Sunday, February 5, 2012

March 16th, 2010

(Originally posted in April 2010)
(Revised in February 2012)

"The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." ~Job 1:21

"I would rather have had one breath of her hair and one touch of her hand, than an eternity without it."

Tuesday morning, March 16, 2010, I woke up at 2 a.m. with contractions. Could the time finally have come that I would go to the hospital and meet my daughter? My body had gone into labor and it was time. The night before, I had been watching television with my mom and brother. I was sitting in the green chair. Happily, I told them that by that time the following week, Lily would be enjoying with us in that very room. Little did I know what lay ahead of me in the hours, days, and coming week, Where I actually was a week later was a place I never imagined I could end up. 

I remember all the tiny details of that night. Laying in my bed, praying to my God. He had flooded me with such peace. I didn't know why. I had been getting extremely nervous and stressed out just thinking about the whole labor and delivery thing. I didn't know if I could do it. I didn't have strength. I was praying and seeking God and asking Him to give me peace about it.

He did.

Drifting off to sleep, I was resting in the arms of my Heavenly Father. It's like He had whispered to my soul, my worried soul, that I should not be afraid. He was with me.

He was always with me.

He would take care of me, sustain me, and give me everything I needed to get through the labor and delivery. I had no clue as I fell asleep that night just how much peace and strength I would need. Or just how faithful my God would be to supply it.

A couple of hours after I went to bed, I awoke to cramps coursing through my abdomen and as hard as I tried to go back to sleep, I met with no success. I wondered if these contractions could be real, as I was beginning to question if I would even recognize true contractions when they came. I had been having a lot of different pains and cramps in the previous days, weeks, and months. But, these were it.

These were real.

Soon, I got up and went to wake my mom. When I explained how I was feeling, she assured me that the time was here and suddenly the excitement and the reality of what was to come in the next few hours settled into our hearts. She began keeping track of all my contractions in her journal, when they started and how long they lasted. They were already five minutes apart and lasting one to two minutes. I was so confused because I didn't know it could happen so quickly.

I'm not sure why, but I was expecting the pain to stop, like it couldn't possibly be real or something. I thought the pain would subside and I would soon be able to go back to bed. During my entire pregnancy, I kept saying that I didn't want to go into labor in the middle of the night. It's exactly what I dreaded. Although, looking back now, it worked out just right.

I was going to try to wait it out as long as I could. After reading up on pregnancy and childbirth, I was under the impression that labor would last hours before I actually needed to call my Dr. M. And I didn't want to be "that person" that calls the doctor in the middle of the night, being dramatic. 

I was getting grumpy from the pain and taking it out on my mom. I feel bad about that now. She kept telling me to tell her when they started and stopped so she could write them down. And I told her I didn't really know. I told her it was hard to explain and the pain wasn't completely going away in between contractions. How was I to know this wasn't normal? I had never been through labor before. At the hospital, I would find out what this meant.

I kept trying to get comfortable on the green couch. Sitting up one minute, then laying on one side, then the other. We started thinking about preparing for the hospital. My bag wasn't completely ready. I was regretting that at this point. The minutes and hours passed quickly. Contractions were now four to five minutes apart and getting progressively stronger. I was having a hard time breathing, so mom kept reminding me to breathe and offering different techniques to do so. It seemed to help some. She said that I needed to breathe so that Lily would have oxygen. Contractions were really starting to hurt and I realized that I really did need to call my doctor. I decided to wait until 5 a.m. Mom told me that all these pains were worth it, because I had my little girl to look forward to at the end of it all. She prayed that I would picture Lily's face in the midst of contractions and it seemed to ease the pain some.

At 5 a.m., we called Dr. M, awaking him from his sleep. He said he would head over to the hospital. We started getting ready too. I put on the bright pink shirt that I had gotten at LifeCare a few months back. It read, "Coming this Winter." I was so excited my winter baby was finally almost here! Mom helped me finish packing and getting ready and then I sat on my bed and waited while she got ready. My brothers, sister, and dad all woke up by this point. The pain was getting pretty intense and I kept yelling up to my mom that we needed to go! My mom, sister, Emma, and I finally headed off to the hospital a little past 5:30 a.m. I remember looking over at my mom and noticing how tense she looked driving. I'm sure my moaning and groaning from contractions didn't help anything. She was driving as fast as she could, without breaking the speed limit. I thought to myself, maybe we should take a picture or video of us on our way to the hospital. But, it was still dark out and I didn't want to fuss with it. At 6 a.m., we arrived at the hospital, with no idea how drastically things would change within only a matter of minutes.

We pulled up to the REX birthing center, where I had seen so many women being pushed out in a wheelchair, with their precious new baby in their arms.

It was finally my turn.

Finally I was going to be the one with babe in my arms, proudly showing her off for everyone to see. We would get to put Lily in her pink car seat with butterflies and take her home. Mom went to get the wheelchair to take me in because I was in too much pain to walk. My sister carried my stuff in for me. We told the security guard at the front desk that we had already let Dr. M know we were coming and he checked with the people upstairs. They were all ready for me. My mom would just leave her car out front until we got all settled into my labor room.

The elevator took us up to the second floor and we were instructed to wait in the waiting room up there. As soon as we got in there, the nurse came to take us to our room. She wheeled me down the hall. I was nervous, excited, and more awake than anyone should be at that hour of the day. My room was on the end of the hall, situated away from most of the other women in labor. There was a room beside ours.

It was really nice and cozy. I dimmed the lights just right because it was still dark out, due to the recent time change. I had to change into my hospital gown right away. I remember looking down at my pink socks and pacing back and forth, back and forth. Mom noticed the birthing ball in the shower and was going to bring it out. We three were just thrilled and I was ready to get an epidural!

