Thursday, December 9, 2010
The Worst Day of Our Lives
One Year Ago Today - December 9th, 2010 - was
the worst day of our lives.
The day we found out that our precious daughter would die.
I've thought about this post MANY times - thinking through what approach I would take. A depressing one? A hopeful one? Somewhere in between?
What I've decided on is posting a journal entry I wrote one month after we found out Karinne's life would be cut short. It's a journal that I've never shared with anyone before today. It tells exactly what we went through on that terrible day - the worst day of our lives. And the bitter, hopeless, desperate sadness we were feeling. Some of it is written to Karinne and some is written about her.
January 9, 2010
One month ago today, our world about you came crashing down. Silly, stupid, naïve me – I hadn’t even imagined that something could go wrong with our baby. We had had 3 easy pregnancies, 3 healthy babies, 3 beautiful blond-haired blue-eyed children. How could anything be different this time? My biggest worry had been about whether or not I would be happy with a boy when I wanted a girl so badly. And I was debating so much about finding out the sex of the baby for the first time ever. I’ve always said I wanted to be surprised & that it helped me get through labor knowing that I would soon find out. But this time I had nearly convinced myself to find out so that if it was a boy, I would have time to adjust to the idea. Silly, stupid, naïve me. I should have been praying to God that our baby would be healthy and perfectly formed, not praying that he would help me to accept a boy if I needed to. What a cruel, cruel joke.
One month ago today, we went to the Maternal Fetal Clinic in Wichita to have a sonogram with a specialist. The routine sonogram in Oakley one week before had possibly shown fluid on the baby’s brain. Dr. Christina Goodwin had called me the next night to tell us the scary news. But she was reassuring that these techs may not really know what they were seeing since they do sonos for all sorts of things besides babies. And when she talked to Dr. O’Hara in Wichita, she too thought it was far too soon to see anything like that. She didn’t even schedule us to see her after the sonogram, believing that it would just be a mistake made by an inexperienced western Kansas sonography technician. I think back & can now guess why that tech with her dark bobbed hair and cute glasses had been so quiet and not talkative like normal. She had seen something she couldn’t let on about.
One month ago today, we drove 4 ½ hours on an Oakley Schools snow day to finally find out if our baby would be okay. It had been a long almost week and despite the possible bad roads, we decided to give it a try since we couldn’t bear to wait. I think our babysitter was very nervous for us when we dropped off the kids, but she understood too. Thankfully, the roads were pretty good – nearly always clear in the driver’s lane of the interstates. And we actually had time to stop at IHOP for lunch in Salina. We talked about stopping on the way back to look for a new mattress and eating supper at Red Lobster. I was finally getting my appetite back so that sounded delicious. Too bad we were too sad & in shock to do either of those things on the way back.
One month ago today, we talked about how we needed to get started working on converting my walk-in closet into a nursery for the new baby. We intended to make some changes to the closet in our room to hold more clothes, and fix up the walk-in for a tiny but cozy baby room. We had always disliked the way it was done in there anyway, so we could turn it back into a better closet someday. I guess now, I’m glad that we hadn’t started on the project yet. But nearly every time I go in there, I think about how this was supposed to be your bedroom and how I would have decorated it with the ark & animals we had always had in our children’s nursery. And now, you’ll never sleep there, cry there, be changed there or dressed there. I’ll never nurse you there or hold you there or look in awed wonder upon your precious little face there. Ohhhh, how badly that hurts my soul!
One month ago today, we chitchatted with the Wichita sonogram tech, who seemed about my age , about how she grew up in Quinter (or was it Grainfield) and how she used to go to Oakley to do sonograms for a time. I remember seeing the baby’s face and joking about how it always looks so strange from that angle. It seems she may have gotten quieter as time went on. At some point she asked if we wanted to know the sex. We asked if she could tell. She said – “maybe.” We agreed we didn’t want to know a maybe. She finished & took us to meet with a nurse who would take our history. Thinking back – I wonder if she had told that nurse right away that something looked wrong. We guessed that she had. The nurse, a middle aged woman, was so friendly as she asked the MANY questions about both our family histories. At the time I wasn’t all that concerned about this part – it was just routine right? The only thing was, while we were doing this, the technician was conferring with Dr. O’Hara & they were looking up information about our baby’s diagnosis. And most likely trying to prepare themselves for having to tell this “nice couple” the terrible news they had discovered.
