Monday, January 26, 2015

Heaven Meets Earth: Lily's Birth Story

I've tried several times to sit down and write this and I have a hard time of where to begin. So here it goes more. try.

When I think back to this day, I am of course flooded with emotions. 

After the initial shock of Lily's diagnosis and the anguish of it all set in, I remember two new fears emerging. The first was wondering how I would ever endure the next five months. The second was wondering how I would ever survive labor knowing I wouldn't get to keep my reward.

I now know the's all grace. A tremendous, overwhelming flood of grace that poured over me especially the last few days and weeks leading up to her birth. People often comment on how strong I am, but honestly, strength had nothing to do with it. It was all grace.

There is nothing to truly prepare you to say your hellos and goodbyes in the same day. We had time to process it all in the months leading up to her birth, but honestly, I don't think it matters. It's hard, it's painful, it makes you ache in ways you never knew possible. But more than all of that, you learn is worth the difficulty,  worth all the pain, and all the sorrow. She is worth it.

What I want people to know more than anything is this...I've never felt the love and presence of God more than the day Lily was born.

The medical side of the story is this: I went in to be induced on November 11th, two weeks (and a day) passed our due date. They dilated me and gave me pitocin. The dilating worked, the pitocin didn't. They turned it off and gave me a break. A few hours later, my water broke on its  own and labor started on its own (yay!). I got an epidural because I needed it and it was still going to be awhile.

Around 6:00am on November 12th, we decided to start pushing. My sister and parents came in to see us and then went to the waiting room.

Jason and I asked for some time by ourselves. My dear friend Chris had given us a rosary his late wife had held and prayed often as she was dying of cancer. I know her immense love for children and I knew she was in Heaven praying for Lily. Jason and I prayed a rosary together. We asked God to let us see Jesus in Lily. We asked God to give us the grace to do this, to give us peace for whatever happened and that we would experience tremendous joy when we met Lily.

And we cried together. 

Our midwife and nurse came back in and we started pushing...for six hours.

I have often wondered how women get through hours and hours (and hours and hours) of pushing. And now I honestly felt like minutes, not hours. If it was what Lily needed, I would have pushed for six more. I would have done anything for her. 

Lily had been head down and face down my entire pregnancy. As she was coming out they told me she was presenting face first and she was stuck. In my heart I knew she had already passed away. 

My midwife called another doctor for assistance. She was my advocate. She knew how much I did not want a csection and she knew how much I wanted to see Lily.

We tried pushing again and the doctor asked about using forceps. It pains me so much when I think back to this moment. I was terrified. I told Jason I didn't think she was alive anymore. We agreed to the forceps. As they were trying to get her out, I looked up and there was the Crucifix. He was right there with me with every push and every tear. I begged Jesus to let me see Lily. 

It still wasn't working. The doctor said we may need to do a csection. It was then that I completely lost it.

And again, I wept.

I laid back and just sobbed. Again, I told Jason I didn't think I could feel her anymore. 

And in that moment, I yelled. I yelled at God. I'm not ashamed to say that. When you have a relationship with your Creator you can yell at Him in those moments of your greatest despair. And this was that moment. I yelled at God and said I didn't want a csection. I begged him to spare me of more pain. I didn't want to go through all this, just to be cut open, especially when I knew in my heart she wasn't alive anymore.

Once again, my midwife was amazing. She fought for me. She went to find another doctor that she knew would be able to help. He had experience with this kind of birth. She never left my side.

Her shoulder was stuck on my pelvic bone, but he knew what to do. They upped my epidural and he pulled her out within a few minutes.

They put her hat on her and placed her on my chest.

I thought I had cried my hardest earlier, but I was wrong. This was the moment that I truly wept.

I sobbed and sobbed and tried to take her all in. I told her over and over again I was sorry. I  was sorry I couldn't save her, sorry I had put her through all that. I told her again and again how much I love her and I begged her forgiveness.

And then just like that, Heaven touched Earth. Jason and I were flooded with an abundance of grace. We just stared at her and examined what a beautiful daughter we made. 

She was perfect.

I didn't see anencephaly. I saw her squishy cheeks that melt my heart every time I close my eyes. I saw her hand wrapped perfectly around my finger. I saw her sweet chubby thighs that had two extra weeks to fatten up. I saw her long beautiful lashes. I saw her perfect feet. I saw my daughter, my own flesh and blood that I created, but couldn't save. 

I know that some of you reading this have an idea what that feels like. I can only imagine it's what Mary felt like when she saw her Son on the Cross. Helpless, full of more sorrow than you ever thought anyone could bear and here I was, experiencing it all for myself. But at the exact same moment you are flooded with so much joy because your daughter is finally in your arms.

I have never experienced the mystery of the Cross like this before. It was the single most amazing experience of my entire life. 
Perfectly made
 Those still my heart.
My very favorite picture...I stare at this every day.
There is so much more to share from this day, but that's all I have...for now. To be continued...

Link to part II.


  1. What a beautiful little girl. I love photos of baby toes, and hers are absolutely adorable. I can't imagine your pain.

  2. Oh, your sweet beautiful baby girl! So very happy you found such joy in meeting Lily. So amazing to read your experience. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing Lily with us.

  3. I saved this for a couple days until I could really sit and read. I knew it was a birth story (which I love) but I did not know that it was a goodbye story as well. I want to thank you for sharing your daughter with us. Thank you for loving her so much that all these details mattered to you. Thank you for treasuring her life so much that you were willing to suffer for her in order to be able to love her as well as you could in her life and in her death. It means so much to every woman, every child, every person that you did these things. Not many people will ever know it... but your daughter's life has impacted the world. And I know that your example will help other mothers to embrace the bittersweet cross and publicly witness to life as well. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And thanks be to God for the life of Lily!

  4. this was truly beautiful, from heaven, from Calgary...I have no words worthy of your little Lily, but I'm so grateful you shared her with us. The world is changed because she was here.