Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Faith Makes ALL Things Possible; Not Easy...

Have you ever said to someone, "I can't imagine..." or "If that happened to me, I don't know what I would do..."? I have, and thank goodness for most of us that our "I can't imagine..." scenarios aren't usually waiting around the future corner. However, for some of us, including me and my family, the "I can't imagine..." really happened.

My Husband and I were married in November of 2004. The two of us combined to form a family of six which included my husband, Rick, myself, his daughter Breanne', our son Trystan (whom Rick adopted), and his sons Travis and Tony. Of course we weren't crazy and had no intentions of adding to our family, I mean would you do that?? We had enough on our plates; aside from the fact that due to issues from his previous marriage, Rick had opted to have a vasectomy.
I had never been married before and as time passed, I began wanting to have a child with my husband. I tried to reason with myself that it wasn't logical and even wrote out a pros and cons list (I know what your thinking...and yes, I may be a bit obsessive). Anyway, it wasn't just me that was feeling the baby bug, even the kids were asking if we could have a baby. So after much deliberation, research, and prayer, in April of 2007, we decided to make an appointment for a reverse vasectomy.
The procedure went well, but we needed to go back in July to see if the reversal was a success. We were also told that if the procedure was successful, we shouldn't expect to conceive for at least 8 to 12 months. Great, we had time to plan. In early July, yes only 2 months later, we found out that I was pregnant. Can you imagine how surprised and excited we were? I promptly called the surgeon to let him know that he could mark us down as as success.

Like every mom, including you, I came armed with pictures. This is our baby at 8, 20, 25, and 32 weeks. With Trystan, I knew - I mean I really knew - that he was a boy. With this one, I knew that we were going to have a girl. At the 15 week sonogram, when the baby wouldn't cooperate and Rick swore that he saw proof that the baby was a boy, I was still sure that we were having a girl. At the 20 week check up, Trystan and my mom came along, and we found out that the baby was a boy...I was more than a little surprised.
I remember thinking when we were in the sonogram room and Trystan was there, he was 11 at the time, how awesome it was that he was so excited about the baby. I specifically remember him watching the monitor and the baby kicked. Trystan's eyes were huge and he said " Hey, the baby just moved...did you see that?" and then he looked at my ever enlarging belly and said "Whoa... can you feel that??" It was hilarious. Just his amazement of realizing that God had created a real person and that he was inside my stomach...alive and moving. To have him there and to be able to witness his realization of that fact was incredible.

Jacob William Cluck was expected to arrive on March 9th, 2008 and I was hoping to have a natural birth after experiencing an emergency c-section with Trystan. Things were progressing as expected and on February 10th, 2008, my mom and our church held an amazing baby shower for us. I was so overwhelmed, I didn't know what to do. God had surely blessed us through our families, church family, and friends. By the way, whoever said that pregnant women are always beautiful and glowing was crazy...I am not a pretty pregnant person. If you don't believe me just look at the picture above. I could barely sit up to open all of the gift!!!

Rick was so excited after the shower that the next day, he unpacked and constructed the crib and we HAD to get all of the bedding out and ready just in case Jacob decided to arrive early. I swear it was Rick's idea. The next night, February 12th, we met at our accountants office to get out taxes done and I began having contractions. They didn't hurt, so I figured they were braxton-hicks and continued on. As the night went on the contractions became stronger and very regular, so when we got home we started timing them and then at about 10:00pm they stopped. Jacob was still moving like crazy, so I figured everything was fine. That Thursday, the 14th, The contractions returned, but were much less intense. I called my doctor's office and they told me to time them for 30 minutes and to call them back. After only having a few contractions in the assigned amount of time, I was free to go on about my business.

I really didn't and still don't know the difference between real contractions and braxton-hicks, because with Trystan I was two and a half weeks past due and never had a single contraction. So on Friday, February 15th, I was 35 weeks along and very, very ready to have my baby, I called the doctor again with the "contractions". This time she wanted me to come in to be monitored. The monitors confirmed that I was having regular and moderately strong contractions. The doctor sent me to the hospital for further monitoring and assured me that we would make a decision later that day. Of course, I called Rick and he came rushing from work to the hospital. He was very excited and really thought we were going to be having a baby that day. We sat in the hospital, laughing and listening as our boy was playing his version of Rock Band in my stomach...typical boy. To our disappointment, the doctor decided to give me a shot to calm the contractions in order to allow Jacob's lungs a few more weeks to develop, but she wanted to see me again the next week. She warned us that Jacob's movements would probably start slowing down due to lack of roaming room, but I had strict orders to call if anything seemed at all strange or if I was worried about anything.

The next Friday I went in and was worried because as the doctor said, his movements had slowed down considerably. More than I thought they should. They ran another sonogram in which Jacob had to perform sever tasks within a 15 minute period. All of which he successfully completed in 10 minutes... may I say that I was very proud...maybe he would be an over achiever like me. After all of the happenings in the past weeks, the doctor decided to schedule a c-section for Monday, March 3rd, just 14 days away. So I was sent home with a clean bill of health for me and Jacob.
Later that night, I started feeling swollen, not unusual for a 36 week pregnant woman with a family to take care of. Don't get me wrong, my husband is amazing, he really helped out with everything, but I am not one to just sit around and be waited on. Anyway, the swelling worried me because I had developed toxemia and preeclampsia during my first pregnancy. By Sunday, February 24th, my arms had swollen so much that they barely fit into any of my maternity shirts. Jacob was moving fairly steadily, but Rick and I decided that I needed to call the next day and get into the doctor. I remember Trystan asking why I needed to go to the doctor again and Rick explaining to him that everything is probably fine but that we don't want to take a chance of something going wrong. Then Trystan looked at us and said "That would be so horrible, we have been waiting for him for so long and he is supposed to be here in just a few days." We all agreed.

