Gravity and The Worst Day of My Life – What I Remember Before I Forget

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grav•i•ty [grav-i-tee]
1. the force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth.
2. heaviness or weight.
3. gravitation in general
4. acceleration of gravity

Word Origin & History
gravity
1509, “weight, dignity, seriousness,” from L. gravitatem (nom. gravitas) “weight, heaviness, pressure,” from gravis “heavy” (see grave (adj.)).

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I’ve been pretty weepy these past several weeks {almost as soon as the month of June hit}, knowing this day was approaching. I know there is no written or unwritten requirement that a person write about the worst day of his or her life on the one-year anniversary of that day… or at all, for that matter. But writing about this day has been something I’ve wished I could do for just about a year now. In many ways, I’m glad I’ve not been able to. If I could forget every horrible detail, I wouldn’t mind. But then there is the part of me that never wants to forget a single aspect, fact or feeling from that day… because in many ways, it’s no more the worst day of my life than it is one of the few days of her life. Her story… my sweet Anysia, who I didn’t even know was a girl at the time. She only lived 257 days {each in my womb and six hours of Day 257 outside of it}, so this day is to me every bit as important as any other of her days with me. Thinking of it that way makes me not want to only write in light of how dark my world went that day, but also in light of the gift her life was. Regardless of the darkness that flooded my existence this day last year, her life was still there, and her life will always be a bright light.

So my attempt to write about such a heavy day will be done with hope that I can also reveal the light her life was, the light of hope, peace and trust… and God in our midst.

I only wish I could remember more of the details. Unlike the details I recall about the day she was born, I don’t remember very much about this day. But in many ways, this day… 83 days into the pregnancy, when they told us something was wrong… was far more sad and traumatic than the actual day we lost our daughter. So, with it being further back in the past and a lot more traumatic, I suspect it’s only natural that I remember less detail than the day she died last December 19th. So I have a feeling I won’t be clear on every detail.

All I can do is write what I can… what I remember, before I forget. Where that fails me, I will rely on archived e-mails or what my husband can recall, as well.

I remember waking up that morning and being so glad about where we’d be spending the day. The night before, my family drove to a grocery store about half way between our house and my sister’s to meet up so that her family could take Izzy for the night. That way, I would be able to drive Mr. B to work the next morning {sans-Izzy} and then have the car for the day… first to drive to the hospital for my first ultrasound, and then to go out to my sister’s and meet up with her and her kids and my son for a day in the sun at their pool. My mom ended up coming out to spend the day with us, too. Summer was in full swing by that point… one week in per the calendar, but even more in full swing going by sights, sounds and the feel in the air. The days were already hot, and my hope was that going to a pool would bring relief to two miserable people in my house. Izzy was miserable because it was nice out and he’d been cooped up inside for so long. I never wanted to go outside during that time, because those first thirteen weeks of my pregnancy had been rough… almost from day one {April 6th}. I should have known {and probably did have an inkling} that I was going to have a girl, because I was twice as nauseous during my second pregnancy than I was carrying Izzy during my first. I’d always heard that women who get nauseous tend to be more so when pregnant with a girl. So, twice as nauseous, about three times more often, starting much earlier on in the pregnancy and vomiting about four times as much, I was certain this child must be a girl. I would later find out that my excess nausea {we’re talking Hyperemesis Gravidarum levels} was probably more due to the fact that I was carrying a baby with a chromosomal disorder than it was due to carrying a girl. And that is also why it lasted well into the sixth month of pregnancy.

This nausea… it had become a very taxing and stress-inducing thing in our house. Everyone was miserable because of it… not just me. But, certainly, I had it the worst. I remember almost hating pregnancy this time around. It’s hard for me to even say that, because I wish so badly that I could look back on the pregnancy as a time of joy and sheer delight, filled with anticipation like I was during my first pregnancy, even during the awful nauseous months {though it was probably hard to see then}. Maybe it’s better, though… that I didn’t have that same sense of prospect and awe like I had the first time around. Perhaps looking back would be even more painful if I had.

It’s neither here nor there, I guess. Anyway, two of us {the two that were not getting out of the house every day to go to work} were getting pretty miserable and antsy, and I knew a day out, a day with the car, a day next to the pool in the hot sun, and a day with some extended family {my sister, mom and Izzy’s cousins} would do us wonders. I remember being disappointed when I finally arrived at my sister’s house, because I felt more nauseous than I would have liked. During the Spring months of my pregnancy, I couldn’t wait for Summer, because I somehow thought that being in the sun {one of my favorite places to be} would somehow take away my nausea {or at least make it less noticeable}. But it never did. In fact, I usually just felt worse. The smells of Summer would make me sick… even good things like freshly cut grass or lilacs… scents I normally really love!

I guess I’m getting ahead of myself. I just meant to write about how much we looked forward to the day. But going back to how it started, Mr. B. and I awoke and felt blessed to have slept the night through without any Izzy interruptions. The night before, we had a quiet dinner out together, sans-Izzy. It was nice to eat a full meal in peace without tending to my son. I mean, we missed him. But it really was a nice break. That next morning went smoothly. I had forgotten how easy it is to get out the door when there is no toddler tagging along.

I even had time to e-mail my sister and say, “Going to meet my baby today. I’ll send pics.”

