Lucy Evelyn Rose Gaeng
Born to Heaven March 13, 2012
9 inches long 13.3 ouncesI am writing this story because our daughter’s life deserves recognition as does the life of all babies ever conceived. Her “birth” story deserves to be told. The reality that Timmy and I are now the parents of two children and that Jamie is in fact a big brother needs to be recognized. I am sharing this with you, but please don’t feel obligated to read it. I am doing for Lucy and for myself. I have also included pictures of my pregnancy and Lucy herself at the end of this post. Lucy looks different than most preterm babies. While she was perfectly formed, she had severe hydrops. A condition that caused her to be extremely swollen. You may find her VERY difficult to look at, but she is our sweet baby girl and to us she is beautiful. There is a line between the end of her story and the photographs. Please do not scroll down past the line if you do not wish to see Lucy, but please don’t ever forget her life.
At 2:45 on Wednesday, March 7th we excitedly walked through the doors of American Radiology. I chose to have our sonogram there because I kind of have an attachment to the building where their office is. It is in the same building Shady Grove Fertility where the Lord blessed us with the creation of our daughter. We were so thrilled to be finding out the gender of our sweet baby. I had been longing to call this miracle inside of me by name. I have to give credit to the poor sonographer as she kept a neutral look on her face as she scanned our baby. Of course she could not tell us what she was seeing, although I am sure she knew. We were not able to find out that we were having a girl that day. The sonographer stated that the baby’s legs were crossed. She left the room for a little while, suggested I use the bathroom and walk around a bit. When she came back in Timmy’s mother, my parents and Jamie came in as well with eager expectation. Once again the sonographer was unable to determine that Lucy was, in fact, Lucy. We left. Timmy was frustrated, we were all disappointed. On the way home I called “Precious Previews,” a service that does sonograms just for “fun.” I made an appointment for Monday, March 12th and we went about our afternoon.
We had been home for less then an hour when one of the midwives from the birth center called. When Timmy told me who was calling I knew something was not right. The radiologist had immediately contacted the birth center. Lindsey, the midwife told us our baby had “heart, lung and arm anomalies.” I asked her what the word “anomaly” meant even thought I understood it by the context. I don’t remember what her explanation was, it really didn’t matter. I burst into uncontrollable sobs when she said the words. Jamie came running over to me, put my face in his hands and said, “Mommy, don’t cry. That breaks my heart.” Upon ending our conversation I immediately paged my OB, explained the situation and he agreed to see me the next morning. We tried to call American Radiology to get the ultra sound report faxed to my OB’s office, but they were no longer answering the phone. Timmy quickly jumped in his truck and drove back there, but they were closed. He called another branch and they were somewhat helpful in assuring us it would get faxed to my OB. I paged the OB on call at my practice and Dr. Morey called me back. He talked to me for quite a while and explained that he really couldn’t comment about our baby in particular until he saw the ultrasound report, but that many babies have anomalies that heal up before birth. I appreciated the hope and his kind words. At this point we were crying out to Jesus telling Him we would welcome a special needs child, just let us keep our baby.
The next morning, Thursday March 8th started a constant string of phone calls that went on for days and is only now beginning to slow. At 8:00am I called American Radiology to make sure they were faxing the report to my OB. At 8:30 I called my OB’s office to confirm the appointment the doctor had made with me on our call the evening prior. Then Jamie and I took a walk to the playground. At around 9:00 I received a call from Debbie, a nurse from my OB’s office. She said the doctor wanted me to see a perinatologist immediately, and to see him the next day. She explained that he was calling every hospital in Baltimore to see who could fit me in immediately. She started saying words like “survival rates.” As it would turn out our sweet love did not have a chance of surviving here with us. Debbie gave me the number to Franklin Square where an 11:30am appointment had been made for us. Timmy rushed home from work (not something that is really done in his industry... He was in the middle of filming a television episode and he was the only audio guy on set.) Timmy’s mother went to work, only to immediately leave to come sit with Jamie. To my sweet boy’s dismay we had to leave the park and walk back home. When we got back I called Franklin Square to confirm the appointment. I spoke to the sonographer who would be doing a level 2 ultrasound. She said it was not appropriate for our son to be present because of the news we were going to receive and that we may be there for 2 or more hours in the case the case that we have a “procedure.” I immediately reacted and said “We are not having an abortion!” She did not respond. As some point in our conversation she asked me what I was told about our baby. I told her what Lindsey the midwife had said the day before. I think this sonographer was the first to refer to Lucy as “very very sick.”
