Archive | October, 2012

dragonfly

31 Oct

When Angel died, someone at the hospital brought me in a bunch of books and pamphlets on grief, funeral planning, postpartum care, etc.  I remember looking at them briefly, but I don’t really remember what any of them said.  This week, we received a book on grief in the mail from the funeral home.  After reading it, I thought about all the other information that the hospital had given me and went to dig it out.  I want to share the following story with you.  It is the most beautiful way to describe what happened to Angel.

The Dragonfly Story

Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water bugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun.  For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond.  They did notice that every once in a while one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about.  Clinging to the stem of a pond lily it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.  “Look!” said one of the water bugs to another.  “One of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk.  Where do you think she is going?” Up, up, up it slowly went…even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight.  Its friends waited and waited but it didn’t return.

“That’s funny!” said one water bug to another. “Wasn’t she happy here?”  asked a second.  “Where do you suppose she went?” wondered a third.

No one had an answer.  They were greatly puzzled.  Finally one of the water bugs, a leader in the colony, gathered its friends together.  “I have an idea.  The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why.”

“We promise,” they said solemnly.

One spring day, not long after, the very bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk.  Up, up, up, he went.  Before he knew what was happening, he had broken through the surface of the water and fallen onto the broad, green lily pad above.  When he awoke, he looked about with surprise.  He couldn’t believe what he saw.  A startling change had come to his old body.  His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail.  Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings.  The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from the new body.  He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself up above the water.  He had become a dragonfly!!

Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air.  He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere.  Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond.  Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs!  There they were scurrying around, just as he had been doing some time before.

The dragonfly remembered the promise: “The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk will come back and tell where he or she went and why.”  Without thinking the dragonfly darted down.  Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away.  Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water.

“I can’t return!” he said in dismay.  At least, I tried,  but I can’t keep my promise.  Even if I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body.  I guess I’ll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too.  Then they’ll understand what has happened to me, and where I went.”

And the dragonfly winged of happily into its wonderful new world of sun and air.

Thank you God, for the story of the water bugs and the dragonflies.

Please remember who left the pond we live in and remember me.

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boy or girl?

30 Oct

I have had some questions from people wondering if we have found out if Angel is a girl or a boy.  We have not seen or heard any autopsy results yet, so no, we do not know.  We did hear from one of the Doctors that the first preliminary tests they ran did not have any results about gender.  This same Dr. told us that it could take anywhere from two to six months to get the autopsy results back.  So, we wait.

Truth is, it honestly doesn’t matter to me if Angel is a girl or a boy.  Either way, Angel is in heaven, perfect and healthy.  It wouldn’t change the way I love Angel to know if our baby is a girl or a boy. In my heart, I think that they are not going to have any results about gender.  Also, I find it very interesting that in the Bible, the angels did not have gender either.  I believe our Angel truly is one of God’s angels.  What I am anxiously awaiting on is to find out if they find any reason to believe that this could happen again in future pregnancies.  I just know my heart could not take another loss like this one.

random ramblings

26 Oct

I have become a blanket baby.  A blanket baby, by MY definition, is someone who is dependant on their blankie to get a good night’s sleep.  In my case, the blanket was my baby’s.  In a previous post, when I wrote about the day that Angel was born and died, I mentioned that after Angel had passed, the nurses cleaned our baby up and brought the baby back to us.  I took a nap that afternoon holding Angel.  Angel laid on my chest while I slept.  That night, after we said goodbye and gave Angel to the nurses, I didn’t sleep very well.  I would drift off and then wake up suddenly feeling in the bed for my baby.  It took me a few moments to realize that Angel was gone.  Before the nurses took Angel to the morgue, they took off the clothes that they had dressed our baby in earlier and brought them to us.  During the night, I found the blanket that Angel had been wrapped in during our afternoon nap, and I have been sleeping with it ever since.  I lay the blanket across my chest and pretend that Angel is still wrapped up inside it.  Sounds a little crazy, I know, but it is so far the only thing that helps me sleep.

Another thing that has been hard is that it feels like my body is betraying me.  Here I am four weeks after Angel was born, and my body still hasn’t figured out that there is no baby to feed.  My milk still has not dried up despite me trying everything that the Doctors and nurses have recommended.  And, as weird as it may sound, part of me doesn’t want it to.  I don’t know how to explain that except that having milk is just more tangible proof that I am Angel’s mother.

