Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Anna Elizabeth

The bright pink spot on my toilet paper confused me more than anything on Saturday night. I immediately called my doctor who put me on bed rest. So, the kids and I picked Tommy up from work instead of going to the concert at church that I had been looking forward to. Tommy got the kids in bed and went to clean the church for me. I did nothing, but lay on the couch. I said many prayers begging for the safety of my baby. My first two pregnancies were so easy, I never expected anything like this to happen.
Monday morning I called my doctor to ask for a sonogram or at the very least a Doppler just to put my heart at rest. We took the kids to Tommy's parents house. Then we were off to the doctor. It really didn't seem like any of it was really real. Nothing really sunk in or registered that there could really be a problem. The doctor ordered the sonogram. I asked if we could try the Doppler. He told me that he would but not to be too upset if we didn't hear anything because 12 weeks is still early to catch the heart beat. Well, we didn't hear it. The rest of Monday I was a little bit numb. Praying and holding my babies as much as I could. That night was a hard one for me. It was Monday night that I knew in my heart that it was time for the baby to go.
We had not learned the sex of our baby by ultra sound, yet that night I rocked back in forth, holding myself crying, “My Anna, my Anna! I want to hold my Anna.” I knew that I would not hold my baby girl alive on this Earth. What I didn’t know was that God would allow me chance to hold her in my hand.
Tuesday morning I woke up and immediately went back to sleep. Tommy had the kids. I slept. I went downstairs a little while later. Around noon I started to cramp a little. I told myself it was just gas. The bleeding got worse. The cramping got worse. I called my doctor. He told me to go to the ER. While I was waiting for Tommy to get back I wrote this note to a few friends:
Yesterday as we drove away from the doctors office I begged the Lord for the chance to hold my little baby. And He told me that she was never mine. She was always only meant for Him.
Now I don't know if this was really the Lord or if it was me trying to get myself ready for the pain that may or may not come.
Last night as I lay in bed stroking my little Abigail's face and playing with her hair I was just amazed at what a miracle she is. How God took a piece of me and a piece of my Tommy and turned those two tiny pieces into such a miraculous ... little person. Real flesh and real blood that you could actually touch. So once again I asked God for the chance to hold the baby He was growing inside of me. Once again I could think of nothing but how selfish I was being. Who am I to question God? So what if God only needed me to carry that little life for 12 weeks? That's 12 weeks more than anyone else got to hold her. I should be grateful.
A while later I had the privilege to nurse my Ian. I wondered if I would ever have the chance to nurse the babe inside of me. With that thought came the thought that she is not really there anymore. I think she is already where we all yearn to be. Is she already with our loving Father?
Did God really only create her to live inside of me and then in His Glory? Perhaps.
I don't know. Maybe I am only thinking these things to prepare myself just in case. Or maybe God really was talking to me.
Either way, His will be done. I pray that I will allow Him to use me as He wants and to not let my selfish desires get in the way. I pray that our family will always glorify Him through everything.
Once we got in the car it was very obvious to me that my cramps had turned into contractions. I was in real labor. I never knew that could happen at only 12 weeks. There was traffic on the way to the hospital. I couldn't stop the tears that poured from my heart. My Tommy was so confused. He didn't understand why I was crying. I guess I should have talked to him about my conversations with the Lord.
Finally at the hospital, I went in while my Tommy waited in the car for his mom to come get the kids. I signed in. I sat down and wept. The contractions were hard and very painful. The sweet receptionist brought me tissues. I remember feeling a need to stand up. So I went to throw my used tissue away and my water broke. I stumbled to the desk and stuttered through the uncontrollable sobs. They brought a wheel chair for me. The receptionist sweetly told me she had been there twice and she was sorry. After going through the vital check and all of the questions they ask, they cleared a room for me.
While they prepared the bed I was to strip and put a gown on. As I slid my pants off I saw a glob that I assumed to be my mucus plug along with a few blood clots. They removed everything from my panties and put it all in specimen cups. Once on the bed I was instructed to push to get rid of all of the clots and after birth. I did not know that my sweet babe had already been taken away. After a while all of the nurses left me.
Tommy came in with the kids. I desperately told him that I didn't want Abigail there right then. I was so afraid to scare her. After quick hugs and kisses they left again.
I had an urge to push and out came what I thought was the baby. I looked and tried to find her. However there was so much blood I couldn't see anything. I asked for my nurse. She came in and told me that they already had the baby and what I had just passed was a clot. I asked to see the baby. They brought her to me in a specimen jar with water.
She was perfect. Half the length of my pinky finger. I had never seen anything as amazing before. I so longed to be able to feel her skin. And hold those little hands. The hands. I can't get over the hands. They were so cute and looked like they were waiting to be held. I so desperately wanted her to wrap her tiny little hand around my finger. The time I spent with her was so precious. I am so very thankful I was given the chance to see her and hold her even if she was in a cup. I wept and wept. It felt like my heart was being kicked.
The physicians assistant came in and said she was getting ready to do an exam to see if I was still dilated. I nodded my head. She left. Then my Tommy finally arrived. I had never been so happy nor so sad to see him. I didn't have the words to tell him. I just handed him the baby. He sat down and let go. He had never really thought this was going to happen. I will never forget the heartbroken look on his face. He was devastated. He stood up and hugged me. We clung to each other, shaking, and bawling for as long as we were allowed.
The physicians assistant returned all smiles and a song in her voice to say that she really needed to perform the exam so she could leave. I wanted to shout. I wanted to scream at her to leave us alone. I wanted to tell her she was cold and heartless. Instead I slowly let go of my Tommy and let her do her exam. I watched Tommy through almost closed eyes. During the whole exam he stared at our baby and wept into his hand as silent tears poured from his eyes and heart for his little girl.
