An Unexpected Position
Karie had determined that she was not going to have any major pain medication for the delivery. After all, Mercy was estimated to be a four pound baby and was thought to be head down. At one point during the process there seemed to be a quiet that hovered over our room. Karie was pressing side to side on her tummy trying to get some sort of resistance from Mercy. There was none. Karie muttered almost under her breath, I think she’s gone. We called the nurse in and I told her through tears that we believed Mercy was gone. She turned on the machine next to Karie’s bed and began searching for the heartbeat. We immediately heard a solid 153 beats per minute sounding through the speaker. Karie lay back and was able to rest for a brief time.
Soon the contractions started coming one on top of another. The nurse checked Karie and found she was dilated to around a five. Unexpectedly after the check Karie began bleeding. The doctor was called and a few minutes later came into the room. He did not seem concerned at all and so we played the waiting game again. I was on edge trying to determine the best time to have the kids come. We live 45 minutes away from the hospital. I desired for our children to spend as much time with Mercy as they could before she died.
Around an hour later Karie began pushing. I sent a quick text to Ali (our eldest) and simply said come. As the pushing progressed, it was obvious something was wrong. I have never seen or heard my beloved in so much agonizing pain. She was screaming out and said multiple times that she did not want to do this.
Mercy began to come out slowly. The doctor told the nurse that the baby may have breached. Karie continued to push, scream and cry. Soon it became clear that it was Mercy’s butt that was coming out first. She must have turned sometime after the water was broken. Karie was pushing out her baby Mercy who was folded in half. Minutes later, the legs followed and only the head remained. This was, I think, the hardest part. I heard our door slam shut as the noise of Karie’s screams must have been echoing throughout the halls. I learned of this later from Chrissy, but the doctor told the nurse that they needed the forsepts. It was at this time I leaned close to my beloved and prayed. Karie reached down and began clawing at the doctor’s arm trying to have the pain stop. He told her to let go. I grabbed Karie’s hand, she bore down, and Mercy came out.
Dr. Matt wrapped her in a white towel. There was no movement. He checked for a heartbeat and said that there was none. He cut the cord and lifted her to Karie’s chest. I came up to the side and we began opening the blood stained towel that shielded Mercy’s body. We looked at her beautiful six fingered hands, then her six little toes. We cried and heaved deeply as we saw for the first time our precious Mercy who had been hidden from our eyes until now.
I really do not know what was going on around us during this time. Chrissy must have grabbed my phone and was taking pictures. We are so thankful that she did so that we could have these moments captured for us. Mercy was more beautiful than we could have imagined. Her six fingers were such a perfect part of her hand that they did not seem wrong or unnatural at all. We removed Mercy completely from her towel so Karie could have her warm body next to her chest. She snuggled her, smelled her, and lingered over every moment wanting never to forget.
Our Children Arrived
Maybe twenty minutes or so passed and I gave Mercy a bath. We were told that our children were here and waiting to meet their sister. I placed Mercy on Karie’s chest and went to greet Ali, Rylee, Sammy, and Elsa. I hugged each one and told them that Mercy had died. I told them that she had passed into the arms of Jesus sometime before her delivery.
As we walked into the room, the children gathered around their Momma. Karie’s mom Edlyn was the first to take Mercy into her arms. She looked into Mercy’s face and said over and over again how beautiful she was. She then said to Mercy that she had been praying for the opportunity to hold her just once. It was a special moment.
I then took Mercy and brought her to Rylee. I did this because Rylee had mentioned a week earlier that she did not think she wanted to hold Mercy. Rylee had been fearful to see her sister. I did not want Rylee to ever regret her decision and so opted to force this opportunity on her. She took off her glasses, looked at me in hesitation and held out her arms. She looked down at Mercy and cried. Her head then leaned down towards Mercy and not away. She tells me now that she was not prepared for this moment. She could not bring herself to look at her sister’s face at first. Feeling her dead sister near to her body was hard and strange she says. The second time she held her, she was able to inspect and look deeply at her sister Mercy. I am so glad for these moments and will hold them dear in my memory forever.
Next I brought Mercy to Sammy. He had asked weeks earlier if Mercy was going strait to Jesus or would he get to kiss on her first. Karie said to Sammy that he could kiss on her face. He looked up and said huh? She then said he could kiss on her feet. He again said huh? like that was a better option for him. It was sweet and funny. Elsa then had a short chance to hold Mercy.
