A Daddy’s Story
As some of you know who are reading this, Lynn and I found out on February 4th that we were pregnant (well, I found out anyway). We unfortunately ceased being pregnant on March 5th. This story is about our lost pregnancy, and how God was faithful to us, even during this time. I decided to put down some thoughts as to what’s happened regarding our experience in losing our baby. I explain some thoughts leading up to our decision to get pregnant, and then several thoughts from Feb 28 (when we first found out we probably weren’t pregnant) until Mar 5 when we had a surgical procedure after finding out for sure there wasn’t a baby – as well as describing some of our experiences in the hospital (don’t worry, no yucky details). This was originally intended to be a short email/blog post, but it turned out quite long, as I really wanted to get it all out.
We’ve wrestled with the decision as to whether or not to be pregnant again for some time now. To be honest, I’ve been pretty scared of having a second child. You see we have autism in the family, and while I know I’m capable of loving an autistic child, I was having major issues in rolling the dice. Before Samantha, we said that if we got through it and there were no health problems, that we’d stop.
Then when Samantha was two years old (her birthday I was reminded of), during a bathroom break at the mall, Samantha got all gushy about a baby they saw, and from what Lynn told me at the time; I knew we would be revisiting the “stop after one” decision.
We wrestled with it for some time. I went back and forth between wanting to have one, and not wanting to have one. My thoughts were very much buffeted by the exact day it was, and what my mood was like at the time. We also had decided that we wanted to have a second before Lynn turned 40, which would have meant we would have had to have gotten pregnant by about March 25th (this month) to fit that in. Time passed, and Lynn had to come off birth control due to an interaction with another drug she had to take. After a time, I had decided to trust the entire thing to God, and then Lynn got pregnant.
After the initial surprise at being pregnant I was quite into all of this. I was really looking forward to being a father again. Samantha also seemed to be into it, she knew what “big sister” meant, and she kept going to mommy’s tummy saying “Hi!” to the baby, and tickling it. It was really quite adorable. Samantha would ask things like “Is that my baby sister in there?” Samantha was quite convinced it was a girl. That was something that both Lynn and I wanted – we wanted another girl. Samantha was even calling it “Baby X” (I’ll get to the name stuff in a bit).
So this past Thursday (Feb 28), we went into the Doctor’s office for a sonogram. It was going to be the first time we saw the baby. So we were prepped, and had Samantha in the room with us. She was going to see “pictures of the baby!” We got started, and the technician doing the sonogram couldn’t find anything. They looked around a lot, and it turned out there was no baby in there. It was quite a bad moment. Lynn and I both knew immediately what it meant, and I was listening quite closely to latch onto something that was said that would be GOOD news. We were told that it could be a few things – we could have gotten our dates wrong and it was simply too early to see anything, or she simply wasn’t pregnant. We discounted the dates thing, because Lynn is too good with dates to mess up that badly. That left “not pregnant”, which neither of us was happy about. QUITE sad, actually. The hardest part about being in the sonogram room like that is Samantha was looking at the screen with me, and she asked several times “Where’s the baby? I don’t see it?” It hurt a lot when she said it. I don’t blame her, she’s just a two year old, she doesn’t know. We eventually got her to stop that by telling her “The baby is hiding.” But we knew better than that, unfortunately. It wasn’t just “hiding”.
They took a blood test before we left the office – there are some levels of “something” that is counted in a woman’s body when she’s pregnant. As you become more pregnant, they’re supposed to up and up. Now I don’t know exactly what they’re counting as such, but if Lynn really was pregnant, they should be (I’m making up numbers here) at say level 75. Her levels were about 20. The Doctor told us that she likely was not pregnant, but was at some point. All the stuff inside Lynn got started because there was a conception. For whatever reason (only God knows that) the embryo did not take, or just stopped developing. When we left the office, Lynn had another appt on Monday morning for a blood test to compare vs. the one taken on Thursday. She also had an appt on Tue to discuss the results with the Doctor, and a scheduled sonogram today (the 6th).
We spent the weekend in agony over this. I can’t speak for Lynn’s feelings on this particular matter, but I was pretty much in a state of shock and grief over the weekend. The sonogram room was devastating, but after spending time with my thoughts, I came to the conclusion that the baby was lost. My brain said there were tests to check, but in my heart, I felt led that there was a problem, and the baby was gone. We told a select few people at church (outside of the clergy), and spent the weekend basically grieving.
