Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lily's Birth Day

Okay, this is the last post in my "Series of Lily" if you will. This week has been about remembering her, and celebrating the impact she had on our family. Thank you for following along, even though these posts haven't been easy to read. She was and is a huge part of our family's story. Thank you for remembering her with us, and for being there for us through it all.

We walked into the hospital when it was still dark outside. The sun hadn't come up yet, and I had no idea it wouldn't be until the next day's sunrise that I would finally deliver Lily. I knew I would be leaving her there, and the thought of that left a pit in my stomach. I held tightly to the pink bunny I had gotten for her at the hospital gift shop when I had my amnio the day before. I didn't let go of that bunny for weeks.

We checked into the maternity triage. They must have told the receptionist I was coming. She gave us sympathetic looks and spoke in a very soft voice. I remember giving her my insurance card and thinking how awful it was going to be to get the hospital bill in the mail months later. I was right.

After waiting for awhile in the small waiting area and praying to God that no healthy pregnant women came in, we were called back. I had been telling all my family and friends to pray that I would have kind nurses. For some reason I was terrified that my nurses wouldn't be nice. It seems silly now, but my feelings and nerves were so fragile that I couldn't bear the thought of having a nurse who was rude or unsympathetic. The nurse who helped me into my room was so kind, but I remember telling myself not to get attached to her because I would only have her for three hours before shift change.

She took me to a room far away from the other labor and delivery rooms, off in a back corner of the unit where the nurses station was unmanned except for my nurse and one or two other people. She told me they didn't want me to have to hear any babies crying or mothers laboring with healthy infants, and it would be more peaceful back there. She showed me the special hospital heart they taped to my door, so that everyone who entered would know I was delivering a stillborn, I guess so they wouldn't try something awful like smiling.

I got settled in the room and they started my IV. The nurse asked me all the questions she needed for my chart, and if I wanted the epidural right away or in a few hours. I told her I didn't want any drugs. I was so scared that if I got an epidural, I wouldn't feel Lily come out. I thought because she was so tiny that she'd slip out and I wouldn't notice, and the thought terrified me. I thought if I got any pain medication that I would be too groggy to remember my incredibly short time with Lily, and I wanted to be completely lucid since I knew I had only hours, maybe minutes with my baby girl.

They began the induction by giving me some medication that would start labor. They anticipated I would only need one or two doses before Lily would be born. I was hopeful we would have her by lunch that day.

Jake and Eisley were going to come visit before things really got started, and I remember trying to make myself look nice and comfortable for them, so they wouldn't be scared. When Josh's parents arrived with the kids, we had some time together for them to see me and also say goodbye to Lily. The kids had drawn pictures for her and brought her stuffed animals. Seeing them and holding them lifted my spirits immensely. I was so thankful I would have them to go home to, and wondered how any woman could go through something like this without children at home to fill the void. After two losses, and later three, I have come to realize what an incredible miracle Jake and Eisley are. I had taken for granted so much how easily my twins came to me, how healthy they were. I knew I never, ever would take that for granted again.

Showing me their drawings

Eisley drew both Lily and Gracie in she draws three babies up there. :)

Jake drew a two headed dragon. :)

Telling him how very much mommy loved him and explaining why he couldn't stay

Eisley was begging to stay and hold Lily.  I promised to sing Lily Eisley's  special song for her and give her a kiss from her sister

No one can make me smile like Jakey can. :)

Robin agreed to stay with Jake and Eisley instead of meeting her grand-daughter, and I appreciated  it more than I can ever tell her. It gave me such peace knowing they were with their Nana.

Even in our darkest hour, our babies can make us laugh! They have the joy of the Lord in them and He knew we would need it in those moments.

Dropping their toys for Lily in her empty bassinet. This was such a tough moment for me...

Kissing her sister goodbye "until Heaven".

