Monday, December 26, 2011

God's Still Working on Me!

It's the night after Christmas.  And I can't sleep. 

There is pain in my heart.  And joy in my soul. 

I have no clue how to process these emotions. 

There is a tremendous void in my life that I want to be filled by a little girl named Caroline Grace.  I want to hold her more than anything right now.

The reality is that Caroline's spirit is no longer here on earth.  Her spirit is now in Heaven for eternity while her earthly remains are still here on earth.  But our minds naturally focus on the temporal and not the eternal.  We complicated matters because we are a hedonistic culture.  We want to do what feels good and run from what doesn't feel good.  Choosing the difficult path is not usually our first choice or preference.  We find pleasure by wallowing in our self-pity.  But then, we finally wake up and realize this is not healthy!  So, when we are faced with adversity, we are significantly challenged to shift gears, especially with tragedy. 
One way we try shifting gears is by crying out for help.  

The problem is that Satan knows this.  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the  heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12).  Satan knows our weakest points.  Marriage and parenting are not easy to begin with...Satan knows this too.  And he is trying to drive Emily and me crazy, and apart, by dealing with our loss in such a way that pokes at each of our frailties.  We are not dealing with our loss in the same way.  And it is far too easy for spiritual warfare to take a foothold in our marriage.  Emily and I are not the first couple that Satan tried to ruin.  It all began with Adam and Eve when Satan tempted them to eat fruit from the Garden! 

To further complicate things for Emily and me....losing Caroline Grace has also had a significant impact on other emotional baggage we have been carrying around for years.  I am confident that Satan has had a hand in this, too.  For instance, my relationship with my own dad is a very sore subject.  I definitely love him.  I talk to him, but it is not nearly as often as it should be.  I probably haven't seen him in 2 or 3 years, maybe longer.  Not only is this painful, but it is also even more difficult right now because I know that I cannot call him and ask him for advice.  I feel as if my back is against the wall, the world is weighing down on my shoulders, and Dad is supposed to be helping me hold up that weight.  He is supposed to have all of the answers.  He is supposed to help me fix my problems....but he is not here.  I talked to him today for the first time in a couple of months.  I was thankful for our conversation.  But at the same time, it hurt to talk to him because it reminded me of all the things I need/want to ask him, but I know that I can't.

So, I have had to rely upon my Heavenly Father as a substitute for Fatherly advice.  Not a bad sub if you ask me!  God has provided for me in ways that I cannot even put into words.  The Holy Spirit has prayed for me even when I had no clue what to pray to God for!  "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."  (Romans 8:26 - NIV)

God's help and his unconditional love never cease to amaze me.  How in the world can I grow closer to God and love God more when I know that God is the reason that I lost my baby girl????  This does not make sense.  I must be crazy, right??  Actually, I am not crazy.  I only know love, because God showed me how to love.  In the book of 1 John, in chapter 4, verse 19, the Bible tells us, "We love because he first loved us" (NIV).  The only reason we know love is because God created love!  He loves us so much and knows exactly what Emily and I are experiencing!  He lost his baby boy, too!  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 -NIV).  "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit" (1 Peter 3:18).  You see....God allowed His only child to die because you and I have sinned against him.  Our hedonistic culture is the reason why God lost His Son!  And yet He still loves us the same!!  

God meant for us to work through our struggles, even when we lose our own children, with Him at the center.  He set the example for us to follow!  He wants us to love each other just as He loves us.  Emily and I will continue to persevere in our journey with anencephaly.  It has not been a very pretty journey...but I can assure you that we will not become another statistic to fall into the category of "Couples Divorced Due to Infant Death."  Instead, we will rise up because we have love each other and have hope in the Lord!!  God promises us in the book of Isaiah, "those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (40:31).

You can have this same hope.  If you are feeling hopeless, I know a God that can give you everything that you need!   Please e-mail me if you'd like to talk about this!  I cannot promise you that it will be easy.  But I can guarantee you that God will never leave you or forsake you!  It is because of His love that I am able to face tomorrow....I've been "facing tomorrow" with Him for 20 years now....but I am still far from perfect.  I still have many flaws.  But I am faithful to Him and I know His love is unconditional....and He is STILL working on me!!!

We grieve with hope!!!!  Thank you, Jesus!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Life Insurance Policy

God is good.