They came and asked if they could take the baby back, we reluctantly agreed. I really don't remember much of the next few hours. It is quite a blur. I do remember them taking more blood, giving me more fluids, and IV's of pitocin. They changed my room to a quieter one. Tommy went to pick the kids up and take them to my grandmothers house. They gave me a shot because the baby and I had different blood types. That is all I really remember until Tommy came back. Oh, the Gilmore Girls was playing on the television above my bed so I pretended to watch through the tears that still continued to fall. When Tommy came back he sat on my bed and held me for a while. Then his dad came to visit. We chatted about the revival that was going on at church as I was birthing our lifeless baby.
While my father in law was there the nurse came in and told me that they needed to admit me, however the only available room was in the OB wing. They gave me the option of staying in the ER on the flat table they called a bed or going upstairs. I really thought I could handle it. I so badly wanted a shower and there was nowhere in the ER to take a shower. Honestly the thought didn't even occur to me that I would see a newborn. My father in law insisted that the room be a private one. When he said that I realized why they were asking if I really wanted the room. Well, it was too late to say no now. They started the admit paper work and my father in law left.
While we were waiting to be moved my Tommy and I just held each other. We didn't really talk about anything. The whole ride up the elevator was like a dream. Almost like I was watching a play. I certainly wasn't an actress in the play, only an audience member. That's why it struck me with such surprise when I first felt the wrenching pain flash through my heart as I saw a nurse swaddling a beautiful newborn. I closed my eyes and waited for them to tell me we were in my room and I had to scoot from one bed to the next.
I finally got the shower I had been wanting. Then, I had nothing else to do but try and sleep. My Tommy tucked me in then fell fast asleep in the cot they provided for him. I laid there telling myself not to cry. That if I cried I was a hypocrite after the letter I sent to my friends telling them I was okay with whatever God had planned. I knew that God had my Little Anna. God so lovingly prepared me for what was to come. I needed to appreciate that. So I didn't cry. I didn't sleep either. I didn’t have my Bible with me. I looked out the window and saw nothing to distract me. I turned the TV on, flipped through the channels, turned it off. I again told myself not to cry. I didn't sleep. I turned the TV on, flipped thought the channels, turned it off. Told myself not to cry, turned the TV on … This went on until about four o'clock in the morning when my body took over and made my mind and heart let me sleep.
Two hours later someone from the lab came to take my blood. When she was done I dragged myself and my IV pole into the bathroom. I had been in the hospital twice before. That was to birth my sweet Abigail and precious
Ian. I walked out of the bathroom to see my bed ... with no bassinet beside it. The tears and pain came with such a force I had never felt before. I crawled in that empty hospital bed and let myself cry. I didn't feel like a hypocrite this time. I just felt pain, like I was being ripped in two. My sobs woke Tommy up. He came and held me some more.
When it was time to leave they sent Tommy for the car and made me wait to receive a bereavement package. I was walking out of the OB wing with no tummy and empty handed all but for a bunch of papers that told me how to grieve the loss of my Anna. I never in my entire life felt so alone and my arms never felt so empty.
When the nurse and I stepped outside I couldn’t believe what a beautiful day it was. How could it possibly be sunny and warm when my heart was so dreary and my mind foggy? The light breeze blew the newly blooming trees and any other day I would have been gearing up to take the kids to the park. Instead I silently slipped into the car with shaking hands, tear filled eyes, and a lonely heart.
We went to pick up our precious kiddos waiting for us at my grandmothers house. After a leisurely breakfast and a stop at a store to pick up clothing that would fit my strange body I asked Tommy if he would give me an hour to myself. He took the kids to pick out some flowers to plant in the bed in the front yard. We already had some flowers and had prepped the bed the day before I went on bed-rest.
I took the time to shower and change. When I was done dressing I sat at the computer to write my little Anna’s birth story. I couldn’t make myself do it. So, instead I sent the following message to friends and family:
Yesterday at 5:45 pm my water broke and a precious little miracle left my womb and went into our Heavenly Fathers arms. We were able to hold the baby, all two inches. Complete with two arms with the most adorable tiny hands that just begged to be held. Ten tiny toes. Two little eyes that I know would have looked at me if they had had the chance.
My Tommy. My poor Tommy. The Lord did not prepare Tommy as He did me. Please pray for him. And Abigail too. She didn't understand why we couldn't bring the baby home. We told her that Jesus was taking care of the baby. Now any time Ian leaves her side she gets very upset. Crying and calling him to stay with her. I don't know if she thinks Ian is going to go to Jesus too or if she just likes his company.
We are going on a short vacation and will be back later this week. Thank you all for your prayers.
Tommy and the kids returned home and we quickly packed and piled into the car for a trip to Lancaster PA. I was absolutely amazed at how the silliest thing could send me into silent tears that morphed into wracking sobs. A billboard for the maternity ward at a hospital. A truck driving by with a “Baby on Board” sticker. A sign for Motherhood maternity store.
Then we stopped at a Carters outlet to get the children bathing suits. I walked in and the first thing I saw was a newborn layette. I turned around and walked out, I just couldn’t handle it. While laying in the hotel bed at 2:30 am unable to sleep I once again found myself flipping through channels. I went right past the country video channel and for some strange reason decide to turn it back. The video was of a song I had never heard of. There was a mother laying in a hospital bed giving birth. When the baby was born, he was still. The whole song was from the viewpoint of the child. Once again I was unable to stop the tears that flowed.
The next morning as we ate breakfast my eyes wandered to a nearby table. Seated there was a beautifully large Amish family. There was a glowing Momma holding her newborn little girl. I so desperately wanted to beg for the chance to hold her daughter. Instead I concentrated on seeing that my family ate. Every meal was hard for me. I was accustomed to thanking God for our food and asking Him to use it to our nourishment and for the nourishment of the baby growing inside of me. I would have to make myself cut the prayer short.
The trip was also hard because I was still physically healing. My blood pressure and pulse were extremely elevated because I lost so much blood so quickly. This caused pounding headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. I knew though that my family needed the time away from home.
When we returned home there were a few kind emails that I responded to. Here are my responses.
“Thank you so much. We are back in town. It was a short trip, which the children loved. We went to Lancaster PA and just enjoyed each other.

