From Sorrow to Peace

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Told by: Paula

It was February, shortly after Valentine’s Day. Our home was filled with anticipation of spring just around the corner. The winter had been mild and the forecast foretold of warm days ahead, a sure bet the last few inches of snow would melt quickly. After a recent cold spell, everyone was looking forward to the last weeks of the month that would lead us into March and eventually April. In our mind’s eye we could already see flowers blooming beside our house and lush green lawn we were suddenly anxious to mow.

 

Similar to our thoughts of spring was our family’s anticipation of our third child. We had been told that this one was to be a girl, and she was due in less than a week. Her name would be Katie Marie.

 

My husband and I had two boys already. Cody was four and Wyatt had turned three a month earlier. I loved them dearly. As a stay-at-home-mom, my days were filled with watching them grow and learn new things. But even so, I was looking forward to this new addition with unabashed eagerness. A baby is so new to the world. Their dependency on adults seems to draw out the fierce protector in all of us. When their bright eyes smile up at you with total confidence, you might as well admit you are defeated, captured and taken prisoner by their charms. Katie had yet to make her presence in the world, but I knew she already had me wrapped around every one of her dainty fingers.

I’d anticipated our new arrival for months, watching other mothers in our small church family bask with a new mother’s glow. I was eager for the time I too could show off that little bundle that was such a part of me already.

 

Cody and Wyatt were also eager, waiting for the day the doctor would ‘help mommy have her baby’. We spent a good deal of time preparing them for the baby who would share their room, toys, and most importantly, their parents.

Every night as we tucked them into their beds they wanted to know when the baby would come. The answer was always the same, ‘when God decides it’s time.’ I have to admit, as I’m sure every mother does, those last few weeks were hard. I had already waited a long eight and a half months and the last few weeks drug on, seemingly without end. The crib sat in the corner, the clothes waited in the dresser, and the suitcases were packed for that long awaited signal. Every little contraction was timed. And still we waited.

 

~~~

 

At my last two doctors appointments, I was told I was progressing slowly but normally. The heartbeat was in the 150’s and everything was fine. It wasn’t until Tuesday, five days before I was due, that I stopped to contemplate when I’d last felt the baby move. I had become so used to the little kicks and my lopsided stomach that I hadn’t really thought much about it. When was the last time she had moved?

 

I began to pay attention, and by the time I went to bed that night I had resorted to wiggling, pushing and pressing on my stomach, hoping to wake her and receive the slightest indication that she was still in there.

 

I fell asleep still waiting for that kick.

 

Wednesday morning dawned bright and normal as I began my daily activities with the boys. I paused every so often to give my stomach a little nudge, sure that the baby would wake up and be giving my bladder a nice swift punch at any time. But the hours passed and I felt nothing. I began to worry. Surely with all the prodding I should have been able to feel something.

 

I called my sister. “Don’t worry,” she assured me, “there’s not much room in there for the little tyke.”

 

I began to cry, I was certain now that I hadn’t felt movement for quite a while. She encouraged me to not panic, but to call a nurse. When I called the hospital, the nurse’s answer was not reassuring. Instead of telling me I was overreacting, she told me to come in for a non-stress test.

 

I made two calls after that: one to a friend to stay with the boys, and one to my husband. When I picked him up at work, the tears began again. Why wasn’t I feeling any movement?

 

He held my hand all the way to the hospital. He reminded me that God was taking care of everything and that He was in complete control. No matter what the doctors told us, no matter what we faced, He had already predetermined everything that was taking place. All we had to do was trust Him.

 

I was worried, but I tried to be optimistic too. After all, God had blessed us with this baby, and He had always taken care of us before. Unfortunately, my thoughts were not on what God had in mind for us. They were not on the fact that He is the Creator and that His plans supercede our own, or on how our lives might change and our faith deepen. My thoughts stayed focused on how I

expected everything to go according to my plans–because I wanted it that way.

 

~~~

 

As we were ushered into a small room, a kind nurse asked me to lay down while she administered her high-tech equipment to every imaginable place on my stomach. I focused on a little spot on the wall as she spent the next few minutes searching.