I also mentioned earlier that my brother sang at the funeral.  Well, he also spoke.  It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t on the program.  He spoke as led by God to do so.  I so wish that what he said had been recorded, because with all the emotion of the day, I can’t seem to recall it exactly like he said it.  But, what sticks out in my mind, keeps repeating over and over in my mind, is that he said Angel brought me motherhood.  He talked about how I have wanted to be a mother for so long and that there was a time in my life where I was willing to go about that by any means necessary.  Actually, at one point in my life, I was even considering artificial insemination.  Of course, this was long before Jesus brought Arturo and I together.  This was at a time when I thought it would be impossible to trust another man.  He talked about Arturo and I and our whirlwind romance, how we began dating, shortly after were married, and very shortly after were pursuing a family.  He said that God had given me the name for the baby, Angel and that Angel, by definition, means “messenger of God.”  The message that Angel brought to me was motherhood.  This was not an ending.  This was a beginning.  I am so thankful for a brother that listens to the voice of God and who is willing to convey the messages that God lies on his heart.

One of my dear friends also told me of a vision that she had the week after Angel’s birthday.  She said that in her vision Angel was holding hands with Baby #1 (the baby I miscarried in 2003) and telling Baby #1 all about me.  Angel was telling Baby #1 about my courage, bravery, and love.  She said that they are both so proud of me.  I am going to see both my babies in heaven someday.

“I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20

Angie Smith

25 Oct

This past weekend, I had the opportunity and the privilege of meeting one of my heroes, Angie Smith.  Without ever meeting her face to face, she has been such an inspirtation to me throughout my whole pregnancy with Angel and still now.

In October 2011, my mom and I attended a Women of Faith Conference.  We thoroughly enjoyed each speaker and musician that we heard.  It was a great time of drawing closer to the Lord and spending time with my mom.  The women who spoke all had triumphant testimonies about things they had walked through and overcome.  I remember feeling moved by each one of them in different ways. There was a woman who spoke about a miscarriage early on in her marriage and then later after having three girls, losing another baby.  Their second loss was not a miscarriage, it was neonatal death.  She had carried her baby to term and then they were able to hold their daughter for a little over two hours before their Audrey went home to be with Jesus.  I remember parts of her talk and I remember that I cried.  It was very sad.  After we left that conference, I forgot about her and her story.  I didn’t think about it at all.

In the first few weeks following Angel’s diagnosis, I had a few different friends tell me that I should read a book called “I Will Carry You” by Angie Smith.  They said that she had sufferred a loss and their baby’s diagnosis was similar to ours.  They also told me of a song by the same title that was sung by Selah.  I began listening to the song every day and continued to listen to it every day throughout my pregnancy.  Angie Smith, her name sounded familiar and it wasn’t until I bought the book and began reading it that her story came back to my memory.  I realized that this was the woman I had heard speak in October.  As I read her book, I was startled by the similarities in our stories.  She had learned of her daughter’s diagnosis at 18 weeks, same as Angel.  The main problem was that her baby didn’t have any kidneys, same as Angel.  There was never a question in her or her husband’s mind as to whether or not they would carry their daughter, same as Arturo and I.  I began to feel like we were close friends and it felt as though I was sitting down talking to her instead of reading her book.

She mentioned in her book that she had started a blog to keep her family and friends updated on their journey and that is when I made the decision to do the same.  I have always loved to write and I couldn’t think of a better way to accomplish all the things I wanted to do.  Blogging has given me an outlet to share and also to heal.  All the positive feedback I have received from those who have read my blog has given me so much hope and encouragement.  Sometimes when I am having a bad day, or a bad moment, I go back and read a comment sent to me by one of you and I find the strength to carry on.

Sometime during my pregnancy, I went to the Women of Faith website and found out that this year the conference would be held on October 19…my due date…and that Angie Smith would be back to speak again.  Wow.  I found that to be too much of a coincidence.  I told my mom that no matter what, we had to go.  I knew I had to be there.  At the time we made the decision to go to the conference, we had no idea what would be happenning in our lives.  We didn’t know for sure when Angel would be born and we didn’t know how long Angel would be alive.  We didn’t know if I would be healing from delivery still or if I would be healing from a broken heart.  We bought tickets, my mom, Arturo’s mom, and Arturo’s aunt, believing that God would work out the details and that we would be there to hear Angie speak.

