A story of baby loss
My heart aches when I think of writing this story.
But my heart also aches that this story be written.
Words seem cheap, empty, and powerless.
Words do not describe the emotional, spiritual, and physical.
But words and a few snapshots are all I have to remember this journey with.
? ?????? It was January 2011 when we found out she was alive.
I don't remember what the exact date was when I took the test. I had been feeling all wrong, sick, and tired. I was blacking out all the time and my gag reflex seemed to be working overtime. I didn't want to face reality so I told myself everything was "fine", that I was "fine", but the perpetual knot in my stomach was telling me otherwise. We can only live in a superficial reality for awhile and then it all comes crashing down. It did. The day I took the test, seven to be exact. Trent finally put his foot down and made me and by that time I had given up being "fine".
We were so shocked ..and scared. We didn't feel ready ..or capable ..we were too young ..it was too soon. We didn't understand what God was doing. We cried, and prayed, and cried, and prayed, and cried again. My memory of the following weeks is fuzzy. At that point my life was a total fog, in part because of that pregnancy brain, I had it terrible. I just couldn't think straight and told Trent over and over that I now knew what it would feel like to be mentally slow.
I made a doctor appointment and they couldn't get me in for several weeks. Again I was jolted into reality when I walked out of the doctors office shaking with this picture in my hand.
There she was. Thirteen weeks old, alive and definitely "kicking" the doctor had said. It didn't seem real. I couldn't believe it. It was around that time that I started to notice a stomach lump. Most people say bump but that is just a nice way of saying lump. That lump would freak me out.
As I look back now those months were so confusing. I was paralyzed by the thought of you. I was paralyzed by fear. I was so confused and I had so many questions. Weeks slowly dragged on and physically if it wasn't one thing it was another. I would later find out why some of my symptoms (especially the foggy brain) were worse than average.
I think it was around sixteen weeks, around the time I started feeling you twist and turn and kick that I started falling in love. I started to accept the fact that my "plan" of my life was not Gods plan. It seems as though I would have caught on by then that my plans weren't reality in my life. It hurts to let go of plans. It hurts to realized that what you always dreamed of is just that ..a dream. It was still crazy feeling but I was rising above and falling in love with you.
This story testifies to the fact that the world can change in the blink of an eye. Nothing is permanent and every day is a gift and not a given. We never know how incredibly precious something is until its gone. Sometimes we wander through life worrying about the most mundane and inconsequential things. Our hair didn't come out right, this person isn't acting right, our house isn't big enough ...and then something hits us like a concrete block in the back of the head and the whole world changes in the blink of an eye. Life is just like that and we learn so much from those days when the world changed for us. Days like that are deeply scarring. We will feel the affects for the rest of our lives. After days like that we are different people. Someday, I have been told, I will look back and that day will be bittersweet. But now the world is too different, the aftermath is too great, the heart is too wounded. As I think of how to put that day into words it brings tears to my eyes.
Someday in heaven we will understand why this story ends before it really even begins.
"Really, when you bury a child — or when you just simply get up every day and live life raw — you murmur the question soundlessly. No one hears. Can there be a good God? A God who graces with good gifts when a crib lies empty through long nights, and bugs burrow through coffins? Where is God, really? How can He be good when babies die, and marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind? Where is grace bestowed when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die, break off without reason, erode away. Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I fully live when life is full of hurt ? How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?"
Someday we will understand why children are abused, why wars ravage, why little ones starve, and why babies die. There is so much suffering and heartache. There are natural disasters surrounding us it seems and yet even a greater spiritual disaster of the soul in the culture our world is in today. Heaven is the only answer to the millions of questions I have. Someday I will see clearly and understand that it was all for good. God is good. I must trust that every single person, the millions who have lived and died, He knows. He knows each heart and He is good. Above all He is Good.
