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.
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.
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.
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.
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