When I last left this story, I was riding home in the car with a tummy ache after eating pizza. God had just spoken to me clearly that night, giving me comfort. He had said, "Your daughter went straight from the safety of your womb into My arms. She never knew pain and never knew sin." Then, in the quiet darkness, He showed me that beautiful picture of her toddling out of a walled garden through an open gate into the light of the new day. I clung to that half second glimpse of her turned head and little baby giggle. I held in deep in my heart, and hung on to it.
When we got home, I was exhausted. I went to bed, and my husband put my son in his crib, and went to play computer games. I tossed and turned, but could not get comfortable. The pizza had really disagreed with my tummy and I could not sleep. It took about an hour for me to realize that the indigestion was beginning to come in waves, and likely had nothing to do with pizza.
It took my mind a long time to wrap around the thought that I was in labor and needing to deliver. I should have known, but I didn't. Grief does not leave a clear mind. I called upstairs to my husband, but he was playing. He called down that he would come when he finished his game. I just sat, curled up on the bottom of the stairs waiting. Trying to think this through. How could I be in labor? The baby was dead. Labor is exciting. It is the beginning of hope realized. It signals that it is time to meet your baby. Mine was gone, no longer there to meet.
Yet, as I sat alone on the stairs that evening's words came back into my head. She never knew pain. She never knew sin. She is safe with Me. I repeated them over and over to myself. I opened my hurting heart up and looked toward God and sat with Him. And I hung onto the glimpse of the laughing girl with black hair toddling towards the morning. I sat there and said to myself, "someone left the gate open, and she has walked to God, straight to Him, that is all. This is not death; it is life. Maybe even more alive life."
After some time, my husband came down, took one look at me, and scolded me for not telling him it was urgent. But I was glad to have that time sitting alone. I needed it. God Himself was preparing me for a birth which was not a life. As we gathered up our son again and drove through the dark to the hospital to deliver the dead body of our first daughter, my thoughts were not on the twisted, cold, lifeless body inside me, but on the glimpse He had given me of my child alive.
It was a rough night at the hospital. A foreign country where things are not done like we would at home. No emergency care. By that time, I was bleeding heavily, and for some reason, they stuck me on a surgical ward with two other patients in a room. They told my husband he could wait in the waiting room, but not with me. By this time, I was in active labor, and crying. The nurses kept coming in the room and scolding me for crying, telling me to shut up and let the others sleep. Finally, they called my husband to tell me to be quiet, and he was able to better explain the situation. Then they transferred me to the maternity ward.
I expected to go into labor area and wondered how I would handle that, but instead they put me in private room near the door. Unfortunately, it was directly across from the nursery. All night, I heard newborns crying. The nurses had graciously taken my seven month old son into the nursery, too. They looked down their noses at me when I said that he won't take a bottle and I should feed him first. They knew how to get babies to take bottles, I was told.
The new room was nicer, but I lay in bed in pain for an hour listening to my son scream bloodly murder. He didn't take bottles. I knew that. Somehow, being a patient in this country meant you had no brains. The nurses knew best. After an hour of loud wailing, a shamefaced nurse brought my son in to me. "He won't take a bottle."
Um. yeah. I told you that over an hour ago!
By then, the contractions were nearing the end, and I was struggling. But I was a mother, and I rolled on my side, quieted my cries, and nursed my son to sleep. I gritted my teeth and sang to him, and he was quiet.
It was after he was returned to the nursery that my daughter was born. While the labor was rougher than any of my other labors, the birth was quick. I have often thought back as to why the pain was worse, and this is the only explanation I can give - it was pain without hope. It was without the hope that gives us energy to go through it. It was simply pain on top of pain.
And then she was born. No bigger than what I could have held in one hand. The nurses scooped her up, all wrapped up in her membranes and all, and plopped her into a plastic tub much like a margarine container. I still can hear the snap of the lid. Then they walked out of the room.
I never saw her. I had rested my head back, and I never saw her. They snapped that lid on and walked out with my daughter inside.
Later on, somewhere in the dark of that night, someone asked if we wanted an autopsy, and I think we said yes. A week or two later, we were told that she was perfectly formed.
But I never saw her. They simply threw her away in the medical waste in the incinerator. That thought took me years to cope with. We don't do that, but it was standard practice, I guess. She was, after all, a week short of 20 weeks, so not legally a child.
It was a dark night. I was left entirely alone after they walked out. Somewhere in that night, I struggled to wake as I had dreamed I was watching from above as my body floated down a dark river. I struggled and struggled to wake, fighting to wake for my son. My husband leaned forward when he heard me mumbling, and he called for help. I was bleeding badly. Then the nurses came back, took one look at me, and went running for help. I slipped back into a semi-conscious state again, and woke later with IVs running and the nurse calling my name. She was wheeling a bassinet into my room, and for a brief second, my heart lept, but no, it was not her.
One look in the bassinet had me at least smiling. A seven month baby looks like a giant in a bassinet. My husband said later when he checked on him in the nursery, he laughed. It was little bump, little bump, little bump, huge baby! I nursed one more in the half darkness of the morning, and thanked God that He still left me this one baby to fill my empty arms.
My husband was the buyer for a company and that next day was a day where he was supposed to order the whole winter stock at a trade fair. He had to go, and told me that while I nursed. I knew he had to, but oh how much I wanted him then. He said he would go get my friend to stay with me. It would take him two hours to get her and he'd be back.
As I sat alone in my bed with my empty belly nursing my son, the sun rose. Light streamed into my hospital room and lit up the wall opposite my bed. I raised my tired eyes to the light and saw something which made me cry. There on the wall was a painting. It was a painting of a walled garden full of creeping vines and flowering bushes. An archway stood over a small gate which had been left open, and outside of the gate was a gently sloping hill with the daylight beginning to dawn over it. It was the picture that I had seen the night before as we drove home after pizza. The same picture, except that now the little laughing girl in the white dress was gone.
I sat in stunned shock crying, yet they were tears of comfort as well as pain. Even on this horrible first morning that I had to wake up alone in a maternity ward surrounded by the sounds of other mothers caring for their babies, God had met me. He had come to answer my pain, to surround me with detailed comfort in the very minute I needed it. He had walked that dark night of pain through with me and was there with the morning's light.
Later on, when I was able to think back to it all, I had learned a lesson about God that I never forgot, but just then, I sat together with Him nursing one baby, mourning another, and being comforted by a very present God.