She wrote back and said, “Tell her hi!” She had been hoping—even convinced—that we would be having a girl this time.

My appointment was at 9am, in the town where we live. It was not ideal to have to drive my husband to work one town away only to have to come right back here for my ultrasound. But it was the only option, so I did it with gratitude knowing that at least I had that flexibility and that someone would watch my son to make it possible. I knew he would never sit still enough in the sonography room by himself to make it a wise choice to bring him along with me. But I do remember sort of wishing he was there… so that he could meet his sibling for the first time. He would get that chance later… at each and every other ultrasound I had to go get.

Before I had to be at my ultrasound appointment, I had a small stretch of free time {since my husband starts work at 8am and his work is only 20 minutes away from the hospital}. I decided to use the time to go to the doctor’s office where my prenatal visits had been up until that point… just across the street from the hospital where my ultrasound was to be… where we had planned on giving birth. They needed me to come back in, because they had lost my urine sample from an earlier appointment I had that week. When I got the call that I needed to come back to give another sample, I was pretty annoyed, because the appointment earlier in the week had been sort of a fiasco. When given a cup for a sample at that first appointment, the nurse forgot to give me disinfectant wipes {which are meant to keep the sample from becoming contaminated}. This is standard in some places, but it didn’t even cross my mind when they gave me my urine flask to urinate in. So I proceeded to the bathroom and did what I had so many times before {for both pregnancies}. When later asked by a different nurse during that appointment {as she was drawing blood} if I had disinfected with the wipes before giving my sample, I told her I was never even given wipes and that I didn’t think anything of it, because there were many times when it was not a requirement for me to disinfect prior to giving a sample… and no one ever made an issue of it.

When she heard my reply, she said, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to give us another sample.” She was annoyed at the nurse who neglected to give me the wipes. I think I was, too. Not only was I annoyed because I was sooooo nauseous and weak {from throwing up so often}, but I knew I had nothing more in my bladder to give them. I told her that the only way I could possibly do it would be to sit and drink some water and wait for it to get through my system and into my bladder. When one is as nauseous as I was, even the thought of downing enough water to get out of there in a decent time frame was overwhelming. My husband was already late for work by this point {he had taken me to the appointment on his lunch break}, because we had to sit in the waiting room for so long before even getting in to see the nurse/doctor. Then, once past the waiting room, we continued to wait for nurses and the doctor and the different things they needed to accomplish at this appointment.

When they gave me a bottle of water to drink, I knew it would be a while before I’d have to urinate again. So I had the nurse call my husband in from the waiting room so I could tell him to take Izzy to the store to get something to eat and then just come back and pick me up. It took me forever to drink the water. With each sip, I had to fight the urge to throw up… yep, my nausea was that bad, even this late in the day. Nausea aside, even when I could drink fluids at a normal rate, they always seemed to take a while to reach my bladder. I’m not sure if that was because my kidneys were slower to work while pregnant, or if it was just because there was so little room in my abdomen for things to move normally. Either way, it was taking forever to feel like I had to pee again. I think my appointment ended up being two hours long. And I was only there to give a urine sample and have a little bit of blood drawn. I finally gave them a urine sample… as much as I could. When I handed it to the nurse, she took it and assured me {after I asked to make sure} that it contained enough urine for them to test what they needed to… the same nurse who dropped the ball the first time by not giving me the disinfectant wipes.

Leaving there, I was beyond annoyed. So imagine how frustrated I was when I got a letter a few days later saying that I needed to come back to give another one. The letter did not state why, so naturally, I called to ask why. They said it was because the sample I gave them was not large enough. I was livid. I tried to explain that just getting a car or a ride to get to the doctor was tricky, and that I was frustrated that I needed to go back to give them their third sample… all because the nurse made an error… twice. After discussing it, they said they would ask the doctor if the original sample I gave would suffice… even though there was a risk that it was contaminated. They told me they would call me back. I received a call saying that I did not have to come back after all. Good. I was relieved, and I put the letter away along with the frustration that came with it.

The next day, I was called and told that I did, in fact, need to come back. At that point, I had already made my ultrasound appointment for Friday and had arranged to have the car. Knowing I would have a bit of time in between dropping off my husband and going for the ultrasound, I calmly explained that it was no problem, because I could just squeeze it in on my way to the hospital after dropping Mr. B off… and that I had to be in the area anyway. They told me I didn’t even have to make an appointment… that I could just drop in and tell the nurse why I was there and leave my sample. This whole ordeal had become almost comical at this point. So I just decided to laugh and brush it off. Never had my urine been so important and made such a big deal of!

Friday came. I dropped the hubby off. I headed for the doctor’s office. Then… I kid you not… when I got there, the receptionist gave me the oddest look and said there was nothing in her records that indicated I needed to come back in. What??? She called for the nurse, hoping to get to the bottom of it, but the nurse on duty seemed as dumbfounded as the receptionist. No one knew what was going on, and they were so confused about my presence there. I tried to explain everything, while none of it seemed to be in my chart. I even showed them the letter I received, and they said, “Oh, no… there was no need for you to come back. The doctor said using your first sample would work.” I explained that I was told all that on the phone, but that they then told me I should come back just to be on the safe side. They verified once more with the nurse {that I did not need to give another sample} and even called the doctor {who didn’t even work Fridays} to confirm. Sure enough… they simply ended up using that very first sample, and thus, told me I could just go. At least they were very apologetic about the whole mix-up. I think they could see how crazy I thought this all was. I tried to be gracious and express that it was no problem because I had to be in the area for the ultrasound anyway. I think I was just too excited at the thought of leaving there to meet my baby for the first time to even care that they had fumbled so much with this simple thing.

