Ella slideshow

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A long time

     It has been such a long time since I have blogged.  But God has been laying it on heart to tell part of my story that I have never told anyone.  When people have asked in the past how I made it through Ella's anencephaly diagnosis and death I always say I couldn't have done it without God.  But I don't know that they understand how much I really mean that.  I absolutely couldn't have without Him.
     This may sound crazy.  But all of this is the truth.  I have been a pediatric nurse for 14 years.  I only have one memory of a specific class or topic in nursing school, I mean the actual class that day.  It was in my maternal child class and we were learning about anencephaly.  I remember the disturbing diagram that they showed us.  I remember them saying "the baby didn't have brain."  Which I still to this day do not agree with.  They don't have every part of their brain, but they have a brain.  I have ultrasound pictures of Ella smiling and holding her umbilical cord with her hand.  She cried.  How do you do that "without a brain?"  But anyway, I remember them saying the baby absolutely could not survive but are often born alive.  I remember the empathy I felt for the mothers of those babies and the babies.  I remember where I was sitting in class.  I remember thinking "if that happened to me I would die.  There is no way I could handle that.  No way."   I remember how the thoughts about how horrific that would be stuck in my mind.  I remember how disturbed I was to learn that this actually happened to babies.
     Fast forward 10 years from that class in nursing school.  We found out I was pregnant.  We were so excited.  But from the beginning I had a nagging worry that something was wrong.  But that isn't uncommon for me.  I have been a worrier since I was a child.  I absolutely hate that about myself.  I don't know why I am like that other than the fact that my family has suffered so much loss all the way back to my very first memories.  My daddy died when I was 4 years old. That is one of my very first things that I remember in my life.  So no matter how much I try not to worry I always have those thoughts in my head that bad things do happen... a lot.  And for some reason I have a hard time letting go of worry.   I pray and I give things over to God, but I am really bad about snatching those worries right back.  So when I worried about my baby I tried to brush it off that I am just a worry wart and everything would be fine.  But the worry I had was so specific.  It was almost more like a feeling that something was wrong...specifically with my baby's head.  I had terrifying thoughts of the things that could be wrong.  Working on pediatrics with sick children makes that a little more intense, because you see first hand all of the things and illnesses that can go wrong.  I remember being 10 weeks pregnant and laying on the couch.  My dog was playing and jumped on my stomach and I  was so upset.  I was so worried that she had hurt my baby's head.  Why her head of all things?
      I remember the day of my first ultrasound.  I was almost seventeen weeks pregnant and Jon and I were sitting in the car talking about finding out if we were having a girl or a boy.  And I was so scared.  I had a bad feeling we would find out something bad and I asked Jon "are you scared of finding out something is wrong?"  And he said "No.  Stop worrying about everything."  So we went in and soon after the ultrasound tech called us back.  And I remember looking at the screen while she scanned me trying to figure out what I was looking at, and then looking at her face and I knew.  She said "I will be right back". When she came back she abruptly said "your baby doesn't have a skull.  I need to take you to talk to the doctor."   And the room felt like it was spinning and I started sobbing uncontrollably.  I didn't need to talk to the doctor.  I knew what that meant.  I knew she had anencephaly and my nightmare was coming true.  I knew my baby wouldn't survive and I didn't think I would either.
     The five remaining months of my pregnancy were some of the hardest of my life.  There were great moments.  I loved knowing Ella was safe inside of my tummy, I loved feeling her kick- she was so active.  That made it so much harder to accept that she wouldn't survive outside of my womb.  I loved seeing her face on ultrasound pics and hearing her strong heartbeat on the doppler.  But pretty much everything else was so painful.  I had a very hard time talking about it.  I am an emotional person anyway, and I could not talk about her without crying so hard.  My closest coworkers knew about her diagnosis and my family knew.  My coworkers knew that I couldn't talk about her without
breaking down, so we didn't much.  I was angry.  So angry.  I didn't understand why, I probably never will.  But I don't think we were made to understand such things.  I was so bitter when I would see
people pop child after child out and not take good care of the ones they had.  I saw that a lot at work.

All I wanted was for Ella to be healthy and to watch her grow up and be her mommy.  Why couldn't I have that but they could?  I prayed all of the time.  I had accepted Jesus as my savior when I was a teenager.  Of course I prayed for a miracle, but I prayed for strength to make it through.  I needed it every single day.  Each day was so hard.  I cried every morning when I woke up and realized this wasn't a dream.  And I prayed.
      A few weeks before Ella was born, I was at work and the most amazing thing happened.  As I said, I avoided talking about what was going on, especially at work. So if people started asking too many questions, people that didn't know, I would answer quickly and take off and make myself busy.  There was a young man who was a housekeeper at the hospital.  He would come to pediatrics from time to time and get the trash.  He was very friendly.  He wore a large cross necklace everyday.  We said hi and that was about it.  One day he asked me how I was and I said fine and asked him the same.  Then I walked down the hall to the treatment room.  He followed me.  He told me that God had told him to talk to me.  He said " I don't know what is going on with you.  But I know that you try to act like you are ok and you are not.   God wants me to tell you "It will be ok". " And he hugged me and I lost it.  I have thought of that moment so many times in the last four years.  And now I can say He was right.  I am ok because He carried me through the rest of my pregnancy, through Ella's death
and the year after, which was terribly hard.  I remember being filled with an amazing peace when Ella was born.  A peace that passes understanding.  But I struggled so much after she died.  And I wouldn't have came out "ok" without my relationship with Jesus, without him carrying me when I couldn't
walk anymore.  And without the hope that I have in Him and that I know I will see my daughter again.  Without him I would still be stuck in the darkness and bitterness.  I wouldn't be ok.
      I often think of the footprints poem that my a Granny loved.   I know that when I look back on that year and a half of my life that would only be one set of footprints in the sand.  And they were not mine.  One of my favorite Bible verses is Matthew 11:28-30  28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”   
      I hope that if you are reading this blog because you found out something terrible, something you won't be able to make it through, that you know there is Someone who will help you if you let Him.  He brought me through the thing in life that I always knew I couldn't make it through.

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed He was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from His life. For each scene He noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to Him and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of His life flashed before Him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of His life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of His life.

This really bothered Him and He questioned the LORD about it. LORD you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.

The LORD replied, my precious, precious child, I Love you and I would never leave you! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.

Carolyn Carty, 1963

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