06 July 2011

Hope's Story

I have always shared the birth story of my babies, but I debated sharing this one. Not the typical labor and delivery excitement like with the first three. Do I really want to put my pain out there for the public to see? But you all have been so supportive, so comforting, I want you to know.

When we found out we were pregnant with number 4, I have to admit it took a while for me to be excited. Although I had always wanted 4 kids, we had decided that Xander would be our last biological child, and even took steps to insure that. But soon I noticed how I could smell everything. So I took a test - and cried.

However, in the weeks to come, we bonded. We were all excited to add another child to our family. We started thinking about names, wondering if it would be a boy or a girl, and really moved our house search into high gear. We put a contract on a house, got to hear the baby's
heartbeat a few times, my belly button popped, I felt the first movements, and we were getting excited.

A friend called to say she was training another nurse on the sonogram machine and they needed pregnant mommies to practice on, and would I like to come in. Of course - who passes up the chance to get a sneak peak at their growing little one. And being the 4th, I figured, "what the heck, let's invite the whole family." I would be 14 weeks, and I was pretty confident we would be able to see the sex of the baby, as I had found out with both Naomi and Xander even earlier. The training nurse started looking around, and practiced taking measurements. Pretty soon, she leaned over and said that they weren't seeing what they expect to see, and maybe I should go see my midwife. I wasn't too worried at first. People have always had trouble finding my babies' heartbeats, and I knew the statistics. Once you have heard the heartbeat, and are past 12 weeks, the chance of miscarriage goes way down. But after seeing my midwife, and then the obstetrician, we learned that we had a
baby girl, and that she had died - probably that day.

Devastated. Crushed. Words just can't describe as we now had to think about the next step. I had 3 options. I could wait for my body to pass the baby on it's own, I could have a D&C (Dilation and Curettage - a medical procedure where they would force my cervix open and scrap out my uterus) or be
induced. The idea of the baby coming while I was home alone with the 3 kids sounded like too much. And I just couldn't even imagine the thought of being put to sleep while the doctor dismembered my baby girl to remove her from my body. The midwives and doctors agreed that the safest option was an induction.

Sat, July 9th, we were supposed to be moving into our new house. Instead, we were at the hospital. Before starting anything, we asked for another sonogram. Even though we both knew the truth, we had to see that still, silent screen one last time. They gave me some medicine to start things, and then we sat around and waited. I had expected it to be painful, and I had expected it to be emotional, but I didn't expect it to remind me of all my other births. The intense back pain that started every other labor. The horrible side effects of the epidural I remember from Annalia's birth. The way I felt my water break, like with Xander. The intense desire to have her near me after she was born. But that is where the similarities end.
Instead of rushing to hold and nurse my newborn baby in joyful anticipation, they handed me a tiny, perfectly formed baby no bigger than my hand. Our hearts broke.

We did all the things new parents do. We counted her fingers and toes - perfect. We touched her face - she has my chin. We just sat there and stared at our daughter. We decided then to name her Hope. In Hebrew, qavah (hope) means more than just wishing something will happen. Rather it is a confident waiting in something you know to come. To expect it. It also means to bind together. So although this whole experience has been so difficult, we know that our hope is bound God, and that He is sovereign, and we can trust in that.

After a bit, there was nothing left to do but say goodbye. As we sat in our empty room, with our empty hearts, Justin read Isaiah 40 to me, reminding me that God has everything in control. I may not feel it now, but deep down, I do have that hope.

It has been interesting going through all this with a 4 1/2 year old in the house. AnnalĂ­a has been very involved in this pregnancy from the beginning. Early on, she told me she had heard in a dream that it was a girl. When we told her that the baby had died, she was crushed. But, being 4, she verbalizes everything while she processes is. She reminded me that Jesus brought Lazarus back to life, even after he started to stink. When I told her God probably wouldn't put another baby in my belly, she reminded me of Hannah's prayer, and that Samuel means "God answers." When I heard her crying at night, I went in to hold her, and she tearfully confessed that now she wasn't going to get to hold this baby while standing up, (something I had promised her). She seems to be working through her grief a lot faster than me though. The tears and anger are gone and she talks about her little sister all the time. She brings me things to make me happy, and she reminds me that she will never forget her little sister, Hope.

I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family. Justin has been so wonderful as we have cried and grieved together. The kids have been such a comfort, as I am reminded that so many women go through this with no children at home to help heal their hearts. And I have been blessed with such supporting and and understanding friends. The outpouring of help and prayers has just been overwhelming.

And now it is time for me to keep going. It doesn't mean I am ok. It doesn't mean there is a moment that goes by that I don't think about her and hurt. It just means that we have hope - a longing expectation that Jesus is caring for our child, a joyful knowing that we will meet her in heaven, and a trust that we are bound together with God as He holds us, comforting us through this season of pain and sorrow.