Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You Give and Take Away

It's been just over a month since I posted. I look back on that last post and think how different things were then... before our baby died.

It seems almost surreal to type that, not to mention saying it out loud. I've wrestled with nearly every emotion imaginable in this last month, and 27 days later, I have no more understanding of it than I did the moment we found out.

I was 22 weeks pregnant when I woke up one night with the strangest feeling. Physically, I felt fine and no different than I did the days or weeks before. But I had this gut feeling that something wasn't right. As I lay there in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because of my worry, I realized that I hadn't felt the baby move in a couple days. I lied there praying that God would make the baby move. I turned from side to side, desperately trying to get him to kick or turn, but I felt nothing. I went downstairs and read things online and in my pregnancy books that tried to reassure me that at 22 weeks, not feeling your baby move can be normal and no reason to worry. I wasn't convinced, but there was nothing I could do at 4:00 in the morning. Crying, I crawled back into bed and fought the urge to wake Gary. Instead, I continued to pray that I'd feel the baby move or feel some reassurance that he was fine. I never felt him move, but over and over again, the Lord pressed upon my heart that everything would be okay - not that everything would turn out okay and the way I hoped, but that everything would just be okay. I'll never forget (nor do I want to forget) the sense of peace that washed over me. I guess it was a peace that passes all understanding. Matt Redman's song, "You Never Let Go" kept playing over and over in my head that night, and not until later would I realize the significance of those words. The lyrics of the song were a great comfort to me as I tried to get back to sleep that night.

I called the doctor as soon as the office opened in the morning and the nurse said that although everything was probably fine, I could come in to listen to the heartbeat to ease my mind. The girls and I were in the car within minutes.

Gary met us at the hospital and the nurse led us back to the ultrasound room. The second the image of my baby boy came up on the screen, we knew. The room was so quiet. Even the girls were quiet. I've seen enough happy, normal ultrasounds to know what to look for, and I didn't see that flashing, perfect heartbeat. I saw a dark, still picture and the bad feeling in my gut was confirmed. The doctor didn't need to say anything, because I could tell from the look on her face that what I imagined to be the worst news I could receive was about to be true. A second doctor confirmed her suspicions, and she told us that yes, our baby boy had died.

I relive that moment more often than I'd like. It still seems like it can't be possible. Even now, a month later, I catch myself looking down at my belly to see if it really happened. It just doesn't make sense at all.

The next morning we woke up early, dreading the day ahead of us. I had hardly slept because I was so nervous and sad. My mom and dad and sisters came to spend the day with the girls while Gary and I were at the hospital. Before I left the house, I had Gary take one last pregnant picture of me. I don't know why... I just wanted it. I remember feeling so sad and almost guilty that it was the first "official" belly pic of this baby. It breaks my heart to see those pictures now, but I am glad I have them. I remember that night that I woke up with a bad feeling, thinking that my tummy even felt different. It felt smaller, and maybe even softer. Later, I asked the nurse if it was possible or if I'd imagined it, and she said it was. She said it may have seemed different because the "essence of life" was gone from it. I think she was right.

The doctor induced labor early on August 31st, and after an entire day of slow labor and sad anticipation, Joshua Dale Osborne was born just before 7 p.m. We named him Joshua, which means "the Lord is my salvation" and Dale, which means "valley" and is also Gary's Dad's middle name. We would only ever really know this sweet boy by his name, so we wanted it to have meaning. We named him the night before he was born, acknowledging that even in this valley we're in, God loves us, and He's made that evident many times throughout this whole experience.

We were prepared to sign off on an autopsy for our baby to make sure that he didn't die due to genetic reasons, but the moment he came out, the doctor could see why he'd died. The umbilical cord had wrapped tightly around his neck. This is so rare, but God is so good. Genetic abnormalities could have meant no more children for us. So often, the reasons babies die in utero is unknown, and it's really a relief - as hard as it is - to have an answer. Even if it doesn't make any sense to us.