 

My ears strained to hear that first beat of a tiny heart, assuring me little Katie was indeed fine and healthy.

 

Nothing.

When she stepped back, she squeezed my arm. She told us that sometimes babies get into a funny position towards the end of the pregnancy. “I’m going to call your doctor. A lot of times when the heartbeat is hard to find like this, we like to have an ultrasound.”

 

She vanished from the room and my husband knelt beside the bed. He squeezed my hand. Neither of us could utter the words aloud. Was the baby dead? I looked at him and made one request. “If she’s gone, I want to hold her.”

 

~~~

 

We were escorted down the elevator where a dimly lit room and an ultrasound technician waited for us. Again I laid down on the bed and grasped tightly to his hand as she moved the equipment around my stomach.

 

A gray form filled the screen.

 

It was still. There was no beating area to indicate a pulsating heart.

The silence was thick as the doctors studied the screen. They asked me when the last time I thought I felt movement. I wasn’t sure, maybe Sunday. They looked at each other, at us, and finally voiced the words I was dreading to hear. “I’m sorry.”

 

They left the room to give us a moment of privacy. The door hadn’t even shut before my husband and I were in each other’s arms and sobbing. I’ll never forget the disbelief that filled my heart and the questions that surfaced. “Why God? Why my baby? Couldn’t You have done something?”

 

Our doctor came back in and explained what he knew. There was no fluid around Katie’s body, indicating that she had died a few days ago. They couldn’t tell if anything else was amiss, but after she was born we could make decisions about whether we wanted tests done or not. Then he explained our immediate options. We could go home and wait for the natural start of labor or he could induce me. The choice was ours.

 

I felt so numb. I didn’t want to do either. I knew that once our baby was born, she would be gone. At least with her still in my womb I had her close to me. Suddenly, the impatience for those last weeks of pregnancy to be over was replaced with the wish to go back in time.

 

I knew I couldn’t go home, not with the crib waiting for a tiny infant to hold, not with the baby swing and bouncer sitting in the corner and the car seat already in the van. But neither did I want to go through labor. How unfair for my body to spend agonizing hours bringing a lifeless baby into the world. She would never see the sunshine streaming through the windows or feel my arms cradling her close.

But those were my only choices and I suddenly wanted to be done. I wanted the inevitable to be over. We went back up to the OB department and I was given an IV and the medication to start my labor. As we waited, my earlier prayer and thoughts came back to me.

 

My husband had reminded me that God was in complete control, that the plans He had for our little Katie, before time began, were now unfolding. Deep in my heart I knew that He had a perfect plan, one that I could have never hoped to make better with my wish for Katie to be alive. And who was I to question God’s will? Am I the one who created the universe, or am I the one who calls all the stars by name (Ps. 147:4)? God has already purposed every event to bring forth His will. How can I think that my desires could be better than His?

 

~~~

 

The labor pains began quickly. A brief two and a half hours later my body was ready to give birth. For just a moment, as I gave that final cry and push, I thought perhaps they had been wrong. Maybe she was alive after all and I would hear that tiny mew my heart ached for. One tiny cry was all it would take to tell me I was dreaming. But it never came. Only the doctor’s three small words, “it’s a girl”.

 

My little Katie Marie.

 

Oh, how my arms wanted to hold her. I wanted to be handed my baby girl, wiggly and pink, but instead I was handed her little gray body, limp and still. Tears filled my eyes and rolled down my cheeks as I looked at her. She was so beautiful.

Dark hair covered her head and just feeling the weight of her in my arms was a precious gift. Her skin was soft to the touch and her fingers were so tiny they didn’t even fit around my thumb.

 

I’ll never regret the decision to hold her. Even after her body had begun to turn cold I held her and memorize the features of her tiny face. Her eyes were closed but I wondered what color they would have been. Her mouth was still but I replayed the vision of seeing it open in a faint cry that told me she needed me. Her hands were folded across her chest but I could see them waving in the air.

Once again questions assailed me. Why our little girl? What possible reason could God have for taking her only four days before she was due? But even as these questions tumbled around in my mind, I knew the answers. I had always known. God had decided.

