May 14, 2015

Grief and Fulfillment: Part ONE

May 14, 2015
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I can still hear the lullaby that played over the hospital-wide speakers as we waited to hear the confirmation we dreaded but knew was coming.  The lullaby played throughout the hospital to announce the birth of someone else's baby as I waited to hear mine had died.  No movement, no heartbeat, only heart break.  We were devastated, blind sided, confused and scared.

Earlier that day I busied myself around the house waiting for our afternoon appointment to finally hear the heartbeat of our baby.  I paced the halls of my home, straightened picture frames, tidied the kitchen and waited.  I was overcome with excitement and couldn't wait to see the heart beat I had longed for on a  black and white screen. 

After an anxious wait in a waiting room full of expecting mothers it was our turn.  I quickly got ready and for the first time didn't mind hopping on "that table" and waited for the doctor to come in and perform the ultrasound.  It had been an emotional road full of hormones, tests, and surgeries under her care so she was as excited as I was.  Big Dog stood nervously by my side and watched the tiny screen come to life.  After a few silent seconds my doctor located the fetus, our baby.  But I could tell there was something wrong. I saw her smile drop and her face turn white.  I knew instantly that there wasn't a heart beat before she uttered a word.  Big Dog squeezed my hand tight and a loud silence filled the room like a heavy fog.  I don't remember much after that other than quickly being escorted through the back door to avoid walking by the expectant mothers in the waiting room.  

My body was robbed of every ounce of joy, every bit of excitement over what I wanted and desired with every fiber of my being.  We were taken to the hospital to have a more in depth ultrasound to officially determine that there was no heart beat.  The little life that was prayed for, prepared for, and longed for was no longer.  My life, along with the life of that tiny creation seemed over for good.  I couldn't imagine ever escaping the amount of grief and emptiness that consumed me.  
Everyone wants a rainbow.  No one wants pain.  But you can't have a rainbow without the rain. -Unknown
After scheduling surgery for the next day, we drove home in silence.  We were both too shocked and devastated to speak.  Once again, I asked God why.  Why would I finally become pregnant only to lose the one thing I desired more than anything?  Big Dog called our family and close friends and I sunk into the couch as to bury myself and never get up again.  I was angry and hurt.  My anger surged as someone tried to console me by saying it was just a fetus and at least it ended at eight weeks.  Those words forever scorched my heart.  It was a baby.  Our baby.  Our hopes and dreams and future.  And now I was left shattered in a million pieces of raw heartache.  I prayed it was just a nightmare but I woke the next day with the same craving for pancakes I'd had all that week only I no longer carried a life.  

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months.  We finally saw a specialist whom determined my fertility was challenged by the shape of my uterus.  I endured another surgery only to miscarry again.  I turned my pain into fierce plans to fulfill another dream of ours: adoption.  Research, phone calls, interviews and agency fees resulted in two separate potential adoptions that fell through as fast as we accepted the referrals.  My heart was once again broken.  But after meeting a family with Internationally adopted children we focused our intentions on out of country adoption.  

This with many other pictures were placed in an adoption binder hoping someone would pick us.
Weeks and months passed by ever so slowly and painfully.  Mounds of paperwork, home studies, and waiting finally paid off.  And then on September 18, 2004, the phone rang and my email popped up with a picture of the most precious sight I'd ever seen. My heart was brought back to life.  I was told I would be the mother of a baby boy that had just been born in Guatemala.  A sweet little bundle of answered prayers had been born and needed a family and I needed him.   A baby boy who grew in my heart was going to be mine and his name was Fernando. 

I could NOT wait to get my hands on that little bambino!
Remember, two adoptions fell through before we were finally matched.  God wasn't going to short change us.  Just one month later we were told that our baby boy had a brother.  Would we be willing to bring him home too?  I answered that rhetorical question before consulting with Big Dog.  Oops.  I said yes and then called Big Dog to say we would be bringing home not one but two babies! Big Dog went into "How in the world am I going to be a father of TWO?" (oh if he only knew) shock.  Fernando had a big brother just two and half years old and his name was Tereso.  

The instant I saw this picture, I knew he was destined to be ours.  Wanna know a secret?  Tereso actually had on a pink pull-over.  Big Dog insisted on changing it to blue using PhotoShop. 
My life was beating with purpose and I couldn't wait to hold my two babies.  When Fernando was just three months old he became very sick and needed blood transfusions.  The doctors in Guatemala told us it was leukemia and that we'd better be prepared to lose him.  They wondered what we would do if he didn't survive.  We had to sign papers that confirmed we would adopt him even though he was sick.  We had to consider a funeral before I had ever held him.  My joy was consumed with despair and panic.  My world was dark again.  Of course we wanted him.  He had my heart, my purpose, my everything.  

Dressed in a Pepsi t-shirt, Fernando receives the first of several hundred transfusions in a Guatemalan hospital.
With the help of our pediatrician and state Senator we were able to expedite the adoption process and bring Fernando and Tereso home in just five months.  Tereso was severely malnourished and Fernando was dying.  They needed medical attention.  I needed to smother them with love.  We all desperately wanted to be a family.

The first time I held my baby boy.  We met him at the hospital with his foster mom.  
Tereso had a nickname, "Chusito" which means Little Jesus.
We had to wean him from sugar and coffee and introduce him to chicken and tortillas instead.  
We spent eight long terrifying days in Guatemala.  I don't think we slept but maybe twenty minutes the entire time.  Fernando continued to need blood and platelet transfusions.  It was too risky to fly him home until he was more stabilized.  We were a young couple thrown into parenthood with a critically ill baby and a toddler craving attention, food, and love.  I thought those were the hardest eight days of my life.  I had no idea that it was actually going to be a long and treacherous road of eighteen months before I truly felt we were a healthy and safe family.  No one could have convinced me of what we were faced with.  No once could have prepared me.  But God.  God knew and God did.  

The start of our journey home to be a family.

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