We got to hold Joshua for over 3 1/2 hours after he was born. We were so heartbroken, and yet so thankful to meet our son. He was absolutely perfect, which is partly why his cord death is SO frustrating. It seems so senseless. He weighed 1 lb., .8 oz. and was 11" long. He looked like a tiny, miniature baby doll. He had tiny fingernails and tiny toenails and tiny earlobes... he was perfectly formed. Before he was born, Gary and I shared with each other that we both felt nervous to see him, not knowing what to expect. We didn't know what he would like, and quite frankly, I think we were scared. But he was beautiful. We took pictures of him from every angle, knowing it would be our one chance to be with him and remember him. It's just not fair!!! We remember the days that our girls were born as two of the best days of our lives. The joy, the excitement, the anticipation... Joshua's birth was so different. I won't forget how painfully quiet the room was when he was born, or how different my tears felt as I held him.

Handing that sweet baby over to the nurse as we left our room was the hardest thing we have ever had to do. I kissed him goodbye, and left part of myself in that nurse's arms. There's this completely irrational side of me that wants to run back there this minute and take him from her. I know he's not there and she's probably not there either, but that's how much any of this makes sense. You're not supposed to leave your baby at the hospital. Ever. I've had friends whose babies were born prematurely and they had to come home before their babies did. I always thought that would be so hard to do. But now, I would give anything to have left that hospital room, knowing I was going back there to bring him home in a few weeks or even months. As Gary and I left the hospital with empty arms, we cried and cried. I still have a dream where I'm being pushed down a never-ending hallway in a wheelchair leaving the hospital without a baby.

We buried Joshua on September 5th. The day was so beautiful, his casket was so small, and it all seemed so cruel. Everyone keeps telling us that "God has a plan" and we know that. WE KNOW. It doesn't mean we have to like it right now. I've not felt angry at God through any of this; I guess I don't see the point. I know God loves me and isn't out to "get" me, and if anything, he's never felt closer. He is the God of all comfort and has wiped many a tear from my eye. There are many mornings lately when Emma comes bounding into our room, I don't feel like being a fun mommy. Although the days are getting better, there are still moments when I'm sad and weepy and deflated. I have no energy and yet I have two girls with lots of energy. I'm praying that God continues to give me what I need to take care of my family and gives me the wisdom to know when to grieve and when to live life. I'm praying that He keeps drawing me nearer and teaching me to lean on him for strength, because so far it's what's gotten me through this long.

I think as of today I'm officially done bleeding. That's one of the things that's really been awful - I've had all the post-partum stuff, minus the baby. My milk even came in. I'm doing better every day, although some days are worse than others. Today has been hard. One thing I've been so grateful for is how our friends and family have rallied around us. The Lord has blessed us with amazing people who have loved us through this from the beginning. I don't know how we'd have gotten through this without so much support. Thank you, Lord.

I don't get this. I don't understand. It's not fair. I feel so empty and small and helpless and confused and frustrated... I'm still sorting out all of my feelings and expect that I will be maybe forever. I do know that I'm so thankful that God gave us Joshua Dale for even just a short time. We are confident that his short life will (and has already) impact other lives for God's glory. Gary and I have drawn so much nearer in the last month, and our relationship is stronger than it's been in awhile. I'm thankful for that. I've been praying that the Lord will bless us with more children in His time, and once He deems that we're ready. The loss of our baby still feels too fresh, but I know God will trade beauty for ashes.

In the last couple weeks there have been so many funny and silly things I've wanted to post, which was encouraging to me that there is still a lighter side of life. I felt a little trapped though, like I couldn't blog about anything before I gave an update on the baby. I'm sure I'll revisit my feelings and have to blog about them once in awhile, but I'll be glad to resume posting silly stories about the girls again.

In case you're looking for some good songs, these four have been special to me in the last month. Everything seems a little different now, and even songs have taken on a different meaning. Anyway, these songs have ministered to me in a big way lately.

Bring the Rain - Mercy Me
You Never Let Go - Matt Redman
Blessed Be Your Name - Tree 63
How Can I Keep from Singing - Chris Tomlin

If you've made it through this far, thanks for hanging in there!

29 comments:

  1. There are no words, Angie. My heart is filled to the brim with sadness for you and Gary and your sweet girls.

    In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, "I will carry you to Jesus; He is everything you need. I will carry you to Jesus on my knees."

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  2. Precious Angie...Joshua's little feet and hands, isn't God's creation beyond amazing. I love you, and will continue to pray God's peace and strength for you.

