It was just three months ago today that I delivered my Glory Baby Grady. On one hand it seems like an eternity since I held him in my arms, on another it seems like just yesterday. It is amazing how your life can be changed by knowing someone for such a short time. How such a tiny person can be taken away and your life change in an instant, literally. I want to share a few pictures of our beautiful boy and share his story, in detail, with you.
I call him our Glory Baby because of a beautiful song written by Watermark. If you've never heard it, please scroll to the bottom of the page and click on song number 2. It is such a perfect song to describe our situation.
First, let me introduce you to his beautiful baby self:
It was Tuesday, November 11, 2008. I was 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I had been put on bedrest because my blood pressure was up a little. Not high, but high for me. My blood work came back negative for preeclampsia, so I was taking it easy, monitoring it at home and it was fine. No swelling, headaches or anything. My wonderful friend and neighbor, Nicole, came over that afternoon to help me finish the nursery. We put all the baby clothes away, opened the diapers, packed the diaper bag and everything was set for Grady to arrive that Friday, November 14th. The bassinett was already in our room, and his car seat in the van. I was scheduled for a c-section at 37 weeks because I have the old fashioned kind of scar on my uterus. For those who might not know, Emma Grace was born VERY early at 25 weeks and VERY emergently as my cord had prolapsed (if you don't know what that is, all you really need to know is that its life threatening for the baby and baby has to be delivered super ASAP). Because of this classical incision, I was at higher risk of a uterine rupture, and my doctor (we'll call him Dr. Joe - WONDERFUL MAN!) and I agreed that we didn't want to take a chance with that happening.
I wasn't feeling great that day, but not bad. Just uncomfortable, end of pregnancy feelings. Grady was hiccuping and moving around while we were working in the nursery (well, I was actually in the rocker and Nicole was doing the work!). Around 4:30 - 5:00 that afternoon, I was in the recliner that Nicole's family had insisted I borrow while on bedrest (Thanks again!). I was on the phone with another wonderful friend and neighbor down the street. Grady gave me a really BIG kick. So big that I could feel his foot and called the girls over to feel too. They were amazed, saying "Wow, that's cool!". Little did I know that would be the last time I would feel him. I often wonder, which foot kicked me, the one with the curled toes or the one with straight toes?
I noticed that I didn't feel him kick at dinner so after, I relaxed on the bed for a few minutes. Still no movement. I was a little concerned, but not overly, as he had been "quiet" before. We got the girls ready for bed, and I was helping Jessica study for a test. I was propped up on her bed and poking my tummy. She asked what I was doing and I told her I wished he would move. She tried talking to him, but still nothing. I was a little more concerned, but again, just thought he was being "quiet". I fell asleep with her and got up around 1:30am. After going to the restroom, I still didn't feel movement so I got out my stethoscope and tried listening for his heartbeat. I had not tried this with him before, but I had with Jessica. I found my heartbeat, but not his. I think at that moment, deep inside, I knew he was gone. But, again, I justified that maybe he wasn't big enough for me to hear him because I was only 36 weeks and 5 days at that point. I stayed awake the rest of the night and knew he was gone. I contemplated waking Gib and calling Dr. Joe. Being a nurse, though, I knew the outcome would be the same if it was 3am or 9am. I didn't want to have to wake someone to come stay with the girls, so I just decided to wait until morning.
When Gib kissed me goodbye, I told him that he needed to pray that Grady would move. (He prays every morning in the car before going to work). He sat down on the bed and prayed right then. His prayer ended with, "But Lord let your will be done". He left for work, and I got up and showered. I knew even if everything happened to be okay with Grady that Dr. Joe would want to go ahead and deliver that day. Nicole had taken Jessica to school, and I was getting Emma Grace ready when the garage door opened. Gib had left work and come home. For my husband, that's HUGE! I think he knew, deep inside, that we weren't going to get good news. He took Emma Grace to school, and I called the doctor. They, of course, said to come right in.
I remember the sick feeling driving to the doctor. It was a beautiful fall day. The leaves were at the peak of their color change. Gib and I didn't talk about much on the drive, but we both commented on how beautiful the leaves were. They will always remind me of that day...
When we arrived they took me right past the waiting room full of people. The nurse, Nanci, took me to do a non-stress test. Only problem was she couldn't find a heartbeat. I looked at Gib and shook my head. Grady had never been known for hiding before. Nanci told me not to panic, that this happened a lot and we would have Dr. Joe do an ultrasound. I told her I appreciated her optimism, but I wasn't encouraged. Thankfully, Dr. Joe came in soon after I got into the room. He looked very concerned and asked when I last felt movement. When I told him the previous afternoon, he looked more concerned. He always turned the ultrasound screen towards me, so I could see too, and this day was no different. As soon as he put the wand on my tummy, I could tell Grady wasn't moving. I recognized the heart and saw that it wasn't beating. I said, "Dr. P I don't see a heartbeat". The life sucked out of that precious man and he said "I don't see a heartbeat either". My world shattered and was changed in an instant. Those words haunt me to this day. Needless to say, I lost it. I just kept saying, "How can this happen?" "What did I do wrong" "This is a nightmare" "This has to be a nightmare". Unfortunately, it was a nightmare. A real live one that I'm still living today.
Dr. Joe stayed in the room with us for a while, trying to control his emotion but not very well. He was clearly upset. He was, and is, one of the most compassionate doctors I've ever met. I am so blessed to have gone through this with someone like him. He had a waiting room full of patients to see, so he left us for a while and checked on us a couple of times. I remember that I couldn't move. I was paralyzed on that table. I layed there for almost an hour. Finally, something inside of me snapped. I sat up and told Gib that I was ready to move to the next step. I knew I was going to deliver a dead baby.