As it turns out, the c-section was 3 weeks before the conference which gave me enough time to be ready to travel and listen to Angie speak.  I am so glad that we went.  It has been several years since her Audrey went t0 be with Jesus and she has gone on to have another baby.  Knowing that, hearing her speak, gives me hope for a future.  There were 11,000 women in the arena that day.  Angie asked for every woman in the room who had lost a child, whether through miscarriage, neonatal death, early childhood, whatever the case may be, she asked for them to stand.  I was moved to tears by the number of women who stood all across that arena.  We are everywhere, mothers who have lost their babies.

After she spoke, there was a place we could go to get her autograph and have our picture taken with her.  I got in the line, but not because I wanted her autograph.  I got in the line because I wanted to give her a picture of Angel, to tell her how much she has meant to me.  When it was my turn, she had her pen all ready to sign and I instead startled her by giving her a picture of Angel and telling her a little bit about Angel’s life and diagnosis.  I told her, “I know you must meet thousands of women with similar stories, and I don’t expect you to remember mine, but I just wanted you to know how grateful I am for what you do and what an inspiration you are to me.”  She held my hand and said with tears in her eyes, “I will never forget you or your baby.”

There was a woman sitting across the aisle from us at the conference who had her baby with her.  Her baby couldn’t have been more than two months old.  Every time I heard her baby cry, or coo, I thought how unfair it was that Angel was not there with me.  As I watched her snuggle her baby, I wanted to scream.  I walked past dozens of pregnant women that weekend.  I wanted to stop each one and ask them if their baby was healthy, if they would get to hold their baby for more than three hours and tell them how lucky they were.  I have this overwhelming sense of urgency to make women understand how precious their babies lives are.  Over the past few weeks, I have learned of family members that are pregnant, friends that have had babies (one on the same day as Angel was born) and I have learned of those who have lost children.  Each one of these situations make me weep.

I had a really good run of showering and getting dressed each day.  I thought I was starting to feel like myself again.  Not today, though.  Today I made it from the bed to the couch.  I have been here most of the day, still in my pajamas.  I have no intention of getting off this couch today.  Tomorrow, I have to go back to the Doctor to have my blood pressure checked.  I am dreading it.  I just want to lay here.  I don’t want to move.  I don’t want to see any more babies or pregnant women.  I have to go back to work in a couple weeks.  And, today, I am struggling with feeling that will be possible.

A few weeks before Angel was born, I finished reading another one of Angie Smith’s books “What Women Fear.”  At the conference this weekend, I bought her newest book, “Mended.”  I am so thankful for her.  She is a friend that speaks into my life, and knows exactly how I am feeling, without even knowing me at all.  Mostly, I am thankful that God has given her this mission to help women.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

i’m angry

19 Oct

When I was younger, I used to write a lot of poetry.  All of my poetry came from a place of great pain.  I have not found it in me to write poetry in years. Tonight, my emotions poured out into the following poem.  I am by no means an accomplished poet, but I think this poem best describes how I am feeling right now.  I hope you will accept my honesty once again.

I am sorry your baby keeps you up all night crying

I never got to hear my baby cry

I am up all night with crying

Though, they are my tears

 

I don’t understand why my arms ache with emptiness

More though, I can’t comprehend your complaints

When every day you get to hold your baby

And every day I am mourning mine

 

I admit I am struggling to not be angry with you

I am praying to not grow bitter

I ask Him to convict me of my judgments

And to instead show you His love

 

I am sorry I have found it difficult to be happy for you

When I am in so much pain

I don’t expect you to understand my heartache

I just pray you will cherish every minute with your baby

aftermath

10 Oct

I am still in the denial phase, I think.  I have moments where I realize this is all real.  This happenned.  I carried my baby for 37 weeks, held my living baby in my arms for three hours and nineteem minutes, and treasured the next twelve hours or so with Angel before we gave our baby to God and said goodbye for the last time here on earth.

