Monday, August 9, 2010

Noah's Story, Part 3

It's been almost four months since we held Noah for that last time.  Some days it seems like years ago, and other days it seems like just yesterday.  Some days my heart has such a peace, and other days it seems forever shattered.  Up and down, up and waves on the ocean.

I've been trying to think of a way of describing what life was like during the four months that I carried Noah knowing that he was going to die.  The best analogy that I can come up with is like living on a boat in the middle of the ocean.  Life on the ocean being followed by a shark.

There were dark days full of storm clouds. There were lots of waves that tossed our little boat, crashing against it's sides. I felt like jumping into the ocean and letting it swallow me up.

Most days, however, were bright and sunny.  The sun was warm and I knew that I was blessed to have such a wonderful family to be sailing with.

But, even on the sunniest of days, when life felt good and there was lots to smile about, I knew that that shark was there, hungry and lurking.  He was never far off.  I knew that he could and would strike without warning.  There was little to no hope that he would just go away. 

From the time we found out about Noah's fatal condition, my mind and heart were divided.  On one side I desperately wanted to have and know Noah.  I anxiously waited, and waited, and waited for the day that I could feel him move.  I wanted that connection.  That day never really came.  I only felt him move three, maybe four times; and even then it was the gentlest of kicks.  I remember laying down and pushing, pushing on him to get him to move...nothing.   The placenta was in front, he was small, there was lots of amniotic fluid...  He was so quiet within me.

I never knew if he was still alive or already dead.  Most of the time I could patiently wait until my next appointment to see him on ultrasound or hear him with the doppler in the doctor's office.  Only once did I give into my fears and ask Dr. Perrin to do a heartbeat check.  She so graciously obliged and offered to do it as often as I needed.  I saw him four times on the ultrasound and heard his heartbeat twice. 

On the other side, I was scared and wanted it all to end.  Because Noah was so quiet within me, it made really hard for me to truly feel pregnant.  It felt like I was just getting fat.  It was winter and I wore nice comfy warm sweaters.  My regular pants didn't fit anymore, but I could half convince myself that maybe I was just eating well to stay warm.  On a day-to-day basis I had little tangible evidence that I had a baby growing inside me. 

On Tuesday April 13, 2010 we went in for another routine doctor's visit.  When Dr. Perrin first came in we discussed again some things to do with birthing Noah and having people in place who we wanted to meet him, etc.  Then, she got out the doppler and checked for his heartbeat.  No matter where she moved it to or how hard she pressed, it was quiet.

Holding onto the slightest bit of hope, Tom and I walked a couple of doors down to get an ultrasound.  It was the same tech that had originally diagnosed Noah's condition.  She put a glob of gel on my belly and then used the wand to look inside.  It was so incredibly still.

We gripped each others' hand as were led back to an exam room.  Once the door was shut, we hugged each other and cried. 

At some point along the way I had gotten in touch with Kristen from kdi Photography.  She had generously agreed to not only take pictures of Noah when he was born, but also some belly and family shots.  We had set a date to take belly pictures the Monday April 19th.

We called her immediately after finding out that Noah gone and she fit us in the next morning.  Even though Noah was already dead, I wanted and needed that physical record of my body carrying him, I wanted a picture of our whole family together.

She took so many amazing pictures that I will treasure forever.

The rest of that Wednesday was so surreal.  After the photo session, we, including my mom and dad who had come up from Phoenix, went to Pizza Hut to eat lunch.  After lunch we went to a park to let the kids run and play.  Life just kept going on.  The world didn't stop.

That evening at 7:30 pm we were scheduled to be admitted into the hospital to start an induction.  Tom and I decided that the two of us would go out to eat dinner before heading over there.  We needed some time alone with each other.  Time to talk about what was going on.  It was also a nice way to get into town without having to make that dreaded drive to the hospital directly from our house.

Once we got to the restaurant and were served our food, we realized that neither one of us were that hungry.  We picked at it while we talked.