Ali then grabbed her sister Mercy and began smelling and kissing her head. She had been waiting patiently to hold her dear sister. She had her empty arms open while I passed her by to bring Mercy to Rylee. I knew she would understand later the gravity of the moment. After Ali’s turn, her and her sister Rylee embraced and cried together. Our children have embraced their sister Mercy, and it has been sweet to Karie and me.
The Changing Of The Guards
My mother-in-law left with the children after around two hours of being in our hospital room. 7:00 PM rolled around and our dear nurse Necole was heading home. I was in the hallway when both nurses (the old and the new) were side by side coming into our room. Necole told me that our nurse was named Rebecca. I walked to her, immediately recognized her as the nurse that delivered our son Justus a year earlier. I said, “I remember you from a year ago when you delivered our son Justus.” Rebecca’s face melted and she said, “Oh in room number twenty-four; I remember.” I of course did not remember the exact room number, but it was significant to her. How amazing of the Lord to give us the same sweet nurse.
Rebecca headed into our room and embraced Karie. They cried together. She then mentioned that the birth of Justus was very sweet to her. Karie asked how exactly. Rebecca then said that her witness of the birth of Justus was the most sweet and special display of love for a child she had seen. Amazing, truly amazing to me that she would say such things. We hope as Christians that our lives are displaying the glory of God to those around us, yet it seems he glorifies himself most through us when we have no idea that anyone is watching. How great of God to give us Rebecca as a follow up to Necole as a gift to care for my beloved wife.
As Karie was saying hello to Rebecca, I was saying goodbye to Necole. I told her that she had been special and dear to us, and that God sent her to be our nurse. I told her that I hoped her time with us had been special. Her eyes glossed over and she placed her hand on her chest and said “these moments are the moments we cherish and hold on to forever.” She gave me a hug, embraced my dear Karie, and we parted ways.
After a few hours, Karie fell asleep cuddled next to Mercy. Rebecca had come in and I had the opportunity to talk with her a bit. I asked her if Necole had described the delivery to her as they did the changing of the guards. She said, “oh yes.” I then asked her how Necole explained the delivery of Mercy. Her words went something like this:
“Necole told me that the birth of Mercy was the most spiritual thing she had ever witnessed. She said that the parents’ love for their daughter, and the amount of faith they had was more than she had ever seen.”
God glorifies himself the most it seems when we have no idea that anyone is watching.
Scott and Debbie Jamison came by for half hour or so that evening. Debbie held Karie and they wept together. Mercy was laying next the Karie. Debbie asked if she could see our baby girl. Karie said “oh yes.” She then peeled down the white blanket that was shielding her face from the world. As she did this, she said “her face is somewhat deformed, but it is beautiful to me.” These words from my wife are an overflow of the grace of God in her life. Karie had been so worried throughout the pregnancy that she might be repulsed on some level by the sight of her daughter. She had found pictures on the internet of other babies with trisomy 13 and those just increased her dread. But now in the hospital my wife’s fears were taken completely away, and her eyes were filled with only thoughts of love and beauty for our precious Mercy with trisomy 13.
Leaving Mercy And Heading Home
As a new day dawned, it brought with it another level of emotion. Karie’s friend Julie text her and asked it she could come by with fresh coffee. We were definitely craving a good cup of Jo. She obviously was not a coffee drinker because the question came back to us whether we wanted a cup of coffee from Starbucks or Holiday? Funny. Julie arrived and the ladies talked for some time. Julie then, in an act of sweet grace, pulled out some lotion and asked if she could give Karie a foot massage. My wife loves her feet rubbed and truly enjoyed every moment of this experience.
Soon afterwards Chrissy came back to see us. She rounded the curtain that hung from the ceiling at the front of our hospital room. Moments after she entered, her husband Jamie followed. He had driven all night from Kentucky. I had known that he was coming for the memorial service on Sunday, but did not expect to see him this morning. My eyes welled up with tears as my friend gave me a huge bear hug. What a wonderful surprise.
At the morning changing of the guard we were reminded of how gracious God had been to us by giving Rebecca and Necole as our previous nurses. Our current nurse was brash, harsh, and unsympathetic. The few times we had to engage her were far from pleasant. She forgot Mercy’s name and was very eager to get us out of our room.