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  3. Angie - his little hands and feet are so beautiful and perfect. Thank you for sharing those pictures and your feelings. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  4. Angie, thank you for sharing that with us. I still think about you guys often. I just want you to know that.

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  5. Oh Angie, I've been thinking and praying for you so much in the last month. I was in awe looking at the pictures of Joshua's precious little toes. You can even see the creases of his footprint. There are some things we will never understand this side of Glory and I suppose this may be one of those things. I can only send along a hug and reassurance that Joshua will be remembered always.

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  6. I forgot to sign my name to my comment above. Oops! It's me - Rebecca.

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  7. That was just beautiful. Your a faithful woman, hang in there. I will leave you with an classic that I've found much comfort in.

    Footprints in the sand

    One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
    he was walking along the beach with the LORD.

    Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
    For each scene he noticed two sets of
    footprints in the sand: one belonging
    to him, and the other to the LORD.

    When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
    he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

    He noticed that many times along the path of
    his life there was only one set of footprints.

    He also noticed that it happened at the very
    lowest and saddest times in his life.

    This really bothered him and he
    questioned the LORD about it:

    "LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
    you, you'd walk with me all the way.
    But I have noticed that during the most
    troublesome times in my life,
    there is only one set of footprints.
    I don't understand why when
    I needed you most you would leave me."

    The LORD replied:

    "My son, my precious child,
    I love you and I would never leave you.
    During your times of trial and suffering,
    when you see only one set of footprints,
    it was then that I carried you."

    Love, Lisa/Scooter

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  8. Thank you for sharing your beautiful baby and your heart. Tears, hugs and prayers...

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  9. Angie, thank you for sharing the pictures of your sweet boy. I can't find words to express how precious, yet how heartbreaking the photos are. He is just so perfect. I would love to see what all of him looked like, if you're ever up for sharing. I can imagine he was perfect and beautiful all over.

    The picture of you made me cry. What a beautiful and sad photo...I'm so glad you thought to take that.

    And I'm still so sorry for this loss. You are in my prayers & on my mind.

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  10. Oh Angie,

    I popped over to return your visit and instantly I am in awe of the faith that is sustaining you in some very dark days. I have miscarried twice, but I've never seen the faces of those children or been able to hold their hands. I can understand looking at your belly and almost forgetting that the life is no longer there.

    Please know though I've just met you this moment that I will be praying for your family and that I will never forget these precious pictures.

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  11. Ang--sending you all the love I can from far away... a long distance hug until I am back in Colorado.

    Love,
    Sunny

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  12. You don't know me but your little boy is just the most beautiful, the most perfect creation. Though understanding may never come, may you find peace and one day again feel joy.

    God bless you and your family.

    ~ jen

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  13. I saw your comment on thepreacherswife blog and thought I'd check your blog out. (I've been looking for some blogging friends my age!)

    The tragic loss of your son is heartwrenching! I pray that God will wrap His arms around you and your family during this difficult time!

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  14. He was so precious! Those are beautiful pictures, Angie. Your in my thoughts often. Love ya.

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  15. Angie, I'm so sorry to see this. :( I can't imagine the pain you are going through, but you seem to be very strong in your faith and I know that will give you comfort when nothing anyone can say does. The pictures of little Joshua are beautiful and so heartbreaking. I'm so glad you had the chance to say goodbye to your little angel. He'll be with you always and you and your girls now have a very special angel looking over you.

    Hugs and prayers from Abby, Lucas, and I.

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  16. Oh Angie. My heart aches for you. Heaven just got a little sweeter, didn't it? I also have a son in heaven. Who knows, maybe the Lord will allow them to connect the way He has allowed our paths to cross. Please know that I am praying FERVENTLY for you and your precious family.

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  17. How incredible that you were able to have those few hours with Joshua and to take some pictures of his perfection. God's hand be upon you and your family...the song that came to my mind in reading your blog...was "Held." I sang it at my cousins funeral...and my aunt said it was perfect. I don't pretend to understand, but I know that my God does. Praying for you!

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  18. I just found this tonight after a link to your post today. There are no words to express how beautiful this post was. Thank you for sharing your walk of faith even during such a difficult time.