When Timmy’s mother arrived I was on the phone speaking with the wife of our senior pastor. She was very helpful and also prayed with me on the phone. Timmy and my mother arrived at the same time.
While, Jamie was excited that Mom Mom was here to play, he was beginning to realize something was very wrong. In the coming days he would say things like... “Mommy you cry all day. You just want baby and not me.” “Is Mommy going up too?” ( as in is Mommy going to Heaven too?) “Mommy are you sad?” “Mommy are you crying?”
Timmy and I really were loosing control and Jamie was the one being affected. Mommy’s “limited screen time” rule had turned into “what movie do you want to watch now buddy?” Our healthy foods only rule turned into “do you want a lollipop or a cookie?” Our sweet man was border-lining disrespectful and coming to expect us to ask “how high?” when he told us to jump.
We arrived at Franklin Square a little after 11:00am for our 11:30 appointment. While we were registering, a pregnant woman sat in the waiting room speaking with another woman waiting. When the other woman inquired about the sex of her baby the mother- to- be responded that she didn’t know yet, but did say this, “I don’t want a girl. I have two boys and I don’t want a girl.” They the two women proceeded to talk about rising baby food and diaper prices. My mother and Timmy just looked at me and I said “People don’t understand, they really just don’t understand.”
We were called back and I laid down in a chair with a screen right above me so I could see our baby. Timmy sat beside me on a chair and Christy, or Christine (I forget her name) began scanning our baby. She explained what she saw as she went along. As she spoke I did not cry. Jesus gave me a tremendous amount of strength throughout the events leading up to Lucy’s delivery. Christine showed us that Lucy had a two chambered heart, cysts on her neck, organs in the wrong place, two little feet turned in and was severely swollen. The swolleness was due to “hydrops” a condition in which every internal part part of our baby was surrounded by fluid. Just how swollen she was would be revealed three long days later when I delivered her. Soon after Christine had finished Dr Gherman came in. He was very kind and soft spoken. He told us that our Lucy (although we would not learn we had a daughter until delivery) had only a two chambered heart and was in heart failure. I had very little amniotic fluid. We also spoke to a geneticist, both she and Dr Gherman thought that Lucy may have had Turner’s Syndrome, which only girls have, but that could not be determined without an amniocentesis or autopsy. The amnio would give us more accurate results, but would be difficult to perform with such little amniotic fluid. We decided we wanted to take more time to decide if I would undergo the amnio so we did not have it done that day... we decided to wait until Monday, but our little girl would be called home before that. While talking with Dr Gherman we made it clear that it was not our decision when our child would leave this earth. That is only a decision for our Lord and Savior to make. He did have some concerns about me getting “Mirror Syndrome,” an illness in which I would mirror Lucy’s symptoms and have dangerously high blood pressure, however that would not be the case.
On the way home we stopped at Noodles and Co to eat. When we got home Timmy spoke to his mother about Lucy’s condition and I played with Jamie for a bit, something that would get difficult and sometimes impossible in the coming days. The amount of guilt and anguish I am carrying now about not being able to be the Mommy my little boy knows it disgusting. This is all disgusting. But Jesus is bringing good out of it in different ways. My relationship with Timmy is extremely powerful. His relationship with Jesus is growing and he feels closer to Him then he ever has in his life. How could we not feel intimately close with the One who is holding our daughter?
That afternoon we decided I would resign from my job. How could I return to work waiting for my daughter inside me to slip away? How could I be expected to return to work after she was delivered? What mother returns to work within a few days after her child is born? I guess some must, but I could not.