One last family picture with Lily
As much joy as seeing my kids brought me, it had taken absolutely every ounce of my strength to hold it together while they were there. We had been visiting with them and our family for awhile and I hadn't realized what kind of emotional strength it was taking to not fall apart. The moment the door shut after everyone walked out, and I mean the very moment that door closed, I completely lost it. I broke down into gasping sobs and Josh had to climb into the bed with me to calm me down. This was real. It was happening. I was here, Lily had to come out, and there was no turning back now.

The pain of labor with Lily was sharp and unyielding. With every contraction, I knew I was closer to losing her forever. Yet it seemed to go on and on without progress. Hours would go by, and I would be so sure that I had progressed enough to start pushing, but the nurse would check me and shake her head every time. It was just not moving along.

I had a new nurse by now, and I loved her. I prayed I would have Lily before shift change because I wanted her to be the one to deliver Lily. They upped the dosage of the induction meds and the nurse calmly and gently tried to convince me to get an epidural, or at least take some pain medication. I vehemently denied it, and told her my fears of not being able to feel Lily come out, as well as my fear of being too groggy to remember my only time with her. She told me she understood, but that the dosage of meds they were giving me were going to cause an intense amount of pain, and I should not have to deal with that on top of everything else. I could tell how badly Josh and my nurse wanted me to give in, but the fear was too great, and the pain seemed manageable compared to what I was experiencing emotionally.

I remember writing emails back and forth to my sister, updating her on my lack of progress. I had texts coming in from friends who knew I was in labor telling me they were praying, and Josh and I were so thankful for the support of our loved ones.

Josh was amazing. He had been incredible for the past few days, but during my labor with Lily I realized how very, very much I loved him. He took such good care of me. I remember the nurse telling Josh to go get something to eat, and him refusing to leave me. She told him she would take care of me, and it would be a long time before Lily was born, so he should go. He very reluctantly agreed, and when he kissed me goodbye and walked out, the nurse leaned over and said, "That man loves you so much." It meant the world to me, and I was overcome realizing the grace God has shown Josh and me in our marriage, that after everything we have been through, a stranger could still see our love for each other.

We would go back and forth between having strong, peaceful moments, and dark, terrifying ones. I remember one particular time when I was in so much pain, and the grief of what I was being asked to do hit me like a ton of bricks. My parents happened to be in the room at the time, and I remember just falling apart at the seams. I was sobbing and repeating over and over again "I cannot give birth to a dead baby, I cannot give birth to a dead baby." I was out of my mind with sadness, and I was so scared about what was happening. I was scared that Lily would look awful, that I wouldn't be able to hold her, that they would discover she had some genetic defect that would prevent us from wanting to try again. I was scared that I didn't have what it took to do this, that I would be too weak. I was scared of the sadness, because I knew it would be bigger than any sadness I had ever felt.

Josh held me together while I was falling apart. God granted him supernatural strength to deal with me in those moments and not lose it himself. It was late in the evening, I had been in painful labor for over 15 hours, and there was no end in sight. We hadn't slept properly in days. We were physically and emotionally exhausted, and at the end of our rope.

At midnight, I got a new nurse. I dreaded saying goodbye to the one I had bonded with in the past 12 hours, and prayed so hard the next nurse would be kind to me. She was an angel. She told me she had been where I was right then, that all my nurses I had so far had been. I suddenly understood why they were all so wonderful...they got it. They too had faced what I was facing, and God knew I needed them.

She saw how hungry, exhausted, and hurting I was, and she went about fixing it. Though women in labor are not supposed to eat, she "turned her head" while I ate some tater tots and a cherry limeade that Josh snuck in from Sonic. She sat on my bed and asked me to explain my fears about the epidural. I cried when I told her, and she put her hand on my face and promised me that she would not let me miss my time with Lily. She assured me they would turn the epidural down so I would be able to feel when Lily was ready to come out. She told me firmly but gently that I needed sleep, or I would not have the emotional or physical strength that I needed to deliver my daughter. She promised me she would check me every two hours to make sure that when it got close to time to push, that we would know and I could turn off the epidural.

