Sunday, February 24, 2013

Precious Mercy

  Our Precious Mercy Faith
Friday morning, October 14th, dawned a beautiful, sunshiny day, without a cloud in the sky. It felt different in our hearts, however. We were going to have to do what we figured was the hardest thing we've ever done, and didn't know how we could ever get through it. We had very different ideas on how to handle it, however, which makes me smile now, realizing just how different men and women (or at least David and I) handle situations. Upon finding out about our baby, he needed to keep himself busy (remember the cleaning?!) and work and keep on going, "life as usual". But I wanted to stop my whole world and cry and let the world go on around me as I grieved. I wanted to talk about my feelings and the baby and everything that was shattering my hopes. Dr Bean had said that to me too; that I would want to talk. That I would NEED to talk. That my friends and family would probably not know what to say, but that I NEEDED to talk about my loss. I found so much truth in that....I felt an intense need to call or text or email all my friends and family to tell them of my heartbreak. And that was very therapeutic. But for David it was a quiet, personal loss that he didn't know how to talk about. He told me later that he just wanted it all to go away....that if we didn't go to the hospital to deliver this baby, that she wouldn't be really gone. But as much as I would have loved his idea to be reality, it just wasn't. During those 3 days of letting the news settle in as truth, I came to the conclusion that we needed to go THROUGH it, there was no possible way of sidestepping it or forgetting it or pretending it wasn't there; no, we had to go straight through that particular gate of hell and then, if we were lucky, we would actually live to see another day.
Waiting to meet our tiny

We had scheduled our induction at 1pm because David felt the need to go into work in the morning and get some stuff done so he would be able to take the next week off to be with me. (If it's incomprehensible to think of him working, please refer to last paragraph :). I slept in as best I could and got my exhausted bones into the shower. While there, I just tried to relax and let the warm water calm me. I cried hot tears as I prayed that Heavenly Father would get me through this and that a little piece of peace would be mine that day. As I prayed, the distinct feeling came over me that my little one was a girl and as I said her name out loud, "Mercy Faith", I got chills cause I knew that it was her....and that this would be our last shower together with her warm and safe in my belly. It was a very sweet moment for the three of us--me, Mercy and our Heavenly Father.
David came home and we quietly prepared ourselves for the day. We remembered that we were going to have to buy a new camera when our baby was born, so even though this was months earlier than expected, we decided we definitely needed a camera for this day and went to Best Buy to buy a camera, and as he admitted to me later, David thought this would somehow delay the inevitable! This whole attitude of deviating was clearer sometime the night before when, as we lay in bed talking, I realized that to David, none of this was real. He didn't fully accept that our baby was gone and then it hit me that he wouldn't, until he saw for himself. With tears streaming down my face I told him that I understood his point. That he didn't see our lifeless baby or the lack of a heartbeat, and that I would make sure we got another ultrasound so that he could see for himself. Closure, that made perfect sense to me. He needed it as much as I did.
Cousin Moana with her favorite Aunt, aka my Mom :)

We met our nurse Moana (who happens to be my cousin and for whom I will forever be grateful for taking such good care of us that day) who put us in L&D room 5 and we started the process of check in. I told her we wanted an ultrasound and a few final pictures. She only had access to an older machine which didn't do great pictures, so she took us down the hall to the Maternal Fetal Medicine office to use theirs. They are usually only there in the mornings, she told us, so we could have access to a great machine. I was strangely nervous as I lay down and had a pit in my stomach and wasn't sure what it was at first....then I realized what it was. HOPE. I had seen my baby and knew she wasn't alive inside of me several days earlier. We had made the decision to induce labor and deliver her. But since I had felt no movement yet (too early in pregnancy) I didn't feel much different, physically. So all of a sudden here we were doing another ultrasound (which, after the experience I'd had Tuesday, was enough to cause anxiety on its own!) but I had the tiniest sliver of hope that we'd see a wiggly fetus with a strong heartbeat. It was a cruel little trick!  Moana wasn't as familiar with the machine and needed some help zooming in so she left to see if a tech was still in the office. She came back in with Dr Schemmer (is that his name?? Can't quite remember....oops) who is the Perinatologist, who happened to still be there. He did an extensive ultrasound and showed us several signs that our baby wasn't alive, saying he wished he could tell us differently, but that the baby was definitely deceased. First, there was the lack of a heartbeat, which he said was the biggest indicator, obviously. He even turned on the color so we could see there wasn't any wooshing of fluid through the heart. Secondly, he showed us the shape of her head was oblong instead of round. Thirdly, there was a faint line on her skin that showed swelling. All signs of loss. We cried through it but I was SO grateful that my husband (and I again) could see that she really was gone and knew we were making the only decision that could be made. The nice Dr answered our questions about how and why and when we could try for another baby (yes, even at this early time, it was important to us to know we would try again). He was so good with us and I was so grateful that he was still in the office and was willing to come take the time with us to explain and help us understand that sometimes this just happens and we can't do anything to prevent it. It was such a tender mercy that he was there.
Clutching my rock
 All safe and sound in mom's tummy
Brit and Miss lovin on me

