Baby Girl, You Were Taken Too Soon!

Image result for i love you ARiana images

 

My baby girl, Ariana, was taken too soon.  She came into the world on February 20th, 2002.  And she exited the world on the same day.  She did not take a single breath outside the womb.  Before you read this poem, you will need to read her story.  Her story is my story.  And it is gut-wrenching.  So………..to really understand the depth of these words you are about to read, you will need to know what happened on that fateful day back in 2002.

In the years following Ariana’s death, I submitted several poems about her to the local newspaper in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  Every year on her birthday, for about 5 years in a row, I wrote a poem for Ariana to be printed in the obituaries.  At the time, these were some of the rawest, most transparent emotions I’ve ever expressed about my precious little one.  Unfortunately, I lost all the copies I had of these poems!!  And I assumed they were lost forever.  I was having a very difficult time even finding archived copies of them online.

But……..thank God for my parents!!  They save just about everything, and they were able to locate 4 of the poems!!  And who knows, the 5th one may turn up one day.  For practical reasons, I decided to condense the 4 poems into 2.  Most of the original content is preserved.  However, to help with the flow, I did have to make some structural changes with a few extra words added at times.  So here you go………this poem is quite simple: the love of a daddy for his baby girl.  A baby girl taken too soon.  A baby girl daddy misses very much.  I chose the violet colored font as a reminder of her beautiful eyes!

 

           TAKEN TOO SOON

  You are like a bright star, baby girl, to whom I wish to fly,
  The love I have for you is the source of all those tears I cry.
  Your home is with Jesus now, in the glorious Heaven above,
  That thought to me is joyful and calming, as peaceful as a dove.

   You were taken too soon, Ariana, without a minute to spare,
   I’ve often thought how all of this just seems so unfair.
   But my memories of you are real, they are just like brand new,
   My thoughts of you are heartfelt and many, this poem is a clue.

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It’s been 14 years since I lost you, my beautiful little flower,
Since that day when I first saw you, it was my finest but darkest hour,
Since the day I saw those eyes, those beautiful violet eyes,
It was a sight so dazzling, like the sun setting over the ocean skies.

Some days are harder than others, sometimes I barely get by,
Remembering how badly I wanted to hear my baby cry.
You were pretty like a rose, and as tiny as a bunny,
I wouldn’t trade the time I had with you, for no amount of money.

 

 

They told us there would be some problems, that you might not be alright,
But they were wrong, Ariana, Daddy thinks you’re outta sight!
You’re with the Lord now, and I’m not sure if He lets you look down,
But if He did, I know that your smile would be able to light an entire town.

Remembering the day I lost you, although very tragic,
When I held you in my arms, it was pure magic.
I have not forgotten you, nor will I ever,
And the time will someday come, when we will be together.

Someday I will see your adorable face, and there will finally be cause to celebrate,
For now, you’ll live in my heart’s affections, and that will forever be your fate.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-:

 

 

 

I Wanted To Lay My Baby Girl In A Crib, Not A Casket

Image result for baby girl casket

 

“Is she dead?” was the question my baby’s mother asked.  The doctor had entered the room not long after we had the ultrasound.  She was a middle-aged doctor of Indian descent I believe.  “Yes, your baby is gone” was her reply in an empathetic, yet stable tone.  I can still picture the doctor’s face clearly.  I remember her glassy eyes.  I remember the conversation…..the very brief conversation.  And just like that, after about 38 weeks in the womb, Ariana was gone.  My daughter died.  And it felt like a part of me died as well.  You could not have painted a smile on my face.  You could have told me the funniest joke in the world, and my face would not have shown a single crinkle.  Like me, you probably laugh when someone tickles you.  It’s instinct.  You can’t even control it.  But I would not have laughed on this day.  Even smiling was unthinkable to me.

I remember being in the room physically, but I wasn’t really there.  You know how that feels, don’t you?  When answering the simplest question takes all of your mental faculties.  When your mind cannot process anything else except that one huge thing you are dealing with.  I wanted to wake up and realize it was all just a really horrific nightmare.  Have you ever felt this way?  Like you’re still holding out hope, even for the most far-fetched possibility.  When the odds of anything good happening  are impossible, but the end result seems so disturbing that you still hold on for a miracle.  That was me.  That was unsaved, professing believer me.  I wanted a miracle from a God I was enemies with.