First, my nurse, Shannon, had to make sure I was eligible to get one. She took my blood, checked my heart rate and blood pressure, and then, just as they had done so many times before…that little monitor was put up to my swollen belly to check Lily's heart rate.

Why wasn't I hearing it right away?

The monitor was moved all over my stomach...high, low, left, right...still nothing. I looked at my mom, searching her eyes for comfort. I wanted her eyes to tell me everything was alright.

Perhaps the equipment is faulty, or perhaps Lily is in a weird position, we both thought to ourselves. At the same time, a thousand thoughts of what ifs were racing through our minds.

I was fullterm and babies don't die at fullterm, right? So, I honestly wasn't too concerned. We just needed my Dr. M in there to make everything better. I had been to his office so many times before and we had always heard Lily's heart beating so sure, so strong.

It was the sweetest sound.

Everything is somewhat blurred together in my memory until Dr. M came in to do an ultrasound. When he came in, right away I could tell he looked concerned.

Why is he looking that way?

Within seconds, there was Lily on the screen. I couldn't tell what was going on. Several moments passed. What's going on? Why isn't he saying anything? I looked up at Shannon and saw tears welling up in her eyes, threatening to spill over at any time.

I'll never forget those words, those dreadful words that will forever be burned into my memory...

"Hannah, this is where her heart is. And it's not beating anymore...I'm so sorry."

What? How could that be? Is this just a nightmare? When will I wake up? I just want to wake up!

But, I didn't wake up. It was real. I was so utterly shocked and frantic that I couldn’t cry at first.

All in a single moment, my whole world crumbled around me and my dreams were shattered. Shaking my head back and forth, the only words I could put together were “no, no no,” half wanting to plead with Dr. M to keep looking until her heart somehow started beating again and half wanting to cry out with tears in my eyes and my arms outstretched to the Heavens,

God can I please have her back?!

But, there was nothing my doctor could do and there was nothing we could do...just cry.

It all felt like a dream. A horrible, horrible dream. I glanced over at my little sister, just shy of sixteen at the time, having to carry this heavy burden of knowing her first niece had slipped away before she ever got to say hello. Seeing the quiet tears streaming down her face jolted me into this truth I had to face.

My little girl was gone.

Deep belly sobs rattled me to the core and for the second time in my life, I felt that ache in my heart that comes from knowing my child is in the arms of the Lord, rather than here with me.

Strong contractions coursing through my body were like salt on a wound, a bitter reminder that I had to deliver the body of my child who was already waiting for me in the Kingdom.

Thankfully, I soon had an epidural. I would have been nervous, but because of this news, I didn't care. I just wanted the pain to stop...the physical pain, emotional pain...the physical pain didn't seem to matter much anymore. It seemed so stupid now that I had been stressing about it. The emotional pain, though, was excruciating.

I felt myself perishing under the weight of this suffering, suddenly overwhelmed with the truth that I couldn’t carry such a burden alone. With all that was in me, I reached out and begged for strength from Emmanuel, God with us, like I had nothing else to help me live. I reached out and touched His face. He was with us. And He freely offered the supernatural peace and strength that flooded over me in a way I had never known. The presence of the Most High God moved through room 235.

My whole life I had feared giving birth to a child. And now, here I was, having to give birth to my daughter of Heaven. I knew I couldn't do it. I asked Dr. M if I could have a c-section and he said for my health and for the health of future pregnancies, he wanted us to continue with a delivery, as long as I kept dilating and labor continued to progress. I see the Lord's hand even in this because nothing in Hannah Rose would have said okay to this without a fight. Hannah Rose, the girl more petrified than anyone she knows about child birth...and now we were talking about child birth of a deceased baby.

My mom called my dad and told him what happened. He and my brothers had planned on coming a few hours later. They couldn't believe it. Nobody could believe it. I mean, I was two days past my due date, I had a healthy pregnancy, Lily was healthy, had a strong heart...everything was good. We had just had an ultrasound less than five days earlier and everything was set for delivery. Little did I know that was the last time I'd see her alive or hear her precious heart beating. So what happened? These thoughts and questions kept playing and replaying over and over again in my mind.

My mom, sister and I had quite a special time that morning, crying and talking. Jesus was giving us an abundance of peace and joy. It seems weird to say the midst of such tragedy, yet I had unspeakable joy. It's funny how I don't remember the specifics of that conversation, but will always know what a special time in the Lord it was. We noticed how cloudy and gloomy the day was and thought that the heart of God must be breaking along with ours. The weather outside was a reflection of how we felt, how God felt. We talked about how God had prepared us for this without us even realizing it and how we knew He would be faithful to carry us through. How blessed we are to have known Lily and all the wonderful times we had with she's changed us and how we're better people from being a part of her life. How we could see God working through her life now, and how He already had, and how we know He will continue to. Those moments together were beautiful. So tender, so special. Mom said looking in my eyes that day, she saw something she'd never seen before and hasn't seen sinse. She glimpsed Heaven in my eyes...

My sister whispered something into the quiet of the room, “3-16."

Confused, my mom and I glanced at each other and then back at her. Yes, the date was 3-16...but what did that have to do with anything? She further explained, "John 3:16."

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." ~John 3:16

I was in awe that my God would choose such a special day for my special princess to be born.

The Lord had given me the name Lily when I was still early in my pregnancy and before any doctor could tell me she was a girl. Somehow, I just knew. Lily means purity and innocence. She was to be a symbol of my renewed purity and redemption in Jesus Christ. When I was choosing her middle name, the Lord gave me Katherine. At the time, I had no idea Katherine also means purity. Both her names, both mean purity. Laying in my hospital bed on March 16, I was suddenly overwhelmed with how her name took on another meaning. She will forever be pure and innocent. Untainted. Spotless. God delights in the small things. He places such a sacred essence on things as small as a name. 

