Monday, December 23, 2013

3 Years

Sunday, December 22, 2013:

It's been three years today that I found out I had lost my sweet baby girl. I wanted her. I wanted her bad. It was the single most difficult day yet. The worst. It hurts now, like it did that day. I had a friend ask me today if it gets easier or just changes. For some, maybe. While I do feel it is different, I still feel the same pain. I think about her daily. Not a day goes by that I think about her, or the day. The dreaded day.

This Christmas she would have been old enough to actually WANT things. She would show interest in certain things, and dislike others. She would have worn a beautiful dress to church. I can see her cute blonde, done up hair. Bright blue eyes. When I picture her, I picture her cute little feet dangling off a chair. I remember the Christmas we lost her. I still have her presents downstairs. The ones she will never open. I can't give them away. They are hers. Why can't she wear them, why can't I wrap her in the hooded towel? The shoes will never be worn on her tiny toes. The gown never slept in. The headbands will never feel her hands pulling them out.

Her hat she wore the day she died, along with copies of her feet prints, her hand-prints, and the bracelet that would fit my pinky, still sits in the nursery in a small shadow box. Next to all the willow tree angels I received days following her death. I've always seen her as Dallin's guardian angel specifically. I talked to him just the other day about her. Wondering if he knew her. Knew her in a way we won't remember until after this life.

Days after losing Eden, I made a journal entry of the events that took place. I did this on a computer hardrive that is long gone and couldn't be retrieved. I've met lots of new people in the past three years who don't know the story, or have only heard bits and pieces. I also read a lady's blog the other day on her grief of losing her daughter. It really is therapeutic to read others struggles that are so similar to mine.

I knew with every fiber in my body, that I was carrying a little girl long before the pregnancy test. Friends from the ward, the Hawks, were blessing their first baby girl. I sat there alone in the pew with just Hayden and Teagan. While watching them play, a very distinct feeling struck me that I was pregnant, and carrying a girl. I never have revelations like this. Brian told me not to share it because he doubted my feelings. I sort of did too. Since then, I have had a similar experience. I was doing my hair in my bathroom when a strong feeling came to me. I knew my Brother and Sister in law would be pregnant soon and it would be a girl. It was a Tuesday morning. It was hard to swallow. I told Brian who had had the same feeling. The following Friday, they announced they were expecting. I knew it was a girl, but still, to this day, haven't told her how I knew. I'm sure if she is reading this, she now knows. I still don't understand why the spirit prepared me for both these events, but it did.

Her pregnancy was the roughest one of six pregnancies I've experienced. I was the sickest I've ever been. All day. Every day. I was still nauseous up until the day I delivered her. Having two boys, I wanted to surprise my parents with their first Granddaughter. I hid my absolute misery until my early ultrasound at 13 plus weeks.

She was modest as I hear most girls are. Took a couple technicians, a walk, and a bathroom break to finally get her to budge. I wanted to cry seeing her and hearing the words, "It's a girl!" I remember Hayden saying, "I already knew it." I believe he truly did. He had a special bond with her. I know the veil is so much thinner for kids. Especially my Hayden. He had been wanting a sister to "cuddle with." He was so excited.

She was so cute. So active in the womb. I will never be able to explain my emotions when I knew I was finally getting a daughter. Our friends, the Gardner's, had come with us to Fetal Foto in Murray for the ultrasound. We were all excited. They were expecting their daughter 4 months before Eden was due. We talked about it over dinner and then I immediately hit up Children's place in Jordan Landing. Both these places bring back such a flood of memories.

When I did buy her anything, I remember thinking how she would never fit in those. I thought it was just a surreal thought of having a girl of my own to dress. Looking back, it was in a literal sense.

It was Thanksgiving time. Perfect time to be grateful. And that, I was. I wrote an adorable poem, and made pink cupcakes and balloons, to deliver to my mom's office. I still remember the day like it was yesterday. I enlisted the help of Kacey's brother Jared, to be the delivery boy. It was so fun. I anticipated her call like a kid on Christmas. She was so ecstatic. So was her office. Her friend even made Eden some adorable socks. We told the rest of my family at a restaurant later that same week. It could not have been more exciting for them to find out I was pregnant AND know the gender at the same time. We awed over her ultrasound pictures. Brian made the announcement to his family on Thanksgiving. I also shared the news with my extended family. It had been the hardest secret to keep being as sick as I was.

