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.