Thursday, January 31, 2019

How is Grant coping with the loss?

One of the biggest concerns I have had since Sadie's death has been the heart of our four year old son, Grant. We were very open with him through the entire pregnancy that she was "sick" and her "bones were twisted".  We tried to breakdown the medical terms and put it into thoughts he could process easier. Skeletal Dysplasia is hard to understand as an adult, let alone a four year old little boy. He would pray for her every night and ask God to heal her bones and keep her safe. 

To be clear, we were very honest and up front about the fact that the doctors believed she wouldn't be able to survive outside of my womb but at the same time the harshness and finality of death was something I wasn't ready to broach with him. Every night as Drew and I would tuck him in we would say prayers and all but beg God to spare her life...

When Sadie was born we immediately knew (from the lack of crying and her struggle to deep breath) that she wasn't going to make it very long so we got me covered up and brought him in. The joy he felt in his heart when he saw her couldn't be hidden; he was in love. His tone and touch seemed to soften naturally when he saw her, he knew she was fragile. He was able to hold her and take a few photos while enjoying the bliss of his new found brotherhood. 

I will never forget the minute he looked up to me with Sadie in his arms and asked if she is going to get to come home with us... Drew and I both looked at each other with tear filled eyes and wondered how we would ever break this awful news to him. Drew paused a minute, took a deep breath and slowly said "Buddy, Sadie isn't doing so well, she is going to live with Jesus very soon so she won't be able to come home." What came next nearly killed me.... Grant let out a painfully long "NOOOOOO". It wasn't a "no" out of disrespect or disobedience, it was out of sheer hurt. His face began pouring tears. His little hands held on a little tighter to his sister knowing that she'd soon be taken away. My sister actually caught this moment on camera and as excruciating as they are to look at, they show his unconditional love for his baby sister. 



Drew and I will both tell you, this was the hardest part.

What we are learning is that as time goes on, grief and pain doesn't lessen but you learn how to cope with it a little better. 

Grant is learning how to cope with his loss just the same as Drew and I are. Things that trigger sadness to me aren't triggers for him. That's the thing about grief...It just hits you OUT OF NOWHERE and when you least expect it! We have pictures hanging in our home of the two of them and daily Grant will ask questions about Sadie or just in passing say that he misses her and wishes she was here. Unfortunately, not every day is that black and white. A few days ago he started crying for no reason and when I asked him what was wrong he yelled "SHE WAS MY SISTER!!!  AND NOW SHE'S GONE!!!" 

We both fell apart in the middle of the kitchen. Our shatter hearts clinging to each other for dear life. 

I constantly ask God to protect his heart from hurt and not let this negatively affect his relationship with Jesus one day. Satan loves to torment me over that...he whispers lies like that to me all the time:
"how could he every trust God after what he's gone through...you teach him to ask God for what he needs/wants but all he see is God turn his back".  James 4:7 says "Rebuke the devil and he will flee from you". 

Let me just tell you...I do a LOT of rebuking! I refuse to believe satans lie that Grant will be emotionally traumatized by this and that it will make him never trust God...

I will stand on God's word believing that even though we are tested and refined by fire, by our faith, it will be turned to praise and glory to God. (1 Peter 1:7) 

If you would, would you please join me in prayer for Grant's heart. I am believing God and knowing He has something big for Grant in his life. That even Grant will share Sadie's story one day to minister to circle of influence or even his children and grandchildren. Sadie's legacy and our ministry doesn't end with a grave.  

Jenny



Monday, December 31, 2018

Closing 2018

Today is New Year's Eve, the final day of 2018. 

Man, am I glad about that! This year has been a whirlwind. Some would even classify it as a tornado. A category 5 that came in and wrecked havoc on life as I knew it. This year started out so promising... I remember standing in the hospital room as my sister was about to give birth to my niece thinking, "this will be me sometime this year". I knew it would, there wasn't a doubt in my mind. At that point I had been seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist for a few months and was finally at the point where it was okay for us to "try" to conceive. It's the strangest sensation, I can remember that moment so vividly, like it was yesterday...but my, how much life we have lived between then and now.

