Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. - 1 Corinthians 13:12-13
The thing about Type-A people is that we like order. We also like organization. But I think most of all, we like to be in control. Personally, the reason I like control is because I have anxiety. I may not show that anxiety, but it's there under the surface. I've never been able to sleep the night before the first day of school, from the night before kindergarten to right up to my last first day of law school. One of the ways, I get rid of this anxiety is to research the situation as much as possible. I didn't do this obviously when I was a little kid, but I certainly read a lot about what it was like to go away to college and definitely read about law school.
Worrying about the night before my first baby was no different. And I had been worrying about it for awhile.
Before the bar, I spoke with my cousin about talking me through childbirth because that's where my biggest fears were. She is Type-A like I am as well so when I explained why I was asking, she got it immediately.
Three months ago, I began learning about letting go of that control. It was my ultimate security blanket and I was stripped of it. As I've said before, I was as vulnerable and as naked as person could be before the Lord. It was where I needed to be, but it didn't mean I liked it.
So when I had no birth plans, no funeral plans, no hospital bag packed, and nothing ready for nurses/doctors and my parents were out of town, I was as out of control as a Type-A person can get. On Monday, I woke up thinking about the history of The Committee and just felt like I needed to write about it. Some blog posts feel like work and others feel like I can't get my fingers to move fast enough. The post I wrote about The Committee was the later. I now know that was God preparing my heart for what was to come.
When I last left off in Lily's birth story, we had just arrived at the hospital. Karen and Dick arrived at the hospital at the same time we did. For as out of control I felt and as anxiety ridden as I was, I began to relax when I saw Karen. One of my best friends from high school, Brad's momma, Terri (did you follow that?) came along as well.
We got all checked in, I got in my very fashionable nightgown, and they got my IV going. I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but I do not like needles. When I say I don't like needles, I mean, I usually have to have someone hold my hand and stand in between my view of sight. I don't pass out, but I certainly am not brave either. The nurses got it in easily enough, but after they took blood, they adjusted it and it felt like they were digging around in my arm. I then got started on a round of cytotec to thin my cervix. Brandon's momma and daddy showed up soon afterwards. About an hour later, my nurse came back in to check on me and asked if I was feeling contractions. I told her that I wasn't and she said, "Well within fifteen minutes of you taking the cytotec, you started having them." So I asked Brandon to tell me the next time he saw me have one on the screen to tell me so I knew what they felt like. The first one I experienced didn't really feel that awful. It felt like I was trying to start my period.
Jessi and Will showed up right after Karen and Dick left. But before Karen left, she told me to call if I needed anything and that she would be back first thing in the morning to help me with pushing since she knew I was scared. She hugged me and told me that she loved me and that there was no other place she'd rather be.
The next day she told me that she prayed for my anxiety the whole night and that Lily wouldn't suffer. She knew that when she left, her momma heart, knew mine couldn't handle it if Lily was hurting. She also prayed a lot about my blood pressure. I have a pretty low resting BP and where I was registering was high for me. She didn't want to tell me but she was nervous.
About three hours into contractions, the nurse asked how I was feeling and if I wanted something to help me sleep. I told her that I knew I would need help sleeping because I was still having trouble getting on top of my anxiety. Brandon's mom and dad decided to head to the waiting room for a bit. The couches were a lot better than what we had going on in the room and they said they weren't spring chickens like my siblings and couldn't sleep on the floor.
When they stepped out, I told Brandon that I wanted to pray with him, Jessi, Loren, and Will. I knew they were all nervous about mom and dad not being there. We all held hands and prayed over the next few hours. We still hadn't been able to get a hold of my parents to let them know what was going on at this point. We prayed for their hearts. We prayed for Lily. We prayed for one another. It is one of the most precious times I've ever experienced with my siblings. It is also one of the proudest moments I've ever had as their big sister.
After that, it was time for my second round of cytotec. I was starting to doze, but before I could fully go to sleep, the nurse checked me. I personally prefer to block that experience from my life. But I was at a one and my cervix was thinning out really well. Everyone came back into the room and about thirty minutes later, I was out. Of course, I'd wake up occasionally because the IV was in my hand and kept getting occluded. The beeping was loud and I had to let the nurses know because they couldn't hear my machines. I'd roll over and go back to sleep no problem, but apparently everyone else was just about to fall asleep every time I got my IV occluded.
Around 3:30ish my contractions began to get harder to sleep through and I told my mother in law that. She said to remember that my doctor said I didn't have to wait for my epidural. I told her I wanted to wait a bit longer. At four, my IV was occluded again, but when the nurse came in I told her that I was ready for my epidural. At four-thirty am the anesthesiologist came. The other awful part was when that epidural needle went in my back. The doctor warned me that this was the part of the night where most people cussed.
The doctor was right.
I had one last dose of cytotec and the epidural also began to work immediately. I could feel my legs and body relax. The doctor explained that it would take away the pain, but that I would still be able to feel pressure. I must have had this look of "And how am I supposed to know that?" look on my face because he told me to trust him that I would know. They let everyone back in the room. We all got settled. My mother in law stayed this time because I was checked after my epidural and while I was still a one, my cervix had completely thinned. (In case you were wondering, getting checked after an epidural is way better than getting checked before an epidural.)