{There is a specific reason I have gone into such detail about said fumbled urine sample/test, as it will play into the story of the day that came later… the worst day of my life that this post is about.}

I was actually somewhat disappointed that I didn’t get to give a sample somewhere in between 8:20-ish and 8:45-ish, because I really needed to relieve myself. So far into my pregnancy, it was terribly uncomfortable to have a full bladder… like, unbearable. And since I was told to drink a lot of water for the ultrasound I’d be getting at 9:00 and to not release any of it before-hand, I would have been willing {and relieved} to do so knowing it was required for a sample. Instead, I drove across the street to the hospital to wait… yet again, for what seemed like hours… with my full bladder and my baby to be called in for the first sonogram images of my pregnancy to date.

Once there, I actually ended up begging the women behind the check-in desk to let me go past the waiting room to use the bathroom just to relieve some of the pressure, while containing most of what was in my bladder. They kept telling me I could not, because they were afraid that if I started to go just a little, I would not be able to hold back the flow and I would empty the bladder… making it much more difficult to do an ultrasound.

When I was finally in tears, telling them there was just no way I could wait—it was either in their bathroom that they could let me go a little, or in their waiting room that I would go a lot—they agreed to let me try to release just a little… enough to hold me over until the ultrasound. They had already urged the technician to get me in as soon as possible, knowing how miserable I was. I remember them being very sweet about it… and compassionate. I could tell they felt so bad for me. I look back on those moments now and just want to cry. The agony I felt having to hold it in {it was very painful, mind you, and somewhat humiliating, as I danced unhappily around the waiting room with tears in my eyes at the thought of sitting because I knew it would be painful, but standing or walking made it even more difficult to hold in} was nothing compared to the agony I would feel just hours later. Where I wanted release from the pressure of my bladder at that hour, I would be desperate for release from the pressure in my heart that evening.

They finally got me in, and just in the nick time. Even though I had been allowed to release a bit from my bladder, it was still a close call. I lay on the table, anxious for the technician to get the images she needed so that I could go pee all of it, but much more anxious and eager to see my baby’s face for the first time… and a heart beat to tell me everything was okay. I had been having such a tough time with pregnancy up until that point, I just needed so badly to feel a connection to my baby by seeing pictures and movement. I hoped that such a connection would erase all the misery and frustration I had felt up to that point. And it did.

She showed me where the baby’s face was. She showed me the hands and feet. She moved the scanner all around my belly, just as they always had. {I was very familiar with these ultrasounds, because I had to have so many when I was pregnant with Izzy, due to having a condition call Placenta Previa.} Everything seemed normal. I was sad that Mr. B and Izzy were not with me, but in a way, it felt like a sacred and intimate moment to have it be just the baby and me.
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anysia sonogram 2 anysia sonogram 1

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I do remember thinking that the technician was spending more time scanning my belly than I had expected {based on past ultrasounds with Izzy}. But I just figured she was having a hard time finding all that she needed. I have a retroverted uterus, so ultrasound findings have always been hard to come by with me. I also remember her asking if I had ever had any sort of uterine cysts or fibroid cysts. This was a question I was never asked during any ultrasound with my first pregnancy, so I found it odd to hear it this time around. {Later, we would come to find out about our baby’s omphalocele… which is the balloon-like hernia that was outside of her body and contained her intestines… and then I would connect the dots between the technician’s odd question about cysts and my daughter’s omphalocele. At the time, she probably saw the mass and wanted to rule out that it might be a fibroid cyst on me that she was seeing.} I told her that I had not ever had any sort of uterine cyst.

I think at that point, I even asked if what I was seeing on the screen was the baby’s belly. {I had no idea her question was one regarding something she was seeing that looked wrong.} She pointed out as much as she could on my baby, but seemed pretty quiet for most of the scan {much more quiet than when she scanned me for my first ultrasound with Izzy}. She left the room at one point… a point at which I was told I could go empty my bladder. I was never so happy to pee. I came back to the table to lay down again. I waited for her to return. And waited some more. And then yet some more. I was slightly annoyed that she was gone so long… but that is only because never in my worst dreams did I imagine that it was for the reason it ended up being. Naively, I thought that it was because they were running behind and that they had scheduled far too many scans for the morning {or for one analyst to read} and were backed up. Naively I thought so, because naively I thought nothing could ever go wrong with a second pregnancy at 41 years old when the pregnancy I’d had at 39 went so well. Naively, I thought my second baby would be just as healthy as my first. Naively, I never thought of myself as one who could lose a baby.

