living the unimaginable

Five months, one week and three days more.
Five months, one week and three days more would’ve made all the difference in the world.

Although, really, that’s a lie.

Nothing could have made a difference. It was done before we even knew, done while you were still our dream and prayer.

Between days 24-28 of conception the skull forms. Bone that shapes the head and most importantly protects the brain. So much happens in the miracle of your life before I even know you exist.

And then we find out. We stop dreaming of your existence and rather dream of all that your life will entail. If you’ll look like me or your father, if you are boy or girl. How you will completely change our family as we grow from three to four, how scary that is;  but also how perfect it will be as already we feel the gap that’s yours to fill.

My body remembers what to do this time and I can’t fit my clothes at 9 weeks. I’m sick a lot more this time round; you don’t like watermelon and especially not your Grammy’s apricot chicken. I’m exhausted. But one nice thing is your brother is starting to show compassion, he cries when I’m sick and hates to see me hurting. He loves to read his big brother book, and one day he will be a great one.

at the hospital

We’re here now. You’re on your way. The doctor said I can have as much pain relief as possible and no one will ask anything about it. No amount of relief will take away the pain of what is really happening though.

The clock keeps ticking.

8:26am.
8:29am.
8:34am.

I just asked them to take your crib out of the room. It’s empty now and it will not be filled by us. It didn’t need to be here.

Your father commented to me, “don’t worry bruz, one day we will come into one of these delivery rooms and leave with a baby.”
I wish that was you precious child. I love you already. I’ve been feeling your life and movements for maybe two weeks now without doubt. It’s why I struggled to understand it.

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Our first ultrasound was at 11 weeks, I saw you for about ten seconds. The lady said you were a strong little wriggler who she hopes will behave. Your heart was beating strong and it looked like you waved. Then she turned you away.
All her comments were good. Then they stopped. It was silent.

When she finished she turned the screen off. I’m not sure exactly what she said but none of it made sense. She tried to tell us there was something wrong with you. She used words we didn’t understand. After she had said how good everything was. We were so confused.

We went back to our GP. He was really nervous and obviously hadn’t had this conversation with anyone before. He said the word acrania- but that got lost in my tears, worry and shock. And I forgot until the next week when we saw a different doctor. He wasn’t much help though. When he said you had acrania, we asked what that was and this “specialist” we’d been waiting a week to see replied with “I don’t know.” It hurt that no one could tell us about you. No one could help us understand.

We had another ultrasound with a much better lady this time, she showed us you. Your heart, arms, legs, tummy, your precious face. We saw clearly the bones for your jaw and nose.
But then we could see your brain. Nothing was there protecting it. Your father had believed in a miracle, that God can do all things. But nothing was different from the week before.

I’d chosen not to believe in a miracle. I couldn’t hope and then be disappointed.

A week later we flew to see a specialist in Brisbane. Something happened to me that week baby. I loved you more, but somehow found a way to love Jesus more too. Even if you were going to open your eyes and see his face first rather than mine.

I had thought…. what makes me different to anyone else, why couldn’t it be me that got a miracle? Why couldn’t it be you that defied all medical odds. When we saw you again, you’d grown so much in two weeks, got so much bigger. The specialist knew so much about you, he could tell us all about the timing of when your skull forms, how this affects your brain. He explained to us the miracle of your life, simply that you exist.

I am special enough for a miracle; to know you. To know a God who loves me through this. My God who totally understands miscarriage and losing a child. God watched Jesus die. Your life is a miracle little one, a miracle that will forever change our life.

10:53am.
Tick. Tock. Tick. I’m going to labour. Pain. Birth you. But you’ll already be with Jesus. We’re looking forward to seeing you though. Finding out if you’re a boy or girl. The midwife says you might be the size of our hand. Beautiful and precious, you will fit perfectly in the hands of Jesus.

12:03pm.
I thought I just felt you kick. I know that isn’t real though. Four months with you is not enough my baby. But far better than none at all.

4:07pm.
It hurts more now.

5:13pm.
The same clock continues to tick. tick. tick.
There was a pregnant screamer across the hall. Those ladies that scream every contraction and then every push. Her screaming I’m sure is silent joy now. It’s now her screaming newborn.
I can’t wish or pray that you’d taken longer to arrive. I’m your life support, a failing one. Even if you grew as big as you should first, coming out wouldn’t save you. Your life can only exists within me.

