Why Nora Lived and Lucy Didn’t

I am so sorry I haven’t written any blog posts lately. I have a lot of posts written in my head, I’m just struggling to find time to get them typed out. This post was supposed to be published on October 25th, but I wasn’t able to finish it completely so I’m only just now posting it! Even though I’m frustrated that I don’t have time to blog like I want to, I am savoring the fact that I have a new little baby and my two big boys who are taking up all my time. I still can’t believe I get to have three kids on earth. Here is the post from October 25th…

Three years ago on this day I found out I was pregnant with my third child; my first daughter. How strange that I just gave birth to my “third child; my first daughter” as the world sees it. Every year from October to February I relive my pregnancy with Lucy and in February I relive her birth. It is traumatic. I wonder if I will ever get to a place in my life where I don’t notice these dates, where the 8th of every month isn’t a sharp reminder of my daughter who isn’t here. I wanted her so much. This is my journal entry from October 25th, 2012:

I’M PREGNANT!

I can’t believe it! I’m so excited. This never gets old. A new baby for me to love for eternity. It feels totally unreal. How can there be new life so recently created in me right now? I feel like there should be fireworks or at least some applause!

Thank you, my sweet Father,

You give me so many beautiful gifts. Thank you so much for this new baby. I can’t believe you’ve trusted me with another life to nourish. Another heart to teach about you. I don’t deserve any of your blessings, yet you lavish them on me continuously. I love you. Thank you for my new sweet baby. I wonder who she/he is, what will she be like? look like? I am ecstatic. (I also have a lot to do.)

Three years later and I still don’t know who she is, what she looks like now, how her voice sounds or what color her eyes are. I still feel completely broken over her absence in my life. This year, as I relive my pregnancy and the birth of my third child I know it will be harder because now I know that she probably could have survived. I have my living, breathing baby Nora here in front of me as a reminder that Lucy could have lived. Ever since Nora was born I have had a hard time with this knowledge and I often wake up at 2 or 3 am frantically thinking through how I could have saved Lucy. It is a devastating feeling. The doctors should have done many things differently. When I asked to try plasmapheresis and IVIG they should have said YES instead of brushing me off. I should have kept pushing for the treatment instead of trusting them. I had no idea that they weren’t well experienced in this type of pregnancy complication, I didn’t know how rare it was. I should have left the state and asked for a second or third opinion. Why did I stay here and trust the doctors? My daughter is dead because of it.

I know that regret is always a part of losing a child. It is such a natural instinct to NEED to protect our babies that when they die we can’t help but feel guilty and regretful. Deep down, though, I know when I look back at my pregnancy with Lucy that I was doing everything I knew how at the time to save her. I did my best, I just didn’t know what to do. With Nora, I knew what to do and she is alive.

Elisabeth Elliot shared part of a letter that her grandfather wrote to her grandmother after their son was blinded by a firecracker accident:

Surely we CANNOT guard against all the contingencies of this complex life, and no one who has poured out life as you have for each one of your children should let such regrets take hold. None of us could be alive to the pressing needs of today if we should carry along with us the dark heaviness of any past, whether real or imagined…I know how sickening remorse is, if anyone knows; yet I also know, as you do, the lift and relief of turning the whole matter over to Him.

Whether real or imagined…. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just blowing everything out of proportion- maybe Lucy never could have been saved? But whether my regret stems from things real or imagined, all of it needs to be handed over to Him. When I start getting swamped with regret I need to made a conscious effort to turn my eyes from the past to God. During both of my high risk pregnancies I would regularly envision myself holding my baby and reaching out and placing her into God’s strong hands. In the same way, I need to place the past and all the regret that comes with it back into His hands. It was always in His hands to begin with. Not one minute of Lucy’s time in my womb was out of His control and He could have saved her. I just have to choose to trust Him again, even though He decided to let my baby die.

It is hard to understand WHY God let Lucy die. I prayed constantly throughout my pregnancy with Lucy for God to show me how to help her, to give me wisdom, to save her, to do a miracle. I had great faith and I trusted Him to take care of my baby girl. He let Lucy die and He let Nora live. I will never understand His decisions until I’m in heaven. It is comforting to remember, though, that God had all of my girls’ days written down in His book before any of them came to be.

Because of Lucy, I have been able to help many women who are in the same place I was in when I was pregnant with her. So many women with anti-kell antibodies (or other antibodies) are searching for help since their doctors don’t really know how to treat them, they receive incorrect information or they aren’t given all of their treatment options. They just want to know how to keep their babies safe. Every time I’m able to help one of these babies it brings a little more meaning to Lucy’s life and death. I think the main reason that Nora is alive and Lucy is in heaven is because God had different purposes for their lives. Lucy is still helping many, many babies here on earth and her own little sister is alive because she died. Just because Lucy is in heaven it doesn’t mean she is done influencing this world. Perhaps some people’s purposes are meant to be fulfilled while they are here on earth and some are meant to be fulfilled after they have passed on to their real home. I am seeing Lucy’s life purpose slowly play out as other grieving Mamas are comforted and babies are helped by her story. I look forward to watching the rest of Nora’s life purpose emerge as she grows (we’ve already seen God’s amazing power at work in her life.) Both Nora and Lucy are going to leave a unique, lasting imprint on this world, regardless of how long they were here. I’m so proud of both of my girls and I’m thankful that I get to be their Mama.

