My life was forever changed on December 17, 2009 at 2:00pm. My husband and I were 20 weeks pregnant with our first child and were waiting patiently to see our baby for the first time during our ultrasound appointment. You see, this was our miracle baby. My husband and I had been trying for a baby for several months and had undergone fertility treatment because I was not ovulating. We had gotten pregnant in June, but did not know it and lost the baby at the end of July. The following week we had an appointment with the fertility specialist. A few weeks later there was one ovum, and despite our odds, we did an IUI before trying more extensive treatment. I knew immediately that we were pregnant, but because we had just lost a pregnancy the month before, I kept my mouth shut and prayed. My husband had taken me to the Bristol NASCAR night race, because apparently that is the best race. And as timing would have it, we took a pregnancy test in the camper, and it was positive! We immediately shared the news and justified myself in knowing that our family and friends would support us, even if we lost this baby. But that wasn't going to happen this time, I knew this time it would be different. Our friends and family laughed that we had found out at a NASCAR race...in a camper, and my husband jokingly told everyone we conceived at the race. I remember laughing with friends that I would never name my baby after a Nascar race; But life is a rollercoaster and I have learned that you should never, say never.
Pregnancy suited me. I was happy and had never felt better, and enjoyed watching my body grow and change. You hear the horror stories of women being sick all the time, and I considered myself one of the lucky ones. I thought God must be taking care of me since He knew how much we wanted this! Even though I had been raised in a church, I had gotten off track after going to college. It's not that I didn't believe, I just didn't whole heartedly accept the Bible and the reality of one God. After the IUI was successful, and knowing our odds against the pregnancy taking, I began to open my heart to God. I knew He had made that pregnancy happen...our odds were just so slim. My husband and I started attending church on a regular basis, and my faith started to grow. I began to open my heart and eyes to the wonderful works of our Lord. My husband and I joined our church on December 13, 2009, the Sunday before our ultrasound appointment. We almost put off joining church that Sunday because we had guests coming over for lunch and really needed to clean the house. But God works in mysterious ways. We went ahead and joined that Sunday, thinking we would just join and head out early- we had things to do!
The following Thursday was our 20 week appointment and I was so excited. This was the first appointment my husband would be able to attend since his work schedule had conflicted with our other appointments. I had been to the doctor at 17 weeks and had been able to record the heartbeat for our families to hear, I was so excited to be able to see our baby alive and moving inside of me! They called our name and I nearly ran down the hall to the ultrasound room. I laid on the table, and with my husband by my side, watched a dark and silent ultrasound. My heart was in my throat..."where's the heartbeat?" I asked the technician. She ignored me and said she was taking measurements. My husband reassured me she wasn't doing that part yet. But I knew at that very moment something was terribly wrong. The screen was silent and still, what had happened?! What happened next is a blur. The physician came in and told us the baby's heart had stopped. Our baby had died and based on measurements had been dead a week or two. We had two choices: go to the hospital now and deliver the baby, or go home and come back when we were ready. I somehow managed to ask the doctor if we could just do a D&C, she said no, we were too far along in the pregnancy. Oh my God I thought, I have to deliver a dead baby.
I told my husband that I couldn't do that, I am not strong enough I said through my tears. The doctor just held my hand. I decided to go ahead and go to the hospital, I didn't think I could manage going home and having to come back, knowing what we faced.
We got to the hospital and they took us to the labor and delivery floor. Really? We had to be on a floor of happy pregnant people awaiting the birth of their live babies. I was angry and heartbroken. How unfair! We got settled in and our doctor came to talk with us- she explained the process of inducing labor and told us it could take several hours, even days before the baby was born. My body was simply not ready to deliver.
I remember laying in the hospital bed with my husband, each of us crying and holding on to each other. How could this have happened, I just heard the heartbeat a few weeks ago. I never felt anything or knew anything was wrong. I have never felt so alone or helpless in my life. Alright God, this is in your hands I prayed. I need you to give me strength to get through this, to give me strength during the delivery. Lord, open my heart to you and erase my doubts. Lord, comfort me, heal me, and bless our child. Lord forgive me. Thank you Lord for the amazing man you have led me to and help us through this. I can not explain to you, the amount of overwhelming peace I felt that night. For the first time in my life, I felt the presence of God and knew. I truly believed.
The next day, December 18, 2009 was a blur. The contractions started and I didn't want any pain medicine. I needed to feel this, I knew I needed to be aware of what was happening in order to help me heal emotionally. With my husband by my side, and an amazing nurse and doctor, our baby was born at 3:20 pm. I remember pushing during the labor and thinking, I can't do this. But my husband held my hand, whispered in my ear "I love you" and with the doctor's encouragement of "one more push honey and this will be done" I was able to do it. God surrounded me by an amazing group of strong, faithful people. God gave me strength to get through this terrible experience.
After our baby was born, we were faced with a plethora of decisions. We decided to name our baby Bristol. We hadn't really discussed names yet, as we had waited until we were past the "safe" mark, so we didn't have any favorite names to choose from. Since we had discovered our pregnancy at Bristol, we decided that was the most fitting name for our baby. I did, afterall, name my baby after a NASCAR race.
My husband had invited our parents to visit us at the hospital- I did not want anyone there when we found out. I had emotionally shut down but thankfully my husband knew we needed our parents there. The nurse brought Bristol in for us to say our goodbyes. My mother-in-law, mother, and father each got to hold and say hello and goodbye to Bristol. Looking back, I know God was with us...I was able to say hello and goodbye to my daughter with amazing strength and sense of peace. We always say, everything happens for a reason. But if we truly believe that, then I have to believe God had a purpose for Bristol's life. If losing Bristol meant that I would renew my faith in God and truly believe...then I can only thank God for giving me Bristol, even if for just a short time, because she saved my life.
When God takes something from your grasp, He's not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better. The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.