As we left the restaurant I vividly remember the hostess saying the typical, "Thanks for coming.  Have a great night".  If she only knew.

The walk from the hospital parking lot onto the Labor and Delivery floor, the process of registering and getting setting up in our room was horrible.  Everybody was very sweet and sympathetic, but I just wanted to escape.  I wanted there to be another way.  Any other way.

Thankfully the Lord was gracious and merciful to us.  The induction which was predicted to take 20+ hours, only took 11.  Within two hours of the drug being administered I was beginning to feel painful cramps.  I got an epidural at 11pm that night.

We rested throughout the night.  I was never really able to sleep but I remember peaceful hymns in my head soothing my heart.

At 8:00am  my water broke and Dr Perrin was called.  Tom stood by the bed holding my hand.  Once she was there and had everything prepared, she checked me and saw that Noah's hand was presenting.  Because he was so little, she was able to reach in and slide him out. 

Noah was born at 8:30am on the morning of April 15, 2010.  He was 11oz and 9" long.

I was shocked when I first saw him.  He was nothing like I had envisioned.  I was ready to meet a baby who had anencephaly.  I was expecting to meet a little baby who looked like his sister and brothers from the eye brows down.  But, he had deformities not only to the top of his head, but also to his spine, neck, shoulders, and upper lip.  I struggled to find some physical beauty in him.  I struggled to recognize him.

At first we just stared at him, trying to take in our little boy..."fearfully and wonderfully made".  After a few seconds I got brave enough to touch him, stroke his delicate skin and then finally hold him.  We wrapped him in a little blue blanket that was knit by a friend's daughter.

My parents came to meet him.  We opted not to have the kids come and see him.  We thought that he might be too hard for the kids to look at.

After everybody was gone I held Noah to my chest.  He was laying on his side snuggled in his blue blankie.  In that position all of his deformities were hidden and I could see the sweetest little profile.  I thought he looked like Ben.  God had heard my heart struggling.

I kissed his cold little face and then sang him a version of the goodnight song that I sing to the kids every night before they go to bed. 
Noah, I love you.
Angels watching over you my love,
All day, all night,
Angels watching over you.
Now I lay you down to sleep,
Angels watching over you my love,
I pray the Lord your soul to keep,
Angels watching over you.

The gal from the mortuary came around 3pm.  We said our goodbyes and handed him to her.  I cried and cried as she walked away.

The days and weeks following Noah's birth was a mix of relief, guilt and sadness. 

I was also angry at God.  I felt like He had let me down.  All that I had hoped and planned for with meeting my beautiful little boy was taken from me, even his blue blankie which was accidentally cremated with him.  I just wanted something to hold on to.  And God took it all.  I think He was and is trying to tell me to hold onto Him and Him alone.

I'm trying.  I'm really trying.

Psalm 62:5-8
My soul, wait silently for God alone,

For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah


Kaci Mae said...

Thank you for sharing so openly, Jenn. It is hard to imagine all that you have been through. I was especially touched by your response to not even having his blue one would blame you for pouting about that and yet you let God use that little loss that meant so much to continue pointing you to him. God bless you and Tom!

Genevieve Thul said...

I know you only through your blog, but the honesty of this post was so encouraging to me. My family has been in a season of suffering for 2 1/2 years, and today was one of those days when I had more questions for God than praises, thanks, or requests. I just don't understand my life, and it is hard to see the blessings for all the pain. Thank you for sharing. It is encouraging to know I am not alone. I still miss my baby (who died at 14 weeks and I never saw him) every time I hold my nephew, who shared a due date with him. Why does God grant miracles only so that they can be torn from us? I don't get it...yet.

Mitchell Family said...

Jenn, thank you for creaking open that quiet, raw place in your heart and letting us share in your memories of Noah. I believe his story is still a work in progress...his passing is just a chapter with so much more to come. I believe the Lord will use your honesty and vulnerability in mighty ways to gently guide the brokenhearted to the only true Healer. With much love, The Mitchells