I cannot adequately put into words in one sitting what has happened over the past two weeks. I have had small snippets of being able to use my words, so I will turn to those moments already recorded for this post.
Monday, February 8
To my dear unborn baby,
I have been meaning to write you a letter for several weeks now. I wrote one when I first learned about you, but the computer ate it. It told you how much you were wanted. How you were a gift from God. That you were put on this earth to bring this family closer together and to strengthen our faith. It told you that even though we didn’t plan for you, that others might say you were an accident, or more affectionately an “oops baby,” that you were in fact none of these. That God planned you from the beginning. It was a letter telling you that I cried when I learned of you because I didn’t think I was ready for you. But I put aside my selfish desires and couldn’t wait to find out who this special baby was going to be. Because God created you, He knew what He was doing. His plan is always the best. We would just have to wait and find out what His plan was.
But now I will never get to meet you. I will never know who you would have become. Because God’s plan was never for us to keep you. He wanted you for Himself all along. Jesus said, “Follow me!” And you got up and followed him. (Mark 2:14) You just couldn’t wait to be with Him. I don’t blame you. But I am going to miss you. When you leave my body tomorrow I will be left with an empty womb. I can’t remember the last time I felt you move, but now I think I feel you sometimes.
I didn’t know it could hurt this much. I didn’t know it was possible to shed so many tears. I didn’t know it was possible to love someone so much when you’ve never even met them. I didn’t think I was ready for you, but now I’m not ready to say goodbye. God, reveal your plan in us. My precious baby, I love you. You will always hold a special place in my heart.
Thursday, February 11
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. It was the day we delivered Faith Elisabeth and the day we said goodbye. Monday’s ultrasound revealed no heartbeat. I saw her lifeless body on the screen. I knew. And then I heard the words, “I can’t find a heartbeat.” I didn’t know it was possible to cry so much. That was Monday.
Tuesday we went back to be induced. There would be another ultrasound. The same nurse Alyssa who helped us when we learned the news was with us again to guide us, to comfort us, to meet all of our needs. Tuesday, I didn’t think I could cry anymore.
Labor stalled late in the night. We got some rest. Early Wednesday morning labor picked up again. The doctor and nurse came in. I was 3cm. They said I would probably deliver at 5cm. They left to get a couple things. I had to push. I urged Hubby to call someone. He delivered Little Miss alone, but he was not delivering this baby. They arrived just in time as I pushed and the water broke. The body came out next and I could feel how tiny she was. There were many tears. The head was stuck so the doctor had to help. I told my body to open. I focused on the lyrics of the song playing in the background, “Well done, good and faithful one.” (Nichole Nordeman – Legacy) I pushed and her head was released. We held each other and cried.
We named her Faith. From the beginning of the pregnancy we had decided Faith would be her middle name if it was a girl because we had faith that this baby was God’s plan for our family, but we hadn’t decided on a first name. Now I felt she needed a middle name. We agreed on Elisabeth so she would share my middle name, so she would always be a part of me.
I wasn’t ready to hold her immediately, but when I did it was the perfect thing. She was so tiny. Tiny little lips, tiny little nose, tiny little restful eyes, thin little arm. She had a little bit of dark hair. I said her name out loud. I thanked God for her. I touched her face, her arm. We cried. I continued to cradle her. I fell asleep with her.
It was a long wait to be discharged. We slept. We cried. We moved to a recovery room. We slept some more. I told them I would leave without talking to the doctor, that I wasn’t staying another night, and then the doctor showed up. I cried as I watched other moms leave with their babies. We came home and hugged and loved on our girls. We answered questions as best we could.
I felt at peace after the delivery. I know that God’s plan is perfect even when we don’t understand it. Being with the girls gave me the will to go on.
Thursday I woke up sad and sore. I realized I would have to go through birth recovery without a newborn to distract me from the pain. I would be stuck resting my body with nothing to do but think. I couldn’t take care of my kids. I couldn’t do my normal chores. I couldn’t play outside like I wanted. I was stuck. I realized how painful this recovery is going to be. I cried for what felt like all day. I don’t remember smiling all day. It was a sad day. I didn’t know I had so many tears. That was Thursday.
