Sunday, January 22, 2012

When I saw you

This is the 3rd week in the Sufficient Grace blog Walking With You Bereavement Ministry. This week is about the moment we met our precious child, our Gideon, and the time we spent with him. I am going to be very honest and open about my labor and my emotions. I hope you all can understand how important it is to me to share this with you, how important it is to share this part of Gideon's life with you.....

When I saw you, I couldnt breathe.

You were the most beautiful person I had ever seen. You took my breath away. All I could do was tell you that I loved you. I love you, Gideon, my son.  And I loved you so very much. I knew when I saw you, I would never be the same person again. Because of you, I am changed.

The doctor told me I was ready and that it was time to push.

As she got ready, I began to pray, but I had no words. I couldn't come up with words of my own, my heart had so much to say. All I could think was to pray the prayer I sent to the Lord consistently during my pregnancy with Gideon "Our Father who is in heaven, holy is Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." And I had no more to say, just the cries of my heart.

Todd was holding my left hand, and my mom was holding my right. One of my sisters was to the left of me, near Todd and my 2 best friends were adjacent to my feet. I started to push. I closed my eyes and pushed with determination. I pushed as hard as I could. I told the doctor "It hurts" and she said "It hurts?" But it wasnt that it was painful, I realized, it was a huge amount of pressure. Then she told me that was pressure I was feeling. And so, I pushed as hard as I have ever pushed before. I was doing what a normal mommy got to do, I was delivering my precious son. This was one of the few things I would get to do as his mommy and I was going to do it the best I could. And I pushed again.

Then, Gideons feet popped out. I felt them come out of me. It was an odd feeling, like a shift in pressure. I knew he was close to coming out completely.

I screamed in agony. My heart was broken. I screamed a guttural  heart broken scream. That sound has never come out of me before. Todd later told me that he could tell this scream wasn't because I was hurting physically, but that it was a scream of emotional anguish. It hurt, not physically, but emotionally. It hurt so bad that I was having to deliver my son who was dead. And that scream was the vocal expression of my misery.

And I pushed again, harder.

The next thing I knew, after 10 short minutes and 4 rounds of pushing, Gideon came out. I felt him slide out of my body, and my womb instantly felt empty. I was told later that I experienced one of the hardest physical deliveries. It is apparently very hard to push out a a baby who is small and footling breech and with a dry birth (which means there is no amniotic fluid, he didnt have any because amniotic fluid is mostly baby's urine, and he didn output any because he had died, so there was no fluid in there). And not to mention how emotionally hard it is to push out a baby that you know you have to say goodbye to.

Gideon was out of me. I glanced down and saw the doctor cleaning him off. She placed him on my stomach and I wept. He was gorgeous. I was so in love with him, but in total and complete anguish. This beautiful creation of God, who was fearfully and wonderfully made, that was part me and part Todd, would never come home with us.

Once Todd and I saw him, we truly knew what it meant to love your child.

For a moment when he was first placed on my stomach, I thought he was alive. I saw his hand move and my breath caught in my throat and I begged God for it to be true. But once I had that thought, I knew it was an empty hope. His hand had simply fallen to the side, he hadn't moved it. I knew that he was gone. He was still and quiet. His eyes were closed, he didn't cry, he didn't take a breath, his heart did not beat. He laid completely motionless on my stomach, on top of the place that was his home for 33 weeks.

I didn't know where to touch him first. My hands hovered over him for a few seconds as I was overwhelmed with emotion. And then I laid my hands on him, on his body and I touched his head. I had to embrace him with all I could. I had to. And I did. He was in my arms and my heart overflowed with love for him. My hands were on him and he felt warm. His skin was warm. I thought, "oh, his skin feels so soft and warm." And I knew that warmth wouldn't last for long. I pulled back the blanket a little so I could see more of him.

And I said to my son's face, the first words I spoke looking at him, "I love you, Gideon. I am so sorry" And I wept.

The doctor asked Todd "Daddy, do you want to cut the cord?" And Todd took the scissors from her and he did what every dad gets to do, he cut the cord. And that day we had to do more than just cut the cord, we were going to have to say goodbye to him forever, more than just cut the only physical connection we had with him, we would have to say goodbye until Eternity.
I clearly remember Todd's hands as he gripped the scissors, and the way they sounded at the metal cut through the cord and the sound of the metal of the scissors. I clearly remember his face, his determination, his love for his son. He said that before Gideon was born, he was unsure if he would want to cut the cord, but he told me that once he saw his son, he knew he had to. As his daddy. He had to cut the cord. It was what a daddy does.

Next thing I knew, every amount of pressure was relived and my womb was completely empty. I felt the placenta come out. Little did I know at the time, that at that moment the instrument of my son's death had come out of me.

As the nurses and doctor were doing whatever it is that they do, I held my son and cried. I told him over and over, "I love you, I am so sorry." "I love you." "I love you, Gideon. I am so sorry sweetie." I was sorry that this happened, that he died. I was sorry because I blamed myself for his death. I was sorry because he wouldn't get the chance to grow up here on earth. I was sorry for me and Todd. I was sorry he was gone.

My heart was completely broken, only being held together by the Spirit of the Lord and by my love for our son.

I asked Todd, "Do you want to hold him?" And Todd instantly reached for his first born son. Seeing my husband hold our son was one of the most amazing things I have laid my eyes on. I saw love on my husband's face that I had never seen before. But I also saw agony. Todd said holding Gideon was like "holding all your joy and all your sorrow at once." And that was on his face. Joy, sorrow, pain, love. An immense amount of love. A kind of love we didn't know before that moment. I have never seen my husband look like that as he stared at his son. I put my hand on Gideon's head, our family connected. The bond of love, never to be broken, space or time cannot take that away.

We wept. Wept over the beautiful body of our son.

As Todd held Gideon, the doctor told me that the cord had been around Gideon's neck, but that it was loose. Which happens a lot. It could have caused his death, but it was unlikely. What actually caused Gideon's death was a membranous cord insertion into the placenta. (I wrote a blog about it last year here if you want to read about it) She gave me an update of what was going on physically with me and all the things mommies hear after they have given birth. Then they took out the epidural. After that, everyone slowly came back into the room.

Next, the nurses gave Gideon his one and only bath. We had talked about giving him his bath, but Todd and I were hesitant, see, when a baby has passed and is 7 weeks from being due, their skin is not as thick as an alive newborn. Gideon's body, because he had been gone a few days before he was born was not as strong as a live baby, so his skin was very sensitive. Todd and I didnt want to hurt his skin. We didnt know how to do it right, so we allowed the nurses to do so. We watched our sons first bath. They took saline water and let it wash over him and she gently patted his skin.

It was completely silent in the room, everyone had come in and was watching. The only sound was the sound of the water dripping from the rag the nurse had and dripping onto Gideon's body. Nothing but the sound of water.

I told my sister, "get pictures!" and so we were able to document his first bath. His body looked so much like Todds, from the way his legs looked as they were bent, to the way his hips looked and his chest. It all looked exactly like his daddy. After he was cleaned off, I asked the nurse to turn him over, because I wanted to see his tiny little butt. And it was so precious. I grabbed the camera from my sister and snapped some pictures of his beautiful feet.

The nurse then took measurements of Gideon's body, but I didn't get any pictures of this moment, and I wish I had. But I remember vividly the nurse carefully measuring him and saying his measurements out loud and the other nurse writing down all the information.

His head was 10 inches around, his chest 8.5 inches around. Gideon was 15 inches long. They laid him in the scale and weighed him. I expected him to weigh more than he did, we were all surprised at how tiny our sweet boy was. He weighed 2lbs and 11oz. Those were the most beautiful 2lbs and 11oz ever created.