Jamie and Chrissy left so we might have some time to say goodbye to Mercy. I grabbed our bags, headed down to the truck to load up, and parked close to the front door. When I came up Karie was holding Mercy close to her chest and crying. I took Mercy from my beloved and squeezed her close to my neck and cheek. I started to cry deeply, saying that I did not want to let her go. This was very hard to say goodbye to her body. We both knew that Mercy was not with us any longer and was safe in the arms of Jesus. Yet holding her body was the visible representation of Mercy that we could have and hold for this brief time. I reluctantly laid Mercy on her warming table and went to get a wheelchair for Karie. Ten minutes later we were heading home, eager to see our four children who awaited the arrival of their momma.
Home Without Mercy
We arrived an hour later to a quiet home. Elsa and Sammy were sleeping, Karie’s mom was reading in the living room, and Ali and Rylee were having quiet time in their room. I went downstairs to hug the girls and to ask them to come upstairs. They came up and snuggled up to Karie as she had already found her reclining resting area. The girls then sat attentively on the couch listening to every detail of the following days.
Mercy’s Memorial Service
Sunday at 3:00 we had our small memorial service for Mercy. Karie was pretty anxious for this service and mostly wanted to hide both before and during it. My morning was spent cleaning the house and ordering a small display table with Mercy’s blankets, pink little dress, foot and finger moldings, and other memorabilia we had gained from the hospital. This was an incredibly hard time for me. I kept thinking that Mercy was suppose to be here with us and not in the wood box on the table (she wasn’t of course in the box yet because I did not pick her up until Tuesday morning from the funeral home). I wanted her here. I want her here still. I already miss holding her and seeing her beautiful deformed features.
The service consisted of a short devotional from Pastor Kevin Carr (our Pastor) on Psalm 139. He gave honor both to Mercy and to Justus during his message. We sang two songs and watched an early video of the one that has already been posted on this blog. The service as a whole was very nice and special. Karie was not very comfortable in this context and mostly, I think, wanted the day to end.
Monday morning our friends from Kentucky headed home. Before they left we had a nice breakfast and a sweet time of prayer as two families. We miss them already. My wife craves to be cared for like she was when Chrissy was around. We have gone through very hard times together as families and that bond that holds us together is gospel glue. After they left, me and the kids spent the rest of the day cleaning and ordering the house.
Tuesday morning I went to the funeral home to get Mercy’s remains. After returning home we opened up the box as a family and saw the small amount of matter that was left after cremation. This was not as hard as I had anticipated.
Today (Wednesday) things are beginning to get back to a more normal routine. The kids started school this morning and we will be heading out to Youth Group this evening. Tomorrow I head back to work. I really, really don’t want to go back. I wish there was a way for me to earn a living from home, but I have not found a way to perform HVAC repairs without actually leaving the home. My furnace can only work so well, and it defeats the purpose if I have to keep hiring and paying myself. Karie’s mom is returning this evening to help out. I think she is staying a couple of days. She has been so much of a help and a blessing during this season of suffering.
My Pastor has scheduled me to preach a conference message at our Church on March 22nd. The conference topic is the providence of God. He asked me if I would deal with the subject of the providence of God in pain. Oh boy… I have chosen Job 2:1–10 as my text. The title is: Receiving Good And Evil From The Lord. The subtitle is: The Providence Of God In Pain. I anticipate this as being a hard and heart penetrating subject for me to prepare for amidst our current situation. Please pray for me as you have opportunity.
Ali and Rylee seem to be doing well. Ali has asked me some hard questions on the character of God, but all in all seems sweetly submissive under the weighty hand of God.
Sammy and Elsa are also doing well. We have watched the video I made multiple times as a family. Each time Elsa tears up and says she is sad that baby Mercy is dead. It is sweet to see her feel this bitter sadness at the loss of her sister.
Karie seems to be getting better and better. Her body is healing from the stress of delivery, but also longs to feed baby Mercy. She is having the chest longings that cannot be relieved without baby in her arms. It has actually hindered her from laying down on our bed, and so has been sleeping in her recliner at nights. She has also been taking plenty of short naps throughout the day. He eyes and mind seem clearer as she takes in this much needed rest.
The Lord is near to the broken hearted, and binds up those who are crushed in spirit. We are broken under the weight of the heavy providential hand of God; yet he is very near to us now, ever binding and restoring our brokenness. We are so thankful.
As the days press forward, I hope to relate more reflections through our suffering and not as many factual details. We continue to trust in the goodness and the kindness of God through our sweet Savior Jesus Christ. He is more to us then gold, yea, than much fine gold.