One particular night, I had a dream so vivid, it's engrained in my head. I was traveling in the car with my Mother in Law and Father in Law who had passed on the year before Eden. We pulled up to a rambler brick house. Brian's mom pulled out a lawn chair and sat. I proceeded to go into the house with Brian's dad. The house was obviously lived in, filled with someone's personal belongings. We walked around for a while. Brian's dad was in his prime age. About 30-40. He looked young and healthy. He bent down to my boys level, touched their faces, talked to them, played with them. When he stood up, he said, "This will be my house again."

The dream had been so real. I told Brian immediately that I had experienced this and that I felt I knew his Dad. The healthy Dad he never got to witness. I felt him around. If you have experienced this, you know what I am talking about. I felt him a lot.

I truly believe he was here with Eden for her short mission here on earth. Just like the dream, Eden belonged to me for just a short time, but he would reclaim her shortly. What a tender mercy to know that those who have passed before us, can be a tool in leading out other's purposes. Its real.

Brian had it worked out in his work schedule that he would be taking off about a weeks time. A few days before Christmas, and a few after. The 21st of December in 2010 was the first event to Eden's death. We were sitting in Sandy Super Target's parking lot. Teagan wasn't feeling well and we needed to stop for Tylenol on our way home. I remember just sitting there. Something was so wrong but I didn't know what. I felt "weird." The feeling when you just know something isn't right. It doesn't sit well. I tried to shake it and just went to bed. We had lots of plans for Christmas prep. We woke up early and started to get ready. There was still shopping to be done, and festivities to enjoy. When I went to the bathroom, there was blood. I panicked. I had bled in 3 of the 4 previous pregnancies. It had only been "ok" once. I could barely speak enough to tell Brian we needed to go immediately. The boys weren't being cooperative and I couldn't focus. He told me to just go! He said he was sure everything was okay. I hopped in the car and called my mom immediately. I didn't want to be alone. I knew something was wrong. But, I wanted to deny it. I couldn't accept the fact that God would allow this to happen just 3 days before Christmas. As soon as I heard her voice, I lost it. As the many times I had called her before for bleeding during pregnancy. I also contacted my nurse who wasn't able to see me for a couple hours. I didn't care. How do you go about normal life? I told her I would just come and wait. I picked up my mom and we drove. I started to lose a lot of fluid. I had been there before. Frequent visits to the bathroom and bleeding, hadn't had positive results. Although the blood was slowing, I just knew. I sat by my mom in the waiting room and told her I wished they would just get me back, give me good news, and send me on my way to celebrate Christmas. I remember the cute family of three boys, their pregnant mom, and their dad, filling out paperwork in front of me.

When I was finally called back, there was a quick moment of relief when the technician saw a pocket of fluid. She was positive that is just where the bleeding was coming from. Then my heart sank and was ripped from my chest when she moved down to see my lifeless baby girl. The same baby who was active, alive, and healthy just 5 weeks before. There is no feeling to describe seeing a heart not beating. Especially that of your own flesh and blood. Watching a screen that is live, but wishing so badly that it was just "on pause." The words, "I'm sorry," never felt so pitiful. I hated the technician. I would hate that job. I looked at my mom and started to bawl again. I remember shouting, "I can't do this! I can't do this right now!" She held my hand and told me "You can and we will."

Immediate thoughts of "I don't want to be in this category" flooded my brain. If you are in "this category, you know which one I am describing. The category of "Mom's with a dead baby." The emptiness you will always "feel" no matter how hard you try to "fill" it. The rest of my life would now be left with questions and unknown explanations. Emotions too big for words. Not knowing the answers to give others when they ask how many kids you have. Knowing that your whole family is NOT all together temporarily. THAT category. I was now experiencing my worst fear and there was nothing I could do to control it.

I hadn't felt Eden during my pregnancy but maybe once, which looking back, may have been the horrifying moment when she passed. 

The next couple hours I was faced with decisions I never thought I would have to make. And how was I supposed to have good judgement at a time like this? I felt lost, alone, confused, angry, devastated, overwhelmed, the list goes on and on. The technician immediately left the room to go grab my nurse. I was still in disbelief. My nurse felt so bad when she came in. She apologized for making me wait. She really felt like nothing had been wrong. That I was just experiencing some bleeding. I didn't want to leave the room. I didn't want to see anybody. I was so upset. My nurse told me that the Doctor had oil in his office and was able to give me a blessing if I wanted it. I was so comforted by that. The importance I feel about the priesthood and a mans worthiness at all times, is immense.

