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.