Evie's diagnosis. People have alluded to the fact that it must have been so hard to carry a baby from week 20 and beyond knowing that she would not survive. That fact is true. It was so hard. But to be completely honest I think it was a "blessing through raindrops" as a popular song would say. Being a planner and a list maker and a very introverted thought processor, it was actually so merciful of the Lord to give me such advance notice. I was able to do things for Evie knowing it would only be one time and I was able to find joy in that one time. I was able to come to accept what would happen so that meeting Evie and losing her just went together. I am grateful to my Father who knows me better than I know myself and even in the midst of the greatest hurt I have ever experienced, He lessened the blow just a little bit.
The Lord also took care of me in allowing me to meet with Dr. Siegfried, the neonatologist, and Dr. Dattel, my OB doctor. I was able to meet them and discuss Evie's and my care and felt confident in their abilities. The Lord allowed me to meet them, knowing all the while that their expertise would never be used the night Evie came. I think He did that just to give me a little peace of mind somewhere along this strenuous journey. What a kind Father.
Evie's arrival. If you remember from part I of Evie's birthday story, she was born in the hallway on the way to the ER. Pretty crazy. But I am grateful to the Lord because so many of the fears I had about her birth were eliminated by the fact that I delivered her so quickly.
I had been worried about the care I would receive from the nurses/doctors, especially trying to deliver naturally in a fairly progressive hospital unfamiliar with natural birthing methods.
I had been concerned about becoming desperate for an epidural and then having the anesthesia effect my ability to enjoy Evie.
I had been slightly concerned with laboring in front of family and friends.
All of those fears, plus more that I probably don't recall, weren't even an issue that night. Evie came so quickly and the first person to touch her was her mommy. I think that's quite amazing.
I also think God allowed us such a crazy and dramatic birth story so we could have something to laugh about. I mean really, you can't get more tv-quality than a lady screaming down the hallway in a wheelchair catching her own baby. We still chuckle over some of the details. My favorite is my husband saying to the nonchalant security guard pushing my wheelchair, "You gotta run, bro!" I'm smiling right now thinking of it.
Evie's timing. Her due date was 11/30 - right after Thanksgiving. I thought her impending birth would make that holiday just a little uneasy. I am so grateful she came early and by the time Thanksgiving comes, we will (hopefully) be getting back to normal and be able to celebrate like any other year.
I also prayed again and again about the time of Evie's birth. I wanted so much for everyone to be there. It so happened that friends and family were called in around 10:30 pm and they were all home and readily available.
And I can't say how grateful I am that she came on her own. I felt like the doctors had alluded to the fact that I might go late, possibly needing induction. I could not imagine the task of essentially picking the day my daughter would die. Praise the Lord for His providence and that she came fast and furiously on her own.
I think my favorite answer to prayer happened in the car on the way to the hospital. I was in transition trying desperately not to push my baby out in my driveway and waiting for Josh to come out of the house with Micah. I screamed out in frustration and pain and told the Lord He absolutely had to help me not have this baby in the car. That desperate prayer was followed by a fleeting thought that what I really needed was to skip some contractions. But that's impossible, right?
In the ten minutes it took us to get to the hospital there were two very distinct times when I was silent. There were no contractions. I thought to myself, I should be having a contraction right now. But nothing. That happened twice. And Josh validated that on the way home the next day. He remembers two points thinking the exact same thing. What an answer to what was barely even a prayer. So grateful the Lord knows what we need before we ask!
It was also such a blessing that everyone we wanted to be there was able to come. Family and friends all arrived at the hospital at almost exactly the same time, including Josh's youngest brother who just so happened to come home from college for the weekend. Amazing.
I had been praying really hard that the Lord would give Josh what he needed to protect his family that night. That prayer was answered in a big way when he took charge of our crazy ER entrance and ensured that Evie was taken care of appropriately and not whisked away from us.
Micah. My sweet, sweet boy. He had gone to bed around 8 and then Josh woke him up around 10:45. He stayed at the hospital until almost 4 in the morning without displaying any unpleasantness. What a blessing. He even willingly went home with his Pappa and didn't make a peep about leaving mommy (something I was worried about).
