Six-Week Follow Up

Today was my six-week follow up appointment with Dr. Denney. I pushed myself to walk through those hospital doors. Frankly, it sucked. But there is something about doing hard things throughout this experience. A loving lady at our small group, after hearing our news, kindly said, “We have this saying in our house: We can do hard.” As believers in the One who conquered the grave, we can do hard! There is an odd, rewarding aspect of checking off a challenging task.

Pete and I have talked about this, especially as it related to when we went into the funeral home after having Charlotte’s earthly body cremated. The pain was wrenching. I can’t even put it into words. But there was something healing about going through that experience together. In faith, when I choose to fully walk through my grief, though I did not choose this path, there is healing.

At today’s appointment, Dr. Denney was therapeutic for me. She told me that at this point, it is unlikely that we will ever know how/why Charlotte died, at least medically. Everything was coming back negative. The placenta pathology didn’t show anything, there was no known issue with the cord and the preliminary report of sweet Charlotte’s autopsy was answerless. Dr. Denney expressed how she longed to give me some sort of answer but that she will walk this journey with me. Despite the agony of the unknown, there is peace from people simply being with us through this.

For me, the most comforting people to talk to are those who don’t try and say something neat and tidy but rather just be with me and welcome any emotion I bring to the table. When I hear, “I am just so sorry. There are no words. I am here,” I feel loved. And that’s what my doctor did for me today. She was Jesus for me today.

Though my time with Dr. Denney went well, I was obviously devastated. Unintentionally, some people at the hospital had said things like, “How’s your baby?” Not to mention, just being back at the hospital was hard for me. So, I left there in tears. Talking about Charlotte medically and in the place I delivered her, stirs me up. By the time I reached the parking lot attendant, my eyes must have been beet red because she said to me, “Honey, you look sad. What’s wrong?” I couldn’t get anything out except, “I’m just sad.” And then this complete stranger said with assurance, “Just pray.” Her courage and vulnerability to recognize my tears and not simply take my money and open the gate in monotony struck me. God uses all things to minister to His children.

I called Peter and he came home from work early to be with me. I loved that. For the first time since Charlotte passed away, I felt the urge to go through all of the things we had collected since leaving the hospital (her blankets, ultrasounds, footprints, handprints, pictures of her after she was born, countless cards …). Out of love, Peter kindly said, “You sure you want to do that now, Han?” I replied, “Yep, I’m sure.” So, I carefully took each piece out and laid them all out on our bed. I cried holding the blanket they wrapped her in. I re-read some cards and God comforted me in new ways.

One card that fell through to my attention was in a blank envelope. Curious, I opened it and it was from Megan. Megan is married to one of Peter’s co-workers. They lost their daughter, Emily, in a very similar way to how we lost our Charlotte. God gave me Megan. She and her husband came to Charlotte’s memorial and she has sent me such sweet texts and grabbed coffee with me. She’s just been with me. It’s like Peter and I are now apart of this super sucky club that we never imagined being a part of. But in all of it, He keeps showing us that we are known and that He is with us always.

The stack of cards we’ve received. I’ve kept each one. They mean the world.

I read Megan’s card again. In it, she shared that after Emily died, a dear friend told her and her husband “that she knows no words can take away our tears and she wouldn’t want to because our tears are our outward expression of our extreme love for our daughter.” In my tears today, Jesus knew I needed to read Megan’s letter. He also knew I needed to read about this revelation of Hope:

Revelation 21:3-5 NIV
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

September 15th

Today was the day the doctors told me my Charlotte was “suppose” to be born. But that didn’t happen. This day was meant to be different. Instead, today is the 23rd day after I delivered my sweet Charlotte, who had already been born into heaven, immediately into the presence of God. So, today, Pete worked from home, I rearranged a bookshelf, made lunch, ran errands, cleaned up the house, read sympathy cards, received a bouquet of flowers from kind co-workers, and cried…a lot. These co-workers from my previous job knew the situation but were unaware that the 15th was Charlotte’s due date. No detail is too insignificant for my God. He sent me flowers that day.

After awhile, I gathered up my favorites of all the bouquets. I thought they all looked pretty together.

Sometimes I wrestle with the “what ifs” and “would have beens.” I don’t think it’s healthy to go there too much but I know it can be apart of the grieving process. Charlotte never got to nurse from me, she never got to hear me read her books, she never got that. But really, I am the one who misses out. She gets to be fed by glorious Jesus; He holds her, speaks life to her and somehow, I just have to believe that He raises her. I don’t know for sure what age or maturity my daughter will be when I get to hold her and part of me cares but part of me doesn’t. I just want to hold her. I just want to hold her. I just want to hold her. Jesus, hold her for me until I get there, okay? Please. I trust You already are.

Tonight, we also went to a Bible study potluck with a friend of ours. We only knew him. During the prayer requests, I struggled to know if I should speak up. Pete nudged me and told me if I wanted to say something, I could. So, I did. And it felt kind of awkward to be the “trump card” prayer request. I’m not used to that and I wasn’t sure what to make of all of it. But, I shared that we recently lost our child and that we needed prayer. They were all in shock and so kind.

One of the group members asked if we had any “immediate needs,” such as financial costs, food and so on. I explained that our freezer was full and that God fully met our financial needs. All I could think of was for prayer. Prayer is our immediate need. And I just keep thinking about that – immediate need. Prayer should always be my immediate need. Whether we are venturing through the crushing loss of our daughter or trudging through the ordinary and mundane days –prayer is my immediate need even if I don’t recognize that.

And really, what is prayer. Well, it’s praise, supplication, thanks, stillness, listening, confession, repenting…and all of that boils down to being WITH GOD. I can be really bad at prayer. Through losing my firstborn child, I have realized this more fully. But really, in my weakness, I have seen God be strong. My prayers are weeps, mutterings, fits of yelling, thanks, and I just have this deep sense that the Holy Spirit is making supplications on our behalf. I just know it. Romans 8:26-28 NLT has never ringed so true for me: “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” With that, I will rest.