Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Memorial

4 weeks ago today we welcomed into the world our beautiful baby girl.  She was already gone, but we were able to hold and love her for a brief time.  She was taken away the following day.  Last week we had her memorial service.  I wrote the following words, which I spoke during her service, during those times when I was feeling God's grace and peace around me.  It was the best way I knew to honor her.

"These past 3 weeks have been difficult and heartbreaking.  There have been times we have been crushed with grief, wondering how we could ever go on.  There have been times when God has comforted us and given us a peace that surpasses all understanding.  We have struggled with understanding why – why would we have to struggle so much with infertility?  Why would God allow us to get pregnant, only to take her away so early? Why would I have to go through hours of painful labor for a child we knew we would never take care of?  I have experienced every emotion possible.  And I still have no answers.  But I do know I am forever grateful for the hours we had with Reagan. 
                                                                             
I found out I was pregnant on July 3, 2012.  I laid eyes on her for the first time on July 18.  She looked like a blob.  A blob with a steady heartbeat.  And we fell in love.  Over the next several months, we watched as our blob developed into a beautiful little girl.   Each ultrasound brought us so much joy; I could have watched her for hours.  I still remember the first time we saw her dancing in my belly, bobbing her head side to side and kicking her legs.  At only 9 weeks she had so much energy!  Each time we saw Reagan after that, she was always dancing.  So very happy.

I felt her kick for the first time at 15 weeks.  Tiny little butterflies in my stomach.  It was such a wonderful feeling.  And she kept getting stronger.  Andrew was able to feel her a few weeks later – and his face just lit up, so proud of his little girl.  It was such a blessing for me to be able to watch him get so excited, knowing he would be such a wonderful father.  And so we started dreaming of our future together – picked out purple for her nursery color and started painting color samples, registered for a ridiculous amount of stuff, bought and received an assortment of adorable pink and ruffled tiny clothes.  We dreamed of Barbie dolls and tea parties, dress up and dance recitals, skinned knees and butterfly kisses.

And then, something happened.  And God decided to take her home.  Reagan was born on October 31, 2012.  She weighted only 7 ounces.  And she was perfect

We got to spend some time with her before we said goodbye.  As we are sitting in the hospital holding Reagan, I am overwhelmed with how much I love her already.  When you are dating someone, you almost have to earn their love.  When you are married, you chose to love each other.  But when you have a child, it just happens.  Here is our beautiful daughter who has done nothing to earn our love – she was expensive, made me sick every second of the day for 14 weeks, made me tired, made my whole body swell, and caused us countless hours of worry and stress.  And yet, we love her so completely. 

It brought me so much joy to hold her and study her face, her tiny, little face.  She had the most delicate features.  She has Andrew’s eyes and long eyelashes – closed and peaceful.  She had my lips and chin, and we decided in that instant she would have been an amazing pouter.  She was a perfect blend of each of us.

When I first heard I was going to have to go through labor to deliver her, I thought it was some sort of cruel joke.  Surely there must be an easier way.  But it gave us those precious hours with her.  And I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world.  It gave me a chance to see my baby girl, to hold her.  I will forever cherish that time together.

Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans for you, Declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.

God is in control.  And right now, it is his plan that we walk this very difficult road.  That we learn to rely on Him for strength and healing.  It was his plan that I struggled with infertility.  And it was his plan that I got pregnant and delivered her very early.  And even though I cannot see it now, his plan is good.  His plan is not to harm me.  His plan is to give me a hope and a future.  I don’t know why this happened to us, and I don’t think I ever will this side of heaven.  But I don’t have to, because God does. 

On the other hand, this was God’s perfect plan for Reagan.  His plan for her was also to give her a hope and a future, not to harm her.  Even when it’s not the way I would have chosen.  From the moment He knit her together, this has been his plan.  It is not my plan – my plan involved her here with me.  But my plan is selfish and revolves around me and what I want.  And I know deep in my heart that this was absolutely what was best for Reagan.  As a parent, you have to think about your child’s needs before your own.  And even though it breaks my heart, I know she is happier in heaven with Jesus than she would ever have been here on Earth. 

