Tuesday, February 10, 2009

God's Grace

It was a HARD day today.
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In the story of my life, God wrote excitement and laughter, joy and delight. God's best and finest gifts have been my family...my husband and my girls! But, I don't JUST have TWO girls...
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God also wrote a chapter of significant pain and massive grief into our lives. There was a time in my life unlike any other. A time when I learned to cling so mightily to the truth in the scriptures. I learned that there was no place where I could exist without the Lord. I simply needed the word of the Lord for EVERY second of the day. EVERYDAY.
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"I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." Phillipians 4:13
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When I found out I was pregnant with our first baby, Brian kept making me take pregnancy tests. I think I took four. He just couldn't believe it. We had tried for months and months and we were ELATED. Elated is actually not a good enough word. We were overjoyed. Still not a good enough word. We had been married for 4 1/2 years and we were (ok, I was) finally ready to have a baby. Brian had always been ready. As the days went along, we began to share our exciting news with friends and family. This baby was the FIRST grandbaby for my Mom and Dad. She was also the FIRST grandbaby for Brian's Mom and Dad. As with any new parents-to-be we looked SO forward to the visits to the doctor. We would get to see a baby! Hear a heartbeat! Cry with joy! It was surreal.
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"You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance." Psalm 32:7
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The doctor was one of Brian's customers and the entire staff treated us like royalty. We never had to wait. They didn't even make us sit in the waiting room, we were always just ushered back to the room. We had an ultrasound at 10 weeks and at our 16 week visit the doctor said that she would tell us the sex of the baby! Although, that was actually the appointment that changed the course of Brian and my life forever. It was dreadfully clear that something was wrong on the ultrasound. Our normally happy doctor fell SILENT while doing the ultrasound. I kept saying, "Tell me something". Finally she asked us to meet in her office. There she told us that we would be traveling to Charleston the very next day to have a 3D ultrasound. She didn't ask us, she told us. That night I went on in to the gym and taught a class. I just knew that it was going to be ok. That on the 3D we would see that all was ok after all. I got a sub for my class the following day, Brian left work and we went to Charleston. I was dead wrong. There was something terribly wrong with our baby. At first, it wasn't real. Stuff like this happens, but not to me. It was a nightmare. The night we got back from Charleston, Brian and I laid down on the bed in our room and cried a river. A river. Over the next SEVEN 1/2 weeks we saw no less than 25 doctors. In Charleston, at home, some were students who had never seen a case like this. But they shared one common bond. They were SO kind to us. Strangely sympathetic. I don't know if Brian and I wore our pain on our face or if they just knew that it had to have been hard because it was our first baby. All through this time, the Lord carried us. When I say the Lord carried us, I mean, I couldn't deal. But in the middle of our amazing grief and heartache, confusion and fear, we found PEACE in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was and continues to be OUR ROCK.
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"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27
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As time went on, and we knew the condition was fatal for the baby, it became harder and harder. My tummy was getting bigger and bigger and I could feel her kick. Nothing hurt my feelings more than feeling her kick. Because, it wasn't just something I was seeing on an ultrasound, and I could close my eyes and bawl. I was feeling her life. But I was not alone. Others were feeling her life too. Others hurt with us. The spotlight of grief drew us, with our family and friends together into a tight circle. I had a friend who during this time brought me a scripture jotted down on notecards, or a yellow sticky, or on a slip of paper EVERYDAY. I saw her EVERYDAY. And EVERYDAY she gave me the truth that helped me survive.
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"Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31
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Days became weeks and even months as she continued to fight for her life. Here was one of the dozens of emails that we sent over those months.
From: jennieandbrian@bellsouth.net
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 7:17 PM
To: Brian Edwards
Subject: HIS love - Update from the Edwards

Dear Friends & Family,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

The result from our followup visit to the Doctors at MUSC in Charleston is overwhelming and very sad. The fluid that surrounds our baby has progressed from Cystic Hygroma to Fetal Hydrops. Fetal Hydrops is the condition in which the fluid overtakes the baby, entering the major organs, surrounding the heart, lungs and filling the skin. There is no cure and this will eventually lead to her death.

The Doctors all along have offered options out of this pregnancy. Because God is in control and we want to live in His will, we have never considered terminating the pregnancy. The Doctors tell us that the baby will die within the next 5 weeks. We want this to be on God's perfect schedule not on ours.

We covet your continued prayers for our family. *Please pray for God's continued grace for us over the next several weeks. After the baby dies, Jennie will have to deliver her. *Please also pray that God will extend His mercy and grace to Jennie during this process...and if it is His will, may the time period be quick...

"Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Thank you for helping to carry our burdens.
You bless us.
Brian and Jennie

Because there was nothing that could be done, the doctors just requested that every week we come in and they would check for a heartbeat, to see if our baby was still alive. I dreaded the appointment.
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"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful." Jeremiah 31:3-4
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February 9th we went in for our routine trip to the doctor to see if she still had a heartbeat. On that day, Wednesday, February 9th, after 24 weeks of life, there was no more heartbeat.
We drove immediately to Charleston for her delivery.
She was born February 10th. In the delivery room, Brian wrote this scripture on the nurses whiteboard.
Today, FOUR years ago, our FIRST baby, Grace Katherine Edwards was born. 1 pound 3 ounces. 8 1/2 inches long. She changed Brian and my life forever. She made us parents.