After the nurse weighed him, Todd and I got to put our little outfit on our precious boy. We dressed him in an Astros uniform. We wept as we put clothes on our son for the first and only time. It was beautiful for Todd and I to get to do this, as his parents. One of the only acts we got to perform together as Gideon's mommy and daddy. We got to dress him.  We slowly pulled on his shirt, carefully turning him over and sliding his arms into the top. We closed the velcro of on the front of the shirt. Todd took the shorts and gently slid them up his legs, and I helped him a little bit. After we put on his Astros uniform, Todd said with tears in his eyes "our little slugger." And we both cried.

The nurse swaddled his small frame in a blanket and put a precious little knitted cap on him. Today we have that cap, and those blankets and his clothes with us in a safe place. Tangible parts of our son's existence.

The nurse handed Gideon to me, "Here he is Mommy." Todd stood next to me and we looked into our son's face. Just staring at this baby who is fearfully and wonderfully made. Staring at this tiny creation who had been nudging me for months. Looking at the most precious face ever. Looking at a perfect creation of God. He was breathtaking to us. And we were amazed that God made him.

We started to talk about who he looked like. I noted that his nose was like mine and Todd's. At first, all I could see was Todd. But as we looked at him we noticed Gideon had the bottom part of my nose and the top part of Todd. And I snapped pictures of his beautiful face. His hair was like mine, strawberry blonde and curly. It surprised me how much hair he had! We fell in love with that sweet head of hair! He had my shaped head and Todds jawline. But he had my chin. For the longest time, I couldn't figure out who's ears this child had! They werent like mine or Todd's. Then I noticed on day Gideon had my dad's ears. Gideon had my toes but Todd's feet. He had my forehead and eyes, but had Todd's lips exactly. I mean exactly! There are 2 little creases below Todd's bottom lip, and Gideon had the same precious creases. And the area above Gideon's lips and below his nose, looked just like his daddy's!  When Gideon's mouth was open, it looked the exact same as it does when Todd is asleep and his lips have parted. Sometimes I look at Todd's lips and I see Gideon's mouth. I love that his lips were so much like his daddy's. It was such a precious thing to me. I wondered at the time, and I still wonder if Gideon would have had dimples like his daddy.
 Later on that day, I opened Gideon's eyes so I could see what he looked like with them open. Oh, it was beautiful to look into my child's eyes even though he was not looking back at me. I wonder now, what color his eyes would have been today. Would they be blue like mine or green like his daddy's? I snapped more pictures of his face that looks so much like mine and his daddy's. I am so thankful to the Lord that Gideon was a perfect blend of me and Todd, but looked a little more like Todd than me. Wow. It would have been so wonderful to see what a handsome man he would have turned out to be.

As I was holding him, I leaned forward to kiss his forehead. As my lips touched his skin, I noticed that he was already getting cold. And I felt the sweet smoothness of his skin. I kept my lips pressed against his face for a long time, breathing in his scent. I kept my lips against his head and closed my eyes and imagined that I would get to keep him. That I didn't have to let him go. I kissed his face so many times that day. I kissed him and said "I love you." I kissed him and held him close to me.  I miss getting to kiss my sweet boy today. I can clearly remember how it felt to have my lips pressed against his head, I want to kiss him again. So bad. I want to tell him to his face, "I love you" again. I told him a hundred times that day and probably a thousand times while he was alive. But I wish I could look into his face and whisper "I love you, Gideon."

I leaned my head towards him to smell him. I wanted to know exactly what he smelled like, I wondered before if he even had a distinct smell. He did. I wrote in a blog before about his smell\ that describes his scent exactly. " He smelled sweet, but it was a very mild sweet smell. His scent was different than any other bouquet that has touched my nose. It was a very subtle smell, like a wisp of baby powder mixed with a gently sent of freshness combined with the fragrance of clean, wet skin. Gideon's scent was the absolute most fragrant and pure aroma I have ever inhaled."

Todd then took Gideon from me and held him as he stood next to my bed. I rested my hand on Todd's arm, and then put my hand on Gideon's head. My sister snapped pictures of these moments. These few moments as a family together. I looked at my husband's face. The face of a father who loves his son more than his own life, who is filled with joy and anguish. But who is also filled with the peace of the Lord. Its a strange combination to be filled with this immense pain, but also to be given peace from God. And I could see that on Todd's face as he looked into the face of our boy. My heart grew so much that day, with more love for our son, but also with more love for Todd. I got to see my husband as a daddy, taking care of his son, loving his son. It was beautiful.

A little while later, I was holding Gideon again and I asked my mom if she wanted to hold him. Up to this point, only me, Todd and the doctor and nurses had held him. My mom took him from me and cried. My dad sat next to her and cried with her. Weeping over the body of their grandson. Loving him so much but having to say goodbye before getting to properly say hello. While they held him, Todd held me and we wept.
Next, my sisters, Kelsey and Castle, held him the first time of many times that day, and cried. Their nephew, gone to be with Jesus. My best friend, Jamie, held him and wept. I only saw a little bit of this because the nurses were in the room checking me and asking me questions and making sure I was physically ok. Mine and Todd's best friends, Kat and Jason, told us their goodbyes, hugged me and Todd and left. They had to say goodbye to the tiny boy they loved. Our other family friends held Gideon that day. They cried and stared into his beautiful face. I was told by our very good friend that she was changed because of Gideon. His life changed her.
Everyone at some point that day had to say goodbye to this little boy who is so very loved and so very wanted. So many people coming in and out to visit with us, to love on us, to say goodbye to our little boy. Later that day, my brother and sister-in-law came and visited. I have never seen my brother cry like that before. I have only seen my brother tear up and only on a few occasions, at our grandpa's funeral and at his wedding. But on this day my brother wept. He was so heartbroken at the loss of his nephew.

We were all, and still are, so brokenhearted. Each person in my family and my friends, broken and hurting at the death of a baby they all loved so dearly.

We had been asked the day before if we wanted a professional photographer to come and take pictures of Gideon. It is a free service offered by a group called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, they take beautiful pictures of babies who are stillborn or who are very ill. We decided we would love to have them, and so the nurses called the local NILMDTS photographer and she came to take pictures of us with Gideon. She introduced herself and just started snapping pictures of me and Todd with Gideon. Then she set up some poses. She had Todd take Gideon to the baby bed and Todd took some pictures with Gideon. I remember handing Gideon over to Todd and watching them together. Daddy and son.  I so loved seeing Gideon's hands in Todd's. I loved seeing them together. After they finished taking some of their pictures, Todd handed Gideon over to me and  she had Todd take off his wedding ring and put it around Gideon's foot. It fit around Gideon's precious little feet. Then my mom and dad were in a couple of pictures with us. This would be our only photo session with Gideon ever. I had planned on having lots of pictures of him taken throughout his life, to have some of my friends who are photographers to do picture sessions with me and Todd and Gideon. But that would never be. So having the NILMDTS photographer come and document the one day we would have with Gideon was priceless.. I was so thankful to be able to have that time. To have those pictures and those memories.

After you deliver a baby, you have to be checked on a lot. They have to make sure that your body is doing what it is supposed to be doing and so the nurses would come in about once an hour and check on me. So most everyone would leave the room so I could have privacy and so in those moments, I would hand Gideon over to Todd. And Todd got to have some time with his son. I know those moments were too brief for Todd, but it was a ll too brief for us. The time he was here was too short for us, and that is why we are so thankful for Eternity. Todd held Gideon most of the times when I wasn't holding him. I wanted to make sure that Todd had time with him, but I needed a lot of time to hold him too. A couple of weeks later, I told Todd that I felt guilty, like he wasn't able to get enough time with Gideon. And he told me it was ok, that he got plenty of time to hold Gideon. That there was no reason to feel guilty, that we did the best we could under the circumstances, and really no time would ever be enough time.

