe He can. So why doesn't He? The answer is: I have no idea.

The truth of the matter is, we live in a fallen world where there is death, pain and suffering. That is the reality of it. That is the reality of living in a world with sin.  Jesus says that "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world." He says you will have trouble. Not you might have trouble. But He says to take heart because He has overcome the world!! We can have salvation in Him, so that in eternity, and when the New Heaven and New Earth are created, we will not have any more suffering. No more pain, and no more tears. He truly has overcome the world.
Earlier I said I wish I knew why Gideon died. But even if we did know why exactly Gideon died, for the exact purpose, it wouldn't take away the hurt. It wouldn't change anything. I would still be a mom who constantly misses her son. Todd  would still be a dad who wants to hug his little boy. Even if we knew the exact reason why Gideon was ordained to live only 33 weeks, that wouldn't erase or minimize any of our pain. But, no matter what the reason, but I do know that God is truly with us holding us in His hands.

I read this verses quite frequently these days, they remind me that we will have suffering in this life, but that God will always be with us and we will not be destroyed.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2