There were many logistical things we had to work on, one of the biggest was health insurance since on March 31st my coverage for our family will end. We needed to make funeral arrangements for our daughter. Would we bury her? Cremate? Where would we leave her remains? A grave or should we bring her home with us? You see I was about to deliver a whole baby girl. With all her perfect parts and they were perfect. Her sweet fingers and toes blew me away the most. Jesus took care of researching our options in funeral arrangements through a fellow baby loss mama friend who’s sweet boy was born to heaven a few years ago.
We also knew that we would need to be surrounded constantly by family and friends. I called my Aunt Gail and her daughters, but Jesus had already placed it on their hearts to come stay with us. This brings in the timing of the sweet miracles given to us by Jesus Christ, my God, my Savior. We knew Lucy was going to be called home to Heaven, but no one could really tell us when. We had asked for people to pray specifically for either a miraculous healing if it was God’s will or for Him to please take her home quickly. There were several reasons for this. One, and the most important was to prevent our anguish as her parents from being prolonged. There are many many small steps in this process. I wanted to get to the part where I could begin to “heal,” although I understand I will never heal from this. And that is okay. Another baby loss mama i know... a mother of two sweet babies called to heaven (yes she suffered twice with two separate pregnancies, labors, deliveries and losses) told me the grief is like a back pack. It is very heavy, and it doesn't get lighter, ever, but we as mothers and fathers get stronger carrying it. Right now I need a lot of help carrying my back pack. Jesus is carrying for me completely now, through take care of Lucy and by surrounding me with those who love me. Jesus will be the One who shows me how to build my strength to carry it, but at the same time will carry my load when ever it gets too heavy for me.
Other reasons the timing was critical. My OB, who attended Jamie’s birth is going on vacation March 22nd, my Aunt Gail will be out of the country the same time and Timmy has a major business trip next week. We needed Jesus to make this happen for us, He was the only one who could make the arrangements we needed. Not knowing when Lucy would pass, Aunt Gail and her daughters and their children planned to arrive Monday afternoon. This would prove His miraculous timing. Nothing in this life is mere circumstance.
The next day was Friday, March 9th, Timmy’s 33rd birthday. That afternoon I had an appointment scheduled with Dr. Swanbeck, my regular OB, whom i adore. We took Jamie with us because we really didn’t have anyone to sit with him, but that was ok. The tech took my blood pressure which was of course high, not from the possible “Mirror Syndrome” but because of my anxiety. My urine also had a little protein in it but Dr. Swanbeck was not concerned. He talked to us at length about our baby, about how I might be induced.. about labor... about delivery. From speaking with three other baby loss mommies and Dr. Swanbeck I learned I would certainly be going through labor. Real labor and real pushing. I began to get very scared about labor and that was where my focus was for a few days. I was terrified to be induced, as that is not something I would ever choose to do before 42 weeks, unless someone’s life was truly, truly in danger. I was terrified of the pitocin because I know what pitocin contractions feel like as I was given pitocin when I was “stuck” at 9.5cm with Jamie. The contractions are not natural, they are harder on the baby’s heart and can lead to a c-section and relentless on a mother without an epidural. I did not what an epidural with Lucy either. I knew that the pitocin and epidural what not cause Lucy additional harm, but it would make the process more difficult for me. I was very very scared.
After we spoke at length, Dr. Swanbeck got the doppler to so we could listen to Lucy’s heart. We weren’t sure if we would hear one, but I had a feeling she was still with us and she had been moving in her normal patterns that I had felt since she was 12 weeks old in utero. Lucy always got excited after Mommy ate dinner. That is when she moved the most. Sometimes she would kick when we were discussing something and I would say “Well the baby likes that idea!” Dr. Swanbeck placed the doppler on my tummy and searched for Lucy. It took a minute but he found her. Her heartbeat was a mere 100bpm. Abnormally low. We knew out sweet girl with a two chambered heart was most certainly in heart failure.