 Monday, December 22nd

They led me back into the Doctors office. I sat there. I remember calling Brian. It was the hardest phone call to make. I remember texting Kacey. She offered to have Steve come by to give me a blessing. He was close by. She drove immediately to our house to be with the boys while Brian could come meet me. I remember sitting in that chair, listening to my mom ask questions. Dr. Terry handled my situation with pure grace. He explained that there might be an obvious explanation for Eden's passing, and then there might not. He said after delivery we would know. He shared his experience with losing his own son at 7 months gestation. He told me how his son looked like his other kids and how Eden wouldn't quite look the same. I couldn't believe I was being told I needed to decide what to do with her body. That very morning I thought I was still bringing home a beautiful baby girl home in May. I didn't think I would be forced to decide to bury her, or cremate her. Having Dr. Terry be a bishop and also a doctor, gave me insight spiritually and medically. I couldn't have dealt with it any other way. He also told me I needed to decide when to start my delivery. Most women in my circumstance took up to 3 days to deliver. Over Christmas? Who cared at this point. Christmas was shattered. I cried thinking of my kids on Christmas morning. The decision wasn't easy. I was also 10days away from having insurance coverage. I couldn't believe the timing. What kind of financial turmoil would I be putting my family in? I starred out the window, that ironically faced Fetal Foto. How? Why? Ugh, it was so sickening.

I opted to start delivery as soon as possible. The thought of carrying around my deceased daughter over Christmas was too awful. Luckily, it was lunch hour in the office so nobody saw the wreck I was while leaving that day.

Brian met me at my parents house. My dad too. I remember my brother Trevor being there. My Dad and Brian were the ones that finally gave me a blessing. It eased the pain. I needed guidance to help me decide what to do with her precious body. I don't remember much about the blessing unfortunately other than knowing I would "know" when we held her.

Six o clock was the time scheduled for induction. We headed to the hospital for a planned, dreaded few days. The front desk got me right back to a room and left Brian to do paperwork. She knew I wasn't up for anything. She was absolutely right. The night was beautiful. It was clear. I was placed in a room that I could again, see the parking lot of Fetal Foto. The big lit tree. It was supposed to be a beautiful time of year. I couldn't believe all the people out there, and believe I was in there. I asked for another ultrasound before anything else was done. I wanted so badly to have a miracle. I thought for sure they had made a mistake. I was in denial. Again, seeing the lifeless girl inside me, ached again.

Once settled, my parents arrived. My Dad sat across from my bed where I could see him the whole time. I love him so much. My Dad has been my biggest rock my whole life. Kacey had switched my kids with my family at some point. She came immediately too. She brought me things to eat but I didn't want to eat. Ever. Again. Mel, my sister in law, came. She didn't ask,we didn't ask, she just came. I love her so much for doing so. It was so comforting. such an outpouring of love from those we love. I felt a sense of relief knowing Brian had someone supporting from his side of the family. She cried with us, she talked with us. I couldn't be more grateful for the people who were THERE.

The drug I had to take for induction, was one I had experienced while aborting my blighted ovum pregnancy before we had Teagan. I remembered the night of hell that was. I remember reading the side effect label. "Death to mother" being one of them. Wow. Couldn't get much worse. At this time, I would have that side effect. I wasn't living in reality at this point. But what about my boys? I thought about how disappointed my sweet Hayden would be. Instead of the one pill I took a couple years previous, I had to take a couple, every four hours.

During labor, I didn't want anything. I wanted as little attention as possible, as little drugs, everything. All I could think about was the cost.

I opted for no pain management knowing, that if this was my only time with my daughter, I wanted to be fully coherent. I didn't want a single memory to be cloudy.

The physical discomforts were many during labor. I felt like I needed to use the bathroom the whole time but was informed by a nurse that I could very well have my baby in the toilet if that happened. Uh, no. Not an option. Insult to injury. How much more horrifying was I willing to make this situation. I dealt with it.

Around 3 am, I was absolutely sure Eden was there and ready. My nerves escalated. I had been informed that sometimes these babies come out in pieces. Great.