On April 7th I left for my 20 week appointment early. This doctor was notorious for rescheduling and I had experienced it with him before when I had to go home after a hour of waiting the week before. In February I had switched doctors, my coworker had recommended her midwife and she was a wonderful christian lady who I immediately loved. Since the 20 week scan is pretty extensive the doctor over any given midwife performs it. I had never given thought to this doctor and had never met him until now. As I was quite a bit early, I had a little wait before they took me back into a room to take my blood pressure and start a diabetes test. Then I was back in the waiting room for a good hour waiting on the doctor who "was there" they assured me. I finished the diabetes test. No doctor. A few minutes short of three hours I finally was called into the ultrasound room. Finally. The nurse went through her whole charade and left saying the doctor would be in, only to come back in a few minutes later wipe off my stomach and say that someone else needed the room. I waited again. Twenty minutes later I met the doctor. I could tell he was an atheist from the start. He came in saying that he was concerned because of protein coming from my kidneys, and going on to explain that it had to do with our ancestors, the apes.
This is the part of the story that is hard to tell. As soon as the doctor entered the room I knew something wasn't right. It felt like my heart was being unrelentingly squeezed and I couldn't breathe well. Part of it was because my spirit instantly felt the spirit of this man. I remember praying silently. The next few minutes stand still in my memory. I remember him putting the wand on my stomach and after a few moments of silence, saying "This is not a normal baby". I immediately said, "what do you mean". He continued to casually tell me the placenta was overgrown, amniotic fluid was low, and you had water on your brain. I kept saying "what do you mean", "what do you mean" and hot tears started to run down the sides of my face and into my hair. He laid the wand aside and nonchalantly told me that he didn't think you were viable. He rambled on and on and on about how I would go through 4 stages, denial, shock, anger, and acceptance. Then He told a extremely long story about his laundry being stolen and the stages he went through. All the while I lay there totally paralyzed with jelly on my stomach. I wanted to scream. He was talking about laundry and I still didn't know what was really wrong with my baby. He rambled on about himself. Finally he seemed finished and I weakly ask "what do you mean" again. He callously said you weren't compatible with life, and that he recognized it as a partial-molar pregnancy, and that I was a very sick girl. He went on to say I had extremely high blood pressure, he was sending me to the hospital, and (in not so nice words) you would be born in the morning. I stopped saying "what do you mean". I couldn't talk. I felt numb. I felt dizzy and weak. My world stopped??. I started violently shaking. My head swam and the walls seemed to be closing in. I was all alone laying in a dark room with a doctor when my world changed. I knew I desperately wanted to get away from him as fast as I could. You were a girl, and I had seen your heart beating on the screen and you were alive and I felt fine.
Some of the details of the events of this day and this man are too harsh for me to put into words. I was shaking uncontrollably as I sat in another room with the blood pressure cuff monitoring me. I called Trent and Jenni and my mom. Then I just sat there and shook. A half hour later Trent and my mom got there. The doctor then came back in and said the same things he had told me, my mom ask questions, he told her she was in denial. Trent said he was calling a doctor in our church. He confirmed they needed to get me to the hospital immediately and that this was a very serious situation. This entire time I know we were all constantly praying a prayer without words, there were no words. It was all so fast and horrific that we didn't even know how to pray right then.
We then left for the hospital, checked in and another doctor confirmed the diagnoses with another ultrasound, I had a partial molar pregnancy, toxemia, and preeclampsia. He said my blood pressure was high enough that I could have a seizure or stroke. My doctor then announced that it was severely medically necessary to do a D&C in the morning. That's when things got even more scary and complicated. Trent and I both knew that we were defiantly not okay with that and asked if there was any way we could induce or do a c-section. He said It was too risky to do anything but his recommended procedure. We came at it from different angles but he wouldn't budge. We made more phone calls to our doctor friend and he conversed a bit with my doctor.
Our dear doctor friend is really who saved our situation. He was phenomenal. He called Seattle University Hospital, explained the difficult events, and they said to send me over immediately. Trent talked to my doctor and requested to transfer, thankfully he agreed. We felt relief and peace. It was an answer to our wordless prayers. Meanwhile I was being taken for x-rays, that was really the first physical act that showed that they weren't expecting you to live. I totally lost it on the way across the hospital. The poor wheelchair pusher guy. I wasn't believing them yet and told the x-ray technician that I was pregnant and I didn't think it was okay to have x-rays while you were pregnant. They were sweet and put two lead pads on my stomach even though that was the main reason for the x-rays.