Evidently, the military changed the laws regarding stillborn children and their life insurance policy.  As long as your child weighs 350 grams and is born after 20 weeks, you are allowed a life insurance policy.

I never thought I would ever have to file for life insurance for one of my children.  But I am thankful that it is there now that we need it. 

Sigh....this part sucks.

(I feel bad for saying "God is good" and "this part sucks" at the same time.  But this is how I really feel...just a mixed bag of all kinds of emotions right now.)

I can't tell you how many times I've heard the phrases "Death Certificate" or "Time of Death" or "Deceased"...I'm sure there are others, but these are the most often used.  Why is it that each phrase sounds like a nail being pounded into my heart??  Ugh...can't we use better words?!  Why can't people say "paperwork" or "time that she passed away"?!  Everything has to be so clerical, stiff, and void of emotion.  Well, I am NOT void of emotion!  It is days like this that I wish I COULD BE void of emotion. 

So, like many days like today, I go to a song for help!

"Homesick" by Mercy Me

"You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
'Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbyes
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have

To see you again
To see you again
And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place

Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

We saw Caroline again, today.

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011.  The Funeral Director met us at our house.  He showed us Caroline's baby casket.  It's pearly white and teeny tiny.  And the casket cover has a cross with a ray of light shining from behind the cross.

He discussed a lot of the details regarding arrangements and paperwork.  Then, we took a ride to the hospital to transfer care from the hospital to the funeral home.

This was not my favorite part of the journey, to say the least.

Then, today...Thursday, December 22nd, 2011...we met our Funeral Director at the Funeral Home.  And we had the privilege of identifying Caroline's earthly remains.  We did not want to taint our good memories of her that we had from her birthday.  So, we weren't sure if we wanted to see her this way today.  I knew I could handle it better than Emily if Caroline did not look the same.  And we were unsure how Emily would react.  So, I walked to the casket first to check out things.  And once I saw that she still looked like our little Caroline, I assured Emily that it was safe for her to look, too.  She came to meet me at Caroline's casket and we both rejoiced that she is in Heaven and our hearts cried that we cannot hold her anymore.  We were pleasantly surprised, even impressed, at how well Caroline was preserved and cared for in the last week.  And we also received her death certificate.  However, this too, was not my favorite part of the journey.

We have even more difficult days ahead.

But God has continued to shower us with His grace while we deal with losing Caroline Grace.  Our friends, church, and families have been so supportive.  So far this week, our church has fed us every night!  We have had roasted chicken, Chili's take-out, Chicken Caesar salad, Beef Barley soup, and baked ham.  Yummm!!!  We are running out of room in our fridge for left overs!  And I'm running out of places to put flower pots!  These are good problems to have!

Tomorrow, I have to file for Caroline's life insurance policy.  And Emily and I will be making more decisions for which songs, scriptures, and prayers we want to use for Caroline's Memorial Service.

The Memorial Service will be held at 7 p.m. on December 29, 2011, at the following address:
Weems Creek Church
600 N. Bestgate Rd.
Annapolis, MD 21401

All are welcome to attend!  Please join us as we celebrate our Caroline's eternity!!

Probably the Largest Group EVER allowed in a delivery room!!

(Taken by "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" Photographer David Hartcorn)

(Taken by "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" Photographer David Hartcorn)

(Taken by "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" Photographer David Hartcorn)

(Taken by "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" Photographer David Hartcorn)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Caroline Bunny

Now that Caroline is in Heaven, we are left here on earth dealing with our loss.

Emily's dad had a few memorable quotes this past week.  First, he said, "she got the easy way out!  She's in Heaven while we're still here!"  And then he said, "it is our role as parents to share the gospel with our children.  We are responsible for loving them and teaching them Christ's love so that they will have eternal life.  And on day one of your parenthood, you already have a child in Heaven!!  You can't get any better than that!"

We are absolutely at peace knowing that our baby girl is walking with Jesus in Heaven.  That's the easy part!  The difficult part is dealing with her loss while we are still on earth.  Not having her to hold is still painful.

Yesterday, Emily's aunt and uncle sent us a stuffed animal in the mail.  It is a pure white bunny and has "Caroline" embroidered in pink on its ear.

