Jan 20, 2014

Thick-rimmed Glasses: The Story of Hannah Grace: Part Two

This part is a sad one, I'll warn you. But I will promise you there is hope in this story, there is goodness, there is, like in the meaning of Hannah's name, grace, mercy, and surely favor from God. And I promised that I'd make you laugh, and I hope I make you smile... but it may not be just yet. 

If you'd like to read the other parts to Hannah's story and you haven't already. You can find them here.

Thick-rimmed Glasses

There are moments that no one should ever have to live through, I believe losing a child is one of those moments. I wish in some ways I could accurately describe the way it feels, the way it hurts so deep to your soul when they tell you your child is gone. But then I think if I could write in such a way that you could really feel it, no one would ever read it. I’d have to hide it away forever because no one should ever have to feel that pain. Little did we know when I woke up that Sunday morning what we’d be going through in the hours that followed.

Sunday morning we sat in our little Sunday School class and I remember poking my stomach and turning to Kyle saying, ‘I don’t think she moved around a lot this morning.’ Honestly I couldn’t remember, I had been too busy checking for the store hours of our local baby store so we could buy her baby book that afternoon. Our sweet girl was an early bird, we’d often sleep in just a bit on the weekends and by the time we’d wake she’d be asleep already. Sometimes she’d dance once we got to the church service and heard the music, but not today. I’d heard, ‘delivery must be close if the baby’s resting that much… baby must be storing up energy for a delivery soon!’ By the time we headed to lunch I was concerned. We played music in the car and I poked her a good bit. I could feel her little feet, but I could not get her to kick back.

Then just as we were waiting to turn left into our lunch destination, she moved. She turned quite a bit. I yelled, ‘woah Kyle did you see that?’ And we rested easy that our sweet girl was just tired but surely fine. Looking back I wonder if she really did move or if that was her body rolling from all my poking, not full of life, but just turning inside me.

We went to lunch where I made sure to ask the lady behind the counter to heat my lunch meat to steaming hot. Didn’t want anything happening to my baby girl so close to delivery. The sandwich was served with cold lunch meat, and yep, like the great momma I am I sent that thing right back. No toxoplasmosis for me. If only I’d known what the night would bring.

We made it to the store to buy the perfect baby book; I wanted to make sure we had a book so they could put her footprints right in the book once the big day came. I wanted to make sure all the visitors had a place to sign in and write their words of joy. After the store we went to enjoy our last movie at the theater before the impending due date. We stopped by to pick up my last Christmas gift for my sister and we headed home.

After dinner I expected our little girl to be her active nighttime self again. I drank some cold water, laid down on my side, nothing yet. We were tired so we went to bed early, and I woke up at about midnight. The next twenty-four hours would change our lives forever. Really the next 3 hours would change our lives just as much.

I got up. Kyle woke. I looked up what to do if you think you’re baby’s not moving. I called my nurse friend and I called the doctor. As we waited for the doctor to return our call I ate a cold grape pop ice. I laid on my side. I walked around. I drank cold water. I drank an entire bottle of Mountain Dew for the sugar and caffeine and even ate half a chocolate bar.

The doctor returned our call and told us to eat more sugar, drink caffeine and see if we got any results. She assured me that the hospital wouldn’t mind if we wanted to come in. She said they’d hook me and baby up and monitor us for about an hour just to make sure things were okay. I knew I’d be the woman who goes in and gets sent home soon because nothing’s actually wrong. Oh how I wish I’d been right…

We arrived at the hospital and went to the Labor & Delivery floor as instructed, only to be sent back to the ER. We got checked in, and all the while I felt so silly for going all the way to the hospital for ‘something so small.’ Kyle was the real reason we were there, he was the one that said, ‘let’s just go and get checked, so we don’t sit here and worry.’ Oh I am so grateful for him suggesting we go in the middle of the night. Had we waited until the next morning I would have always wondered ‘what if we had gone last night? Would it have turned out differently?’

They wheeled me up to Labor & Delivery and I felt so silly riding in that wheel chair. We went in a room and I put on a gown and I laid down in the hospital bed. It all felt so official, when I thought it would be just a quick visit. 