Her funeral was three days later - February 13, 2005
Her tiny casket.
I am incapable of expressing how beyond amazing my sister-in-law was during this time. She planned the funeral, she made ALL arrangements. SHE D.I.D I.T A.L.L. We just couldn't, but she did. I love you. The anniversary of her death comes around every year. But that doesn't make it easier.
The first year, 2006, I had a newborn baby....11 day old Carlisle.
The second year, 2007, I had a new home, Carlisle was 1 and I was 2 months pregnant.
The third year, 2008, Carlisle was 2 and Evelyn was a newborn.
This year, 2009, life has leveled out. The girls are happy, content and flourishing.
It has been the hardest anniversary yet....I was alone with my grief today.The imprint that this tiny little girl left on me is one that has changed me FOREVER. I get grief. I get suffering. I get loss. I get death. I choose Jesus. He is what got us through and continues to get us through the good and bad days. Jesus continues to be the healer of my broken heart.
We love you Grace.

18 comments:

Stephanie and Eric Horecky said...

What a wonderful post in honor of sweet little Grace! She left a little footprint in all of our hearts!I LOVE you so much!!!

According to Kiki! said...

Oh Jennie... Thank you for sharing Grace's journey with us again. I will never forget that time and I know that the Lord saw you and Brian through it. One day you will be with her again... but until then she is with her Heavenly Father and all is right!

Stephanie said...

I LOVE YOU.

Andrews Family Fun said...

I have such a beautiful image in my head of your story. Thank you for sharing all of it so well. I now have a picture of baby Grace being carried (much like her mommy and daddy) by her Savior.

charlie&gracie said...

I remember this time like it was yesterday. I remember praying so hard for you and brian and baby grace... know she has not be forgotten but has left her mark in all of our lives...

we love you!

Rebecca said...

We love you guys.... your whole family! Thank you for sharing about Grace Katherine!

Aron said...

Oh, Jennie, thank you for sharing Baby Grace's story. It was a beautiful way to honor her. And I am so thankful that you cling to Jesus through all of it!

A D Hilley said...

Jennie and Brian:

Corby and I had no idea, we are so sorry for your loss. Your tribute to her was beyond wonderful. It touched us in so many ways.
Love, Amanda and Corby

The Allen Family said...

You continue to be an inspiration to be in so many ways!! Thank you for sharing your experiences, heart and love of Jesus!! I am so blessed to call you friend!!

Courtney said...

you have walked through the valley of the shadow, and because you share your story so nakedly, Christ is glorified; in your life. in Brian's life. in Grace's short but amazing life. i love you.

Justin and Marketa said...

I shouldn't have read this at work. I really want to cry now. You always show such a strong persona and always make everyone laugh and smile, even when you are kicking our butts at the gym. But for you to share this must have taken a lot. God has trully blessed you with a wonderful family and an extended one in Heaven. You have one of many angels looking down at you and I'm sure Grace is smiling at you right now. Much love for you and your family.

Chris, Anna and Ava said...

You and Brian were a HUGE testimony to me during this time. I had never witnessed God's strength so overwhelmingly in someones life. It gave me hope for the Saviors protection during the grief we experienced when my father passed away. The Lord used you, Brian and Grace as a tool...Thank you for showing HIS LIGHT in a dark world! Your family is a BLESSING! You will always be in my prayers and thoughts this time of year. Grace will always remind me of God's strength and his desire to carry us through the Valley. Oh, to be held by the Father!

The Severances said...

I am so sorry. I can not even imagine the pain--then and now. Thank you for sharing this Jennie.

amyop said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. This is the second time I have heard it and It gives me such a warm heart to know that you and Brian we such servants and heard Jesus talk and walk with you through this process! You are both amazing individuals and My family is so blessed to know your family! Much love to you all!

Leah Medina said...

My heart is breaking; I can feel your pain. You are so beautiful inside and out! I am so saddened by your grief, but as I sit here, sobbing, I feel joy knowing Grace is in heaven. I love you!

Jeremy said...

I just wanted to take a minute to tell you guys how much we love you! I am nothing but completely amazed that as I sit here sobbing like a baby (I had to turn the music off on my computer because it was just too overwhelming) how much God shines through in everything you guys do. Thanks for sharing the pictures, emails, and memories of a part of your lives that we didn't know you. Thanks for being incredible family to the Emert family. I long to see baby Grace one day as I know you do!!! Your family's faith completely overwhelms me. We love you guys!

Jeremy

EV said...

Thank you for sharing this and letting me into what was such a devastating time in your life. Your faith is inspiring. When I read this, I immediately thought of this verse from the Bible:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1

While no one can grieve in the way that you do, know that MANY people are sharing your grief, praying for your ENTIRE beautiful family, and loving how wonderfully you share your life with others.

Love,
Edee

Andrea said...

I can never come up with the right words to say, but God bless y'all for all that you went through and for your amazing and inspiring faith!! My heart hurts for you. Big hugs to you!
Love ya!