A Face of Grace

The next morning started off a little easier with a catered breakfast, that neither of us ate, and more friends were able to stop by to visit. We had church family, coworkers, and friends come by all day offering whatever they could bring or do to try and somehow help ease a little pain. We didn’t see it at that time, but their presence and love alone was all we really needed with every visit. I personally looked at food and was nauseous immediately.

Water was about the only thing I could keep down and I’m hypoglycemic (I need food and sugar to keep my body functioning). It’s a cheesy saying most times, but it truly was the thought that counted at this time! As the day went on and more nurses and doctors came through everything we had ever planned for Sydney was quickly changing.

Our first child was born c-section because of some complications, so we already planned to have our second via c-section. Doctors and nurses quickly changed this as they explained that another surgery and procedure for my wife in this situation would add a whole new level of risk. I can remember my wife breaking down in tears simply of fear because she had never planned this as a natural birth, but she too understood the risk of surgery and that it could be even worse. As a father, you feel hopeless in these situations. In both cases it is always in the doctor’s hands for safety. During a c-section though you are behind the blue sheet, just the two of you, and you don’t really notice the danger or risk in that moment. You feel like you can help your wife through it because she too is right there behind that sheet, maybe just a head, but she is there at the same time. However, during natural birth you just feel helpless. Everything is up to her for pushing, resting, and delivering this baby. You can hold her hand and help breathe, but it’s almost a feeling of “Is this all I’m here for?” At that moment I felt helpless, not just because of our situation with Sydney and there was nothing we could do, but that my wife is scared on her first natural delivery and there is still nothing I can do.

Quickly the day was passing and as more friends and family finished their work day they too came and visited. That evening around 5:30pm the nurses came and said that we were ready to begin. Contractions were steady and everything was looking good for pushing and delivery to begin.

Now our doctor had an event on this weekend that prevented her from being there, so at this point a doctor which we had never had an appointment with and never really knew was going to be our delivery doctor. He was still the nicest and most sympathetic doctor I had ever come in contact with. He explained everything we ever asked with great detail and quickly became our second go to doctor for any future children we may have! At this point I never did the breathing classes or training for a natural birth, even with our first child, so I really didn’t know what to do but hold my wife’s hand and tell her she was doing great. I probably sounded like a broken record of just repeating “you’re doing great, keep going“, but thankfully it was not a long delivery.

Around 6:00pm our baby girl, Sydney Jane, was born. I remember in 2015 hearing my son cry for the first time and seeing him all bloody and nasty before they wrapped him up. I remember the first smile my wife and I shared when I carried him over for her to see, and the first tear we both shared to finally know he was here. Everything was in full replay mode in this moment from his birth to hers.

For Sydney though; the doctor didn’t speak, the nurse didn’t say a word, and I don’t even remember if my wife and I even looked at each other. I just know that it was immense silence. I immediately tried covering my wife to somehow block the lack of noise and somehow think that I could change the impact of what just happened. At every attempt I failed, it may have only been a few seconds of silence, but quickly the crying and sobbing from my wife and I filled the room. 

At this point we both knew that Our plan for a miracle was not God’s plan. The doctor and nurse both explained how the umbilical cord had been wrapped around Sydney’s neck several times and had gotten tight. The doctor explained it more for the reason of trying to explain why this had happened, but the nurse explained it to try and prepare us for what she may look like. Her skin was torn around the neck and tender areas of her tiny body. Her hands, feet, and arms were even more wrinkled. Even the plates in her head felt more like jello because at this point they were no longer connected.

Through all of this though, no matter how bad the skin may have appeared we could still see all of her beauty in that tiny face. She was the absolute twin of our firstborn son! Her eyes, her nose, her lips, her ears, her hair; everything about her reminded us of the first time we saw our son. The first thing I noticed, and the biggest thing I will always remember, were here lips. They were a maroon red color, mainly from everything she had gone through, but I saw it more as she was wearing lipstick. Just as any princess or angel would, she was our perfect angel shown in all her glory. She had the softest head of hair and the most perfect little nose you just wanted to poke at and touch. The framed quote above perfectly sums up everything we felt on that first view of our baby girl,

All of God’s Grace in One Tiny Face

We were able to sit alone, just my wife and I, for as long as we wanted to and just stare at her beautiful face; but of course I knew grandparents and friends could not wait to come see her. We spent about half an hour alone with our baby girl and then I went to our waiting room to announce her birth to the family and friends who were waiting patiently. It was another big round of tears and hugs throughout, but slowly each family took their time and entered the room to see my wife and to meet our baby girl. I felt fearful at first for what people might see when they entered the room and how they might react, but I think with every visit God was evidently present in the room. Each person that entered was a new feeling of grace and love that it didn’t matter what our baby girl looked like or the fact that she was silent; they were simply there to encourage and love all over my wife and I. There are not enough words in the world to express our thanks to each and every person at that time, but we both love and cherish each and every person.

Now my wife is originally from Canada so when we told her parents the day before what had happened they immediately dropped everything and started the long two day trip to the States. They were still not expected to be in town until Saturday afternoon, but we both prayed that they could meet their first granddaughter in the hospital. We were supposed to be discharged Saturday afternoon, but the hospital was gracious enough to let us stick around with our daughter until my wife’s family was able to visit. Of course Saturday held new tears and new grieving moments with her family, but it was so precious to be able to have both sides of our family take photos with Sydney that will forever be cherished.

Within 48 hours I went from a father of one son and expecting our first daughter; to a father of a son on earth and an angel in Heaven. Even in these two days people continued to say how strong they thought we were, but without the Grace of God and the Hope that only He can give I don’t think either of us would have made it through this. Stillbirth is a topic that is usually very silent and many simply do not share what they have gone through in their experience. I could not imagine how I would have handled this situation if I had not known God and had not known that I would one day see my daughter again in Heaven.