The nurse started asking me admission questions. The other nurse picked up the fetal monitor and started to scan my belly. They had done it a million times before in the doctor’s office, but this machine looked a little different. As they scanned over my belly the nurse said, ‘I think I have a heartbeat but it’s not tracking,’ and I was so relieved. Only later I would find out that what we’d heard was my heartbeat, not the baby’s. And the nurse continued to scan as I continued to answer admission questions. 

The first nurse got a second nurse to help. The second nurse had no luck and got a third nurse. We talked to the nurses about where we were from and how we got to East Texas. We mentioned Sky Ranch and realized that we had a great friend in common with the nurse on duty. The nurse scanning my belly said they were calling the doctor to come with the ultrasound machine. And the whole time I wasn’t, for some reason, concerned. The nurse asked if she could keep scanning my belly until the doctor got there, said she didn’t want to give up and wait just yet. I kept thinking that this machine was not working right, that the nurses didn’t really know what they were doing; I had no idea. I told her to keep checking as I told a story about football. I explained how even when my team is down by a quite a few touchdowns and there are just a few seconds left on the clock I always keep cheering for my team. I had no idea that while I was talking football that she knew. She knew, the other nurses knew, Kyle later said that he just knew. He asked me if he could text a few people to pray for us, I thought we could wait until the doctor had more news. But still he knew, he already had people praying for us.

The doctor came in and pulled out the very familiar ultrasound machine. I remember that it seemed so late at night, the doctor had on a pair of thick-rimmed glasses I’d never seen her wear, her hair pulled up because we’d woken her from sleep. She was so calm as she scanned my belly. She had us watch the screen as she described the image as she went from showing us the brain to the shoulders and then down to the chest. I saw our little girl’s spine, she was so still. Then she pointed and said, ‘this is her heart.’ It wasn’t moving. It wasn’t beating. And only then did I know. She quickly used an infrared scan to double check as I realized for the very first time what was happening. 

I looked her in her eyes through her thick rimmed-glasses and she nodded her head. She stopped scanning and I knew. Oh I will never forget that moment. It felt as if someone pulled my heart from my chest. I felt like my soul was wrenched from my body, and I screamed. It’s a sound I’ve only heard once before. It was the very same sound I remember hearing years ago in early December. The night they told my mother her father had died, I was upstairs and I heard her scream. It’s the song of a heart in distress, a mother’s love, the only sound I can imagine when a mother loses her sweet baby girl.

After screaming I yelled at the doctor in desperation, ‘are you sure? Are you sure!?’ but I knew. And she nodded again, and I knew we’d lost our sweet baby girl. Oh I was so helpless, they were supposed to send me home like a silly first time mom who ran to the hospital when everything was okay. They were supposed to tell me that they had to give me some kind of crazy medicine or that we’d need to run to emergency surgery. There were supposed to be options. But there were no options. It was already done, she was already gone.

Kyle was right there. And we cried, our hearts cried and my sweet husband just held me as we realized what was happening. It was like a nightmare, I was shaking asking if this was really real. If this was all really happening to us.

There in that room I knew I needed to call my mother, I needed to call my mom and dad. They needed to be on their way, I needed them. And telling someone would help me to understand that this was happening, that this was real.

I started to call my mother and then I stopped. I needed to make sure my dad was with her when she found out. I needed him to be there for her like I had needed Kyle to be with me. My dad works shift work so at times he’s working in the middle of the night, but I needed him to be there.

I called him first. I think about what he must have thought when he got a call from me in the middle of the night when I was so close to my due date. I keep wondering if he thought he was getting the call that his very first granddaughter was on her way. He had no idea what I was about to tell him. He answered said he was at work but about to get off and head home and I told him that we were at the hospital like Kyle had told him a few minutes earlier. He asked if everything was okay and I said no. He asked me what was happening and I couldn’t bear to tell him. I just said it’s not good. I couldn’t bear to say ‘she’s dead.’ And then he asked me, “Brittany did she pass?” and I cried and I said ‘yes.’ And I remember he said, ‘oh no, Brittany, no no no.’ And then I told him that I hadn’t told mom yet and I that I needed him to be home when I told her. Then we waited for his long drive home, I wanted to tell my mother.

