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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Two Years

Here we are again; another April, another birthday, a second year gone by. I love that she was born in April. She wasn't due in April - but April is an excellent month to remember her by. I love that I can go outside and see flowers blooming and smell dirt thawing out and hear birds chirping and be reminded of Phoebe. Her body was still so delicate when we met her, just like the fragile, new little petals on a half opened flower. She always reminded me especially of a Morning Glory - if you've ever looked at one really close up it makes sense that they don't last long into the day. You barely touch them and they begin to wilt....but they come and go, leaving behind nothing but proof that God is real.

I am at a loss for what to say. It's been said here many times, but the overwhelming feeling that has stayed with me from April 11th of two years ago is just this stunned astonishment that an experience that every mother dreads the very possibility of can be as incredible as it was, and is still. Our hearts were stretched and filled, every corner of them. Getting over the hump of the first month postpartum....shew, now that was a feat I never would have known I could be strong enough for. Am I glad that my baby daughter died? Of course not. But it's what happened, despite desperate prayers that it wouldn't and the best doctors on careful watch. So now, the only way to see it is as it is - she died and we are better for it. We glimpsed a clearer image of Christ's presence in the world - in all of you who tirelessly supported us; in birth; in a tiny, pure baby; in death; in the holiness that filled the room when God knew it needed to be there for us.

Yea, we may as well admit it already - God knows what He's doing and knew it all along. Cheers to Phoebe on her birthday, which is tomorrow April 11th, and through bittersweet tears we remember also the day she died, April 12th. Two years have gone by fast.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Congenital Heart Defect Week

This week is Congenital Heart Defect Week - from February 7th to February 14th. It's a time to remember our losses and keep rooting for our survivors, focusing on bringing awareness to the super high number of babies born with CHDs. Ironically, it is also the two year anniversary of my family being made accutely and painfully aware of the reality of heart defects.
   I have to say, I don't know why but in the course of my own grieving I have never been drawn much into the CHD Awareness movement. I don't care to push laws that require every baby to be tested after birth, for example. After losing my own little girl without having the option to operate, I still don't know for certain that I would have chosen to do so... It really seems that what happened with Phoebe and what happened with our family was simply and exactly the way it was supposed to have happened. Of course, I would never dream of judging another family's decisions surrounding such an unfortunate turn of affairs. My family's experience with our loss was perfect, beautiful, flawless. She came into the world and left it quickly and sweetly, surrounded by people who loved her.  Two years after being jolted into awareness by a cold, hard, fact of nature, I spend this week proudly going over many difficult, precious memories. I feel peaceful.

     I think I've told this story here before, but I'm telling it again yall! This blog is actually a designated place for me to heal; a place to remember and get things out. I have found that in these two years I have to tell and retell and retell my story....even still, it takes my breath away and makes me feel stunned.

    February 14th, 2011: We were told to go to a specialist when I got an ultrasound at the ER that suggested there may be something wrong with the baby's heart. The doctor at the ER said, "Your baby may end up with Down's syndrome..." I am still not sure why she said that or where she got that, but that was it, and when I went to the specialist Paul didn't come - so confident were we that there couldn't be anything terribly wrong, and if the baby was diagnosed with Down's Syndrom we would have been ready to accept that lovingly.
    But the worst case scenario happened, I couldn't stop it. An ultrasound tech looking hard, looking and looking at the pulsing heart...then another tech came in to see it too....then the Top Dog, the ultrasound guru, was summoned into that dark room. So many new faces, all of them worried and sad, but nobody wanting to be the one to say why. Then slowly one of the techs handed me a box of tissues. Dr. T said in a very straight-foward way, "The baby has a very serious heart defect. The most serious we know of. Babies with this defect may be operated on shortly after birth, but most do not survive."


It was a two hour drive home and I spent that time reflecting on the situation....I saw that we'd been given a special task, a very special little person, and that it would not be an easy road ahead. But even then there was that undeniable presence, Holy and comforting, right beside me. Never in my life have I felt God so near as during that pregnancy and that day Phoebe was born. I still truly believe that what happened, in normal English, is that God said, "I know this is going to suck, but I want this baby - your baby - and there is no other family who can bring your baby here except for you guys, so just trudge on ahead and I will help as help is needed."

The memory is still heavy on my heart and still gets caught in my throat and burns my still sometimes drives me practically crazy that a daughter was dangled in front of my face only to be taken before we even got to find out if she would have been a trouble maker like me. The main difference between now and two years ago when it all began to happen is that now I feel very proud of the whole experience, and when it hurts really bad it's a good kind of hurt because of how proud I feel to have been given that difficult job and to have done it well.

Rest peacefully Phoebe.