 

And as much as I knew this, I also knew that He would not leave me. Hebrews 13:5 reminds me that God says, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ God was not being hateful, and He was not punishing me. He was simply exercising control as only He can do. I may not understand why but I could rest assured that God was with me. He knew what I was feeling and He’d already given me everything I needed to get through it. His word held the promise that He has always been and will always be the One and Only God whose faithfulness and mercies are new every morning.

 

~~~

 

Our Pastor and his wife came to see us shortly after the delivery, giving words of comfort, encouragement and a shoulder to cry on. It helped Travis and I to talk to someone and to have them help us make funeral arrangements. We had never had to make those types of decisions ourselves and in light of all we’d been through in the last few hours, we were overwhelmed with the whole process.

The funeral director come a few hours later to ask a few questions about the burial and to take Katie’s body a half hour away where they would perform the autopsy. I remember the nurse wheeling her in for the last chance we had to hold her before they took her away. How I cherished those few precious moments. I looked at her tiny toes once more, stroked her soft cheeks, and kissed her wrinkled brow. I memorized the feeling of her in my arms and the way her tiny body fit so perfectly against me.

 

~~~

 

That first night was long. Both my husband and I were exhausted by the physical and emotional stress we’d been through that day, yet sleep was slow in claiming us. It wasn’t until about six o’clock the next morning that reality struck once again as a woman in the next room woke us with her cries during delivery.

 

The nurses had warned us that another couple was in labor They’d offered to let us move to another room, but a part of me wanted to stay. I lay awake in the dark listening to this mother go through the pains of labor I had recently experienced. I waited with baited breath for the first little cry. It wasn’t long in coming.

 

The lusty wail of a healthy newborn filled the silence as my tears fell. Did this mother realize the precious gift she had just been given? Did she know how fragile life was and truly appreciate the fact that she had a baby to hold? Again the questions came. Why did she get a baby and ours was born lifeless? Why were my arms empty and hers full of a wiggling newborn?

 

I hugged my pillow. His grace is sufficient for me.

 

~~~

We decided to have a private burial with our immediate families before the memorial service. It gave us the privacy to mourn the loss of our daughter and to answer questions about a situation Cody and Wyatt couldn’t comprehend.

We looked at the incredibly small white casket, covered in pink roses. Tears washed down my face as God washed comfort over my heart. It would be okay. God was in control, and it would be okay.

 

~~~

It has been just over nine months now at the time I write this. I don’t think there’s been a day I haven’t thought of our sweet little girl and the pain of losing her. But along with that pain comes unbelievable joy. I know our little girl is happier and safer than she could have ever been had my wish for her to live been realized. Now she is in heaven. By God’s grace she will spend eternity with Him. A place where there is no sickness, no tears and no sin. She has been perfected through Christ and is happier than I can imagine.

 

For whatever reason God saw fit to have Katie leave this earthly life for an eternal paradise, I know that ‘The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all his works.’ (Psalm 145:17) I have given Him my grief and He has replaced it with the joy of knowing that He has cared for Katie as the Father that He is. He is my strength and my refuge.

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Comments

  1. Abby Richardson says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I can’t believe how much it reflects my feelings and thought process. I lost my little boy at 38 weeks. I went into labor shortly before my due date and realized I hadn’t felt movement all day and not much the day before. I convinced myself that babies don’t move as much towards the end because I remember my older son slowing down. I’ll never forget being in the room and hearing the news. How do you process information like that? Where do I go from here?? Thank you for your article. It has been 7 months for us. I want to be as good of a mother as I can to my 2 year old, but it’s hard to find the balance for that and grieving.

  2. Aleisha says:

    I know this was posted nearly 2 years ago but I just want to thank you for sharing your story. In 3 days, May 29th, it will be 2 yrs since I lost my son. I was looking thru this website to find an inspirational story similar to mine and I came upon your story. My situation was almost exact as yours and my son passed at 38 weeks and 5 days. I still don’t know what happened to cause his death but I do know that God’s grace is sufficient and He has kept my family and me. Again thank you so much for sharing, it has truly blessed me. It helps me to know that there are other women who has such a similar story as me. I pray that all is well with you and yours.

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