I really appreciate your prayers. This really is hard. It hurts so badly. I keep playing it over and over in my head and I can't make it stop. When I got to the hospital I was having hard contractions ... not cramps, this was real labor. I had been sitting for about ten minutes when I just felt like I HAD to stand up, so I did. And my water broke. I can't tell you how that felt. It was at that point that I knew, not just in my heart, that there was no chance that my baby was going to be born alive into this world. I went weeping to the desk and they sent a wheelchair to get me. Tommy was out in the car with the kids waiting for his mom to come get them. All I could think was "I want my baby." Nothing else was going through my mind. I had to push and everything. Not to push the baby out, the baby came when my water broke. But I had to push out the soft ball size clots that were forming. I asked to see the baby. Oh, I've never seen anything like it!! The baby was about half the length of my pinky finger. Those little hands. I keep seeing those hands. So tiny and beckoning.

Finally after two hours my Tommy came in to join me. He had no clue. He thought that everything was going to be okay. Then I handed him the baby and he just crumbled. He's never cried like that before. My heart hurt so badly for him because he never even thought it was a possibility. The nurses and physician assistant were standing around waiting to do an exam. And my Tommy just hugged me and held me and cried so hard he shook. The PA said that she really had to do the exam because she was about to leave. She really bothered me. She could have at least given us ten minutes alone. But through the whole exam Tommy looked at the baby and wept.

They admitted me because the clots I was passing were too large and my heart rate was too high. The only room they had available was in the OB wing. I really thought I could handle it. But when we got up there, there was a nurse holding a newborn and the pain just pierced my heart. Knowing that my baby was never going to have the chance to get that big or be held that way. In the morning when we were getting ready to leave they had Tommy go get the car. I can't tell you how hard it was to leave the OB ward with no belly and empty hands except for the bereavement folder they gave me. I started to cry again and the nurse asked if I wanted her to take the bereavement package, if it was too much. I told her no, because then I would have been completely empty handed and I don't think I could have handled that.

I can't stop crying. The car is bad. It is a place that my mind wonders and it always goes back to that hospital. I can't tell you how many times I have just started crying. I just can't help it.

I feel like a hypocrite because I haven't told everyone all of this. Mostly everyone has only read the same message you did on the boards the other day. But I really can't tell everyone how I feel. I do honestly believe and know that my sweet baby is with Jesus, but it still hurts. I don't want to go to church on Sunday because I don't want people to tell me how sorry they are, and I don't want to have to pretend to appreciate their condolences. 