We went home that afternoon and sent out updates about our daughter. I called the school system and resigned. They were very kind to me, as were my dear friends with whom I worked. They were always my cheerleaders even though they knew I would be there only for one school year because we needed the health insurance to go through a fresh cycle of IVF. When they found out our treatments had worked they rejoiced with us. The teacher I worked for even came by our home and gave us a beautiful plant and card.
As we were just spending time at home when Lucy really really started moving, like never before. A solid 10 seconds of movement. Timmy even had time to come over and feel her move. We will always cherish that moment spent with our daughter. She was a fighter. Even though it may be a month before her autopsy results come back, if she did have Turner’s Syndrome most babies pass away way with in the first trimester. In fact it is thought that many early term miscarriages are attributed to Turner’s Syndrome. But we got to spend 19 amazing weeks with our Lucy and even got to hold her. I made sure to sing to her and talk to her while she was still living inside me. I told her how much we love her and that Jesus has a great plan for her. I held my tummy to be close to her.
Later that afternoon Timmy took Jamie to piano lessons. I sat in my favorite rocker with my daughter. The same rocker I sat in with Jamie when we arrived home from the hospital. The same rocker I nursed him in so often. The same rocker where I nursed him for the last time on Thanksgiving Day 2010. My sweet grandmother’s rocker. I was sooooo very very very excited about nursing Lucy. I just couldn’t wait to get this sweet baby on my breast and give her what she would want most... Mommy and her “nummy.” I would never be able to nurse her. I rocked her that afternoon. I sang “Jesus Love You,” and talked to her I prayed for her and for myself. I sobbed.
That night we went to Timmy’s sister’s house to have crab cakes. He wasn’t sure he wanted to keep those plans, but he was glad he did. I have to mention here too that the company Timmy has been freelancing for all winter, since October has been amazing through this. Timmy is not in a career where he can take a “sick” day. If he is on a job, he is the only one on the show that does his job. His company has given him off for over a week now. They also sent us a week worth’s of food (I was expecting food, but not until August when I went to warm up one of the meals, I wept. It wasnt supposed to be time to eat it yet), they kept in touch and shared their own personal stories of baby loss with us. Again, Jesus showed up.
The next day was Saturday, March 10th. I spent a tremendous amount of time of the phone between Wednesday and Tuesday, they day I delivered Lucy. I ached to just be with Jamie, but I could not provide him with what he wanted. That afternoon I sent Timmy to play disc golf with his friends. He needed to go, to get out of the house and feel normal for a moment. My friend Kate came over, with food of course. Kate always brings food. She is amazing. Sometimes I worry I will be depending too much on her. I picked up her sweet 13 month old daughter and struggled to hold tears back. But I wanted to hold her. You see the 3 women I “do life with” are all pregnant right now. Jill will have her third daughter in just a few weeks. Kate is due exactly 4 weeks to the day after I was supposed to have Lucy with her third miracle and Mattie will welcome her third sweet baby this fall. But I NEED these women. I do not have sisters. Somehow I need tools to deal with my mourning, my grief and my loss as I am confronted with these three new lives. If you are reading this, please pray that prayer specifically for me.
At some point over the weekend we also were given word that a dear friend of our family who volunteers at the same hospital where I would deliver, volunteers with a young girl, 17 years old who is due to have a baby girl on March 18th, two days from now. Please know, we are NOT delusional. Adopting this baby would be as miraculous as baby Lucy being healed. But our story is being put out in the hospital and our family friend is trying to get a hold of her. Her cell phone has been cut off by her boyfriend, whom she is not sure is the father. Her parent’s are divorcing and she is working at Goodwill to try and save some money. She needs prayer as well.
I was adamant about attending Church the next day, Sunday, March 11th. Timmy’s schedule does not allow him to attend church and I really wanted us to go has a family. While it emotionally difficult to be there, to say the service spoke to us is an understatement. It started when the pastor (who hadn’t preached yet at our Church) talked about his wife Erin who was an only child and their 2 year struggle with infertility and mentioning the date “August 4th” (my due date with Lucy) as the beginning of a significant event in their lives. He created an illustration of a mountain peaks and that while we feel close to the Lord in times of great joy and we often feel even closer to Him in times of great sadness. I can certainly attest to that.