Have you ever had to make funeral arrangements?  It is not fun.  Have you ever had to make funeral arrangements for your baby?  It sucks.  It sucks worse than anything ever could suck.  That is really the only way I know how to describe it.  We only had a few days to make decisions that could not be changed once they were made.  My arms were still aching to hold Angel and I had all these questions being thrown at me.  Are you going to bury or cremate your baby?  Okay, so you are going to cremate.  What are you going to do with the ashes?  I don’t know!  I had hoped to be making simpler decisions, like  which blanket to wrap Angel in while I rocked baby to sleep.  I wouldn’t have made it through all those impossible decisions without Arturo and our parents.  I really didn’t want anything to do with any of it, but there were just some things that Arturo and I had to decide together.

We had visitation at the funeral home on Thursday night.  I was dreading it.  I was dreading all those people asking me questions.  I couldn’t hide behind my blog.  I would have to face them all and do my best to smile through the pain.  I know people don’t expect me to smile and they understand my tears, but I have a really hard time expressing my emotions out loud.   When we arrived at the funeral home, I was immediately overcome by tears.  There were so many flowers and plants that had been sent in honor of Angel.  I was blown away to see all the love and support from family, friends, co-workers.  It is unbelievable to me that this tiny baby touched so many lives in such a short time.

People started showing up to give us hugs, sympathy, and support.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  I felt so blessed to have so many people stop in that I managed to stay in pretty good spirits.  There were people that came and openly admitted they didn’t know anyone in the room.  They came because they read Angel’s obituary and were saddened by the loss of a baby.  These people, they came because they too had lost babies.  They came to welcome me to the club, the club that no one wants to join.

At one point during the evening, I looked over at the table that had Angel’s urn and I started crying.  Our baby was in there.  This tiny little box was all that was left of our precious Angel.  It was an unbearable thought.  I would never again, on this earth, hold Angel, kiss Angel, sing to Angel.  I would never be able to teach Angel to walk.  I would never get the joy of hearing Angel say “mommy” for the first time.  I would never know if Angel would be a singer, a ball player, an artist, a dancer.  All that remained was this little box.

Friday was the funeral.  It was cold, windy, and dreary which was exactly how I felt on the inside.  The service was beautiful.  My brother sang a song, Arturo’s sister read a poem.  Angel’s service was in the same church and with the same Pastor that married Arturo and I.  Every Sunday when I sit in that church, I remember our wedding.  Now, I am afraid, I will think of Angel’s funeral instead.  The funeral also held an outpouring of support from family, friends, co-workers.  Sacrifices were made by many to travel from long distances and to give up time away from work to be there to support us.

Sometimes, I forget that I am not pregnant anymore.  I have fleeting moments where I get anxious because I haven’t felt the baby move.  It doesn’t take long before I realize there is no more baby.  In these moments, I feel intense sadness and I find myself weeping for what I have lost.

I have had people tell me that they think it would be easier if we hadn’t known about Angel’s fatal diagnosis.  I am very glad we knew.  Because I had knowledge that the Doctors didn’t think we would get very much time with our baby, I knew it was so important to cherish every second of my pregnancy.  I spent those weeks being Angel’s mama.  If I had not known, I might have taken those moments for granted.  I might have found it easy to complain about the morning sickness that continued all the way up until my c-section.  I would have complained about the heartburn, the swelling, the frequent urination.  Instead, I was happy to endure whatever came my way just for another minute to carry my baby.  Even crazier, I would do it all over again just to have another 3 hours and 19 minutes with Angel.

My days are hard.  They will probably be hard for quite some time.  I am able to get out of bed everyday, shower, and get dressed.  I am not finding motivation for much more than that.  I haven’t cooked and if it wasn’t for my mom, my house would be a pit.  I cry everyday, but I am able to smile when I think about the time we spent with our beautiful baby.  I don’t think I will ever be the same.  There is a sadness about me that will probably always be there.  As always, I am grateful for my husband, our families, and all the support we have received.  I truly believe that it is all the prayers that have kept me functioning.

three hours nineteen minutes

1 Oct

If you were a stranger and passed me on the street, you probably wouldn’t know that I am hurting.  You wouldn’t be able to feel the depth of my pain and suffering.  It wouldn’t be evident that I held Angel in my arms while my baby was dying.  If you saw me on the street, I would probably have a smile on my face, so how would you know that inside I am broken?

But, know this. Even though you can’t see it, I will carry Angel with me forever.  I will always be Angel’s mama.  I loved Angel so much while I was carrying this baby in my womb and to look upon Angel’s face I was completely overwhelmed that I could love our baby even more than I ever thought imaginable.