It may sound silly, but ever since we got it in the mail, Emily and I have taken turns holding our Caroline bunny.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Role as a Daddy

Ever since Caroline's diagnosis, I have struggled with what my role is as a Dad.  Because she was in the womb, I could not hold her.  And I could not do anything to fix her.  I felt helpless and lacked purpose.  It became even more painful because she is our first child.  I do not have any other children (yet!) that I can hold tighter or love harder.  (This just means that our next kid is in trouble already!!  They won't know what hit 'em, because we are going to love them beyond all understanding!) 

I had no problem knowing what to do as a husband.  And I feel very prepared for being a Dad to a child that lives here on earth.  However, I have this huge void in my heart that cannot be filled by being Caroline's daddy here on earth. How do I process these emotions?  What do I do?  Hmmm...

While Caroline was with us, Emily carried Caroline for 7 months.  For the last two months, I had to fight myself to get out of bed in the mornings and leave Emily and Caroline so that I could go to work.  Leaving Emily and Caroline was so hard for me.  Each day, I thought, "maybe I could just stay home today!  And just not go to work."  This went on for about 2 months.  But even though I went to work, I was late almost every day for those two months!!

While I was at work, Emily had the privilege of spending that Mommy-daughter time with Caroline.  I thought this was would actually make it harder for Emily.  However, through God's grace, Emily embraced this time with Caroline and made special memories with her.  We kept praying for a healing miracle, but we also knew God's plan was perfect and He may not give us THAT miracle, but give us another miracle.  Feeling her kick (which was awesome by the way!), feeling her stretch, talking to her, playing music to her, reading with her...just a few of the things Emily was able to enjoy with our little angel.   I had the joy of doing a few of these things too, but I just wasn't connected to Caroline the way a mother is during pregnancy.  Some days, I just felt left out.

It was very painful for me, thinking that I would not get a chance to carry her while she was alive (unless we received a miracle and she WAS born alive).  Well, I never got to hold her alive.  And I never got to provide for her like Daddy's do for their children.  But that's okay.  Because I can provide for her now.

In the next few days, I have the privilege of calling multiple pastors and multiple funeral homes and arranging plans to celebrate her life.  Some may think this is a huge burden.  I know.  That is how I felt at first.  But when I got to really thinking about it, I realized that this is my role as her Daddy.  I was not able to carry her alive, but I can honor her by providing the proper arrangements so that her life is celebrated in a beautiful ceremony (or two!).

So, the arrangements will be as follows:
-One service in Maryland
-One service in Texas
-One reception in South Carolina

Being a military family, we have moved around quite a bit.  Emily is from Texas.  I am from South Carolina.  We live in Maryland (for now).  And this complicates things because we want to lay Caroline to rest in Texas.  So, things have to happen between now and Texas in order to fully complete the closure process.  First, we have to transfer Caroline from the hospital morgue to the local funeral home.  We will have a memorial service for Caroline on December 29th, but her casket will not be at the service.  We made this decision because this service is meant to honor her time here on earth and celebrate her eternal life with Jesus in Heaven.  We feel that if we have the casket at the service, the focal point will be her earthly remains.  And the reality is that, though her body is still in the casket, she is not here anymore.  She is in Heaven.  Her body is just a shell that her soul lived in while she was in the womb.  As for the service in Texas, her casket will be there, but this is for obvious reasons.  It will be our intention to still focus on celebrating her eternal life.  We will also visit with our friends and Emily's family for quality time and closure.  Then the reception in South Carolina will also be to visit my family for quality time and closure for all.

I embrace all of these things, despite how emotionally charged they may be, as my role as Caroline's Daddy.  She is my little girl and I will do whatever I can to protect her and lay her peacefully to rest.

I love you, Caroline!  Please tell Jesus we love Him and we will all see Him soon!!  You are so precious to us. 
"I thank my God every time I remember you."  -Philippians 1:3

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Healing Begins

This morning was a brisk 30 degrees.  A little windy.  But beautiful!  I woke up this morning by taking a walk beside the river.  Walking and talking with father, like daughter.  She is walking and talking with Him on streets of gold...but I have to settle for streets of pavement with potholes.  I can make do, though :-) 
Good morning, Caroline!  I love you!
The Light Meets the Dark - Where the Healing Begins
After taking this photo, this song came to mind (It's "Healing Begins" by Tenth Avenue North.  I've posted it before...but I like it that much!):