That night after dinner I did not feel Lucy’s happy kicking after I ate dinner. My mommy instinct told me Lucy was gone.
On Monday morning I made an appointment with Dr. Swanbeck. Jill and he girls came over to be with Jamie. Timmy and I went to the appointment. Dr. Swanbeck came in quickly with the doppler and asked if we were ready to hear this... or not hear this. We were ready. Throughout this process, each time I walked into a different appointment between Thursday and Monday I asked Jesus to prepare my heart and be present in the room. He did as I prayed each time, without fail. It was through these moments people told me I was strong. I told them and will forever tell everyone that my strength comes only from the Lord. Without Him this would have been an impossible tragedy to overcome.
Dr. Swanbeck calmly, gently and thoroughly searched for Lucy’s heartbeat. But her Mommy knew he would not find it. Her heart was now only beating in Heaven. He sent us over to labor and deliver and quickly met us there. He watched while the sonographer looked at our still daughter. Dr. Swanbeck asked to scan me himself. He looked quietly and closely at her heart. There was a very slight movement, but he determined in was my heart continuing to give my daughter’s heart small barely detectable movements. A mother will never stop fighting for her child. Together, Dr. Swanbeck, Timmy and I came up with a plan. I would come back to his office in one hour and he would place four seaweed laminaries in my cervix to soften it overnight. They would make me cramp a bit. I was to take them out in the morning. While we were in the triage room Timmy called my dad, Mattie and Jill to let them know Lucy had passed. By the time we arrived home my mother was there too and she knew as well. Soon after we got home Aunt Gail, Mattie, Anabelle 4, Violet 2, Caleb 3 and Hannah 11 months were at our house. Sarah would arrive later that evening. This is Jesus’ divine timing. He called our daughter home, quickly as we had asked. He had sent our closest family to live through our tragedy with us. Our house it always a mess, its just the way we are. I decided I wanted to clean the bathroom. I wanted to do it myself, so I told everyone I was going to do it and they let me. Timmy and I took Jamie in his room and closed the door. We explained to him that our baby was now in Heaven. He assumed I had to go too. We assured him Mommy would be back home. We prepared him for the fact that Mommy would have to spend one night in the hospital, but that GaGa would come sleep with him at our house. This would have been the only night I had not slept next to him since he was born. In four years I had never woken up without him by my side. But God, would make other arrangements. I would be back with to sleep with my son. I have still never missed a night beside him. Jamie will make that decision for himself. Another gift from Jesus in this process.
At 4:15 we drove back over to the hospital to have the laminaries put in. Dr. Swanbeck said I had already softened a little on my own. My body knew it was time. Putting the laminaries in was painful. He had to put four in and it hurt each time. It was only the tiny tip of my physcial pain that I would endure over the next 24 hours. I was grateful he began the labor process in a way that I was allowed to spend the first 12 hours+ at home. Boy to I dislike being in hospitals. I began cramping immediately. I took 3 advil when I got home. That is the only pain reliever I would request until after Lucy’s delivery. We were to be back at the hospital at 7am the next morning. My labor team would come with me for the entire event, Jesus, Timmy and Aunt Gail.
My dad came over and spent sometime. He lifted the burden of caring for our sick dog by taking her home with him.
I wrote some things down as far as who was permitted to visit before Lucy arrived, who had permission to see Lucy and who was welcomed to visit afterwards. The only thing I changed my mind on was allowing Timmy’s brother Chris and his wife, and my friend, Erin to come first thing in the morning. My mother helped me pack my suitcase. I got together my labor music, as i had not planned on doing that until this summer. I brought my absolute favorite picture of Jamie, the one that shows exactly who he is, a miraculous soul full of joy. I brought my own pillow and my own pajamas. I am not into hospital gowns. I never did put one on. I think its silly. My family made a big spaghetti dinner and the 5 children ran around like maniacs. It was perfect. I had some cramping during dinner and got down on my hands and knees, a position I would revisit often the next day. I slept off and on that night. Mostly fearful of the labor and delivery. I had some cramping that gave me a jolt during the night.