The shock had just enough time to settle in and shake me to the core.  And after the truth hit home that all my worst fears were now realized, the doctor said something like, “Your baby will need to be delivered as soon as possible.”  I thought, “What?!  What do you mean ‘be delivered’?  She’s dead!  Today?!  NO!  I can’t see her like that.  I’m not ready for that!”  In the midst of all the stress and shock, I completely forgot that Ariana would need to be delivered as soon as possible.  Otherwise, it can cause great harm to the mother.  The nightmare, or should I say the harsh reality, had just begun.

During the previous months, I bonded with my baby girl.  I had already felt her kick several times.  I was also with her during many ultrasound appointments.  And there were numerous appointments with specialists.  You see, Ariana was a Down Syndrome baby.  And when you are pregnant with a Down Syndrome baby, there are a whole slew of things that need to be monitored.  So I already knew this was going to be a difficult nine months.  What I did not know was how difficult it would become.  Life would never be the same after our ultrasound appointment on February 19th, 2002.  My dead baby girl had to be delivered.  I wanted to be there so bad…….more than anything, but yet I also wanted to avoid it like the plague.  Has there ever been an event in your life like this?  Where you were hating the very thought of it, and looking forward to it at the same time?  It’s impossible to explain, isn’t it?

I’m a little fuzzy about what happened once the meeting with the doctor was over.  If memory serves me, I believe they said it was best for us to leave and come back the next morning.  I can’t quite remember where I drove to afterwards, or how I was even able to drive.  But wherever it was, I had to stop and pull over to let out a pool of tears.  I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone seeing me in the state I was in.  My system was still shocked, and only a tiny hint of reality was beginning to sink in.  But the next day reality would rush in full force…….with no mercy.

The hospital staff scheduled us for delivery the day after the ultrasound.  It was February 20th, 2002.  I don’t think I got a wink of sleep the night before.  How do you sleep when they tell you your baby girl is dead at roughly 38 weeks?  How do you sleep when they tell you that you must return the next day so they can induce labor, in order to deliver your baby girl……..who I already know is dead?  You don’t sleep.  You don’t laugh.  You don’t feel.  And you can barely even think.  You wander around is some sort of stupor.  And you still keep wondering when you’re going to wake up from the nightmare.  When people talk to you, all you hear are jumbled words.  You are not in a state of mind where you can concentrate very well on complete sentences.  Heck, I was still trying to process the sentence “Your baby is gone.”  I still can’t quite process it even to this day.  And it’s been 14 years.

 

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When they know that your baby will be stillborn, they normally have to induce labor.  So we knew that Ariana’s delivery would be soon, but time would tell exactly when it would happen.  As hours went by, I kept wondering what my dead baby girl will look like.  Will I recoil at the sight?  Will I be able to contain myself enough to hold her?   Will the hospital staff let me hold her?  Will I faint?  Will there be a miracle?  Will God do this for me, just this once?!”  **  Will He make my baby live again?  Does God still bring dead people back to life?  My brain frantically tried to process all these questions at once.  Nothing mattered except her.  All other things didn’t just take a backseat, they were left on the highway 100 miles back.

As someone who’s always struggled with anxiety disorders, I was way beyond my tolerance threshold.  I wanted so much to hold my baby girl, and to see her very first smile.  To hear her first coo.  To change her first diaper.  I’m guessing that most new fathers try not to think about their first diaper.  But for some reason, when you know your baby is dead, you would give anything for the opportunity to change that first stinky mess.  Even the burden of knowing she had Down Syndrome seemed like such a minor issue compared to death!  And then the envy started.  Why are other daddies leaving with their baby girls to go home?  Why not me?   Why am I waiting for a dead baby?  Lord, Please Help!  Why Is My Baby’s Birthday Also Her Death-day?  This is not fair!!  This floor is called the birth wing, but for Ariana it’s a death wing?  Of course, I didn’t get any answers then, and I still don’t have any.

I couldn’t eat.  Food was detestable to me.  For the first time I can remember, I had no appetite…….period.  But somehow I managed to scarf down a quick meal.  I don’t know how.  Maybe because it had been nearly a day that I hadn’t eaten, and I was starting to feel weak.  I’m really not sure.  In fact, all the good things that I normally enjoy seemed so distant to me.  Just a blank stare on my face is all I could muster.  I looked like an empty stoic.  This was deceptive though, because I was anything but unfeeling.  My emotions were being ripped apart.  My heart was breaking.  There is no right or wrong way to feel devastated.  Grief takes many forms.  It goes through many changes.  Never judge someone’s grief by what you see on the outside.  Our bodies and minds are just too complex for that.