We scheduled a c-section for that day, November 12, at 5:30pm. We made the long drive back home and checked Jessica out of school so we could tell the girls together. I dreaded that so much. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. They both knew something was wrong. I told them that sometimes things happen in life that we just don't understand. That I had gone to the doctor and Grady's heart was not beating anymore. Jessica looked at me and said, "He died?" When I said yes, Emma Grace immediately started crying, saying "I didn't want Baby Grady to die". I just scooped her up in my arms and said that I didn't want that either. The next thing out of her mouth was, "Baby Grady can just be Granny's baby in heaven". That really made me cry. Granny is my mom who died in April, 2007 from lung cancer. Jessica didn't show much emotion at the time, but Emma Grace let it all out. Once I was able to get Emma Grace settled down, we took the girls next door and headed to the hospital. The sick feeling I had felt earlier, on the same drive, was magnified by 1000. I was numb. In shock. Still wishing I would wake up from this horrible nightmare.
I have two wonderful friends at the hospital who took exceptional care of Emma Grace in the NICU. One of them is a nurse practitioner, Suzanne, and the other is a nurse, Lori. They had planned to come in for my c-section that Friday. God love them, they came that afternoon for his delivery. I don't know what I would have done without them. Without Suzanne, we would not have these beautiful pictures of Grady. She approached me about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographs. I had never heard of this organization, but I couldn't think of taking professional pictures of him. It just seemed wrong, for some reason. I initially said no, that we were just going to take pictures with our camera. She gently approached me again and told me that I wasn't going to get this chance again. If I never wanted to see the pictures I didn't have to, but I would have them if I did. I agreed, but only to pictures of him. Now, I'd give ANYTHING to go back and have pictures of me and Gib with him. But, when you're in that kind of situation, you do the best that you can do and you do what you think is right at that time. I do wish I had thought differently.
The silence in the operating room was deafening. No one said a word, only the sound of machines, sniffles and Dr. Joe asking for instruments. I had an intense urge to know when Grady was out. The sweet nurse anesthetist let me know. I think I was inwardly hoping that I would hear him cry. That everyone was wrong. That didn't happen. The silence grew even louder.
Gib and I agreed that we wouldn't see him until I was in the recovery room. Suzanne and Lori took him to bathe him and dress him for his pictures. When I got there, the photographer was almost done with his pictures. Suzanne told me he was beautiful. Gib held him for a few minutes and brought him to me. I remember seeing him for the first time. He was SO beautiful. He looked just like a sleeping angel. He was still warm from my body. His skin softer than the finest silk. Chubby cheeks. Dark hair like his sisters. LONG fingers and BIG feet! The only problem was that he wouldn't wake up. God I wish he would have..... He was big for his gestation. Dr. Joe said he was the size of an average 38 week baby. He weighed 6 lbs. 11oz. and was 20 1/2 inches long.
The obvious question is, "What caused his death?" We don't know the reason for his death. We chose not to do an autopsy because we were told that even if we did, most of the time a cause would not be found. All of my pregnancy blood work was great, five ultrasounds showed a healthy baby, and pathology reports on my placenta and umbilical cord came back normal.
I was fortunate enough to keep him in the room with me until I left that Friday evening. If you've never been through something like this, it might seem crazy and weird to hold a baby who has died and want him close. I didn't want to let him go. Alive or dead, he was my baby. The baby that had grown inside of me for 36 weeks and 5 days. I knew him like no one else. It was the shortest two days of my life, and I vividly remember my moments with him. I hope I don't ever forget. I don't remember some of the conversations I had with people, but I know that I remember every second with him. I snuggled him on my chest with a blanket over us, just like you would any normal baby. That's my favorite memory. It was a beautiful blue and white crochet blanket that someone made just for an angel baby like him. I still sleep with that blanket every night. It helps me feel close to him.
Saying goodbye was the hardest thing. The funeral home was wonderful. They came with a basket with a soft cushion to put him in. I live in a small town, and I knew the man who came to get him. He was so compassionate and respected Grady so much. The nurse gave us a regular hospital blanket to wrap him in, so I could keep the beautiful blue one. Gib and I swaddled him, kissed him, told him we loved him, and I placed him in the basket. I knew I would have to wait until heaven to see him again. Gib and I hugged and cried for what seemed like an eternity, but I'm sure it wasn't long.
I remember walking out the back of the hospital, angry and sad beyond belief. It was the second time I had left that hospital with empty arms. The first was when Emma Grace was born - at least she joined us 4 months later. But this time, I had empty arms for good. The ironic thing is that I said goodbye to him the very day that we were supposed to say hello. I couldn't stop thinking of what I should be doing rather than what I was doing.
We made the VERY difficult decision to cremate him. We have his ashes at home with us in his "memory box" as we call it. It is a wooden urn with baby blocks on top with his initials.
I'm not sure what, if anything, we will do with his ashes in the future, but for now, I'm happy having him here with us. We waited to have a service for him. We had a small one at our home on January 24, 2009. I will have a series of posts, telling about that amazingly wonderful day of honoring him.
I know this was a really long post. Thanks for reading about our Glory Baby Grady. He truly is our angel. I'll leave you with this......
"An angel in the book of life wrote down my baby's birth. Then she whispered as she closed the book, too beautiful for earth." Author unknown