My mom called a couple people close to us to let them know what was going on. My sister told my cousin, Anna, and she let most of the rest of the family know. My dad and brother, Joseph, showed up soon. It was hard to see their eyes full of tears. I didn't want others to have to go through this pain of losing a niece, granddarling, friend, cousin. My dearest friend, Kala, came too to be with our family during this time. She was really dear that day. My mom said she and Kala hugged for a long time in the waiting room downstairs while she cried, surrounded by staring people. Happy people. Waiting for their sister, daughter, friend to give birth to a healthy baby. That was to be us...

Instead, we had a leaf with a teardrop hanging on our door, to inform nurses and doctors that 
whoever was inside that room has a baby that didn't survive. My mom was the first to notice it. It really broke her heart to see it. Another thing that broke her heart was hearing in the room next door, a baby's heartbeat...what I should have heard that morning. But didn't...

"The leaf with the teardrop reflects both intense suffering of loss and hope for the future. Though fallen, the leaf maintains its vitality, symbolizing hope. It cradles the teardrop with its upturned edges creating a sense of comfort.  As seasons change, so do feelings.  Just as there is winter and spring, there is sadness and hope."

We were all in that room together, sitting there. Still. Quiet. What was there to say? There were a lot of tears. A lot of pain. I was so tired, but couldn't sleep. I rested my eyes for a while. We listened to Misty Edwards and Fernando Ortega. I had the television on for a bit, trying to distract myself. I don't remember what was on. I couldn't pay attention at all. It was more like background noise...I would rather have that than that deafening silence. My head was pounding.

My nurse, Lanie, was absolutely wonderful. She took such good care of me. Taking care of my every need, she went above and beyond her call of duty. She made me as comfortable as I could be under the circumstances. I am so thankful for her compassion. Before going to the hospital, I was concerned I wouldn't 'click' with my nurses and I would feel uncomfortable with them. But, the opposite is true. I actually consider Lanie and Shannon my friends now. I could never thank them enough.

Time kept passing. The hours kept passing. Soon, it was afternoon. I knew the time was coming that I would have to deliver my baby's body. Her body was still in my body, but her soul was with Jesus. How strange it was to think that. She had seen His face...I wonder if she knew she was beholding her Creator when she first saw Him? All she will ever know is my love and the love of the Father. No sorrow, no sin, no salty tears on her cheeks. Only the beauty and perfection of Heaven.

I kept dilating and labor kept progressing at a good rate. At around 3 p.m., I was dilated all the way and my body felt ready to push. I put it off for a while because I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to have to hold her like that. I didn't know what to expect with the delivery. I didn't know how she would look, having already passed. By 4 p.m., it was time. Every one left the room except for my mom and sister. Lanie and Dr. M were both in the room. 

Within fifteen to twenty minutes of pushing, she was in my arms. 

Lily Katherine
March 16, 2010
4:24 p.m.
7 pounds 9 ounces
21 inches
looks just like her mommy :)

I remember the first time my eyes beheld her little body. It is an image that will forever be engraved into my mind. Lifeless. Quiet. Still. The silence was deafening. No screaming and crying, or squirming around. I just wanted to hear her little cry...I never got to hear her cry. My heart was breaking. The tears were streaming down my face. I had pictured this moment my entire life, always longing with everything in me to be a mother. But, I never pictured it like this. Her body felt warm, like she was alive, only sleeping. She was beautiful. Perfect. Every detail of her just right. She was the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. Her little nose was the first thing I noticed about her, so tiny and adorable. It looked like a miniature version of mine. I memorized every part of her. Every part of her, forever engraved in my mind. Wow, God made this perfect little person in only nine months. He chose me to carry her...I didn't deserve that. She had stubby little eyelashes like mine, almost nonexistent eyebrows, chubby cheeks and the same chin as mine, and the cutest shaped heart lips. Mom said her lips were even like mine. Everyone said she looked like me. To this, I jokingly said, "poor thing." It was true though. Looking back at pictures of me as a newborn, I looked just like her. Her legs were even the same shape as mine. She had the same thumbs as me too. Her tiny fingers and toes were so cute. I couldn't stop staring at her. I had always imagined her bald like I was as a baby, but she had beautiful hair (the exact same shade as mine!), though not very much of it.

When I held her in those first few moments, I tasted her innocence, her sweetness, her purity...I saw God in a way I never have...How tender and sweet He is. I glimpsed eternity. It might sound weird, but birthing my little girl was a beautiful experience. I wouldn't change it. It made me feel more like her mother, more attached to her. I thank the Lord for this gift. I would have done things for her all her life, had she lived. But, she didn't, so this felt like one of the final things I could do for her. I just wish I could have heard her cry, seen her eyes, felt her breathe, smelt her sweet baby smell. But, would that have made it harder? Only God knows. I have to leave it in His hands.

"We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of Heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less." 2 Corinthians 5:4-5

That first hour spent with the girls club (me, my mom, sister, and Lily) was so special. I wouldn't trade it for anything. We talked about her, held her, rocked her, admired every part of her. She was here...the little girl we had longed for.

