Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Grace and Mercy

Just 5 years ago, today, I delivered our first baby girl.
And, we buried her 3 days later...
Carlisle is just FOUR.
Maybe this year? Should I tell her more details about her sister today...the sister she never knew. The one in heaven...

I really want to tell her everything about big sister, Grace. How she looked. Her long legs. How similar their absolutely darling noses are. How badly we wanted her to live. How Brian and I would lay on the bed, pray and sob for God to heal her. How she was our first baby. How kind the nurses and doctors were. Where she's buried. I want to tell Carlisle about feeling her kick, in my tummy, when I would do yoga. How we mourned and mourned when we lost her. I want to celebrate that Grace is in heaven with Jesus.
Even now, it is so raw. Especially since Carlisle and Evelyn have been watching my tummy grow and feeling their new little sister move. I don't think I have the strength to answer all of a 4 year-olds questions....Maybe next year. We will pull out the box of my memories, journals, pictures and cards. I won't be 9 1/2 months pregnant, giving birth any second. Maybe next year.

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How does it feel, to be ME....5 years later...February 10th.

Here's my REALITY.

It's always the hardest day of the year. No comparison. And it is an individual thing.

Brian likes to remember this day as Grace's birthday.

But for me, when I remember, I cry. I think to a 5-years-younger me. Sitting on the hospital bed in Charleston, with my 6-month belly poking out...with our first baby inside. Being induced. Doctors coming and going. Knowing that she was dead and had to come out. Knowing it was officially over. Giving her a name that we would never use in life, only death. Choosing my middle name as her middle name. Seeing a tiny casket...

So, this year is a little tricky because, again, I have a baby girl in my tummy waiting to come out. Our fourth little girl in 5 years. There are no rules in death. No time line. But GOD is still on the throne and IN CONTROL.

Compassion, fear, love, grief, sadness, comfort, kindness, mourning, waiting...
So today, here I am, in that funny stage of life-altering-mind-blowing-waiting. Just twiddling my thumbs, trying to stay busy, as I wait to deliver a baby. Someone who, at 6 or 7 pounds, will once again change my life forever. Who will thrust us into sleepless nights and a dizzying love that has no bounds.

I taught my last class on Monday, at 38 weeks. Just like I did with the other girls. So, for the third pregnancy, I get to 38 weeks and feel ready to hang it up. So, yesterday, was a free day. No aerobics. The girls didn't have school. I just had a meeting at the gym at noon. So we had waffles for breakfast, poked around the house, played in the playroom, had a super tea party.

Then, around 11:00am, out of the blue. I lost it.

All of a sudden, it hit me. I couldn't remember the last time I had felt this baby move.

And she is such a mover.

So I poked and pushed on my tummy. Nothing.

I seriously completely and totally unraveled. Death is just so terrifyingly REAL to me. 'Oh but Jennie, that only happens in x % of pregnancies'....but, I AM the statistic. It HAS happened to me. Why wouldn't it happen again?

I literally fell to my knees in my closet and cried out to God. 'Please don't let another baby die in my womb.' I pleaded with God. 'Please don't let me have 2 babies here and you have 2 babies there with you in heaven. Please give me SOME time with this little angel. I just want her to live.'

I shuffled the girls into the car so that we could go to the gym for the meeting. All the while having the most seriously suffocating feeling that I couldn't shake. She IS going to join her sister in heaven. I don't know if I can be pregnant again and go through this.

So I sat through the meeting. I was so grateful when Victoria quietly came up and asked if I was ok. I whispered to her my feelings and she said 'Let's go'. We left the meeting. As God would have it, on the treadmill outside the studio was one of my friends. I knew she would have the cell phone number for the ultrasound tech at my doctors office. She stepped off her treadmill, and ran to the locker room to get her keys and ran to her car to get her phone. At this point, I was wet under my arms with sweat, fearing the worst.

I set an appointment for an ultrasound and Victoria took my girls for me.

An hour and a half later, I am in the waiting room...reading my bible. Pleading with God to make everything ok. That's where I read:

'The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.' James 5:11

'In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you...' 1 Peter 1:3, 4

MERCY. Vivian's middle name.

The ultrasound tech called me back to have the ultrasound. I cried. She, a friend, looked nervous for me. I laid on the table. She squirted the gel on my tummy.

I held my breath...

There she was.

Vivian Mercy.

Heart beating.

Arms moving.

I watched her chest rise and fall as she breathed.

I could breathe again.

Her fluid levels. Appropriate.

Her size. 6 or 7 pounds.

I saw fingers and toes.

Grace Katherine Edwards' birthday.
She would be FIVE today.
(If you want to read more of Grace's story, click here.)
This is what came to the door, just 20 minutes ago...2 Corinthians 12:9But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'
One sweet memory from Grace's funeral
I wasn't sure they'd remember me. They had sung at our wedding 4 1/2 years previously. I'd only met them twice. (1) The day I heard them at a friends wedding and fell in love with them...and (2) the day Brian and I were married.
They sing a capella. They sing in the most deep south, melodious harmonies that make you feel like you are not at all living in the right era. That somehow you had the privilege of stepping back in time. So I called them. 1 day after Grace was born. 2 days before the funeral. Maybe my anguish came through over the phone. Maybe they had once lost a baby. Maybe the Holy Spirit just said to them, 'Say yes.'
But they came. The 13th day of February, 2005. On a cloudy, dreary, Sunday afternoon. There were 13 of us at Grace's funeral. Our closest family. And these 2 singers. Husband and wife. They sang 'Amazing Grace' and I cried as they buried her right beside a weeping willow tree. To hear more about Grace Katherine Edwards, Click here.


Sharon said...

Jenni, a dear friend shared this poem with me following the stillbirth of our son.

Little one, loved before knowing,
Precious one, in dreams so fair,
My empty arms ache to be holding,
My rosebud who blooms over there.

If you had come to be with us,
We'd have shown you the stars and the sea.
But your eyes see them eternally clear...
One day you must show them to me.

From one who knows,

Stephanie said...


God continues to use Grace Katherine's life for His glory.
I just memorized this in Philippians...
"But our citizenship is in heaven and we EAGERLY await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring EVERYTHING under His control will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body."

Her body has been made like His and we are right behind her.

I wish she was still here though.


Justin and Marketa said...

Jennie, I'm so sorry for your loss but thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts.

I love you! Marketa

Our4GreatKids said...

You are an amazing woman... your faith is an example to me... your love for God, for your girls, and for your family is evident in everything you do. I will keep you in my prayers as you remember and honor Grace and as you prepare for the arrival of sweet Vivian!

Rebecca said...

I can't even begin to imagine.... but please know we love you guys and all your little girls- those here with us and Grace who is dancing at the feet of our Saviour!

Aron said...

Jennie, thank you for sharing. I have been praying for y'all all day long. Grace, Carlisle, Evelyn and Vivian are SO LOVED!!!

Taylor and Turner Slade said...

Jennie- i loved that you shared all that. I can only imagine how hard it was to write it and to re-think of those horrible times. But know you can smile, thinking of God holding Grace in his strong hands!! Thanks for sharing. I love it--Vivian Mercy. Perfect!

gillian said...

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:10-11

you're such an inspiration Jennie, to many...

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Matthew 5:15