I have so many moments vividly pressed into my memory. Some of these moments are scenes from a nightmare, but they are real for me. There are things I can’t un-see or forget; things that I feel will never leave me. By the grace of God, there are also treasured moments. These are the memories I wrap my fingers tightly around and hold onto for dear life; the things I hope I will never forget and I pray will never leave me.
“fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Despite shock and exhaustion, we were fortunate enough to get to spend some time with Lucy at the hospital. We got to hold her and take in all of her tiny features; her full head of dark, wavy hair, her sweet little button nose that was the replica of her big brother’s, her long eye lashes, her little ears and her chin that looked just like her daddy’s. She was so beautiful, and she is ours. I hope and pray that I never forget exactly what she looked like and how she felt in my arms.
Our sweet neighbor was kind enough to watch Oliver for us so that my family could come see Lucy. My dad, mom, and sister were all there. Everyone took their turn holding her and examining her sweet little hands and feet. With pain in our faces and tears in our eyes we just held her and stared at her. We knew this was it, the only chance we would have to snuggle with our beautiful babe on this side of heaven. We should have been saying hello, and welcome. Instead we were saying hello and goodbye, we will see you again someday. No one should have to say goodbye to their baby. My doula and midwife were with us as well as our pastor and his wife. It was nice to have support from people that love us. So few people we know actually saw and held our girl.
My sister is a photographer, so she brought her camera to take some photos of Lucy. The photos are not at all the newborn photos that we had originally hoped for. There were no cute hair bows or pretty, artistic, sleeping baby shots. There were no photos of her with her big brother. Nothing to share on Facebook as you swell with parental pride. We were not showered, we weren’t dressed up; there was no make up or outfit coordination. Instead we have photos of our deep grief, of pain and sadness. We have messy, unwashed hair and tear-stained cheeks. We have photos of our little girl looking less than perfect to the world, but perfect to us. With all that said, these photos are so deeply important to us. These photos are treasures. When you lose a baby you don’t have a lot of tangible things to hold on to and remember your little one by. We don’t get any more chances. There will not be a lifetime of moments to catch on film; no first birthday photos, no first day of kindergarten photos, no senior pictures or wedding pictures- this is it. These photos are what we have of our girl.
It was hard to leave her at the hospital. I felt like a mother deserting her child. Although her sweet soul is in heaven, those mom instincts were still alive and at work and her precious little body was still in our care. We are still her parents. We came home from the hospital with empty arms and shattered hearts. But, on the other side of that, we felt God holding us tighter than ever. It’s hard to explain it, but despite the awful tragedy of losing our daughter, we felt God’s grace in a way we never had before. His love is so extravagant and He drenches us in His grace when we need it most
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'” 2 Corinthians 12:9
(Photos by Kate Sinclair)