Monday, April 30, 2012

Nothing left

All that I could do for Samuel has been done. There is nothing left to say, nothing left to make, nothing left to plan. It's all done. Now, there is nothing more to do but go forward. That makes me sick. I poured my life into him for eight months. My almost every thought was about him. My every plan involved him. Now it's all gone. I try to think of things to do and they are all meaningless. What on earth is the point? I can't think of a single thing to do that seems worthwhile. It feels as though all control of my life has been taken from me.

All I wanted was a baby. All I wanted was a family.  All I wanted was a normal pregnancy, a normal time of preparing for him and celebrating his coming. All I wanted was a natural and uneventful birth. All I wanted was to bring my baby home and spend the rest of my life loving him. All that was taken from me. From the moment we learned he was sick, all my plans were ruined. Every day I had to decide to be positive. Every day I had to purposefully block out the thoughts of "what if he doesn't live?" I prayed and begged for my sons life for hours on end, every day, for months. I believed with my whole heart that God was going to heal him and use his life to changes the lives of others. I guess I was wrong about the healing (on earth, anyways). God never did say to me that He would let us keep Samuel. So, I guess it's my fault for believing He would.

There are so many emotions flowing through me. There is a deep and unending love for Bryan and Samuel. When I think of how great Bryan was with Samuel, I love him so much! He is such a great daddy! As I look at the pictures of him holding and cuddling Samuel, my heart breaks that he doesn't get to continue being an amazing daddy to him.

When I see pictures of Samuel, I die inside that I can't hold him or touch him or hear him or smell him. I keep thinking maybe I'll wake up and this will all be a nightmare. There is nothing I can say and nothing I can do to bring him back. It's done and I hate it.

I think of how someday I'll be ok with this and that thought makes me sick too. I don't want to be ok without him. I don't want to live a life where my baby is dead. I try to imagine life in a year and I can't. Everyone else just keeps on living. Everyone feels bad for us and offers support, but they don't know. I will never be without this. I will never ever forget this. I will never ever stop wondering what he would have looked like as he grew. What his personality would have been like. What he would have done in life. These will be unanswered questions until I die.

I feel so broken. It goes through my head a least a few times a day that we must be defective for this to have happened. I think of everyone else in the world with there kids and I think "what on earth is wrong with us?"  They can tell us all day long that it was a fluke, but I don't buy it. (And I would guess that other people wonder the same thing about us.) If it was a fluke, then why us. We wanted him more than anything. So why us?

Despite my strange feelings towards Him right now, I know God is with us. How do I know this? Because I can get up everyday. Because I can take a shower and get dressed. Because I can love Bryan and want to keep going for him. Because He continually meets our needs. Because, despite all my pain, I can feel peace that my baby is safe and happy. Sometimes, I find myself thinking of a praise song and the words won't leave my mind. I think "NO! I will not sing this!" or "How can you expect me to praise you God?" But they won't go away, so I give in, and God gives me peace. He had not left us and I know He hurts with us. But He knows the whole story. He knows the "why". Maybe someday He'll tell me.

Now, back to trying to make it though the day...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Searching for Samuel

My arms are looking for the baby they should be holding. My ears are listening for the cry they should be hearing. My body is looking for the baby to feed, hold close and protect. My eyes are looking for the face of my baby. My heart is looking for the place to pour out all the love I have for him. My brain is scanning for a reason why there is nothing where there should be something so special. My legs are ready to run any distance to find him. My hands are desperate to caress his soft skin. My soul is longing to connect with his. My mouth is overflowing with kisses for him and words of love to whisper in his ears.

It's all in vain...there is no baby to find.

God, why didn't you trust me to raise him? Why didn't you think I could do it? I would have done anything for him. Why, God, did you take my baby?

Monday, April 23, 2012

All that love could do...

Ever since Samuel left us, I've been wanting to get mad. I want to scream and yell and tell someone off. I want to be angry at God for taking him, at people who tell me "it was God's plan", or at myself for believing he would be healed. The only problem with my plan is that I can't get mad. God is filling me with peace and I just can't muster the anger I want. Now, don't go confusing peace with happiness. I'm absolutely heartbroken that my baby is gone. There are moments when I want to hold him so badly I think I'll just die from misery. I would give absolutely anything on earth to have him back again. There are moments when I think of all my friends and their beautiful babies (just about every one of my friends either had a baby recently or is pregnant) and I'm just sick with wonder over why they get to keep their babies and I don't. Over and over in my mind, I wrestle with questions about what happened, why our baby, or why God didn't heal him on earth. But still, there is peace.

We received a card just after Samuel died. It says "All that love could do was done". I keep thinking on that. I want to have a logical reason for all this. I feel defective. Why did we have a baby with this condition? Every doctor we talk to and every resource we read says the same thing: it's just a fluke. My logical brain can't accept that answer. I guess I'll always wonder...but then I come back to the phrase, "All that love could do was done". We may never know exactly what happened or why, but we can be sure of that truth. We did everything we could for Samuel. Everything. He was always in God's control and the final decision of his healing was up to Him. But in as much as we could control we did all we could. We loved him with a deep and unending love. We gave our all to him. We taught him what we could and showed him what love is. We made a place for him in our hearts and home. We brought him places and told him about life. (We took him to SeaLife at Mall of America and, despite people probably thinking we we're nuts, we told Samuel all about what we were seeing. "Samuel, there are tons of turtles! Samuel, there are these big fish called sharks"...and so on). We only got eight months, but we made the most of those months. All that love could do was done. I can be sure of that.

