Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Flower

Well I'm no florist (not yet at least), but I've always had an infinity for flowers. Perhaps it was because without fail I would get at least one bouquet a year. My mom would always bring me a beautiful bouquet of flowers when I performed. Thanks, mom. So some years I got several bouquets depending on how many performances I was involved in. My mom also filled our yard with flowers and even took us on hikes where we saw the wild flowers blooming. So it's no wonder that I just love them. I even took a "floral design" class when I was in college.

When we met with the mortuary, one of the services they provide is the ability to order a casket arrangement. I was allowed to flip through a book to decide what I wanted. The funeral director was really nice, but I wanted to be able to sit down and talk with the actual florist about what I wanted. So I decided to forgo their service and find my own florist.

I didn't really know where to find a florist. We're new in town and I didn't know the reputations of any of the florists. I didn't know who to ask, but I knew the owners of our previous home had a wedding business and must be slightly acquainted with the industry. She didn't really have a good recommendation for funeral flowers but suggested I try to find one in Spanish Fork (the city just north of us and a little bit bigger too). I hadn't thought of that.

So after doing some online searches for some reviews I found a shop that had a positive review for funeral flowers. Perfect. My mom and I went to go make the order. But we couldn't find it. There was no sign with the name of the florist we were looking for anywhere! But there was another one. So with little time to fuss about finding the shop we were looking for, we went inside.

I knew right away that it was the perfect place. The shop was so cute and decorated totally chic. I knew whoever was in charge would do the perfect job for Luke's flowers.

It might seem weird that I was so particular about the flowers for his casket, but it's the only thing I get to do for him. I don't have years of birthday cakes to plan or first day-of-school outfits to pick out -just these flowers. So I wanted them to be just right. I wanted them to be cheerful. I wanted them to be boyish (as boyish as flowers can be). And I wanted them to be delicate.

Trevor's siblings and their spouses sent us a lovely arrangement that contained a blue(ish) flower, delphinium. Perfect. Just what I needed to tell the florist I wanted in Luke's arrangement.

The blue, yellow, and white arrangement on the left is from our siblings.

Delphinium
The flowers that Elaine, at Main Street Floral, arranged were perfect. They were everything I wanted them to be.

Thanks, Elaine. 


It was surreal to carry the arrangement down the isle of the chapel as Trevor followed behind me carrying Luke in the casket. Me? Carrying flowers down the isle? And not a baby? Yes, that was my reality and it was so strange. But I carried Luke's flowers with care and placed them tenderly on top of his casket.


After we met at the cemetery to pray and dedicate the burial site, it was time to go. The last thing I did was step forward a pull one smiling, little, yellow flower from the arrangement to take with me. As I did it, it almost seemed scripted. Like something you'd see in a scene in a movie. But I didn't do it for show. That's what my heart wanted -to be able to take just a little something with me. I guess as a token of remembrance. Or perhaps because I wasn't ready or able to have given birth to my son and leave empty handed. So I took my single yellow flower and took it home with me.

It rested first on our bed. And then on our dresser. It was there for a day or two. I wanted to press it before it began wilting. My mom let me borrow her flower press and I carefully put the flower in the press. I didn't know where to sit it for the recommended 4 to 6 week drying time. I realized the nursery was a room that it would be out of the way and not bothered, so I carefully laid it in the crib. When most mom's are putting their newborns in their cribs I'm placing a flower in mine. The thoughts and reality of it all seemed, yet again, so surreal.

After 6 weeks is when you have your first postpartum check-up and you're supposedly "recovered" from childbirth. Healing, I am. But I don't know that I'll ever be "recovered." I will always be a little different, a little changed, and a little lonely. I've looked forward to the 6 week mark when I could take my flower out of the press. I couldn't wait to see it's yellow petals and black center smile at me. But even more anxiously I can't wait to look into my son's eyes and see him smile back at me.



One day, I'll get to see that too.







Picture Sources:
Delphinium

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Headstone

Luke, your headstone is in place. Your dad was the one that initiated getting it selected and decided what to put on it. I like what he selected and thought that it was so loving of him to take care of this for you. He wanted to be sure your resting place was marked and hopefully before your uncle Scott comes to visit. We are pleased with how it turned out and are glad it was set in place promptly. It's definitely something we never imagined shopping for, but are thankful to have a nice headstone for you. Your dad told me he hopes he never sees his name on another headstone. And truthfully, neither do I, yet we're so proud to have our names as your parents. We love you so much and are so glad that you're ours forever. 