Initially, I thought it might take me awhile to be able to write this, but I realized that the longer I wait to get this in print, the more precious details I will forget.  I don’t ever want to forget this day.

I woke up the morning of September 27th not really knowing how I felt.  I was anxious about all the unknowns.  I was excited to hold our baby, and I was terrified that all my worst fears would become reality.  I was overall pretty calm, though.   I didn’t really have a lot of time to process my emotions that morning anyway.  We had to be at the hospital at 5:00 am, so we got out of bed shortly before leaving.  Surprisingly, I did get some sleep.  I slept for about 4 ½ hours, so that is much better than anyone would probably have expected.

Once we got into our room at the hospital, it was pretty much non-stop hustle and bustle.  The nurse asked me all kinds of admission questions while preparing me for surgery.  They worked on getting my IV started…which of course took four tries, two nurses, and one anesthetist to accomplish the task.  I started to feel a little anxiety while they worked on that.  I was nervous that they would have as much trouble with the spinal.  I have never had a spinal before, so I had no idea what to expect.  Several of our Doctors and nurses came and went from the room.  They all wanted us to know that they would be in the operating room and to find out if there were any last minute questions we needed answered.  They got Arturo all suited up in a cute white jumpsuit.  When our Pastor arrived, they also got him suited up.  They had explained to us that when the baby was born, if it looked like we would have some time with Angel, an hour or more, that he would not need to come into the operating room.  But, if it seemed like Angel might not be alive by the time they were done stitching me up, they would get him right away and he could pray and baptize the baby right in the operating room.  As they prepared me for surgery, my parents, Arturo’s parents, our Pastor and his wife, they were all in our room with us.  We prayed and read scripture while I could feel Angel moving inside, but I couldn’t help feel more and more anxious as the minutes ticked by.  Shortly before surgery, the nurse cleared the room leaving only Arturo and I to ourselves.  I began crying and begged him to take me home.  I didn’t want to go through with this c-section at all.  He told me we couldn’t leave and reassured me that everything would be okay.  I just had this overwhelming sense of wanting to take my baby home while Angel was still alive and the only way I knew how to make sure that happened was to leave Angel in my womb and head back home.

They took me into the operating room by myself while they put in my spinal and did a few other things.  Now, I was really starting to panic.  I was crying and having trouble breathing.  I hardly even felt them put the spinal in because my mind was so full of fear for what was about to happen.  At one point, as I had tears streaming down my face, one of the nurses grabbed my hand and prayed with me.  The anesthetist strapped my arms down and told me that this was so that I wouldn’t reach out and try to help the Doctor.  As full as my mind was, I did actually laugh at this and was glad that he had made the joke.  There were so many people in the room and I had the overwhelming urge to tell them all that I was sorry they had to be there, sorry they had to take time out of their busy schedules to help me.  How silly.  This was their job.

Just before they started cutting, they brought Arturo in the room and sat him in a chair at the head of my bed.  They also brought our photographer in.  The same nurse who had prayed for me now asked me what I wanted to listen to on the radio.  I said K-LOVE and when she changed the station, the song playing was “Held” by Natalie Grant.  Listening to that song put me at peace for a few minutes.  “This is what it means to be held, how it feels when the sacred is torn from your arms, and you survive.”

While he was cutting, it seemed like an eternity was passing by, when in reality it took less than 30 minutes.  I was crying and starting to hyperventilate a little bit.  I so did not want them to take Angel from me.  Arturo held my hand and tried to see what was going on.  I heard the Doctor ask for the time and someone respond with 0738.  Then, I felt them tugging the baby from me and I just couldn’t help but bawl.  They then called a new time of 0739.  7:39 am is when Angel entered this world.  Arturo said he could see the baby’s head and I asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?”  No one would respond.  The room was very quiet indeed.  I didn’t hear baby crying and no one else would say much at all.  I then began screaming, “Is it a boy or a girl!!??”  I saw them move Angel over to a table to examine our baby and Arturo followed them.  My Dr. finally said, “They will tell you in a minute.”  It seemed like a lifetime was passing by and I must be invisible because no one would answer me if Angel was a boy or a girl!  Then, amidst all the Doctors and nurses, I got a glimpse of them holding Angel up and I could see what the problem was.  Angel’s legs were connected.  In the womb, they kept telling us that they couldn’t see if Angel was a boy or a girl because Angel always had the legs so tight together.  They would joke and say that Angel was modest.  Well, now I knew that truly it was because Angel’s legs were joined together and baby’s genitalia did not form.  Shortly after I saw my first glimpse of baby, Arturo brought the baby over wrapped up in a warm, white blanket and a cute little beanie on baby’s head.  He said, “They don’t know.  They can’t tell if Angel is a boy or a girl.”  I had already deduced that, but to hear him say it out loud brought a whole new wave of tears.  Arturo said the cord had been wrapped around Angel’s neck three times and that was why baby was a little blue.  As I looked at Angel’s face for the first time, I said to Arturo, “Angel has your nose.”  Angel was making these little sucking faces, trying to breathe and once in awhile, baby would make the sweetest cooing noise.  It was the most beautiful sound in the whole world.