Just 4 short weeks after that day I found out I was expecting. 

10 weeks after that we found out it was a GIRL!!

2 weeks later, we learned that our dream baby girl wouldn't spend more than a few hours on earth. 

16 weeks after that life changing news, at 2:28pm, we gave birth to our gorgeous daughter, Sadie. 

55 minutes later, she entered Heaven's gates.

Less than 24 hours after that, when we should have been leaving the hospital with our new baby, we were handing her our to a coroner.

2 days later, we buried our amazing daughter. I am a Christian so of course I know that Sadie is not in that grave, her soul is with Jesus in Heaven but I also know that her earthly body in is in the ground. In a box. Covered with dirt. That thought haunts me...it's just not right that something so precious and beautiful is under all of that filth. (I'm sure there is a lesson in that statement alone.) 

A month after Sadie's passing we ordered her tombstone. 

A few months later it arrived... I will never forget walking out to see her headstone for the first time. It had just rained so the ground was saturated, my eyes were just the same. . I just remember holding onto Drew's hand for dear life, not ready to see her name on something so final. If it wasn't real before, it definitely was now. My knees weakened when the marker finally came into focus. I could feel the blood rush out of my head and the dizziness start to set in. I surrendered to sitting on the sopping wet ground so that I wouldn't pass out... As I sat there I kept thinking that I should have brought flowers to somehow add beauty to what felt horrific but the truth was, not even flowers could have made that sight easier. 

My fingers pause on the keys of my computer because all I really want to say is "What the heck". Must sound strange to hear but it's true. I am still in utter disbelief that this year held what it did. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine things would turn out the way they have. I want to say I understand it all but I don't. I'm not to that point yet and honestly, I don't know that I ever will be until I meet Jesus and hold my baby girl again. Oh how my heart LONGS for Heaven...Every day. Every single minute. 

2018 has been a year I will never forget. The joy, the pain, the beauty and heartbreak all culminate to create a bigger plan that I might not ever see but I trust that this year was not given to us in vain. I know the Lord is at work. 

2019 starts tomorrow. I am praying that it is infinitely less eventful than 2018 and that the Lord will allow healing and joy for our hearts. Grant is still struggling with being an only child, he wanted Sadie just as bad as the rest of us... Pray for his heart. Pray that God will use past year strengthen his (and my) faith. We look forward to the fresh blooms of Spring.

"If 2019 should look like 2018, we will be faithful, Lord. Amen."

Saturday, November 3, 2018

How did we get here & Where do we go from here?

In three days we will have officially lived life for 3 months without Sadie here. It's hard to comprehend that thought, it feels like years since I last held and kissed her. Time has somehow kept moving forward when life feels like it should completely stop. Its such a strange sensation. The busyness of life has distracted me of dwelling on my loss daily but every now and then it will hit me... "How did we get here? Is this really my life? Did that really happen?"  When life seems to slow down, that's when the influx of emotion hits. Most of the time its in my car on my way to or from work. My thoughts shift from this weeks grocery list to the loss of my daughter, it's a sharp curve of emotion that shows up out of nowhere and wrecks me completely.

I find myself starring at my hands remembering that just twelve short weeks ago they held a real baby. Satan wants to me forget that. Satan wants me to forget the way she smelled and the weight of her body in my arms. There are days when it all feels like a bad dream or someone else's story, not my own. I didn't ask for this...We were so excited for a daughter, Lord, why did you allow her to be taken from us? I'll never understand that...I have a mark on my heart that will never go away. Time tends to fade it and lessen it but the scar will always be there.