When we came we discarded the now wilted sunflowers marking your grave that I left for you before and left one fresh rose--a token of our love for you. 

Sunflowers

Luke, these sunflower-like flowers are everywhere. They remind me of the little yellow flower I pulled from your casket flowers on the day of your funeral. They're so cheerful and make me smile. They make me think of you. They're growing everywhere--in between the freeway lanes, by the copy center, by the side of the road, in fields by a lake we discovered--anywhere that weeds should grow seem to be filled with these flowers. I asked the owner of a store if I could cut some down from a ditch in front of his property. He gladly obliged and especially because I think he considered them to practically be a weed. But to me they are a blessing. A blessing which Heaven has scattered bright yellow flowers all around me to remind me of you. To remind me of summer. To remind me of joy. So I left some for you and I brought a bunch home to put in a vase. If I can't bring you home, I'll at least bring something to remind me of you.   




Friday, September 23, 2011

How Are You?

An employee at the school Trevor volunteers at said "How's it goin'?" as he walked past Trevor. The person obviously didn't really intend to ask that nor really care, because when Trevor replied "Pretty bad," this individual didn't bat an eye and just continued to exit the building.

If you're reading this, you might actually wonder how we're doing. So here it is.

Generally we're fine.

But yesterday, "pretty bad", barely begins to summarize it.

I don't know if it's because I've been so okay with things from the beginning that I haven't let myself get really upset. I've known all along that Luke is God's son and I accepted the fact that He took him from us prematurely because that is part of His plan and His will. I've never been angry with God. And I've never even questioned "why." Maybe because I know I can't know exactly why, so from the time I knew that Luke was no longer living I simply trusted in God. I guess I trusted in Him before that and my trust in Him simply continued. I know there is more to life than I can currently see.

Well, being "okay" with things or at least accepting things up until this point had been going alright. But yesterday I couldn't take it.

Shelley's motivation = ZERO

I didn't want to do anything. I had intended to take some personal time to work on some goal setting, but I didn't feel like doing it. I wasted lots of time on the internet. I even put down the computer, had no motivation to do anything, so I returned to the mindless internet surfing. I eventually showered for the day and cried a little. I tried reading the words of the prophet's for some encouragement. The first search result when you search for goals on LDS.org is a talk titled Do Not Despair. Seems appropriate, right? It included much needed counsel. One of the things it suggests is listening to music. My sister-in-law, Maryanne, recorded a beautiful rendition of Be Still My Soul and sent it to me in August.


Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: The hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
As I listened, I simply wept. 
I felt bad for myself. I'm frustrated with my life. I'm frustrated that I have to "decide what to do now." I just want to be a full-time mom. That's the job I want. I don't want to have to apply for jobs. I don't want to face these decisions. I don't want to have to deal with it. I don't want the cards that have been dealt to me. I want out of this deal. I don't want to talk to anyone. I don't want to do anything!  
I wept some more.
I felt alone. I felt stuck. I felt frustrated. I felt angry. 
I wept.
I tried to pray.
I wept. 
Then I felt guilty for being ungrateful for all of the good in my life.  So I cried some more.
I tried to find some inspiration from my great-grandmother's autobiography. She was a hard-worker and persevered many hardships. I curled up in the nursery chair with Luke's quilt and read then slept. I woke up and cried some more. 
Most days are not like this. Actually no other day has been like this. Perhaps I have not let myself mourn my son's death and all that I lost with it. 
Trevor's day had been nearly, if not more, emotional than mine. We weren't together, but together we were mourning Luke's death. Luckily we have each other still. Luckily I have someone here with me who understands how I feel. At least I have someone to go through this with. I don't know what I would do without my best friend.   

Friday, September 16, 2011

An Increase of Love

How has Luke's death affected us? In so many ways. But there has definitely been an increase of love.