I don’t know who will read this or where this post may go, but I hope that somehow it can show someone the goodness of God and that grace that He provides even in your darkest situations. As a lost sinner the only way to experience that grace is to come to God in repentance and accept Him as your Lord and Savior. As a saved Christian there would be no way we could experience His grace and goodness if we didn’t go through these trials.

If everything was always perfect in our lives we would never need God’s grace and mercy every day.

Praise the Lord that we can experience His Grace and Mercy through every journey! At the time of sharing this story, the end of April 2020, we have just had our third child. Our rainbow baby! Of course another post will be coming soon about baby three and how ecstatic his parents are!

A Friend in Need

As we arrived back at the Women’s and Children’s hospital, specifically the maternity floor, we were now in waiting mode. Thankfully, our assistant pastor arrived shortly after to encourage us and pray with us, as well as my family. Every nurse on the floor knew our situation, so we were placed in the back corner of a quiet hallway where a waiting room across the hall could be invaded by family and friends.

The first thing we did when we were placed in our room was to have another doppler test for a heartbeat. Still, there was nothing; no heartbeat, no movement, no noise except for that scruffy machine. Once everything settled down again and we semi-unpacked to feel more comfortable and for the first time of the evening I looked at my phone.

The overwhelming amount of messages already pouring in for sympathy and encouragement was so amazing I couldn’t help but again break down in tears. I was able to respond back to those texting us, as well as send a few text messages to friends and coworkers that I knew had not heard the news. Folks that had just gotten off work themselves and still offered to turn around and bring snacks and drinks or food to the hospital for whatever my wife and I needed. The love and encouragement we felt already was so amazing, but in our eyes nothing positive or negative had happened yet. God could still pull a miracle off if He chose to do so!

The first night seemed to go on forever because the doctors did not want to induce just yet. It was more of a monitoring evening just to make sure everything would be fine and safe for my wife. I journeyed back and forth from our hospital room to the waiting room that our friends and family were camped out in. We had friends that travelled an hour or more to see us and coworkers that had just gotten off 12 hour shifts that turned around to head back to the hospital. Friends that even in your dark times stick around to help you through it, even if just to cry along with you. Having all of these friends at the hospital I think helped my wife grieve as she had other women who had miscarriages or other ladies she was very close to come in to just cry with her or laugh with her in a way that I could not help.

Soon it was late and all the friends and family had gone home. Now, for me sleep always sounds amazing, but this evening was very different. We were just given the hardest news we had ever received in our life a few hours earlier, and now they had placed us on a floor full of screaming mothers and crying babies. They told us to try and get some rest as the next day was going to be a very hard 24 hours, but at this point neither of us could sleep. We both knew Scripture and had seen plenty of times where God stepped in and made the miraculous happen, so we both prayed all night for some kind of miracle. We both knew that He was still the same God of the Bible and if He wanted to He could easily fix our situation as we in human nature saw it needed fixing. I’m pretty sure we both dozed off at some point for at least a little rest, but the next day had arrived and it was going to hold something neither of us had ever experienced. Find out what that is in our next session entitled A Face of Grace.

A Father’s Perspective

April 12th, 2018 we expected the birth of our second child; our baby girl Sydney Jane. On April 5th, exactly one week from our due date, I received a phone call I pray I never receive again. My mom called from the hospital and told me to rush to the hospital as soon as possible. I began praying immediately that nothing happened to My Girls; my wife or my daughter, but I ran to my car and quickly began the trip. It was 4:15pm and rush hour on the main interstate through Huntsville was starting to back up. By God’s Grace I made a trip that normally takes 30 to 45 minutes, in 10 minutes flat.

As I walked into the office the nurses immediately rushed me to the back hallway where they do ultrasounds and I met my crying wife sitting on the table. It took two words spoken by my wife to change everything in our world in a split second; No Heartbeat.

I don’t remember speaking, sitting, or even breathing for the next hour or so. I arrived at the hospital before 4:30pm, but we didn’t return to our car until almost 6:00pm. Now usually our car is a karaoke jam from point A to point B as we both love music and singing, but there was no noise and no sound in the car at this point. Music didn’t play for another 2 weeks, until I returned to work.

The next part I remember after leaving the doctor’s office is when our pastor called as we pulled out of the parking lot. I don’t remember what he said, but I remember that as he prayed with us the thought that this isn’t a dream; it’s going to be the rest of our lives from that moment on. The entire ride home it was just my wife and I in the car so we held hands and cried the whole way home.  Of course all of the tears came from our sudden loss, but honestly it was more from confusion and praying for a miracle or that the doctors were all wrong.

Arriving back home we went straight to the rooms and just sort of collapsed on the bed where we slowly packed clothes. At that point we lived with my parents, so we had planned to have Sydney and place her in our room with us for the first little while until we could find a house. We had already moved most of our clothes to another closet in the house and had placed everything from newborn through 3 months in our closet.

We also had the bed side baby bed ready and other baby items sitting in our room. So pushing past all the new baby items and trying to pack our items became even harder as you grab the newborn onesie and now realize it will never be worn, or spit up on, or used. With packed bags we were headed back to the hospital for a night and weekend that held no answers and no hope for our family or future.

My wife and I are both believe in God, but at this point in our lives everything seemed hopeless. Why did this happen to us? Why now? Why would He take away our daughter? What good could this ever bring to anyone? We simply couldn’t understand the purpose or reason as to why any of this happened. Keep following and find out how these questions are answered as our story continues next time on A Friend in Need.