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DONE

Well, Nora is officially DONE with transfusions and blood checks and has been released from her hematologist! A couple weeks ago she had her blood drawn for the last time at Children’s Hospital and I was so excited that it was the last time I would have to drive all the way to Birmingham and watch them stick her with a needle. Nora wasn’t that excited about it.

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The next day, when I called to find out her numbers, the nurse told me they had only checked her iron and not her hemoglobin, hematocrit or retic. Her iron level is completely irrelevant and has nothing to do with this type of anemia. I was surprised at the rush of emotion when I found out we weren’t really done and that Nora would have to have another blood draw. I broke down in tears, frustrated with the hospital for running the wrong test and frustrated with myself for not making sure they were ordering the right blood tests. I was sad that Nora would not be cleared by Halloween like I was hoping.

This Halloween was the very first holiday that I wasn’t dreading since losing Lucy. It’s a huge milestone in my grief journey. I never thought I could enjoy a holiday again, but this year I was ok with it, even looking forward to it a little. Nora was going to be a ghost and the boys were ninjas.

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On Halloween Nora woke up feeling very irritable and she wouldn’t nurse. She started screaming and WOULD NOT STOP. She sounded like she had a little congestion and a cough but soon started having a little trouble breathing. She was grunting and occasionally gasping for air. Since I didn’t have her latest blood work results I wasn’t sure if she was anemic or not (although I suspected that she wasn’t since she was still pink.) We had to take her to the emergency room. Difficulty breathing can be a sign of severe anemia and we didn’t want to take any chances. The saddest part was when the nurses couldn’t get Nora’s vein because she was so tiny and slightly dehydrated. They tried four times before they finally were able to draw enough blood for the tests. We were so relieved when her counts came back normal. Her hematocrit was 42 and her hemoglobin was 14! She did have bronchiolitis and an ear infection which were causing her all the discomfort, and it was kind of a let down to spend Nora’s first Halloween in the hospital, but it was so exciting to see her numbers looking so good! And she did end up getting cleared for good by Halloween like I had hoped 🙂

We feel so incredibly relieved that all of the medical dangers caused by these horrible antibodies are now behind us. Nora is a “normal” baby now and is producing her own red blood cells with nothing in her blood to destroy them. Not only is Nora done, but we are done trying for our rainbow baby and that desperate desire for a third living child has been satiated (thank you, Jesus!) Our family can relax and we are now trying to focus on recuperating from the past three years. We have had one tragedy after the next and even though it ended in the best way imaginable, this high risk pregnancy with Nora and her birth were so exhausting. We are depleted, financially and emotionally. We are slowly trying to pay off our medical bills and climb out of debt that we fell into during the “adoption.” How I wish there was a way to get all of that money back from Kailee and Peter. We are also trying to give Liam and Asher a lot of attention since they have had to endure so much in their little lives. Lucy, Scarlet and Nora have been our main focus since 2012 and now we are finally able to pour ourselves into our sons. It is so fun. I just finally “set up” their bedroom since I never had time to after we moved in last fall. I made their names out of fun letters and put them on the wall, rearranged the furniture, got rid of Asher’s toddler bed and I’m still working on some really cute bookshelves to go on the wall. Asher was so excited when he saw the small changes I had made that he said, “This is my favorite room I ever had!” It is so nice to be able to just be in my home with my children, with no pressing emergency or giant obstacle to overcome.

Josh and I are finally able to focus on our marriage and work on just enjoying being with each other again. Losing a baby puts so much strain on a marriage, not to mention an adoption gone wrong and a very high risk pregnancy. We love being able to just enjoy normal little things together again (things that seemed frivolous and meaningless in the midst of grief.) We watch Netflix and go for walks and plant vegetables and herbs in our fall/winter garden. We go to church together and are able to plan fun things like camping trips and what to cook for Thanksgiving. Even though we still have a lot of healing to do and our Lucy wound still gapes, I feel like we are finally able to slow down and enjoy life again.

As I go about my day, a phrase often comes to mind, “He brought me out into a broad place.” It comes from Psalm 18:

Psalm 18:19 He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

Thank you, Lord, for rescuing me and for rescuing Nora. I know we will probably face more adversity, pain and loss in the future, like everyone does, but I love this place you have brought me into right now. I praise you for the miraculous things you have done in my life and for this time of respite and restoration.