At five-thirty, my IV was occluded again ( to no one's surprise and everyone's annoyance), but I also was feeling the contractions in my right backside. The nurses helped shift me so that gravity would help the epidural work its way into my right side and they also gave me a clicker. The clicker and I were friends. And before I knew it, I was asleep again.
I woke back up at 6:45 and told my mother in law that I felt like I had pressure, but I wasn't sure. I said I wanted to wait a bit. Mostly, I was sleepy. The epidural really relaxed my body and the ambien helped for sure. Thirty minutes later, I occluded my epidural one last time for good measure and when the nurse came in, I told her that I was feeling pressure. She said that my doctor had wanted to check me the next time.
When I talked to my doctor the next day I asked him what time he thought showtime would be. He said he anticipated mid to late morning and maybe even afternoon because it was my first labor.
Well. That's not how things worked out.
My doctor came in and checked me out. He said, "So, you're fully dilated. In fact, you're a PLUS TWO. She's still in her sac too." Before he left, he asked if I wanted to know to check her on the monitor. I told him that I didn't because if I knew she was gone, I'd shut down.
The nurse began prepping the room. After I got my epidural, however, Brandon finally passed out. He was still passed out right before the doctor came to check me. His mom and Jessi had a heck of a time waking him up. He was sitting right beside me when the doctor told me it was game time and he was suddenly very awake.
While the nurse prepped the room and the doctor stepped out to wash up, I felt a pop and like something had hit my leg. I told the nurse as soon as it happened too.
But here's the deal.
My legs were not in stirrups.
The bed part that removes was still in tact.
I had covers on me.
Like I previously said, the doctor was out in the hall.
The NICU team wasn't there.
We still thought there was time and that I was going to have to push.
But when the nurse looked, she slammed a button and said something about tech and Doctor and the next thing I knew he was in there.
Lily was halfway out.
He remarked how my uterus was strong. He pulled Lily out. They got my legs in stirrups. They had Brandon cut the umbilical cord and then handed her to me. I had to push once to get the placenta out.
Her labor was as easy as it possibly could be. It was the first of so many answered prayers.
We would soon learn that some prayers were to be unanswered. But there were also some more to be answered that we didn't realize needed to be answered and just how much Jesus was with us and protecting us the entire time.
After Lily's diagnosis, we prayed that we would get to tell her that we loved her on this side of heaven.
When I saw her, I knew two things. First, she was already gone to be with Jesus and that she had a lot of hair.
And so, at 8:38 am on August 6th, 2014, an angel named Lily who weighed 4 lbs. 3 oz. and was 17 inches long made us momma and daddy.
I wasn't sad. I wasn't mad. I was at peace because I knew she wasn't hurting. I also felt closer to God than I ever have before. I was grateful that she never knew any kind of hurt from this world. She only knew the best kind of love: God's.
I looked over at Brandon and tears were rolling down his face. He knew too and I watched his heart break.
It's amazing how one story can affect two people very differently. I had been hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst once we had her official diagnosis.
But my sweetheart and Lily's daddy never once gave up on her. He believed that she would be alive when she was born until the NICU doctor examined her and told us that she was officially gone. 1 Corinthians 13:8 tells us, "Love never gives up" and he was that personified. I saw Jesus in so many ways on August 6th, but one of the people I saw him most in was my husband.
We asked the NICU nurses to clean her up and to have a few moments with just the three of us before they let everyone in to see her.
When they handed her back to us, I asked for a diaper. Brandon said he hadn't put a diaper on a baby in a long time. I said, "Well today, you're going to break that streak." We decided we would also get her dressed. He asked how we were going to do that. I told him that he couldn't hurt her and that we would dress her like we dress ourselves, one arm and leg at a time.
He unwrapped her from her blanket so we could really look at her. That's when Jesus really revealed his handiwork.
We examined her hands and her feet and her face.
I pulled back her cap to confirm what I thought I had seen earlier: Lily had a head full of pretty blonde hair.
I instantly remembered my dream from a few months earlier the night after we first heard she most likely had trisomy 13. There was a little girl I couldn't catch with long blonde hair with a slight curl in a field of sunflowers. I never saw her face. She giggled a lot too.
There were so many truths in that dream.
In that moment, my sweet Lily assured me that Jesus had kept his promises. In fact, it couldn't be denied.
The entire pregnancy, we never saw her face. She always hid.
When she was born, she was already gone. We couldn't catch her.She had somewhere else to be.
And her hair? It was thick, blonde, and had a slight curl.
She was our Lily and there is no doubt in my mind that her place in heaven includes a field of sunflowers....
I'm going to stop here. Winding up Lily's story will always be hard for me. I think that it's because her legacy and story is one that is still being written even now. I'm sure at some point, there will be days when I'll feel led to share.
There are a lot of parts though that will remain just with us. I hope you'll respect that.
Later this week, I plan to talk about family meeting her and saying goodbye to her, but for now, it will remain between Lily, Brandon and I. We are still healing and will be for awhile.
I do want to say thank you all for your prayers. I know this last week went the way it did because so many people were standing in the gap for us. The doctor told us afterwards that I was headed into full blown preeclampsia and that it was good we didn't wait. God was in the details in so many ways and your prayers were a part of that.
Her funeral is Tuesday. After that, we hope to begin the process of moving forward. We know that there will be hard days and good days, but we just want to keep moving. We feel like that's what Lily wants for us.
Hope this finds you well.
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