People have asked, so what comes next for y'all? Are y'all going to try to have another? Truth be told, I have no idea. I have no clue what the Lord has in store for us from here... Am I ready to have another? No. I am still in pieces over my girl...and I will be for awhile. Before we got pregnant with Sadie we said this was our last try (after numerous miscarriages). That whether this pregnancy ended with a baby or another miscarriage we weren't going to try again. We were done. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to give birth to a baby and not be able to bring her home from the hospital. We've contemplated adoption and are completely open if the Lord leads us there but for now, things are quiet on the baby front and I am okay (even happy) with it. My arms long to be filled but my heart is still very much broken and vulnerable, the idea of another loss is overwhelming to me, I am still dealing with Sadie's loss, add another miscarriage to it and I might just lose it. Many of my friends are having their second and third children. I follow their photos on social media and my heart longs for that, not for me, but for Grant. He wanted a sibling so badly, he speaks often of Sadie and still prays and asks God to protect her and take care of her in Heaven. He would have been the best big brother. Until the Lord opens a door we will be here, healing and waiting on what comes next for our family. Sadie will always be a part of us. She has made such a mark on each of our hearts that the idea of moving on without her here is almost unbearable, but somehow, by the grace of God, we will keep putting one foot in front of the other and see where He leads. Please pray for our willingness to follow. 

-Jenny

Friday, September 21, 2018

"When Sadie went to Heaven a piece of my heart went with her...I won't ever get that back. That piece is hers."

Lord, move my fingers to the keys you want me to type. Direct my thoughts to the things you want people to hear. Only allow me to speak what you would have me say. Please Lord, move me out of the way so you are seen. Amen. 

I have been meaning to sit down and write for a few weeks now but honestly, I've struggled to find the words, that properly convey how I feel. I'm not even sure I know exactly how I feel right now. My emotions are all over the place, all of the time. Some of it, I'm sure, is postpartum hormones but most it is grief and confusion. I've felt like a shell of a human the last few weeks...I am physically present but mentally, for the most part, I'm somewhere else. Even doing the most mundane tasks my mind can run away with thoughts of my girl - what she is now seeing and what she now knows. Its strange to think that she knows so much more than I do, that she has seen Jesus face to face, that He read her name in the Lambs Book of Life, and that He welcomed her into the Kingdom of Heaven.


Losing Sadie has deepened my love for God in ways I could never have imagined. It opened my eyes so much more to the depth of sacrifice God made. God, the Father, sent His son, Jesus, to die so that you and I could be with Him forever in Heaven. My gratitude abounds knowing that because of this sacrifice Sadie is in Heaven and I will see her again. What if God hadn't given Jesus in our place? Sadie, even though she was physically blameless in her short life, was still born into a sinful world and to sinful parents... even she would not get to experience Heaven without Jesus.

Death would be physically unbearable without the hope of Heaven and that promise of God.


Psalm 16 says
" Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.  I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”  I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”  Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.  LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand" 

He says it right there in His word, "you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, not will you let your faithful one see decay". 

When Sadie went to Heaven a piece of my heart went with her. I won't ever get that back. That piece is hers. I am just learning how to function without it, but its a slow process. Some moments are harder than others - there are moments where my sin nature wants so badly to take over and fill me with jealously and bitterness while other thoughts are filled with hope and gratefulness for our 55 minutes with her. I try to refocus when my worldliness surfaces but it's so hard. Satan has so much to beat me up with right now.  When I am struggling with Grant, he loves to say "You can't even handle one child...how could you have managed two?" or "Grant will never recover from the hurt you have put him through".

In those moments, I pray out loud...
"Lord, bind Satan! Remove his nasty hurtful thoughts that are trying to tear me down. Remove his grip on my emotions and free from his chains. Only you, Jesus, are allowed to inhabit my thoughts. Amen."

Our situation sucks, our loss hurts, our hearts are broken (as a friend of mine says) "BUT JESUS". Jesus heals, He restores, He comforts, He loves and He knows. I am grateful that He allowed us to know Sadie and that He died so that she could LIVE in Heaven. The depth of Christ's sacrifice is not lost on me. 

"Lord, please continue to give me perspective - allow me to see other people's hurt. Allow Sadie's story to minister to others. Allow us to honor her memory, as you would see fit, Lord. Thank you for your goodness and faithfulness. Amen."