Back in my room I was hooked up to a IV of magnesium. Mag was horrible. I had effects instantly. I cant even begin to explain the feeling, I trembled, had hot flashes, and started to panic. I hurt all over and all I wanted to do was go home. I had felt perfectly fine and now I felt like I was dying. By that time it was around ten or eleven pm. We had several hours before the ambulance was ready to transfer
They ask us questions and explained in great detail what was going on and all of the options available to us. A partial-molar pregnancy is when the baby and placenta have three sets of chromosomes instead of two. As a result the baby forms with physical problems (explaining the absence of part of her brain and stomach) and the placenta becomes a tumor, growing at a rapid rate and if not detected and every cell completely removed would spread and cause cancer throughout the entire body. I had aggressive toxemia and preeclampsia because the placenta was four times its size, therefore releasing many times the regular amounts of all the pregnancy hormones into my body. They made it very clear that medically they had to recommend a D&C. Because of how large the cancerous placenta had grown my life was in danger if we induced. They said if we induced I could not make it through the operating room. After she was born I would need a D&C immediately I would definitely have to have a blood transfusion and they didn't know the extent of damage delivering would cause or how long and complicated my recovery would be. They gave us all the hard facts and said they would need to start whatever option we chose that evening. We felt total peace with our decision to induce despite the risk.
The prayers of our friends and family were felt through the next couple days and we seemed so close to heaven it is inexplicable.
On Friday evening we started the induction. The nurse told me I had "a very high pain tolerance" to which I just smiled, anyone who knows me well knows I have a majorly low pain tolerance. I know it was the prayers. As I have stated, I was on the medication magnesium which added to the discomfort.
The family all went back to the hotel and Trent and I were left alone for the first time. It seemed that every time we were alone we would completely lose it. At two am. the minor contractions increased to magnificent contractions, I was four centimeters dilated and we decided it was time for the epidural. We had been told that I would need the epidural in the operating room during the extensive D&C consequently it would need to be in place before birth. The anaesthesiologist was in surgery and didn't arrive for forty-five minutes. We made it through forty-five minutes of contraction thirty seconds apart. After that miracle drug I fell into a deep sleep. I had not really slept for about forty-three hours and I was started to panic with the pain and lack of sleep. The nurse woke me at five am. for some routine things and I then started having hard contractions that were painful in spite of the epidural. The nurse realized what was happening and called for help and in a flourish yanked the cord out of the wall. Doctors and nurses came scrambling and I was rushed into the operating room.
On April 9th, 2011, Rael Lyn Graybill's heart stopped beating and she was born into heaven at 5:33 am. She was 8 inches long. Perfect. Beautiful. So tiny and angelic and she looked like her daddy.?
Some people only dream of angels, I held one in my arms.
? ?The operating room procedure took a good forty-five minutes and when it was all over the doctors were amazed. No blood transfusion. No life threatening complications. No unattainable hurdles. I had made it. They had expected it to take days and it had all lasted under twelve hours. Nothing short of a miracle. God had proven himself strong in the depths of this life's heartache again.
"We Knew you so little, But loved you so much. You never experienced pain or sin. You didn't even know about Heaven.
But now you are there, In a place we can only imagine.
We miss you."
We held our baby girl for six hours. Giving her little body over to the nurse felt like defeat. It felt like we were giving our heart away. It felt like death. It was death so why are we so surprised when it feels like death.
"When a baby dies, there is a sadness that goes beyond normal grief. We are programmed to expect that the young outlive the old. When a person who has lived a full life passes away, there is a sense that everything is as it should be. When a baby passes, who has not even has the chance to experience life, her death seems meaningless. If she was meant to die so soon why did she even come into the world?"
I will never forget when we arrived home from Seattle. Our house is in one of my families orchards and the trees had blossomed while we were gone. It felt like a small gift from God in memory of Rael. I never again see a blossoming tree without thinking of this day.
as the sound of the breeze
when the first day of spring arrives
So you are
You blossom in my heart
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
" As seeds of God, we barely blossom on earth; we fully flower in heaven."
Rael's life taught me more about myself, life, heaven, God and love than I had ever known I could learn. She also taught me about death. She was supposed to live, you see, in the perfect world, in a heaven where there is no sin no one dies. Its because of sin in this world that anyone dies. No one is born to die. God doesn't create people to die, he creates them to live and soon, very soon we shall all live forever.