I wasn’t detached emotionally.  Perish the thought.  It’s just that sometimes your body doesn’t know what to do with your grief.  Your emotions are somehow so shocked, and yet so guarded all at once.  It is like being paralyzed on the inside.  You just sort of go numb.  Losing a baby can be sort of like a fight or flight syndrome for your emotions.  Instead of adrenaline pumping, muscle tensing, steadfast alertness to danger, your body seems to push everything to your emotional core.  I didn’t know what to do with it all.  I didn’t even want to be around anyone.  I just wanted to go home with my baby girl…….like all the other fathers on the birth wing were doing.  Instead, I went home with a lock of Ariana’s hair, a couple of her tiny footprints, and some pictures and memories of her severely bruised face and blood red lips.

But I don’t regret those moments.  I would show up at her birth again if I could go back in time.  She was hard to look at, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from her either.  And in the midst of all the redness and bruises, there was beauty.  And I mean true beauty!  It was her eyes!  I wish you all could’ve seen them.  I wish I could accurately describe them, but I’ll never do them complete justice if I try.  But I will brag though.  Aren’t daddies allowed to brag a little about their baby girl?  Even when they die?  Her eyes were violet.  Yes, violet!  And I mean Elizabeth Taylor violet.  And just like Elizabeth Taylor, no contacts were needed.  Ariana was beautiful!  Bragging?  Yes, absolutely.  Exaggerating?  No, absolutely not.

Now back to the painful stuff.  I didn’t get a birth certificate.  Pennsylvania did not even recognize stillborn births at that time.  Thankfully, that law has changed.  But the moment can never be redone.  And even if I had taken home a Birth Certificate, that slip of paper doesn’t quite fill your crib.  It doesn’t cry at 3am wanting a feeding.  It doesn’t poop.  And it doesn’t have Down Syndrome either.  But you know what…….. stinky diapers, insomnia and chromosomal disorders are precious gifts when seen from the right perspective.

After waiting for several agonizing hours, and trying not to get too excited about my baby’s birth, they finally said, “IT’S TIME!!”  It is strangely surreal, because you still get excited!  You think, “I am going to be a daddy!”  YES!!  But then, all of a sudden you feel like you shouldn’t be excited.  Why?  Because you know, soon after delivery, you will be burying your baby girl.  How can you be excited when such an appalling prospect looms?  I don’t know the answer.  But you still have this sort of joy because your child is about to be born.  She was still my child.  No matter what.  I cannot explain this.  And I hope none of you reading this ever experience the exact feeling I’m referring to.  No one should ever have to.  It’s a fallen world……a cursed earth……..babies should not be stillborn.  I digress.

During the birthing process, there are brief moments when you forget the impending sorrow.  I probably felt the same adrenaline flow of any other father-to-be.  Remember how I told you earlier that I dreaded this very moment from happening.  And, at the same time, I wanted to be there more than anything in the world.  Well, you could not have pried me out of that room with a crowbar.  Perhaps I was still hoping that somehow God would bring her back to life.  Perhaps I just wanted to see my baby girl…….even though she would be dead.

I remember watching those all-too-real videos during the birth classes.  I remember hearing other parents of newborns describe how messy things can get.  Sometimes they say that new daddies even faint at the sight of all the grossness.  I have heard stories like this.  I don’t doubt they are true.  But I think sometimes they must be fainting because of joy they can’t contain.  That is my theory anyway.  Maybe it’s a combination of both.  But I do know this: when your dead baby is headed through the birth canal and you see her tiny little head, gross doesn’t bother you.  When you know that you will only be with her for a very short time, gross doesn’t bother you.  When you know you’ll be picking out a casket for her the next day, gross doesn’t bother you. 

Sure enough, Ariana was on her way.  I cried when I first saw the top of her head.  And I cried even more when she was all the way out.  Were my tears joy or were they pain?  Have you ever been unable to tell whether you were happy or sad, or both?!  I got to do some of the things other daddies do when their babies are born.  So much so that I almost forgot.  So much going on that I almost forgot……….forgot how sad I was supposed to feel.  Can you believe that?  Yes, for brief moments you forget that you are not taking her home with you.  Everything seems so natural, until you see the collapsed skull and black and blue face.  She didn’t cry.  I never wanted to hear someone cry so bad in all my life.  Seems like a strange thing to say, doesn’t it?  But……. she didn’t cry.  Everyone else did.  God performed no miracles.  No happy ending here.