The doctor who delivered Eden was Dr. Barton. I hated myself for being so sad when he had just lost his own daughter to a bicycle accident a few months back. Surely he thought I was pitiful. My heart ached for him.

So much of me wanted to get this over with, move on, get pregnant with a girl again, and forget any of this ever happened. Ever. I didn't want to have this be a part of me the rest of my life. I didn't want pictures. I didn't want to remember this. 

When Eden was born, she was perfectly embraced in the amniotic sac. It was incredible to see. The doctor took her to the table, cut it open, and got her out. It was apparent that the cord had been the cause of death. It was perfectly criss-crossed around her neck, resting on her tiny chest. The doctor tried to move it but her little body was so frail. I just couldn't do it. I asked Brian if he would please hold her first. I was too nervous. She was wrapped in a blanket and placed in Brian's hands. She was so tiny, yet perfectly formed. Eight inches long, weighing in at 4 ounces. I watched Brian look at her. He had wanted a little daddy's girl so bad. I felt like I had let him down. Watching daddy-daughter dances are still one of my most painful events. Everyone was surrounding her, starring at her. I took a turn. I held her, studied her. Her eyes, her nose, he little tummy. Her perfect tiny feet and long fingers. She was definitely a girl. I, had a girl. Still seems unreal. We passed her around. It was literally holding a piece of heaven, a piece of my heart, outside my body. There was a definite spirit in the room. It was peaceful. While looking at her in awe, the feeling came that this was just a temporary thing. That this little body wasn't able to suit our baby girl right then. Over the past three years, its been hard to discern these feelings. What they meant, how they've changed.

I did know what to do. It was best to have the hospital take care of her little body. I've never really regretted it, but it is extremely hard to not have a place to go to honor her. Oquirrh Temple parking lot is my go to place.  

We held her, named her, embraced our time with her, and each other. After about an hour, the nurse came to take her. Still can't believe that was my only time with her. I cant still see the nurse taking her away, exiting the room.

The hospital just knows. They must have been through experiences like mine, several times before. They immediately took her back to take some pictures. They told me I didn't need to look at them, or take them. But I couldn't be more grateful they did. They put her bracelet on her wrist, they placed the hat on her head. I love the pictures.

I was sent to a recovery room in the main tower. I think it was worse being in a place that nobody knew my situation. Make a freaking sign for the door! I hated that night. I spent most of it crying, wishing Brian would wake up and hold me. I starred out the window. How could everyone's life be moving on while mine was at a stand still? Did they know what was happening inside the hospital walls? It seemed ignorant.

I wanted out of there. I wanted to continue on with what was left of this hideous Christmas. Brian told his mom she should probably come by. She came for a visit that morning. So did Heather, my sister in law. She brought something else for me to eat. I don't think I did. Mel came again and brought Blair, her daughter. I watched them pull out of the envelope of stuff they gave us, her tiny footprints and hand-prints. I watched their faces. I didn't want any other visitors. I turned down friends. I didn't want to be seen in my condition. I wanted to hold my baby again. I missed her more than I had ever missed anything ever before.

I remember receiving a beautiful plant and a card from my bunco gals. It meant so much.

I'm not sure on the time we left the hospital that day. I remember leaving the hospital. Brian had the car pulled up to the entrance. What an awful feeling. We literally left our baby girl there forever. We drove silently in the car. The CD that had been playing in our car, all month long, has never been listened to again, without huge emotion. In fact, we didn't listen to music for several weeks. It's too moving to me. When we did ease ourself into music again, it was hard rock. It didn't remind us of anything, or hold any emotion.

I did not want to go home. It held too many awful remembrances. I told Kacey I wanted to see my friend Tracy. She had lost her baby several years back, in December, at the same point in pregnancy, that I had. She met me at my parents to talk. It was so comforting to empathize with someone. She brought a book and the willow tree angel ornament.

I remember Steve Gardner's sister Gretchen bringing by some soup. I don't think I had eaten things at this point. It seemed so unfair. I didn't want to eat food, or live life. My daughter was gone. I didn't want to enjoy anything. 

I will never forget going out that night to buy some last minute gifts. Kacey and I drove to Bed Bath and Beyond. I still remember buying a saying for my sister in law. I couldn't believe the question while checking out, "How are you today?" This put a whole new perspective to the whole saying about how everyone is fighting a secret battle. It was true. I wasn't going to pour my soul out to the poor cashier. Besides, I was numb.     