Every hour or so I would need to go potty. And I would hand Gideon to Todd, or my mom or one of my sisters. Mostly to Todd. And every time I would walk into the bathroom, I would be alone, and Gideon wasnt in my arms. I would break down. I would just weep as I walked into the bathroom. In complete disbelief that my son had died. It hurt so much.  It still hurts. I would hurry back into the room so I could be with him. It hurt less when he was near me, or in my arms. At least for now, we were together.
Later they asked me if we wanted to get a lock of his hair. And I wanted to. We had to have a little of that gorgeous hair! So the nurse took some scissors and cut small clippings of his curly strawberry blonde hair. I can remember the way the scissors sounded as she snipped his hair. I watched as the nurse collected the only physical part of Gideon that I have left. They put it in this tiny bag, in a cute little envelope. I now can go and look at my son's hair and remember exactly what color it was. I can look at it and have a physical reminder of my son, something that contains him, his DNA, that was part of him. Next they got his footprints in ink. It was so sweet to see his little feet pressed up against the paper and to see the result. His feet. The wrinkles in his feet and the shape of his feet, on paper for us to keep. Then they pressed his feet into plaster. I sometimes take out the plaster impressions of his feet and lightly rub my hand over it, because that was a place where he feet touched. In a way, it is like I am touching his feet. It makes me feel so connected to him. These things are a physical reminder that he lived. That he was a little person. That he was and is loved and very much wanted. That he existed. He was, and he still exists.

Later on, I was holding Gideon and I asked Todd if he wanted to get into bed with me. So I scooted over and Todd crawled into the bed with me and Gideon. Our family. Together. Most everyone left soon after that, but someone got a picture of it first. I had imagined years of being able to snuggle in bed together on a Saturday morning watching cartoons, or years from now all huddled in bed together when Gideon was sick, or me having Gideon in bed with us because I was breastfeeding and it was easier. I thought we would have years of memories to create, but instead, we have just one day. And this was the one and only time my whole family would be together, would get to snuggle together in bed. I am so thankful for those moments. As heart-wrenching and painful as they were, I am so thankful that I can think of those moments with joy and peace in my heart. That we were able to make some memories with Gideon. That we were able to all be in bed together, as a family.
Never again in this life would be all 3 be together physically. Never again, after this day, would we all be together. And I am so thankful for the moments we had.

Our pastor, who had been with us the whole time, asked if he could hold Gideon. I was so proud to let people hold our precious son. I wanted to share him with people. So I said "of course." And while our pastor was holding Gideon, he told us later, that God spoke so clearly to him. He said that God taught him about the Resurrection in that moment. God gave him an image of the Gideon, embodied again, as a grown man, walking on a beach. He said he never saw his face, but only his body, legs and feet. A strong body. A body that had been resurrected. Our pastor told us that Gideon changed his perspective on everything, that without the resurrection, then everything else loses it meaning. That the resurrection puts everything else into perspective. "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is down is perishable, it is raised imperishable, it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." 1 Corinthians 42-43. It is amazing to me that God used our son so powerfully. That God used our son to speak into the hearts of others. That the Lord used Gideon's death to show someone Himself. After our pastor held Gideon, my mom handed Gideon back to me and our pastor said something that no one else said to us. He said "Congratulations." He congratulated us for the birth and for the life of our precious son. It meant the world to us.

A little while later, Todd told me that he felt like it was time for him to say goodbye. I didn't understand at the time how he could be ready to say goodbye ever.  The thought of it tore me to pieces. I wasn't there yet. God had given Todd peace and spoke into his heart that it was time for him to tell his son goodbye. But it was so hard for him, knowing that it would be the last time he would ever see him. Knowing that it would be the last time he would talk to his son, looking into his face. Knowing it was the last time. Todd was ripped to shreds on the inside. He looked at Gideon, while crying, and said "I love you, Gideon. I will never forget." And he said that he would miss him and that he loved him very much. Then Todd said "Goodbye" and gave Gideon and kiss on the head. That was the last time Todd would have physical contact with his son. The last time this daddy would ever see the face of his son. Then Todd gave me a kiss and I said we told each other we loved each other, and Todd walked out of the room, never able to lay eyes on his son again. His heart was in a million pieces. And he cried all the way home. He said goodbye, but it was not goodbye without hope.

I was not ready to let him go, not yet. I couldn't. I needed to hold him for a while longer. To feel him in my arms a little while longer. I needed to kiss his face more. I needed to hold his hand. I needed to be with him.

We had decided to have chromosomal testing done on Gideon, but not an autopsy. We just couldn't do it.  The doctor told me that in most cases the autopsy doesn't give any conclusive results as to the cause of death. And also, if we had chosen to get an autopsy, then they would have had to take Gideon within 2 hours of his birth. And I wanted more time with him. We wanted to take the time we needed to be with him. I didn't want to have to give him up in 2 short hours. But they told us that we could get chromosomal testing done to see if he had a chromosomal abnormality that may have caused his death (he didn't). They took him for about 10 minutes and got a sample of skin from his bottom. I remember looking at him from across the room when I handed the nurse to him, I remember looking at him in the little baby bed, seeing his tiny frame laying in that little bed. The nurse brought him back to me and I held him in my arms. It was a relief when he was back in my arms.

Most everyone had meandered out of the room and so I was mostly alone with Gideon. I had him in my arms and I decided I wanted to take some pictures of him. I laid him down on the bed and took some pictures of his beautiful profile. Oh that face. It was stunning. When I looked at him I could see the Creator. I could see the God who was the Creator of all things. I can remember exactly what it felt like to have his head in my hands. To move his head as he was laying on the bed. I remember how his hair felt beneath my hands. How soft and fuzzy it was. I remember how his skin felt so smooth and cool. I can recall those sensory sensations perfectly.

I then took some pictures of me holding his hand. It was such a mommy thing to do. I just snapped a bunch of pictures of my boy. I wanted to make sure that every part of him was documented. I loved these moments. I took pictures of him and I held him close.
I remember exactly what it felt like to have his hand in mine. I can recall the way his skin felt against mine. How it felt to have his hand in between my fingers. His extremely soft, cool skin touching mine. His hand was light, but did have weight to it. I cradled his hand in between my fingers and stared at these tiny hands that had spent months inside of me nudging me. These hands that were beautiful, but would never throw a baseball, or hold mine as we walked across the street. These were the most beautiful hands I had seen and I got to hold them on this day.

A short while later, everyone was in the room talking as I was holding Gideon. I felt overwhelmed with a desire to be alone with my son.  I needed to be alone with him. I had to be alone with him. So I asked if everyone could step out of the room for a while. And they all obliged. I held Gideon in my left arm and stared at his face. It was the first and only time I would be completely alone with our son. I breathed in deeply and said "I love you so much, Gideon." And I proceeded to tell him everything that I could think of to say. I told him how much he was wanted and loved. I told him how happy I was every moment I had him. I told him he was my "Icee baby" because he made me want Icees my entire pregnancy.  I told him all the dreams we had for him. That we wanted him to follow the Lord all the days of his life. I told him how much I would miss him and that I wished he could stay. I told him that he would always be a part of me. That he had changed me. I told him "Your daddy loves you so much. And I love you so much."  I looked into my son's face and I spoke all the words I wouldn't get to say to him after this day. I wept as I looked into his face, this face that I loved. The face of my first born son. The face of my child who had my heart. The face of my "little love."

I kept talking to him until the nurse came in the room to check on me.