And naively is how I left the hospital that day. With me came my baby, tucked safely away in my belly, my bladder {now empty}, and a CD with sonogram pictures and one sonogram video {below} that showed my baby’s beating heart. I was happy. I saw the heart beating as it should, and I thought, Whew… this baby is okay, and we are on our way. In six months, I will meet him or her and see the face I can’t wait to see.
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I drove to my sister’s house {about forty-five minutes away} to spend some time with both my babies and to enjoy a needed break from the norm. I really don’t remember much more from our time there, other than thinking that I was happy that Izzy could swim with his cousins regardless of how terrible I still felt. I remember sitting on the grass next to the pool and chatting with my sister.

We talked about all the evergreens she and her husband had planted in their yard… how some had flourished, and how others had not and were in the process of dying. Looking back, what a picture that turned out to be of what was happening in my life at the moment. My son had flourished… was flourishing. My daughter was not and was in the process of dying… before I even knew she was a girl… before I even knew she was sick. Actually, from the moment that her very life began that April 6th prior, she was in the process of dying.

Living.

But also dying.

I remember that my mom showed up at some point to spend time with us all… she lives close to my sister, so it was just a hop, skip and a jump for her. When she arrived, she told me that my doctor’s office had been calling her {because she was listed as one of my emergency contacts} and that they left her a message saying it was urgent that I call them back before the end of the day and before the start of the weekend. I guess my voicemail was full, so they could not leave this message with me. It was Friday, so my first thought was, NO WAY! If they dare tell me that this is about the urine sample and, after all that had transpired, they want me to come back once more to give one, I WILL BE SO TICKED OFF! I was so annoyed by that point {because I assumed that this was why they called}, that I actually said it out loud… “I’m not going over there again today! I don’t care if it is the weekend tomorrow. They can just wait until Monday to get my urine sample. I’m not packing up to leave here because they screwed up!” And assuming I was correct about why they called, I decided I wasn’t even going to give them the satisfaction of a call back right then. I remember my mom urging me to call back. She was rather concerned. She said, “What if it’s about the ultrasound?” No! I was certain that it had to do with this urine sample fiasco, and I was too peeved to even address it. I said, “I’ll call them later when I’m driving.” …on the way to get Mr. B from work.

I put it out of my mind, determined to enjoy the rest of our time with family and not to stew about things falling through the cracks at my doctor’s office. I was that certain about the reason for their call.

How I wish I had not been so stubborn and perturbed. Had I not, I would have called while still at my sister’s house and I would have been surrounded by family when I received the worst news I could ever imagine… instead of in a car, driving, with my son in the back seat and no one around to hold me up as I “fell” and as my world dropped out from under me when I finally did call to see what they wanted.

I stayed another couple of hours until it was time to gather our things and go pick up my husband from work. I distinctly remember my sister giving me a large handful of tissues as I was loading our day’s worth of supplies into the car just before leaving. Izzy had been crying quite loudly and with such heart because he had been having so much fun with his cousins and didn’t want to leave. So my sister armed me for the long drive ahead. I thought it was a bit strange, because I knew I would not be able to reach him in the back seat to dry his eyes and nose, even if he would have continued to cry. But I accepted them anyway… and even made a joking comment about how many she had given me. Little did I know—nor did she—that they would not be for my son at all, but for me. It was serendipitous, actually, because I had no tissues on hand in the car… not even a stack of fast-food napkins from a previous drive-through run. If she had not given me the tissues, my shirt would have been soaked by the time I reached my husband. I cried a river and had to wipe my eyes and nose more than any other time in my life during that drive, I’m sure.

We got about three or four minutes into our drive before I picked up my cell phone and called the doctor’s office to see what was going on. I was all ready to tell them that they were just going to have to wait until Monday to get my urine sample… and I was going to give them an earful, too… because I wanted them to know it wasn’t easy to get a car or arrange for transportation for all these subsequent appointments after they had goofed.

It took a minute or two to be connected to the person I needed to talk to. When she finally picked up my call, she introduced herself as the nurse practitioner at the office where I had been receiving care. I had never even met this woman.

She dove right in.

Hardly preparing me, she said, “There was a problem with your ultrasound.

Something is wrong with your baby.”

You know in those movies where something traumatic happens to someone and everything sort of becomes muffled or silent around them when the trauma hits? That’s what it felt like for me. She needed only to say, “there’s something wrong with your baby” for me to lose all heart. In an instant, my world went dark. In an instant, I could not think of anything but that baby in my belly. And I was terrified to go on listening. I didn’t want to hear what she had to say… which is probably why my body reacted the way it did and I didn’t clearly hear the rest of what she told me… like a defense mechanism that my body involuntarily created so as not to have to deal with hearing anything else quite so jarring. I only remember hearing a muffled voice saying something about a hole in my baby’s abdomen. And I immediately froze. This frozen state gave way to trembling as my hearing slowly returned and as this nurse began to go on.

Somewhere along the line, all I could muster were the words “I don’t understand.

So what exactly are you telling me?

Is my baby going to live?”

I really did not want to hear her answer. Thankfully, she was either very withholding because of the nature of her news, or she was too incompetent to explain the news {which is the sense I had, because I begged her to explain and not make me wait until I could get in for my next appointment to know what was going on, but she seemed to have no answers or knowledge on the matter… it was as though she was merely reading a few notes off of my chart}.

She asked me, “Do you have any more questions?”

I thought, Seriously? Crap, only a million! What in the world? How could you dump this news on me over the phone on Friday night and tell me to call Monday morning to schedule an appointment with a doctor who would be able to give us more answers? How can I possibly wait until then?