In 1 Thessalonians 3 The Apostle Paul tells the saints to perfect that which is lacking in their faith. As part of this epistle he tells the saints "that no man should be moved [or disturbed] by these afflictions" (1 Thess 3:3). Later he says "and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men" (1 Thess 3:12).

I think this affliction or trial has not "moved" us. Our feet are planted strongly and we have not been moved. We trust in the Lord more now than ever. We know He lives and we are committed to following Him.

How have we seen an increase in love?
  • Towards each other
  • Toward our son that we will be with one day
  • Towards our family
  • Towards other children
  • Towards our loving neighbors who have reached out to us
  • Towards those that have offered prayers in our behalf
  • Towards those that have given us meals
  • Towards those that have sent us words of sympathy
  • Towards those that have served us
  • Towards those that have cried for us
  • Towards those that have given us beautiful flowers
  • Towards the strangers that have reached out to us and given us gifts
  • Towards others that have dealt with the death of a loved one
We have had an increase of love in our home, family, and community. Perhaps this wouldn't have happened without all the love and service that was given to us. Nevertheless we feel an increase of love for each other and for others. 

Luke, thank you for bringing so much love and kindness into the world even though you haven't been here. Your presence is felt and we know you have made a difference in our lives. Thank you! We love you! Love, your mommy. 

"I'm grateful that God allows trials and tragedies to occur in our lives, not because they're easy or because they're desired, but because they help us love."  -Chris Williams, Forgiveness: My Burden Made Light

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No One To Blame

I have taken the time over the past week to write some more about my experience and thoughts that I've had. I thought I'd post this one today. It's not too long (unlike some of my other writings), but you should be prepared with a kleenex or two if you watch the video!

This post was written once and then accidentally deleted. I hate trying to revive already written words. Sometimes I love technology and other times I think it is my nemesis!

*****

Something that I am so grateful for is to know what caused Luke's death. It was apparent as soon as he was born that his umbilical chord was in a knot. I am so glad that I was never faced with the decision of having to decide between harming his perfect little body for an autopsy vs not knowing why he died. I don't know what I would have decided. I think the Lord knew that I couldn't have made that decision and allowed us to know what caused his death.

Thank you, Lord. 

The other fact concerning Luke's death that I am grateful for is that there is no one to blame. His death wasn't anyone's fault. It wasn't my fault. It wasn't a doctors fault. Nothing could have been done to prevent what they call a "chord accident."* It was out of everyone's control and I am grateful for that. I think that the death of a loved one would be so much harder to deal with if someone else had caused it. I think of the story of this man that lost his wife and children because of a drunk driver. I can't imagine how hard it must be to rely on the Lord for strength to heal and forgive.  


His ability to forgive amazes me. Would I be able to forgive like that? I don't know. I would hope so, but I am grateful that that is not a challenge that I have been asked to face. 


*In my brief online research since Luke's death I've learned that umbilical chord problems are not usually detected with a regular ultrasound. There are special ultrasounds (I don't remember what it was called exactly) that only some doctors use to look for problems and usually only in pregnancies with multiples (since chord accidents are more likely to occur with several babies in the uterus). 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Miracle Birth

I've apparently never been much of a blogger. You can see that the majority of the posts are by Trevor and my last post was in 2009. I guess I never felt like I had anything worth posting to the world. Besides, I'm not much of a talker, I'd much rather listen. But with the recent turn of events in our life, I'm thinking maybe I can share a little about our experience. It's a very personal one and something that is so near and dear to my heart, so part of me hesitates to post such a personal experience to the whole world. So much has happened in the past month that I'd like to remember and recount. I know that blog posts are usually in a sequential and chronological order, but I think I'll just share things as they come to me. However it's probably important that I at least start with what happened. Half of the following account was written on Saturday, August 6th. The rest I completed today.  This is obviously a really long and detailed post, perhaps more for myself (especially since the first half was just a journal entry) than others, but I'd like to share it.


*****

I have felt such an array of emotions in the past day and a half that I don’t even know where to begin, but I want this part of my life to always be remembered, or at least have a record of its reality. How it feels and what the turn of events have been and are. I don’t know where to begin and I feel so emotionally drained that I can’t begin to try to recount what has happened but I want the details to be recorded before they get fuzzy.