Once the truth set in we asked the doctor about our options. What was to be next? They told us they would start me on Pitocin to induce labor. They offered the option of going home and returning in the morning to start my labor, but they recommended I just stay. I’m not sure what going home would have done. We wouldn’t have rested, we could have only cried. When she said labor I realized what was to come. Our baby was gone but I’d still have to labor, I’d still have to go through the pain of pushing her out knowing that she’d never cry. It was terrible, it was a horrible thing to think I’d be here, they’d monitor my contractions, we’d push and we’d get no prize. I remember that long ago I read something and I don’t remember where, but it was about how the labor and delivery nurses could always motivate the mothers by saying ‘do it for your baby,’ but that in situations like these they had no prize to offer. How had I become one of those mothers? How was this really happening to us?

They moved us down the hall to a larger room. They said it was so we’d be more comfortable, but Kyle later wondered if it was because my cries of loss would disturb the other happy families. The room was larger but it was missing one item all the other rooms had: the baby crib. They wouldn’t need the little baby life machine because our baby had no life left.

They brought in the medicines we’d need, they brought in the monitors, and they brought in the ultrasound machine. I had asked them to check one more time just to make sure. I knew she was gone but I just wanted to make sure. I had prayed so hard that it was a mistake, that they’d find a heartbeat this time, that I would wake up from the nightmare that was becoming our reality.

Same results. No life left. So they hooked me up to the IV pole and they started my fluids and my Pitocin. We would need to convince my body to give up the baby, and so Pitocin, the drug I had learned to despise throughout my pregnancy research was going to help us. They hooked up the monitor and there was only one monitor. Usually there are two: one for the baby’s heartbeat and one for the mother’s contractions; we’d only need one. Before they started the drip of Pitocin I had one question. Would anything they were going to do hurt the baby, like if for some reason she was still okay, would any of this hurt her? And they said no that everything would be the same as a normal induction, and they said it in the kindest way possible knowing that I was still a mother that held on to the last bit of hope that maybe her baby would be okay. Oh I prayed.

As we watched the medicines drip, my dad called. He was now at home with my mom, and he put my mom on the phone and I knew I was about to break her heart. I can’t remember the words I said but I remember the sound of her reply. It was the same cry I’d heard once before. And I cried with her. Through the tears we decided they would come to us, they would get in the car within a few minutes and they would be there in a few hours. I told them to drive safe, I made sure they were driving safe, because I couldn’t bear to lose anyone else.

We called Kyle's parents, we told a select few people so they would pray for us, so they would pray hard for us...

And then there we were, just me and Kyle sitting in the room where we were supposed to become a family of three, knowing now it was just the two of us. It was so dark that night. It was so dim in the room and we cried and Kyle and I held each other. We were so alone, but one of us started to mention a peace that we felt. We both felt it.  It was the ‘peace that passes understanding’ we’d sung about as a child and read about in Philippians 4:7 as adults: and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. At the moments that were tearing our life apart we felt the Lord’s peace. I could never explain it, it made no sense to feel such a peace in such heartache, it was only God. We knew that the Lord was still sovereign and that he was good and that he knew about all this before the world was made. And through tears we kept telling each other ‘we’re going to be okay, we’re going to make it, God is good.’ 

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for telling Hannah's story. Thank you for your honesty and how everything you do points back to the Lord. Thank you for reminding us that he is ALWAYS good even when it is hard to see. Hannah's story teaches me so much and I hope you'll never stop telling it.

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  2. So sorry for your incredible loss. Such great faith

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  3. Thanks for sharing Hannah's story. You are such a precious mama. Your little girl was cherished and treasured from the moment she was created. I'm glad you have such a wonderful record of her life here in your blog.

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  4. Brittany, your faith in the Lord is astonishing and encouraging. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. Thank you so much.

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  6. Love to you and Kyle. Thank you for sharing. Forever will Hannah be in our hearts.

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  7. Thank you for writing and sharing!! God is and will continue to use you and Kyle.

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