I don’t know that it could have been handled any other way… better or worse. But it sure felt like it was not the best way and that there could not have been a worse way to receive the news. Again, had I received it just minutes earlier, I would have had a sister, a mom, and a niece close-by to catch me when I fainted. I don’t think I would have literally fainted. But in so many senses of the word, I fainted, even as I drove along those roads. I somehow reached my husband’s workplace, but quite honestly, I don’t know how I made it there. I remember getting somewhat lost after taking some wrong turns and just plugging away to somehow find a way to my husband, because I just needed to be near him. I needed to share this news with him. It should not have been that way. We should have been informed together, I thought… and best in the setting of a doctor’s office where our questions could be immediately answered.

Part of what made that day so hard was just the feeling of isolation in that moment. I talked about foreshadow a couple of posts back. In retrospect, this too was like a harsh, sad foreshadow of what lay ahead for me. I had no idea that such isolation would stay with me… is with me even to this day. There is no way to explain what something like this does in a mother’s life… the isolation it creates. It’s not something you can explain, but rather, only something that can be realized by going through it. But as isolated as I felt as I drove along, desperately wanting just to be near my husband, that feeling was not even close to being as painful as the thought of my baby’s life… and what lay ahead for him or her. So many questions. Mostly, I thought, What is this baby feeling. What kind of suffering or pain might he or she be in… now or later? I especially thought this when the nurse explained that, because the abdomen had not fused together, my child’s intestines were outside his or her body. This was such an alien concept to me. I don’t mean that in the sense of the film… as in some sort of creature. I mean to say that what she told me was so outside my world or realm of thinking. I had never heard of anything like this… never once. If she had said something was wrong with the heart… that they saw a hole in it… or that there was something wrong with the brain, like it was too large or too small for 13 weeks gestation, or that the baby was missing a limb… or anything like any baby-in-utero problem I had ever heard of before, I would not have felt like I was thrust into outer space, surrounded by utter silence, questioning, fear and nothingness. I was in the most unchartered and unfamiliar territory I had ever found myself. I was simply lost. I was at a loss for words. I was nowhere near anyone’s embrace. I didn’t even know the voice of the person on the other end of the communication giving me this horrific news.

I was the alien.

And in that moment, as well as so many hours and days to follow, I was alienated from all the comfort, safety and normalcy I had ever known.

I mention space for two reasons. One, because that was how everything felt. Two, because space would turn out to be a significant symbol for us last night… in the very last hour of the day before this one, as we crossed over into this day in which we grieve, remembering what happened one year ago. But I will get to all of that at the end of my post.

As I said, somehow I reached my husband, though I’m not really sure how I got there. Surely, God had angels driving my car that day, keeping me on the road and keeping Izzy and me safe from harm. I was a mess. So much so, my sister told me to pull off the road to collect myself before continuing my drive when I called her after having talked to the nurse. She was livid that they told me the way they had. I told her that I was okay with it… because how else could they? But as the days went on, I remember feeling more frustrated about how it all unfolded… feeling so even as the night went on.

Because of the limited information the nurse could give us, we felt tormented the rest of the evening, knowing we knew enough to worry and despair about the future of our daughter, but not enough to address the many unanswered questions we had. So we despaired, yet we didn’t even know what exactly we were despairing about. Anguish over the unknown. This is why we chose, at one point, to rest and seek peace. It did not come easily. But we knew the alternative would kill us. {This next sentence won’t make sense until I explain more about the symbolism that we found last night… later in my post…} It was like saving our oxygen by taking calmer, less-panicked breaths, because if we hadn’t, we would have used it up and thrown out any chances of survival.

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, though. Before that point in the evening… where we chose peace… I still had to break the news to my husband. I know that as soon as I arrived and got out of the car, he could sense something was wrong. He knew I would not have exited the car to approach him if it was just any ordinary day… I would have simply stayed in the driver’s seat, waited for him to get in and driven us home on a normal day. But I think he could immediately see the look of grief and concern on my face as soon as our eyes met. It was much like the look upon my sister-in-law’s face the day she rang my doorbell almost eight years ago to come break the news that my dad had passed in his sleep the night before. You just know. No words are necessary. It’s written in the brow and every other part of a crushed-in-spirit face… delivering news from behind darkened eyes.

I don’t even really remember what I told Mr. B in that moment. I just know that I repeated whatever I could recall from my conversation with the nurse. What I remember more than anything else was that he instantly held me and tried to assure me that everything would be okay… even though I knew from his voice and the look on his face that he could not guarantee that for me any more than he could for himself… and I know beyond a doubt that he was every bit as afraid and sorrowful as I was.

Though probably a wreck on the inside, he was strong for me on the outside, and he told me that he would takeover driving the rest of the way home, knowing what I had just come through. I think he felt so bad for me that I was alone at the time of being given such unthinkable news. I’m sure we talked on the way home. Or maybe we just sat in silence. I truly don’t remember. If I recall correctly, though, Izzy had fallen asleep in the back… so tired from his fun day in the sun that he wasn’t even woken up by my sobbing and my inconsolable state.