On Wednesday I went to book club with my friends in Provo. A friend had asked if my mid-wife had been doing “non-stress tests.” I said no, but looked up what it was exactly. Essentially it is monitoring baby’s heart and movements to make sure baby is okay. On Tuesday I had had a prenatal and his heart was great and he was kicking around so much that night at dinner. Trevor and I want to CafĂ© Rio to celebrate 41 weeks. (I’m crying now thinking that was the last time Luke was with me). I even thanked him out loud for being such a good mover and helping mommy not worry and know that he was okay still. People had started inquiring about being induced, but I felt there was no reason to. Healthy baby, healthy mom we’re just gonna keep going. Wednesday night when I got home from book club I laid on the couch waiting for movements. I wasn’t really getting any. I thought maybe I was being hypersensitive/paranoid because of people’s concerns.

Thursday I was feeling more concerned. I had a list of tons of things to do but I was quite immobilized. I called Sherri and she said that babies sometimes rest up a lot before delivery so birth could just be coming soon. I don’t remember if it was before or after I spoke with Sherri but I had a moment where I just broke down. I was just so scared that he wasn’t okay. I wandered through the house trying to do things like put away the laundry and tidy up and I just cried. It was pretty uncontrollable. So many thoughts raced through my head and I even spoke so many of them out loud. I thought about not having the baby as part of our life and I wondered what I would do with my life since I have been planning to be a stay at home mom. As I cried, I pleaded out loud with Heavenly Father and with the baby to just move so I knew that he was okay. There was nothing. I don’t remember if I slept or sat for a while on the couch unable to do much of anything. I wanted so bad to just have someone check me for a heart rate so I knew he was okay. I thought about driving to Sherri’s or to another midwife’s that lives in Payson. For whatever reason I didn’t head over to have her or anyone else check me. I drank some juice and waited to feel movements. I think it was then that I went into denial that everything was “okay.” I thought maybe I had felt him move and realized I couldn’t just fret about it because there was stuff to be done. I needed to go to the church and take care of my visiting teaching stuff and get ready for friends coming over for dinner. So I tried to put my worries aside and just go to work.

The next day Trevor asked if I had felt the baby move. I replied “yes, in my sleep.” I hadn’t felt him move, but I was trying to be optimistic that he was okay. Maybe optimistic isn’t the right word. I think denial is probably what it was. Of course he was okay. He’s been a healthy, striving baby this whole time and of course I’m going to deliver a healthy, happy baby shortly. So I had called Sherri and planned to come see her. For me, it was to put my mind at ease and she wanted to talk about things we should start doing to see if we could get labor happening.

Trevor and I got to Sherri’s around 2:30. We started by having her check my dilation. It was only at 1cm but she thought I was 70-80% effaced. She thought that if we put some borage oil on my cervix that we would surely get things going. I wasn’t feeling quite ready for that because there were some last minute things I wanted to finish up before baby came. I knew that I needed to hear Luke’s heart to put my mind at ease about not really feeling movements. She got out the Doppler and checked, and checked, and checked. I thought surely she’ll get it. And she thought she had something for a second so maybe it was just not coming. I knew it had to be there. He had to be okay still. Or at least that’s what I told myself.

She looked at me with big concerned eyes and said “This isn’t good you guys.”

But how could something really be wrong? Just on Tuesday we were chatting at my appointment and my friend/neighbor had asked what type of complications she’s dealt with. Sherri replied, “Heavenly Father blesses me with easy births.”

This comment was like insurance, right? Sherri get’s easy births. So mine will be easy. I’m with Sherri and I’m healthy and strong and we’re just going to have a great delivery.

So she goes to call a doctor to see if we can get an ultra sound right away. At this point the denial starts to wear off and the reality is sinking in. I know I was crying and I just kept saying I’m sorry to Trevor. I was afraid I had done something wrong by not going in sooner. I was just crying and concerned and all the feelings that I had had the day before were coming back: fear, concern, worry about what other’s would think, concern about our future, anxiety. I don’t even know if those words accurately describe it. Trevor reassured me that I hadn’t done anything wrong and that nothing was my fault. I felt so responsible though for the life of our son because he was inside of me and I’ve been the one making sure I’m healthy so he can grow big and strong and the one calling most of the shots about the prenatal care and birth options.