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  19. I found your blog somehow and was just scanning and then I saw this post. I don't know you but I'm so sorry. I can't imagine such a loss.
    I do think it's neat that we have so many wonderful Christian songs that can give us such peace in times of trouble. Reading Psalms always helps me. But those 4 songs you listed are ones I have sang over and over when I've had moments of sadness.
    I hope God will bless your family.

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  20. Another song that will really lift you up is "Made me Glad" by Hillsong. If you don't know it ....find it and listen to it.

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  21. Darling Angie,
    I pray that it helps you to know others care and pray for you.
    I pray that the God of all comfort be your continueing strength and hope.

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  22. Angie, I realize that I am incredibly late reading your blog. I just wanted to tell you how much I feel for you. Your story sounds remarkably similar to mine and I've been thinking about you since you lost Joshua. The photos you posted are beautiful and I hope you know how fortunate you are to have them. While we have a couple photos of Mariam, I wish we had more. Please know that I am here if you ever need to chat!

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  23. I was linked to your blog from the two peas pregnant pea post. I read your story and had to leave a comment. I actually cried for you and your husband and how strong you sound. Your pics are so beautiful, by the way. Wishing you much happiness for the future

    Kellie

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  24. The Pierced Pastor7/16/2008 9:43 AM

    Angie,
    I was actually searching google for tattoo idea pics and somehow came across your blog. Your story is very VERY similar to mine and my wife's. I woke up on a Friday morning and reached for the phone. My wife asked who I was calling and I told her I was calling the OBGYN. When she asked why, I told her we had to go to listen to the heartbeat. She reminded me that we had an appointmtent on the following Tuesday but I said it couldn't wait. They were swamped with appointments that day so they made us the last appointment of the day. The same as you, as soon as the still picture appeared on the ultrasound, we knew that my fear was now realized. The doctor got another doctor to confirm and we were told that our baby girl had passed away. We went to the hospital the next day which was August 21, 1999. The pain of those first few months and actually first few years was almost unbearable. My best friend had been murdered only a few months before our daughter died and I just felt so abandoned by God. I was angry and wanted to give up. You see, I had been in the ministry for (at that time) for about 15 years. It wasn't until much later that I began to see God's hand moving in our lives. The reason I write this to you is because you still may have times that you question and yes, just get down right mad! It's ok. God understands. He created us and knows our tempers and all our emotions...he even created them! Allow yourself to have these times...don't try to fake the happy face all the time. It WILL backfire on you. In the end, I have come to learn that God doesn't cause these kind of things to happen, as some would speculate. But rather, when they happen (and I don't say "if" but when), He is there to hold us...and most often, He does it through the hands of another. Allow yourself to be held by God's hands...even if they look like someone's you know.
    May God bless you and your beautiful family. "He is able...more than able..."
    Blessings,
    Robert
    a.k.a. The Pierced Pastor

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  25. angie- i started reading your blog last night & caught up reading it today during the girls naptime. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. It is truly amazing to see how God carried you through this. What an amazing testimony you are & Joshua's story is to others. Your faithfulness to God is so evident! Hugs to you, Gary and the kids!

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  26. Hi Angie,
    I jumped here from your FB post today and read about your experience. I love you, Angie. It's really cool to see your faith blossom and continue to grow throughout your life. I love your openness, your rootedness, and your love for the lighter side of life, even through dark times. I don't know how long ago this happened, but I celebrate where you are today with this new pregnancy. Congrats!
    Jill (Schrag) Addison

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  27. Angie,
    I was reading your blog from this week when this one also appeared at the bottom. After reading it with tears rolling down my cheeks, I just wanted to tell you that I love how you shared your heart. I know this was a long time ago now, but I also know how much little Joshua still is a part of your family. You are an inspirational woman and I am blessed to know you.

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  28. Dear Angie,
    I just happened to stumble across your blog from the pleated poppy. I am also a pastor's wife, so I was interested in seeing more. Thank you for sharing your story and for allowing God's comfort and grace to shine through the precious story of Joshua. I too have lost (my first 2 babies) and know that even though the pain seems unbearable how great our God is. The Lord spoke to me when I was crying out to Him and singing over and over "You give and take away" that His grace is sufficient for me. Now I have 3 children. A 4 year old son (Samuel) and twins (Elliott and Emaline Grace). Thanks for being a light and sharing your story. God bless you and your family. My prayers are with you guys!
    Audra Mahoney

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