We took lots of pictures with Lily and a video. By this time, Shannon had come back for her next hospital shift and she requested to have me as her patient again, at least until I had to be moved to my postpartum room. Lanie told me she had also requested to have me as her patient that morning. Most nurses would have avoided a situation like this, but they had compassion on me and actually cared. Another nurse, I can't remember her name now, had come in and told me she had a stillborn baby twelve years before. She really understood my pain. It was good to know I wasn't alone and that other people made it through such a loss before me. Lanie stayed late and helped Shannon take a footmold of Lily's right foot. We could only do one of her feet because her feet and hands were so big! It took a few attempts because her little foot was so flat. They also helped with getting her footprints and hand prints (I am so thankful I asked for these), as well as a little piece of her hair. They dressed her in her little pink outfit that we had brought along for her to wear while meeting all her visitors for the first time. I still wanted her to look her best and oh, she did. The pink outfit had baby birds, baby chicks, and baby bunnies on it. She was swaddled in the matching pink blanket and had a cute pink hat on. It was one of my favorite outfits for her and pink is definitely her color. :) At times now, I wish I had dressed her myself...but she was so delicate and I didn't want to hurt her. They also took some pictures for me. I am so thankful that God was gracious enough to give me two wonderful, compassionate, sweet nurses who went above and beyond their call of duty. When Lanie left, she gave me an adorable little panda bear. I'll keep it forever with all of the other sacred keepsakes that remind me of Lily.

my mom with her precious granddarling

my sister, Emma, with her niece

Before that day, I looked forward to ordering dinner that night because I had heard the food was tasty. Lanie called and ordered a lot of food for me...eggs, sausage, bagel, even carrot cake. I could barely touch it. I had no appetite at all. When everyone came in to see Lily and me, I felt so proud of her. I felt so proud that she was my baby.

Around 9 p.m., I was taken to my postpartum room. I didn't want to leave Shannon. I didn't think I could possibly have nurses as dear as she and Lanie had been to me. Shannon placed Lily in my arms and I held her as I was pushed in the wheelchair to my recovery room. There was a blanket over her so nobody would see. She was so beautiful. I should be showing her off right now, I thought. Not hiding her. My eyes were already so puffy and I'm sure I looked horrible. I couldn't keep from crying. I saw people looking at me, wondering I'm sure what my story was.

The two nurses I ended up having in my postpartum room, Kitty and Catie, turned out to be very caring and sweet as well. I could tell they really cared about me and my Lily. They took excellent care of me, were very sensitive to my needs, and made me feel completely comfortable. I could tell they both were trying to keep from crying. They didn't want me to see them with tears in their eyes. I'm sure they thought it would only make me feel worse.

Everyone held Lily some more, we took more pictures, and I rocked her. It was painful to get up, but I had to rock my baby girl. Just once. I needed to. It felt so natural, holding her, rocking I was comforting her, when really I was comforting myself.

I didn't want all my visitors to leave that night. I didn't want to feel lonelier than I already felt. By midnight though, everyone was gone, but my mom. I was exhausted. I had been up for so many hours and was physically and emotionally drained. I was afraid to sleep, afraid of the stillness, the darkness of the night. Lily stayed in my bed that night with me. I'm so thankful to the hospital for letting me have her for that long. God knew I needed her with me that night. I held her all night. It was really difficult to sleep, especially with nurses periodically coming in to check on me. At one point in the night, I started crying, from the very depths of my soul. I woke my mom up and she cried with me. All she could say when I cried like that during those first few days was, "I know...I know." She said it softly, sweetly. Like it was the only thing to say. And I knew what she meant. I knew she understood. I knew her heart was breaking for her flower, because I had lost my flower. Only a mother's love...her heart was breaking as well because she had lost her precious first granddarling, long hoped for, long adored.

The chaplain, Carla, came in to talk with us that morning, March 17. It was St. Patrick's Day and I remember seeing people with green hats and shirts. Whenever someone new came in the room and I saw the way they looked at me, I couldn't keep from crying. Carla told us she too had lost a baby herself. I could tell we had a little special place in her heart. She knew just what I was going through. She talked with us and prayed with us. Twice in the hospital, I was told by staff that they had lost a baby. I began to realize just how many people live with such a difficult loss.

Catie kept coming in to tell me I could leave whenever I felt up to it, but I didn't want to leave. Leaving meant leaving the hospital...without Lily. Leaving meant going home with empty arms. I was alone with Lily for only a short amount of time during the stay at the hospital. But, in that time, I spoke with her, hugged her, kissed her, knowing these would be the only moments I would ever have alone with my little girl, my first born baby.

From the time we found out Lily's heart was no longer beating to the following afternoon, I couldn't decide if I wanted to have an autopsy done or not. I asked several people their opinion on what I should do. I wanted to make sure I could see her again in her burial outfit. It was supposed to be her going home from the hospital outfit, but instead it was her going home to Jesus outfit. I remember feeling like it didn't matter what the results of an autopsy would show because it wouldn't bring her back. I prayed that if the Lord wanted me to have one done that it would work out because I had no idea what to do. When I found out I could see her again, even with an autopsy, I said okay. Then, I found out medicaid wouldn't cover it and I knew I didn't have any money, so I said never mind. However, when we were packing up to leave, Carla came in to say she had talked with some people in charge and the hospital was offering to give me a free, full autopsy. I felt this was the Lord's answer.

Early afternoon, Catie came in and told me they had to take Lily away. I could tell it broke her heart to tell me this. I broke out in tears, asking if that meant I wouldn't get to see her again at the hospital. No. No. No. I can't let her go. She's mine! Just go away. Less than 24 hours with her...that's all I had. I had to fit an entire lifetime's worth of memories into less than a day. After a few moments alone with my precious princess, I collected myself and placed Lily in the little baby cart that I had seen newborns taken to the nursery in. But, she wasn't going to the nursery. A blanket was placed over her. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, to let go of her. In tears, I watched as they reeled her away from me, down the hallway and around the corner, out of site.