 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Two Weeks Postpartum

Yesterday marked two weeks since my sweet Sadie was born. I started to write a blog post yesterday but the words just weren't coming. I have no idea what to write even now... These past two weeks have been hard. I won't sugar coat things, they've sucked. There is no other word, when something like this happens, it just sucks.

Drew and I have clung tightly to each other these past few weeks. His work has been so supportive and allowed him time off as well as the ability to work from home to be with me. Thank you Lord, because I cry every time he leaves; even if it is just for an hour to run to the store. Some of that is hormones but most of it is I just want him around. My love for him has grown more than I could have ever imagined. Honestly, I didn't think I could love him anymore until I saw how he loved our baby girl. The way he held her and kissed her, even after she left her earthly body...it was pure and perfect just like a father's love should be. My heart could burst even now just thinking about it.

Grant has handled the loss as well as a four year old should. For the first few days he would ask if she was coming back or if we could go visit her in Heaven - man, how I wish that was possible. He understands the situation pretty well now and his questions have turned from emotional to more factual. For example, when he sees me cry, he will ask "Are you crying because Sadie is dead?". That blatant question just about kills me every time...his sweet little voice speaking such harsh words such as death. One instance in particular when he asked I responded "Yes, buddy. I miss her. Do you miss her?". He said "No... because if she was here, she could get hurt...she can't get hurt in Heaven."

Obviously, I lost it again. I was a bucket of tears at that point. The profound yet simple words of my four year old sparked gratefulness in my heart. Gratefulness seems like such a strange emotion to feel after the loss of a child... I'm not grateful she's gone. I miss her immensely and my heart and hands ache for her but knowing Christ means that I can be grateful to know that she isn't dead. She's more alive today in Heaven than she ever was in her 55 minutes here on earth. I love to imagine what she must be doing this very second in Heaven - is she playing, singing praises, sitting in awe of her Savior? Everything good and perfect. She never has to experience pain or sadness. That makes my mommy-heart rest a little easier.

As far as physical recovery, my body feels normal. That's been such a surreal feeling this time around because with Grant I was in pain for a few weeks. Because of this, I find myself forgetting its only been 15 days since I had her, it feels like years have passed since I last held her, yet the emotions remind me of how fresh it all still is.

I don't have "good days and bad days", each day has its own amount of good and bad, so we just take each minute as it comes and do our best to keep moving forward as best as we can. Your prayers have meant so much to us and have carried us to where we are now. Please keep them coming. I can't imagine having to go through this without knowing Jesus and without having the support system we have. It would be impossible.

Jenny

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sadie's Birth Story

I have been meaning to sit down and write Sadie's birth story for a few days now but just hadn't built up the strength emotionally to relive everything until now. Honestly, am I ready to relive it all right now? No. But I am afraid I'm going to forget details of that day so I'm forcing myself to sit down and write.

We had been in the hospital for a week already trying to hold off labor until our doctor got back into town. I had been on a constant Magnesium Sulfate IV as well as taking Procardia by mouth to hopefully stop the contractions. Given Sadie's condition we knew postponing her birth wouldn't change the outcome but we hoped it would give us a little more time with her once she was born. Unfortunately, the medicine only slowed the contractions down and each time they would turn the medicine down they would pick back up again. The doctors told us I would be fine on the Magnesium for a week but any longer and it could become toxic to my body so we decided once my doctor got back into town we would turn off all medication and let my body run its course.

At 6am on Monday, August 6, 2018 we turned off all medication to prevent labor and my body immediately began contracting increasingly stronger and stronger. It began to hit me that this was going to be the day we met and most likely would say goodbye to our baby girl. The doctor came in to talk about our options... He explained that if I was dilated to at least 3centimeters it would be best to go ahead and break my water to allow things to progress easier than just starting Pitocin. When he checked me I was already dilated to 3 centimeters and was 100% effaced so we went ahead and broke my water at 8:30am. To preface this, I was carrying a lot of extra fluid with Sadie. (The normal range of fluid at 31 weeks is between 11-21cm...I was at 31cm of fluid.) The fluid wasn't harmful to her at all but the danger of carrying that much fluid is preterm labor due to your body thinking its further along than you really are - which mine did. I was handling things pretty well until the sack burst. My water broke on it's own with Grant so it wasn't the feeling of my water breaking that made me lose it but the overwhelming realization that this is really happening. There is no going back at this point. The day that I had feared for months was here sooner than I could have ever imagined. Two full months sooner to be exact.