The most I remember about the evening was getting home and trying to figure out what to do next. I remember being scared to google anything about a baby’s intestines forming outside of their abdomen, because I kept getting frightening mental visuals of what that would look and feel like, and I didn’t want to be frightened by what my search revealed without first having facts from a doctor who could sit down with us and explain what was going on. So I stayed as far from the office and computer as possible. All I wanted to do was lie down and cry. And that I did. I do remember my husband telling me that he felt it was important that we lie back in bed and just try to breathe… and not get ahead of ourselves. I remember talking about how waiting until Monday morning just to make the appointment to go in and get answers felt like an eternity… and how we felt so imprisoned by fear and the unknown. It was like we couldn’t take a breath of relief until we knew more, but we couldn’t freak out until then, either. No matter what, I knew I could not rest easy, because what we’d been told is just not something you hear every day. I had never heard of it. Based on the little information we’d received, it just didn’t seem to me like there could be a good outcome. I was worried beyond words and wanted answers. But I wanted even more to go back… to start my day over… and for all of it to just be a bad dream. It’s a cliché that you hear so much. But when trauma hits, that is exactly the way it feels. You really do wish you were dreaming and would awake from your nightmare any moment.

I was numb. I had the worst headache I have ever experienced in my life. I think if someone had seen me, they would have thought me monstrous. My face had blown up so much from all the tears I cried… red and puffy, eyes almost swollen shut. I remember looking in the mirror right after I had thrown up three times in a row when we got home, and I thought that what was looking back at me was the most hideous thing I had ever seen. I’m not exaggerating… I was almost unrecognizable. The shock and anxiety had taken an immediate and remarkable toll on me… not just emotionally and mentally, but rapidly physically, too. I may have failed a test that day… in regards to how calm or panicked I should be in such a situation. But if anyone sees my reaction as failure, then they neither have walked in my shoes nor possess the ability to have empathy. In that case, I’m perfectly okay with a failing grade. I don’t know how one single mother could pass. It would have to be a heartless one that did. Even if only inwardly, I can not imagine a single mother being less affected than I was that day… or than any mom is after they receive such bad news about the life they’ve been carrying.

About vomiting… I am certain that my shock, anxiety and fear and such an excess of tears are what caused me to throw up… and not the pregnancy nausea at all. I mean, I was quite nauseous. But I think that it was probably 90% due to the news we had received and less about the pregnancy nausea I had been experiencing. There was a chance that I could have thrown up anyway. But on this night, it was one bout after another, and it was coming even when there was nothing left to throw up, so not at all like the regular pregnancy nausea I had been dealing with. I was sure I would be going to the hospital in a state of dehydration. I never did go, but I do think I had become dehydrated. I felt weak and light-headed… and deathly. Physically, I just wanted to give up and quit.

I just did not know what to do with myself. I didn’t know who to call or what to say. I didn’t even know how to pray. Thank God my husband shared his thoughts with me. He told me that there was nothing we could do until we sat with a doctor and got our questions answered, so he felt we should just lie back and choose peace. His advice and admonition saved me in that moment, I’m sure. I am fairly certain he recognizes my breaking point just before I reach it. I think he saw that it was just moments away when he threw out that lifeline. Maybe I ought to have come to that decision on my own, but I could not think straight enough to collect myself. So, like a good husband does, he thought for me when I could not. We turned on cartoons for Izzy in the other room, then went back to our room to lie down together in our bed… to rest and breathe and hold hands. We talked. We told each other how afraid we were. We prayed. We told God how afraid we were. We never came apart… even through the night. Each and every time my cries awoke him from his sleep, he held and calmed me and got me through.

While the night was still young, I texted a few people and asked them to pray. I called my dear nurse friend who delivers babies for a living {and who eventually took the most beautiful maternity photos for me, as she is also a gifted photographer} because I wanted so badly to talk to a friend who worked in the field of babies and birth to ask what she might know about our baby’s condition… but also just to hear a kind and compassionate voice, which hers has always been.

She was, in fact, working at the hospital where she lives when I called, so she could not pick up. She texted me back, though. I told her what was going on, and from that point on, she walked closely with me from afar. God was good to put her in my life all those years ago {back when I was pregnant with Izzy}. I believe, more than ever, that it was not just to give two people a cherished friendship, but to provide a helper to one who would need help down the road of life. I wished so badly to speak to her then. Since I could not, I just lay back again and tried to rest in faith that God would take care of us and help us get through it.

Any time the conversation I had earlier with that nurse replayed in my mind, I would have to convince myself that it actually happened. My initial stage of denial and shock had me thinking it could not have… surely, it was just a dream, or if it was real, I had just heard her wrong. I remember us even trying to rationalize the news in those moments by, almost in a self-preserving way, telling ourselves that maybe the ultrasound findings were way off and that it was all just a big mistake. We certainly told ourselves this at least so we wouldn’t needlessly worry if that ended up being the case. But in my gut, I just knew it was true… more of a reality than I ever wanted or could bear to admit.

Even on this day… one year later, after carrying her for so many days and having met her… after watching her pass in my arms… I still wish it was all just a big mistake.