The mood had changed to quite a sullen one as the reality of everything was settling in.

The doctor’s office was located at the American Fork Central Utah Clinic. When we got there I inquired if they were connected with the Central Utah Clinic in Provo. Fortunately they were so I told them I should already be in the system. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to sit and fill out paper work before they would see me. There was no way that I would be able to sit and do that then.

When they called us back, I numbly followed the lady back to the ultra sound room. As I lay on the table I barely had my eyes open as she did the ultra sound. I knew she wasn’t finding a heartbeat and I just cried. It broke my heart to know the truth of what was happening. She simply said, “I’ll go get the doctor,” and left us there.

It’s all quite foggy to me, but I know that we went into a room to sit and wait to see the doctor. I know that Trevor was by my side. I don’t know what the doctor came in and said to us. So many times within the next 24 hours people would be saying something and I wouldn’t be hearing them. My thoughts were elsewhere. We concluded that we would go to the hospital so I could be induced and deliver the baby. The doctor asked if we needed to go home and get anything. What could we possibly need? We just went right to the hospital. Luckily the doctor had delivering rights at the Mt. Timpanogos hospital because that’s the one that is in our insurance network so we were able to go there.

When we arrived I decided I should call my mom before we went inside. I briefly gave her the news and it was obviously quite upsetting to her. The conversation was brief and we went into the hospital.

The nurses staff was so cheerful and excited to great us, until Sherri informed them that we were Dr. Parker’s induction that had just been called in and arranged. They inquired if I had been to the hospital before and fortunately I had. All they needed from me was my ID and insurance info. Again I was so relieved that we did not have to sit around and fill out paper work. I couldn’t have done it. Not then. I just need to move forward with things.

Before long I was in a room, gowned up, with an IV in me and ready to have the Pitocin started.

*****

On August 8th I wrote, "It's getting hard to go back and type about everything. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve verbally told the story so much or if just with time passing details are leaving me. Which is why I want to capture them before they are lost." 


It's now an entire month later and I am just finishing writing about Luke's birth story. Some details, I'm sure have slipped away by now, but better late than never.


*****

It was about 5:30 or 6pm when the Pitocin was started. They started at 4 units and planed to increase it 4 units every half hour. I didn't like being in the hospital gown and the first nurse (who had left by 6) tried to have me laying down with a monitor on me. I wasn't comfortable so I ditched the monitor for a while and just sat on the bed. This is where the details get fuzzy. At some point my mom and step-dad, Chris, came down. My mom was going to our house in Payson to get some things for us. The hospital had told us that they would have a photographer come and take some pictures so my mom got some stuff for that. It seemed so petty and even vain that I requested my mom to bring my makeup for me, but I knew it would be our only family picture and I wanted to like it. She also brought different shirts for Trevor and me, a little collared onesie that had been a shower gift for Luke, a baby blue blanket (also a shower gift), and the quilt that I had made for Luke. 

I wasn't really feeling any contractions so the Pitocin kept getting increased (it eventually was increased to the maximum, 20 units, without concern since we weren't monitoring the baby). We didn't know how long labor would be and being a first-time mom we anticipated it being quite long. We decided I should try to sleep and get some rest for what might be a long night ahead. At some point I sent a text message, summarizing what had happened, to my friends Ashley and Jenny. It read: 


I wasn't feeling kicks so I went to see Sherri. She couldn't get a heart beat so we went to get an ultrasound. Our little Luke has gone to heaven. I could use the prayers of friends for a speedy and easy delivery. I'm being induced at the hospital. I don't want any texts or phone calls for now, but want my friends to know why we won't be announcing his birth. You can share this info with anyone you think would want to know.

It was hard to text the words "our little Luke has gone to heaven" I hated writing that because it was true. It broke my heart that that was the reality of our situation.

I tried to sleep but never fell asleep. Each time I was about to dose off, I was interrupted with either a  phone call or someone coming in the room (nurse, Trevor, Sherri, my mom, Dr. Parker). At some point the doctor suggested breaking my water. I didn't know what to do so I called Sherri. I still wanted to try to rest now and thought we could hold off on that. The doctor had another patient (not a birthing mother and I think at the American Fork hospital) to tend to so he would be leaving for a while. At some point the monitor was back on me (perhaps while I was trying to sleep) and it showed what I wasn't feeling -- contractions about every minute and a half.

