my baby died

What else is there to say? I feel a little dizzy and a little numb.

I can’t say I didn’t know it would happen…in my heart I knew from the moment she was diagnosed–but sometimes I hoped and loved so hard that I couldn’t see that anymore. I could reach past the breathing tube, ng tube, layers and layers of tape, and find a sweet baby’s lips.

If I hadn’t been holding her when she died, I don’t know if I could truly believe that she is dead. She turned blue so much faster than I thought she would. But until that moment, you could have almost pretended she was healthy. The seizures were causing her to make the kind of movements a newborn makes in sleep. I worried that it meant she was in pain but the nurses told me that with everything she was on, there was no chance of pain; and with all the damage, she likely could not comprehend pain anymore.

When she was truly gone, I held her up to my chest. I hadn’t been able to do that in months because of the breathing tube. I held her the way a baby should be held–head resting on my heart so my heartbeat could lull her to sleep. I put my face in her hair, because I knew I’d miss that hair. It was the last time she still felt almost like a baby; after that she felt like a doll.

 

The Little White Hearse
ELLA WHEELER WILCOX

Somebody’s baby was buried to-day—
      The empty white hearse from the grave rumbled back,
And the morning somehow seemed less smiling and gay
      As I paused on the walk while it crossed on its way,
And a shadow seemed drawn o’er the sun’s golden track.
Somebody’s baby was laid out to rest,
      White as a snowdrop, and fair to behold,
And the soft little hands were crossed over the breast,
      And those hands and the lips and the eyelids were pressed
With kisses as hot as the eyelids were cold.
Somebody saw it go out of her sight,
      Under the coffin lid—out through the door;
Somebody finds only darkness and blight
      All through the glory of summer-sun light;
Somebody’s baby will waken no more.
Somebody’s sorrow is making me weep:
      I know not her name, but I echo her cry,
For the dearly bought baby she longed so to keep,
      The baby that rode to its long-lasting sleep
In the little white hearse that went rumbling by.
I know not her name, but her sorrow I know;
      While I paused on the crossing I lived it once more,
And back to my heart surged that river of woe
      That but in the breast of a mother can flow;
For the little white hearse has been, too, at my door.

What to Do with Yourself When Your Baby Is In the ICU

This year I have really grown to appreciate how different personalities respond to stress. I know that personality tests like enneagram / Myers-Briggs are absolutely “soft” sciences or not really considered very scientific at all, but I’ve found it helpful in learning how to not only get along with people, but respect them for how they individually respond to things, even if it is very different than how I would respond. As a type 5w6 INTJ, or I guess just personally, I wasn’t born with a lot of natural understanding of how people work, so a systemic categorization of personality types is really useful to me. If you would all just wear nametags with your types on them At All Times, that would make my life a lot easier, thanks.

I’m often amazed at how differently people think. For example, we have had a very stressful past few months, culminating in a very risky open heart surgery for our baby daughter, yet my husband and I react in opposite ways to the stress of it all. He basically goes to sleep–complete shut-down–while I get hyperactive, spinning off into a billion directions at once.

Because of that, I’ve taken on a few projects the past few months…I normally don’t share projects I’m working on until they are fully formed and thought out, but in my frantic project-creating madness, I haven’t really fully fleshed out many of these.

Renee’s Stress Projects

  1. teaching two online classes (of course this is done–outside obligations, so not really optional!)
  2. decluttering the house (finished. but might do it again. I love decluttering when I’m stressed.)
  3. reorganizing the girls winter wardrobes and creating capsule wardrobes for each of them (this took awhile since there are 5 of them)
  4. writing a poem a week (mostly accomplished)
  5. creating a new poetry manuscript (haven’t quite started yet, but there is a file on my computer for it)
  6. publishing my CL manuscript (I entered a few contests but I probably could try harder here)
  7. creating a new style and capsule wardrobe for MYSELF! (this is so frivolous. I decided that I would be 90s grunge from now on but quickly decided that isn’t really the direction a mom of 5 should go in? so I might return to this project, suggestions welcome)
  8. writing a nonfiction book (not  started yet, see next point)
  9. studying how to write good literary nonfiction (in process)
  10. keeping us on schedule with homeschool (check check check. but taking a break for the surgery)
  11. running (big fail, no time for it)
  12. making new heart mom friends (yes, I think so! mostly online, but still, progress?)
  13. planning an amazing themed secret christmas present for the girls (done, bought, hidden in my mother’s basement)

 

So many things! I think if I were to make this list 2 or 3 things, like I normally would, I’d get them done, but instead I’ve been restlessly hopping around because that is how I feel right now, terribly restless. While B’s stress has shown up in naps and sleep sleep sleep, mine has been in insomnia, in my heartrate so fast randomly, and having this blood rushing in my ears sound, with a regular steady heartbeat that I wish I could gift my baby girl.

Faith and the Problem of Suffering

How is it that I can have a solid, unwavering belief in God–and even in a personal, loving (in a way that I do not understand) God–but also have a solid, unwavering belief in the meaninglessness of Suffering?

I’ve been working hard to reconcile these two thoughts in my brain the past few months. While Christian platitudes will generally chalk up suffering to 1) sanctification 2)the greater unknown good 3) the glorification of God, I can not for the life of me see how any of that is accomplished in the suffering of a baby.

  1. If this is for my sanctification, BIG TIME FAIL! I am a way worse person now than I was before, and I doubt we are going to see any big improvements
  2. I’m currently completely uninterested in the “butterfly affect” of goodness that may come out of this (i.e. since I was at the hospital that day, so and so turned left at the stoplight and narrowly missed, etc etc)
  3. If God miraculously heals and saves her, sure, I can see this as glorifying, but I’m really missing it otherwise. Somedays I am totally fine with not understanding, but somedays (like today) I’m less fine.

Suffering Is Never For Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot has been a help. But I think, having read it devotedly in the dim light of the back of Kit’s hospital room, sleeping in a recliner, I think that the gist of it is that we don’t know and we just must carry on. Just “sweep the floor”–do the next thing. Useful thoughts on going on when its hard to go on, so I’ve thought that maybe I should also pick up her “A Path Through Suffering”. And maybe also that Maria Hummel poetry book for good measure.

I’m not discrediting reading the Bible itself and getting a firsthand feast instead of second…however sometimes I need a little hand-holding, so I look to writers like Elliot to help me with the tricky footing.

If nothing else, I’m just trying to be ok with the unknowable, things that have never been properly sorted out by any human brain. Meaningless but ordained is where I land right now. But how to believe that and that God is still ultimately good and loving, unless one delves into the pit of “it was deserved”?

The one thing I am sure of is how completely stupid I am, how very little I know and understand. These thoughts are a luxury I’ve seldom much time for, and usually come to me when writing out my prayers, when stroking Kit’s hair in the hospital room, when sitting in the back of the Sunday school classroom, listening.