Perhaps it was her kindness, perhaps it was that I had absolutely no strength left to argue, but I agreed. They called the anesthesiologist and he came very quickly to give me the epidural. I remember how very quiet and somber he was. He told me very curtly that he was very sorry, but he was going to make it so at least I wasn't hurting physically anymore. As epidurals do, it hurt going it. I remember staring at Lily's empty bassinet and having a flashback of my epidural with the twins, how when I got it then, I stared at their bassinet and thought about how if I could just get through this, soon I would have my babies crying right there in that bassinet. I realized I had nothing to look forward to, and suddenly that needle hurt even more.

I had no tears left, though. I stared blankly while it went in, and waited for the relief. Minutes later, I finally felt it. The pain was gone. It is amazing the high you get when you have been in incredible pain for hours on end and suddenly the pain is gone. I think Josh was even more relieved than I was, and you could tell that relieving me of my pain had taken a huge load of off his shoulders. The nurse got me comfortable, turned off all the lights, and ordered us to get some sleep. I remember being so tired. I let her give me something to make me doze off and being so comfortable that I was afraid I'd miss the birth. She assured me I wouldn't, and Josh and I finally slept.

Two hours later it was time to be checked again. It was early morning, and I had been in labor for nearly 24 hours. I prayed this was it. I was so disappointed when the nurse told me I still had a ways to go, but she was hopeful we would deliver before the end of her shift in two hours.

When she walked out, I hit a wall. Josh got into bed with me and we realized how close we were to all of this being over. We were so scared, and all we could do is hold each other and pray. We prayed for peace, we prayed that Lily would be whole and beautiful. We told God we were ready, and to please let her come soon. We asked for strength, we asked for time to hold her, we asked that this nurse would be the one to deliver Lily, as I loved her most of all and knew she would be so gentle with our Lily.

Josh said Amen, and we talked. We felt such a peace, such a calm, we knew it was the Lord. Right then, I felt it. I knew she was coming. Even though the nurse had just checked me only minutes before, I could feel it. I knew. I told Josh to get her right now, right right now, that Lily was coming. He didn't quite believe me at first, but I was so adamant that he sat up and ran to the door. He said, "She thinks it's time, right now." The nurses came in and asked what I was feeling. I said, "Lily. She's coming now."

The nurse checked me and I saw the surprise on her face as she gently said, "Okay. She's coming right now. I will get the doctor, but she might not make it in time." The doctor came in minutes though, and the nurses hurried to get things ready. Suddenly I was so excited to see Lily. It wasn't the same kind of excitement as with the twins, obviously, but I still was so excited to see her and hold her. Josh held my hand and kissed my head.

It was so bright in that room. I told the nurses to dim the lights, I wanted it dark and quiet. They did, and then they told me to push. I pushed, once, and that was it. At 5:36 a.m., Lily was born. She came out with her amniotic sac completely in tact, and it look like a giant water balloon. It was amazing. They took her to her bassinet and broke the water. The nurse told me she wanted to clean Lily up before we saw her, and I was fine with that. I was so scared at how she would look, and told Josh to make sure she was okay before they brought her to me.

After a few minutes, the doctor came over. She told me that Lily's cord had been wrapped tightly around her neck three times, and she was confident that this was the cause of death. An autopsy wouldn't be necessary. She told me Lily looked perfectly healthy, and had this accident not occurred, she was sure Lily would have been born a perfectly healthy baby girl. I felt relief and sadness at the same time. Was this good news, or bad? I couldn't decide.

The nurse came over and quietly told us what to expect. She said that Lily was extremely small and fragile. She told us there was swelling in her neck because of the cord, and that her skin was so delicate that we needed to limit touching it. She asked if we were ready, and we both nodded.

I remember them handing her to me in what suddenly seemed like a giant baby blanket, though they had always seemed so small to me. Lily swam in it. I held my breath as I looked down at her.

She was beautiful.

She looked so pitiful, like she had been hurting. I cried. Her lips were so familiar. They were Jake's lips. We unwrapped her and inspected the long, beautiful legs we had seen on her ultrasounds so many times. We commented that her calves looked so muscular, she had Harrison calves.