6:23pm.
When I gave birth to your big brother my waters broke while I was watching Friends with your Uncle Jeremy. Tonight I was watching Friends when I felt a pop- it was my waters breaking. Your father and I laughed about it, saying that was the trick- I just had to watch Friends.

6:35pm.
It was quick- you’ve arrived. The nurse was amazed I did it all with nothing but two Panadol hours ago, see I didn’t want to miss anything my body was telling me. So many doctors had come and gone telling me drugs were created for a reason, that I was wrong to want to feel what was happening. Almost like strength was accepting the medicine.

You didn’t cry like all the other babies today, not even a first breath. I saw you  and the first thing I said to your daddy was that you had a cute little nose. I’m not going to lie, we didn’t know what you’d look like, but my precious daughter, you are beautiful. You had a nose, lips, two ears and even finger and toe nails! Ten little fingers and ten little toes. Perfect. And you looked so at peace. You came out with your left hand over your heart. Our precious Emmanuelle Walters.

God is with you and God is with us. Five months, one week and three days too early; yet how blessed are you my girl that when you first opened your eyes it was Jesus you saw. You’re whole and healthy and perfect now.
When you hope and pray for a baby; a life, character and little personality that you will love with more love then you ever knew possible, you imagine how they will interact with their siblings, how different they may be to each other. You imagine what colour their hair might be, what their voice will sound like. Never do you imagine that the words “there is something wrong” will be used when speaking about your baby. Never do you imagine that any part of your babies formation, that is known by God, would be incomplete. When I imagined you, my precious girl, never did I imagine the last month would have been the way it was. But in living the unimaginable, I experienced a miracle, the miracle of your life. But more than that, I fell in love and met you.

the very next day

We had special time with you last night, holding you and talking to you. Both myself and your daddy prayed thanking God for the gift of you. Your life and body was amazing. You fitted in the palm of our hands, but we could see everything, your ears and you had big eyes, toe nails and lips. You were complete. Our Emmanuelle Walters.

Now it’s today and you’re not here. We got on the elevator from the maternity ward this morning and the people looked confused that we didn’t have a baby with us. Your papa drove us home, he is happy you’re a girl.

I don’t know how to end this, it’s hard to complete. You’re life isn’t finished because it never really begun.

I hope you’ve found our Baby Zazu up there, hug them from daddy, big brother and me.

I love you my girl, my Emmanuelle, with my whole heart.

Emmanuelle

 

* I wrote this in real time. It helped me more than I could ever imagine. Not for attention, but in the hope that other parents in similar situations might find it and relate. Knowing that your baby is still a human being, a life no matter how short. God is still good, He is always good. When we got our diagnosis, I did what all people do now and I googled- if you found me, please email or send me a comment (which is private till I approve it) and I would love to talk to you and journey with you if you are looking for someone who understands a little bit more than others.

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259 thoughts on “living the unimaginable

  1. jo collins says:

