I have been thinking about writing this post for the past three years. I finally found the courage to publish it. Please understand that this is a very sensitive topic and it is my personal story. I share it now to not only educate others about what it’s like to lose a child (at any age), but to offer hope to those grieving mommas, daddies, siblings, and family members.
On June 2nd of 2016, I arrived at my OBGYN’s office for a routine checkup. I was nineteen weeks pregnant, and ecstatic for my fourth baby to be born that October. After waiting only a few minutes, they called me back, took my vitals, and directed me to an exam room. That appointment lasted less than an hour. What happened that day turned out to be my worst nightmare.
My baby had died.
The sweet, young nurse and had tried finding the baby’s heartbeat.
She called a veteran nurse in. Surely she could find the heartbeat.
They called a third nurse, who suggested I have an ultrasound to see what’s going on. By this point, I had knots in my stomach and was preparing for the worst. I prayed, “God, please don’t take this baby from me. Please don’t let this be my third loss. Please work a miracle.”
I was escorted to another room. The ultrasound tech scanned my belly.
My baby was gone.
I was strong. Really strong. At first.
The tech asked me if I’d like to call my husband and see if he could come to the office. No tears. I knew he was really busy, plus we only had one car. Still no tears. I didn’t want to inconvenience others by begging for rides. Be strong, Jenny.
I said, “No, it’s ok, I can drive myself home.” But as I said those words, I realized I’d be driving home alone. The baby in my belly wouldn’t be listening as I sang along to the radio. He wouldn’t feel the bumps as his momma drove over a pothole. He wouldn’t be soothed by the beating of my heart. I’d be alone.
And that’s when I lost it.
I no longer had to worry about where we were going to fit a fourth child in our cramped, two-bedroom apartment. I sobbed. I didn’t have to get out all the baby clothes, wash them, and organize them. My heart ached. No new carseats would need to be purchased. The tears rolled off my cheeks and onto my shirt.
I cried so hard, I could barely see. I had to take my glasses off and just cover my face with my hands. The poor ultrasound tech was so compassionate. She got me some tissues and asked if I’d like a few moments alone. I said yes.
As I sat in that little room, still looking at the image of my motionless baby on the screen, I still prayed for a miracle. “God, please bring this baby back to me. Please don’t take him just yet. Don’t let this be real.” Yet I still cried. I knew he was gone.
I decided not to call my husband while I was at the office. News like this would be too difficult to share, or hear, over the phone. That thought made me sob even harder. No one knew but me.
My baby had died, but I was the only one who knew it.
A short while later, a doctor came in and took me to another exam room. Here, she discussed with me what had been found on the ultrasound and what my options were.
We talked about doing a D&C. Absolutely not. If you don’t know what that is, please go look it up. Removing my sweet baby was not going to be a “procedure.” I knew, before even leaving the office, that I would deliver this tiny baby, and that we would bury his remains. I had no idea what they would really mean or look like, but I knew that’s what we needed to do.
The next 24 hours were rough. I went home and told my husband. We both cried together. He was the sweetest and so compassionate! Man… we’ve been through so much – two other losses, financial struggles, job changes, moving from one state to the next, living across the country from each other when we were newly married, ER trips, a child born with cancer. So. SO. much!
But I knew we could make it through this. How did I know? One word…
Without Him, I don’t know how I could’ve survived ANY of our past and current life obstacles. Our baby might be gone, but we know where he is. We might have a pain deep in our hearts, but we have a Savior that can heal that pain – He is the great physician. We have His Word that can cut through the fog of depression and sadness!
But we’re human. We will still struggle. We will still grieve.
So although I was dealing with same major heavy emotions, we made plans to be back at the hospital the next day. I would be induced, and would give birth to my baby. I had no idea how that would go, but I didn’t want to feel physical pain. So I opted for an epidural.
I regret that now.
I wish I had experienced the delivery all-natural. It might sound weird, but when you can’t take your baby home, and you don’t have photos all over your house of this precious little life, sometimes the pain is all the memory you will have. I wish I had felt the pain.
So Gabriel was born on June 3, 2016. He was tiny. He was sweet. A friend of my parents who owns a local funeral home picked his fragile body up and took him to prepare him for the burial. He was SO respectful of our wishes. Thank you, Chip!
I kept hearing people tell me that what we were doing wasn’t the norm, and it made my heart smile. This was a part of our testimony. This is how we view a life. One that didn’t even make it half way in the womb. We love him. We miss him. I wish he were here today.
Of course we were going to go the “more difficult” route of planning a funeral, buying a casket, designing a tombstone, but it is quite an experience doing this for a baby would wasn’t even full term.
My family is the best – so supportive. No one tried to talk us out of doing things this way. Love you guys!
Below is the video I made which played at his memorial service. The images are hard to see because he doesn’t look like the normal, chunky-cheeked, pink baby. He has dark spots and areas where fluid was pooling. Please be respectful and know that this is a birth video of my baby – Gabriel Joseph.
WARNING: THESE IMAGES MAY BE HARD FOR SOME VIEWERS TO SEE.
This video is dedicated to ALL the women who have lost a children through miscarriage, stillbirth, or from illness or accident. I see you, momma! I see you!
Today we celebrate his birthday. He would be two and a half if he were alive today.
Happy Birthday, Gabriel!
Photos of the funeral and burial by Memories by MAK. Song is “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher.