This post is a little about our daughter's birth and a lot about the power God has shown us over the past week. I have been mostly open about our pregnancy. I shared around week 11 about how excited we were to start our family. I talked about my annoyance with unwarranted advice. I even shared briefly about the challenges we might face with her precious life. What I wasn't so open about was the prediction (around week 32) that she would not survive birth or would pass shortly after. When you carry that kind of information, it's honestly the most impossible thing to share with others. People look at you differently. I didn't want that. The torture of carrying her for another 2 months, knowing we would lose her, was difficult enough.
On Monday, August 22, we were supposed to call our hospital to see what time they wanted us to come in for my induction. At 40 weeks and 3 days, I hated that they had scheduled "the day my daughter would die" - it was quite literally the worst day I've ever had. 5 pm. We got there at 5, checked in, met our team of nurses and doctors. Throughout the night, difficulties arose with her heart rate because of the induction process. (ps- I would not wish induction on my worst enemy!!! And I didn't even get that far!)
Tuesday morning, about 7 doctors visited us. Her heart arrhythmia had worsened. They said she would most likely not survive birth and recommended an immediate c-section. A cesarean would give us some time with her, at least enough to say goodbye. That's what we decided to do.
Side note: I cannot overemphasize the kindness and generosity of the hospital staff. That goes for all of our medical providers once we were transferred to EVMS. People told us "The doctors could be wrong" and while I knew that was a possibility, there was hard medical evidence that June would not have a long life. While we are choosing not to share everything about her health, I am confident they were not jumping to conclusions.
Once we knew our delivery plan, we made sure our parents and siblings would be at the hospital before taking me back to surgery. We gathered together and prayed. Our families have been a solid fortress of support for Cal and I throughout this entire journey. It is a true blessing from God to have them.
The worst part was walking to the operating room. Donning my Disney princess robe, I walked past our families, down the long hall, and into a room filled with tools, medical gadgets, and about 20-30 medical professionals. My team and June's team. My nurse, Tara, was an angel from Heaven. She held my hand, knowing the likely outcome and seeing how upset I was. Then the spinal block, the draping, everything else that comes with surgery. Cal came in right before they began. Every person had a job. Cal's was to comfort me.
It seemed like hours and seconds all at the same time, but then they shouted "We have a baby" and she cried. I'm not sure how long it took for the doctor to wave Cal over to see her, but the next thing I knew, they were both telling me how strong she was. She was crying. She was rosy. She was alive. The anticipated signs of her health concerns were there, but as far as her doctor was concerned, she did not need to go to the NICU at CHKD. She would stay at our hospital, with a little extra care, but just down the hall from me. They placed the bundled little baby burrito on my shoulder and I lost it. I was a mom and would get to mother her.
If you've ever had surgery before, you know the hours after are foggy. I really only remember a few things after being wheeled into recovery. Our perinatal hospice social worker came by. Our volunteer photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep was there. Our parents never left. All of the elements we had set up to help us through her death were now there to see her live.
My recovery has been typical of a c-section, but not horrible. I am thankful it was an option because without it, our daughter would not have made it through the stresses of labor.
God saw fit for her to be born. As we neared the end of my pregnancy, I often asked God "Why my daughter?" and now that she is here, I am still asking the same thing. Why did He see fit for our daughter to live with such a diagnosis? I can't answer that. What I do know is that God is GOOD even when things don't work out how we would like. If June had passed, He would still be a gracious provider and would meet our needs.
Cal and I are appreciative of the privacy we have been given over the past several months. The prayers, well wishes, and encouragement have sustained us through an incredibly difficult road. We are facing a lot of unknowns with our daughter's health, but we are confident she will continue to impress us with her abilities.
I never want to forget what it felt like to be told your child will pass away so soon. We never want to take her for granted. Every cry, smile, poopy diaper, and tantrum is a gift. Every day is a gift. Seeing my husband care for his daughter is a gift. I ask you to continue praying for her and us as we learn and grow as a family.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.