At 4:45am I woke up to pee and decided to pull the laminaries out. Timmy woke up too. I got them out and went down stairs to eat a pair and let our other dog out. I came back to bed and rested off and on until 6am when the alarm went off. I got in the shower and when I got out my Aunt Gail was already up, dressed and ready. She looked so pretty and it was reassuring to me that I would have strong support for the events that lay ahead. I kissed my sleeping son and his Aunt Mattie got into bed with him, leaving her own sleeping children in the next room to be with mine. Pure selflessness. Pure Jesus.
When we arrived at labor and delivery a pastor from our Church was waiting for us. He continued to wait as we were checked in and the ignorant girl (and i mean that in the actual definition of the word “not knowing”) called into the back and said “the last induction is here.” And then proceeded to hand me consent forms and explained that one was to treat the baby after “it’s born.” I immediately said, my baby is passed away. She did not say anything back to me. I was also this girl who handed my a folder with breastfeeding and infant care instructions in it. That was the only screw up the hospital made and I have let it go. I don’t have room to hold on to something like that.
After I was registered our pastor prayed with us and sat with us for a bit, until I excused myself to the bathroom. It seemed like forever before we were taken back to our room. Room number one. There was a white rose and a leaf with tear drop place on our door so all that passed and entered would know we had lost our baby. We had two nurses. Our first nurse who stayed the entire time, even after her shift, to ensure she would be there for Lucy’s delivery, was Judy. A beautiful women inside and out, not much older then me with three children of her own. I asked that she check on me every a half hour which she did faithfully. I was in “go” mode. At that point I had a job to do and I knew exactly how I wanted to do it. Dr. Swanbeck arrived at 8am and place my first round of cytotec in my cervix. We then talked about the plan. He said in researching last night that it would go quicker if we did cytotec and pitocin. I began to loose it. I was trembling and my confidence I had felt earlier was quickly leaving. If I did pitocin I’d have to stay in bed and most like have to have heavy pain relief. I couldn’t bare the thought. I can’t stay in bed during labor. To me that is ludicrous. Moving, changing position and walking helps labor along so much. There was nothing natural about this process, but I know what labor is, induced or not, and the Lord created my body to have babies. I am made to do this. He then talked about the possibility of a DNC and having to go under general anesthesia to do it if the placenta didn’t come all the way out. And then I learned I couldn’t eat because of the possibility. Clear liquids only. So lets make me run a marathon and not allow me to give my body the energy it needs to perform. I was again just terrified.
Soon after all this Chris and Erin arrived. I really didn’t think I wanted anyone additional in the room, but I was grateful for the company and conversation. While they were there Jesus told me I wasn’t going to die. Judy also came in later and reassured me that certainly i wasn’t going to die. That’s all I needed and I was able to calm down. I began to have a little cramping but not much. Chris and Erin left shortly before 10:30. I thanked them for coming and told them I loved them.
My “team” and I decided I should get up and moving. Mattie called and suggested I bounce on the birthing ball. It helped. Noon arrived and I was still just a finger tip dilated, but Dr. Swanbeck said i had thinned out quite a bit. I said I was not ready to go the pitocin rout and would he please just let me do anther round of cytotec. I was receiveing 3 times the amount of the drug that is safe for a baby. I knew my body could do this without pitocin. I also requested a breast pump because nipple stimulation releases natural oxytocin (the natural version of pitocin) and can also stimulate labor. Dr. Swanbeck said “wow! that’s creative who thought of that?” I love him, but why wouldn’t an OB use that as a natural form on induction anyway? Judy brought me in a pump and a pumped for a solid 10 minutes. It hurt, but I knew it would help. I even had a tiny bit of colostrum. I asked Judy if anyone in my situation had requested a breast pump. She said not that she could recall and said I was much more involved in this process than most any other moms she had seen before. After Jamie was born Dr. Swanbeck said to me, “You are not like the other ladies around here.” That makes me feel good.
