The relentless shaking that spread across my body woke me from what felt like a nightmare. I blinked my eyes to make sense of the room that surrounded me but I couldn’t focus. My body was shivering, ice cold, and I knew something was wrong. I looked to my left and realized my OBGYN was speaking to my husband and me. In and out her words faded, and I was scared. My heart raced and I began to plead with my husband Nick and God to not let me die. I knew I was on the verge of death but I wasn’t ready to go. My two children at home still needed their mom, and truthfully, I still needed them. “You lost a lot of blood,” she said as she placed what seemed like a blow-up mattress across my body to bring my temperature to a normal level. I turned to my husband and requested a few of my favorite songs to help calm my nerves and remove the fears that swallowed me whole.
Oceans began to play and my racing heart began to calm.
“I bathed the boys and dressed them so you can hold them,” my nurse said as she entered from the hallway, and then it all came back clear as day, “Oh yes, that’s why I’m here.” It wasn’t a nightmare but in fact real life. The worst moment in my life. In fact, this was September 19, 2014, the day I was five months pregnant and went into preterm labor and lost our identical twins, Grady and Ryder. I closed my eyes, listened to the song playing and allowed God to pour His truth into my soul as I prepared my heart to say my final goodbyes.
“You've never failed and you won't start now.”
-Summit Magazine Article 2017
Unless you've read my article in the Summit Magazine, you probably haven't heard much of this side of our story. You see, September 19th not only holds Grady & Ryder's birth story but it also holds the moments I thought I was facing my own death. After I delivered Grady, I was rushed into the OR to have a D&C to deliver Ryder and my placenta. Ryder's heart stopped beating on September 7th, so following Grady's delivery, my body thought it was done. Unfortunately, my body had it all wrong and instead of labor progressing, my blood flow was unstoppable and my life then became a risk.
I didn't face the reality that I almost passed away with my sweet boys that day until I met my nurse Amanda two years following our loss. Our meeting put it all back into perspective. Come to find out, Amanda was MY nurse rather than theirs. I always had it in my mind that she was a baby nurse but truth was, she was assigned to me that day and she never left my side. She went into the OR with me, she calculated my blood loss and following our surgery, she pleaded for my life.
As Amanda and I sat down to talk about our memories from September 19, 2014, we realized my whole memory is of the boys and hers is of me. I focused on the babies lives and she focused on mine.
Amanda measured my blood loss and calculated 2500 ml from my postpartum hemorrhage. The average for a natural delivery is 500 ml and 1000 ml for a c-section. I measured 2500 ml for natural, which is almost five times the normal amount of blood loss. As my doctor steered us in the direction of not receiving a blood transfusion, Amanda fought for a second opinion. My HBG levels went from a 14 to a 6.8 and she knew I needed help. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to override the decision but her voice resounded in my mind over the weekend, "I think you need a second opinion."
It would be two years until Amanda would learn that I survived and ended up receiving blood three days after delivery because I fainted on our bathroom floor. And it would be two years after our loss that the trauma I walked through would come to surface.
Call it God's protection or memory loss, I completely blocked that piece out of my grief but after meeting with Amanda, I couldn't help but question why I'm still here and my purpose for living. The truth is, it's a miracle I left that hospital without a blood transfusion. It's a miracle I woke Nick up to go to the restroom with me the evening I fainted because he was able to catch my fall and call 911. It's a miracle someone donated blood (3 units worth) in order to save my life and give me a second chance with my children at home. It's a miracle.
This past weekend at church, our pastor talked about Glory and it didn't shock me that his whole sermon touched my heart and brought me back to my question, "Why am I still alive?"
I can't help but think I'm still here to spread His glory and share the truth in healing and His promise of never leaving. Our pastor said three words yesterday: Light, Joy and Hope. I couldn't help but chuckle a little because these are the names of our boxes - except, replace light with love.
I saw Jesus the day we had surgery. Literally saw him standing before me near the cross with arms wide open. He held me and I knew everything was going to be okay. "Okay" may not be the way I imagined it, but I can assure you, I'm okay. I've been blessed to be in the presence of God and feel His overwhelming sense of comfort within my darkest moments of grief and truly see how He's orchestrated my life to help shine His light.
LIGHT is what we use to see. Jesus was the light I saw that assured me everything would be okay and it's my turn to share that with others. Whatever it is you're facing, I can assure you EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY.
Joy. Joy within mourning is a very real thing. Just as healing is. Joy doesn't mean I hurt any less but it means I can feel at peace among such heartache. I said goodbye to our boys that day but felt pure joy in knowing I was still alive to go home and hug my two children at home. I ached in knowing I wouldn't see Grady and Ryder's first day of school, graduation or weddings but I find pure joy in the fact that I get to witness Cohban and Maddie Lu grow up each year.
JOY enlivens our emotions in His presence, and I am still alive to tell another grieving mother that she too can find joy even in the moments she cannot even get herself off the floor in the puddle of her own tears.
HOPE engages our will. Without Hope, we wouldn't do the things we NEED to get there. If you lose Hope, you will lose your way. As we drove to Florida Hospital the morning of September 19th, my contractions grew closer together and stronger but God wasn't planning on letting us take that drive without a reminder that He was with us. On the radio played Danny Gokey's "Hope in Front of Me," and I turned it up, loud enough to cover my screams. God sent us hope in our DARKEST moment to help us get there.
Why am I still alive? I'm alive to spread His Hope to those who need reminding that they still have it. Our circumstances have a way of fading out our hope and allowing us to lose our way. But friend, stop. You, like I, are not lost. You, like I, still have hope. EVEN IN THIS.
"Swaddled in their green and blue blankets, I brushed their foreheads and pressed my lips against their skin. I examined their whole body taking mental pictures so I wouldn’t forget a single detail. I placed them against my chest for the final time and embraced their warmth, “Mommy loves you so much,” I said. I wiped my tears and called our nurse to hand them over one last time. Some would say Grady and Ryder’s story ended there in that cold hospital room, but I can argue it had only just begun." - Summit Magazine
Happy THIRD birthday Grady and Ryder. You boys have my whole heart, and I miss you beyond words. It literally hurts. But I'm celebrating your lives and rejoicing in the fact that I will see you again, hold you again and be your mama once again when the time comes. Until then, celebrate BIG and watch over us back here. We carry you in our hearts and in our souls. Forever and always, I love you - Mommy
GRADY & RYDER'S BIRTH STORY
DEAR NURSE A VIDEO - OUR BIRTH STORY
Friends, today is Grady and Ryder's third birthday. Usually we celebrate our children with elaborate parties with those we are closest to. Unfortunately, Grady and Ryder are not here to blow out their candles, but we still want to give them a gift this year. Will you join us?
If you feel lead, would you consider donating the amount you'd usually spend on a three year old's birthday gift and donate to Boxes of Hope? There's a mom on bed rest out there in need of hope and through Grady and Ryder's birthday, we can gift her just that. If you were invited to a birthday party, what would you spend on their gift? Please consider giving that amount to her. All funds are tax deductible and go directly towards our mission of gifting hope. We cannot thank you enough for your constant support and love!!!