I'm still at a loss for what to do now. As some of you know, my education is in counseling/psychotherapy. This may be obvious, but I'm in NO place to try to counsel anyone. (Plus, I just don't care about anyone's so called "problems" right now. ) So what on earth do I do? Going to work at Target just doesn't seem to matter but I can't just sit at home all alone all day. I need direction. For a while, I guess I will just be at home alone all day. Maybe I need that. For now, we'll just keep going one day at a time.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Completely Broken

As I sit here to write I take note of my situation: body cut open, bleeding, hurting, covered in black and blue marks from IV attempts, eyes swollen from crying, arms empty, and heart broken. I'm so utterly at a loss as to where to go from here. Nothing has any meaning. What's the point of doing anything. I just sit here, missing my love, and wondering if I can just will my heart to stop beating. Earlier today, my milk came in. It's just another horrible and painful reminder that Samuel should be here with me. This afternoon, the tornado sirens sounded. I actually thought to myself "Good, maybe I'll get to go be with Samuel."

I know God is with us but I'm so hurt. I said before if He doesn't heal Samuel, He is going to have to explain it to me. So God, now's the time. How can I trust what you say is true if you didn't heal him? I know in my heart You are who You say You are. I have confidence that Samuel is with You and full of joy. But I wonder: What did I do that I have to stay here without him? How am I suppose to live out my life missing him?

It's a weird balance between being happy that Samuel is perfect and with Jesus; I will never have to worry about him, and the overwhelming sadness of not being allowed to raise him or see him grow. Since heaven is the place we are all working towards anyway, I should be joyful that he got to go straight there and never feel even a moment of the pain we all experience in life. In a way, I can be thankful for that. I guess I just wish I could go too.

I think about the next few weeks and months and ask myself, "What on earth am I suppose to do?" My life has been completely filled with Samuel. Every day I would talk to him and sing to him and read to him. I would tell him what I was doing and what our plans were and what we would do when he got here. All day, every day, he was my focus. Now, he's gone. I don't get to say "Good morning, my love!" when I get out of bed. I don't get to feel him wiggle and squirm as he listened during daddy's nightly stories. It's all gone. All that's left is me: completely broken.

Once again, I'm so thankful for the love and support of Bryan. He is the only way I'll keep going. I love him and I know his strength will get me through. Somehow, someway, we will be ok again.

God, we need Your peace. Please take care of our precious Samuel. Show him our love. Please, Lord, give us the strength to keep going. Help me to know what to do with my life now. Thank you for never leaving us.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mama's turn

During the last few months, I would often sit in the glider in Samuel's room, rocking my pregnant belly and imagining the day I would cuddle up with him on my chest as I rocked him to sleep. I would imagine the feel of his body against mine, the "new-baby" smell of his head, and the feel of his warm sweet breath on my skin as he drifted off to sleep. "Oh, Jesus", I would pray, "I can't wait to hold my baby!" My heart longed for that day. When I was in the hospital and found out I wouldn't be able to hold him, those dreams, along with so many others, shattered. For what seemed like the hundredth time that day, my heart broke again. I cried out to God, "Not this too! You already have taken him I don't even get to hold him!?" I wanted so badly to scream at someone and force them to go get him. I wanted to be so angry that there were laws against such a things as a mommy wanting to hold her baby one last time. But I couldn't get mad. God must have been comforting me silently because I felt a wave a peace that seemed to say "it's ok, Bryan is there and it's going to be ok".

Much later, when Bryan returned from his time in Rochester with Samuel, he sat next to me and told me all about what it was like. He explained what it felt like to hold him and what he noticed about him and how special he was to him. Again, I had the urge to be upset but it quieted and the same peace washed over me..."it's ok". Later that day, after we had slept, I was telling Bryan just how much I hurt over not being able to hold my baby. He knew how important it was. He came up with an idea: maybe we could have the funeral home hold off on cremating his body until I could get over to see him.  For a moment, the idea scared me. Would I really want to hold his body after a few days of him being gone? Yes, I quickly realized; this could be my only chance. "Ok, let's do it if we can." We called to see if this would be a possibility. "Yes" was the reply. Immediately, I was so thankful to God. "Lord, you knew how important this was for me and you gave it to me despite the circumstances. Thank you!"

Since I was doing so well recovering from the surgery, I was released from the hospital Monday afternoon. We made plans to be at the funeral home at 10am on Tuesday. Since my mom had also not been able to hold him, she also decided to come along. My brother Josh offered to record video of my time with Samuel, as well as take photos for us.

After a long day at the hospital and an afternoon of guests at home, Bryan and I found ourselves alone in the evening Monday night. As we looked  around at our home that was waiting expectantly for our baby, we lost it. Waves upon waves of sorrow crashed down on us. I wanted to run and find Samuel, steal him away and hide him where no one could ever take him from me again. But it was too late; he was already gone. We held each other and cried for what seemed like hours. The strange part was that despite our great sorrow and pain, we  both also acknowledged a sense of peace that Samuel was ok. We were crying not out of despair, but out of the misery of being without him. We miss him so!
After some time, we talked about him. "What do you think he's doing in heaven right now? I bet he's playing with lots of fun animals... I bet he's fishing with great-grandpa and being spoiled by great-grandmas... I bet he's being snuggled by Jesus himself and listening to angels as they sing lullabies to him... I bet he's so happy!" We prayed together right then and there. "Jesus, please take care of our precious little guy. Please tell him all about us and let him know just how much we love him. Thank you that his body is now perfect. Lord, help us to make it until we get to see him again!" We then finally went to bed.

Early in the morning, I woke up feeling excitement. I get to hold my baby today! It was still hours until we were going so I just laid in bed and thought about it. While I was doing this, the idea that maybe my friend Jaimi - who had missed seeing Samuel by 20 minutes - would also like to come. I hesitated for a moment...maybe she'll think that's weird...but then realized it didn't matter. I'd offer and she could make up her own mind. (Jaimi just had a beautiful baby girl a couple months ago, so I knew she'd be up early). I sent her a text to ask and she immediately replied "Yes!" She would be there at 10am.

Time dragged on for a while but finally it was almost 10 and time to go. We all packed up and headed over to the funeral home. The funeral director met us at the door and was very kind as he welcomed us and offered his condolences. He brought us down to a lower room and we sat down to go over some details. Then, finally, the moment had arrived. I had a twinge of nervousness about the strangeness of the situation, but I prayed that God would help me be ok and to make the most of the time I had. Bryan and I opened the door to the room where Samuel was laying and I saw my baby waiting for me on a little bed. (I was afraid of what he would look like, but he just looked like he was asleep).

