Saturday, July 11, 2009

Born Too Soon

That day is here. I'm not even sure that I can do it justice in words, to even be able to express how I felt that day, July 11, 1990. It was the saddest day of my life. I know that I wrote about it back then, on paper. I have that paper somewhere. I'm not quite sure where, but even if I found it, I feel like it would even be too personal to put down here on this blog where I have shared my heart and soul on so many other things. Most of you know that I have 3 boys, now almost grown. What you may not know is that I have a daughter, too. I say "have" because, even though she is not here on this earth, she still exists, in Heaven and in my heart.

Back in early 1990 I found out that I was pregnant. I already had one child, Justin, who was born in February, 1989. Even though we never really planned any of our children, we were excited to be having another one. Since we had a boy, naturally, we hoped for a girl. Things were going well. I began to feel the baby growing and moving inside me. I had had an ultrasound and saw the movements, the legs, the arms, the face. We were unable to tell what the baby was during the ultrasound. I remember having morning sickness that would last all day. Things were progressing right along until...

I remember going to my mother and daddy's on July 4, 1990 to celebrate Independence day with a cookout. During this time, I began to notice a leakage that I attributed to my bladder being pressed upon by my baby. It became more noticeable when I realized that I actually needed to change my clothes due to the wetness. I made a doctor's appointment, still thinking that it was nothing more than a leaky bladder.

My sister-in-law, Connie, went with me to the doctor on the day of my appointment. My husband, Kevin, had to work. I still was not too worried. Little did I know that my world was about to be turned upside down. She waited in the waiting room while I went back. I had the most wonderful doctor. He was a little old man who had such caring and compassion. He decided that we should do another ultrasound to see what was going on. All during this time, the baby was moving, as usual. After the ultrasound, I went back to the room to wait for my doctor to check the ultrasound and give me the verdict.

When my compassionate, caring doctor came into the room, the news was not good. He told me that the amniotic fluid was leaking out. He said that sometimes these things will correct themselves and seal up, but sometimes they don't, and labor would start...too soon. Medical technologies must not have been advanced enough to correct this condition at the time. He advised me to go home, and put my feet up and take it easy. He told me to be aware if I started having contractions. We were both hoping that it would seal up.

I walked out of that office stunned. I didn't really know how to tell my sister-in-law, but somehow I did. Things after that were a blur. We didn't have cell phones back then, so my husband didn't find out until we got back home. We took measures to get and keep me off of my feet as much as possible. All the time over the course of the next few days, I could feel the baby moving, as it always had. It broke my heart, just knowing what was probably going to happen. I cherished those movements, and I cried my heart out. We didn't have a home phone during this time. My parents would stop by and let me know that my doctor had called to see how I was doing. This meant so much to me.

We decided to go up to Kevin's parents after a few days and stay with them. His mother could help me with Justin while he continued to work. And then, on July 10th, it began to happen. I started having contractions that evening. We made our way to the hospital, about 40 miles away. They got me in there and hooked me up to everything. Sure enough, I was in labor. I was 22 weeks pregnant. I remember the nurse coming in there to talk to us. She told us that babies that were only 22 weeks along just don't make it. I had come to terms with that. It wasn't much longer after that that I delivered a baby girl. It was not like a normal labor. Of course I had the contractions, but when I actually had her, I hardly even knew it. They took her away. It was 12:14 a.m., and there I was.

Kevin and my mother were there with me. One of them went out to see what was going on. Awhile later, the nurse returned and asked me if I would like to see her.

I said no.

Kevin and mom said that they had seen her. Mom told me that if I didn't see her that I would always wonder about her. I asked the nurse what she looked like. She told me that she was fully developed, but just very small. I agreed to told her that I would see her. She brought me back this beautiful baby girl wrapped in a blanket. And oh so tiny. She was as small as the little baby doll that I once played with as a child. Her whole had was only the length of the top knuckle of my thumb to the tip of it. And her feet were just as small. I was taken aback when a breath of air escaped from her lungs as I was holding her. The nurse said that they do that because air gets trapped inside.

