I always felt God leading me to write. As a child, I would write short stories and novels in spiral notebooks and leave them laying around the house. I went off to college and became an English major and indulged greatly in the writings of others. What I did not know at the time was that God was leading me to a place, a place where I would have more to write about than ever before. He placed in my heart the desire to write something that would bless others that have been in my situation and felt that they would never be able to make it out. This devotional journal is my testimony. It is a record of how good God is, how merciful and loving He is, and how in my darkest hour I learned how to truly trust in Him for my strength.
I woke up never anticipating that my day would go the way it did. By eight in the morning I was at the hospital and the doctors were telling me that the child I carried for 39 weeks was no longer living inside of me. The child who I named, fell in love with, nurtured, fed, and bonded with did not have a heartbeat. The doctors and nurses seemed so cold to me, like they were lifeless. The tone at which they shared the news with me was so unapologetic, heartless, and without emotion. I was laying in that bed watching my world shatter before me as they looked at me, stared at me, and saw me drift into misery. My husband was by my side and I looked over at him and saw his heart break with mine. I saw the disbelief in his eyes and the tears roll down his face. The doctors told us over and over that it was not our fault, that nothing could have been done, that we did nothing wrong. In that moment, it was difficult for me to comprehend what was really occurring. I was hurt and while I believed I was breaking, God was taking those shattered pieces and making me stronger and better.
After staring off and thinking for a while, trying to allow all of the recent news to sink in, I realized that my devotionals all week had been about Job. For a moment, I was confused. I had no desire to be tested like Job. I then saw that perhaps there was another purpose that was not about me going through all the things that Job went through. It was about me showing God that I will be faithful through the good and the bad times. It is easy to say I love and trust God when life is going well. It is easy to shout and throw your arms up at worship when you are simply thanking Him for all of the many things you have been blessed with. But was I strong enough in my faith to be able to say thank you for my trial? Thank you for this test? Was I wise enough to know that God has a purpose for me even in this sad and grim situation?
Job 2:9-10 says,
”Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”
I decided in that hospital bed that I was going to follow Job’s example in this verse. I chose not to speak against God, not to doubt that His goodness and grace were still present in my life. I decided to trust Him and praise Him as the tears poured down my face. My husband and I began to pray, which was one of the hardest things to do considering the number of emotions flowing through our bodies. We began to thank Him for the opportunity to have had this precious angel with us for 39 weeks. We thanked Him for our lives, for our marriage, for His grace and mercy.
Shortly after our family arrived, shed their tears, and asked the confusing and difficult questions, reality set in. I was rolled down the hall to a labor and delivery room. To deliver a baby, that I would not get to carry home in my arms. My angel, Nia Audrey.
In room number 9, I would spend the next day and a half. By nine or ten in the morning I was being induced for labor and the pains had not really set in hard yet. Before the family came in for support my husband, Joe, and I prayed. It was one of those crying out to The Lord prayers. The kind of prayer where you truly empty your heart and soul out at the throne. I remember holding him close as the tears flowed down my face and doing the only thing I knew to do in a time like that. What surprised me most were the words that began to leave my mouth. For some reason, I was not asking God why or how but I was thanking Him, I was praising Him, I was asking Him for strength. I told Him that I did not know why but I wanted to be faithful and to trust Him. At that point, I knew that God was already strengthening me. I felt so infused with His power, with His grace and mercy that I knew that somehow I would make it through.
Before labor really started to get hard, the nurses came in to let us know about our options. We could either do something with our daughter’s body or leave it there for the hospital to do what they do. We could talk to the chaplain for support. We could choose to see her and hold her after birth. We could choose to take the pictures of her home. And we would need to make all of these decisions rather quickly, despite the pain and shock that had not quite worn off. I felt that one of the nurses we first had was all about business and not sympathetic. But why should she be? Perhaps she has seen this often and is therefore closed off to protect herself. Maybe she even experienced something similar and needed to build a wall to separate herself from the situation to do her job.
Eventually, Joe and I made all of those decisions. We wanted to give our daughter the proper burial and have a small memorial service the following Wednesday. We did not mind talking to the chaplain but did not feel the need to do so at the time. We did want to see and hold her after birth. We did not want the pictures. We called our parents in to help make and coordinate the arrangements for her memorial service. My heart was so heavy as I begin to really realize that I would be burying the baby girl that I carried for almost ten months instead of bringing her home. I prayed constantly for strength. As I sat there in that bed I had a hard time seeing the finish line and believing that I could actually make it there.