He was so tiny but so perfect. I walked over to him and  gently picked him up. All the concerns I had over the situation melted away. "Hello my love!" I said as I held him close. He was so light, but I had needed so much to feel the weight of his body. I walked over an armchair and sat down. I held him close and touched his face. He was so soft! I caressed his hair with my fingers and ran my hands over his precious little nose. Yep, he definitely has my nose. (He mostly looks like his daddy, but the chin and nose are mine.) For a long time, I went over every nook of his face, arms and legs with my hand. "Please God, help me to always remember how he looks". Again, I marveled at how God had protected his body from any of the damage the doctors has predicted. He really is a miracle!

Finally, after all the months of dreaming about it, I got to hold him up against me and rock him! (God answered me, once again.) I love him so much! I sat with him and cried...this isn't how it should be. I wanted to hold him close forever. But I also knew it wasn't really him.

After a while, my mom, dad, my brother Josh and Jaimi all took turns holding him. Then Bryan and I took some time alone as a family. When we eventually felt ready, we cried together, swaddled him up in his blanket and set him back on the bed. We both hurt deeply because we knew it would be the last time we would see him on earth. "You know," I said to Bryan, "he's up in heaven, so happy and perfect. We don't need to worry about him". God gave us peace as we walked out of the room.

My dad and brother Josh had recorded the entire time I got with Samuel. I know that will be a treasure I will cherish forever.

Right now my heart is so broken. I miss my love so much I honestly don't want to keep going without him. Somehow, God will help me. For now, all I want is Samuel.

Samuel's Memorial Service will be Saturday, April 28th, 2012
Hillside Church in Mankato, MN

The service is at 2pm and a lunch will be served afterwards. All are welcome to share our love for Samuel.
Childcare will be provided for young children.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Time with Daddy

After Samuel died, Bryan got to spend about 5 hours with him. Since I was in Mankato and had just come out of surgery, I had no way of being with him. We asked if Samuel could be brought back to Mankato for us to spend time with him, but the answer was "no". My heart was broken because all I wanted in the world was to hold him. (All I had been able to do was touch him from my bed). Despite many of us doing all we could to find a way to make it happen, there were laws that kept his body from being transported and laws that kept him from being able to enter another hospital after death. I cried and cried because I had not felt my baby against me. I found out later that my dad had really gone to bat for us, asking and pleading with anyone he could find to make it happen. He did his best and I'm very thankful for that, but it just couldn't happen. Someone (I still don't know who...) came up with the idea to Skype. My sister Angi set me up on her laptop and through the computer in the Rochester NICU, I was able to watch online as Bryan spent time with our son. (Thank you, Jesus, for technology!) I watched and cried as Bryan swaddled him and rocked him for a while.
After some time, with the help of the nurses, he made molds of  Samuel's hands and feet, a mold of his hand in daddy's (I can't wait to see it!) and took a clipping of his hair. Then, I saw Bryan give Samuel a bath, dress him in a special outfit we had for him and wrap him in the blanket I had knit for him (my dad had brought Samuel's bag with to the hospital). Bryan was so gentle and loving with our precious baby! It confirmed what I've know for so long; he is a wonderful father.
After he was all clean and snuggled up, Bryan rocked with him and cuddled him close for a long time. My dad and brothers were also able to spend time with him. The non-profit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep sent a photographer to capture all this time Bryan had with Samuel. She took what I can only imagine is hundreds of photos and I can't wait to see them. What a treasure it will be to have those memories! (I forgot to mention in the last post - NILMDTS also sent a photographer to the hospital in Mankato. She took photos from the time Samuel was in the nursery to the time he left for Rochester. Again, I can't wait to see them!) I was able to talk to them, so I asked Bryan to hold Samuel up for me to get a good look at him. I did my best to memorize each inch of his face. His tiny, perfect little nose, his little lips and chin, his rosy, chubby little cheeks, his hair and his perfect little ears. My heart was aching to hold him and kiss him and smell him. But since I couldn't, I tried to be thankful that Bryan could. In my place, he kissed him and caressed him and smoothed his soft hair. He held him close for me and did what I couldn't. I kept thinking, "I got to spend eight months with Samuel almost all to myself. Samuel loved his daddy so much ( Bryan's voice always got the most kicks) but I was always in the way from him spending time alone with just daddy. Now, he was having  his "daddy time". My love for Bryan grew so much during that time! He was so amazing to be strong enough to take perfect care of our little love. I will never forget the joy, sorrow, pride and pain on his face as he spent time with Samuel.

Around 3am, Bryan said goodbye to Samuel one last time and handed him to the nurse. Then he and my dad drove back to Mankato to be with us.

Sometimes God doesn't give us what we ask for exactly. Many times though, he does give us the next best thing. This was one of those times; I couldn't be there in person, but Bryan could. His time with Samuel was the next best thing I could have instead of being there myself. I know Bryan treasures that time he got to have his baby all to himself. For that, I'm thankful.

A Samuel-Sized Hole

On Saturday, April 14th, 2012 at 6:28pm we welcomed Samuel Evan Fredrickson into the world! (He weighed 4lbs, 8oz and 17.5 inches long). He was the most perfect little guy I've ever seen. He took breaths and even cried! His body was not mangled and crushed as the doctors had predicted. He looked just like a perfectly healthy little guy! At 10:35pm that day, God took him back home. Now as I sit here, there is a Samuel-sized hole in my heart and in my body. I miss him more than I can say!