Here is a note from my father-in-law about the miracle of Micah being so well-behaved:
At 23 months old, Micah must have thought that having this four-hour family reunion in the hospital room was a delightful idea--staying up all night with Mommy, and Daddy (who has been so busy lately), and with both sets of grandparents, the entire contingency of aunts and uncles, four good friends, and the brand new baby sister we'd all been talking about so much since spring. Most of the time, Micah was enjoying the constant rotation of playmates who had plopped down next to him on the floor to join him with his favorite toy motorcycles. Sometimes, especially when everyone was crying, Micah would seem to get concerned, watching reverently, trying to process what was happening in his world. And every once in a while, in the middle of some very somber moment, he would come up to Sarah and Josh and start talking about one of his toys or some trivial little observation about something, like the hospital identification bracelets Mommy, Daddy and Evie were wearing.
But at no time were Josh and Sarah, or any of us, annoyed at Micah's conduct or attitude during our nighttime vigil. (He was, in fact, perfectly behaved. We could never have asked for better. And he is amazingly bright and articulate--ahead of his peers, really.) His innocent ignorance was actually a delight, in many ways, and while it protected him from the awful intrusion of death that we knew was fast approaching, it also reminded us of the many happy blessings of life that were everywhere we looked around us. His lack of understanding, even now, is perfectly understandable. He is, after all, almost a baby himself.
Another prayer that was so graciously answered was that I wanted to hold Evie as she died. I asked the Lord to make it very clear when she was near the end so mommy and daddy could snuggle her into eternity. Praise the Lord He did just that.
My recovery. Micah's birth was fairly traumatic on me. I lost a ton of blood and even had to be on oxygen for while so I wouldn't pass out. My movement was impaired because of the stitches I needed. I was really concerned that something like this would happen with Evie and lessen my quality of time with her.
But wouldn't you know, I was totally fine. I was able to prop my knees up and even sit crossed-legged as I juggled my sweet girl and my squirmy boy on the hospital bed. What an amazing blessing. And you know I did get to hold them both together. Many times.
I was also able to be so in the moment. I truly never felt sad at what was to come - I was able to fully enjoy my little girl, dressing her, snuggling her, kissing her. Of course when her time came I was overcome with sadness but I thank the Lord for allowing me to experience those few hours to the fullest extent possible.
Evie. I still can't wrap my brain around everything that happened. All by herself she was an answer to so many prayers. If you remember from my initial post after hearing of her diagnosis, we expected Evie to be stillborn. As you know, she was with us for four wonderful hours.
Her size was also an answer to prayer. I prayed over and over that she would make it to at least four pounds. As it turns out, she was over five pounds and hefty! Josh and I have said many times that she really didn't seem like a fragile preemie. She had an adorably chubby face and lots of skin rolls. Had she been healthy and had a few more weeks to fill out, I think she would have been a whopper!
Josh prayed that Evie would open her eyes and look at me, even if just one time. He wanted me to have that special memory, that special connection with our daughter. Evie did not have a lot of initiative since she was so weak, but one time when we were bathing her I sat her upright and she opened one eye just a tiny crack. I can remember how absolutely ecstatic I was! She tried to look at us! She opened her eye! What a special memory. And what I could see of her eye was a lovely shade of deep blue.
I prayed many times that Evie would cry. I just wanted her to come out screaming and show some indication of lung strength. That did not happen. But we did get to hear her voice. She made many little squeaks that night, some because of her breathing troubles but a few times because she was objecting to being weighed or dressed or jumbled around by her brother. My feisty girl - a lot of sugar with a little bit of spice.
Another concern I laid before the throne repeatedly was that Evie would not be in discomfort or show signs of distress. I could not bear the thought of watching my tiny girl struggle for breath. She did struggle a little at the end, but she did not seem to be in pain. I am so, so thankful for that!
Pictures/videos. I can't say enough how grateful I am to my dear friend for taking pictures of our time with Evie. That time and those pictures are all we have to show for our sweet girl. How wonderful that we have them. And I wasn't even aware that videos were being taken but they were! How marvelous to look back and be able to remember even small details.
Part of the video is from Evie being weighed and measured, which I actually couldn't see because the nurse blocked my view. But in that video clip, Evie was mewing in protest and she raised her little arm over her head. I treasure having that moment on film.
My oh my, surely I am forgetting something. There were so many amazing things that happened that night and God's presence was definitely with us. If there is something you noticed was missing or want to know how something you prayed for was answered, please leave a comment. I don't want to leave out any good stuff!
I think there is only one appropriate way to end this post:
Ephesians 3:20-21 - Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.