Friday, October 28, 2016

Jellybean Thoughts

This is a moment I’ve been putting off. Dreading. Writing the words down. For the past several weeks, struggling through being told your baby is going to die.

When I first realized I was pregnant (and that test was positive before I’d even finished taking it), I was excited, of course. Surprised but not totally unexpected. We knew our birth control method (diaphragm) was about 85% effective, and had decided that if we were one of the 15 out of 100 couples who got pregnant we would be happy about another baby and just enjoy having a little surprise after the careful planning of our other children. We were also pretty decided that we were not going to plan to have another baby. We had four healthy children and having experienced two miscarriages and watched friends walk through very difficult diagnoses with their children, we just didn’t want to chance it.

Morning sickness set in strong at five weeks, as it has with my other healthy pregnancies. We had an ultrasound at 6 weeks and baby looked great. I was tired, pregnancy tired, and tired thinking about life to come with a newborn. Thoughts like how would I homeschool with another baby? I was just getting ready to wean Nora and I had been planning a break from the trying to get pregnant/pregnant/nursing stage I’d been cycling through since December 2009. I’m tired. Parenting five kids is going to be exhausting. Do we need a bigger house? Should I still sign Jacob up for baseball in the spring? I need to finish school before the baby comes.

Then we went in for our 9 week appointment and everything changed. We saw that tiny heartbeat and thought okay good, everything’s great, we can breathe, look at this cute baby picture. And then my doctor came in looking grave. “I know we saw a heartbeat,” she says, “and we think everything looks good. But I’m really worried about the baby’s brain. It looks like part of the baby’s brain or skull hasn’t formed properly. I know it’s early, but my equipment is good and my techs are good, and what I think I’m seeing looks like something incompatible with life.” She mentions anencephaly and asks if I know what that is. I nod. She wants us to go to a specialist to make sure. She hopes she’s wrong, but she doesn’t think so. She reassures me that there is nothing I did wrong and there is nothing I could have done to change anything. Sometimes these things just happen. Our genes aren’t perfect. She says she knows me well enough to know we don’t want to talk about terminating and that’s fine, she does not want to pressure anyone into that and she will care for me and the baby throughout the pregnancy. She’ll deliver the baby. She gives me a hug and leaves.

So much changed in those 40 minutes. The Gent and I sat in the car, stunned. We cried. We went to our church and cried some more and prayed with our pastors. We shared the news with our families and precious church community, who have loved us and cared for us so well these past several weeks.

Then began a little over a week of waiting, searching, praying, fasting. We went to the specialist. He confirmed my ob’s diagnosis. A brain/skull defect incompatible with life.

I couldn’t go home yet and see the kids. The Gent and I drove for a while and then went to my sweet cousin’s house. She has a baby in heaven, who was diagnosed with a severe medical condition and died before he had a chance to be born. I knew she would understand my hurting heart. She cried with us and prayed with us and listened to me without judgment.

We went home because the kids were up from naps and we had life to do, even if we didn’t want to. So began the one day at a time living. When you don’t know what to do, just do the next thing. Carry on with school, ballet, field trips, soccer, church, cleaning, laundry. I’d already decided I would have to do laundry every day (instead of the current every other day) when the baby came. I guess not now.

The Gent talked with a friend who is a child psychologist about how to tell our children. We decided to go ahead and tell them about the baby, before they overheard it from someone else. At breakfast one morning, he said “Kids, we want to talk to you about something good and some sad news. We’re going to have another baby. There’s a little tiny baby growing in Mama’s tummy.” Jacob and Sophie were excited. Annie, my thinker, says “What’s the sad news?” The Gent told them that the doctor said the baby’s brain hasn’t grown right, and the baby won’t live very long after it’s born. Jacob and Sophie didn’t have much reaction, but “oh.” Annie cried. I took her upstairs to the nursery and rocked with her and cried with her. I told her I was sad about the baby, too. After a few minutes she sat up and dried her tears and started looking for reasons why it was a good thing the baby wouldn’t be coming home with us. In her sweet firstborn way she was trying to fix everything for me. Maybe this is a good thing, Mama. Babies are a lot of work. And we don’t have room at our dining room table for another baby. I assured her that we could always add leaves to our table to make room for more people. She said she was ready to go downstairs and finish breakfast.

Another sweet friend gave us a lovey for the baby, a little lamb to remind us of our baby lamb and of the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world to make a way for us to be with Him forever. The kids take turns sleeping with it each night, taking care of the lovey for our baby. They have questions that we answer as honestly as we can. Jacob wanted to know if we could spray pink or blue silly string when we find out if the baby is a boy or a girl. I assured him that we would. They have been suggesting names for the baby, and we told them we would consider all the names they give us. Jacob wants to know if the baby’s body will be buried in the cemetery. Yes, buddy, it will. But the baby will be in heaven, right, Mama? Yes, sweetie. The baby’s soul will be with Jesus. And like we studied in BSF last year, some day Jesus is going to return and we will have new, perfect bodies that won’t ever get sick or die. And Jesus is going to wipe away all our tears and all the sadness is going to come undone.

But when I think they get it, they ask something that shows they don’t remember death is permanent. When the baby comes home, it will sleep a lot, right, Mama? Babies take lots of naps. Yes, buddy, babies do take lots of naps. But our baby probably won’t come home with us. They put their hands on my tummy, wanting to feel the baby kick. You can’t feel the baby yet, he or she isn’t big enough. But when the baby is bigger you definitely can! Sophie wants to know if she can hold the baby when it’s born. I hope so, baby girl. That’s the plan, but we will have to wait and see what happens.

Wait and see, wait and see. It seems that is our life mantra right now. At first it was let’s just get to the next appointment and see if there’s still a heartbeat. Now it is let’s wait and see if it’s a boy or a girl. Let’s think about names. I need to go buy some silly string.

Friday, October 14, 2016


Tomorrow is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I really wish we didn't have to have this day, but I am thankful that our generation is choosing to honor those tiny lives and remember along with their families. Oh, how I long for the day when all our tears will be wiped away by our Savior and this broken world be healed and restored!

While we wait for that glorious restoration, I did want to point others to this informative link:
Your Rights During a Miscarriage

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Nora: 20 Months

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20 months! This was a big month for Nora. All the sudden she seems more like a little girl than a baby. She is speaking more sentences now and does not hesitate to express her wishes. Nora loves books, shoes, baby dolls (but they must be dressed), and balls. She likes to eat but has slowed down a tiny bit this month. She also weaned this month. This funny girl keeps us laughing and busy keeping up with her!