 Now let me start from the beginning...
Since our release from Rochester on Friday, I remained contracting...hard. The pain was becoming increasingly intense and would vary from 4-6 minutes apart, to 8-10 minutes apart. Bryan and my mom were doing all they could to help me but I was just so tired and fed up! I was not good company. I tried standing, sitting, rocking, laying, crying, throwing things, baths and heating pads. Nothing changed them. After another sleepless night, I was just so fed up I cried and cried. My good friend Jaimi and her family were planning to come visit and bring us food and baby shower gifts (the ones I wouldn't be opening at my then rescheduled shower) around 2pm. I was not feeling my best, but super excited to see them and have a bit of a distraction. During their stay, I had several contractions that I had to excuse myself for. I'm sure it was uncomfortable for them as I panted away, but it was so great to have them there! After they left, suddenly things took a turn for the worse. The contractions started coming super close together and were horrifically painful. I couldn't do anything but moan and try not to die during them. After about an hour of them, Bryan said "We've gotta go to the hospital!" I agreed but was thinking "What's the point?" We had been at the hospital so many, many times and nothing was happening. I was not feeling optimistic. This time, instead of bringing all the bags and such, we decided that only Bryan and I would go and my mom would bring our bags if required.

We got to the emergency room (just how many times can we go to emergency rooms!?)  around 4:30pm and I was barely able to stand. The contractions were excruciatingly painful and coming on almost without stop. I just kept praying "God, help me!"

They got me upstairs and checked quickly. I was at 5 cm. I KNEW it had to be real labor! Our doctor was on call, so he came in to talk to us. "Unfortunately," he said, "it's too late to get you to Rochester". Ok... I figured. He did an ultrasound and found Samuel in his breech position with his legs tucked up around his body. I was in SO much pain I was almost delirious. Since there was not time to get me to Rochester, and since he was breech, it was decided I would need a C-section. I was in no position to argue. Everyone immediately sprung in to action. They began prepping me, the doctor called Rochester and Bryan began calling friends and family to ask them to pray. It was decided that the neonatal group we needed from Rochester would helicopter over to be there in time for his delivery. "I just need you to know", the doctor told us, "he may not live through the surgery". We told him we understood. "God, you are in control" is what I prayed. I looked at Bryan and said "Are you ready to meet him?" He was!

Since I was going to get pain meds for the surgery, I began to get encouraged. "I can do this...only 20 more minutes until there will be some relief." The doctor told me they would administer them as soon as the neonatal team touched down at the hospital. So I looked at the clock and began the countdown in my head. After said 20 minutes, there were still no meds and the doctor came back in to say "they are just about to leave Rochester". What? No way I can make it 30 more minutes, I thought. But I kept on working through the pain. Finally, at 5:50pm, they finished my prep and wheeled me into the OR. The neonatal team was on the ground and on their way in. They gave me the spinal block (Thank you Lord!!!), the team rushed in and set up for Samuel, Bryan was brought in and they began. At 6:28pm, Samuel came out and took a breath! "Thank you Jesus! He's alive!!!" Bryan jumped up and went right over to him. (We had planned that Bryan would stay with Samuel no matter what).

He held his hand and Samuel looked up at him. "Hi Samuel, this is your daddy. Daddy loves you!"  I was behind the curtain so I couldn't see him, but Bryan came to say he was crying and ok for now. "He's beautiful!" he told me. Thank you Lord!! They quickly rushed him out of the room in his warmer and Bryan went with him. All I could see was the top of his perfect little head. "He has hair!", I thought. "God, be with him!", I prayed. It was out of my hands (as per usual) so I just did my best to be calm and they finished my surgery. I was told later what happened while I was in the OR...

My family was all at the hospital. My mom and dad were sitting in the hall outside my room and got to see him as they rushed him by. The team took Samuel in to the nursery and began assessing him. Bryan was holding his hand and speaking lovingly to him "Samuel, daddy's with you! Samuel, daddy loves you! Daddy is right here Samuel!" He never left his side and kept talking to him. (During my pregnancy, Samuel always got so excited to hear his daddy talk to him. I just know it was a comfort for him to have daddy right there with him the entire time in the nursery.) After he was stabilized, they began allowing my family to come in, one by one, to see Samuel. My mom and dad came in first. "Hi Samuel, it's grandma" she said. She picked up his foot and counted his toes. "One, two, three, four, five....yep, all there!" She said, "Just perfect!" Then she picked up his left hand and counted fingers. Same thing - all perfect. Next she looked at his face and his eyes were closed. My dad said hello to him also at that time. Since only two people at a time could be in there with him, my mom left and Ryan came in. He held his hand, touched his body, and spoke softly to him.  All this time Bryan was still talking calmly to him. (Many people have told me told me now that he was an awesome daddy to Samuel. So very loving and gentle. "It was precious to watch him with Samuel" is what I was told.)

My dad left so someone else could go in. Hannah and Rachel were sitting outside the nursery looking through the window. Hannah went in to see him next.Then Rachel. Everyone got a chance to touch him and talk to him while they were working. Bryan's parents arrived next and got to come in as well. Around that time, it was decided the weather was too bad for the helicopter to fly them back to Rochester (terrible thunderstorms), so they would have to take the ambulance. Ryan volunteered to drive Bryan. My dad and Josh decided they would go along also. They needed to get going so they went to find out how long until I would be finished...

While this was all happening, I was still back in the OR. I kept thinking "man, this is taking so long!" I found out later I had a bit more bleeding than anticipated so the doctor took extra time to make sure I was fixed up well. Finally, a nurse popped her head in and said to the doctor "They are waiting for mommy to come see him before they go". I heard the doctor reply "I need five more minutes". After those minutes, they wheeled me out and down the hall towards the nursery. As I approached the room, here is what I saw. Fifteen or so nurses, assistants, other hospital employees and our family members all gathered around the nursery window watching everything happen. No one was talking but everyone was completely focused. They wheeled me in the room on my bed and put the head up so I could sit up slightly. I peeked up and saw my baby for the first time. "Hello my love! It's mama!" I put my hand up to cradle his head and caress his hair. He looked right in to my eyes and moved his mouth. I know in my heart he knew exactly who I was. "Hello love! Mommy loves you so much! How's my precious boy?" I looked him over. "Not a single mark or indication that he was sick", I thought to myself. "Thank you Jesus!" ( We had specifically prayed for that.) In my heart, I knew he was not going to be healed. Somehow, God gave me peace about it. I was holding Samuel's hand and I said to Bryan, "Let's tell him his story". (His story is a book called "Whooo loves you?" that we read to him a lot - so much that we memorized it).

