Thursday, October 15, 2015

National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day 2015

October 15th is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In fact, the entire month of October is a month dedicated to awareness for this issue. I have shared my story in past posts, but today I am honoring my babies on this day.

Prior to the loss of our first child, a son whom we named Jeffrey, I never knew the significance of the month of October. I knew miscarriages happened. Even stillbirths, although those were even further removed from my frame of reference.  In 2001, I was 22 weeks pregnant when I developed severe pre-eclampsia.  My ob/gyn at the time failed to recognize what was going on; something which mystifies me even still.  By the time she did take note, my condition was so severe that I was literally nearly at death's door.  I was transferred to a much larger hospital and my case was handed over to a high-risk ob/gyn.  During an ultrasound one morning shortly after I was transferred, no heartbeat was detected. Over fourteen years later, I can still place myself in that room and in that moment where we learned that our son had passed away. Our son would be stillborn. I was induced and delivered Jeffrey into this world without a breath or a cry late in the evening of August 14, 2001.

We were living in Houston, TX at the time.  We joined a support group called H.A.N.D {Houston's Aid in Neonatal Death} shortly after the loss of Jeffrey.  In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that such a group existed, much less that we would be joining it. While it was very difficult, there was comfort in knowing that we were not alone.  The circumstances of loss varied, but the one thing we all had in common was that we were all brought together through the loss of a precious baby {or babies}.  One of our leaders had a child who would then have been 8 years old and I remember thinking how well they were doing.  At the time, I couldn't comprehend a world 8 years removed from the loss of our precious Jeffrey.  It's been over 14 years for us now. I still don't understand why he was taken from us and how he isn't here with his family. 

It took a long time to get pregnant again.  The longer it took, the more everyone else around me seemed to be having babies.  It's like the new car phenomenon - you get a new car and all of a sudden you see that car everywhere. Well, for me, I lost a baby and all of a sudden everywhere I turned was a pregnant woman.  If you've experienced a loss, perhaps you can relate to how difficult that can be. 

We did get pregnant again in 2003. In April of that year, my mom was visiting.  I was newly pregnant and experiencing a range of emotions including being very nervous.  One day, while we were at a big outlet mall in west Houston, I stopped in the restroom.  I was absolutely shocked to discover I was having some bleeding. I was stricken with fear.  My mouth went dry.  I cried.  I didn't know what was going on.  Mom and I left the mall.  I called Ron.  It wasn't horrible bleeding, but I knew that it shouldn't be happening.  When we got home, I called the doctor's office.  I crawled in bed. And waited. Scared. Terrified. Crying. This could not be happening. Surely what I feared most was not happening.  I agonized at the thoughts of what could be happening.  What probably was happening.  I did not want to lose another child!  Late that evening, the bleeding got worse.  Ron and Mom took me to the ER.  I waited on a stretcher in my little curtained off area.  Scared.  I was just waiting for someone to come and see me.  I had to go to the bathroom.  That's when it happened.  That feeling of having to go to the bathroom was really the actual physical delivery of that tiny precious baby.  The miscarriage.  I had to pass the nurse's station in the ER on my way back to my gurney, so I handed over that precious silent little life.  Then a doctor came to examine me.

I truly wish now that I'd been where I am at today in my walk with Christ while all of this was going on.  How much better my life post-loss could have been.  However, everything happens according to God's plan and I trust now that there was a purpose for everything that happened between then and now. As I write this and reflect on all that has happened in our lives in the last several years, I don't understand it one bit, but I trust in God's plan. I can't see ahead to know what the plan holds for us - what joys or even challenges we have yet to face - but I trust Him. At the time, however, the miscarriage only caused me to distance myself further from Him.  Looking back, I can confidently say that at the time I anguished over how unfair my life was.  How it wasn't fair that everyone else got to have babies.  How it wasn't fair that all kinds of horrible stuff only ever happened to us.  Looking back, I made my life situation very much about me and not about God and what His plan might possibly have been.  I did not put God first.  I blamed God.  I was furious with Him.  I created a litany of horrible things that have happened throughout my entire life to justify why I was right in my thinking at that time.  Everyone else continued to get pregnant and have beautiful and healthy kids.  Not us.  I wanted to give up.  I hated my life.  I hated what we'd been handed.  I hated being 3 years into marriage and nearly having lost my own life twice and having lost two children.  I hated everything.  

I don't know if our second baby was a boy who would wind up looking just like his older brother or if it was a girl.  I regret that our second baby has for years now has been called "the second baby" or "the baby we lost".  I regret that that child has never been given a proper name.  I always had a feeling like we should name the baby a name that would work for either a boy or a girl.  

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  {Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV}

God is merciful and compassionate.  He is a loving God.  I know now that He loved me through all of the trials we went endured at that time.  I know He has loved me through all of the trials I've endured since that time. I know that He loves all of my children with unfailing love - whether they are present on this Earth with me now or with Him in heaven.

In the time that has passed since my losses, I have been blessed with two daughters - Moira in 2004 and Peyton in 2006 {who passed away on May 4, 2013 - 11 days short of her 7th birthday}.  Moira will tell you all about her big brother even though she was born after he passed.  We remember him every August 14th on his birthday.  At Christmas, we always remember our babies in a special flower arrangement.  No matter where we happen to be spending Christmas - at our home or elsewhere - there is always a bouquet of roses on display.  There is no special treatment about the arrangement.  It is there.  We know what it signifies.  It's just there.  The arrangement consists of 6 pink roses - one rose for each month I carried Jeffrey.  There are also yellow roses - one for every Christmas that has passed since he died.  Since 2003, one white rose has been added each year.  That solitary white rose is for our second baby. We have also included additional flowers in the arrangement since Peyton passed away in 2013.  

My heart breaks for each and every one of you who have lost a child to stillbirth, miscarriage, illness, of any other reason.  These children are a part of our families.  A part of us.  They are to be honored by us, particularly at this time during Infant Loss Awareness Month.  




27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.  {1 Samuel 1:27-18, NIV} 

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  {Matthew 11:28-30, NIV}

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