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!
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