Bryan and I recited it together:

The birds on the clothesline sing.... You're my little tweetheart! you're my little tweetheart!
The cow grazing in the meadow calls...I love moo! I love moo!
The owl in the tree top says....Owl always love you! Owl always love you!
The puppies snuggled in their beds say... We ruff you! We ruff you!
And what do I say to you?  I love you! I love you!

After we finished, they really needed to get going so I said "I love you Samuel! Mommy loves you!!"
They wheeled me out. Those were the only minutes I got with my baby while he was still alive. I will cherish them forever.

After I left, they quickly packed Samuel up and set off for Rochester. Bryan, Ryan and Josh drove right behind them. My dad drove our car behind them, bringing with him Bryan's bags and everything they would need to stay with Samuel in Rochester. I was brought to a recovery room and I just laid there praying for my baby. "It's out of my hands and into yours God. Be with him!" My friend Jaimi had driven down to be with me (Yes, for the second time that day. It's so awesome to have a friend who loves you that much.)

 After talking with Bryan later, here is what was happening in Rochester. Bryan, Ryan and Josh arrived just after the ambulance. They had spent the car ride praying and calling others to pray as well.  Bryan ran up to the intensive care nursery and the doctor came over to talk with him. He went over the condition and helped him understand everything that was going on. He said "We have given him an IV, but his kidneys were not functioning so they won't be able to tolerate it for long. Over the next couple days or even tonight, his heart will stop. We will resuscitate him, but there may not be much we can do. His lungs are not developed enough to saturate with air".

 Bryan took this all in and thought about it. He realized Samuel was not going to live. The nurse came over to say that Samuel's heart rate had dropped significantly and they had started chest compressions. Bryan went right over to Samuel and took his hand. The doctor said, "We are working hard to keep him alive and we will do this all night if you want us to". Bryan replied, "It's ok, if you've done everything you can, then you can stop." He went close to Samuel, held his hand tight and said "Samuel, I'm right here. Daddy loves you! Your mommy loves you, too. God is with you Samuel and He will take care of you". Those were the last words he heard as Jesus took him home to heal him. (I'll write more about what happened next later).

At this same time, back in Mankato, I was in my room with my sisters, mom, and Bryan's parents. We were all just talking about the events of the day when my mom's cell phone rang. I could tell from her voice that something was wrong. I knew in my heart Samuel was not ok. It was my brother Ryan, calling to say that Samuel's heart was stopping and they were doing CPR. Then, a moment later he said to her "Mom, he's gone". She told us what he had said. I think time froze for a moment. I said "It's ok. He is all better now". Only because of God's grace, I was able to be thankful that Samuel was no longer in pain and would be perfect from that moment on. The room went silent as we all realized what just happened. My baby was gone forever and he took a piece of my heart with him. From that day on, I will always carry with me the physical scar of his birth and the emotional scar of his death. 
Mommy loves you more than words can say. My heart is aching for you! My arms are empty because you are not here, and my life seems meaningless without you in it.  I will treasure the months you were with me and will never forget the moments I had with you face-to-face. You are my precious boy and I will have a hole in my heart until the day I meet you in heaven. I know Jesus is taking care of you and that you are perfect. I will spend the rest of my life counting the days until I get to hold you close and never be without you. Because of you I will never be the same again. I love you deeply and forever. 

Until we meet again my love, 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Seven days makes one weak

To all the first timer pregnant ladies out there...guess what you were never told? Labor can last weeks! Yes, you heard me right. Weeks. Why don't they tell us these things?!? I have been having contractions - real, live, super painful, and rhythmic - since Friday night of last week. The doctor told me, "it's not uncommon to have real labor contractions without being in active labor (active labor = the contractions change your cervix) for up to a few weeks". Oh, ok. How is it that no one has ever mentioned that little tidbit to me?? I have been in pain for a week. Every 6-12 minutes, depending on the day, I have a pain that is so sharp I think I'm going to never make it through. Then, after a minute or so, it goes away. These pains are doing nothing except to bring me to my absolute breaking point. It's pain for pains sake only.

Yesterday, after I was checked in Mankato for the 4th time, my doctor said "you are dialated  to a 2, it's time to go to Rochester." It was actually a huge relief when he said that. "I knew it!" is what I thought "I knew this was labor!" Since my mom was staying here to help me while I was on bedrest, she and I quickly went back home, called Bryan (at work due to a super important meeting) and began quickly and efficiently cleaning up and grabbing everything I needed for the hospital stay. Bryan met us at home and in 30 minutes, we were off. All during this time, I was just contracting away as per my new usual. I thought to myself "the next time I'm here (home) I'll have my baby!" I was excited! There was something about knowing the pain had a purpose that gave me a new sense of determination. After a LONG car ride (2 hours = 20 contractions), we finally pulled in around 5pm. The Mankato clinic had called the hospital to let them know I was coming, so they were ready for me. The quickly put me back on the monitor then checked me again. I was now dialated to a 3 and 90 percent effaced. I was making progress! (finally). But some bad news: Samuel was still breech. (we had been told by 3 people in Mankato that he was head-down). Bummer! But the doctor I had that night was able to do a breech delivery, so onward and upward! They put me in the Cadillac of birthing rooms. It was complete with a beautifully tiled, full walk-in shower, private bathroom, labor whirlpool and a very spacious floor plan. It made Mankato look like a "pay-by-the-hour" hotel. It was perfect! We got settled, then I climbed into the massive (and deep!) whirlpool. It was awesome! The warm water was a great pain reliever. Why on earth don't all hospital rooms have them?