Isaiah 57:1-2 says "The righteous pass away; the Godly often die before their time. And no one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For the Godly who die will rest in peace"

Our daughter knows 2 things: the love of her parents and the love of Christ.  She never had to experience the pain and heartbreak of this world.  She will never have a moment where she feels left out and lonely, never have to worry about not fitting in or go through the awkward middle school years, never have tears running down her tiny little face.  What a blessing, for a parent to know their child will only know joy.  She will know the fruit of the spirit.  She is worshiping her Savior who loves her even more than we do.  And until we can join her, she is taking care of her twin brother or sister.

2 Peter 3:8 states With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. If I take this literally, and we live another 60 years, it will seem to Reagan as if we are joining her in just 41 minutes and 40 seconds.  Hardly any time at all for her.  Still a long time for us, but I just love the thought of her not having to be in heaven without her parents for a long time.  Less than 1 hour.  And then we’ll be there with her, loving her perfectly and worshiping our creator.

We get a picture of heaven from Isaiah 65.  “"See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.  Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.  For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.” 

And so I can cling to this as a promise from God, of what our future will be like once He returns.  Although I won’t get to see Reagan grow up on this Earth, I will be with her for eternity…an eternity filled with joy and wonder, with Christ.  There will be no weeping or crying.  Infants will not die.  And I will be reunited with the daughter I lost when she was just too young.  We will get to see her laugh and smile.  We’ll watch her dancing on streets of gold.  And as we walk through the pearly gates into heaven, she can run to us with her tiny feet and embrace us for the first time."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

4 weeks

4 weeks.  It has been 4 weeks since I learned that Reagan had passed away.  It seems like just yesterday I was pregnant and dreaming of our future together, of all the little things.  Just yesterday that we were picking out her nursery colors and painting the walls.  And just seconds ago that I saw that last ultrasound.  Every time I close my eyes for the past 4 weeks, I see conflicting images - her alive and kicking like crazy, and then her tiny empty chest, no heartbeat, legs so still.  And I crumble, again.  I miss her so much, so very much.  My heart literally hurts, like I have this huge weight bearing down on me and like my insides are being shattered over and over again.  And nothing will ever make it better.  My little girl is gone.

I know in my head that I will see her again.  And I know that God's promises are true and He is faithful.  But my heart feels none of that today.  I am a broken woman, an empty shell of what I once was.  I have been grieving for Reagan and for the times I would never get to experience with her - watching her learn to crawl, take her first steps, her first smile and first words, hearing her say "Mommy" or torturing Sammy.  But I just realized yesterday after reading about grieving and hope in our devotional that I will never know her as an adult.  I'll never be able to give her marriage advice or watch her become a mother.  We'll never have that type of relationship either.  And yes, I will see her in heaven and we will be together forever, but it will never be the same.  All the children that may come in the future will never replace that piece of me that is missing.  No one will ever take the pain of losing Reagan away.  The rest of the world seems to be moving on and I am just stuck, completely heartbroken.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reagan's life through pictures

video

Reagan's memorial video (the blurry version)

I created this video mostly for me to watch when I want to remember every second we had together.  When I am so overcome with sadness that I no longer see her face when I close my eyes.  When I want to remind myself that this is not just a nightmare - that I will never wake up and have her back in my tummy.  And when I want to remember just how beautiful she is, how much joy it brought me to hold her, how completely I love her.  Makes me cry almost every time...sometimes tears because I am sad and miss her with every breath, sometimes tears because I love her so much and am so very thankful for her life and the time we had together.  I miss my baby girl so much sometimes my heart physically hurts and I can't catch my breath.  But sometimes I feel hope and peace, knowing we are walking this road for a reason and God has a plan.  And other times I am just longing for when Jesus comes back and we can all be together again.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why, God??