After I pumped I rested until 1pm when I was allowed back out of bed. (Each time he placed the cytotec I had to be in bed for an hour.) That was really the most time I spent in bed. I got up to pee at 1:00 and that’s really when labor began to set in. I was NOT going to need that old pitocin and was not going to need pain relief (not because it wasn’t going to be excruciating, but because this is what I was made to do.) My confidence level was up. Jesus was here and strengthening my every breath. My “team” and I began to walk. We walked and walked. I assumed people thought i was either feeling fine, or nuts. I wasn’t in a gown, not hooked up to an IV, but i was in true labor. I would stop and lean on Timmy during contractions. Some contractions I would just continue walking through. Then my body knew it was time. We went back to room #1 and up till this point we hadn’t even told Judy I was in labor. I didn’t want anyone interfering with the process until I knew it was time to bring my daughter’s body to her final resting place, my arms. I knew I wanted some extra oxygen. It had helped me breath more fully at the peak of each of my contractions with Jamie. When I had a short break to talk I told Timmy and Aunt Gail to get Judy and tell her I needed oxygen. She obliged and then asked if I wanted her to check me or wait for Dr. Swanbeck. I motioned for her to do it herself. I felt pressure and knew my daughter was coming out. I was 5cm dilated, that is all I needed for me sweet 9 inch 13.3 ounce baby girl to come out. Dr. Swanbeck came into the room. I could not talk or make sound. I at the peak of my contractions i would breath deeply into the oxygen mask. Dr. Swanbeck told me “your baby is basically just sitting in your vagina at this point and you may push your baby out whenever you are ready.” I asked for help to get my shirt of quickly, as I was burning up and wanted her directly on my skin (as with Jamie). I knew it was time I felt the pressure, but it was not like with Jamie. I wanted to Jamie out. I knew he was healthy and now, the safest place for him to be was skin to skin on my chest, not in the birth canal. I had strength and energy to push him out, even though I pushed with him for 2 and half hours. But in many ways I didn’t want Lucy out. She wasn’t supposed to be out yet. I knew I was not going to have a chunky breathing baby in my arms routing for my breast. I knew I wasn’t pushing effectively. But then once again Jesus said, “come on Erin lets just get this done.” I pushed several times I don’t remember how many. I was hard and it hurt. She almost arrived in what small bag of water was left, but at the last minute in broke. (Jamie’s bag of water didn’t break on its own, but Dr. Swanbeck had to break it at 9.5 cm). She came came out feet first, my little double footling breech baby. They knew I wanted to hold her but asked if I wanted a towel. Absolutely not. I didn’t want anything between me and my baby. She was still warm from being inside me. I wanted to feel her, touch her smell her. I asked Dr. Swanbeck if she was a boy or a girl. He hadn’t looked yet. Upon examination he determined she was a girl, but couldn’t say with 100% certainty. But I knew she was a girl. I had a vision of a pink neon sign in the middle of the night early on in my pregnancy that said “Its a girl.” I also had to dreams of she was a girl. God gave me this clear vision so that even in the uncertainty of her gender I would know that this was Lucy. I needed to know. Timmy named her. He actually named years and years ago. I don’t know if we were even engaged? He has always loved the name.
Now the placenta. Would it come out or would I need a DandC? At 19 weeks the placenta does not always come out whole. That would be a big problem. But with seconds of Lucy’s delivery my placenta came out with one contraction, I don’t know that I really even pushed. My mom arrived at this time and met her granddaughter.
For the next moments in time we just concentrated on Lucy. We looked at all her perfect parts. Her eyes, ears, nose, mouth... her fingers and her toes (my favorite part of a baby.) Her finger nails were already getting long... amazing. Timmy took several pictures. She was beautiful to us she was and is our daughter, Lucy Evelyn Rose Gaeng.
Soon Dr. Swanbeck asked if he could get a sample from her thigh, as time was of the essence to get the most accurate results. I requested she be taken out of the room for that and that she be brought back in a blanket. They brought her back quickly wrapped in two blankets that I carried with me when i got home. I sleep with them every night. There is a spot that still smells like her. It is not a “normal” baby smell, but its our Lucy’s scent and I love it. I am holding it now as I write this.