No one was saying very much, but then I saw them bring our Pastor in the room and he began praying and baptizing Angel.  I didn’t need them to say anything.  I knew that this meant they didn’t expect Angel to be with us for much longer.  Everything happened so fast while we were in the operating room, so to really nail down an order of events is hard, but I do remember our Pastor saying, “Lord, we commit Angel to you.”  Yes, Jesus.  We commit Angel to you.  We surrender this baby’s life to your care and your love.  Thank you for how much you love Angel.  As I looked upon that sweet face, and saw gentle tears streaming down Arturo’s face, I began to feel something completely different.  I felt guilty.  I felt as though I had taken this from Arturo, that it was my fault that he would not get to raise his baby.  As I continued sobbing, I started to tell him how sorry I was. He would not let me accept fault for this situation and told me that I needed to get that thought out of my mind.  I wanted to touch Angel, but they still had my arms strapped down while the Doctor was sewing me up.  I started freaking out about this a little bit and finally the anesthetist let my one arm go so that I could at least reach out and touch Angel’s head.   I then began saying, “Why Lord?  Why have you allowed this?  It is so unfair.”  Our palliative care Doctor came over at least once while we were still in the operating room and listened to Angel’s heartbeat.  It seemed to be beating fine and he said that he could give Angel a little morphine to make baby more comfortable.  We agreed.  We didn’t want Angel to suffer.

When the Doctor finished stitching me up, he reached up and told me that I had done a good job.  What?  I hadn’t done anything but lay there, so how could that be considered a good job?  And he couldn’t possibly be talking about Angel.  I hadn’t protected Angel the way I was supposed to.  Our baby would not live much longer and it just had to be my fault.  No, I had not done a good job at all.

They moved me onto a stretcher from the operating table and I asked, “Now can I hold my baby?”  Arturo put Angel in my arms and I felt a wave of peace rush over me.  They wheeled us out of the operating room and as we passed by the waiting room, I could see the worried faces of our family.  Once they had us all situated in the room, they let our parents, our Pastor and his wife come in the room.  I started to feel the joy in the situation.  Every time the Doctor would come in to check on Angel, he was surprised to tell us that Angel’s heart was still beating strong and we were grateful for every minute we got to spend with baby.  Angel started to gain some color in the face and even had some rosiness to the cheeks.  After about an hour or so, Angel stopped moving and making those sweet noises.  Arturo and I were afraid that baby had passed.  The nurse called the Doctor and when he came in and listened, he said that Angel’s heart was still beating, but it had slowed down.  He predicted we would have another hour.

We passed Angel around the room from grandma to grandma, from grandpa to grandpa.  Surprisingly, I was happy to let everyone hold Angel.  I did not feel this desperate need to cling to Angel for every minute I could.  All of these people had shared so greatly in Angel’s life and I could not deny them the opportunity to be blessed with this sweet little baby.  One of my closest friends had expressed interest in wanting to meet Angel.  When she had first asked, I didn’t know if I would want her to come or not, but all of a sudden, I wanted the whole world to meet Angel.  I had Arturo get a hold of her and tell her to come up to the hospital.  She was there much faster than I expected and she got to hold Angel while baby was still alive.  This filled me with so much joy.  Our Pastor’s wife was reluctant when I asked her if she wanted to hold Angel.  She didn’t want to take any precious moments away from me.  I assured her that I wanted her to hold baby, and she graciously agreed.  I spent some time singing to Angel and spent much time kissing Angel and stroking baby’s beautiful face.  I kept looking at the clock and realizing that one hour had passed, two hours had passed, three hours had passed and Angel was still alive!  This was so much more than anyone had expected.

