Wednesday, May 25, 2011

a year later


I cannot believe we made it thru this last year. It is crazy to think of where I was at this exact moment last year

and then to see us now. My family is stronger, my marriage is stronger, and most importantly my faith is stronger. If you would of told me May 24, 2010 that I would make it through the most awful day of my life I would of laughed at you. I would of cried and screamed out of pure desperation. The pain that I felt that night before delivery is something I will never forget and I hope I never will. Not because I want to dwell on it but because I want to remember that point of desperation, the feeling of me on my knees begging for God not to save my son but to get us up in the morning and to get us to the hospital and carry us thru the most scariest and dreadful day of our life. The feeling of being totally helpless and at the mercy of God and yet feeling of his arms physically around me was incredible. The strength that overcame my husband was phenomenal, not that I didn't believe he had it in him but because he was just as broken as I was yet he was their for me he was my pillar of strength that day and I saw Jesus shine through him. The peace I felt that day could only have come from God.

I woke up the morning of the 25th and saw David getting ready just like he does every morning before work. For a second I figured he would be heading off to work soon and then it hit me, like a 20-pound weight pulling my heart into my gut. I remember David helping me out of bed and getting me ready we had to be at the hospital @ 6am I believe. I remember walking out into the living room and my mom was already up and in the kitchen it was already 6am & I could of cared less that we were late its not like they could start w/ out us. I talked to my mom about getting the boys off to school and then I picked up my pink polka dotted bag & hugged her she said she would be there w/ us as soon as the boys got on the bus. I don't remember how we got to the hospital it was all a fog & then we walked down the hallway and past the baby nursery. I remember putting my hand up to block myself so I couldn't see in 2 those beautiful healthy babies. I began praying again for my nurse I prayed for compassion and kindness I knew that what ever nurse we had that day was either going to make it bearable or make it a complete nightmare.

I walked into Labor and Delivery and gave them my name and I felt like everyone had stopped talking to each other & was staring at me thinking "oh the poor thing." I was relieved to see that they put me at the end of the hallway were there was no action going on. My first nurse was really sweet she explained that she had gone through a similar experience a few years back and that she was sooo sorry. She said to be prepared for when I had to leave, for her that was the hardest thing.... leaving w/ out her baby in her arms. She sat there and talked to us for a little bit and then hooked me up to my IV's and got me comfortable. She checked me and I was about 2 cm, she said Zeke was breach so before she started my pitocin she wanted my doctor to come in, thinking I might have to have a c-section. Inside I started freaking out. I did not want a c section I wanted to have him, get the heck out of there and go to my own bed. If I had a c-section I knew I would be stuck there for at least 3-5 days. Fortunately my doctor came in and was able to turn Zeke into the right position and I was able to go forward w/ my vaginal delivery.

They started my pitocin about 7:30am and I got my epidural about 9am. They had asked David to leave while I was getting my epidural because earlier that year a dad in California had passed out, hit is head and died during his wife's epidural. Sheesh you better believe I didn't take any chances & he went for a walk. ;) By this time my wonderful nurse Janice had taken over for the day shift and I immediately loved her. She hugged on me and rubbed my arm and as I was getting my epidural we were forehead-to-forehead crying, laughing, and praying. I remember the horrendous pain and burning sensation of that epidural my gosh I was actually second guessing getting it, it was that bad! They were amazing to me tho and gave me the strongest drugs they could. She told me my heart is going to be hurting enough she didn't want me to feel physical hurt if she could help it. Boy did she do her job I could not even move my toes I was so numb it was wonderful. While we waited we filled out the awful paper work and set up things with the funeral home and the photography guy. We played games on our phones and laughed we joked. The joy of the Lord was in our room. Our nurse explained to us that she had heard we were coming in today and she started praying for us the night before and this morning while she walked her dog all the while having absolutely no idea she would be assigned to me. That was truly a God thing. I was her only patient and the atmosphere in our room was not what you would expect from a stillborn birth. She said the other nurses where shocked on how well we were doing and that they were amazed by the smiles coming in and out and the peace we all seemed to have.