Things began to progress extremely fast once my water broke. By 2:00pm I was dilated to 9cm. My doctor told us that he was going to zip over to his office to see some patients and that whe'd be back over soon to check me again. (His office is just across the parking lot from the hospital so he is easily able to get back and forth between managing the patients in his office and births at the hospital.)  Just as he said that it began to rain...and when I say rain, I don't mean sprinkle. I'm talking the bottom fell out! Drew looked out the window and said to Dr. G "you sure you want to walk back over right now?". Our doctor said, "oh man, you're right, I'll just hang out for about 5 minutes here and see if it lets up." Not three minutes after he left the room I began feeling immense pressure, so I asked Drew to grab and nurse and have her check me again. (Note: This was literally about 4 minutes after our doctor had JUST checked.) Dr. G ended up coming right back in but when he checked me this time I was at 10cm and the baby right there. The nurses came rushing in and began setting up the room for birth. We had asked Drew's dad, Gary, our pastor to come in and pray over the delivery and for God's peace to fill the room. Our family gathered around my hospital bed, nurses held our hands, and our doctor got on his knees down to ask God for His protection and His mercy over Sadie's birth and life. It is SUCH a blessing to have a doctor that loves the Lord and love his patients.

When the prayer was over our dads took Grant next door to a special room the nurses set up for our family to wait in while we labored. My sister, Erin, and our moms all were able to stay in the room for Sadie's birth. I started pushing at 2:23pm and 3 contractions later, at 2:28pm, Sadie Hampton Ladd was born. 3lbs 6oz and 12 inches long. While I labored the nurses kept a monitor on me to track Sadie's heart rate but they turned off the volume on her heartbeat in case something happened in utero and she was stillborn. So when she was born I honestly had no idea if she was alive or not. The room was silent. Sadie never let out a single cry but she was very much alive. Our doctor later told us that as he was watching the monitor he was praying so hard that she would be born alive because her heart rate was slowing and was becoming concerning at times.  When she first came out, Drew and the doctor were the only ones who got to see, but her eyes were open. She kept them shut the rest of our time with her... I love to think that when she opened her eyes again the first thing she saw was Jesus.

Once the nurses got me all covered up we had the dad's come in and bring Grant to meet his baby sister. He was so thrilled to meet her...he kept asking when we would get to bring her home. That was honestly the hardest part to me was having to explain to our four year old that his baby sister who is alive and right in front of him, would soon pass away and would not be able to come home. He began crying and asking "why does she have to die? I don't want her to die"... I told him, I didn't know and that I didn't want her to die either. Somethings just don't make sense no matter how old we are and this was one of them.  I did my best to encourage him to enjoy her while she was here but it was easier said than done because we all knew it wouldn't be long.

I wanted so badly for Drew to be able to hold her alive. Thankfully, God allowed that to happen. He held her so tight, he kissed her lips and he cried tears of joy and mourning for his baby girl. About 30 minutes after she was born we became worried that she had passed so we asked the nurse to listen to her heart. After listening for what felt like an eternity the nurse nodded and said "she still has a heartbeat but it's only at about 30 beats per minute". I cannot explain the sigh of relief I had in that moment. She was still hanging on. Grant, my mom, Drew's mom and my sister were all able to hold Sadie while she was alive. What a blessing that was. We knew her time was limited so when I say they "held" her, they literally held long enough to kiss her check, give her a hug and pass her directly to the next person then straight back to me. They didn't want to take away from our time with her but we wanted them to get the chance so we insisted they hold her, even if it was only for a brief second. Sadie Hampton passed away in my arms, holding her daddies hand, just minutes later at 3:23pm.

