I realize that I’ve been vague to silent on some of the particulars of what we’ve gone through over the past month, so here are some answers to questions that you might have been wondering about. Frankly, very few people have asked questions. But these are the things I imagine you would like to know, as well as answers to questions that I wish someone would ask. Ready? Go!
Q: So, what happened?
A: Here’s the short story: On Tuesday, I went in for my 34-week appointment, where everything was normal. On Thursday, I woke up and noticed immediately that I hadn’t felt much movement. So I sat around the house that morning, consuming cold and caffeinated drinks and doing kick counts. Finally we went to the hospital to have a doctor check things out. They determined immediately that there was no heartbeat and we began making plans for a delivery. We went home for the night and checked back in early the next morning. Sam was born just after 4 PM (only 18 hours this time, thanks to some powerful jump-start meds I took right before bed at home). He was almost 5 pounds and looked like a smaller version of newborn Abby! We wrapped him in a blanket and got to spend as long as we wanted holding him and taking pictures. I was released from the hospital that night to recover at home.
That was Friday; we had memorial service that Sunday night at our church that was absolutely beautiful and perfect. (Side note: I remember every detail of that night, especially those of you who were there. And I love you for it!)
To the best of our understanding, Sam’s death was a result of “umbilical cord occlusion,” which means that the cord got a kink in it. There was nothing about Sam’s development that caused this to happen or that made him “incompatible with life,” it was just an unlikely accident. The randomness is scary, but it’s mostly a comfort to know that if God gives us more children, there’s nothing in our genetics that places them at higher risk.
Q: Do you want to talk about it?/ Is it okay to ask questions about what happened?
A: Yes, yes, yes! In fact, it makes me more sad and lonely to be in a group that either doesn’t know what happened or that knows but never mentions it. I’m afraid of bringing it up and bumming everybody out, so it’s nice when someone else breaks the ice and lets me know it’s okay to “go there.” (That’s not to say I never want to laugh or talk about fun things any more, because I still like to do that, too!)
But within 48 hours, I went from having a healthy, kicking baby in my belly to having no baby at all. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that it wasn’t all just a dream; talking about Sam and the time I had with him helps me to know that he was real.
If I’m having a sad day, talking about Sam will probably make me cry. But so will talking about Bible study or the chance of rain in the forecast. If I’m not having a sad day, I can talk about it with composure and even smiles.
Q: Can you help me here? I want to ask the right questions, but I just don’t know what to say.
A: Just like any new mom, I like to recall details about my pregnancy and share war stories about labor (it’s the same procedure for stillborn babies as for living babies- contractions, epidurals, pushing, etc. I wasn’t sure what to expect–but it was as gross and sweet as the first time around!). If you can handle it, ask to see pictures of Sam, and don’t forget to tell me what a beautiful baby he was.
Bottom line: there’s almost no wrong question (even if you get really personal). Showing interest in any aspect of our situation shows that you acknowledge and care about what we’re going through. It’s easier to to hurt my feelings by saying nothing than by saying the wrong thing.
Q: Was Samuel Job your boy name all along?
A: No, the night before Sam was born, we chose special new names (boy and girl- that was still a surprise for the delivery room!) to reflect our new situation. Samuel was the child in the Bible whose mother gave him to the Lord from his birth. The name also means “God hears,” and we had to believe that that was still true. Job, of course, is an example of trusting God even through great loss and suffering. We chose a name that would preach truth to us every time we thought of it.
Besides that, our original boy name was Jeremiah. It seemed silly to give the name of the “weeping prophet” to a little boy who would never have any reason to be sad.
Other questions you wish I’d answer? Ask away in the comments. I’ll answer in a reply or in a future post.