Friday, October 14, 2016

Our Journey Through Fetal Medicine: Living in Peace

At times I could sit and plan for a beautiful funeral and anticipate the arrival of friends and family. At times, of course, I was very weak. If I'm honest, I questioned God a lot. I had the obvious questions of why Ann Louise. But I also had a very deep, burning question: God, why did you give such peace to us and have so many praying for us if our answer was death? God, why did you say "no" to our miracle?

I began to reflect back on the many stages we had been through, and I knew God was telling me that up to that point no miracle had been available.
  • If it had been a fluke on that second ultrasound, well, we would have called it a fluke.
  • If she had been a boy, we would have been ever grateful for the doctors putting a shunt in the bladder.
  • If, if, if...then we and the doctors and the world would have taken it for every other outcome other than a miracle.
If God were to get the glory, a miracle had to be present when all other options were cast aside. But, I knew in a very real way, that God's answer to a miracle was still perhaps "no." So my prayers became, "Lord, I beg of you for this miracle to heal Ann Louise. And, Lord, if you say no, please see me through with the peace that surpasses all understanding. I cannot endure this without You."

I received peace. Cash had that as well. We were very thankful that God was allowing us to get out of bed and take one day at a time. That is all we knew. We hurt and were much in the mourning stage, but despite our despair we knew God was seeing us through.

We clung to each other. A dear, elderly friend of mine stopped me at church. When he spoke his gentle words, he explained nothing can stop this pain right now but if Cash and I lean on each other then we can look back one day and see this was a very sweet time in our marriage. I knew he was right. My husband and I have always had a wonderful marriage, but we had never drawn as close as we were during this time. As the old saying goes, it either makes you or breaks you.

Throughout the coming days we searched for ways to just be together. Cash booked us a weekend getaway in Beaver Creek, Colorado for a few weeks after the funeral. We highly anticipated getting away from the sadness and the stage of grief we were stuck in.

We also enjoyed a special date night one Saturday when his mom watched Henry. We went bowling and seriously had more fun bowling 2 games and eating really unhealthy food than perhaps we had ever had. Then we met up with our friends Connor and Meredith for a treat at the local hibachi grill. Afterwards we all went out for ice cream and talked until we knew had to get back home to the kiddos. It was the most refreshing night we had had since Henry was born! Just being with Cash and one of my dearest friends gave me the reassurance that I could one day be joyful again.

enjoying a night away

We had another date night shortly thereafter. My mom was in town the evening of Cash's CEO's birthday party (which is always a huge event), so we got to dust off our boots and enjoy the Bellamy Brothers with our work friends. Sometimes being alone is a great way to grieve, but many times being with friends is a great way to heal.

The days kept slipping faster and faster. When I was pregnant with Henry, the days drug on. I felt like I was pregnant for 8 years. But with Ann Louise each day was a gift. I was beginning to feel her move. Every time she moved I smiled before the remembrance of the fading time came back. As one grieving mother wrote, it is very surreal to feel your baby kick inside of you while you know that soon you will be visiting those bones at a grave. I tried to shake these thoughts, but this summed up my existence at the time. Every day that passed was one more day closer to the worst day of my life.

We had decided she would be cremated and had ordered a beautiful moon shaped urn for her precious ashes. Nothing had stood out to us as to where to keep the urn, but then Cash suggested we upgrade the gardens in the backyard and he could build a pedestal for a bird bath. We could keep the urn inside of this pedestal. I loved it. He is such a wonderful husband, but he is an even more incredible and doting dad. He started working that weekend to clear out some of the shrubs in the backyard.

A priest (in a very weird way with a very weird story) gave me Psalms 23:4--

"Even though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Another close friend, who had been in a similar grief the year before, told me how true this was. You have to walk THROUGH this. Do not skirt around it. Do not avoid it. Walk through it. That is harder now, but you are much better off in the long run.

I took this verse and this advice to heart. I still prayed, Oh God, for Him to deliver her. But at the same time Cash and I began to walk straight through that valley of the shadow of death. It is a very deep, dark pain. God is the only light pulling you out, and we clung to Him like we never knew how to before.

Day after day verses would pop into my head. I thought about my upbringing and how even more thankful I was now for being raised in a church that taught memorizing scripture. I guess in most of my life scripture memorization was more something to be proud of. That's how it was for me (not how I was taught--just selfish me), if I'm honest. I said memorized scripture in very opportune times to impress folks. But in these dark and difficult days I learned how important it is to know the scripture by heart; I wish I knew more. I held dearly the verses that friends would give to me and those that would come into my head. And I was ever thankful for parents who had me in church when the doors were open, for an Awanas program that taught scripture, and for Bible teachers and mentors all those years who repeated scripture daily.

To learn more about our journey through fetal medicine and read through each phase, you can go click on a link below that will take you directly to that post:

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