The hours that followed were spent just holding our baby girl. Kissing her and weeping over her. The hospital wheeled in the CuddleCot that our church so graciously donated to the hospital in Sadie's honor. The CuddleCot is a bassinet that is designed specifically for still births and infant deaths - it is built to keep the baby cool so that they can remain in the room with the family instead of having to be taken away so soon after they are born. It helps the baby not change to quickly postmortem. To be 100% transparent I really wasn't sure how I would feel about her being with us after she passed away. Would I be scared to hold her or touch her? How would her skin feel? These were questions that i struggled with but I will tell you, once she passed away, so did my worries. The Lord just overwhelmed my heart with peace and love for her. I didn't want to set her down. I held her as much as I could while giving her time in her bassinet to keep cool. Its hard to feel your baby turn so cold. I found myself wrapping her up in blankets trying to warm her up. I guess its the same reason why when I held her I would bounce her or rock her... my head knew she wasn't in there but my heart needed to "mother" her. Sadie was able to stay with us throughout the night in her bassinet which laid right next to my hospital bed. Instead of sleeping on the couch, Drew slept in the hospital bed. I use the word "slept" lightly... We cried ourselves to sleep just holding each other and wishing things had turned out differently. Neither one of us slept more than about 2 hours that night, mostly because we knew that when morning came we would have to say goodbye to our baby's earthly body.

The next day was excruciating. Drew, his dad Gary and my dad, Gary, went to the cemetery to choose a plot for our baby girl and sign the papers that allowed the coroner to come and take her. He said that part was impossibly hard and that he did his best to not lose it completely in the funeral home. He was gone for about 2.5 hours that morning so when he left my sister and our moms came up to keep me company. When he got back we spent the hour saying our goodbyes. None of us wanted to give her body up...even after she had passed her little body was still so perfect. Her face was the most beautiful and perfect thing I had ever seen. Her skin was still as soft as ever and her hands felt as if no time had passed. The coroner arrived around noon to take her body... thankfully we never had to see him. He stayed in the hallway and the nurse said once we were ready to call her and she could carry her body out to him... I can't think of anything harder than handing your baby over knowing you won't get to see her again this side of Heaven. As I held her I could feel my grip getting tighter and tighter. It was Jesus speaking because the words to a worship song kept playing in my head, not the entire song, but one line... "Pry our fingers from the earthly, Oh let us love your glory...Everything in ours in You.... Pry our fingers from the earthly, Oh let us love your glory...Everything in ours in You." Literally the words were on repeat in my mind. It took every ounce of strength I had to pry my fingers from my baby girl and hand her to the nurse. Our nurse cried with us and assured us that Jesus was the one holding Sadie at that moment not her. I was so grateful for our amazing nurses and doctor who know and love Jesus and were so open to pray with us, cry with us and just love on us the best they could. I can't imagine things being as peaceful as they were without them.


Once the nurse took Sadie we began getting things packed up to head home... I was so afraid of how it would feel to leave the hospital empty handed. I had built the moment up in my mind and it was going to be impossibly hard...but it wasn't. I was overcome with peace. I didn't mind leaving the hospital because my baby wasn't there anymore, her spirit nor her body were in that hospital. I am so grateful for a Savior that has prepared a place in Heaven for my Sadie girl. I know her body is whole and perfect and that she is dancing and singing praise to Jesus right this second. We prayed so hard in the months leading up to Sadie's birth for a miracle, for miraculous healing. We might not have gotten our miracle here on earth but our baby is healed in Heaven and her life no matter how short will not be forgotten. God has called Drew and I to a new mission field, to share our scars and our pain of losing our Sadie to help other people going through this same pain and heartbreak. I pray we honor God with how we move forward in remembering our daughter and sharing her testimony.





Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A few photos - Sadie Hampton 8-6-2018


Our daughter, Sadie Hampton Ladd, was born on August 6, 2018 at 2:28pm and went to be with her Savior at 3:23pm. She was 3lbs 6oz and 12 inches long. 

I will post her birth story soon but for now I wanted to share a few images captured from Sadie’s birth. Please understand these are not just photos to me, these are treasures - priceless memories from our short time with our baby girl.