 So you thought you had to keep this up
All the work that you do
So we think that you're good
And you can't believe it's not enough
All the walls you built up
Are just glass on the outside

So let 'em fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We're here now

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark

Afraid to let your secrets out
Everything that you hide
Can come crashing through the door now
But too scared to face all your fear
So you hide but you find
That the shame won't disappear

So let it fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We're here now
We're here now, oh

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark

Sparks will fly as grace collides
With the dark inside of us
So please don't fight
This coming light
Let this blood come cover us
His blood can cover us

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark
We have definitely been healing a lot in the last few days.  God has answered all of my prayers where I have asked him for something.  And He has answered prayers that I didn't even know to whoever out there prayed THOSE prayers for us, thank you!!!  We have been absolutely surrounded by love, support, and healing.  I wish I could respond to each and every comment on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, text messages, etc., but there is literally not enough time in the day.  In time, I will respond to each and everyone...but please don't feel like your comment was not meaningful if I haven't replied yet!!!  We have cherished each and every one.  God has a unique way of giving us everything we need, especially when we don't even know what to pray.  He gives us others to pray as intercessors for us!  And he wraps his arms around us and holds us so tight.  His love is abundant.  His grace is sufficient.  And He is ALL that we need.  Our God is an awesome God!!!  Thank you for continuing to share your support and encouragement in our journey with Caroline.  We love you all!

You are Invited to the After Party!

Today was a day for decision making.

Pretty productive day.  Second very productive day in a row.  We gave life to an angel Thursday.  And we gave business to a couple of funeral homes today!  

God has been amazing through all of it.  Talk about amazing grace!!!  Wow.  Because Emily carried Caroline, God carried us.  And continues to do so.  Words cannot express how much He has strengthened us.  God is so gracious.  Caroline's grace will be present for the rest of our lives, including our lives in Heaven.  And so shall Caroline Grace.

We have already begun celebrating her life.  The life of an angel!  I cannot wait to hold her and kiss her once again.  Our rejoicing here on earth pales in comparison to the after party we will have when we all get to Heaven!!  Will you be there?  I hope so :-)  Jesus says, everyone is invited!  "Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” -John 3:15-16

One of my favorite hymns, "When We All Get to Heaven" by Eliza Hewitt, goes like this: 
"Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
Sing His mercy and His grace;
In the mansions bright and blessed
He’ll prepare for us a place.

When we all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus, (and Caroline Grace!)
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
Clouds will overspread the sky;
But when trav’ling days are over,
Not a shadow, not a sigh.

Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving every day;
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.

Onward to the prize before us!
Soon His beauty we’ll behold;
Soon the pearly gates will open;
We shall tread the streets of gold."

God is so good to us!!  He has demonstrated how much He loves us all through Emily's and my journey.  And He is now dancing with Caroline Grace on those streets of gold!!

Thanks to everyone for your love, too!
We have already received lots of hugs, prayers, e-hugs, e-mails, texts, tweets, FB posts, phone calls, flowers, and cards.  Thank you to ALL of you.  You have all been a tremendous blessing to us.

Sweet Caroline Grace and her own blankies

A Duck...for a Duck.  (see Emily's blog post:  I'm a Duck)

Me Holding Caroline in a blankie my Great Grandma Shelley made for me as a little boy
Still holding our Caroline

Emily, her "twin" sister, and Caroline

Pointing to our Texas soil...we placed it under the delivery bed so she could be born over Texas soil :-)

Proud Texas Grandparents:  "Honey" and "Pi"

Emily and our Sweet Caroline

Kissing an Angel

And I danced with Cinderella....

Our Family Photo. 
We invite all of you to continue in our celebration of her birthday and her eternal life in Heaven....through tears of joy and tears of for her eternal life and grief because we can't hold her here on earth anymore.

Locally, we will be celebrating her angelic little life by holding a local service in Caroline's honor on December 29th.  Specific location and time to be determined.

In South Carolina, we have tentatively scheduled plans for a reception.  Due to the transporting requirements, we will not be able to hold a service, but please come and share our joy through photos, hand/foot molds, and other keepsakes.  Time, date, place to be determined. 