After a while more of contracting, they came to check me again. Bad news: no change. Ok, well, I guess we'll just have to keep trying. This was around 10:30pm. I tried moving to the birthing ball. Bryan got some dinner and we just kept plugging away. Around 1:30am, the doctor came in and said, "You're not making much progress, so I have a suggestion". She told me how some women will be laboring for a long time without making progress and they just get worn out. (At this point, I had not gotten any more than 1-2 hours of sleep for about a week. I would try to sleep but the contractions would wake me. I was absolutely exhausted and almost delirious). She recommended a shot to help me sleep. She said this was a very routine shot they used in these situations. She told us how there were two main outcomes after the shot. 1. After the sleep (6 hours or so) the contractions would fizzle out and I would be able to return home and rest until "real" labor set back in, or 2. During the sleep, my body would keep working and when I awoke, I would be further dialated and ready to continue better rested.  I was at a loss of what to do. During this entire pregnancy, I have not taken a single dose of any drug; not tums, not Tylenol, not even caffeine. I fully intended on being completely natural during birth. So when she told me this, my heart kind of sank. I knew I needed rest, but I didn't want to hurt Samuel. (despite how they tell you the baby won't get the medicine you take. hmm... so we share a blood stream, but somehow, magically, he won't get the meds?? Suspicious...) Bryan and I prayed about what to do. I decided to try to sleep without taking anything. So we got me settled into bed, turned down the lights and played soft worship music. (Did I mention my suite had a build in sound system?) Bryan, who was also exhausted, finally got to lie down on his bed and rest as well. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get more then 10 minutes of rest in between each contraction.

At 3am, we decided to get the shots. (it was a hard moment for me. I felt like I was letting myself and Samuel down). Bryan said, "it's ok. You have to get sleep and God will take care of Samuel". So I got the shot, prayed for Samuel and settled back in. Both of my parents were at the hospital at this point. I called them into the room and we all prayed together. Then we all went to try to sleep. (The hospital also has a family room with pull out beds for guests). A few minutes after the shot, I started getting really drowsy. After 15 minutes, I couldn't keep my eyes open. (FINALLY! sleep!) I feel asleep and was able to rest for around 3 hours. It was really weird; I would feel that I was having a contraction, and know that I had to breathe through them, but I was also kind of sleeping at the same time. Strange. I got up around 7am and was shaking all over. I felt so cold. They (Bryan and the nurse) quickly got me under some heated blankets, got me some hot chocolate and then set me up in a warm shower. After I warmed up, we ordered breakfast and the doctors came to check me again. Guess what? no progress. Since I was not making any progress, they told me I was in latent labor. They said they would let me try a bit more and then consider sending me home.

Around this time, the contractions became much less frequent (thank you God!!!) They were still painful, but at least I got a break. Bryan and I ate breakfast, my parents decided to head home since we were most likely heading home ourselves, and then I tried to sleep again. After a  few hours, during which I sort of slept, sort of contracted, we got up and I realized "we were going home". (It was a weird mix of relief - maybe the contractions will stop - and panic - what if I have to keep this up?!) Both Bryan and I were feeling a lot of discouragement. We had both been through so much! But, we tried to remind ourselves that it was best for Samuel for him to grow bigger and stronger. They came in to check me one last time around noon - no change - then we ate lunch, I took a shower and got dressed and we left for home. The emotions of these past few days are many. Pure exhaustion, excitement, concern, feeling completely overwhelmed, pain, panic...etc. As we were leaving, they said "just come back or call if anything changes". You know doctor, I don't think so. I have "called or come in" so many times and look where it's gotten me. I suddenly wanted to call them all names and slap them. Thankfully, I did not.

As we walked to the car, I just lost it. "God, I can't keep this up!" I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. Poor sweet Bryan tried to comfort me, but it there was just no hope for me. There I was, not in "labor" but in tons of pain, heading back home to face who-knows-how-long of this latent labor. Plus, (pity-party for me) we had to cancel my baby shower for Saturday and I've been looking forward to it for months. Just one more thing to add to the list of reasons why life is hard right now. Can I just give up? (At this point, the contractions were back to being very painful and about every 10 minutes. Let's just say the ride home was unpleasant.)

Since we got home, I've been trying to rest - to no avail - and contracting like a maniac. I'm so utterly discouraged and tired I can't even begin to tell you. I just keep thinking, "why is this happening?" "After ALL we have gone this?" ARGH! But guess what? I have absolutely no choice in the matter so I guess I'll just keep going until I die. (which, if the contractions keep feeling like this, may be sometime soon).

Thank you so much for all the prayers! Please keep praying for us. I need this to stop soon. For my physical body and my sanity.

God, help me!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

did I say couch? I meant hospital.

When I said "you can find me on the couch", what I apparently should have said was "you can find me at the hospital". After our doctors appointment Monday, I was still having some slight pains every once in a while. That night, Bryan and I went to get some groceries and I was not doing very well. I had to stop every little bit and hold on to the cart and breathe through the pains. We left right away and went home. After a warm bath, I went to bed at 9:30pm. At 10:30pm I woke up to some intense pain. It feels like a cramp that is trying to break my body in half. It's very sharp and intense. I typically have to stop what I'm doing and really concentrate to get through them. After a few hours I woke Bryan up and told him. We decided to time the pains. After 3 hours of timing, the average was around 30 seconds each with 6-8 minutes between them. We decided to call the nurse line and get advice. She recommended we go in to the hospital to be checked. So we packed up an overnight bag - just in case - and left for the emergency room around 5am. We got checked in and they hooked me up to the monitors again. Samuel was doing great! Great heart beat and lots of movements. Thank you, God! I, on the other hand, was not doing so well. I was still having the same rhythmic pains, for about as long about every 6-8 minutes. But the monitor was not picking up any contractions (meaning my abdomen wasn't tightening) and my cervix was not dilating, so the doctors said "nothing to worry about". (Oh yeah, doctor? Why don't you try this!!) They sent me home around 9:30am. I went to try to nap on the couch.