I remember when I first held her.  She was so tiny.  18 inches, 5.8 pounds.  The nurse showed me how to hold her and protect her head.  And you know what, I followed her advice exactly as she told me.  I dotted every “I” and crossed every “T”.  I was so afraid of hurting her head.  I know, I know.  She was dead.  But in those moments after birth, you don’t act like your baby’s dead.  By instinct, you protect them as best you can.  Her body was so flimsy too.  I held her so tightly.  I didn’t want to let her go.  Ever.

There are many other things too painful to describe.  I’ll spare you most of them.  But one thing really stands out in my memory.  Her lips were crimson red.  They say this is due to depletion of oxygen, and also blood pooling after death.  It was really odd though.  It didn’t look messy.  It didn’t look weird.  It looked kind of cute.  You may think that’s weird.  Maybe it is weird.  But it’s my story.  And again, I can’t explain it.  I remember cradling her tightly in my arms and saying: “Now Ariana, I told you that you are not allowed to wear lipstick until you’re 14.”  The nurse smiled.

Then, they gave her a short bath.  I got to hold her, as did the mother.  I got to cut the cord too.  Yes….the cord.  That precious life-giving line of blood to my baby.  How ironic is that? How cruel it felt!  That same life-giving cord was the very instrument of her death.  It was wrapped twice around her tiny little ankle…… very tightly wrapped.  Baby Ariana was too strong.  She was too energetic.  I wanted to ask her why?  Little girl, why did you have to kick so much?!  Why would you put all of us through this?  I know, I know, ridiculous.  Not her fault.  She didn’t know.

It’s all a product of the fall of Adam.  And yes, God ordained my baby’s death.  He allowed it.  He decreed it.  It all had, and still has, a purpose.  God knows.  I do not.  But I do know this: human rebellion is devastating.  Babies die because of it.  Sometimes they die before you ever hear them cry.  And all of this stuff happens because Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God told them not to.  And He meant it.  At that moment, I wonder if they realized just how much pain they plunged the world into.  From that point on, there would be sickness, pain, grief, death, and of course, more sin.  Because of that one wicked act, parents have to sometimes bury little babies.  Yes, sin is that destructive.  God is that holy.

Just how destructive is sin?  Well, I’ll just say it like this.  The day after Ariana’s birth I had to walk into a funeral home and say, “Hello, I’m  here to pick out a casket for my baby girl.”  That is not the way things should be.  That is not the way things were originally created to be.  That’s what sin has done to us.  That’s how devastating it is.

I wanted to lay my little girl in a crib, not a casket.  I should have been playing with her. Instead I had to bury her.  No more could I look into her beautiful violet eyes.  But one day………yes……a day is coming!

Until we meet again, Ariana, I love you.  There will be no bruises the next time I see you.  And that is something daddy can smile about!

 

 

** (See above for this reference note. It is in the paragraph right below the picture of Ariana’s grave site.  Below is the explanation.)

I was not a Christian at the time. I named the Name of Christ, but I was not truly redeemed.  I didn’t go to the Scriptures for comfort.  I am pretty certain that I prayed……albeit briefly.  And even though I prayed, it was as a false convert indulging in a life of sin.  Even so, God is sovereign, and He could have shown mercy and let my baby live, if He had chosen to.  But it would not have been so much an answer to my prayer, as it would have been God simply being gracious and kind to me and the mother of my child.  In the end, it is all about what glorifies Him.  Even if He had chosen to preserve Ariana’s life, and given me such an amazing gift, I would have shamefully celebrated the gift over the Giver.  It would have been her over and above Him.  I am not even sure how much I would have thanked Him for saving her life……..had He chosen to do so.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-:

 

I Had a Stillborn Baby. Will You Ever Acknowledge Her?

 

“So…..how many kids do you have?”  or the more common “Do you have kids?” are pretty straightforward questions for most people.  These questions do not normally cause us to struggle to provide a satisfying answer.  But for me and many others, it is a question loaded with all sorts of emotion and complexity.  When I am asked that question today, I want to answer with “My baby girl would be 14.”  But most of the time, I do not say this.  Instead, I feel constrained to simply say “none.”  And then right after this, I shamefully lament of what I feel is unmitigated cruelty toward my daughter.  Cruelty, how??  By pretending she doesn’t exist.  Why?  So that others won’t hurt me by what they say, or more often what they don’t say.