The Lord will give strength to His people;The Lord will bless His people with peace.Psalm 29:11
Both of our immediate families were there just about the entire time to support us. Even my brother came, who absolutely hates hospitals! My sister-in-law flew down from Indiana as soon as she heard the news. They came into the new room with fear, confusion, pain all over their faces, tears flowing, and faces marked by stress lines. After our families stepped out to allow them to check me and then returned, I decided I was going to kick anyone out who was excessively crying. I gave them my speech about being strong and creating an atmosphere for this to happen effectively and everyone said that they understood and rallied around us with love and support.
The doctors gave me some medicine vaginally to induce my labor and I gradually felt it working. As the pain began to flow through my body the nurses asked if I wanted something for pain. They told me that I was already going through enough and there was no need for me to suffer. I kept turning them down, because I decided that as long as I could take the pain that I would. I wanted to feel the pain, maybe to distract me from the emotional pain I was feeling or perhaps I wanted to feel every last bit of my daughter from the inside for the last time. I labored from around 9:30am til about 10pm without medication. But after 10pm things turned and the contractions were no longer manageable without pain medicine. An hour or so earlier they gave me some sort of pain medicine intravenously. I felt so high after that medicine took affect and was talking crazy for about half an hour. But that did not work very well and soon I was bent over a pillow, fighting through the pain of a contraction while trying with all my might not to move as the anesthesiologist stuck a needle in my back.
I felt the tingling sensation move through my body and after about ten minutes I felt some relief. That relief lasted a couple of hours and I was able to get some sleep here and there. Joe was suffering from allergies at the same time and had taken a Benadryl to fight through it. That basically knocked him out and then made him groggy when he was awake. Through all of that, Joe was right there with me, grogginess and all. Just about every contraction he was there holding my hand telling me I could do it. Every time the doctors or nurses entered to check me he was there making sure everything was going all right. He was even there for the disgusting moments that I will not divulge here. I realized again why I married this man and why I am so grateful to God for our relationship.
Soon the epidural wore off and I was in need of another dose. They came in and shot some more medicine through my back and as the coldness flowed through my back I finally had relief again. Unfortunately, that was just the start of my epidural troubles. As I labored through the night and into the morning it was just not working for me. They would come in and test my numbness levels, move the catheter around, and increase the dosage but there was no lasting relief. I screamed throughout the night because of the pain. At one point I felt everyone in the room standing around my bed tending to me. My mother-in-law was rubbing my back. My sister-in-law was fanning me. And Joe was holding my hand and putting cool towels across my forehead. I was in the worst pain of my life and with every contraction I thought I would give out. I felt like I was fading. By 11am Friday morning, the anesthesiologist came in and told me that they could no longer give me more medication via epidural because I was getting the strongest doses possible and anymore would be toxic for my body.
I just could not understand what was going on and why I was still feeling pain. This does not typically happen in the stories you see, read, or hear. It should work! When he told me that I could get no more I told him that I could take no more pain. I asked the nurse to go and get the doctor because I was about to deliver my baby. The nurse told me she would get the doctor and as I was waiting, the intense pain started up again and I was screaming at the top of my lungs with every surge of pain. Eventually, the doctor came in and checked me and told me that I was only 9.5 cm. She wanted me to wait a little longer to reach 10cm. I told her that was not an option. I needed to get the baby out now because I needed some relief. She checked me again and told me that perhaps I could push past the rest of the cervix that remained. I thanked her kindly and prepared to go to work.
Since my epidural was basically ineffective, I was told to tell them when I was having a contraction so that I could push. With my first push, I gave my all. I was told that I was a really good pusher and after a few pushes she was moving down. I, of course, wanted to progress rapidly and asked if she was crowning yet. They told me no and to expect to push for two hours or more. Once again, I was like no… I decided that I would push for no more than an hour. I said a silent prayer for God to give me strength. At that point, I was on empty. I had no energy and no strength. I was so weak. I had no idea how I was going to get through it. A scripture that we learned as children was constantly rolling around in my head, ”I can do all things, through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.” I said that over and over again. With each contraction, I got some strength from somewhere. I was so weak and tired that even though the contractions were like a minute apart I was falling asleep in between them. I was even snoring. Once I felt that pain surging again I pushed with all my might and I felt something else take over when that was no longer enough. In those moments, I knew without a doubt where that strength was coming from.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says,
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect inweakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, sothat Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight inweaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when Iam weak, then I am strong.