She was gone.

This is a poem my mother wrote:

Goodbye Lily Katherine
In my daugter's womb
Grew her gift from above.
We readied a room
For her wee one to love.
On our merry way rejoicing
To a glorious celebration.
Expecting our flower's arriving
Jesus' tears hid the sun.
God had bid her go
Before we said, "Hello."
Goodbye budding life.
Goodbye shattered dreams.
Goodbye precious babe lying still in our arms.
Goodbye sweet nursing and soft cries.
Goodbye to rocking and lullabies.
Goodbye wonder and curiosity.
Goodbye to kissing who you would be.
Goodbye to hearing "Dukes" and "mama" too.
Goodbye to discovering wonderful you.
Goodbye snuggling you to our hearts.
Goodbye tore our lives apart.
Goodbye to our pure Lily Katherine.
Goodbye 'til we meet you in Heaven.

I asked to have the blanket and outfit she was in and I'm so glad they were able to get them back to me. I'll keep them forever with Lily's things. After Lily left, I walked slowly down the hallway. Crying. I didn't know what to do without her there. My mind knew she was gone, but my body, my heart was longing for her. I couldn't explain to my body that there wasn't a baby to nurse, there wasn't a baby to hold. My arms were lost without her. I noticed on one of the doors a big pink ribbon. I figured a family was in there, happy. A new baby girl in their arms. It didn't seem fair. On my door, there was that dreadful leaf with a teardrop on it. How could this be me?

The nurses gave me everything I would need to physically heal in the coming weeks. And we packed up and left...with empty, aching arms and broken dreams and hearts. All I had was a small white pouch, with memories of my little girl. Proof that she was real. I asked to be taken out the main entrance. I didn't want to have to see all the happy new mothers with their babies in the birthing center. I wondered what I was supposed to do? Where I was supposed to go from there? How strange it was to get in the car and leave with less than what I had come with. I remember thinking I should be sitting in the back seat, with a precious new life beside me. Instead, I rode home in the front seat, empty car seat in back. On the way home, I heard the song, "Love Them Like Jesus," by Casting Crowns.

The gifts lie in wait in a room painted blue
Little blessing from Heaven would be there soon
Hope fades in the night, blue skies turn to gray
As the little one slips away

In the weeks before hearing the results of the autopsy I wrote this:
"We still haven't gotten the results and maybe we'll never have a medical explanation why. Sometimes, I think I need to know why. My human nature wants to know why. But, will it make it harder to know? Is it just some freak accident that killed her, and otherwise she would be a perfectly healthy baby? Maybe we'll understand more, maybe not. I realize I must leave it in God's hands. Whatever He wants us to know, we will find out. Now, we wait for the results. My doctor has no idea what happened. at first he thought perhaps something was wrong with the umbilical cord, or maybe the placenta? But, after examining them, he concluded they both seemed healthy. Lily seemed healthy. I made it all the way to forty weeks, so what happened?! How can her heart beat perfectly one day, and then just stop the next? We found out she had been dead for a few days because of the way her skin was and because the placenta was already separating from my uterus when I was in labor. That's why the pain didn't stop in between contractions. That's how we know it wasn't placental abruption. The cord wasn't wrapped around her either, so that wasn't it. Without the Lord in my life, I would be haunted by 'what ifs'? and many, many questions about her death. But, I know this was part of God's plan all along. And even though I didn't see it coming, He wasn't surprised like I was. He had planned her name and its meaning long before I ever knew what was to come. This has shown me that He is still in control, even when I don't understand. She was never meant to experience the pain and suffering of this world. All that's happened doesn't mean her life wasn't beautiful and she didn't fulfill the purposes she was sent for. He did what's best for Lily and for me."

At my six-week postpartum check-up, I sat in Dr. M's office, surrounded by all the familiar sights, sounds, smells of my pregnancy, of when she was alive inside of me. It was so difficult to be back in that office. 

Sitting across from Dr. M, he told us there is no medical explanation for why Lily died. Honestly, this is what I expected. I was just waiting to hear the words from him. God somehow spoke this truth to my heart, that He simply took her. I see that He has a plan and a purpose for all of this, far beyond what we can even see now. The Lord worked it out for me to have a free, full autopsy so He could bring peace to my heart. So I don't have to always wonder why she died, what the medical reason is. Because you see, God is much greater than "medical explanations." If He wanted her here with me, she would be. Because I know this, I also can rest assured that if I have more children in the future, they won't be susceptible to some medical condition. I know it's nothing I did wrong that hurt her and there is nothing physically wrong with me. 

I have complete peace in knowing what I know. She was alive one moment and the next she was gone, still. One moment she was in the earthly realm, and the next she was in the spiritual. My Lord breathed the breath of life into her and He took it away. He took her away, but in the most beautiful way possible. It may sound strange for me to say that, but God has a way of bringing beauty to any and all things. Beauty from ashes, sorrow to joy. He has a way of healing and restoring even the most broken of hearts. 

This is a poem I wrote after I found out that there was no medical reason why she passed:

He took her silently, He took her away
She was far too beautiful to stay
He took her perfect, He took her pure
She knew no sin, no suffering to endure
He took her painlessly, in the night
The only thing she knows is Heaven's light
He loves her more than I do and knows what's best
In His arms is where I'll rest
There is no reason, no one to blame
Still, I miss her just the same
I'm a mother who held her baby for just a day
But, in Heaven she waits, that's where she'll stay
I'll hold her again, kiss her, and love her
Of this I am sure

Another reason why I see the Lord had it planned for me to not have a c-section (not only the gift of having that experience with her) but also because of the delivery, I now know I have to have c-sections in future pregnancies. If Lily had lived, she would have had shoulder problems because she got stuck during delivery. In order to avoid any complications during child birth in the future, I have to have c-sections. So, the only time I will ever go through the birthing experience is with Lily. And I am so thankful to have that with her. The Lord has used her life to protect the safety of her future siblings.

