I wish I had different news to report, but this is my reality and so I have to tell you about my broken heart tonight.
On Saturday morning, I delivered a beautiful baby boy, but he was stillborn. We named him Daniel Robert. He weighed 7 lbs 10 oz and was 19.5 inches long. I have never known such sadness in all my life. What I would give to be taking care of him and to tell him over and over how much I love him.
So many people want details and they are painful to relate. I hope that if I can share some here, then I will have to explain it to less people in the future. Don't take that to mean I don't want to talk about it, because I do. But the circumstances are hard to tell over and over again.
On Tuesday, I had my 38 week doctor's appointment and all was well. My entire pregnancy has gone so well--hardly a complication in sight. We had a busy week with Halloween and kids home from school Friday and then I've been working as hard as I can to get ready for my baby's arrival.
Friday night as I was going to bed, I wondered to myself if I had felt him kicking lately. I was a little worried but, I was tired and I went to sleep wondering. When I woke up around 3:30 am, I was suddenly panicked that I hadn't felt kicking. I did all I could to wake him up and when I couldn't, I woke up Rob and made him take me to the hospital to see if we could find a heartbeat.
We left our kids sleeping at home and I arrived around 4:30 am.
After checking in, the nurse used the doppler to listen for the heartbeat. She wasn't finding anything. I have experienced this before with a miscarriage and I knew right away that he was gone. I started to cry--wail really. I was hoping beyond hope that there was some mistake, and I waited for the doctor to confirm it with the ultrasound. But I knew and my heart was breaking. How could something like this happen? How long had he been gone? How much suffering can one heart take?
I had eaten a little cereal and juice to try to get movement and so we had to wait to perform the C-section until my stomach was empty. It felt like a long wait, but in some ways I didn't want to lose his precious little body--denial felt easier with him inside me. Rob's dad came and gave me a blessing which was a huge comfort. He then went to our house to be with our kids as they woke up. As we waited we cried and prayed and talked about names. How could I be so unprepared to not even have a name? The nursing staff was amazing and were a true comfort to me throughout. My doctor was out of the state and so his partner took care of me--she was excellent too.
The surgery went well, but I was worried the whole time. What would he look like? Could they tell why he died? The hardest thing was the silence. I've never had a vaginal delivery, but with my other C-sections, I can feel the baby come out and then shortly after they cry and that is the most magical moment there is. This time there was silence. I think seeing his lifeless body was the reality moment for Rob. I couldn't see the baby, but Rob could and Rob was crying. Heartbreak. I held little Daniel for the first time there as they sewed me up. He was darling, but his little body was staring to deteriorate. They think he had been gone for a day or maybe even two. There was no sign of what went wrong.
In recovery, I got to hold him even more. My mom and sisters came. The nurse helped dress him in nice clothes that my sisters had brought. A lovely organization called "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" came and took pictures. I wanted to hold him but mostly I wished he were alive. I wanted him to know how much I love him.
Our kids took it hard. I have long believed that Steven had prayed this little baby into existence--he wanted a little baby in the family so badly. When they came to see him, they cried. Addie didn't want to see him, but the others did and Andrew even wanted to hold him.
That night as my mom was putting Steven to bed, he said to her, "I guess my family just isn't very lucky."
They let us keep Daniel's body as long as we wanted it and so we kept it throughout that day. I had my brothers and sisters, our kids and both of our parents come and say a prayer with us in the hospital that first night while we still had little Daniel's body. My dad gave me a sweet blessing and then we all said goodbye. It was time for me to send little Daniel to the hospital morgue but I couldn't do it. I kept him for a few more hours and then finally I said goodbye. I told him about all the things I had hoped for him and about all the people who loved him. And I kissed his soft skin and thought I would die of a broken heart.
The next days were too quiet. It all felt so wrong. I did okay when I had visitors. But when they left there was the silence again. And the empty arms. I could only sleep if I held a little teddy bear that some friends had brought.
I was discharged on Monday morning, but I didn't want to leave. The nurses had told me that they wouldn't send his body to the mortuary until I left. I wanted to be in the same place as my little boy. It felt like another goodbye.
But all the time I needed my kids. I needed to hold them and help them and just be with them.
And so I went and when I got home there was a beautiful piano with a big red bow waiting in my living room. I felt like Beth in Little Women when she is given a piano--absolutely overwhelmed with emotion. My family had organized a group gift from friends and family for Steven and for our whole family. Unbelievable.
And now when my heart feels like it can't take the sadness, I go play the piano and I am calmed.
The sadness is still so close to the surface.
Laura asks questions like, "When will Daniel come alive again?" and "Is there another baby in your tummy?" I can cry at the drop of a hat. We are still making arrangements for a graveside service and burial. I still need to hold the teddy bear sometimes.
This is so new that it is hard to make sense of why. The grief is so palpable sometimes. I will be going along and it will rise up in my throat and choke me. But through it all, I do know one thing. I know that I will see my little Daniel again someday. I know that our family has been sealed together forever and that we will be together again when this life is over. I know that Jesus is taking care of him on the other side. I think that he just needed to come and receive a body because his spirit was so perfect. He has already touched me and changed me forever. I know I will be a better person because he is a part of my life.
I would so much rather be changing diapers and missing sleep to feed a baby than to deal with the grief that this has brought. I would rather be picking out a crib than a burial plot. I don't understand why this has happened to us. But one thing is very clear and that is that we have a lot of people who love us. Steven thinks that we aren't very lucky and maybe there is truth there. But we have the most amazing friends and family in the whole world. We have the gospel and we know what happens when we die. And now we have an angel baby to watch over us.
I know this is a long post and very sad. I'm sorry. I don't know how much I will feel like writing about this in the future, so you get it all at once. I suspect that this sadness will take a very long time to go away. So many people have done so much for us. I have so many emails to respond to, but when I try, I just can't. It isn't because I don't appreciate every word of encouragement you send my way, I just don't have the energy.
The first lesson that I have learned from this is that life is so fragile and children are so precious. Please tell your kids you love them and hold them a little closer tonight when you think of little Daniel.