By about 930 my mom got there and things we starting to get moving my doctor said that if I delivered him by Noon I would be able to go home that evening. I was praying I could go home. I did not want to have to stay in the hospital and be next to new families and hear babies crying when all I could imagine was mine all alone in the hospital basement in a bucket. I remember at some point our phone rang in the room and David answered it and it was the nursery asking us who our pediatrician was and David had to tell them twice “our son has died we will not be needing a pediatrician.” The next time Janice came in he told her what had happened and the look on her face made me laugh she was so mad that they called and kept apologizing.

My water still had not broke and we were really waiting for that to happen to get a better idea of a timeline. At around 1030am I started to feel some pressure and we called for Janice and she said I was about 5 cm and my bag of water was right there she would call the doctor to see if she should break it. By the time she got back about 15-20 min later she checked me, my water broke and I was at 9 cm. My mom stepped outside; some of our friends had just got there. Next thing I remember was Janice looking at me and saying sweetie he is coming out right now! There is no time for the doctor and I have no equipment I am going to catch him. She propped 1 leg up and before I knew it w/ out even 1 push she said he is out. It all happened so fast that David didn't have a chance to jump off the couch and come to where I was @ the front of the bed. The eerie silence that filled that room is something I will never forget. I remember David burying his face in his hands and crying, I started to scream into a pillow because we were just waiting to hear his cry even though we knew he was gone. Nothing! We heard nothing but the awful sound of silence. I finally made eye contact with Janice and she told me she would not recommend letting the boys see him, he had defiantly passed away a lot earlier in my stomach than we expected. At that moment I knew I would have an extremely hard time seeing him myself. She asked if I wanted him on my chest and I said no take him away. Unfortunately she couldn't because she did not have the tools to cut the cord. So she sat there and held him because his own mother could not, she grabbed my hand and held it for what felt like forever before my doctor came in and they finished. She carried him over to the incubator and I remember thinking why didn't she turn it on? Why didn't she stay with him what if he would fall off?

I saw David go over to be with Zeke & he collapsed over the little bed crying out of desperation. He called his mom and I heard him say he looked just like Elijah. When I heard that, I started crying an uncontrollable deep cry that I had never experienced before. I can not stress enough how bad Zeke looked and I did not even see him with both eyes open. The only thing I can say to describe it was to imagine seeing a person after they had been dead for a week. I was a walking tomb for at least 6 days. He was not pink and pudgy and kissable sweet. It was honestly the most frightening and scary picture and I can say that cause I am his mommy. I had nightmares for months. I don't know how David stood there and kissed him and touched him the way he did. He was so brave and so strong yet so broken at the same time.

I still had not let myself look at him very well, but what Janice and David told me he was covered in black from the me conium and his head was normal size but his torso never developed past the 18 week gestation, his legs and arms were very long. He looked very out of proportion. He did not look like a baby you want to cuddle and kiss, plain and simple. He had been dead for almost a week inside me. Many people kept sending me messages telling me how they knew he was so beautiful and they hoped I could hold him and kiss him and spend as much time with him as I wanted. I think I finally turned my phone off because the guilt that came over me from not wanting to even look at him was indescribable!

After all the delivery stuff was over I made Janice take him out and start with hand and footprints. My mom and our friends came in and we talked and they went to get us lunch shortly after. In the meantime Janice kept trying to bring him in and I kept telling her NO! I couldn’t do it I had imagined him to look a certain way and he didn’t I was not prepared to give birth to him looking like that. It was beyond traumatizing! She told us that she was unable to get handprints because his hands never developed all the way they were stuck in a fist I think. She did do a ton of footprints for us. She took our bibles back there and put his footprints in the front of our bibles and also in 2 small ones for the boys. She was going to keep going but she said that his skin was starting to fall down like a sock around his ankles and she was afraid to do many more prints.