After an hour, I woke up again to a super intense pain. It was so bad! I went to the bathroom after it was done and I was bleeding a lot. So much I thought "it's over, I'm dying". I immediately started crying and yelled for Bryan.I must have sounded really distressed because he was asleep when I yelled but he made it downstairs in like 20 seconds. "I'm gushing blood" I told him, "we have to leave now". I almost called 911, but Bryan said we could get there basically by the time they got to us. He flew out the door, I stood sobbing on the porch and he pulled up to get me. I called my Mankato doctor during the drive to let him know we were coming. They met us at the door and wheeled me up to the OB floor. Since we had just been there, my same room was still as we left it, so they just put me back and hooked me up again. Once again, nothing showed up. Samuel must have been totally oblivious to it all because he was just fine! The doctor ordered an IV and,after seven horrible attempts to get it started, they finally called in the anesthesiologist who worked her Nazi-like magic and got it in. (is getting an IV supposed to feel like being stabbed with a knife?) They also said I couldn't have water or ice "just in case". So there I was, back in the hospital bed, dealing with tons of pain, not contracting, unable to eat or drink with only 2 hours of sleep in the past day (not to mention all the black and blue band-aid covered IV attempts sites!) Let's just say I was not in the best shape. I broke down a few times..."I can't do this anymore!" It's one thing to go through pain if you know there is an end in sight (holding a precious baby!), it's another when it feels completely useless. Based on my description of the pain and the way I had to close my eyes, breathe slowly and concentrate during the pain, people kept commenting that it seemed exactly like labor. I agreed. Despite not having done it previously, I can't possibly imagine labor being any worse then those pains. It's like waves that just keep coming and coming and you just catch your breathe when another comes along. I was getting so discouraged and exhausted! I did try to stay calm as best I could and I thanked God for Samuel's health. Every time a new nurse would come in, she would look at the monitor and comment on how "baby looks great!". Thank you Lord!!

Bryan took the entire day off so he was with me, but he was getting tired and hungry (neither of us had much sleep or food since this all began). So my parents came down and Bryan was able to go eat a good meal and have a bit of a break from watching me suffer. I'm thankful he was able to do that! He is such a great support to me; he was constantly massaging my feet or back, holding my hand while I squeezed it, caressing my hair and offering encouragement. I'm sure he was getting worn out too. It's really hard to see someone you love in pain. Sometime in the evening, I was getting SO hungry so I asked if I could have anything. They brought me chicken broth and a grape icee. I can not possible describe how amazing those two things tasted! I felt a lot better after "eating". Around that time, a good friend stopped in to check on me. She must have brought something special with her because I felt much more calm while she was there. It was a nice break! Since Bryan doesn't have much time off due to all our appointments and such, he had to go to work Wednesday. Since he was so lacking sleep and would need to be fresh for work, we decided my mom would stay with me and he would go home to rest. It was sad to see him go, but I knew he needed his rest. So me and my mom settled in for the night. Two funny things: 1. the birthing bed I was in was so uncomfortable I kept asking for pillows. At the end of it all I had ten! (and was still not comfortable...go figure.) 2. The "support person" chair that my mom had was so old and crappy that it kept folding up while she was on it. At one point it threw her off on to the floor. We had a good laugh and she spent the next 20 minutes wrestling with it. After a while the nurse came in and said "everything ok in here?" I guess she and some other nurses had heard it clicking and clacking and squeaking and had a good laugh in the hall about how stupid the chair were. Good grief!! At that point, the pains had lessened a bit and were not coming as close together. I was actually able to get some sleep. I would wake up every time the pain hit, moan and breathe through it then fall back asleep. my poor mom had to listen to that all night.

In the morning, Bryan came to spend time with us before work. I missed him! The nurse said that since the bleeding had stopped the night before, the doctor was going to let me eat. Those were some great words! I got an omelet and sausage and it was amazing! Plus, Samuel was so excited to FINALLY get some real food. The nurse told me my doctor was going to check in on me around lunch time and, if nothing had gotten worse, they were going to send me home. You are probably saying to yourself: "they are sending her home again? What about the pain? What about the blood?" Those are the same questions I had. To answer them: they didn't know what was going on! The ruled out placental abruption so that was good news. But beyond that, they had nothing for me! The said the blood could have been because of my being checked a few times. If THAT much blood comes from being checked then I'm never going to be checked again! As for the pains, the doctor said "some women's bodies just go through cramping to prepare for labor. ohhh kayyy.... so I'm going through what feels like horrible labor to prepare myself to go through horrible labor. I'm not sure I buy it, but it's all I got. In my opinion, they have no clue what's going on. After the doctor checked in on me at 11:30am, he said I could go home if I was on strict bed rest. I agreed. Bryan came from work to pick us up, we got some lunch and went home to rest. I was able to get somewhat comfortable on the couch and tried to nap. Again, I would wake up during the pain, moan and breathe through it, then go back to sleep. Oh what a long few days it's been!

Bryan came home after work and immediately started comforting me. Since the pain had not stopped and Bryan has to work tomorrow, my mom offered to stay and help me tomorrow. What a help! Around dinner time, the pains were getting SO hard and intense. I just about lost it. They were right on top of each other, super painful and not going away. "How am I going to get through this!" is all I could think. I'm sad to say I lost my cool and began complaining, snapping at Bryan and my mom  and freaking out. Finally, I decided to go take a warm bath. Maybe that would help? I got settled in, Bryan brought me ice water,  his phone to listen to worship music on and he turned down the lights. There in the warm water I just began pouring my heart out to God. "God, I'm so tired!" "I don't think I can keep this up!" "Please - God - Help me!" Then, after a few minutes of that I started to focus on the positives. My precious little baby was thriving! At Monday's appointment, they realized he is now head down (Thank you Lord!!), his heart rate is perfect, he is gaining weight correctly and he is active and moving. I have so much to be thankful for!! Here I was, feeling so sorry for myself, when I could have been thanking God for what He was doing for Samuel. "Thank you Lord!" I began listing all the things He has done for us and praising Him for never leaving us. "God, you are so faithful!" After a while, I started feeling so much peace. No, the pain was no completely gone, but it had been a while since I had a bad one and that was awesome! Once again, I remembered the importance of where I put my focus (I'll get it someday...) After a while, I got out and got ready for bed. I continued to praise God instead of pity myself and things got better! The pains came much less frequently and I was able to stay much more calm during them. Now, here I am writing this and thanking God for never leaving me. I'm going to try to get some good sleep and I pray that God will help stop these pains. He is in control!

