It is a day that I will never forget…
Two years ago today, on a Friday morning much like this one, I woke up to feel my baby girl inside of me. Only, her movements were not typical to her. This time her body flailed 200 times over the course of 5 minutes. Yes, it did. I counted. I watched the clock. It was a steady, rapid tick type movement. I later learned from my nurse while I was waiting for her to be born that this must have been a seizure. Well that makes a lot of sense. I have seen people seize. I have been with a friend while she was having seizures. I know that that looks like. I know what that feels like. So I could so easily now pinpoint what happened to my daughter inside of my womb on that morning. It helped me to have a reason. And to my non-medically trained brain that has been so curious about medical things and has enjoyed doing a lot of independent research, this seemed like a very good assumption. I have held to that assumption these last two years. For someone who loses a child, it always helps to have some type of "reason" for the loss. Not that it helps it to feel any worse, but it just helps to bring closure knowing as many details as one can find.
And of course, the real underlying cause for what we think was a seizure was that darn umbilical cord. It was constricted so tightly around Solveig's neck…three times…and around her abdomen, her arm, and it also had a true knot in it. I get so mad about that cord sometimes. I wish that I could have just reached in and released it from her body. But of course that is not possible. Nor was that meant to be. I wish that she had been meant to be on this earth. I will always wish that. Even though I know that she flew straight to Jesus' arms and she is safe and free from pain, I will always wish that she could be here with our earthly family.
Sometimes I still kick myself for not calling my OB clinic immediately upon feeling that atypical movement series. But I really had no idea. And at the time, I was so busy with my two big kids that I didn't think too long about it. All I thought was, "hmm, that was different." And I got on with my day. It was a busy day. I remember taking my kids to the store with the big red bullseye and attending and participating in a piano and voice performance party with my mom. And I remember as we got ready for bed that night, I said to Erik, "Something doesn't feel right. I just am so worried about her and I don't think she is okay. I really want to go into the hospital." Because I'm such a worry wart, my sweet husband reassured me and said, "everything is going to be okay. Just try to get some rest." But I told him, "But I haven't felt her moving lately. I think something is wrong." And as I lay in bed, I prayed to the Lord, "Please God, please help her to move. Please help her to move. I just need to feel her to know that she is okay." And sure enough, in just a little while I did feel her move. But it was just a few little scratches. Maybe she was still alive at that time, but I honestly think that it was just her body moving a little bit inside of me…shifting as I had shifted too. But it allowed me to get some rest.
That next day, Saturday, we went about our family life. We were getting the nursery ready, of all things. Erik was putting up the crib. And I remember sitting on the little futon in the nursery with our big kids, reading to them, and thinking to myself, "why is he putting that crib up? This baby isn't going to be with us." I knew. I just knew. It was the worst feeling. We even went fridge and freezer shopping. That ended up being a blessing in disguise, as we later ordered a new freezer for our basement just days after we delivered Solveig. That freezer held many a meal from dear friends and family who literally provided months worth of meals. And I recently learned that when we ordered our fridge over the phone, the people at the store who heard that we had just lost our daughter to stillbirth decided to pray for us. Wow. God shows up in the most amazing ways. Thank you, friends at the store.
At dinner that Saturday, I remember feeling her move a little bit inside of me. But again, it was more like she was just shifting. And that is the last I recall her moving.
The next day at church, our friends in our adult Sunday school class prayed for us because I was feeling so anxious and nervous and shared with them that I thought something might be wrong. And it was. I couldn't believe that we were there that day. I felt sick to my stomach and just knew that we needed to be at the hospital. What on earth were we doing at church? But now looking back, I think it was God who put us there…to be encouraged by friends before we headed into the eye of the storm.
Later that Sunday night, we called ahead to the hospital to tell them that we were coming in to check things out as I hadn't felt movement. My mom came to stay with the kids and we went in. On the way there, I remember we were saying, "hopefully everything is okay and she is just being quiet right now." But moments after we arrived and were whisked away into one of the birthing areas, the nurses tried in vain to find the heart beat. It was the most awful feeling in the world and I felt like my heart was pounding out of my chest. I could hardly breathe. My Dr. M came in and confirmed via ultrasound that she was gone. She had tears in her eyes and she was so kind and gentle with me. I watched in shock and horror as I saw that our baby was gone…she was lying still inside of me. I turned away from that screen as I couldn't watch any longer and my body froze up. The tears welled up and I sobbed, turning into my husband's warm embrace. He held me for the longest time, trying to comfort me. And he kept saying, "She's with Jesus now…she's with Jesus now…" All I could say was, "No! No! She's gone!!! Why?"
Oh the pain. Today it comes back to me almost as if it just happened. And yet there is some sense of removal, since it has now been two years. But there are times that just creep up on me and hit me out of the blue. Anticipating Solveig's birthday will I'm sure be harder than the actual day. For it is all of these memories and emotions that are swelling and swirling like a tide pool that never calms itself. The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder like issues I have faced following our loss have definitely calmed a bit, but they are still present at times. I was never formally diagnosed with PTSD, but I read about it a lot and I definitely had every single symptom. From what I have heard and read, it is so commonly found in people who have had this type of loss. And that makes sense…because having one's child come out still is so shocking. There is a lot to figure out…a lot to wrap the brain around. And it takes so much time and healing and patience. And it takes a lot of love from people around, who are willing to encourage and be there through the pain.
We have had a lot of help and encouragement through our loss. We are thankful for those who have been able to "go there" with us. There are some who are not able to go there. And that has been very difficult, in all honesty. But whenever that is hard, I try to remember all of the people that God has sent our way who have been such pillars of strength, hope and encouragement.
Please remember, if you are on the periphery of a friend or family member going through the loss of a child or another loved one, don't be afraid to say something about the deceased! There is nothing that a parent of a child who is gone appreciates more than to hear that child's name spoken out loud once in awhile…or even to just say, "I'm thinking about her," or "I want you to know that I haven't forgotten her"…that means so much. If you say nothing, which some choose to do, it makes it feel like you have completely forgotten and that the person never existed. That is perhaps one of the worst things about this. And it is hard to not take it personally.
Trying to be grateful in the midst of trial…sometimes that is really a hard task, but it is indeed a necessary one.
So, as we remember our daughter in the coming weeks, and as we remember all of the things surrounding that loss, we have to continue to take hope in God. He hasn't given up on us. And He will never leave us…not for one moment. We will have hard times. We will have losses. People will come and go, but God will not go. People will disappoint, but He will not let go of us through the disappointments. He knows that we miss our daughter and that we will always think about her, for the rest of our lives. He lets us cry to Him about it anytime. That means a lot.
I can't wait to see her in Heaven…free from her tangled cord…dancing on the streets of gold…smiling and singing and playing…laughing with her Uncle Joel...what a beautiful thought to hold onto.
Friday, February 21, 2014
It is a day that I will never forget…