One month ago today, they told us that Dr. O’Hara was going to come meet with us. I’m not sure that it struck Curt as a bad thing, but I was more & more nervous with every second. She came in, shook our hands & introduced herself. When she sat down, I think I knew it would be bad, but did I ever imagine fatal? I think I went into a bit of shock as she spoke and it really didn’t hit me for awhile. Curt broke down before I did. It was such a surreal experience that I never imagined myself being in. They handed us a box of tissues which I suppose they sadly need more often than you would think. The nurse (I wish I could recall her name) told us of how she had lost a baby to stillbirth 30 years ago. She said you never get over it, but you give your child dignity and you honor them by carrying them to term.
One month ago today, we heard the name for a terrible congenital anomaly – Acrania. Our baby’s skull had not formed properly to protect the baby’s brain. A terminal condition. The baby would either be stillborn or die shortly after birth. We may very well go full term only to lose our precious child. Dr. O’Hara mentioned that termination was an option – but I’m so thankful to God that they didn’t push us in that direction in any way. She said that acrania was very rare, that it seems unlikely to have a reoccurrence in subsequent pregnancies, & that it was not something that we did wrong or that we could have prevented.
One month ago today, we learned the sex of our 4th child. Dr. O’Hara gave us a little time alone to soak it in & comfort each other. Then she took us back to the sonogram machine to show us the problem. The baby’s skull should show up as a bright white rim. The white stopped at the forehead. You could see the contour of the brain – less intense & slightly bulgy. I asked Curt if we wanted to find out about the “maybe.” Meaning the sex of our baby. When she realized what we meant, she said immediately – “It’s a Girl.” This of course broke our hearts wide open & we sobbed into each other’s arms. She and the technician both agreed that even though it was early, the baby appeared clearly female. She showed us on the screen & even gave us a photo with “It’s a Girl” for a caption. She asked us her name. When we hesitated, she said it’s early to have one picked out. I said we’ve had a name picked out since our first boy. But we didn’t share it. Later in the car, through our tears, Curt said something like, “Ever since we heard it was a girl, I’ve been thinking of her as Karinne.” I cried, “Yes – that’s her name.” A month later, several family members know that we know the sex. But we haven’t shared it with any of them yet. It will break their hearts all over again to find out – as it breaks mine every time I think of losing my little girl – my Karinne Claire that I have longed for to complete our beautiful little family. A sister for DaNae and a little sis for the boys to dote over and protect.
One month ago today, we spoke with Denise (our hospice nurse & lifeline) for the first time. . . .
One month ago today, we told the news for the first time. . . .
One month ago today, we found out we would have to break our childrens’ hearts with this news. . . .
One month ago today, we thought of things we could make for our little girl. Although we barely talked on the way home, one thing we both thought of was Curt building the burial casket for our child. And I know that I want to make a woven blanket to wrap her in. And perhaps another one for us to keep. We need to start on these soon, to be sure they are done in time.
One month ago today, our dreams for our fourth child playing cheerfully with her siblings were stolen from us. Watching the kids play today, playing so well together for the most part, I couldn’t help but picture a beautiful blond little girl trying to keep up with her older sister & brothers. I realized how she won’t get to play all the imaginative make-believe games our children come up with. This morning they were all up on the top bunk – DaNae was the mother jaguar and the boys were her babies that she needed to get food & water for. Running around with capes being super heroes, playing with Noah’s dragons, building horse stalls, watching movies together, playing bucking bulls or riding stickhorses around the circle racetrack of the main floor. Just a few of the wonderful things our first three munchkins do together for fun – Karinne will never have the chance to do with them.
Today – I’ve felt her move.
It’s few, faint and far between so far the last few days.
But she’s there.
Please God – I pray that I would be able to cherish the time spent with her during this pregnancy –
Posted by Kara at 8:29 AM