Sunday, December 12, 2010

Luke's Story

Dear Luke,

To truly understand the story of your life, we have to start back a couple of years. I guess you could say your story truly began with your big sister...

It appeared we were going to have a miscarriage in the first trimester. Things were not looking good. But that feisty little girl hung in there until 35 weeks. She was delivered by emergency c-section. I was having a placental abruption and it was obvious the doctors were scared. She was born wide-eyed and silent. I was terrified. Was she okay?

Halle was whisked away to be cleaned and checked. It was at this moment that she would begin to cry. The most beautiful sound a mother could hope for.

After a short NICU stay (which seemed like an eternity to us as naive, first-time parents) Halle came home attached to oxygen and monitors. All her extra cords would accompany us for several months, but soon that would all be forgotten. And being completely in love with our little girl and with the idea of parenthood, we decided to have another when Halle was 15 months old.

Perhaps it was a good thing we didn't know at this point that I had physical problems that caused complicated pregnancies. Had we known all that was going to happen over the next few months, we may not have been so anxious for our little boy to arrive. Little did we know that he would arrive all too soon...

When I was 19 weeks pregnant with Sam I was rushed to the ER. I was bleeding like crazy and in emotional shock. What was happening to me? Turns out I had a placenta previa. I would sporadically start bleeding every few weeks and took many trips to labor and delivery. At 19 weeks I went on "partial bedrest". By 23 weeks I was on full bedrest. And by 29 weeks I kept going into labor. After consulting with specialists, our doctor decided that there was nothing else we could do and decided to let Sam come on his own.

Sam arrived at 30 weeks gestation and had a mess of hair on his head (and all over his body for that matter). He was a beautiful shade of pink and tried his best to cry. It only came out as a little whimper and would be the only sound he would make for another three weeks. During these weeks he spent his time on a ventilator, with one lung collapsed at a time to heal them, and all the while his other organs began to fail. Miraculously, Sam would get better and after two months, he would go home to be snuggled by his big sister who adores him.

We found out during our pregnancy with Sam that there were reasons for all of my placental problems.  After learning this information - knowing it wasn't just a coincidence but rather something that would happen again - and watching Sam fight for his life, we decided that we should be done with our family.

This decision nearly broke my heart, but we felt we had no other option. A year and a half after making this decision, however, we no longer felt so good about it. We felt very strongly that our family was NOT over with quite yet. After countless hours of prayer and several trips to specialists, we found a doctor with answers. Not only was he the only one who could explain in detail why we had these problems, but he also felt he had some ways of preventing another "Sam pregnancy". We knew that I would never make it to 40 weeks, but if we could just make it to 35 weeks again.

And so began our latest journey through life. Your life...

I found out in mid-April that I was expecting. I have never been so scared in all my life. But peace quickly replaced my fear. You were the answer to all of our prayers.

By the time I was 23 weeks along I had had 4 ultrasounds. I went in to my regular OB every week to receive progesterone shots to prevent me from going into labor. I went to a specialist once a month for ultrasounds, cervical checks, and testing for infections. Our ultrasound on Sept 3 showed that you were growing big. Halle and Sam came with me for my appointment on Sept 9 which was on my 24 week mark. To reach this milestone with very few complications was an enormous feat for us and we began to breathe a sigh of relief. That day the kids got to hear your little heart beating so loud and so strong. This miraculous sound put enormous grins on both of their faces and caused Halle to put her hands on Sam's cheeks, look him in the eyes and say "Do you hear that? That's our baby!!"

I don't think I've ever seen a four- and two-year-old so excited for a little brother before. They had worked just as hard as Dad and I had to get you here safely. Halle learned to make her own bed and do little chores around the house. Sam learned to sleep in a big boy bed so that I wouldn't have to lift him out of his crib anymore. In fact, he learned to climb up into his own high-chair and carseat to prevent me from having to pick him up. Dad took over all the major housekeeping and grocery shopping. And me? Well, I learned to do absolutely nothing. I was afraid to even bend over. So I spent most of my day sitting on the floor playing with the kids. It was a wonderful time for us. We were closer than ever before as we worked toward our goal of getting you here safely. Halle prayed every night that you would grow healthy and strong. And you did, until less than 48 hours after hearing your heartbeat...

I woke up shortly after midnight on Saturday morning, Sept 11. I felt immediately that something was wrong. I went to check on Halle and Sam who were sleeping peacefully. They were snuggled into their bunk beds, our way of making room for you in the nursery. Once I was convinced they were fine I went back to bed. And that is when I knew why I had woken up. You weren't moving anymore. You were by far my most active baby, and that's saying something since Halle and Sam were both high-strung and hyperactive from the womb. I felt you kick several weeks before I felt the other two. I remember giggling during my last ultrasound at the bubbles forming in the fluid as your little legs stirred everything up. Your constant movements actually kept me awake at night - they were SO distracting. But not his time. This time I felt absolutely nothing.

I tried everything I could think of to wake you up. Dad and I convinced ourselves we were just being overly paranoid. But after some time had past and nothing changed we rushed to the hospital where they would quickly confirm our greatest fear - you were gone.

This day would prove to be the worst day of my entire life. And yet, I have never felt so close to the Lord before. There are memories of that day that I cannot return to - they are just too painful. But there are other memories from that day that bring such a joy to me that I cannot help but look at them as tender mercies from the Lord.

You were born at 9:35 pm, Saturday Sept 11, 2010. You weighed 1 pound 12 ounces (rather large for a 24 weeker!) and were 12 1/2 inches long. You looked so much like your older brother and sister. Same kissable mouth. Same button nose. You even had their same long curly eyelashes. We would spend the next 20 hours bathing and dressing you, taking countless pictures of you, and snuggling you in our arms. Never before had we held a baby right after birth. Never before had we gotten to have one of our babies sleep in my hospital room with me. We would cherish those 20 hours and the novelty of having you right there with us. Your sweet little body only lay in the bassinet for an hour or two while Dad and I tried to sleep. But the rest of the time if you weren't in my arms, then you were in Daddy's. We felt as though we couldn't get enough hugs and kisses in, for we knew our time was short.

While your story may seem like a sad one, you have brought us closer to our Heavenly Father, and for that I cannot help but rejoice. While I have experienced all of the typical signs of grief, including questioning God over some of the aspects of our loss, there are two things I have NEVER doubted for a minute:

First, I have never doubted that Christ lives, that He suffered for our sins and heartaches, and that after being hung on the cross and placed in a tomb, He was resurrected. I have never doubted these truths and the knowledge that one day you will be resurrected again because of our Savior's sacrifice. There are times when my arms literally ache to hold you and my lips long to kiss your sweet smelling head. At these times I remind myself to be patient, for one day I will get the chance to wrap my arms around you and kiss you all I want. That will be one very happy day!

Secondly, I have never doubted that we were supposed to bring you into this world, even if you never got a chance to live in it. I do not regret our decision to have you. If I had known how all of this would end - the intense pain that would follow - I would have chosen it anyway. For you are worth every bit of the pain and sorrow I feel at your loss. You are also worthy of all the joy and happiness we experience over the thought of your life.

You were loved, long before we first saw you. You were wanted long before you were even conceived. You have changed us forever and we are much better people for having you in our lives. And this is your story.

Remember you are loved,

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