So Monday morning Lynn went in for the second blood test, and on Tue morning we got the results of that. Her levels were down even further; if she was pregnant, they should have essentially doubled (or more) from what they were just four days ago. That was it. There was no reason to hope there might be a miracle anymore. This baby was not to be. So a D&C was scheduled for Wed the 5th, and we set up a babysitter for Samantha, and waited.
The folks we told in Church were ones we know were well steeped in prayer. I have no doubt that the prayers of the church for us were extremely helpful. While I was very sad over all these things, I felt a peace about the whole thing. It was no fun, I was not happy, but I wasn’t a “blubbering idiot” about the entire sequence of events. We were thankful for the prayers we had received, but were NOT expecting how they’d manifest themselves on Wednesday.
Wednesday morning came, and our babysitter showed up about an hour earlier than we needed to leave. This was the first of the blessings, as Lynn got a little bit of “girl talk” in before heading to the hospital. The next of our blessings was what Brandy (the babysitter) told us. She did not want to take any money for babysitting. That was quite a surprise; and I had already decided to pay her extra anyway because this would be a longer than usual babysitting job – that’s what you do. Pay the babysitter. But she was quite insistent that we not give her any money for this one. That was most kind. Turns out her employer was also in on this. She works for a bakery (the same one that supplies cakes and donuts for our church), and she was scheduled to work. Her employer let her have the time off at quite the last minute to help out with this – so we’re grateful to Brandy and them; as Samantha loves Brandy, so that all went well.
So we drive to the hospital, and were waiting in the admit area for awhile. After dealing with the usual hospital paperwork, we sat in the waiting room. And thanks be to God we didn’t have much waiting to do. At just about every step of the way, we didn’t wait for more than 5-10 minutes. It was quite the surprise. This was beneficial because we didn’t have too long to sit with our thoughts, which can play games with you at times like this.
Lynn was taken in for prep, and they came and got me. Now once Lynn was taken in, I expected to be waiting for awhile, that was expected. She was prepped to go upstairs, and then they brought me in to be with her for a few minutes. We cried, and just spent most of the time being quiet. The nurses came in for Lynn, and it was all quite rushed. Not that they were obnoxious about it at all, but it was obvious the Lord cleared the way for all this to be done quickly. We asked for a few minutes of prayer, and were given it, so I said a prayer over Lynn, and then it was time for her to be taken upstairs for surgery. I retreated to the waiting room where I had a book and a lot of coffee. I decided to call the parents, as well as our contact at church (Fr Jeff).
Now I was originally going to attend a conference being held at our church from Mar 4-8th (The Anglican School of Healing Ministries) – I had taken off the entire week of work for that. When I spoke with Father Jeff, I was told “we’re all praying for you here”, which was the entire conference of some 50 or 60 people. I’m quite grateful for that, because it was seriously felt at the hospital. So I waited after talking with Fr Jeff. Between coffee, reading, and CNN blabbing about the election results, I finally was called to speak with the Doctor. I found it hard to pray much when I was by myself. Was easy with Lynn, but on my own, I found it hard to do it, so I was thankful to have the prayer coverage I did.
The Doctor and I only spoke for a few minutes, but in that time, I was told that Lynn came through it fine, the procedure went well, and she was coming out of it (she was put under for this). She had the same reaction I did about 7 years ago when I had an endoscopy done – I was a bit loopy and asked the same questions over and over again. Although the first thing Lynn asked after regaining consciousness was apparently “Did you see the baby?” Very nice mothering touch there, but I knew that about my wife anyway. After one shorter wait, I was taken to where Lynn was in recovery. She looked like what you would expect from someone who just came out of surgery. But she really wasn’t that bad, just really tired looking. She drifted in and out of sleep several times while I was there.
Lynn would know more about the other parts than I, since I wasn’t everywhere she was, but from what I saw, the nurse she had in recovery was VERY kind. Her name was Kathy, and apparently she wasn’t even supposed to be there, or in that department. The hospital was short staffed that day, and Kathy came in on her day off. This too was a blessing from God, as this woman was extremely helpful to Lynn, especially with some private issues which aren’t appropriate for here. So God bless this woman for being there when Lynn needed her. Whether or not she was a Christian woman, we never found out – but it felt like God sent her.