After that, everyone else came back in the room. I held Gideon for a little while longer, looking into his face. I could feel the time for me to say goodbye was drawing near. I noticed that death was showing up on Gideon's face. It had been many, many hours since I had given birth to him and his skin was becoming darker where the blood was settling underneath his skin. It was getting close to time. I could feel it in my heart. God granted me immense peace in those moments. It was strange and incredible how I knew I was ready. I wish I never had to say goodbye, but God gave me peace in the moment of anguish. I looked into his face, drinking everything up. Memorizing his features. Kissing his face. Touching him. Kissing him again. Saying "I love you." Spending my last few moments with my son while on this earth.

I told the nurse that I was ready for the funeral home to come and pick him up. As ready as I would ever be. I wanted to hold onto him forever, but I knew I couldn't. I knew that I would have to keep him in my heart.

Too quickly the nurse came in the room to take him from me. I was surprised at how quickly she came with the baby bed to take him. I looked at him one last time, and whispered the words, "Goodbye Gideon, I love you." And I handed my son to the nurse. I watched her lay him in the baby bed, and I remember exactly what he looked like in that moment. That was the last moment I saw him. I watched as she wheeled the bed that held my son out of the door. And the door closed behind my son. I would never see him again on this earth.

When I do see Gideon again, it will be such a glorious day! It will be the day I see Jesus. It will be the day when I see the Lord face to face.  I sometimes wonder if I will recognize Gideon. But I honestly believe I will. I will know him. He is really part of me. A part of me and Todd. And I can already feel how it is going to be with his arms wrapped around me and I can almost hear his laughter and see his smile. And I can see Jesus, smiling at our reunion. I can see us, as a family, wrapped in the full presence of God. And I am thankful for the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, so every one of us can have eternal life. So that we can see Him and so that we can see Gideon.

Would I do it all over again even with the same outcome? Without a doubt. Because I would rather Gideon exist in heaven than having never existed at all. I would rather him have been here on this earth and now be in Eternity, than God never having created him. So if this is the road that we have to walk, this road of living without him, we will walk it. Because I can survive without him for a short time, since I get to be with him for Eternity. I will see him soon.

Gideon, when your daddy and I saw you, we were forever changed. You own part of our hearts. You are part of us. Forever. Nothing can truly separate us. We will be together again. And we will get to see you. 

And Lord, we will get to see You face to face.

When Gideon realized it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed "Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!" -Judges 6:22

Monday, January 16, 2012

Waiting to meet him

As part of the Sufficient Grace blog bereavement support, this week I am writing about time we spent waiting to get to meet our precious little one....

Now we were waiting to meet Gideon. Waiting to get to see him and hold him. To meet him.

I went into shock.

Seriously. My brain shut off to protect itself. I didn't realize it at the time, fully, but I can see now that I was in shock. Most of my memories from here until we got to meet Gideon, are full of holes. I remember bits and pieces, but there is a lot I do not remember. This was my brain's way of coping, of getting me through what would be the worst 34 hours of my life.Those hours we spent waiting to meet him.

After the nurse gave us the most horrific news a parent can hear, they were going to transfer me to a room so they could start my labor. We had to wait until the doctor officially gave us the news before medically it was official and they could progress my labor. I was told that my doctor was out of town and so he couldn't be there. I didn't expect that when I woke up that day, I would be having to get ready to give birth to my son who had died! As we were waiting to be transferred, phone calls had to be made. Todd called our best friends and told them, then had to call his family. My mom told my sisters and brother and called my best friend and let our family and other friends know. I don't know what happened during these phone conversations, I didn't call a single person, but I have been told since just how horrible it was for each person to hear this news. That Gideon had died. Now everyone was waiting, waiting to meet him.

I remember we got into the delivery room, and it was room #211. Soon after I got in there, the doctor came in and told us officially that Gideon had died and then explained to me what was going to happen. They were going to start my labor with pitocin, or I could have a c-section. It was up to me. I knew I wanted to deliver Gideon naturally. No question about it. I told Todd that it was one of the only things I get to do as his mommy and I have to deliver him that way. I felt like it was one of the few things I could give him. And that decision was one of the best I have ever made.I knew that would take a lot longer, lots more time waiting. A c-section would have been fast and it all would have been over, laboring with him was something I needed to do, as his mommy.It would be one of the last things I got to do as his mom, and I wanted to do it this way. And I am so glad I had those hours to prepare myself, so I would be ready to see the face of my sweet boy when he arrived. I know other people probably wanted me to get a c-section, Todd included. But he completely understood my need to deliver Gideon naturally. I wanted to meet him that way.

The details of events are fuzzy for me still. And I cant remember what order everything happened in, but some things are very clear. I remember feeling like I was in a dream, like everything around me was moving in this strange fog. Some of clearest moments I have are when Todd touched me, or when we would look each other in the eyes, not saying a word, but having an entire conversation.

Lots of people came to see me, some of them stayed the whole time and some stayed as much time as they could. My sisters came, our pastor & associate pastor, my best friend and her mom, a wonderful family friend and my sister's friend, mine and Todd's best friends, some friends from church, two very good friends. And every single time someone would enter the room, I would start bawling and they would hug me as if it was the end of the world. But I guess, for us, it was.

Our pastor and associate pastor prayed for us that night. It was a time to ask God for strength and guidance and for the Holy Spirit to be beside us. We needed it. I don't remember what was said during the prayer exactly but I remember praying and holding onto Todd's hand. I remember praying in disbelief, like this couldn't be really happening to us.  But as they prayed, I felt God's presence in the room. It didn't make any pain go away, but I could feel Him near. And that was good. So as we waited to meet him, I could feel the Lord with us.

As we waited to meet him, that night I remember everyone sitting around, and at first, not talking. Not knowing what to say, and me and Todd just bawling in disbelief and grief. The nurse was wonderful and they were all so sweet to me. They even called me and Todd, "mom" and "dad" and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that. That they acknowledged that were were Gideon parents, even though he had died, was amazing to me. As everyone sat around, not knowing what to do or what to say, but just making small talk. I remember that night my best friends mom talking about eating fried pig skins. Random memory.  I didn't want to talk, but I didn't mind when other people were talking. It filled the silence. And it filled my mind with sounds other than my own mind screaming "MY BABY IS DEAD!!!!"

I prayed a lot. Constantly. From the moment I knew he was gone, I prayed that it wasn't true. And I prayed that God would be next to us. I prayed the lyrics to a song that was a huge part of my life when I was pregnant with Gideon, a song called Psalm 46. But mostly, I just cried. I am so glad that the Holy Spirit, interprets the cries of our hearts into prayers to the Lord. As I waited to meet him, I prayed.

I remember getting an epidural and them starting pitocin. They told me that there was no reason why I needed to feel any pain at all. That I was going through enough pain and that I didn't need physical pain on top of it. Every single nurse and doctor I saw was incredible. They were so kind and supportive and loving. Except for the anesthesiologist. They made everyone leave the room, even Todd, when I was getting the epidural. As they raised the bed, the nurse held onto me, and I started bawling. I mean bawling. I was thinking "I am about to get this to deliver my son, who died! It shouldn't be this way! I cant believe this is happening!" And so I was crying. I had hoped that when I got an epidural during labor it would be different, that it would be a time of excitement, not grief. I expected it all would be different. So, when the anesthesiologist was preparing his work space, and I was sobbing, he said, in a very insensitive voice "Is there something wrong?" Like he didn't read the chart! Like he didn't see the leaf picture on the door that indicates that a baby has died! And the nurse said "YES something is wrong!... Her husband is coming in here!" She defended me and got Todd from the hallway, so he could hold me too. It was so nice to be in Todd's arms in that moment. Lets just say that the next time I saw the anesthesiologist, he was much more friendly and more aware of the situation. Then, I had my epidural and we kept waiting to meet him, to meet our son.

