Empty

This is the story of the passing and delivery of our daughter, Aliza Joyce. Thank you to everyone who has been {and still is} faithfully praying for us. We are forever grateful.

This is the story of the passing and delivery of our daughter, Aliza Joyce. Thank you to everyone who has been {and still is} faithfully praying for us. We are forever grateful.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015. {9:45 a.m.}

I am 33 weeks pregnant.

My friend graciously agrees to watch Toddler during my doctor’s appointment. {God provides.} I know there is much to discuss from last week’s ultrasound, and I don't want to multitask between listening and keeping an almost-two-year-old from playing with pap smear kits.

My doctor explains the game plan for the weeks leading up to Aliza’s due date: Doppler study ultrasounds twice a week, growth ultrasounds once a month, and heart ultrasounds once a month. We practically say, “Ready, break!” and it’s time to check Aliza’s heartbeat.

The sound of straight static coming from the fetal Doppler is deafening.

“That’s not a good sign, is it?” I say.

“Well, sometimes it takes a little bit to find the heartbeat.”

What feels like weeks later, he shuts off his Doppler and expresses his sympathy. He says an ultrasound will have to confirm Aliza’s passing, but we both know.

I am not surprised. We were told every time we saw a doctor the past three months that this would probably happen. But suddenly it feels hard to breathe. Hard to think.

My mind rapid fires between my new To-Do list of logistics, and letting this one simple, heart wrenching fact sink in: our daughter died.

{11:00 a.m.}

I call Husband. Between my sobs we work through the details for how we will get to the hospital. The doctor’s office is only two miles from his work {God provides}, so I pick him up on the way home.

I call my mother-in-law. She and my father-in-law are in town from two hours away for a school class trip. She can be to our house in fifteen minutes to watch Toddler while we go to the hospital for an ultrasound. {God provides.}

{2:30 p.m.}

A small private room. A nurse with a million tough questions. {Why can’t I ever remember the date of my last period?!}

A bedside ultrasound. A doctor whose face says it all. “On this ultrasound machine I can see that there is no blood pumping through the baby’s body. You still need to have an official ultrasound on record.”

We have an official ultrasound. “I am so sorry for your loss.”

We are not surprised. But our daughter died.

We make plans to go home, get things situated for Toddler, and return to the hospital to deliver Aliza.

My mom calls: “Your sister and I are coming. We will be there by six.” {God provides.}

{8:00 p.m.}

We check into the hospital. I am introduced to an angel dressed up in scrubs. Her name is Esmeralda. She lost one of her babies too.

“I am here to get you through this feeling as little physical pain as possible. If you start to feel anything, let me know and I will get you good drugs.” 

I think I'm going to like this angel wearing scrubs called “Esmeralda.” 

{10:00 p.m.}

I am given induction medication that will force my body into labor.

I start feeling anxious. Because how do you face labor already knowing the outcome will be tragic? With the strength of Jesus. And only with His strength.

And with my new friend, Esmeralda. {God provides.}

Wednesday, May 27, 2015. {3:00 a.m.}

I feel like I am in some kind of hellish pit.

I have been given a second round of induction medication. The contractions are constant, not separated by minutes of relief. They are like one, never ending gut punch that has me curled up in a ball on the bed.

I feel nauseated. I sit up and start rocking back and forth.

I want to cry out, “Lord, where are you? Are you watching this? Can you hear me? How can I bear this pain? My womb has rejected me, and my heart is about to be ripped out of my chest too!”

I know God is there. And I know He weeps with me. {God provides.}

{6:00 a.m.}

Zofran for my nausea. An epidural for my pain. {God provides.}

I can’t feel my legs or any contractions. And I tell every single person that enters the room.

“How are you doing?” they ask.

“Oh my goodness, I am good. Have you ever had an epidural before? This is my first time. These things are awesome!”

My doctor says that whoever invented the epidural deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

{8:00 a.m.}

I meet a second angel dressed up in scrubs: Amanda. We learn that she lost a baby too.

It makes sense. Amanda and Esmeralda make sense. They have so much compassion. They know what to say, how to comfort. They understand what we’re going through. {God provides.}

They know the worst is still to come.

