We realized that our parents had arrived sometime around the time of Isaiah's delivery. After spending about 30 minutes with him by ourselves, Matt walked down to the waiting room to get them. He tells me that he announced that the baby was a boy and shared his name with them.
I don't remember well what was said when they came back to our room to see me and meet Isaiah. I just remember that feeling of seeing ones you love - how seeing them after something bad happens makes you want to cry. Of course we wanted each of our parents to have time to meet Isaiah and hold him - to try to memorize his body before we had to let him go. Having them there was sad, but comforting. We knew that this grief wasn't only our own - it was collective - and we hurt so much for one another in this loss.
It was hard for me to see our parents hold Isaiah. They would take on the weight of his little, lifeless body and gaze into his face - and the sadness would overtake them. Just as we did, I imagine they may have been running through all of the things they would miss about knowing this beautiful child - or questing why this happened - or feeling sadness and helplessness for the loss their children were experiencing in losing a child. I can't speak for what they were thinking, but I do know that they were grieving the loss of this precious life. All of this just seemed so wrong.
Many times our parents can help make situations better. They can advise us, encourage us, or help us. In this case, they couldn't make it better - and I know they have probably grieved that fact, too - that they couldn't solve this problem for their children. Yet their presence really, really helped us...and the fact that they got to SEE and hold our child meant the world to us. Their presence demonstrated the importance of Isaiah's life to them. They shouldered some of the burden of our grief, and I am so grateful to each one of our parents - for having the courage to face this loss with us. We love you so very much. Thank you for being there that day.
It is an odd thing to describe the simultaneous joy and pain we all had when meeting Isaiah. Even though his death was so sad, we still found joy in learning about his features...falling in love with our new baby, just like the families in the delivery rooms surrounding ours. I loved realizing that Isaiah looked so much like his Daddy, but that his ears were just like mine. We also shared moments like this with our parents - unable to ignore the beauty of this tiny body that God had knit together so perfectly. It was just so hard to fathom that this healthy little boy would never take a breath.
Just as it was hard to watch our parents grieve, it was heartbreaking for Matt and I to see each other grieve. It was especially hard for me to watch Matt hold Isaiah. Of course I love my babies, but I especially love the 6 month+ age - when they are changing constantly. Matt LOVES the newborn phase and loves holding new babies. I have long since loved watching him with our children when they were tiny - just watching him love them through the way he held and looked at them...so seeing him hold Isaiah in the same way he held and cradled our other children - knowing this was the last time we would get to hold and love him - just crushed me. Some of my most vivid mental pictures of Isaiah are in Matt's arms. (a reminder that the spots by Isaiah's nose are from the peeling of his paper thin skin during delivery)
**I'm not sure where in the story I forgot to talk about this, but when I came into the hospital alone during the night, T was the nurse that was with me when I found out that Isaiah's heart was no longer beating. She walked me through a lot of the initial realities of this journey, and she felt a lot of connection to our situation.
After we'd had the ultrasound and started trying to figure out the version, she was going off shift - but asked if she could come back after the baby was born to take pictures for us. Of course we were unable to think about any of the things we would want to help us remember our short time with our baby, but the nurses were well equipped in giving us ideas, etc. The most important, they said, was getting good pictures.
Usually the hospital would call Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, an international organization made up of local photographers who volunteered to be on call one day a month to do a photo shoot in the case of a stillbirth. But before they called, T asked if she could be the one to take our photos. I couldn't believe that someone I barely knew would want to come on her own time to do something so special for us. Of course I agreed, and I'm so thankful that I did. T did a beautiful job and gave us all of the photos she took, including many that she edited and the slideshow that many of you saw at the services. We are so, so grateful for T and the gift of our photos...in some ways it is all that we have left of Isaiah.**
Shortly after our parents had some time with Isaiah, we planned for Matt to go home to get the kids and bring them to meet Isaiah. It was getting late for them - but we knew if we wanted them to meet him, it would probably have to be that night. So Matt left to go pick up the kids around 7:15pm - to tell them what happened - and planned to return to the hospital with them between 7:30 and 8:00 when our nurse, T, was to return to take photos for us.
After our beloved golden retriever, Charlie, suddenly died of a heart attack in November, we had explained to Caleb and Lydia that Charlie's body "didn't work" anymore. They'd had a chance to see him and say goodbye to him. We realized fairly quickly that Charlie's death had been a good preparation for this day - not that it was good that it had happened, but we could see that God had used it to prepare our kids to process this unimaginable loss - since we had discussed and answered many of their questions about death since then.
Also - the week before Isaiah died, we had just gone to the funeral for my cousin Jason - who had died very suddenly and much too soon. We could see how this, too, helped the kids have an understanding of death and funerals...again, not that it was good that this had happened, but God used this experience to prepare them - and we are thankful for that. One of the first questions Caleb asked was if Jason and Isaiah were in heaven together - and though it was sad to realize they were gone, it was a joyful moment to be able to assure him and imagine them there together.
Matt explains that he went home to pick up the kids (who were being watched by our wonderful friend, S), and sat them down to tell them about Isaiah. He told them that the baby had been born, but his body didn't work - and his soul was already in heaven with Jesus. It was a boy, and we named him Isaiah. He explained that they were going to go to the hospital to meet Isaiah and say goodbye to his body, because this would be the only time we would get to see him.
I am so thankful for the simple words God gave Matt in those moments. The kids really understood and internalized those words right from the start - and I am grateful that Matt was able to have the clarity of mind to use the words from Charlie's situation to make it easier for them. I am so thankful he had the strength to share this news...God had grace and mercy for us in so many moments surrounding our loss.
After this explanation, Matt let the kids grab their beloved puppy and bunny lovies and loaded them into the van to bring them to the hospital. I couldn't wait to see them - it had been such a hard day, and much of the time I just wanted my children around me. Before Isaiah had arrived, I desperately wanted to "get this over with" and get home to my living children. But after he came, I wanted to spend as much time with him that I could...for this was the only time that I would get to see him face to face - and I wanted to engrave this time on my memory.
As I waited for Matt and the kids to get back, I wondered how I would be able to remain strong for my family in this loss and how I would even make the most of this time -- the only time our family of five would be together. How would the kids respond? How would we respond to their responses? How would we be able to show our children how to say hello and goodbye to their little brother when we didn't even know how? My heart melted as they came through the door...
To be continued...
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Click here to get to Isaiah's Story - Part Six.