It was also the night of our annual family Christmas party with Brian's family. I didn't think I could do it. Brian forgot the gifts we were supposed to delegate. He asked if I would bring them by. I decided I would need to go. I had Kacey drop me off. I had just delivered a baby hours previous. I remember Lana, my nephews girlfriend, coming up and talking to me along with Whitney, my nephews wife. It couldn't have been comfortable to do, but it touched me deeply. I remember a few hugs here and there from others. I remember what I was wearing, how my hair was done. I looked how I felt. The rest of the night was a blur.

We spent the night at my parents house. Christmas morning was now for the kids. Nobody else. I held up okay until Brian gave me a necklace with "Mom, guardian angel," on it. I broke down. She was now my guardian angel.

I remember my dad building Hayden's trio bat-cave with him at some point. I also remember having to wrap the crap out of my chest because my milk came in with full force. It sucked. I din't have a baby to drink it. I couldn't express it or it would just keep coming. I remember talking with my Aunt April up at my Grandparents. I do love her. I don't remember much else about Christmas. I really don't.

After Christmas, I sent Brian to take down Christmas and hide Eden's present. I couldn't bear to see anything. If I could have climbed in a hole, I would have. He was so sweet to do it. It couldn't have been easy unwrapping those tiny clothes and stashing them away.

I needed to get out of town. We packed up the kids just a couple days after Christmas and headed to St. George. We needed that time with our boys. We needed to be away from everything that reminded us of her. I remember bleeding so badly because I wasn't taking it easy. It was still cold there. We spent a couple nights before heading home.

Weeks after that were a blur. It was an experience I NEVER want to go through again. I still relive it almost daily to some extent.

It hasn't been easy having another boy since then. Imagine someone on a daily basis stating one of these few things:

"All boys huh!"
"You want to try agian for a girl?"
"No girls huh!"

There are so many variations, yet they all stab my heart the same. I DO have a girl. Although, she wasn't real to so many people. Not everyone views her and her life the same. You can see why going out into public is such a delight with my three boys.

I want to emphasize how special my boys are to me. Dallin especially came with a spirit unlike the rest. I honestly believe he knew the plan and was willing to follow it. Its hard to explain. I love them intensely!

I am still angry, I am still sad and confused. I still long for her. I still long to see my family the way it was "supposed to look like" for us.

Although there have been several moments I have felt manipulated to live righteously so we can have the opportunity to raise her, I am grateful it is true. I will have the opportunity to raise her whether its the way I envisioned it or not. The situation is what it is and I am grateful to have the knowledge I do.

My testimony has struggled. It has been changed and molded in ways I couldn't imagine. Prayer did not save my baby. Living righteously did not save me from trial. The worst trial. I have felt at times how useless the gospel is if I wasn't going to benefit. These thoughts are not right. I know that. I know they don't come from God. Irrational thoughts or not, they come.

Nobody is exempt from trials. It is why we are here. Its how we handle them. I haven't always handled my situation gracefully. But I am trying. That's all God expects. He KNOWS. That is a comfort to me.

I had a therapist tell me God is patient. He knows I am angry. He will be waiting with open arms when I am ready. Its a rollercoaster.

I have felt many times that the church is absolutely true. I've told Brian before that sometimes it's just easier to pretend it's not. Its easier for me to think that God wouldn't allow these heartaches to happen. I felt that I'd rather throw in the towel and do whatever the hell I wanted because if something happened again, there was a good excuse and reason.

As cliche as it sounds, I have grown. My heart has opened up to so many people, their experiences, their trials. I can sympathize in ways I never could before. I understand people. I understand their reasoning for doing the things they do, the way they live. I GET it. I love unconditionally. I serve more. I feel like I am a stronger, better person. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I wish I was as naive as I was before, but I'm not. I am forever changed.

I've been told how strong I am. Strong was the only thing to be. I have beautiful boys and a beautiful life. Hard to see at times, but it truly is. I know how important it is in times of trial to recall the feelings I've had in the past to testify there is a God and there is a perfect plan for all of us. I've seen how God's hand works in the life of those I love. It's quite intricate. He truly is a master and Eden was just one of his many masterpieces.

Happy Third Birthday to our Baby Girl!