Soon after she was brought back my dad arrived. He met his granddaughter and wept. He was in love, as we all are.
The hospital photographer arrived and like our sweet nurse Judy had a difficult time hiding her tears when she walked in the room. I told her exactly what I wanted as far the pictures go. She did a great job and I felt bad that she had to do it. My heart hurt for everyone who had to witness this event on any level.
I held her for a long time, an hour or so. Finally I knew it was time to say goodbye. The tears began streaming down my face. This would be the last time I would see my daughter until I see her in Heaven. And I know I will, its not something I just “believe”. It is not a coping mechanism. Its is the truth. Like the sky is blue and the grass is green. It is a fact. I wish everyone knew that. I wish everyone could see Jesus in this like I do. If I could ask for anything in this experience I would ask that those who don’t know the truth of Jesus Christ would be able to meet Him through this. This is not His fault. His heart breaks for all of us affected by Lucy’s passing. Lucy’s death is part of the “fall.” Part of the sin in this world that hurts God deeply. He, however is the One who will pick up the pieces and create peace and bring healing. Without Him... for me at least, there is no hope.
Kate, Jill and Timmy’s mom came after Lucy was taken. My dad left to get Jamie because he wanted to come see me. He was scared when he got to the hospital. Timmy held him at first and showed him pictures of his little sister and told him about her. He was sad... until our second nurse, Joy, brought him chocolate ice cream and Miss Kate handed him a box of chocolate chip cookies and he discovered how to put the bed up and down and turn the lights and tv on and off and... woops, call the nurse’s station.
My mom took Jamie back home and Jill left as well as my dad. Dr. Swanbeck came in to talk one more time and have me fill out the permission for the autopsy. The first time I ever wrote my daughter’s name was on an autopsy form. But it made my heart feel full to write her name. Three time I had to write it on the form. Lucy Evelyn Rose Gaeng. What a beautiful name. What a beautiful baby girl.
Then we got some good news. I would be able to come home. I just had to pee and eat first. I did what I needed to do. Judy (who was till there long after her shift ended) came in to say goodbye. I told her to hug her babies. She said she would. Joy finished my paper work and told me she was blessed to meet me.
The hospital gave us many things that day, March 13, 2012. Nice things for us to remember our daughter. I wear a pregnancy and infant loss awareness bracelet now, and a circle of pink beads with a picture of little tiny baby feet on my necklace. But when we walked out of the hospital I was not carrying our daughter. I was carrying an empty blanket. But Jesus came back home with us.
This week it has been beautiful outside. Quite unseasonable for March. But Lucy was supposed to come in the warmth of the summer, so it seemed right, another gift from Jesus. We could be in the middle of a miserable snow storm. Wednesday, March 14 was Anabelle’s birthday. It was beautiful outside and we spent the entire day in our back yard. Jill and Kate came over with their children and it was really a beautiful scene.
It is now Friday. My milk is in. It hurts so bad. I have a fever and my body aches. I went back to labor and delivery to make sure I didn’t have an infection. The OB on call and the nurse both said its my milk. I am “binding” my breasts, icing them and using cabbage leaves to attempt to dry up my milk. Another incredibly unnatural process. Asking me to stop my milk from coming in is like asking a bird not to fly. I am craving to nurse my daughter and my body is confused.
My family has to leave today. I am devastated. Last night I cried like I have never cried in my life. I found a stain from Lucy’s delivery on my pillow and I screamed like I had just found my daughter dead. I sobbed. My mother and husband had to hold me up. It is part of the process.
I want to be able to take care of my husband, my son and our home but I can’t right now. And I know that’s okay for now. Eventually I will be able to.
My name is Erin Patricia Gaeng. I am married to an amazing man, Timothy Paul Gaeng. We have two children. James Monaghan Gaeng and Lucy Evelyn Rose Gaeng. We are a family of four. Our little girl is waiting for us in Heaven.
|Taken Friday March 10th|
|Lucy in her blanket I still carry.|
|Her sweet hand|
|Mommy, Daddy and Lucy|