As we were waiting that night, Todd decided he needed to go decompress, to think about things, to go and pray. Todd is an introvert and needs to deal with things on his own, then he will talk about them. He is very open emotionally and very sensitive, but he needed to think things through on his own. He needed time alone. So he went to I-Hop to get something to eat. I remember thinking at the time that it felt as if he had been gone a long time, but then he was back, as if it had only been minutes that he was gone. He told me that he got to I-Hop and when the waiter took his order, Todd looked so horrible, that the waiter asked what was wrong. Todd told him, "my son died." That was the first time Todd said those words out loud. The waiter was very sympathetic and I believe the manager came over and told Todd that his meal was on the house and gave his sympathies as well. One of the sweet blessings that came while we were waiting to meet him.

Todd said that on the way there, he yelled and screamed at God, and prayed and wept bitterly. I don't know exactly what went on between him and the Lord, but I know that God spoke to him and gave him comfort. Todd told me that he would not be angry with God for this happening. He and the Lord spent some time together and because of that time, it allowed Todd to pour out his heart to the Lord and for the Lord to wrap his arms around Todd. It also allowed Todd to be able to be there for me, to be strong for me, to be able to weep with me, to be able to be a daddy to Gideon when he arrived. Todd told me that on the way back to the hospital, his mind was so far away and so distraught that he actually drove to the wrong hospital, got there and realized that wasn't right. But I think that was good in the long run, it allowed for him to spend more time with God. So, Todd was back at the hospital and we waited to meet him.

While Todd was gone, I just cried and cried. My dad held me for a while and let me weep as my mom held my hand. I just didn't want this to be true. I didn't want to have to deliver my son who died. I wanted him to be alive. I wanted God to bring him back to life, or I wanted the doctors to have made a mistake. How do you prepare yourself to deliver your dead child? How can you even comprehend that? My son was inside of me, but he had gone to heaven already. How could that even be? I wanted my son to live. I cried for God to make it so.  I wept and sobbed and waited. Waited to meet him.

That night, at about 2am, Todd finally fell asleep in complete exhaustion, my sister and dad had both fallen asleep. They gave me ambien to help me sleep but I couldn't. I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep. How can you sleep when you have been told your child is dead? How do you relax enough to drift off into dreamland? The ambien didn't work. The lights were off, and it was just me and my thoughts. And I cried. My mom sat next to me and held me and let me weep, for hours. I remember thinking that I was glad that Todd was able to get some sleep. I wanted him to be able to escape this horrible reality, I wanted him to be able to shut off his mind and not have to think about the fact that our son had died. So, I didn't want to wake him. My mom held me and I don't remember exactly what I said to her but I remember saying "Gideon was supposed to grow up, he was supposed to grow up with Malachi, he was supposed to grow up with his cousins." I remember thinking how much I loved him and how much I wanted him to stay. I felt so helpless, like there was nothing I could do. I felt so empty. What was once filled with life, is now my son's tomb. I felt like my body betrayed me. I can't remember most things, but I can remember my feelings. Its only takes a second and I am back there, I can recall those emotions so acutely and quickly; those feeling I had while waiting for  him.

The next day is a blur. I remember telling the doctor that I really wanted to deliver Gideon that day. It was May 16th. Mine and Todd's 8th wedding anniversary was the next day, on May 17th, and I didn't want Gideon to come on our anniversary. The Lord had other plans, and he was born on our anniversary. And I am so grateful for that, more than I can even express. I am so glad Gideon was born on our anniversary. That the 2 most important dates in our family happened the same day, but 8 years apart. However, in those moments, I didn't want that. The doctor tried as hard as she could to get me to dilate more quickly, she broke my water and they put in a catheter to help my cervix dilate, but because I was only 33 weeks, my body didn't respond quickly. So, we waited a long time to meet him, waited for him to arrive.

We had so many people come and visit to love on me and Todd. My parents and oldest sister stayed with me the whole time, for that I am extremely thankful. My littlest sister came in and out because she has little children of her own. My other sister didn't come, I think for multiple reasons, one being that she has 5 kids. But the major one being that she was pregnant with my nephew at the time. We were only 6 weeks apart in our pregnancies, so she stayed at home. And I am thankful for that. I don't think I could have handled seeing my sister's round belly full of life, while my round belly had become a tomb for my son. My brother and sister in law were there with us some of the time too. Some of our very close family friends came to visit and my mom's close friend stayed the entire time. We had wonderful women from church come and visit and give their condolences and to love on us. One of my good friends and his wife came too. Every time a new person would show up, more tears would flow. My 3 best friends stayed with us through this whole process, for which we am eternally grateful. Our pastor stayed with us too for the whole time, which I know was a huge blessing for Todd, for me and for my whole family. I know being around other men was a good thing for Todd. I am amazed that people would come and visit us in our time of need and it is incredible to me that some of our friends and family stayed the entire time. I was in the hospital for 2 days laboring, and they stayed by our side; people with children of their own, and jobs and responsibility, they all stayed to be by our side during the darkest days of our life. Most of this is all a blur. I don't remember a lot of details from that day. I don't remember exactly when everyone arrived, or what was said exactly, but I sincerely love and appreciate every single person who came to sit with us. Each person who came was telling me how much they loved us and how much  they love our son. I cannot tell you how much it means to both me and Todd that we were surround by love while we were waiting to meet him.

The phone rang so often during those days. Many text messages and phone calls happened. I was told of many people who were praying for us. I have a friend who stayed up all night praying. And I have a friend who was in constant prayer for us. I knew every person was weeping with us. I never spoke on the phone, I just couldn't. I couldn't talk to people; so Todd, my mom, my sister and my best friends took over that role. They spoke with everyone and kept people updated. I could tell people were praying for us. I just could. I could feel it in my spirit. I am so thankful for every prayer sent to the Lord. Lots of people praying and lots of people waiting.

There were so many moments where Todd and I would just stare into each other eyes. Just staring. We were seeing deep into each other. I could read him and he could read me. Having conversations, but never speaking a word. He held me a lot. He kissed me a lot and he held my hand a lot. He sat next to me most of the time. He was always right there when I needed him. He was my hero in those days of waiting. He was so strong and yet, so vulnerable.We didn't do a lot of talking. Usually Todd and I talk a lot. But we just couldn't. What do you say to each other when your baby has died? What do you say as you are waiting for your dead son to be delivered? What do you say to each other? There isnt really anything to say, but  "I love you." Which we said many times and we cried on each other a lot. We cried more tears than I even thought possible. Our hearts felt like they had been ripped out of our bodies. We tried to comfort each other, but there was no real comfort to be found. And, so, we waited to meet our precious son, we waited to meet him.

The day of the 16th as we all waited, I got to talk on the phone to one of my friends. Her son was stillborn 4 years ago, and I remember clearly talking to her. I said hello and she cried and then I bawled. It was a cry of desperation and pain. She said "I am so sorry." It was so good to talk to her, she was the only person I knew who had experienced this same pain. Hearing her voice, knowing that she knew this nightmare and knowing that she had survived was a huge blessing to me. Just talking to someone who knew this pain was something I needed. She gave me advice on things to do when Gideon arrived; to bathe him if you can, to dress him in clothes, to take lots of pictures. I remember the sound of her voice as she cried. I remember just sitting and weeping, while everyone in the room watched me. Our conversation lasted just a few minutes, but it is seared into my memory.