Monday morning I was a the doctors office by 9:00am and was sitting in the waiting room reading a magazine when Jacob gave an uber kick that popped the magazine up off of my belly and made me and the ladies at the front desk laugh. Just minutes later I was called back to the exam room and was ready for the doctor to come in an say "lets go have a baby". The doctor had a new nurse that came in to take Jacob's heart rate and she told me that I was her very first patient. I was thinking, boy I hope that everything goes well on her first day. So when she didn't find his heartbeat, I didn't panic, I reassured her that he was probably just moving and she went out to get the regular nurse. I knew the regular nurse well, and she usually got the sweet spot on he first try when others couldn't. I was a little worried when she didn't hear the heartbeat either, but she said "no worries, we will just go to the sonogram room". So we did. I got myself up onto the sono bed/chair with the help of the nurse and technician - I told you I was swollen - and waited to check out my little man. The technician applied the warm gel, flipped on the machine, and then flipped it tight back off. Then she asked the nurse to go for the doctor. At this point, I was very worried. I mean, what was going on did they have a power outage or something, because the lights in the hallway were still on. Surely, a generator would support all of the rooms and not just the hallway, right? Then my doctor came in and they turned the sonogram machine back on, at which time the doctor turned to me and said "April, I'm sorry, I don't know how to tell you this, but your baby's heart is not beating.".....silence.

I don't remember a lot directly after that except telling the doctor that I didn't understand... I mean he was really kicking out in the waiting room, even the receptionists saw it, and asking her if she was sure. I think that she said that there may have been a cord accident and at some point I remember calling Rick at work, and telling him that Jacob was gone, that he was fine and now he was just gone and then handing the phone to the doctor. My goodness, what he must have been going through.He still hasn't really told me what happened. I don't think I mentioned that Rick and my dad, uncle, and brother in law all work at the same place; so at least he wasn't alone. The doctor told me that he and my dad were on their way and took me back to the exam room.

I was crying of course, but I wasn't really flipping out and having a mental break down or anything. I just remember going back over everything and trying to figure out what happened... we still don't know what happened.

When Rick and my dad got there they took me to the hospital and I was induced into labor to try to deliver Jacob. After 24 hours of nothing except an epidural and lots and lots of family and crying; the doctor determined that my pelvis is too small to support a vaginal birth and because c-sections are only performed when the mother or baby has some medical trouble, which neither of us were at that time, she would have to get approval from the hospital board to perform the surgery. Of course she had to go to the board, nothing could be normal for us. Abnormal is our life theme!!!
This was Tuesday, February 26th, and I distinctly remember Rick, my dad, and Rick's dad kind of cornering the doctor and letting her know that the surgery would not wait another day, because February 27th is my birthday and they weren't going to allow this to take place on my birthday. As if they could have forced her or the board to do the surgery right then, God love em!! I also remember that the only time that I slept was when Rick was reading from the Bible. Through that horrific situation, God was there, and he helped me to rest.

After the doctor had gained the approval, I was prepped for surgery as was Rick. I remember asking the doctor if they could knock me out, because this was a memory that I didn't want to have. They couldn't knock me out but she assured me that I would be really, really medicated.

Sometime after 6:00pm on February 26th, 2008, Jacob William Cluck was delivered via c-section. I remember Rick being there and knowing when he moved away from me. I remember asking him if they were sure that he was really gone and him telling me that they were sure and I remember many other things that I can't yet write or talk about.

I didn't know if I wanted to hold him afterwords. I kind of had a vision of him and I wasn't sure how he would look, but Rick assured me that he was perfect, and he was right.

To this day, I don't know how my dad told Trystan or how Rick told the kids. I know that Trystan wouldn't leave my side until I was out of surgery and he knew I was ok. I remember the kids coming to the hospital to see us and staying until after the surgery. We didn't allow them to see or hold Jacob because we didn't want that to be the last memory they had of him. We wanted them to remember them feeling him kick and talking to him through my belly.
I can't say thank you enough to our parents who took care of everything from funeral arrangements to packing up all of the baby things in the house before we got home. That allowed Rick and I to be together, not separated by duties, during the most difficult days of our lives together, thus far.
It has been a year and a half since that day and there are so many things that I left out, I figured that you would want to sleep sometime in the next few days. But the main thing is that neither Rick nor I know how we got through the roughest days. We know that it wasn't by our own strength that we got out of bed and took care of our children and each other, or how we were able to walk into church the Sunday after his death and funeral. It was God. It seemed as though God was saying, "Ok , I am going to keep this child. I know that this is going to be rough for you, but I will provide you with everything that you need to get through this, if you will just let me." That may seem strange, but it is true. Everything that we needed was given to us, love, food, support, even our financial needs were taken care of. All we had to do was lean on God and each other.
Things are not perfect and not everyday is a great day, I think we both think of him and miss him every day. I have a lot of fears now of something happening to Rick or one of the kids and our son Trystan reminds me almost daily that I need to loosen the strings and that he is going to be fine, I mean his is 12 after all. Boys...
My hope is that through our experience and through our sorrow and happiness, someone else will be helped or encouraged. That we can put our lives out here so that others can see that there is life on the other side of loss and so that people will know that Jacob was real, that he did live, that he will be remembered.