Tomorrow is another day. Another day to rest. Another day to lean on eachother. I still have faith, as I have from the beginning of this pregnancy, that God has a plan for our lives. He has a plan for Faith’s life. I just didn’t realize her life would have to be so short to carry out His plan. I didn’t know His plan would be so painful.
Saturday, February 13
I shared the news on Facebook:
It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share the news of our baby Faith. At 25 weeks, she was delivered early Wednesday morning after an induced labor, weighing less than a pound. Her heart had stopped beating some time ago. She had been measuring small and we suspect she just stopped growing. We are now surrounded by family and have been overwhelmed by the love and support of friends and strangers during these difficult days. Faith Elisabeth was a gift from God. We do not understand God’s plan, but know that her short life was to strengthen our family and our faith. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we heal from this loss. She was in our lives for such a short time but will forever be in our hearts.
Sunday, February 14
Tomorrow will make a week since we learned we wouldn’t be bringing home our baby. So much has changed. All of our plans for the next …any amount of time… have changed. But so much has remained. Our love for each other, the girls, the faith that God is in control and His plan is the One plan for our lives. Friends from all groups have rallied to help us. This will be even more evident in the week to come as our families are gone and we attempt to go back to our normal lives. What are our normal lives? We were supposed to be eagerly anticipating a new life. Instead we said goodbye to baby Faith. Instead I can’t do my chores, I can’t take care of my girls alone, I can’t serve my family as mom and wife. I’m stuck resting, trying to ease the pain, bleeding as a constant reminder of the pain.
My milk came in Friday. The milk that was supposed to nourish my baby. It collected and built up until there was no more room and I had to relieve some. And I cried. Hurt, pain, sorrow, milk. Hubby and I continue to lean on each other, to cry into each other. We also played outside. We laughed. What a glorious laugh that was.
Thursday, February 18
A message to a dear friend:
This week has been strange. Nothing like I expected. It has been good. Yesterday was a week after the delivery. I felt like I was too upbeat. I had had a couple of very good uplifting visits from strong women of faith on Tuesday and had my moments of tears too. Yesterday I got up and took a shower and got dressed, then had good visits with friends again. Today I washed my hair. I think I’ve accepted that nothing can bring her back. That this is our reality. I don’t want to disappear into the fog of depression that held me captive for eight years through high school and college. I don’t want to be like my grandfather’s family who, after losing his four-year-old baby sister, Anneke, seemed to never see a happy day again. You can see it in the pictures. The before and after. I don’t want that for my family. So while I still had teary moments today, I also took great joy in Little Miss’s never ending belly laughs and in Little Monster’s curiosity of a strange bug we had never seen before (she was petting it!). It’s all about the simple pleasures in life, right? At least that’s what is carrying me through. I would be lying if I said I haven’t asked ‘Why?’ But I have seen God’s hand at work through the support that we have received from friends. They have gone above and beyond anything I could have imagined. I have had someone with me at least once a day to help with laundry, sweeping, and playing with the girls. We have not been alone in this.
Yesterday as I was taking my herbal bath Little Monster came in to visit with me. We had already started watching home birth videos on YouTube to prepare her for the birth, so she knew about water births. All of a sudden she said “baby ready to come out.” I told her I didn’t have a baby in my belly anymore. She said “I know, just pretend. I midwife.” And she proceeded to pretend deliver my baby, carefully place her on my chest, and then pretend deliver another one. I’m so glad I didn’t break down in that moment and allowed her to show me her understanding. It was so sweet. But heartbreaking all at once. I wonder if she’ll ever get that experience. She was so looking forward to the new baby.
Friday, February 19
I’ve compiled these moments of clarity through the fog of grief. This is a hard road to travel. But we are not in it alone. We had a small prayer service last Saturday under the oak hammock in the back with family. We have had friends and church members visit with us throughout the week. I am seeing God’s plan for Faith’s short life, and I’m sure His plan will reveal itself more as time goes by. Faith will forever be a part of our family. We will continue to talk about her, and by doing so her memory will stay alive.