After that phone call, I knew we needed clothes for Gideon. I didn't know how big he would be, but we knew he would be small since he was only 33 weeks. Our wonderful friends went to the mall to find an outfit for Gideon to wear. I have no idea how long they were gone, but when they got back, they brought us a bag. I remember clearly Todd and I opening the gift together. I remember exactly how I felt. I remember Todd was standing on my right and we looked into the gift bag. I would never open a present for Gideon again. This would be the last and only time he would ever get something that he could actually use. In the bag, was a very cute baby boy photo album (which now sits on our bookshelf and is filled with some of our pictures of Gideon), and a tiny preemie onesie,  which was light green and completely adorable, and last was an outfit from Build-a-Bear. It was perfect. It was a tiny Astros jersey. You see, we had planned on bringing Gideon home from the hospital in an Astros outfit. Todd and I are big baseball and Astros fans. As I saw that tiny jersey, my breath caught in my throat and my eyes filled with tears. At the exact same time, Todd and I both knew this was the outfit we would put on our son. The only outfit we would ever dress him in. I cried because I wanted to be able to bring him home wearing that precious Astros jersey, but we never would. Todd cried as we looked at this Astros jersey, his voice thick with tears. Gideon would never come home with us. We loved that little jersey. Gideon would be, as Todd put it, "our little slugger." Our friend said she wasn't sure if it was appropriate considering the situation, but I told her it was the best thing she could have brought us for Gideon. It was God giving us that little blessing. God giving us Gideon's homecoming outfit, but instead of coming home with us, Gideon had come home to God... And so, we were ready to dress our son and we continued to wait for him.

The wonderful and caring nurses continued to check to see how much I had dilated, it was very slow. It was like time on the outside world was moving, but I had no concept of how much time had passed, it could have been 2 hours or 2 weeks, I didn't know. All I knew was that I wanted my son to be born alive. At right before midnight, the nurse came in a check me to see how far along I was coming. Still not enough to push, I was only about 5cm or so at that time. By the time she was done, it was now May 17th, and so I asked her to tell everyone to stay outside of the room for a while, so Todd and I could have some time alone. It had become our anniversary. Eight years on that day we had sworn and taken an oath before God that we would stand by each other through all of life's trials, the good and the bad. And that day was the absolute worst of all. Todd crawled into bed with me and I told him "I cant really say 'Happy Anniversary', but I just want to tell that  you that I love you so much. I love you." And I cried. He told me "I know its not happy, but, Happy Anniversary. I love you." And we both wept. We told each other that we wouldn't want to be with anyone else through this. We wanted to be with each other. And we told each other how much we loved one another. It was a very sweet moment in the midst of a nightmare. We would stand strong next to each other, holding each other up, through better or worse. We held each other tightly as we waited to meet him.

I barely slept in those days. I probably slept a total of 2-3 hours since Saturday night. It was now late Monday night. I just couldn't sleep. When I would nod off it would be because complete exhaustion would take over. Most everyone else had not slept much either. It was early Tuesday morning, probably around 1am or so, most everyone was sleeping. Todd was in the chair in the room, my sister and 2 best friends were in the room with me. My parents and the others were out in the waiting room sleeping. I started feeling my contractions on my right side. And if any of you have had pitocin, you know how painful those are! My sister told me she knew I was in pain because of the look on my face. I told them, "I am hurting". So my sister got the nurse and they came in and had me lay on my right side because sometimes moving positions will work. It didn't. They had the anesthesiologist come back in and give me a big dose of the epidural meds in hopes that might help. It didn't. My contractions starting coming more and more. And at the same time, I spiked a fever. A high fever of about 104. They started me on antibiotics. Because my water had been broken so long, I had gotten an infection. I was shivering and hurting. I didn't want to hurt physically. I was hurting so much emotionally that hurting physically was almost too much for me. My emotional pain made me physically hurt as it was, so this was really tough on me. I tried to keep quiet so Todd wouldn't wake up. But he did, and he held my hand for a while and kissed me. He stood next to me as I was in pain, but I assured him that I would be okay and told him to go back to sleep. I knew he would need sleep. He reluctantly went back to sleep in the chair. I am so glad he did. It comforted me to know that he was able to sleep. My 2 best friends and my sister held my hands while I was hurting. It was bad. My sister was in and out keeping everyone outside informed as to what was going on, except my mom. I told my sister to let her sleep because she would worry about me.  I wanted everyone to get to be able to sleep because I knew that Gideon would be coming soon and I wanted them to get rest before he came. I told the nurse I was still hurting, I was totally feeling these contractions over my whole abdomen. The doctor decided to lower the pitocin, the nurse said that my uterus was getting tired, and if they did that, then my contractions would hurt less. And sometimes when they do that, and they turn it up later, it helps to progress labor. So, they did that, and my contractions became mild enough, that in my exhaustion, I fell asleep. But only in a couple minute increments. I would fall asleep for about a minute and then I would shiver because of my fever, and then I would have a contraction. This went on for at least an hour. And because my contractions were still hurting, the anesthesiologist came back in to push more of the meds, and when he did, I said "there is something cold on my back" and he looked closer and found that the epidural had come out. I had been in bed so long with that needle in my back that it had worked its way out. So they had to put it back in. Everyone else left the room, except for Todd and the nurse, who held me up and they put the epidural back in. And it was perfectly fine then. No more physical pain, and about that time, my fever broke some and I stopped shivering. That was much better.So now I could wait for my son to arrive without me being in so much physical pain, so we waited to meet him.

After that, I started progressing more and I was scared. I was scared of how I would feel when he was out of me. Because even though he was already gone, at least his body was still connected to mine. He was still inside of me, part of me. What would it be like when he was no longer there? And I was scared of having to say goodbye. The more dilated I became, the closer it was to the moment when we would have to let him go forever. I didn't want to let him go. Ever. We wanted to keep him with us always. But I knew the time was drawing close when we would have to let him go. How do you prepare yourself for that?  I wanted to meet him, so I could hold him and kiss him and see his face. I wanted to meet him so I could see if he looked like his daddy. We wanted to meet him because we knew that we would fall more in love with him when we saw him. But it hurt so much. Because when we finally get to meet him, we will have to say goodbye. How do you let your infant son go? How do you say goodbye when you haven't had a real chance to say hello? I wanted him to stay with us. I was scared. And I know Todd was too. He didn't want to have to say goodbye either. How do you get ready to say goodbye when you are supposed to be planning your future with your child? Todd and I didn't want to have to do this, but we knew we would. I had to prepare myself for never holding him in my body again. And for the moment when I would never hold him in my arms again. We only had a little more time to wait for him.

At about 7:20am on May 17th, the nurse came in the room to check me and she said that I was ready to start pushing. My heart accelerated. Todd had stepped out of the room and so I asked, with panic in my voice, "Where is Todd?! He needs to be in here!" And the nurse so sweetly told me that we would not begin without him and that they needed to set everything up. Someone went and got Todd and he came in the room and I felt so much better with him next to me. He stood on my left side, holding my hand and encouraging me. His face; the look on his face was filled with extreme despair and he was heartbroken, yet, he had a look of determination and love. I am sure both our faces looked the same; faces filled with love and pain mixed together. The nurses and doctor got ready. Everyone was getting ready for Gideon to arrive. Todd, my mom, my sister and my 2 best friends were in the room with me for the delivery. Everyone else waited in the hallway. In that moment, in my heart, there came this divine strength. For the day and a half before this moment, I had no idea how I would be able to do this, to deliver Gideon. But in that moment, I knew I could do it, and I wanted to. I wanted to see him so badly, to hold him. I truly felt the presence of God in that room. Peace washed over me and I felt a surge of strength from Him. Todd was still holding my left hand and my mom was holding my right. The doctor was ready and I was as ready as I could ever be. It was 7:40 and the doctor told me to push. Our wait was about to be over. We were about to meet him.

We waited a long time to meet him....and now we wait to meet Him.