"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." ~Romans 8:28

For a long time, I struggled with the fact that all I'll ever have of my daughter are a few precious memories and keepsakes. I dwelled on the fact that I wasn't offered the free, professional photography from NILMDTS. I felt envious of parents who had it. I wished I could go back and get more high-quality pictures of her hands and feet and every detail of her. I wished I could get more keepsakes and it was so hard realizing I could never go back and relive March 16, 2010 and change the things I wish I could change. Yet, I made the decision to be thankful for the things I do have and not harp on what I don't. When I made this decision, the Lord truly opened my eyes and has shown me just how blessed I am. Some parents don't even hold their baby or get a single picture of them. If this has never happened to you before, you don't know what to expect or what you need. And you have no idea the things you'll regret later. I had nearly a full day with my little girl in my arms! So many people only keep their baby for a couple hours. And I was blessed with 40 weeks and 2 days with her in my womb. I am so thankful I had the full pregnancy with her and that she wasn't born early. I am thankful that I didn't know beforehand that she would die, giving me that much time of complete and utter joy that she was with me! And yes, even though she died, I am so thankful she LIVED! And even though I don't have the pictures I wish I had, I am realizing how beautiful the photos are that I do have. I have come to cherish them more than I ever thought I could. I actually contacted a NILMDTS volunteer and asked if she could edit the photos I have and make them look their best. I am beyond pleased with how she edited them! I am so thankful that I have her hair, her foot and handprints, her footmold. I had FIVE ultrasounds when I was pregnant with her, when most people only have two. One of these was a 3d/4d ultrasound, when I found out conclusively she was a girl, and I now have it recorded on dvd so I can remember our reactions and see me up on that table getting my ultrasound. And I have a dvd recording of her squirming around, so I have seen her with life and can always watch it and remember she lived! I have many other precious momentos as well. All these things that are now tucked away inside her memory chest. I am so thankful. I am so blessed. 

Because of Lily's life, I started a photography business. I realized how precious each moment is and that tomorrow is never a given. So, out of her legacy, that was birthed. I also am donating care packages to the hospital where Lily was born. The boxes are filled with things to honor and remember their lost baby, as well as resources for the parents to make decisions that they will later be happy with. When you're in this situation, you need someone whose been there to think for you. 

I was told that my labor and delivery went as smoothly as it could go. Things could have been so much worse, but the Lord made it as bearable as possible. He was so gentle towards us, making my hospital experience an overall positive one. Everything seemed to work out just right, like He was truly orchestrating it all. And as a Christian, I know He was. It might sound strange to some for me to be praising God and thanking Him after my daughter died, rather than being angry with Him and questioning Him. I'm so thankful I'm not bitter with Him and it is only by His grace that I'm not. He has used this loss to draw me closer to Himself and teach me to lean on Him fully, to meet my every need.

So many flowers have blossomed because of the rain that's fallen in my life. I now see the beauty of life that I have never before seen. Through Lily's life, the Lord is showing the world that each life is so precious and valuable to Him and He has a plan and purpose for us all. Look at the beautiful legacy my daughter has left! The Lord used a little girl who never took a single breath to bring me back to Himself and radically change my heart and life! Her life has made more of an impact, never taking a breath, than if she had taken a breath. So, I gladly relinquish my dreams of meeting her alive into the hands of my Lord.

"The amount of time on earth matters very little: a man can live in greed and pride for 90 years and never find God, know Him, or accomplish His plan. A stillborn baby on the other hand, teaches people to love, brings people to the Lord, teaches us the tenuous nature of life and teaches us a faith that those who have not suffered loss can never know. A child who has never taken a breath can have an impact greater than a famous preacher. The purpose of a life is not ours to decide nor in our hands: it is brought about by God." ~Author Unknown

The Lord has shown me that He desires me to live each and every day like March 16, 2010. Desperately relying on Him for everything and knowing I am helpless without Him. Depending on His strength and trusting fully that He is sufficient for me. Every moment of my life, whether full of sorrow or joy, should be spent at His feet. He desires to be a part of all aspects of my every day. 

He is using me, weak Hannah Rose, to show others how He can provide strength to get through any and all things, when you call out to Him and depend on Him. Me, terrified of child birth, never thinking I'd have to birth my deceased child. I stand in awe, totally amazed, that I got through all this. At times, I find myself looking back on everything I've been through and almost not believing it really happened to me. I find myself wondering how I did it all. And He gently reminds me, you didn't do it. I did it through you. And I smile to myself and think, ah, yes, my precious Jesus, there through it all. And I realize I wouldn't have the strength to get through that today. I feel so weak. He reminds me that no, I don't have the strength to get through it today because I don't need the strength to get through it today. 

My mind goes to a conversation Corrie ten Boom (one of my spiritual mothers) had with her father as a young girl. Fear had come into her heart as she thought of the possibility of her father dying and she thought she couldn't live without him. Her father, Casper, then asks her, "Corrie, when we go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your train ticket?" "Why, just before we get on the train," she answered. "Exactly. And our wise Heavenly father knows when we're going to need things too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. He will give you the strength you need, just in time."