My daughter’s childbirth forever changed me.  And I never even got to see her smile, or to hear her laugh or cry.  But yet, I prepared for her birth the same as anyone else would when they are expecting a child.  I bought her presents, I painted her room pink, and I put together her crib.  We had a registry.  A baby shower was thrown.  And if Facebook had existed back then, I am quite certain I would have put my baby’s ultrasound pics up on my wall.  I was ecstatic to one day see my baby girl!  And I eventually did see her.  But I never saw her alive.

I know this is a difficult topic to read about, whether you have lost a child or not.  I chose the image of a headstone for this article for good reason.  I wanted the reality to sink in- even just a tiny bit– for what parents of dead babies have been through, and are currently going through.  Life is hard and tragic.  The fall of Adam caused a ripple effect too disturbing to believe sometimes.  And having a stillborn baby is one part of that ripple effect that I, and others, have experienced up close and personal.

For those of you who have had a stillborn child, you know this feeling of despair all too well.  And maybe even worse, you know how painful it is when people will not even acknowledge the pain and grief you go through.  You, like me, ask yourself a thousand times why they won’t even ask the baby’s name.  “Do they not realize that stillborn babies have names??!!” is what you repeat over and over in your mind.  You often think back to the very moments when people had golden opportunities to acknowledge your baby, and they did not.  “Why won’t they at least say ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.'”??   You feel very strongly that, if you told them your child lived to be a teenager and then died, that they would act very differently about it.  They would show empathy.  And rightly they should.  There are no words to describe the devastation of losing a child, whether the child is a baby, a teen, or a full grown adult.  This isn’t about having a “who’s grieved more?” competition.  It is simply to say that ALL parents who have lost children grieve.  No matter what the age of the child is.

If you don’t believe me, watch a mother sometime who has just had an abortion exiting the building when she’s finished.  Look at her face.  She is grieving.  Yes, even though she made a choice to end the baby’s life, watch her face closely as she walks to her car.  The grief and devastation are written all over her face, along with guilt of course.  I have seen this firsthand.  I am speaking from experience.  I have talked to some of these women on the sidewalks of abortion clinics.  Their grief is real.  They just lost a human baby.  And they know it.

For anyone reading this who has lost a child at any age, empathy and compassion is what you want most from people.  You want them to feel for you.  To imagine what it must be like, as best they can.  And when you don’t get it, my heart goes out to you.  I’ve been there.  I’m not comparing my grief to yours.  I’m just saying that I have experienced the feeling of holding a dead child in my arms.  And for all you parents of stillborn children, I know what it’s like to have to pick out a gravestone when others are picking out onesies.  I know the dread of going to the funeral home, and having to pick out the right sized casket. Then……….having to go home to an empty crib.

This certainly isn’t an indictment against everyone who’s ever interacted with a parent who has lost a child.  Trust me, I realize that it can be really hard to know what to say to people who are grieving.  And I thank the Lord that He has given us many compassionate members of the body of Christ, in order to bring hope and encouragement to others dealing with tragedy.  People who think before they speak.  People who try to walk in your shoes before they jump the gun.  People who don’t stay silent, when they know silence would be worse.  And I am quite sure that there are non-believers who have walked the road of suffering to the point that they care deeply for the tragic circumstances of others.  I admit that I am speaking quite a bit from my experiences here.  But if this is something I’ve experienced quite often over a period of 14 years, then it is reasonable for me to believe that many others in my situation have similar difficulties.

The angry side of me wants to confront every thoughtless or ill-timed word directed toward me.  But even more, I want to lash out against every painstaking silence I have suffered through, from those who decide not to say anything at all and instead just change the subject of conversation.  “She doesn’t deserve the coldness!!” is what I want to shout at everyone who ever failed to acknowledge her existence.  She is a person who existed fully alive for 9 months in the womb, and will continue to exist forevermore.  She is every bit my child as any other child is to their own parents.  But yet, the responses of most people are too insensitive and unpredictable for me to mention her every time I want to…….which is all the time.  Did you catch that?  I, and every other parent of a stillborn, want to mention our babies all the time.  

If you are a parent, think about how often you want to mention your kids in conversations with others.  I mean, really think on it.  Ok, now, that amount is just about the same for parents of stillborn babies.  But because our babies did not live outside of the womb, somewhere along the way it was determined to mean that we don’t really grieve that long, or that hard, over our loss.  This is a destructive mindset that will end compassion before it ever begins.  It is much easier to have compassion when you learn something about a person’s situation and really feel for them.  You listen to them.  You bear their burdens. And you don’t try to figure out how you think they should feel.

So………..let me tell you a little about my baby girl, Ariana.