Thank you, God, for your peace. You are so faithful! Thank you for so many people who pray for us. Bless them Lord. Thank you for a loving husband who does his best for us! Thank you for people who love us and take care of us. Thank you so much for our precious little Samuel. You have proven time and again that you are with him. We can't thank you enough! We love him and thank you for the gift of his life! Please help me to focus on You instead of the pain. Please help me sleep well and stay calm. Thank you Lord!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Let's just call it a "practice run".

Just an FYI before I get started: there might be some "TMI" moments in the next few paragraphs - so be forewarned!

Bryan had Friday off, so we got to have a long weekend together. It was really nice to have him around more! Samuel got to spend lots of time listening to him tell stories and read books. He loves his daddy's voice! On Friday afternoon and Saturday, Bryan and I did some gardening and work outside on the lawn and in the garage. I may have done a bit too much because (TMI alert) later in the day on Saturday, I lost my plug. (I'll assume you all know what that means). To be honest, it freaked me out a bit because I'm only 34 weeks and that seemed to be too early. But I did my best to keep calm and to remember that God is in control. Later in the evening, I started having some very uncomfortable cramps. They were not happening in connection with any other labor-related symptoms, so I tried to just relax. When I woke up Sunday at 3am with quite intense pains, I started to become concerned. The pain was similar to a menstrual cramp, but was a bit more intense and at times I had to close my eyes and concentrate on breathing just to make it through. I was also experiencing (TMI alert) more plug-like discharge at the same time. I began to get a bit anxious. "This can't be labor, can it?!?" Since Bryan was still sleeping, I decided to clean the house (just in case). So I went from top to bottom and cleaned, stopping now and then to hold on to something and breathe during a cramp. *Me to God: "he is too little! Don't let him come early!" God to me: "duh"! :) But then, once again, I remembered that He is in control and there is nothing I can do about any of this. So I relaxed again.

After a few hours, and now with a sparkling clean house - including a load of freshly washed bathroom rugs (something every new baby demands) - I woke Bryan up to see what he thought we should do. Since I still wasn't having any contractions, I didn't really think I was in labor, but I just didn't know what to do. We decided it would be better to go in and be checked out then to just wonder, so we got in the car and headed to the hospital. (Happy Easter to us!) We checked in and they hooked me up to a fetal monitor. This whole time Samuel had been moving regularly so I wasn't concerned about him being ok. I knew he was! His heart rate was perfect and he showed no signs of stress. I was not having any contractions (per the machine) and after being checked, I was not dilated at all. There were signs of effacement. While we were sitting in the room, I began to realize that it wouldn't be long until I would be doing this for real. Yikes! That's a bit scary...but I can do it. Bryan was SO wonderful! He is going to be a great labor coach. He rubbed my feet and back during cramps, he spoke lovingly and kept me calm. He even joked that if I wanted a tour of the Mankato birthing center, we probably could have just scheduled one. :) He helped me feel safe and not to worry. He is a wonderful husband and I love him dearly!

After a LONG time of sitting around, the nurse came back in and said we could go home. There were no signs of pre-term labor and they weren't sure what was causing the cramping. I was told to just take it easy. The bummer was that it was now late morning and we weren't going to make it to church. We had been looking forward to a great Easter Sunday service (and I didn't to get to wear my pretty Easter dress - boo!) But things don't always go as planned... so we just headed home to rest. I was still having cramps, but since they weren't worried, I wasn't going to worry. The nurse told me to lay down and drink lots of water. So that's what I did. We had planned to go to Bryan's parent's house for the afternoon, but we decided it wouldn't be the best to drive an hour away so we had to cancel. They obviously were very understanding.

After a nice long nap, we were talking about things and I realized something: it never even crossed my mind that Samuel wouldn't be ok. Not because I don't care, but because I am completely confident that God is in control of his life. How awesome to not have that added stress of worrying if he will be ok! Thank you, Jesus! I also realized a few other things. 1. Despite purposely not having a hospital bag packed (because I don't want to plan for an early labor as we pray specifically that he will be born in his due time), I did have a moment of anxiety when I went to the hospital with no bag packed. So it might not hurt to do that in the next few days... 2. After getting in to a gown at the hospital, I had a shocking realization that my legs were not shaved. It was not my finest moment. So, note to self: be sure to shave legs before going to hospital in the future. 3. Although we have most everything Samuel needs at first, none of it was washed! He didn't have an outfit ready! (*Not to worry! I made sure to wash every single item he owns at my earliest convenience after the nap). Now, he has clean outfits in his bag, ready to go (in 4-6 weeks, we pray). 4. Compared to the Rochester hospital, the Mankato birthing rooms are dumpy (no big surprise there, I guess). We really do want the luxury suite atmosphere of the Mayo Clinic hospital!

Now, it's Monday, I am still having some cramping but it's lightened and Samuel is still just kicking away as per usual. We had a regular doctor's appointment this morning and he told me to just rest. So that's what I'm doing. I made myself a nice little spot with the remotes, my DS, my phone, the laptop, lotion and anything else I might need.

This weekend was just another reminder that God is so faithful! Although there were moments of uncertainty, He never once left us. I never once worried about Samuel's health. We have so much to be thankful for! It wasn't our expected Easter, but that's just the way it goes.

I'm super excited for this weekend, my best friends Jaimi and Traci are throwing me a shower! It will be so much fun and I can't wait to see lots of friends from the cities.I'm so thankful for good friends :)

For now, if you need me, you'll find me on the couch (or, let's be honest, in the bathroom every 15 minutes or so...)

*Only 1 more month to go! (Mommy can't wait to snuggle you, Samuel!)