My last post talked about Grace's birthday. That day, there was about an hour's worth of time we made so many decisions. (I had already made the decision to have my tubes tied about 2 hours before. A decision made while assuming we were bringing another baby home.) We were waiting to see Grace in the NICU. I couldn't go until the feeling came back to my legs. While we waited in my room, 4 NICU doctors and nurses came to let us know about Grace's condition. At this time, I was needing someone to step in and tell me exactly what to do. On a good day I'm indecisive. Today was not the day to be asking me to make any rational decisions. Bob and I were probably looking at each other wondering what the other was thinking. I was too afraid to ask him. We did what we thought was best in that moment.
As I just said, I wanted someone to come in and tell us what to do, but at the same time, I didn't want anyone coming in because I wouldn't allow myself to cry in front of others. Who would come anyway? Up to this point, we hadn't called anyone to let them know that Grace was born...no one! I assumed that no one would come anyway. Most of our family lived about 700 miles away. What could they do? Our family just isn't “that way”. We didn't even give them a chance.
I already began feeling that Grace never existed. I was thinking that everyone would feel as though we deserved this because we must have done something wrong and were being punished. (I absolutely know that God is not punishing us. Jesus already paid the price for our sins.) Again, my thoughts and feelings were so clouded at this point. Inside my head, I was thinking all kinds of crazy things. Remember, a couple of hours before this, I was excited because our baby was coming a couple of weeks early. The shock was setting in. I started “building walls” and putting distance between me and my family and friends. If a few people in my life felt a certain way, I guess that meant that everyone feels that way.
After the doctor told us of all the struggles that Grace was facing, we made the decision to unhook her from all machines. We don't feel as though we took matters into our own hands. We believe that God led us to come to this decision together. We didn't want her to live a life of suffering. I truly believe that God would have allowed her to live without machines if those were His plans for her.
We discussed how we were going to handle her body. When I thought about the word “funeral”, all I could envision was a casket being buried in a cemetery. I couldn't bear to have her buried knowing how many times we had moved in our (then) 18 years of marriage. Later on, I learned that Bob told himself that he'd never buy a casket for an infant. I'm not trying to be insensitive by saying that, because I know of some who have had to do this. None of us ever imagine surviving our child or children. The doctor told us that the hospital cremated bodies every 1-3 months. “OK, we'll have her cremated then?” (I still feel anxiety and sick to my stomach saying that.) Again, I was feeling as though she never existed. I was letting my childhood memories cloud my feelings of acknowledging that she was alive. Up to this point, she was still alive in the NICU, and it felt as though we were already “writing her off”.
I grew up hearing such insensitive things from my family. These things contributed largely to my way of thinking when Grace was born. It angers me to this day that I let those influences cloud my judgment and decisions on such an unexpected day. I can remember hearing family members talking about others that suffered a miscarriage. It was usually followed by, “Well, they shouldn't have told everyone right away!” I could never understand that comment. Did it mean that if you don't wait at least 3 months to announce a pregnancy, the baby would die early? Did it mean that if you didn't tell anyone that you were expecting, then the baby died, that you couldn't say anything after that? You had to suffer in silence? Is that why so many seem so bitter? They've been through this and no one acknowledges their pain?
I was also remembering one of the reactions we got after announcing that we were pregnant with our first child. Of course, Bob and I were excited and assumed that everyone else would be too. When we told one of the grandparents-to-be, we heard “Well, it's not my 1st grandchild!” There was no excitement. So I thought “Why would a dead grandchild mean any more?” Why call anyone?
That was another reason why I felt that we shouldn't have a funeral. After all, we weren't bringing a baby home; therefore, she must not exist. I hate that I was thinking this way. Bob and I didn't discuss things alone. We were with doctors and nurses, and I assumed that answers were needed now. That's not how anyone meant to make us feel, but that's just how I understood things at that time. We didn't ask to be left alone so we could talk to one another. I probably wouldn't have been able to decide anything anyway. I'm sure that I wouldn't have told Bob how irrational my thoughts were. We just didn't know what to do.
Again...The only thing that matters is that Grace lives in heaven!
Up to this point, we still hadn't called anyone. Our children didn't even know that they had a new baby sister.
I think that funeral homes help families write up obituaries. We've never experienced anything like this before, thankfully, and we didn't know if we should even write one up for her. (Another huge regret...The only thing that matters is that Grace lives in heaven!) Remember my clouded thinking? We weren't bringing a baby home from the hospital; therefore, she didn't exist. Obituaries are only written for those who lived. Well, Grace lived! Her heart beat for the 9 months that I carried her inside of me and for 11 hours after she was born. Yes, she needed to be resuscitated, and she needed machines to help her breathe, but she lived. It's so hard to write this today, but it's necessary. I feel that I need to let my thoughts out, to say them “out loud” to someone.
I know that many may have wondered why we did or didn't do things a certain way. We did what we did under crazy, unexpected, unheard of circumstances. We went into the hospital to deliver a baby and bring him or her home. We expected to share our lives with her. In less than 4 hours after Grace's birth, we were making decisions on allowing her to live by artificial means, possible surgeries, a funeral, cremation, etc. We did what we thought was right at the time.
We also decided that day, Grace's birthday, to have a private memorial service in our home with our pastor and 3 living daughters. We would do this when we brought Grace's earthly remains home. Thankfully, after a little time had passed, those plans changed. I'll write about that another time.