Gideon was already in eternity when we finally got to meet him. Gideon is with the Lord. And because of that, our minds and hearts have become much more focused on the eternal. And we anxiously await meeting Him. Meeting Jesus. We long for the day when we get to see our son again. Our little love. Our precious Gideon who we love completely. And because of his death, we now desire more than ever, for the day when we get to see Jesus face to face. I want Jesus more. I want to know Him more. I want to see Him. To meet Him.  I am truly waiting for Him to come back. Since I became a Believer of Jesus when I was 15, I have wanted Jesus to come back, kind of, more in theory than in actuality. It was never very real to me. I never really wanted Him to come. I never really waited to meet Him. But now, I do. I so desire the day when He comes back to get us and we all get to live on the New Earth. I am waiting on Him. Truly. Nothing else is more important than Jesus to me. And I so ache for the day when he comes back! However, I do know that God has more work for me and for Todd on this earth. I know there are things the Lord wants to accomplish through us here while we wait for Him. And I can see that God has gifted us so many things; we have 2 sons who we love. One in heaven and one on earth. Hopefully we are blessed and able to raise this newest addition to our family and we look forward to that. And I anticipate getting to spend every day with my family and serving the Lord here. I am thankful for every breath I take and thankful for every blessing He gives. I am thankful for every moment on this temporal earth. But, since Gideon died, I always keep my mind turned to the eternal..... And now, I watch for Him. I wait for Him to arrive.

Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord-- Psalm 27:14

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than the watchman waits for morning.--Psalm 130:5-6

And that is just what I will do; be strong, take heart, put my hope in His word.... and wait to meet Him.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

We didn't know

The Sufficient Grace Ministries blog is doing a bereavement support called Walking With You in which families share part of their child's story each week on their blog so we can pray for each other and support each other. There is so much healing in walking this path together. So, I decided I wanted to participate in this; to help continue to mend my own heart, and maybe allow another mommy to have her heart mended. The first week is called The First Steps and they ask that you share when you found out something was wrong with the baby. So, here goes....

We had no idea something was wrong. We didn't know.

We were 33 weeks pregnant and every single doctors appointment had gone perfectly. Gideon's ultrasound at 8 weeks and at 21 weeks were perfect, his heart beat was always strong, always in the 130s range. I had a doctors appointment just a little over a week before he died. We didn't know. We didn't know he might die. Sometimes I wish we had known, we could have prepared ourselves, prepared our hearts a little more, but then other times I am glad we didn't know, so we could just enjoy every moment we had with him in innocence and ignorance. So we could experience an unencumbered joy.

I slept in that Sunday, May 15th 2011 with no idea that this would turn into the most horrifying day of my life. I was exhausted from the day before, we had my baby shower for Gideon. I missed church because I was so tired and Todd had to work that day. I noticed that Gideon wasn't very active, but that was his pattern. Active one day and then took a break for a couple of days where he was less active. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that he wasn't active the day before either and that on Friday he wasn't moving very much. I started to get really worried and in the deepest part of my heart, I knew something was wrong. So after Todd got home from work, I laid down to do my "kick count" for the day. That's where you lay down on your left side and count how long it takes the baby to move 10 times and then write down that time. If the baby doesn't move within the hour, you are supposed to eat something and drink something sugary and then lay down for another hour.

At the end of my kick count, I got a zero. I thought I felt some movement in that time but wasn't sure. I think it was simply wishful thinking. I later found out that sometimes after babies pass away, when you move their bodies will shift inside of you and that can feel like movement. I was so afraid. Actually, afraid doesn't even cover the emotions I was feeling. I was terrified.

I walked into our bedroom and told Todd that Gideon hadn't moved. So we got dressed quickly to go to the hospital. I was grabbing my purse and noticed my camera in there, I almost pulled it out and left it at home, but I thought "I may need to take pictures of Gideon, I need to bring this." I am so thankful that the Lord gave me that thought, so I could have pictures on my camera of my sweet boy. Then we left our apartment and made the 45 minute drive to the hospital. On the way out of the parking lot of our apartment complex, Todd put his hand on my belly and said "Gideon, we need you to move for us, baby." We didn't know that he would never move again. I sent my mom and sisters a text telling them we were going to the hospital. My sisters encouraged me that everything was going to be fine. They didn't expect that their nephew had died. They didn't know.  My mom and dad decided to come to the hospital and that they would meet us there. That was one of the longest car rides of my life. Todd and I made small talk and tried to convince ourselves that everything was going to be ok. That Gideon was fine, that he was just resting. We didn't know.

We walked into the hospital hand in hand with our son in my womb. We didn't know that when we walked out of the hospital, my womb and my arms would be empty.

We didn't know that as we walked through those doors, the entire course of our life would change. They checked me in at Labor and Delivery. After I told them my baby isn't moving and I went into their triage room. I changed into a gown and waited for the nurse to come in and check for his heartbeat. We didn't know that we would never hear his beautiful heart beat again. The nurse took out the doppler and searched around my abdomen. And keep searching, all the while, all I hear is crackling. I was waiting for the "thump-thump" but it never came. She asked me, "where does your doctor usually find the baby's heartbeat?" And I pointed into the middle of my abdomen, and I said "here and here." So she kept searching. Finally she said "well, sometimes babies like to hide, so we are going to get an ultrasound." And I thought, Gideon never hid before. It was always so easy to find his heartbeat. The nurse then told us that when the ultrasound tech came in, that he cannot say anything, he isn't allowed to mention anything about what he is seeing. I sent my parents a text and told them that they couldn't find Gideon's heartbeat. My parents were at the hospital and were in the room within minutes.

We didn't know what to expect next. When the ultrasound tech came in the room, it was completely quiet. Todd stood next to me and I held his hand so tightly. I was so scared. We all were terrified. I struggled to see the screen, but I could only get glimpses of Gideon. He looked for about 30 minutes, never saying a word. He left the room, and I went to the bathroom and after I came back the ultrasound tech was back in the room and he said out loud "the baby is breech." Gideon was basically standing up in my uterus, so he was a footling breech. I have heard that some babies are breech so they can be closer to their mommies heart. It is so incredible to me that maybe he wanted to be close to my heart. I hope that is true. And my heartbeat was the last sound he heard before he heard the voice of God. Wow.
Then the ultrasound tech asked me if I had been leaking amniotic fluid. I hadn't been. (I found out later from my doctor that the fluid was low because Gideon had been gone for probably 18 hours at that point. And amniotic fluid is mostly just baby pee, and since he hadn't been producing urine, the level was low). After the ultrasound tech asked me those two questions. My heart started to sink. Why would they care if Gideon was breech, unless I was going to have to deliver him? I finally let go of Todd's hand and he made a joke about me squeezing his hand so hard. And we both halfheartedly laughed. I told him, that I was really scared. He was too. I could tell he was scared, just by the look in his eyes. I asked my mom if she could see anything on the ultrasound and she said "no I couldn't tell anything" but she looked so afraid. I just stared at my husband and hoped and prayed that my son was ok. We didn't know he wasn't. I kept wondering "when are they going to come back in here and tell us something?" I didn't know what was taking so long. That 15 minutes felt like an eternity. But I knew something really bad was about to happen.

The nurse walked into the room. She had a box of kleenex in her hand. And I knew. She said "You arent stupid people, I know you know what's going on....I am so sorry." And she began to cry.  My heart stopped. Our son, our little miracle was gone. It was like time stood still for a moment and the world crashed down around me. Todd said "No, no, no God." as he started bawling with tears streaming down his face. And I was saying "No please God! No." as I was being choked with sobs of grief and disbelief. I looked at Todd and I have never seen Todd look like that before. It was like I was watching a building crumble, only the building was my husband's heart. Todd hugged me with everything that was in him. We bawled and desperately clung to each other. All we could do was hold each other, because we had nothing else. Our hearts had been ripped in two and had been smashed into a million pieces. My mom fell onto my stomach and wept. My dad silently cried, tears filling his eyes.