Her feet were so incredibly small, yet completely perfect. Her tiny hands had tiny, perfect fingers the size of rice. She was so delicate, and I was so scared of breaking her.

The nurse came back with a teeny, tiny pink blanket that velcroed together in the front. She put Lily in it and it made her so much easier to hold. It held her together, literally, because she was so incredibly delicate.

We marveled over her. We sang her Eisley's special song and told her about her brother and sister. We told her how sorry we were.

After awhile we told the nurse to let our family in. We told her to warn them about how small she was, how her skin looked, to explain how she had died so I wouldn't have to. I remember feeling scared that everyone might think she looked too upsetting, that maybe they wouldn't want to see her after all.

When they walked in, I held Lily in my hands and told them, "She's so tiny. Her skin is really shiny and her neck is swollen. But she's beautiful."

I was proud of her. I wanted to show her off. She was my daughter, and I wanted everyone else to love her as much as I did.

I'm so thankful they came. They supported us, they held her, and they were so strong. I know how hard that was for them. She was scary to look at, it was a scary situation, and they did it for us. They showed so much love for us and their granddaughter, and we were so grateful.

We took time with our family to pray and read Scripture over Lily together. Josh and I took turns holding her and reading out loud from the Bible. We read Psalm 139.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise; 
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways. 
 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely. 
 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, 
    too lofty for me to attain.
 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me, 
    your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
 For you created my inmost being; 
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, 
    I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God! 
    How vast is the sum of them!
 Were I to count them, 
    they would outnumber the grains of sand 
    when I awake, I am still with you.

And then we prayed over her.

We asked our families to step out so we could have our last moments with her. Josh and I knew it was coming to an end. We felt at peace with letting her go. We spent a few minutes holding her, kissing her feet, and trying to imprint mental pictures of her in our minds, so we would not ever forget.

I always sing my babies lullabies at bedtime. I let them choose one of many, and I sing it to them, every night, no matter what. I wanted to sing to Lily, but I couldn't think of the right lullaby. Then an old George Straight song popped into my head, and it was perfect for my sweet baby who I would only get to sing to once...

Goodnight, Sweetheart, sleep tight
Wherever you are
God holds you in His arms
While we're apart
Though your're far away
Your love will stay
Tucked away here in my heart
Goodnight, Sweetheart, sleep tight
Wherever you are

And then we knew. It was time. Josh and I whispered to her that it was time to go. We told her we would see her again very soon, and we let go. Josh called the nurse in, and we told her we were ready. She asked if we were sure, and we said yes. I had pictured that moment for days, thinking it would be traumatic, heart wrenching and impossible. But as I handed Lily back to the nurse, I felt only peace. I was so thankful for my time with her, that I got to hold her at all, and I knew our time was up. She was gone, and I was ready to let her go.

It was a very odd feeling, confusing almost, after we let Lily go. What next? The nurse told me I needed to eat breakfast, and then I could go home. I ordered bacon and eggs. When I finished, Josh helped me get dressed, and it was time to go. Just like that.

The nurse who delivered Lily had stayed an extra two hours to see me out. She gave me two bracelets she had made while I was in labor, they were pink and they had "Lily Grace" on them. One for me, and one for Eisley. The nurses had taken Lily's footprints and made me a beautiful card with her height, weight, and time of birth. They even made Jake and Eisley their own special memory pages with Lily's footprints and the date. A blue one for Jake, and pink one for Eisley. They said, "In memory of our baby sister, Lily". They were so beautiful. I thanked the nurse and gave her a huge hug. I told her how important it was to me that she had been there, and that she had treated me with such love. I am still convinced to this day that those nurses were angels sent by God to get me through those hours! 

I remember them wheeling me out of the hospital, my pink bunny in hand, and seeing a new daddy with his brand new baby car seat coming in the front door, smiling with excitement as he got ready to take his little one home. It was a punch in the gut. We had no one to take home. 