{12:00 p.m.}

We don’t know how to act. We are sitting in our room, waiting.

But what are we supposed to be doing? How are we supposed to act? What if these people think we are sociopaths, sitting here and flipping channels between HGTV and ESPN? Reading books, checking emails, and talking?

What are we supposed to do when we have hours of time on our hands and we’re trying to distract ourselves from the inevitable? From the fact that our daughter died?

It’s surreal.

{3:00 p.m.}

Nurse Amanda comes in to check my progress and see how far I am dilated.

“She’s right there. I’m going to call your doctor.”

{3:24 p.m.}

I push once.

Aliza Joyce Broekhuis is delivered into this world without a single cry.

1 pound. 4 ounces. 12 inches long.

I push once more and the placenta is delivered. I will not need a D&C. {God provides.}

The doctor tells us that the cord was wrapped around her neck a few times, and that is what caused her death. He examines her body and reminds us that without a miracle, she wouldn’t have lived long outside of the womb anyways.

{4:00 p.m.}

We don’t hold her right away.

A nurse gently washes, dresses, and takes pictures of Aliza. Watching them care for her tiny little body makes me so grateful for the care we are receiving. {God provides.}

When she is finally in our arms, we soak in every tiny feature. Her features tell us she is not a normal, healthy baby.

But she is our daughter. And she is beautiful.

I think I could look at those teeny tiny feet, and hold those soft, little webbed hands forever.

We sit. We stare. We take turns holding her. We wonder again how we are supposed to act in this moment. I wonder why I’m not crying. And then I remember that I prayed I would be present and held together during the few hours we would get to spend with Aliza. {God provides.}

I don’t really know what else to say, because how do you explain both the joy of meeting your child, and the grief of losing them in the same moment?

{5:30 p.m.}

Husband and I discussed before going to the hospital: Do we invite others to see Aliza? We know we mostly want to be alone. We know that Aliza will probably not look like a normal baby because of whatever chromosome abnormality she has. Do we want Toddler to even see her?

My mom, sister, and Toddler come visit. Many tears are shed.

Toddler runs over, climbs up next to me in the hospital bed, and holds out her hands to signal that she wants to hold Aliza. "Baby? Baby up?"

We place Aliza in her arms. “Baby? Baby night-night?”

My mom steps in: “Yes, Baby is night-night with Jesus.” {God provides.}

I think I’m going to lose it. 

{6:00 p.m.}

My mother-in-law, father-in-law, and dad arrive.

We made the right decision asking our parents to the hospital. {God provides.}

We are so glad they are able to meet Aliza. Our daughter. Their granddaughter.

{10:00 p.m.}

The epidural starts to wear off. I brace myself for the unbearable pain and mess that comes after delivering a baby. I remember what it was like last time.

By the time the epidural is completely worn off, and I have no other pain medication in me, I use the bathroom. Nothing hurts. Not a single part of my body aches. {God provides.}

I am even able to wipe using toilet paper. {A miracle.}

Thursday, May 28, 2015. {3:00 a.m.}

Nurse Esmeralda is back. She wakes me up to take my vitals. When she leaves, I can’t get back to sleep.

I feel so empty. Empty arms. Empty womb. Empty heart. Empty pit in my stomach.

The tears finally come. My tear ducts aren’t empty anymore.

I don’t feel physical pain. But I feel pain.

{8:00 a.m.}

I want to go home.

I want to pick up our mess in this room. I want to shower. I want to forget the smell of this place.

It’s a bustle of people: the doctor, the nurses, the genetic test organizer, the child life specialist. We are told about the tests that will be done on both mine and Aliza’s blood, and how they hope that will tell us what happened and why it happened.

We want answers, but will answers take away the pain? Will they take away the fear I will struggle with in the future?

Were is my child? I just want to hold my baby.

{11:30 a.m.}

I don’t want to leave. But I don’t want to stay either.

We have been holding Aliza for the past several hours. Her tiny little body is already changing. I don’t want to watch it change anymore.

We say goodbye to Aliza. Aliza Joyce. Our daughter.