After the ultrasound, we walked back to the room, clutching the final ultrasound proof that our little baby was gone, and I got into a gown and we started the process of induction. An IV was started and I was given my first dose of cytotec at 2:30, in a way which it would get to my cervix so as to initiate cervical dilation and contractions. And was told I would need more than one dose to be prepared to deliver. Since I was Moana's only patient, she sat in our room and stated that she didn't know David well so she'd like to get to know him and wanted to hear our story :). It was a nice diversion to be able to talk about my wonderful husband and share how we got together. It was our baby's story too. After awhile, friends and family started coming in to wish us well and hug and kiss our teary cheeks. Bonnie and kids came in and Scott had several papers with jokes on them that he wanted to share with me, which I loved, and Bonnie sat down to knit, indicating that she'd like to stay awhile, which comforted me greatly. Britney, Missy, Sundee, Jen, Sheri (all work friends) came in to show their love and support (Missy brought the tiniest softest blankie for our sweetheart that her friend had made for us, so loving).  As the afternoon wore on, my comfort was lessened and the contractions became stronger and closer to doing their job. At 6:30 I was given my second dose of cytotec (it's effective if given every 4 hours) but probably didn't need that dose, since Moana had checked me as she gave it and said I was dilated to a 3 or 4 and that she felt the bulging bag of water right at my cervix so it wouldn't be very long now. As the contractions got stronger, I was given Fentanyl for the pain. I would take 50mg every 30 minutes through my IV since I could have 100mg every hour and I found 50mg was just enough to take the edge off without making me totally loopy (still had that narcotic effect, so I was just sorta loopy!) So now that the amniotic sac was right there, I just needed to wait til I felt the urge to push. Dr Bean came in to let us know what to expect, and that he may not be here for the actual delivery, but would come in as soon as he could (he had another patient who was going to deliver about the same time, he figured). He reminded us that although this is a hard day, it can also be a very spiritual day, and as I looked at David with tears in my eyes and said "We know. We've felt it", I looked back at Dr Bean and saw he was also tearing up. We still feel so lucky every time we recall our OB joining us in the spirituality of it all and weeping with us; we feel truly blessed. We quietly talked and were joined by my Mom and Dad and Tammy and Tara and Sundee was even in the waiting room while I delivered. Bonnie had gone home and was going to come back afterward but my mom had told her not to, I have no idea why, and I'm still sad that she didn't get to see my firstborn. It wasn't until closer to 8:30 that I finally felt the urge to push and was able to "assume the position" and push my baby out into the world. My water broke with a gush and baby was out. But the umbilical cord was so short that Moana just held the tiny baby in her hands and waited for Dr Bean to come back in and cut the cord. My sweet friend, Kimmy, was also there. She had come on shift at 6pm just to take me as a patient, but then Moana knew it would be soon and she wanted to stay as well, so we were blessed with TWO amazing LD nurses to attend to us. Kimmy held my little baby and after taking a close look, informed us it looks like a GIRL!
First moments of falling in love with her
And my tiny sweet Mercy Faith was weighed (about an ounce) and placed on my chest for us to meet her.
One of my favorite pictures of all time, Grandpa touching her toes