I really wanted to know how much Angel weighed.  They hadn’t taken time to weigh Angel because they wanted to get baby in our arms right away.  Even now when I asked, they said that they wanted to wait until Angel had passed.  I was pretty adamant that I wanted to know, so they went and got a scale.  The nurse said that they were going to get me cleaned up and so she asked for our family and friends to leave the room.  One of the grandmas had been holding Angel; I honestly can’t remember which one.  The baby was given back to me before everyone left the room.  I kissed baby a few times then gave Angel to Arturo so that they could wash me up.  They decided that they would weigh baby and give baby a bath while they were cleaning me up.  Also, the photographer, from the organization Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, who had been taking pictures since the operating room, said she would get some good posed picture of baby.  Arturo gave the nurse the baby and they started washing baby and weighed baby in at 3 lbs. 7 oz.  What a perfectly precious baby.  They were still working on washing and dressing baby.  They have this wonderful organization called Minutes of Gold that makes tiny clothes for babies and donates them to Sanford for their tiny patients.  They let Arturo pick an outfit to put Angel in.  As they were working on all this, the palliative care Doctor came in and took a listen to Angel’s heart.  I think somewhere inside me, I had started to feel like Angel was going to be okay, that since Angel had been with us for this long that Angel would be with us forever.  He looked over at me and said very calmly, “I can’t hear a heartbeat.”  I replied very calmly back, “Okay.”  I was in complete shock.  They declared time of death 10:58 am.  I wasn’t sure when Angel had passed or who had been holding Angel as baby’s heart beat for the last time.  I was actually kind of glad I didn’t know.  Angel had just peacefully slipped away, so peacefully that we were all oblivious.

Over the next couple of hours, there were more pictures taken, and kisses given.  They said we could keep Angel with us until morning if we wanted to.  I wanted to keep Angel with us forever.  I wanted to nurse Angel.  I wanted to strap Angel in the tiny little car seat that we had bought and drive home from the hospital together.  I wanted to rock Angel and sing lullabies to our baby.  I wanted to give Angel a bath and massage baby lotion into Angel’s soft skin.  I wanted to lay Angel down in the bassinet and watch baby sleep.  I would not be able to do any of those things.  I would have to say goodbye before we left this hospital knowing that I would never again see Angel on this earth.

The palliative care Doctor came in at some point and told us that Angel had sirenomelia, or Mermaid’s syndrome.  This syndrome occurs in 1 out of every 100,000 births.  This syndrome is caused by lack of blood flow from the umbilical cord.  We had been told early on that Angel had a two vessel cord versus a three vessel cord, so this is what caused the sirenomelia.  They told us they would do a full autopsy and should be able to determine Angel’s sex by the chromosomes.  My ob came in also that afternoon.  He told me that he was sorry they hadn’t known about the sirenomelia.  I told him that it didn’t matter.  We wouldn’t have done things any differently had we known.  Angel had so many difficult obstacles to overcome and the fact that we got to spend 3 hours and 19 minutes with baby while Angel was alive was truly a miracle.

There were many tears that day, but there was also laughter, and there was abundance of love. I took a nap with Angel that afternoon and I spent so much time kissing Angel’s cheeks I am surprised they didn’t get chapped.  I wasn’t sure when would be the right time to let Angel go and thank God for my husband who said we should do it that night before we went to sleep.  He is so good at stepping in and making the hard decisions when I am just unable to.

That evening, a couple more people made it in time to hold Angel before we gave baby to the nurses.  A very close family friend and also Arturo’s oldest sister dropped everything in her very busy schedule to drive up and see baby. I was so happy that they got the experience of holding Angel.  Our parents and our Pastor left that evening with the knowledge that they would not see Angel again.  Arturo and I spent a little more time with baby before we let the nurse come and get our Angel.

I realized that this was not goodbye.  Angel is the lucky one.  Angel is in heaven with Jesus, whole and perfect, and happy.  We are the ones stuck here on earth in an imperfect world.  Angel is running and playing in heaven and when we get there, Angel will greet us.

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