I give her one last kiss on her soft, baby cheek, and watch the nurse take her out of the room.

It's all too much.

{12:00 p.m.}

Instructions for aftercare: Don’t, don’t, don’t. But wear a tight bra. And buy cabbage leaves for when your milk comes in.

Nature is so amazingly designed. Yet nature will feel cruel in just a few days.

Before we leave the hospital, a third angel dressed up in scrubs named Debbie delivers a beautiful gift: a memory box filled with mementos of Aliza: her clothes, her diaper, her hat, her blankets. Her hand and footprints. A rock with her name on it. A tiny seashell. A CD with the pictures that the hospital took for us. {God provides.}

Something tells me I will cherish it forever.

As each nurse leaves her shift during the day, she comes teary eyed with big smiles and even bigger hugs: "We are praying we will see you here again in happier times. Please ask for us when that happens."

I am wheeled outside by one last angel dressed up in scrubs. She has been working on the OB floor for ten years, and she loves it. She lost a baby too.

It is sunny and warm outside. A gorgeous day. I can’t decide if that is a blessing, or if that is completely ironic. 

We get into our car and drive away from the hospital. It feels like we became just another statistic. But I pray for all of this to mean more than that.

{5:30 p.m.}

We are sitting at the Cheesecake Factory with my parents.

I think I am going to be okay.

I even consider ordering a fruity, frozen cocktail because I am not pregnant anymore. The Baja Chicken Tacos are as good as the menu described. We make plans to visit Michigan this summer, because all of the sudden our next two months are wide open.

And without warning, the tears start to flow.

Because I am not pregnant anymore. Because I was just pregnant yesterday, and now I’m not. And what do I have to show for it?

And what am I doing, sitting at the Cheesecake Factory one day after our daughter died?!

I excuse myself to go cry in the car.

I learn that grief is going to be messy. Uncontrollable. Unannounced. Unexpected. I learn that this is going to take time. Lots of time. The rest of my life maybe.

I learn that this is the absolute worst.

My baby. I lost my baby.

{8:00 p.m.}

Our fridge and cupboards are stocked to full capacity. There are meals scheduled to be dropped off at our house for the next month and a half. Our table is covered with flowers. Toddler has been well cared for. Our inboxes are filled with reminders of all the people who are praying for us and crying with us.

I am reminded that we have been blessed with amazing parents, coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends.

Thank you, Jesus, for Your provision through our greatest trials.

Friday, May 29, 2015. {3:00 a.m.}

I know she is in heaven. I know she is with Jesus. I know she is perfect and healthy and whole. I know that one day I will see her again. 

I know that God is good. I know He has a plan. I know that His plan will work out for our good.

I know that someday I might even feel at peace and be grateful for this experience and all that it has taught me. I know that someday things will get better.

But why won’t that knowledge numb my pain right now?

Why do I still just want to curl up on the floor and weep?

Why do I feel so empty? Empty arms. Empty womb. Empty heart. Empty pit in my stomach.

Hold me, Jesus. And while you’re at it, please hold my precious daughter Aliza for me too.

Your precious daughter, Aliza.

 

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

Aliza with her Grandma Potgeter.

Aliza with her Grandma Potgeter.

Aliza with her Grandma and Grandpa Broekhuis.

Aliza with her Grandma and Grandpa Broekhuis.

Aliza with her Grandpa Potgeter.

Aliza with her Grandpa Potgeter.

{If you would like to learn more about our pregnancy with Aliza, you are welcome to read these previously written articles.}

Our 20 week ultrasound {When There Are No Words, There is Emmanuel}

Waiting for genetic test results {By Faith We Walk Through the Darkness}

Finding out the gender and naming our baby {I Choose Joy}

Dealing with fear throughout the pregnancy {If It Brings You Glory, Don’t Lead Me Down Sesame Street}

Our first Fetal Echo ultrasound {Held Captive by a Cup of Pretzels}

Thinking ahead to Aliza’s birth {Teach Them How to Deal}

Feeling the Church’s support throughout our pregnancy {Dragging Our Dirty Laundry to Church}