I panicked. How could I leave Lily in that hospital? Where was she? Was she alone? What did they do with babies like her? How could I desert her like this? I felt like a horrible, terrible, awful mother. I felt empty, so empty. And I held that pink bunny as if my very life depended on it.

And we got in the car.

And we drove home.

Lily's birthday was one year ago today. I have spent the past week thinking of very little but her, of those few days in June where our world turned upside down, looking back at the incredible strength God granted us to get through something like that, and how far we have come in the past twelve months. 

We met our new baby's birthmother today. We talked about how it was Lily's birthday, and we were all so amazed at God's perfect timing. I promise to get back to our adoption journey in the next post, but this week belonged to Lily. I have actually enjoyed sharing her birth story with the world, because it is healing for me. It is painful, but I am proud of our story. I hope that it offers insight to those who don't understand the grief of pregnancy and infant loss. I hope it offers encouragement to those who have suffered it, knowing they are not alone. And I hope if offers hope to anyone going through a time of grief, hope that the Lord can offer peace and comfort that you cannot get anywhere else. We are proof of that.

I'm so thankful that you have taken the time to read about our loss and how the Lord brought us through it. I have been told so many times that my posts never cease to make people cry, but I promise that's not my intention! I heal through my writing, through sharing our story. I believe that experiencing crippling grief and sadness makes our joyful experiences so much more amazing. Having walked through such dark times, I appreciate the bright ones that much more! I want to share all the aspects of our journey, not just the happy ones, because that just wouldn't be accurate. When we do finally hold this new baby in our arms, and I post pictures of our family complete, I know you will all cry tears of joy with us because you have learned how far God has brought us! 

We sometimes wish things had been different. That Lily could have been born healthy and perfect, and we never would have had to walk this road. But we cannot deny the lessons God has taught us through our experience losing Lily, lessons about faith, provision, the true nature of the Lord, friendship, family, and love. I am changed because of her. I would not want to go back to the person I was before I had Lily. The Karen I am now is stronger, more sensitive, less petty, and closer to my Lord. I am a better mother and a better friend, though both my children and my friends have had to be patient with me this year while I learned those lessons. I am a better wife to my better husband. I am wiser, and I am so much more appreciative of my joys in life. 

Thank you, my sweet Lily, for growing your mommy so much! Happy birthday my love! We will see you very, very soon.


  1. Well, you "cleared my sinuses" again. You have so beautifully bared your inmost soul to us these past few days. It is often hard to see the "All things" working for good, but it seems that through this terrible, yet joyful journey, you and Josh have come, that God is working good for you and for those of us so blessed by your lives and testimony. May glory to His name continue to come from this great trial that you have come through....with such great suffering.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us

  3. Karen, you are so brave to share your story. It is beautiful, and I cannot imagine the pain you felt/feel losing your precious Lily. I have had different pain, a different story...but when you talk about not wanting to the be the person you were before, I can completely relate. The things I went through I wish had never happened, but the way God grew me through so much pain and heartache I wouldn't trade for anything. And one more thing -- I also have boy/girl twins, Maggie & Moses. Thanks again for sharing your heart.



  4. Your story resonates with me as we lost our baby girl at 22 weeks. Thank you so much for sharing. It is amazing to me that while we are complete strangers we are so connected. Your feelings and emotions and thoughts through your birth experience resonate so much with me because not only are our stories similar but we shared some of the exact same things. It's amazing how God shows you that you truly are not alone in your grief and others are right there with you. Thank you again for sharing, you have an amazing story worth sharing with the world.

  5. Your story resonates with me as we lost our baby girl at 22 weeks. Thank you so much for sharing. It is amazing to me that while we are complete strangers we are so connected. Your feelings and emotions and thoughts through your birth experience resonate so much with me because not only are our stories similar but we shared some of the exact same things. It's amazing how God shows you that you truly are not alone in your grief and others are right there with you. Thank you again for sharing, you have an amazing story worth sharing with the world.