I know so many others have gone or will go through what we did. Still, I can’t always quite accept that it happened to me… to us. Well, I guess accept is not the right word. I’ve accepted it. I’m not in denial. But I still can’t believe that our decision to grow our family ended this way. One day, we were on our way to being the parents of two healthy children who we would raise with us. In that same day, everything would change. Of course, we wouldn’t know until weeks later that our baby had a fatal disorder. But my gut and instinct were telling me that things were not going to turn out well.

Some might call that lack of faith. But it’s easy to make such an observation when you are just that… an observer. Until one has lived it, it’s so easy to declare what faith in our situation looks like. Once living it, faith can take on an entirely different meaning and role. I never doubted one time that God was big enough to undo everything up until that point. I never doubted that He could heal my baby and make him or her perfect. And if faith was to be had, it took just as much faith to believe that we would survive this thing a fallen, sick and sinful world had bestowed on us… no different from any other thing that we endure as a result of a fallen world and pray for faith to get through. Faith came immediately. And I had it there that day. My being devastated was in no way a lack of faith, nor any sort of indication that I doubted God’s ability… or even His goodness. When people instantly came to our side and loved us… or rather, let God love us through them… I knew instantly of His goodness. That is not to say I don’t lose sight of it. Even just recently, I struggle to see God in all of this… period… let alone His goodness. But that’s about me, and not Him.

I won’t say I went to sleep that night with a sense of peace. I did not. In fact, I don’t think I actually did sleep that night. Certainly, if I did, it was not right away. It was the worst night of my life. I think I threw up several more times before it was over. And what’s worse… salt on the wound of having to deal with such miserable vomit at such a time… during my pregnancy, I had become so incontinent that I would often uncontrollably urinate all down my legs whenever I threw up… especially when I had to throw up before having a chance to empty my bladder. This was always humiliating and disconcerting enough as is. But happening in those moments of unutterable uncertainty and pain… I remember thinking that things could not feel more despairing than they did right then… to be sick from my pregnancy, even sicker because I was dealing with traumatic news, and then on top of it, peeing on myself. I almost wanted to pass out from dehydration, I think. I remember believing that I would be far better off in an E.R. than to try to cope at home on my own. But then I remembered I was not alone, and was needed here at home by two others as much as I needed them.

And as the night went on, I could feel that others must have been praying. I knew that word was spreading quickly and was grateful that the few I had told were telling others for us… and asking for prayer as well.

Though still significantly shaken by the news, I began to feel more at peace with every hour.

I hate that there is such a day to write about… not that I have to write about it {because I don’t have to}, but that the day is there to write about at all. I hate what it means. It means she’s not here. It means that our worst fears that day were realized. In all the days that followed… up until now… we have looked for something redeeming in all this. There were days when I thought I knew what that was. But here I sit, and I question again… just what was or will be redeeming? Maybe it’s nothing but the sheer love of God, no matter how little things appear to be redeemed here on earth or in this life.

I honestly feel, even as I write, that the past year and all we went through was not worth it. People who’ve prayed for me or counseled me might be disappointed in such a statement. But it’s where I am. Maybe this is just one cycle, come back around to the doubts I had a year ago. If so, maybe I will cycle back to peace and acceptance again, too. Maybe this will happen enough times that I’ll finally rest in such a place and the revolving will be over. I hope so. In tears now, I honestly feel that there is nothing but loss through it all. The sight of restoration or any redeeming quality is like a distant and dimming star. I once thought there was a thread of hope and courage, or strength or determination. I don’t feel tethered to those things now. But I do feel that something is holding on to me though I’ve lost my grip, and I believe that is the faithfulness of God and His hand in our lives. I’m trusting that His grasp will remain tight when mine has failed… and that He won’t let us go.

Earlier, I mentioned the symbolism of space. I said I would come back to that, so I’ll do so now. Last night, around 11pm, Mr. B and I finally watched the movie Gravity. Going into it, I knew so little about this movie, but we had both been intrigued, knowing it was up for an Oscar and knowing that it looked like something outside of the typical Hollywood release. So we checked it out from the library. The interesting thing about the timing of our viewing is that we had put this movie on hold months ago… like almost three months ago, I think. {We typically get movies from the library if there is ever something we want to see, so placing a hold was a necessity if we wanted a chance to watch such a popular new release any time soon.} Not only was there a hold wait, but then we had to wait for the library just to reopen its doors after a water main break in the area had it shut down for a few weeks. Even after all that, when we finally were able to pick the movie up, we could have watched it almost immediately on any of the nights we had it prior to last night. But we waited… until 11pm last night. Starting it so late meant that we’d still be watching it as we crossed over into a new day… today, June 28th.

The reason we found comfort and inspiration in this is because of what we discovered the movie to be about.

I just want to give warning… SPOILER ALERT… spoiling ahead…

I would have never guessed that in this movie, Sandra Bullock’s character would have had a little girl who died… and that it wouldn’t just be background information, but actually a significant part of the film. As soon as her character tells this to George Clooney’s character… after they had been hit by debris and things were not looking good for either one of them… I cried. I cried to know the pain she so eloquently portrayed with her acting talent. I cried to hear her words.