Trevor had left. He called his mom to notify her of the situation and possibly attempted to get some food (I don't think he could eat though). While he was gone he also got me a beautiful bouquet of flowers with some cheerful gerber daisies. Trevor couldn't have been more perfect during the birth.

When Sherri got back I decided that the doctor could break my water. I don't know what time this was. I would look at the clock every now and then, but I wasn't registering what time it was. According to Sherri, he broke my water around 9:30pm. Before the doctor left I think he came in to check on me. He and Sherri were chatting and this is definitely one of the times that people were talking, but I was not hearing what they were saying. It was kind of bothering me and I wanted the doctor to leave. He was a perfectly nice man (more like a nice grandpa), but for some reason I didn't really want him around. Contractions were finally starting to get to the point that I could feel them. I think I got up to use the restroom and this ended their conversation and the doctor left.


Up until this point that most uncomfortable thing was the stupid IV in my wrist. I don't know if the first nurse hadn't done a very good job putting it it, or if IV's are always that uncomfortable but it hurt and felt really disabling. I felt like I couldn't move or do anything with my right hand without it hurting. I remember complaining about this and then apologizing for complaining. (I've never been a fan of complaining or complainers, so I guess I felt bad for being one.) Tarah, the nurse, tried to adjust it for me, but nothing really helped. 

Once the contractions were stronger I wasn't able to sit on the bed like I had done the previous hours. I had to move through them. I would work through the contractions by almost dancing through them. I was usually moving my hips side to side or moving while sitting on a yoga aka "birthing" ball. At one point I was coming out of the restroom and was walking toward the bed when a contraction hit. I really danced through that one as I recall standing there with one leg in arabesque (aa-rah-besk) and had one hand supporting me on the ball. 
I was like this except my leg wasn't nearly as high and it was in attitude, my hand was on the ball, and I was attached to an IV pole. 
The whole time Trevor and Sherri were by my side and were so responsive to what ever I would ask them to do. The nurse, Tarah, and the nurses aid, Makel, were also wonderful and so great at doing whatever I asked. I was so grateful for such attentive assistants during the whole process. 

As the contractions got stronger I started to doubt how much I'd be able to continue. Not as much physically, but emotionally. I told Sherri and Trevor this and considered having an epidural. I knew that labor could be tough and I had geared up for it since I had planned on having a natural birth. But some of what makes enduring it is knowing that you will soon get to meet your baby and hold him in your arms. I wasn't going to get to have that. Without that I didn't think I would be able to endure.

At this point Sherri pointed out the beautiful bath tub in our room and the nurse was on her way to check my dilation. We discovered that I was already 5 or 6cm. This was hopeful and I decided I would try laboring in the tub for a while.



I loved the tub. It totally took the edge off of the contractions. While I was in the tub my contractions got more powerful. My mom had brought my iPod from our house and so I tried to listen to some hypnobabies tracks to relax (perhaps more on that on another post). It was kind of helping. I was starting to feel shaky during contractions and having a really hard time relaxing. Sherri would have her hand either on my head or shoulder and would tell me to relax. This physical and verbal command really helped me to try and relax during the contractions. I remember telling Sherri "thank you" after she would do that. I really wanted to communicate to her that what she was doing was helping.  

I don't remember how long I was in the tub, but Sherri thinks it was only about 15 minutes. My dilation was checked again and I was already at a 10! (They only told me 8cm so as to not get my hopes up, but I was already at a 10.) I remember feeling like I could push and I was told to get out of the tub. I didn't want to, but I obeyed. I don't know if it's hospital policy or what. I think I remember asking "do I have to," but I got out. I decided to "go to the bathroom" one last time before getting on the bed. I knew I probably didn't have to go but felt that way because of the baby's head coming down.