It was February 19th, 2002.  The woman performing the ultrasound wouldn’t say anything.  Really, she wasn’t being rude or anything.  I really don’t think they’re allowed to say much at all.  I suppose they often don’t want to say anything. “You’ll have to wait to talk to the doctor,” she said, somewhat calm and detached but with a slight hint of sensitivity.  I never even asked her any questions.  I guess she just assumed that questions were coming.  I was looking at the ultrasound screen and saw Ariana, my baby girl at about 37 weeks.  She had stopped kicking for about a day, and we wanted to see what was going on.  As I continued to stare at that screen, I can still picture it in my mind as clear as if it were yesterday.  She was lying flat.  I didn’t know why this was.  “Do babies sleep in the womb?” was a thought that crossed my mind at the time.  “Do they get physically tired sometimes and just lie still?”  I was hoping either of these were the case.  But……I heard no heartbeat either.

But I started feeling my heartrate thump.  Fidgeting like crazy.  Eyes darting around the room.  Breathing faster and faster.  I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything.  “Move baby girl!!”  “Move, please!!!!”  “Just kick, kick, PLEASE kick, PLEASE GOD MAKE HER KICK!!!”  Somehow I stayed composed enough to only shout inside my own head.  No one heard but me.  And God of course.  I was a professing Christian, but I wasn’t saved.  So I don’t know really.  All I know is that Ariana would not listen to the first command I ever gave her.  “Kick, little baby, kick!!!!”  “You have to move!!!”  “You just have to!!”  “I want to play with you.”  “I am terrible at putting things together, but I finished your crib.”  “I painted your room pink, really bright pink.”  I don’t like pink, but it was for her- not me.  She didn’t listen to her daddy.  She would not move.  Her heart would not beat.  I didn’t want to look at the screen any longer.  I couldn’t look my baby’s mother in the eye.  I wanted the nightmare to end.  At any moment, I was waiting for the soothing words of the technician to say, “Oh, and by the way, it’s quite normal for the baby to lie still with no sign of movement.  And the heartbeat, don’t worry about that either.  Sometimes our equipment barely picks up even the faintest sound of the baby’s heart.”  But the technician was eerily silent.  And it was deafening.

Then the technician left.  She left.  Walked out.  She said, “Be right back.”  I don’t know how long she was gone.  My posture became tense and my mind was pacing rapidly.  It was like tunnel vision or something.  Everything else in the world just shut off.  Paralyzing thoughts entered my mind.  She finally came back in, after what seemed to be an eternity.  Ironically, I was hoping she wouldn’t come back in………..ever.  Have you ever purposely stalled when you knew someone was soon going to give you really horrific news?  You can only delay so long before you have to face reality.  You know that the truth is going to be scary.  “The doctor is ready for you,” she said matter-of-factly, almost in the same way she would tell any other couple.  But as far as I can remember, we weren’t even supposed to see the doctor.  I don’t think we were even scheduled for it.  But then, all of a sudden, we had to walk to the doctor’s office to see what this was all about.  I was like Sean Penn on his way to lethal injection in the movie Dead Man Walking, as I gingerly staggered my way to her office………hesitation with every step.  Inside I felt something unlike anything I had ever felt before.  Just moments away……my heart thumping, louder and louder.  My eyes dart around the hallways of the hospital, but yet I see nothing.  I am unable to focus my attention for a single solitary second.

Then, my baby’s mother asks, “Is she dead?”  The doctor nodded up and down, “Yes, she’s gone.”  Joy and tranquility were sucked out of me like a vacuum.  Little did I know that it would get worse.  It would get worse, because many people would not acknowledge my stillborn.  And to a lesser degree, the problem still exists today.  And by lesser degree I simply mean that time has helped me to cope a little better.  God saved me in 2007, and He has graciously given me comfort from His Word.  And in 2008, He graciously gave me my wife Leah, who has been an amazing source of compassion to me.  She even suggested visiting Ariana’s gravesite together when we visited my family.  And she went with me and held my hand.  My immediate family back in Pennsylvania has also been a great source of love.  They always remember my baby girl.  They know how special she is.

All of this matters.  It really matters.  Every time someone acknowledges Ariana’s value as a person created in the image of God, it matters.  Every time someone imagines what it would be like to never get the chance to see your baby girl smile……..not even once, it matters.  It matters to me, and to many thousands of parents who suffer from the way others respond to the loss of our baby boy or girl.

My daughter’s birth really mattered to me.  It was the only day I would ever hold her.

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