We did't know that the night before, our son had been ushered into Heaven. 

We didn't know it was possible to hurt this badly, to feel this much pain. It was if someone sucked all the oxygen out of the room. As if, each one of our hearts were pierced with a sword. And as if someone punched us in the stomach. As if someone put their hands around our hearts and squeezed. It was like my life was ripped away from me. As if every molecule and cell in our own bodies had suffocated. It was like every ounce of comfort, happiness and hope had been sucked out of that room. As if there was nothing good left in the world. The walls of our life came crashing down around us. And we were left there, in the rubble. Each one of us with broken, bleeding hearts. And I with a womb that should have carried life, but instead was a tomb for our son.

Our son died.

In that room was a family; and that family's world ended in that moment.. The child they all loved so much, had gone to be with the Lord. Our miracle died. Our little love. Our sweet boy. Our heart. Gone to be with Jesus.
We didn't know that God would call Gideon home that day. We didn't know that Gideon's days would be so short. We didn't know something would go wrong. We didn't know that God had only ordained 33 weeks and 2 days for Gideon's life. We didn't know. We didn't know the depth of grief and pain. We didn't know the feeling of complete loss. We didn't know.

But we do know; we know that Gideon's life has purpose. We know the depth of love. We know how strong love is, even at times of separation. We know that separation is only for this lifetime. We know the immense love of a parent. We know what it is like to love someone more than your own life. We know that God holds us every single day. We know that He is good. We know that God will never leave or forsake us. We know that God does not make mistakes. We know that Gideon is with the Lord. We know that Gideon is standing in Eternity with Jesus. We know that one day, when the New Heaven and New Earth are created, Gideon will be embodied again. We know that we will be with him there. We know because we know Jesus. We know because we know that Jesus is our light and our salvation.We know that Jesus is.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body, all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:  15-16

"...he was the delight and expectation of our hearts, but the gift was claimed suddenly and the child, who was to have done, according to our idea, so much service on earth, went to sing God's praises with the angels."---Mrs. C.H. Spurgeon

Thursday, January 5, 2012

33 weeks, 2 days

It has been 33 weeks and 2 days since Gideon was born.

We have now had to live without him longer than when he was alive. Its strange. How do you wrap your mind around that?

33 weeks and 2 days is the amount of time that we had him with us. Gideon was 33 weeks and 2 days when he died, and 33 weeks and 4 days when I delivered my precious first born son. I am not sure how I am feeling about this milestone, this anniversary. I just know that it hurts. A lot.

However, it is incredible to me that in 33 weeks Gideon fulfilled his purpose on this earth. He finished his race that God has set before him and he completed God's will for his life. In just 33 weeks. God used him in such a mighty way in such a short amount of time. 33 weeks doesn't seem like a lot of time to accomplish something and yet my son accomplished his whole purpose in that time. Amazing. It makes me think, in the next 33 weeks, what are some things that I can do for the Lord? In the next 33 weeks, that is about 8 months time, can God use me? He used Gideon in a remarkable way in just 33 weeks. My son's accomplishments astonish me. He inspires me. You wouldn't think that a baby who died before he was born could accomplish something, but our son did. In just 33 weeks God used Gideon. And in Gideon's 33 weeks and 2 days and because of his death, God has used him to touch and transform the hearts of so many people who love him. It astounds me.

I am immensely thankful for those precious 33 weeks and 2 days. More than I can even express in words. I cherished every moment of those 33 weeks and 2 days. From the time I saw those 2 pink lines, Gideon had mine and Todd's hearts. At the moment of every kick, every food craving and every physical ache, my love for him grew exponentially. And when we saw him, his beautiful face, it was like our hearts exploded with immense pride and unequivocal love. Todd and I were completely changed in the span of 33 weeks, our hearts were completely transformed. And in the 33 weeks since Gideon died, we have become different people than we were before. Forever changed.

I miss him. A lot. Constantly. 3 weeks, 33 weeks, 33 months, 33 years, I will always miss him and with the same intensity I do now, maybe more. I still cry at least a few tears, though usually more than that, every single day. Two nights ago, I was laying in bed, and I was bawling. I kept replaying the moments when the nurse told us he had died, and the last moment I ever saw his face, and the last words Todd spoke to him, the last seconds I held him, when I said goodbye and the first night we spent without him. All of the pain just filling my heart until I couldn't breathe.All I could do was sob. Many moments feel as if the air has been sapped from the room and I am suffocating.  However, some moments and some days, I think of our precious son and I smile. Or we laugh at some of the funny things that happened when I was pregnant with him, like my insatiable craving for Icees or how he was a huge night owl. Or we talk to him and make jokes to him. Like when Todd will say something funny and sarcastic to me, I will say "Gideon, did you hear that? Your daddy is being mean to mommy! Tell God!!!" Then we will laugh. Other times, I cry when his name crosses my lips. The joy and sorrow of loving a child who has died is constant. There is always love and always pain and always joy. Those feelings are forever mingled.

On Tuesday, which was exactly 33 weeks since he was born, I spent some time at the cemetery. I needed to go to where his physical body rests. Its just really nice to have a place to go, that belongs to him, where I can sit, think and pray. The weather was beautiful. I cleaned up his headstone and rearranged some of his flowers and took down his Christmas decoration. Its so satisfying to get to do something for Gideon, to get to mommy him. I sat next to his place and talked to him (I know he isn't there and he cant hear me, but it really helps me to talk to him). I cried over him (loudly. It is a good thing I was alone out there!) and I prayed. And prayed. I prayed that the Lord would use this pain, this horrible agony, for His glory. I prayed and asked that God tell Gideon how much I love him. And some moments, I prayed to Him with no words, just my wracking sobs. I read a few of the psalms to Gideon and to Gideon's little brother.. I got to read the bible to both of my boys, one of whom is in heaven and the other who is in my womb. I will never get to hold them both tightly and read the bible to them together. But I was able to do this. Sit at the cemetery where my oldest son's body rests and read to my children the Word of God. Sitting at the quiet cemetery and reading to them was very peaceful, and very healing for me. As I was reading, I felt this little guy moving inside of me and I sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit. And I felt closer to Gideon. I wept as I read through Psalm 46, and 139 and 136. Beautiful passages. Exactly what I needed to read. And I sang to Gideon and to this little guy inside of me. I sang one of the most pivotal and important songs to me, the song I think of as Gideon's song. And as I sang to them, the Lord was right there.  He was holding me as I sang; loving me through my choked sobs and pouring out His compassion as my voice was thick with crying. Some days when I visit Gideon's place, I feel immense peace, other times, it is more agonizing. This time, it was a mixture of both. But every time I go out there, I feel His presence and He is always faithful to speak into my heart. 

I look back over the past 7 and a half months and I wonder, how have we made it the past 33 weeks??How will we make it the next 33 weeks?

I don't exactly know the answer to that. But I know that one thing will always remain; God. I know that He will be constant.  I wanted to share this song because the lyrics speak what is on my heart today, 33 weeks and 2 days after our son was born.

One Thing Remains
Higher than the mountains I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
One thing remains

Your love never fails
Never gives up
Never runs out on me

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death and life, I'm confident and covered by
the power of Your great love
My debt is paid, there's nothing that can separate
my heart from Your great love

Your love never fails
Never gives up
Never runs out on me

Here is a link to the song One Thing Remains. I heard this song for the first time exactly 1 week before Gideon was conceived. I loved it at the time, but I had no idea what it would mean to me, as a broken woman and mommy (especially the line "stronger than the power of the grave"). Thank you Jesus that you conquered death and gave us all the chance at eternal life.

And we will survive the next 33 weeks and the 33 weeks after that because Your love never fails.