Some days it seems like I am being crushed under the weight of despair.  And that God is absolutely against us.  Why else would the new patient on my first day back to work be Reagan?  When, in 3 years, there has never been a patient with that name in the clinic.  And why would he choose to have us sit directly in front of the unwed woman who was 25 weeks pregnant on our flight?  And why, this morning as I log on to Facebook for the first time so I can accept the friend request of my new cousin who just married into the family, is there a girl who announces with such joy that she "can't wait to meet my daughter this morning...headed to the hospital"??

We read from Psalms last night, and chapter 38 seems to grasp how I feel.  "I am feeble and utterly crushed.  I groan in anguish of heart.  All my longings lie open before you, Lord, my sighing is not hidden from you.  My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes."

How do you ever recover from this grief?  How can I ever move forward again?  We picked up her urn late last week and its like a new piece of me crumbled inside.  And we started talking about her memorial service last night.  How is this right?  I keep thinking it can't be true, and that I will wake up from this awful nightmare.  And then I close my eyes and I see her last ultrasound - with her empty chest.  And I feel the shock and terror of that moment all over again, the moment when I realized my baby girl was gone.  And I want to just curl up in bed and stay there forever.  There is just too much pain.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Broken


It has been one week…one week since the hardest and most devastating day of our lives.  We learned last week that we had lost our precious baby girl.  On Wednesday morning I was taken to the hospital and labor was induced.  Just over 16 hours later, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter.  Reagan Catherine Savant was born at 11:16 PM on October 31, 2012.  She was the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen.  She was just perfect, only too small to make it in this world.  For some reason, God decided to take her home early.  And we are left behind, heartbroken.

This week has been by far the most challenging of my life.  I have struggled with understanding why – why would we have to struggle so much with infertility? Why would God allow us to get pregnant, only to take her away so early?  Why would I have to go through hours and hours of painful labor for a child we knew we could never take care of?  And why do we have to be surrounded by so many pregnant women with a constant reminder of what we have lost?  I have experienced every emotion possible.  And I still have no answers.  But I do know I am forever grateful for the hours we had with Reagan.

Reagan would have been a petite little thing.  She was born weighing only 7 ounces.  But her delicate little features were just perfect (and the doctor said so too, so I’m not just being a mom)  We were able to hold her and spend some time with her before we had to say goodbye.  During that time, I tried to memorize her little face.  It still makes me smile when I close my eyes and picture her.  She had tiny blonde eyebrows, her daddy’s long black eyelashes, and her mommy’s lips and chin.  I never understood how people could say of an infant “oh they look just like so-and-so” but now I do.  She was a perfect blend of us.  Her feet were only about an inch long, but already had all the texture and skin folds you would expect an adult to have.  Meme said she could just imagine those tiny feet running in heaven, which makes me very happy to think about. 

Our time together was so brief, but we tried to think of all the things we would have wanted to do with her.  So we sat and rocked her, read her a story (Brown Bear), sang her a lullaby and Jesus Loves Me, and read to her from the Bible.  She brought us so much joy, even knowing she wasn't really there with us.




But coming home without her has been heartbreaking.  The house seems so lonely, so empty, without her.  We have been loved by our neighbors and friends, but nothing really takes the pain away.  I keep trying to think of some way to bring her back, and it can’t be done.  How do I move forward from here?  And do I even want to??  I just don’t know what to do anymore.

But I can take peace in knowing she is in heaven waiting for us to come join her.  And she never had to live a day knowing the pain and suffering of this earth.  She knows Jesus, and He can give her the hugs we can’t until we are reunited.  So we had engraved on her urn Isaiah 65:17-23, a beautiful reminder of what I have to look forward to and what Reagan is already enjoying.  

"See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.  Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach[a] a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.  For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.  They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.”

We have been working to try to preserve our memories of her and honor her short life.  We have created a memory book which, so far, we have read through every night.  We also have decided to try our had at flowers and have a container garden on the back deck filled with purple flowers…the color we started painting in her room.  And so I have spent the last afternoon before I return to work sitting outside, drinking tea, looking at Reagan’s garden, and reading a book about Heaven.  And in this particular moment, I feel God’s peace and comfort wrapped around me.  So for everyone who has been praying for us, thank you.  Your prayers are felt at the times when we are overcome with grief and anguish.