After this point, and as the movie progressed, Mr. B and I held hands. We’d found a connection to the story that we didn’t expect to take away. {Even the main character’s hometown was closely connected to us, as it is a city that we had to drive through every time we went to one of our visits with the Maternal Fetal Specialist… both the visits in which the fatal disorder was tested for and discovered and every prenatal visit afterward.} Every bit of symbolism that unfolded in that movie came to touch us both deeply. The determination that her character had to survive… the struggles she faced… her pain and heartache were palpable. But the most touching point of the film was when she was ready to give up… to stop fighting and just die. In that scene, this is what Clooney’s character {in what was likely meant to be seen as a hallucination Bullock’s character had} said to her…

Your kid died. Doesn’t get any rougher than that. But still, it’s a matter of what you do now. If you decide to go, then you gotta just get on with it. Sit back, enjoy the ride. You gotta plant both your feet on the ground and start livin’ life.”

I almost began to bawl when I heard that. After the few weeks we have had leading up to this day, this felt like a message just for my husband and me… especially given the timing of how it worked out for us to see the movie. And the fact that the very words came just minutes after the clock turned us over into Saturday, the 28th, one year later… when we could have easily seen the movie at any point up until last night or any point after… I almost had chills.

Of course, I was crying by this point. Painful tears, but healing ones, too. It was like I was being given a personal reminder to keep going… not just to physically, outwardly live, but to live inwardly, too. To just plant my feet on the ground and start again. It’s interesting that I would be so reminded, too, because leading up to this day, I kept thinking, I wish that this day that is coming would not just be the anniversary, but some sort of turning point for my post-Anysia life. How nice it would be if it could flip a switch in me, and I would just wake up okay again… No more insomnia. No more tears and feeling like I’m full of holes. No more pathetic, unattractive gnarly buns on top of my head. No more skipping showers. No more dressing as if I don’t care anymore. No more avoiding the outside world and the sunshine. No more excuses for not going for a run… or even just a walk. No more being ashamed of myself for letting so much go. No more giving up.

Here, at the point in the movie where this character finally chose to give up… after all the struggle she’d come through to survive… she said Enough! She said, Let’s go! To quote another favorite movie, “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.”

So… I know there’s no mention of God in all these things. I mean, it’s Hollywood. I didn’t really expect that there would be any acknowledgement of Him. But I’m not one to think that God can’t use a movie to speak to us through. I’m one who thinks He’ll use whatever He will and whatever it takes to make us sit up and notice… a Bible verse, a sign on the side of the road, a call from a friend, a song, a line in a movie… or even an entire movie. It wasn’t just these lines. It was the whole feel of the movie and the symbolism throughout. It moved us both. And I hardly think it was a mere coincidence that we watched it when we did.

As I watched Bullock’s character floating out there in the dark, cold space, tethered to very little with which to hang on for survival, I got that. I understood her place. I know that feeling of floating… and fear. As I saw the sun peek around the curve of the earth—a symbol of hope and a new day—I got that. I get that. As I watched her character go through fire and nearly drown before she was safe on firm ground, I got that. Trials are fire… hopefully fire that refines us and brings us forth as gold. On many of the days I’ve known this past year, it felt like I would drown. In sorrow. In my very own tears, vomit and incontinence and the painful places those things flowed out of one year ago today. It sounds dramatic. But I was truly comforted as I identified with her character’s hopelessness and then tenacity. And my hope was revived… yes, through a movie… to just survive. Even when it feels like I’m not surviving well. Just survive for now. Save the well for later.

It wasn’t just me feeling all this. My very not-so-easily-affected-by-this-kind-of-thing-in-movies husband was very moved, too… similarly to how the final words of Silent Night moved him the way it did me last December 4th… when I hadn’t expected them to. And together, we were comforted and inspired and grateful that we’d seen this movie when we did… not a day sooner or later. Just right then.

It gave me new perspective, realizing that the human plight is the same everywhere. Everyone knows some degree of suffering and loss at some point, and we all need to be saved. When she reaches home {Earth} at the end, I had a picture of reaching my heavenly home one day. Like her, I won’t arrive unscathed or free of scars. But God will wipe away every tear. And all this will be… all this is but a blink in eternity. And, yes… God can and will keep me. But a lot of it is up to me. He’s got the eternity part. I’m charged with what to do with my days here on Earth. I take a step forward from this day, not because I have yet found meaning and purpose in losing a daughter… I haven’t. But because there is no way to find it otherwise. I may never find it. But I can survive it. My husband and son need me. They’ve been missing their wife and mother for a year, now. Truly. Perhaps this is not how it appears on the outside to others. But here, within our walls, I have been dormant. And I long to come home.

This post… that movie… they may not be some magical switch flipped. But they are each part of a new beginning… or so is my prayer.

I’ve gone through almost an entire box of tissue as I typed… and I don’t know that there’s any more to say that I had hoped to. I do feel relief that I was able to remember so much more than I thought I would. I am sure I will come back and add anything I might have forgotten. But for now, I’ll let this be enough.

So much said here, yet I don’t even know how to wrap it up. A closing statement is probably the hardest part of writing what I thought would be so difficult to write {and turned out not to be}, but I’m letting myself off the hook on finding the perfect words to wrap up with. I’m tired and I just need sleep… much more than a good final sentence.

I guess I can close with this… If you have never seen the movie, Gravity, I highly and enthusiastically recommend it… especially if you have lost a child. Above spoiler aside, it will be well worth your time.

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{Photos taken by my friend, Mary, about one month after that fateful ultrasound.}

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