So many people have said to me they don't know how I've gotten through this and that they never could. It was never me, but my Jesus and I pray my story points all hearts to Him. I pray whoever hears this story will not walk away thinking Hannah Rose, or Lily even, but Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, for it is He for whom every heart is longing. I pray you will see that He gives us what we need the moment we need it, not a second before or too late. His "train ticket" of grace is there for us to face things we could never imagine facing before. It doesn't make things easy or take away the pain, but somehow it is sufficient to bear what would otherwise crush those who have not made the Lord their hope. Don't expect to understand or know today what you may face tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matthew 6:34 If you're called upon to face something unimagineable, rest assured that grace ticket will be handed to you by our loving Father the moment you get on the train, not a moment before. God's strength is there for us when we need it and is not overcome by our circumstances. 

Count your weakness as a joy, a gift because it can draw you to Him and He can prove Himself faithful in your life!

"He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." ~2 Corinthians 12:9-10

God's hand has been in every step of this journey. When I was early in my pregnancy with Lily and contemplating having another abortion, the Lord spoke to my heart that if I chose LIFE, I had no idea the beauty it would bring, but if I chose another abortion, I had no idea the pain and darkness it would bring. I never could have imagined it would turn out the way it did. Yet, despite all that has happened, I would never choose another way. Before losing Lily, I had an abortion and that pain is so much more intense because I must live with the fact that I went against God's plan. For a while, I wondered why the Lord would have me choose life, walk this road and love her so much, only to end up having her taken before she was ever even born. I know that I obeyed God by choosing life for Lily. I made the choice to let God be God, to let God give and God take away and I would never change that decision. I am incredibly blessed to have been chosen to be Lily Katherine's mother. I am incredibly humbled that the Lord would intervene in my life and fight for me! Lily died with dignity. The Lord took her away, but I let Him have His will, rather than having my own will and taking her life myself. It has been so much easier to let Lily go because I know she belongs to Him, I belong to Him and we are in His hands. I know she's with Him.

When I chose LIFE, the Lord brought peace to my heart and all the things that I had feared about the pregnancy no longer mattered. He was with me. And He would provide everything I needed to obey Him, to choose life. And oh, He did. He softened my families hearts to receive the news. He gave me peace, strength, joy. He provided for $20,000 worth of hospital and doctor bills and I am debt free! I didn't realize what a huge blessing this was until I heard of other families that had baby's that passed receiving hospital and doctor bills. It just seemed so wrong when they have nothing to even show for it. I realize how incredibly blessed I am that the Lord took care of all my needs. When you obey Him, He will give you what you need!

My Jesus has sustained me and provided for me more than I ever thought possible. Words cannot describe the supernatural strength, grace, peace, and joy He has given me on this journey. Supernatural is the only way to describe it. I never knew He intended me to have strength and peace like this. I fall more and more in love with Him every day. I stand amazed at the strength and peace I had on delivery day. I know it was not me. It was only my Saviour. And I am so thankful that He provided. He always provides...

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." ~Psalm 23:4-6

"The heart that made you a mother still beats within yours. It beats with every beat of your own." ~my best friend, Kala Waddell

Forever and a day, I will love you, my precious princess, my flower who was too beautiful for earth. Though you whispered goodbye before we could say hello, the Lord has changed my life with yours...

This is a video tribute, in honor of Lily.


  1. Thanks for letting me read your journal/blog...such beautiful words. I think it is healing to write it all down and let it flow...just like tears.
    I'm so sorry for your loss Hannah. I'm so sorry for the kind of pain you have felt and had to endure. Praise God that He is your strength and you feel His love so deeply.
    Prayers for little Lily as she is with Jesus now.
    I'm just so so sad for you Hannah.
    In reading your other post about Spring, I couldn't help but think that maybe you should plant a special tree in the yard in honor of Lily so each Spring you will see it grow and bloom. My heart goes out to you Hannah.

  2. Oh my much of this resonates with me. The shock. The surprise. The thoughts of, "But I'm 40 weeks!!! There weren't any problems!!!"

    Oh, I prayed for you so much last night and will continue to do so. I'm so sorry your little Lily isn't with you right now.
    Much love!

  3. I'm so sorry, Hannah. Your Lily is beautiful. You are so brave to share your story. I remember the day Ella was born still so clearly. I too had the leaf with the tear drop on my door and was blessed with amazing care from the nurses. I too asked if they could just take her out of me. Looking back, I'm glad I labored for her. I'm glad you are blogging and know you will find a lot of support here. Sending love.

  4. Your story has brought me to tears. There isn't much for me to say but I am sending you a (((hug))). Your little Lily is so precious. We certainly know we will see them again and that gives me hope for tomorrow.

  5. It takes a strong woman to face this kind of loss with the courage you have shown. God is surely with you, Hannah! Just think of how proud you can make your daughter, too, in how you are spending your time on this earth and in how you have honored her life. Hugs always from Anna LaBounty

  6. My eyes are filled with tears. I feel as though I have been able to walk through this with you from your excellent and heart-felt description. My heart is broken because yours has been broken. I am thankful that, as you said, your baby is with Jesus and it was all for a purpose, though difficult and hazy to understand right now. God lost His firstborn, too - gave Him up for us. Lily was given in many ways for you...and you will see her again. Hugs...tears...more hugs. Anna

  7. I am sorry for the loss of your beautiful girl.

  8. Words fail, only tears come. May God continue to bless and pour out His grace on you and your family. His love never fails.