I'm so glad that I got to spend this little bit of time with her. They moved me from the maternity to another one. One that wouldn't constantly be reminding me that there were other mothers there who had just had healthy, full-term babies. They gave me a little book titled, "When Hello Means Goodbye". I remember reading the stories and poems inside it and just crying and crying.

I went home on the morning of July 11, 1990. We had preparations to make. A local funeral home offered to do a graveside service. We went and picked out a dress, although I can imagine how big it must have been on her. I never saw her after that night in the hospital. They gave me 2 Polaroid picture that they took of her, although the quality was not that great, they are the only physical images I would ever have of her.

Her graveside service was held on July 20. I remember feeling such a sense of loss that even the mundane everyday stuff felt weird. And then, all these other people I would see at the grocery store and other public places were going about their business, not knowing that my world had been turned upside down. It was such a surreal time in my life.

I could go on and on about how we were finally able to move on. But, you can see from my blog pictures and posts, that life does go on. We move on, but we never forget. Today would have been her 19th birthday. She would have graduated from high school this past May, and we would be preparing for her to go to college. But, that wasn't in God's plans. Instead, I've ended up with 3 boys and a grand daughter on the way. God knows what He's doing.

And now, I would like to share one of the poems from the book that I mentioned. It was written by Kate McNassar who had lost her grand daughter, born too soon...

Until you I never knew there
were so many babies.
I see them everywhere...babies in arms,
at grocery stores, church, the park, on our block.
I am guessing but somehow know
some are just your days had you stayed.

Mothers stare sometimes because I do...
one looked curious so I asked,
"How old?" And she was one month
later than you born.

I shall always see you...little girls
at ten...later the blush and
bloom of teens...then the coming
of grace and dignity of woman.

But wait, lest I forget in fleeting time
how soon I shall know you.



Sue said...

Oh Sandy :-( I have such tears in my eyes and pain in my heart for your loss.

I can't imagine that you ever forget losing one so precious and my prayer for you is that God brings His peace and comfort to your Momma's heart today as you remember your precious Britny! I'm SO glad God has a baby girl Granddaughter on the way for you!!

Big hugs xo

Rachel said...

Oh my gosh. Sandra, I'm just sitting here crying. I know we've discussed the subject before, but reading Britney's story makes me just ache for you, and for her, and for me and my little girl, too. So many parallels between our stories... I do know how hard this day must be for you, even 19 years later, and I'm thinking of you and Britney today, with love.

Anonymous said...

((((hugs))))) Sandra

I'm at a loss for words as my heart aches for a bloggy friend whom I've never met. I know that you know that one day you will see Britny again - in all her glory: healthy, happy, and dancing with her Savior.

Sande said...

"Holes in our heart are where God gets to shine through. They are the places in our heart where we get to feel and love fully and once the bleeding slows become scafold for others going through the same thing."

Sandra, I believe He will use you so much through this. .. but I still grieve with those who are grieving and wonder if there will always be a day in July where you honor a life you briefly got to enjoy.

Sandra said...

You all are so kind. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. God has richly blessed me with my 3 boys. He knows the plans He has for me, even when I get lost along the way.

This day has been mainly a day of acknowledgment. It was only when I wrote about it and dug back down deep that I remembered the pain of that day that the feelings came flooding back.

Tomorrow I will move forward...again.

Loren Christie said...

Sandra, Thank you for sharing this heartbreaking story. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. You are very brave.

Lisa said...

Sandra, when I heard that Chelsea and Justin were having a girl, the first thing I thought about was Britny. It doesn't seem like it was 19 years ago that she was born. I remember it so clearly and it is still heartbreaking after all this time.

bettyl said...

Thanks for sharing your story.


dddiva said...

*hugs* I am so sorry for your loss. You have strength and courage, thanks for sharing.