And in Texas, we have tentatively scheduled plans for a Houston service for January 7th.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to any of the following organizations who have been instrumental in our journey with Caroline Grace:

The Life Center -Perinatal Program
Attn:  Heather Silver
445 Defense Highway
Annapolis, MD 21401
Please make checks payable to:  "The Life Center" and include "Perinatal Program" on the check's memo line.

AAMC Foundation
Perinatal Loss Fund
2001 Medical Parkway
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Please make checks payable to:  "AAMC Foundation" and include "Perinatal Loss Fund" on the check's memo line.

The Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation
2305 E. Arapahoe Rd., Suite 220
Centennial, CO 80122
Please make checks payable to:  "The NILMDTS Foundation."

Please keep the prayers coming.  God's grace has been overly abundant!!!  We cannot thank y'all enough!! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Caroline!!

Caroline Grace Hayes was born today, December 15th, at 1:58 a.m.  She weighed 1 lb, 11 oz and was 12 inches long.  She immediately left this world to go be with her Heavenly Father.  I have no doubt that she is smiling down from Heaven and is watching over us right now.  And she has a perfectly perfect little body right now.  She is my perfect little angel!!

Emily and I went in for an unscheduled check-up at 8 a.m. yesterday morning (Wednesday).  The nurse and Dr. informed us, much to our surprise, that Emily having contractions every two minutes (she could not feel them yet).  They admitted her to the delivery room around 1030 a.m. as she was dilated 1 cm.   At 10:40 p.m., she was 3 cm dilated.  By midnight, she was 5 cm dilated.  And by 1 a.m., she was fully dilated.  At 1:58 a.m., the end of the beginning of our journey was here.

Emily was a trooper.  Through all of this, she took no drugs for labor pains and I am so proud of her!  She inspires my faith!!

We had a very tough, long day.  We cried.  We rejoiced.  We cried tears of joy that she is with Jesus in Heaven.  And we cried tears of pain that she is not with us.  We took lots of pictures of our baby Caroline.  We held her, loved her, made some good memories, and finally entrusted her care to the hospital staff.

We left the hospital at 8:30 p.m. and are home now.

Thank you all for your heartfelt prayers, unswerving support, and hundreds of posts on Facebook.  My blog had 4,000 visitors today alone!!  Y'all rock!  Please keep the love and support coming!  God is so good.  And has given us a miracle in Caroline Grace.  Her little life has touched so many, including mine.  And he continues to give us strength through all of this and we have felt His healing miracle power all day.  It feels good to be a dad!  And I am so proud of my little girl!  I love you sweetie!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Comedy of Errors

Have you ever had a day when you should have just stayed in bed?

I have.  The last 24 hours have been one of those days.

After I got to work yesterday, Emily called me to say that she failed her glucose test.  Usually, this would not be cause for much alarm.  However, as a dad who is already having daily panic attacks due to my daughter's condition, this escalated into something huge.  I am so worried about Emily having gestational Diabetes.  My Papa and my uncle both have Diabetes.  And my sister-in-law also has Diabetes.  So, I am aware of the complications that result from this medical condition.  And my nerves are already shot.

After getting home from work, Emily and I went to our Grief Counseling appointment to discuss Caroline's Birth Plan.  This is the plan we are writing to communicate to the entire OB-GYN staff, Hospice staff, and counseling staff what our intentions are for Caroline.  In this Plan, we are including information about our preferences for vaginal birth vs. Cesarean-section, comfort support vs. life support, and resuscitation vs. no resuscitation as well as our plans for making memories with plaster molds, photographers, videographers, etc.  We have our rough draft written and have labored over these decisions for several weeks now.  We both feel prepared for this stage.  As you can imagine, we are still very emotional when talking about these things.  So, about 15 minutes into our meeting, I was already emotional exhausted.  And then....the conversation shifted to our Death Plan.  This I was not prepared to discuss.  Talking about these decisions caught me so off guard that I completely shut down.  Evidently, it was very obvious as both counselors said something about it.  Hmmm...I guess I can't refute that one!  But heart was overburdened and my head could not process anything more.  When we got home, it was about 7 o'clock.  I skipped dinner and went straight to bed.  I thought, "when I wake up, today will be over and tomorrow will be much better!"

I was so wrong!!  I have recently begun meeting a wise and trusted friend every Tuesday morning at 6 a.m.  I am usually very excited about these meetings and look forward to them very much.  But after an evening like I had, I wasn't exactly crazy about waking up before 5 a.m.!