  9. I cannot describe the depth of sorrow I feel as I read your Lily's story. But somehow, in some wonderfully beautiful way, you have been able to share, to treasure and to hold close to your heart the Lord in all of this. I know how proud God must feel of you, of your courage, and your faithfulness. I pray that God will shower you with blessings, that your nights would be filled with peaceful rest, and that your days will be filled with an unending flow of comfort and the flood of God's love to wrap you up warm and secure. Thank you so much for sharing yours and Lily's story. Lily is just the sweetest beautiful little bundle, so so precious. Cute doesn't begin to cover it, somehow in my heart I just can see that smile on her face with her round little cheeks beaming with the joy she has brought to so many. May that joy be an honor to you and to our Lord.

  10. Tears, sobs, and heartache. I am so moved by your story. Thank you for sharing it and for your beautiful faith in Jesus. I think you will touch many as your story resonates truth and pain.

  11. Oh Hannah, I have searched and searched for someone who knows exactly what my heart feels. Exactly what I am going through EVERY single day. I am so sorry that we had to "meet" on these terms.
    Your story, like my own, breaks my heart. Girl, I have been there...and continue to be there.
    :-) Great choice in little girls names, tho! My Lilly Bean went to be with her Jesus on November 13th,2009. Almost six months ago. My heart still aches, and sometimes I feel like I can't go on...but my God is good, all the time... and I know that He has special plans for my husband and I.
    If you ever need someone to talk to, please don't hesitate to contact me.
    My email address is :

    I would love to hear from you. God bless, Hannah. And thank you for sharing the story of your beautiful Lily.

  12. Hannah, I stopped by to get to know you as I was going through my "followers." I am so sorry for your loss. You have a rich faith and an incredible testimony. I am thankful you found my blog and that I visited yours, what an encouragement you've been to others even in the midst of your sorrow. You've gained me as a follower just know that I will keep you in my prayers. I'll always remember Lily as I had my miscarriage March 16th last year.

  13. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost a little one on March 13th of 1999, only to have my Lilli-Anne be born the coming March. She was born on 3-7-2000. I had questions as well, but God gave me my Lilli and she has taught me so much about myself and the world the past 11 years. I am amazed at your strength and courage. In 1993, I was faced with an unplanned pregnancy and was contmplating the same things you described, but I was too afraid and lost. I was worried what people would think about me, I was a good girl, going to college, ... but I was pregnant. Thank God I kept him!!! He was my drive and determination to get through so much and to make me who I am today. He is graduating this year from high-school (early) and I am so proud of him. I will think of you and your Lily and continue to pray for you and your family, you are truely a blessing and your testimony will help so many!!! May God continue to bless and keep you!!!

  14. Hannah - I just read your story. So sorry for your loss :-( Thank you for the kind words on my blog. Sorry we had to meet this way, but glad to meet a new sister in Christ!


  15. Hannah, I am so, so sorry for your losses ... and I am holding you and your two angels in my heart. Thank you for visiting me ... I read your most recent post, and I can tell you that the pain never goes away, but sometimes it hurts a little less, and there is more love ... for yourself. It's a sad sisterhood, but I'm glad that we have each other.

  16. I'm so sorry for your losses as well, Hannah. Thank you for stopping by my blog and offering support.

  17. Hannah,

    I don't know you and stumbled upon your blog by accident, following a Google search for the name Lily (my little boy's best friend is named Lily) and wanted to say how truly sorry I am for your loss.

    But also thank you for telling your story and sharing it with the world. The pictures of your beautiful little girl broke my heart. She was blessed to have a Mummy and family who loved her so much, when so many children don't. I'm positive she knows how much you love her.

  18. What a beautiful legacy to Lily and an amazing arrow pointed at our Lord. I have only just found your blog and watched your video of her. I'm so sorry for your loss but she is still your little girl. Cheering you on from heaven.

  19. Hannah...Our sweet babies are rejoicing in the presence of our heavenly Father. God is always good! Thank you for sharing your daughter and her precious life and for visiting me at WJIM.

  20. Praying for you, even now, sweet mother. May the arms of Jesus ever enfold your weeping heart.

  21. So beautiful... tears in my eyes, praise in my heart. Our friend just lost a baby boy, born too soon, lived in this world for 3 minutes... I'm praying about sending her your story.

    As a doula (trained child birth support), though, I would urge you to check out a midwife's perspective on vaginal delivery v c-section. Shoulder dystocia (shoulders getting stuck) is usually easily corrected simply by getting on your hands & knees in labor-- if you didn't have an epidurl you'd be able to do it yourself, and if you did, then the medical team could help you turn over. It's called the Gaskin maneuver & it's very effective. There are other things to do too. Shoulder dystocia is also avoided by being upright in labor, or in any position but flat on your back. Pain can be managed with counter-pressure (on your back), being in a birthing tub full of warm water, moving, swaying, or a whole host of other things that allow you to maintain full movement in your legs. Anyway, it's something to check out if & when the Lord gives you more children! Many OBs aren't as familiar with the Gaskin maneuver, unfortunately, since most of them deal mostly with women giving birth numb from the waist down. Midwives tend to have more experience with natural births, so they know how to get womens' bodies to work naturally!

    Anyway thanks so much for sharing your story. So bittersweet-- just like everything on this Sin-Cursed planet!! Praise Jesus for the resurrection!

  22. The whole time, while reading your story, I had that big lump in my throat. Eventually, I couldn't hold it anymore and burst out crying. I can't even imagine the pain you went through, and yet you described it all so well, that I felt it. I don't know how you manage to love with it every single day, and I admire it a lot. I have a little girl. She's a year and a half. I love her more than anything, and yet, to be honest, a lot of times me drives she crazy, and I feel like I can't take it anymore. Reading your story gave me the breath of fresh air I've longed for. Now I see it all from a different perspective, and definitely will be more appreciative from now on. Thank you so much.

  23. Beautiful beautiful beautiful, thank you for sharing 💞 #Lilyslegacy


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