As we headed to the bed (I usually had an assistant to help move my IV pole) I told them that the IV pole needed to be on the right side of the bed because I was going to be on my hands and knees. I sure wasn't going to be laying on my back! (I don't know how woman can push babies out like that but I think that's the most common position to deliver a baby in a hospital) There was no way I could just lay down at this point. I couldn't even lay down earlier when the contractions were just starting to get strong. So I did as I had done the whole time and just moved through the contractions. Rocking back and forth and occasionally stretching into a "cobra" position and down into a "child pose." In between contractions Trevor was ready with water. I was so thirsty at this point. I'm pretty sure it's hospital policy to not eat or drink during labor, but I didn't care and no one was going to stop me.
                                                        Laboring Positions


With each contraction I prayed that it would be the last. I didn't know how much longer I could take it and I just wanted it to be over. My pushing was intermixed with some sobbing, but that couldn't last for more than a sob or two before it was time to push again. Tarah was by my side and said "if you push just a little more he'll come out." Thank you, Tarah, what an angel, she offered the encouragement I needed to get Luke out. So at the stroke of midnight on August 6th, Luke Ray Fitzgerald was born.  

Our Baby Luke
It's kind of a strange thing, to be born, but not have any life in you. Not the type of birth anyone should have. Well at least I think it's not what anyone should have, but God obviously thinks differently. I know this was His will. I guess it's not what anyone expects or plans on -- especially not me, but that was how it happened.

It wasn't until he was born that our question of "what happened?" was answered. His umbilical chord was tied in a knot. What they call a "true knot," because it wasn't tangled around him at all but was just tied like a knot. It can only be assumed that the knot occurred earlier in the pregnancy when Luke was small enough to move around a lot in my uterus and that it tightened as he lowered down into a birthing position.




"True Knot"
According to info I've found online, it occurs in 1% of pregnancies, but doesn't always end in fetal demise. 
I was too weak and shaky to lay down on the bed right away, but soon I was able to. The nurses cleaned up Luke and tended to him. I still had to birth the placenta. I don't remember if they let me hold Luke before or after this. Birthing the placenta was the worst part of the whole birthing experience. By this point I was mentally done -- I had gotten the baby out, I had done my job -- and the IV had ripped out of my wrist so my contractions stopped without the Pitocin being cranked into my system. They tried to give me a shot of Pitocin in my leg, but it didn't get the contractions going again. So Dr. Parker had to manually remove the placenta. I was able to get him to wait a little while to see if my body would do it on its own. No luck. Then I told him to wait a few more minutes while I tried to listen to my iPod and zone out so he could do it. Sherri stood by my side (Trevor was sitting in a chair holding Luke) and I held her hand as the doctor removed my placenta. He did not have little hands! I don't think I've ever experienced anything more painful than that. I was so relieved to have that over with. I swear, never again will my body stop at that point! My bleeding was almost considered a hemorrhage but it eventually stopped. 


The sweet nurse helped me get cleaned up and I was able to hold Luke for a little bit. I was so weak it was hard to hold him. Soon the photographer came in and dressed Luke in his onesie and took the only pictures that we will have of our precious son.     


*****

What a miracle birth, all things considered, the actual birthing couldn't have gone much better. I know that my friends' prayers were answered and I was able to have the "speedy and easy delivery" that I had requested in my text to my friends. I was grateful for that. During the labor the nurses and Sherri and Trevor would tell me that I was doing great and, possibly as conceited as it may have sounded, I replied "I know!" It really was astounding how marvelously my body handled the process. And supposedly contractions caused by Pitocin are a lot stronger than natural contractions (I don't really know). Physically, nothing about birth was ever really that painful (except for the whole placenta ordeal!). And I know that I haven't just forgotten with time, I felt that way right after the whole experience. I am so thankful for the strength I was given. Was it just a tender mercy and miracle for Luke's birth? Or will I always be so capable to deliver babies? I don't know yet, but I am so grateful that it was so easy. What a miracle. If you were someone that prayed for me, thank you. I know your faith allowed the prayer to be answered.


***** 

So much more happened in the following hours and in the following weeks, but this post is sufficient, for now, to at least capture what happened. As I read and reread what I have written I realize it may seem deprived of all the emotions that may be involved in the death of a child. I think I'm still trying to distinguish those myself and will perhaps be able to, one day, capture those feelings into words. For anyone still reading, may you know that I am at peace with things. Perhaps I will write more about my feelings another day, but for now I am glad to have written and shared the details surrounding Luke's birth.


*****
Sources for the pictures: