January 15, 2010

Losing a Baby

In an earlier comment I mentioned that my daughter had died shortly after her birth. I thought I would take some time to write about that. Perhaps it is because of the earthquake in Haiti and watching the news and seeing the people that are in such grief over the loss of life. We are holding our breath as we sponsor a child through Compassion International and he lives in Haiti. We pray that he is okay.

As my mother has told me, I have always wanted to be a wife and mommy. When I got married in 1980 to my DH we both wanted children. I was pregnant by our 3rd anniversary and the pregnancy was proceeding very well except that I had morning sickness all the time. That was annoying to say the least.

On a Monday night we were home and had just finished entertaining some company. I felt some pressure so of course I thought I had to use the bathroom. Well, my membranes ruptured. I was taken by ambulance to the University Hospital and Clinics in our state. The ultra sound showed that I was at 26 weeks. The hope was that if they kept me on bed rest in the hospital for at least 6 more weeks that I would be able to carry the baby to a point of survival. However, it was not to be. Two days after admission I went into labor and within 2 ½ hours Kelsey was born. She weighed about 1 ½ lbs and she lived for 3 hours.

When you experience a loss like we did you are forced to look at your future differently. From the moment I found out I was pregnant the future showed children to complete our family. Then I was faced with a change in the future. There was a good possibility that I would not be able to carry a child to the point of viability.

Grief for me is described as a deep pit that you have to crawl out of. I turned 25 the week after Kelsey died and I was receiving birthday cards and sympathy cards in the mail at the same time. Both of our families lived several states away from us. I did not have the luxury of family living nearby. I did have the ladies of our church though. They came in and cleaned our apartment and washed all our clothes prior to my being discharged from the hospital. They came to visit daily and brought food. My mother in law called me daily also. They helped me heal.

Slowly over several weeks I worked my way through my grief. In the end I worked through the stages of grief and began to heal. Going to her grave was very difficult for me but I felt drawn to being there. As her mother the only thing I could do was to make sure she had flowers on her grave.

I went back to work one month after she died and I had to face women in my office who were pregnant. I had to face women in my church who were pregnant. I couldn’t go to the grocery store without seeing pregnant women. Life goes on.

In 1985 our DS was born 6 weeks prematurely. He only stayed in the hospital 1 extra day. He is now married. Our youngest DS was born in 1993. He was full term. Medical technology had changed so much over the years. I was so blessed to have my two sons.

I am the mother of three children. One happens to be in heaven right now. Every March 1st I get a little lump in my throat on that day and then I look around at all that I have and I know that I am blessed.

The month that Kelsey died a new book had just been published entitled “Empty Arms” by Pamela Vredevelt. That book was my saving grace. I read it from cover to cover and couldn’t believe how I could relate to everything in it. It was written by a woman who had experienced a stillbirth. Over the years I have given copies of that book to parents who have experienced the loss of a child via stillbirth, neonatal death or miscarriage. I recommend it to anyone that has a family member or friend that has experienced a loss. By reading this book you will be able to understand the feelings and the emotions of bereaved parents.

I have a few mementos of Kelsey. I put together a scrapbook right after I got home from the hospital. We have two pictures of her. Putting together that scrapbook was my therapy. Every year on March 1st I get out the scrapbook, not to relive the pain of that time in my life, but to remember God’s love for me. He gave me her for a reason. It was because of her birth that it was discovered that I have a birth defect that prevents me from carrying a child full term with medical assistance. There was no way for any doctor to know this until I had Kelsey.

As I think of it, Kelsey went straight from the pain of this world and straight into the arms of Jesus.


tammyyarbrough said...

I had just told Alex that Mommy has a baby in her tummy. He was So excited. He was 4 years old and was finally going to be a big brother. When Daddy came home- he used to look through the window on the side of the door to watch for Daddy's truck at night- he ran and yelled " Mommy's having us a baby!!". 3 days later I miscarried.
I was devistated, to say the least. Like you said, everywhere I looked women were pregnant. The neighbor right next door was 2 months further along then me, so every single day I looked at her stomach and it would literally make me vomit. We had already done the nursery. 2 kids. The American dream. I was forced to tell my little boy that God needed our baby up in Heaven. I lost my faith. It took a VERY long time to heal. It took me a very long time to understand how God could do this to us. Sometimes these questions go unanswered in the middle of the night when I wake up and imagine "what if". Tod(DH) and I decided that one child was enough and that losing another would be too painful. Alex is our pride and joy, and I truly thank God each and every precious second for the time that we have with him. I truly feel your pain.

Martha said...

Everyone deals with grief differently. I can tell you that when I was hospitalized with my second pregnancy I was in danger of losing that baby also. While the doctors were trying to stop my contractions I told my DH that if I lost the baby, that I did not want to try again. I could not take any more disappointment and heartache.

Working through that grief made me a strong person. Sometimes I look back to 1984 and can hardly believe that I was able to make it through, but I did. The only way I did that was leaning on my faith and talking to God a lot. There were many times those talks were more my shouting at God and crying.

My faith grew stronger and even though I may have times of doubt - such as this week with my health and my DH's job - in the end I know that I trust God to get us through the tough times.

Some days the only prayer I can get out is a simple "I trust you God to help me."

Moxie said...

Oh thank you SO MUCH for sharing Kelsey's life with your readers! Being there and supporting other parents who have lost children is such and honor to Kelsey's short stay here! I'll never fully understand the loss of littles but like you I KNOW they are with Jesus! All I can humbly do is trust God's hand in everything.

Martha said...

We as women should always reach out to other women that have lost children. I know people were worried about saying the wrong thing to me as I worked my way through my grief. What I needed the most was for women to visit me and listen to me talk. Deep down I know that every mother understands how they would feel themselves if this were to happen to them.

It was my privilege to share this story. I hope that it inspires women to reach out to other women when "bad things happen." We may have not been through the same experience in our life but we can still reach out and be a friend to someone else.

Moderate Means said...

THank you for sharing Kelsey's (and your!) story. I'm so sorry :(

I first read Empty Arms about a year after my first miscarriage. Excellent book. Helped me deal with the anger, grief and jealousy.