In fact, the whole hospital visit went extremely well. Obviously this was not the reason we wanted to be in a hospital, and that subject was mentioned several times while we were there. Lynn got taken up for the procedure about half an hour before her scheduled time, things were going SO smoothly – so thanks be to God for that, too!
Another blessing is how well the surgery went. I don’t know what you about a D&C, but it’s a fairly invasive surgery. There were no complications, and the pain medicine prescription given to her has not been filled; it simply has not been needed. Praise be to God for the lack of pain!
On the way back home, I made sure Lynn got something to eat, as she hadn’t eaten anything at that point in about 16 hours. Stopped at Chick-Fil-A (one of her favorites). We got back home, and after a brief conversation with the babysitter, we were back “home”. I did the Daddy thing, as Lynn was very weak on Wednesday for obvious reasons. Another blessing was that Samantha seemed to grasp that Mommy really needed to be by herself and rest/sleep. Normally after not seeing Mommy for awhile, Samantha will jump all over mommy, cry to be picked up, etc, etc, etc. There wasn’t very much of that. Mommy even got to lie down on the bed for a couple of hours by herself with no felines or no two year old clamoring for attention. Small blessing indeed (although probably a bigger one for Lynn, I’d imagine). The day was full of these kinds of blessings. One of the biggest ones was that Samantha slept through the night with no crying out. Samantha sometimes cries out during dreaming which wakes up Mommy (but not Daddy generally), so that was seriously helpful for Mommy’s rest.
When we got up on Thursday, Mommy felt much better, and we were able to function better as our usual family unit. Mommy still couldn’t pick up Samantha, but praise be to God she was still pain free, although still more tired than usual.
Thursday morning did have one really nice thing happen, and it was with Samantha and Lynn’s pregnancy. Samantha had gone to Lynn and said “There’s a baby in your tummy”, like she has been during the pregnancy. Lynn’s reaction to this was spectacular. This next bit is Lynn’s words (from one of her emails):
“An opportunity arose this morning with Samantha, and I was able to explain to her that the baby was sick, and that the baby went back to God to be well. She said to me, “He put his hands down to get the baby.” (meaning God’s hands) and then asked where heaven is. I was able to get through this talk without crying, praise God.”
While neither of us cried after all this, it was something that moved us, that our almost three year old would grasp that God needed to take the baby because it was sick. Was very VERY moving.
In emails we received from several folks at our church (especially those who have gone through this too), a suggestion was given to us which we will do. We were told that if we had not done it already to pick a name and turn the child over to the Lord. We had already chosen a name (both male and female) about two days after finding out we were pregnant originally. Given how strongly both of us thought it was a girl (aside from us just wanting it), we were also reinforced by Samantha insisting it was a girl. We told her when we were pregnant that “No, it could be a boy, too.” “No Mommy – it’s a girl!” Maybe she knew, but either way, since there’s no medical way to know, we’re going to trust the Lord that this is the right decision. At the moment of conception, there was a soul created then and we needed to give this soul back to the Lord.
Our child’s name is Vanessa Grace Siegler.
We will have a memorial service for Vanessa on Sunday after Daddy & Samantha return from church, I’d imagine. Mommy will be staying home, as she needs more time before dealing with a crush of people, and besides, the few hours will give Mommy a break at home. The service will be small, and just for the three of us in the back yard (weather permitting). The plan at the moment is for all three of us to hold a small white balloon, and release them into the sky at some point. My plan now is to tell Samantha at the time that we’re sending the balloons to Vanessa in heaven, so make sure to blow her a kiss when you send her this. I’m actually tearing up a bit writing this (corny I know, but hey), as the service has not happened as I write this.
This past week has probably been the single worst time in our married lives, and we are so thankful for all the prayers we have received (and boy have we noticed them being received), a mere email/blog post (long though this is), can’t do them all justice. I’m reminded at this time of part of the Bible passage James 5:16:
“The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effect.”
At the darkest moments we had this past week, the Lord was there with us, helping us through the pain and the suffering. I doubt we could have gotten through it as gracefully as we have without the Lord being with us, and most certainly not without y’alls prayers.
Thank you and God Bless,