Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Week of Reminders

A year ago today I found out I was pregnant with Samuel.  I vividly remember wondering if I should take the pregnancy test or wait, knowing that once I found out I was pregnant I would start to worry since I had miscarried just 6 weeks before and had miscarried a couple of months before that.  But I recall sitting on the floor of our room, wrapping presents, I think, and realizing I already knew I was pregnant.  My body was already telling me that a baby was growing in my womb, and I was already thinking and behaving like I was pregnant.  So I decided to take the test, for what difference was it going to make?  And I was right.  There was a baby beginning to form in me.  That began two of the most anxious weeks of my life, frought with fear and worry and constant trips to the bathroom to see if I was miscarrying.  And two weeks later, I was spotting and thought for sure I was losing yet another pregnancy.  As I lay in bed and wept, I thought I was facing the worst -- three miscarriages in a row.  And I found myself turning to God, letting Him cradle me, letting Him ease the weight in my chest.  I was surprised at how easy I found it was to trust Him.  And the next day a trip to the OB showed me a brand new heartbeat and calmed my concerns.  Little did I know what was ahead, that I had nowhere near faced the worst.  But even in the very worst, God has met me, loved me, comforted me, and granted me what I needed to trust Him.  He has showered me with grace upon grace.

Today is the day one of Samuel's friends from the CICU has her second heart surgery.  I can begin to imagine what Sarah Beth's parents are feeling today.  This is the time of year we expected for Samuel to have his open heart surgery.  When I was 24 weeks pregnant, we got our third diagnosis for Samuel, and that diagnosis lasted until his birth.  Although we had spent a month preparing for Samuel to need surgery within a few days of birth, we spent three times as long expecting him to have something called AV Canal defect, the heart defect most commonly associated with Down Syndrome.  We were told Samuel would need surgery at 4-6 months of age and that it would be a fairly straight forward procedure as far as heart surgeries go.  So Bryan and I had pictured this time of year as being pretty scary with lots of trips to the cardiologists -- being otherwise sequestered at home to keep Samuel as protected from germs as possible -- and heading to Egleston for the first and only time.  Honestly, I spent far more of my pregnancy preparing for a Down Syndrome child than I did preparing for a child with heart problems.  All of that changed in a blink of an eye when Samuel was born.  So the last few days, all last night, and all today I have been praying for Sarah Beth and for her parents, Rachel and Don.  I can't quit thinking about them and lifting them before the Lord.

This morning when I went into Joel's room to get him up, he was playing in bed as usual.  He sleeps with a whole counsel of animals.  All of them were laying face-down on his pillow.  As I walked in, he gestured toward them and said, "Look, Momma.  Samuel died."  I have no idea why he associated being face-down with death.  I gave him a perplexed look and asked some questions to try and understand, but nothing he said clued me in to what he is thinking or why he's thinking it.  He did say that Samuel dying meant Gab'm was coming.  At least that was a happy thought.  Otherwise it was a kind of morbid start to the day.  And on our way home from Caleb's preschool today, we saw a major car accident just minutes after it happened.  An SUV was completely flipped in the middle of the intersection, and it rattled me pretty deeply.  I was driving in tears and just thinking about how life changes in a moment, and you don't know when that moment is coming.  I don't know if everyone was alright from the car crash, and I keep praying for those people, too.

This Friday Bryan and I are headed back to Egleston for the first time since Samuel's death.  We are taking a bunch of baked goods to say thank you to the wonderful people who cared for Samuel and for us while we were there.  I am anxious about this trip.  In just about everything else, the anticipation of something has been worse than the reality of that thing.  Going back to Egleston....I think it will be the reverse; I think actually being there will be far harder than I can anticipate.  I very much want to thank the people who blessed us so in August, but I am scared to go back, to walk down that hall to CICU, to see dock 2112 where Samuel died, to make the last 15 minutes of the drive that Bryan and I almost always passed in silence.  It will be hard to be there again -- and to be there without our sweet Samuel.

Last week the phone rang, and I picked it up thinking it was Bryan calling, but immediately I discerned the beautiful South African accent that belongs to Dr. Videlefsky, Samuel's pediatric cardiologist.  My heart went into my throat as he so kindly said, "I was just sitting here thinking of Sam and of your family, and I just wanted to check on you and see how you're doing a few months later."  How very, very kind of him.  We spoke for awhile, and he told me of his brother who died of leukemia at 16 and how it never really gets easier, how it is always hard, especially at important times of the year.  I was more grateful than I can say for his phone call and his kindness.  I have been so amazed by people's gentleness with and sincere concern for us.  We have been so blessed.

All in all, it feels like a big week for me.  With the anniversary of learning I was pregnant with Samuel, Sarah Beth's surgery, a trip to Egleston, and a call from Dr. V, it's a lot of very present reminders of what we have lost.  We have lost so much.  But we have also gained so much.  I understand God in a new way.  I appreciate people in a deeper way.  I cherish kindness and compassion like never before.  And I trust God more fully than I ever knew I could.  These are all beautiful things, and I am thankful for them.  Would I trade them all in a heartbeat to have Samuel back in my arms?  Absolutely.  But since that's not possible, I cling to what I've learned, to how I've grown, and to how big my God is in the face of sorrow and heartbreak.


  1. I love you and will pray for Friday.

  2. I'm sending my love and prayers.

  3. I have been thinking about your family quite a bit lately. It's been a while since I checked in on your blog, and I've had several posts to catch up on today. I always enjoy going back and picking up where I last left off; I don't dare miss one detail about the impact of sweet Samuel's life.

    I've been hopeful and prayerful that God is sending you extra "tidings of comfort and joy" to get you through this holiday season - make that this CHRISTmas season.

    Thank you for continuing to share your journey in a way that's real. I look forward to following your story, praying for your family and being inspired to seek more of Jesus.

    Merry Christmas!