My day started out by oversleeping.  So, I rushed through my breakfast and shower, already frazzled for a second day in a row.  (It's silly to me when I realize that something as small as waking up late changes my entire outlook these days.  But this is my new "normal" as I know it.)

As I was rushing out of the door, I realized that I could not find my keys.  I looked all over the house and still could not find them.  Yeah...great way to start my morning.

On my way out of the house, I tipped over my coffee mug, spilling some of my precious morning gold....not good!

Then, I got to my truck and I tried to open my frozen shut truck doors.  My hand slipped off of the door handle.  This sudden motion caused me to drop my iPhone onto the driveway.  Sweet!

Then, I realized I forgot my wallet.  Can this day get any better?!?

Finally, I got on the road and made it to Panera safely....only to realize that I forgot my iPhone in the driveway!!  Ha!  Wow.

So, after a great visit with a great friend, I drove back home to pick up my iPhone....only to discover that I had managed to drive over it with my truck that weighs 5, 600 lbs.  I can still make phone calls on it....but....that's about it.

I got to work 30 minutes late.

Through all of this, God has given me the strength to go on.  James 1:2-3 says, "the testing of your faith develops perseverance."  I already consider myself to be pretty strong in the perseverance, my question is, "Lord, what are you preparing me for next?"  This scares me.  At least I'm still alive to laugh at my blunders, right?

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'm going to be a Dad!!!

When I first saw the two pink lines, I was elated!  I was so proud to be a future dad!!  I didn't care if it was a boy or a girl.  I was happy to have either...boy...girl...didn't matter!  I felt like I was walking on air, man!  Such a great feeling being on top of the world!

I was bragging to everybody I saw.  Once we had our first sonogram picture, I carried it with me to work, church, gas station, doctor's office, grocery store...I showed EVERYBODY!  I wanted the world to know I was going to be a dad!!  At 18 weeks, we found out our baby was a girl!!  So excited.  Without hesitation, we named her Caroline Grace.  Then, we called everybody to tell them!  I had 18 weeks of pure bliss!  My baby girl....

Then, we got the worst news I have ever received in my life:

"We are concerned about the development of your daughter's brain."

Within 24 hours of bragging to the world that we were having a baby girl, we were faced with sharing the tragic news that our baby girl would not live unless we received a miracle.

Consider this:  When you ascend a mountain, you can get altitude sickness if you climb too quickly.  When you scuba dive, you can get decompression sickness if you dive too quickly.

From the highest mountain peak to the deepest depths of the sea...this is the road that I traveled within that 24 hours.  The human body is just not prepared for such drastic changes without feeling pain and sickness. 

My heart is still broken.  And will remain broken for a very long time, I'm sure.  I have had chest pain, shortness of breath, and no energy.  Apparently, there is a syndrome by the name of "Broken Heart."  According to the Mayo Clinic, Broken Heart Syndrome occurs during times of dire stress as "a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn't pump well, while the remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful's also referred to as stress cardiomyopathy, stress-induced cardiomyopathy or apical ballooning syndrome.  Broken Heart Syndrome symptoms can mimic a heart attack. Common symptoms include:
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • A generalized weakness"

On top of my emotional pain, I was also experiencing a difficult time processing the meaning of Caroline's diagnosis.  For the last 5 weeks, I have suffered through the pains of "what might have been."  The many thoughts that went through my head included such horrible things like the following:
-Caroline WAS going to be our first child
-Caroline WAS going to be my mom's 3rd grandchild
-I WAS going to be a proud Dad
I felt robbed.  I was even ashamed.  I dreaded the questions people would ask me.  How do you answer the question, "do you have any children?"  All of these precious moments and special memories were ripped right out from underneath me.  I have been so physically burdened that breathing has even become difficult.  It is as if someone is standing on my chest, collapsing my lungs, and I have to struggle to breathe in enough oxygen.

This all changed in the past two weeks (except for the broken heart bit...I've still got that).
It was as if God hit me over the head with a 2x4 and said, "Wake up!"  Then, I realized:
-I AM STILL going to be a Dad...and a very PROUD Dad at that!

No matter what the outcome is of Caroline's life, she will always be my baby girl.  And I will love her just the same.