    I’m not sure why I clicked on your link, I actually wasn’t specifically thinking about “my boys”. I saw the word anachalphy when I was using Google to search for something completely different. I read your story and sobbed so much my husband was worried something was seriously wrong with me! I had my first child, a beautiful girl and she was perfect. I had never imagined the powerful love you could feel for someone else and it never occurred to me that any future children I would have would not be as amazing. I became pregnant again when my daughter Capri was only 3 months old. As with her, I had terrible morning sickness but everything was progressing “as normal”. When we went for my scan all I can remember thinking was how much I needed to go to the bathroom and please don’t let me wet myself! The women who did our scan at first she too was all smiles and explaining how strong the heartbeat was, and when she went real quiet I still didn’t think anything was wrong.
    She started apologising, and telling us there was something wrong. When I asked what it was she couldn’t say and kept saying I would need to go and see a specialist. I remember thinking “downs syndrome” and knowing that it didn’t matter. When we saw the specialist they were very vague, lots of medical jargon and “spinal bifida” was thrown around. All I can remember were the words “will not survive outside the womb”. Needless to say I was heartbroken and very confused. The end result was that my baby boy Jesse was born at 6 months in a labor ward with happy mothers and fathers around congratulating each other, they did put us in our own room but it was still very hard. He was perfect, 10 fingers and 10 toes, he came out and took a gasp of air before slowly fading back to Gods care. We were told by the doctors that the chances of it happening again were very slim and they could find no reason why it had happened in the first place. We had a funeral for our Jesse and life resumed as it does. My life was filled with my daughter who helped heal my pain. My husband and I did not talk about trying again but not long after Capri’s first birthday I realised I was again pregnant. Morning sickness again became my waking routine. The scan time came and I didn’t have any bad feelings or premonitions. I was just excited to know how this new life was doing. This time I knew the signs and so when nothing was said I remember my heart sinking and tears just poring from my eyes, Yet again more apologies, but no real answers. My son Luke was born at 7 months, he came out from the safety of my womb with a yawn and a stretch before he too went to be with God. They say God only gives us as much as we can handle, but during that time I wallowed in despair and sorrow many times asking “why me?”. I know if I did not have the comfort of my daughter things may have gone differently. At the time we were living in NZ and decided a fresh start in Australia was what we needed, so we up and moved with no real plan just an idea that the grass was greener. I must have only just fallen pregnant when we left because when we had been living in Brisbane about a month lo and behold, here was my old mate morning sickness. This time I was filled with trepidation about going to see the doctor and put it off as long as I could. It was only until I woke up at around 5 months and couldn’t feel any movement that I went to the hospital. Firstly they tried to find a heartbeat but when there was none they sent me for a scan. Yes again my baby, another boy Max had the same anachalphy and spinal bifida as his brothers before him. Only this time my womb had not been a capsule of protection and the severity of his condition meant he had died inside me. The doctors at that particular hospital were incompetent and instead of taking me straight in to surgery tried to induce labor. I was in agony, both in body and in mind. Max started to deteriorate inside me and I ended up with septicemia. The hospital finally realised something was wrong and rushed me into emergency surgery, I remember hearing them tell my husband to say goodbye to me because they weren’t sure if I would make it. As the anesthetic took hold I was terrified that this was it for me and I would never get to see my daughter grow up. I was sent to a specialist at Royal Brisbane hospital who gave us the first real answers as to what the condition was and that it was not my fault. Until he told me those words about how I was not to blame, I didn’t realise how much guilt I had been placing on myself. We had genetic testing done to make sure there were no factors involved and everything came back clear. He could not 100% say if it was a male thing for us as we had already had a girl, and it was normally not a chromosome disorder. I remember him distinctly telling us though that the chances of it occurring again were high and we should think about not trying again. I thought to myself, that will be ok. I am more lucky than others who can never have children and I am blessed with my beautiful girl. So we decided I would have a tubal ligation and I went on the pill while waiting for my surgery in a few months time. But as we make plans, God has other plans for us and so it was when I awoke one morning feeling that old familiar sickness. The first thing I did was cry and try to pretend that I was mistaken but I knew I had to go see the doctor and when the test came back positive he sent me straight through to the specialist. They did the vaginal scan as I was only around 6 weeks at this stage and everything looked good. I continued to undergo weekly scans and at every one things were progressing as normal. I still did not want to give myself hope but as each week passed hope was slowly seeping through my body whispering “all is well”, When I went for that 20 week scan my usual person was not there and it was someone I had never met. She said she was filling in and obviously had not read my file. She smiled and said everything looked good and did I want a picture, I asked her “are you sure? Can you look again? Yes she nods without checking everything is fine”. I probably was a little more over dramatic than I needed to be but I demanded she check again and she quickly looked at my file, stammered an apology and did a thorough check. She gently touched my arm and again said, “everything is fine, this baby is perfect. Would you like to know what you’re having?” Of course my first thought was, its got to be a girl! But no, A Boy! God had chosen to give me a boy after all the loss, I was gifted with an Angel. I am one of the lucky ones my boy Zac Angel was born healthy and yes there were a few dramatic moments with the birth but ultimately I have been blessed with a beautiful girl and a beautiful boy both bring me great moments of joy and pride. My daughter Capri is now in her last year of high school and Angel is in his first. I still think about what might have been and every year on the anniversary of their births I light a candle in memory of Jesse, Luke and Max.

  2. […] posts I’ve read have always been able to touch my heart (yesterday I just read one that had me bawling my eyes out), and it’s nice to think that maybe my blog managed to touch other people’s too. Not in […]

  3. livingcurious says:

    i had tears in my eyes.God bless you and emmanuelle and your family.My prayers with you.Your love for Him is so strong.

  4. […] days after we had Emmanuelle our good friends gave birth to this precious […]

  5. […] terrible, and our baby Zazu was still lost. Then we tried to live again, and found we could. With Emmanuelle, who we knew was sick and lost at nearly fifteen weeks, the attempt at living required more effort […]

  6. […] subconsciously avoided is the one where I ask God ‘why?’ Why did I lose Baby Zazu? Why was Emmanuelle sick? Why could you not heal her? Plenty of faith filled people prayed over her, we prayed for […]

  7. esmi puente says:

    I’m speechless… So tragic …But at the same time so beautiful 😥

  8. Anna B. says:

    My sister just received this diagnosis. Thank you for your words. She will carry this little life until Jesus takes him home. You have blessed me with your story. Thank you!