I was in one of the weakest moments of my life as I laid on that hospital bed those two and a half days. And in that moment, when I was pushing out my baby with no strength of my own, I know that He strengthened me through my weakness. I pushed my baby out in an hour, not the two hours they previously told me about. And because she was already in heaven and was not helping like most babies typically do in the birthing process I also had the assistance of forceps. My baby weighed 8lbs. That combined with the forceps, caused me to experience a third degree tear. When she came out I felt such an overwhelming instant feeling of relief. They took her out of the room to clean her, by our request, as I laid there getting stitched up by the doctors. I felt empty.
When they were done stitching me up, they brought Nia to us and I saw her for the first time. Joe had already seen her when she came out. This was a moment that I was dreading. They told me that her skin would look different because it was already starting to peel and to not be alarmed. I was so afraid to lay eyes on the little girl that I carried for so long and would have to be bury in a couple of days. When I saw her the first thing I realized was that she looked so much like me. As I write this now tears are flowing from my eyes. I love that baby so much. She was so beautiful and looked so peaceful, like she was just sleeping. Joe held her first and seeing him hold her and talk to her and kiss her just about broke my heart all over again. I saw love flowing out of him. He passed her to me to hold and I was honestly so afraid of how I would feel holding her that I asked him to keep one arm under her. As she lay in my arms I could not help but wish that she were coming home with us, healthy and happy as I had prayed for throughout my entire pregnancy.
After we spent our time alone with her, we invited our families in to see her. It was amazing to see everyone holding her and kissing her, but painful knowing that it would be the first and last time that they would do so. Everyone commented on how red her lips were and how much she looked just like me – red lips and all. She was my mini me and I love every inch of her. Eventually, they took her back to the nursery because they forgot to get her weight, length, and do her footprints for our memory box.
I was experiencing so many different emotions at one time that it was hard for me to put and keep everything together. I was so proud of the beautiful and big baby that Joe and I made together. I was sad and heartbroken that she was no longer alive and I would not be able to bring her home. I was confused because I could not understand how it happened or why it happened to us. I felt alone because no one in the room understood how I felt as a mother that birthed a baby but had empty arms. I was embarrassed because everyone was anticipating the birth of Nia and I felt that I had somehow disappointed the world. I felt empty because a life that I had been growing for 10 months was suddenly ripped from me and I was in physical pain, a constant reminder me for the next few weeks of what happened and exactly how I felt on that day.
We had a memorial service for our daughter the following Wednesday and laid her to rest in a nearby cemetery. The cemetery is beautiful and Joe and our families did a wonderful job picking the location and getting everything together. We both felt a sense of peace when we saw her at the funeral home and after the service was over, but we also feel the pain of not having her with us daily. It seems like we have aged 20 years since everything happened a little over two weeks ago. We feel older, wiser, and stronger in our relationships with God and with each other. We have become better as a couple and I could not have asked for a better partner throughout everything. This man has helped me walk, helped me in and out of bed (even in the middle of the night), washed me, taken me to the bathroom, taken care of my wound, etc. He has been my shoulder to cry on and has allowed God to use him to even bring me joy through laughter here and there. I just pray that I have been as good of a wife to him as he has been as a husband to me.
Everyday is hard, but it is getting a little easier. We have received such an amazing outpouring of love and support from everywhere over these past few weeks and we are very appreciative. Our family has done so much and sacrificed so much to make sure that we are okay and recovering well and we are forever grateful to them for that. The church community and Kenyan community have pulled together resources to bless us and we want to say thank you. Our jobs have also been very supportive and understanding. I do not think we could have had better employers during this difficult time. And for all of you who have prayed for us near and far, thank you and please continue to keep us in your prayers! We have had people speak life over us and over what we are going through. We are so excited to see what God has in store for us in the future. I do believe that He is going to bless us to be able to birth, bring home, and raise more beautiful children – siblings of our first baby, Nia Audrey. I do believe that our home will be blessed, our children and all of our descendants will be blessed, my womb will be blessed, and that God will continue to get the Glory out of it all.
We chose a name for our daughter that had meaning. Nia means “purpose” in Swahili and Audrey means “noble strength”. I do believe that her life was full of purpose and has in some way touched everyone who has heard our story. And I know that at least for me, her life and our story has made me stronger. I never would have believed that I could have gone through what we have gone through in the last couple of weeks and be able to sit here in my right mind and write it all down. God has truly strengthened me in my faith and allowed me to see where true strength really comes from. I will forever love my angel baby.
Thank you for taking the time to read our testimony. God bless!