My sweet husband hugged and kissed me as we met our precious little package, the girl with a spirit too big for this world, and our eyes were cloudy with tears as we inspected and held our child. She was perfect. I had secretly hoped to see some abnormality that would confirm her exit from this life but she was absolutely perfect. Family came in to see her and my daddy asked if he could "touch her toes" which is his signature move with all the grandbabies and I wept as he tenderly touched MY baby's toes too. We held and cried and kissed and cried again and felt so much overwhelming love for this tiny creature who had graced our lives for a tiny moment but would stay with our memories forever.
Hand and foot molds of the littlest princess :)
We got to love on her for several hours, then handed her off to Heather (the bereavement lady, as I lovingly referred to her!) while I had the "pleasure" of delivering the placenta. It hadn't delivered smoothly after Mercy did, so about 2 hours later we had the good Dr Bean come assist with that fun little project :D. This may be TMI, but this IS my journal of events, so I'm gonna be blunt! I had felt some leakage and kept trying to push hoping it would move it on out, but Kimmy kept checking when I told her I was leaking a lot and kept saying it felt like I was wetting the bed and told me nope, just blood (I secretly think I actually WAS wetting the bed, and that Kimmy was just too nice to confirm my embarrassment!) So Dr Bean came in and tried to manually remove it, and it just wasn't budging, so he had to remove it in pieces. YUCK! It hurt something fierce, so I was given fentanyl again and about 5 minutes later, when he heard me moaning in agony, even more. It only took the edge off, even at the full dose, although I was on a nice little narcotic high for about an hour after! I just squeezed my poor husband's hand while he told me it was gonna be ok and listened to Dr Bean tell about how he had never sworn in his life (something about being a boy scout and coming up with something to be perfect in....blah blah blah! Listen, buddy, you've never had someone come at your lady parts with a sharp metal instrument with the sole purpose of carving and until you do, don't make me feel bad for the few relatively minor swears that came out!) He really didn't try to make me feel guilty, I think he was just trying to talk to me to get my mind off the cruel trick of nature I was currently enduring. He and Kimmy told me afterward that I was pretty dang brave; he basically performed a D&;C (dilation and curettage) on me without the blessed advantage of  me being put to sleep first. I felt very strong physically in a time of emotional weakness and am quite proud of myself. All the while, Heather gently bathed my baby before making molds of her hands and feet (tiniest things you ever did see). She gave her her own photo shoot before swaddling her and placing her back in my arms so we could have our first family photo shoot. (Heather took some great pics and met us at the In N Out in Draper, right by our house, the next week with the developed pictures...such a great service the hospital and Heather provides grieving parents, most of whom are not in the mindset to take lots of pictures of their little one. We were so grateful for her.)
Snuggling for our first and last nap together
I love this man's face right here, loving his girl
Since I had to have the placenta removed the hard way, Dr Bean wanted me to stay for several hours to have some IV antibiotics. I got my first dose about 1130 and needed the final one 4 hours later. In the in between, we were blessed with tons of visitors. Work friends mostly, after my family left. It was nice to be surrounded by my girls, who understood loss, both personally and professionally. They came in pairs for the most part, and cried with me and hugged me and told us how beautiful our little angel was. It touched me. But my favorite memory of that part of the night is when Rhianne and Paige came up to visit. David had gone to sleep on the couch with our baby tucked in the arms of her daddy, the lights were dim, and these two sweet friends sat in the quiet with me and the three of us had tears streaming down our faces as they listened to me talk about my baby. Rhianne lost a little one about 5 years earlier and Paige's was only two months earlier. There we sat, women bound together in our heartache. It still moves me to tears thinking about that precious moment in time and the love that surrounded us as we shared our loss. I cannot fathom the legions of women throughout time who share our heartache, but know we three weren't the first, nor will we be the last, who are called to bear the loss of a child. It is universal in its sadness, regardless of gestational age, circumstance or anything else. Losing a child is one of the most painful experiences humanity will endure, period. It is a large club I joined that day, and although I never would have chosen such a thing, it created a bond I'll always be grateful for.
By about 2am the visitors stopped coming, and I crawled onto the pull out couch with my David, both of us exhausted, with our Mercy for a little sleep. That was the most tender nap of my life. I was finished with my antibiotics just before 5am and Kimmy told us we could stay until shift change (6am) or leave anytime before that. I was dreading that decision, because I knew this magical night was coming to an end, and with it, the end of our earthly time with Mercy. The thought of having to walk out those doors and leave her was more than I could stand! I was heartbroken knowing that the entire time I would be able to hold and kiss and gaze and bask in the time with my firstborn was confined to a stupid hospital room and would only last hours. Once we left, it was over. And it hurt to think about. In the end, we decided it would be just as difficult leaving at 6 as it would be at 5 or at any other time, so we held and kissed and whispered sweet declarations of love to our lovely's little body and knew her spirit was close enough to hear them too. Then we left her in capable hands and gathered each other up in our arms and took our broken hearts home to start healing them.

Saying goodbye
                                      Here are some more pictures from our bittersweet day.

My parents' reaction when we told her Mercy's name (She was named after my mom's mother, Echo Mercy)
My parents, Tammy and Tara
Aunt Tammy
Showing Sundee she's as big as my hand

Her awesome Daddy

So in love

Our cute Esther visiting

Flowers from Jen, she does an AMAZING job!
Tender love from Grandpa

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I am daughter, sister, friend, counselor, coworker, niece, caretaker, and world-famous aunt (well, maybe not yet, but someday I will be!) And in September I added wife and stepmother to my titles....I'm loving these new ones! In October 2011 I became a mom to an angel baby, Mercy Faith, whose wings took her straight back to heaven. November 2012 we had the unparalleled joy of becoming the parents to our sweet baby girl, Journey Rose, who has added love, joy and amazement to our lives! I try every day to be kinder, stand higher, love deeper, laugh harder and dream bigger than the day before. One of my favorite sayings is "Women who behave rarely make history". So with that in mind, I do my best to BE, STAND, LOVE, LAUGH and DREAM with a mischievious smile on my face and a wink in my eye! I love my short, it's everything I never knew I always wanted...