  9. […] longer, it’s past the day you were due to be born, April 17th 2014. Our little girl, precious Emmanuelle came far too early though never would have made it to today. It is very rare that babies with […]

  10. […] baby at all, let alone the way we did. I never thought I’d have the complications I did after Emmanuelle. I never […]

  11. […] we were on a coffee date, you might ask about Emmanuelle. I don’t think that would be a bad thing… I think that if you brought her up you’d be […]

  12. […] a journal of our miracle journey… an insight into how the pregnancy miracle is different after you’ve sailed through storms.  […]

  13. […] a journal of our miracle journey… an insight into how the pregnancy miracle is different after you’ve sailed through storms. […]

  14. […] a journal of our miracle journey… an insight into how the pregnancy miracle is different after you’ve sailed through storms. […]

  15. […] only people who knew we were pregnant with Emmanuelle were our immediate family and some of our closest friends, everyone else found out when we had her. […]

  16. Pastor Kevin says:

    Touching. Thank you. God bless your desire to help others. You may consider sharing the book Safe In the Arms of God. Here’s a video of the author: Safe in the Arms of God – Hopeful Words for Broke…: http://youtu.be/2sGxWLbnNl4

  17. […] here about our Emmanuelle […]

  18. […] a journal of our miracle journey… an insight into how the pregnancy miracle is different after you’ve sailed through storms. […]

  19. […] a journal of our miracle journey… an insight into how the pregnancy miracle is different after you’ve sailed through storms. […]

  20. […] move, leaving youth ministry… then one miscarriage was tough, but then our journey with Emmanuelle was just- well, harsh. Somehow we made it through. Well, not somehow, Jesus is […]

  21. […] a journal of our miracle journey… an insight into how the pregnancy miracle is different after you’ve sailed through storms. […]

  22. Jessica Meyer says:

    Your wording is beautiful. We just lost our angel on the 15th of March, 2015. It’s only been a week and a half. I’m so sad and lost right now without my baby boy, my big boys little brother. :-(. I don’t even know where to start or what to do but I feel like there’s somthing bigger I should be doing. Thank you for sharing your story.

  23. […]            If Emmanuelle were healthy, it would be her birthday this […]

  24. […] a journal of our miracle journey…
an insight into how the pregnancy miracle is different after you’ve sailed through storms. […]

  25. […] to say. I have been a regular and irregular poster. It gave me space to share the story of our Emmanuelle, her birth story has been viewed over 14000 times… but you know, I have more to say. Her death is […]

  26. […] Emmanuelle’s story had a very clear end; I do not know how that is possible when I don’t feel like her story ever really began. […]

  27. […] eighteen months old… That’s how old Emmanuelle should be. Babbling away and sneaking into things with abeautiful big cheeky grin. Or so I […]

  28. […] you remember them? Can’t you remember Emmanuelle as much as I do without me saying anything? Or having to remind […]

  29. […] that are yet to reach that milestone but still just as true). This week, Thursday just gone, was Emmanuelle‘s second birthday. Every day in the week the postman came with something for Daniel and I […]

  30. […] “Don’t worry it’s just bits and pieces” I heard the orderly next to me say while he held a medical esky and we waited for the elevator down from the maternity ward. The kind I knew my  old daughter would have been in just days before, I wondered if he carried her also calling her that? I’d just left a follow-up appointment just a few days after having Emmanuelle. […]

  31. […] something girlie of some description I think. 17th of April is already an imaginary day, a day Emmanuelle should’ve been born. But not as Emmanuelle but as a healthy and whole girl we hoped and dreamed […]

  32. […] life experience, I had certain faith in a big God despite any circumstance. Then when we lost Emmanuelle I had to unlearn and relearn so much of what I thought I knew about Jesus. In most ways it was easy […]

  33. Jo says:

    What a beautiful way to put words to an unimaginable event. It will be one year this month. I’ve never heard anyone else be glad they hadn’t had an epidural or pain relief because they wanted to feel what was happening to their body. I am so glad I felt my son leave my body. My last physical intimate connection with him.

    I also had the experience of the confused looks of others as we left the maternity ward with no baby.
    Thank you for your words and for sharing your experiences. You are not alone.

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