Wow, I really only started this message to let you know that we were back and how much I appreciate you and your prayers. Thank you.”

And to someone who commented on how easily I trusted God I replied:
“Yes, I do accept God's will. However that doesn't take the pain away. It doesn't make the tears stop. It doesn't make the longing go away. It doesn't make that day stop playing through my mind like a movie that doesn't end, oh how I wish it would.
I never knew a heart could hurt so badly. I never knew arms could feel so empty. We went away for two nights the day I got out of the hospital, so last night was my first night in my own bed. It was my first night in my bed with no baby in my belly. The picture frame that I gave my Tommy to tell him I was pregnant was on my wall and my heart just about burst looking at it. At the top it says "Bundle of Joy" and there are three places to put pictures. I put one picture of him holding Abigail in the hospital, one of him holding Ian in the hospital, and a piece of paper that said "? October 2005 ?" Now I'll never be able to put a picture in that slot and it hurts.
So, yes I trust God and His will. But I don't understand it or like it.”

Then a few nights later I was having a very hard time and sought out someone that had just lost her baby a month before me.
“I remember when you lost your baby, and I have been praying for you. How do you do it? At the times when you hurt so hard that you can do nothing but sit and weep, what do you do? I never knew a heart could hurt so badly and I don't know what to do about it. Where is the rewind button? How did this happen? Did my baby feel pain in what is supposed to be the safety of my womb? I can't make the questions stop, nor can I stop replaying that day in my head. Every time it hurts even more.

If it is too hard for you to talk about, I understand. I just need to talk to someone that is at the same place I am.”

She and I found comfort in sharing our pain with each other. Reading her painful words, feeling her pain, and praying for her helped me heal. She was a full other country away, but she helped me to know that I wasn’t alone.
Someone else recommended a song by Watermark called, “Glory Baby”. There were several nights that I would lay in bed listening to that song over and over again until I cried myself to sleep.
A dear friend of ours that we used to live near called and left this message: “Hey. It’s just after 8:30, we’re just getting home and I just got your message. I’m … so sorry for you guys. If you um, if you get a chance when you are feeling up to it you wanna give me a call if you need to talk or anything. Just let me know. Um, other than … I don’t know what to say. We will pray for you, if you need something specific let us know. Just wanted you to know that we love you and are praying for you and we‘ll talk to you later. Bye.”
There were so many times that I felt the need to talk to somebody but didn’t want to have to talk to anybody that I just called my voice mail and listened to that message. Just hearing the concern and caring in her voice comforted me.
Two kind families sent us a card. It was nice to know that they acknowledged our Anna and our pain. One sweet friend sent us flowers in a beautiful tea cup and saucer. Every time I see the cup I smile a sad smile, because I know that someone else loves my Anna other than just us.
There were very few people in real life that even acknowledged I had been pregnant. Really everyone that sympathized with us were people we know from on the internet. That was hard for Tommy and me. We understood that most people just don’t know what to say. However we still wanted people to know that just because she never breathed our air it didn’t make her any less of a person. That she still mattered even though she was only here for a short time.
I was so worried about accepting people’s condolences and trying to make myself not cry, that I never even imagined that there wouldn’t be any condolences. I never thought that they would pretend my baby never existed and just ignore her loss. That hurt far worse than if I had not been able to withhold the tears … at least they would have acknowledged her.
We decided to get bracelets with “Anna” on them. Tommy’s bracelet is silver with her name engraved on it and mine has gold and pearls with her name spelled in gold block letters. Tommy gave me a pearl necklace and earrings for valentines day. I told him I was pregnant for valentines day. So, it only seemed fitting that my bracelet should match the earrings and necklace.
I have no clue what I would do with out God. I know that He is the creator of all and He is in control. He gave me my Anna, and He also took her away. Knowing that made it okay even though it still hurt. When the overwhelming pain and grief would strike I would have to remind myself that Anna was in Glory, with no pain or tears. I was crying for me, and my loss, not her because she didn’t lose anything.
I did wonder what she would have looked like when she was three years old. Would she have looked like her big sister? How would they have played together? Would Ian have loved to hold her as much as Abigail loved to hold him? These are the hardest thoughts to get past, missing her with her brother and sister.
I don’t know when it happened, but one day I realized that it was after noon and I had only cried twice. That made me cry. I felt guilty for not crying for her enough, like I was starting to let her go. That thought scared me. Another day, I suddenly felt alive. It was as if a dense fog was being lifted from my mind. I actually smiled and the smile wasn’t painful, it didn‘t make me sad. Soon the bad days were outnumbered by the good ones. However I will never forget her and I will never stop shedding tears in her memory.

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