I think it was around 1pm when she came in and said that he was really deteriorating and if I was going to see him I needed to do it now. I agreed not because I wanted to but because I honestly felt I HAD to. I mean I was his mother of course I had to look at him what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t. Just as she was bringing him in, in a dang bassinet (which I thought was so weird) I’m pretty sure my mom was stepping out to give David and I some time alone with him. I remember her putting her hand over her mouth and she looked away quickly. I sat in that bed w/ David next to me thinking a million things but what shocked me the most was my complete desire to not hold him. It shocked me, but emotionally I had shut down and I was defiantly in survivor mode.

She came over to the bed and said something’s I don’t remember; I just kept staring at him in the bassinet wrapped loosely up in his blanket. She sat on the edge of the bed and I closed my eyes and she put him in my arms. My arms were stretched out as far as they could be, I started crying and just as I opened 1 eye to look at him and bring him to my chest, I handed him back and started screaming, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it, and it’s not him!” I remember David telling Janice to take him out and then he said the sweetest thing to me. He wrapped his arms around me and whispered in my ear. “You don’t have to hold him, you held him for 9 months inside you and next to your heart, you do not have to hold him baby, I am not going to make you.”

At that moment peace came over me and a sense of relief filled my spirit. The pressure was off of me and I felt better. Shortly after that my doctor came in to tell me that as long as I peed 2 times I could go home tonight. She said that they were going to keep me in the delivery room so I didn’t have to go stay a few hours in the maternity ward and Janice could help discharge me. I remember feeling determination and I felt like the biggest weight had been lifted off of me. We started getting flowers delivered to us by many wonderful friends and then we met w/ a counselor I think to talk about funeral arrangements.

My mom had left to go meet the boys at the bus stop and then she was going to bring them back up to see me before there baseball game that night. By this time the photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep still had not shown up to take photo’s and I had gone into the anger stage of my grief! Nothing was going the way I wanted it and nothing I could do could change it. I felt like I kept trying to make deals w/ God. …Just let me have 2 min with him alive, just let me have a beautiful photo oh him, just let me have a picture of the 5 of us, just let me have a photo of him w/ David and I, okay God seriously can the photographer just freaking show up please before I leave! My friend did take some snapshots of him around 1pm right before I tried to see him I think, and I remember them saying he had started to swell and did not look good at all. About 530-6 o’clock maybe the guy finally showed up and tried to take some photo’s but Janice said honestly not to expect them to turn out Zeke had been born 8 hours ago and his body just was not lasting.

It was finally time to get discharged and I was more than ready to get the heck out of there! I was dressed and our things were ready way before Janice even had my paper work. Some friends had come up to help us leave and I remember telling them that I felt like I had just had a very late term miscarriage that it did not feel like a birth and maybe that was a good thing because it is easier for me emotionally to walk out of the hospital. I was dreading being wheeled out, I kept my head down and sent my dad a text telling him I was on my way home, trying to keep my mind of the fact that I was leaving and my sweet Zeke was still there and on his way to the morgue. I remember having a few laughs on the way to the car and then hugging Janice like she was a dear old friend I didn’t want to say goodbye to.

The next few hours and days were a blur. I couldn’t sleep I had nightmares and I was in shock but I also remember telling my mom the relief I felt that it was finally over. Its not that I didn’t feel sad, I just couldn’t believe this nightmare was finally behind us and we could move on, we were not stuck waiting for something to happen.

Now a year later and I have still not looked at the photo’s of Zeke except 1 and that is of his feet. I do not have any regrets of not holding him longer or kissing him. I do wish I would have had Janice snap a quick photo of David, Zeke (all covered in his blanket) and I, but I was still so sure that the photographer was going to show up at any moment I didn’t need to do that yet. I am amazed that we have made it a year and it amazes me even more the impact that little boy had on his big brothers! They have done amazingly well and still talk about him constantly and I have no doubt that Zeke will never be forgotten because he truly is apart of us. I will never know why we had to go through what we did, but I do know that God showed us so much mercy on that very day it was amazing to say the least. God does know how much we can handle and yes he chose to take Zeke to heaven but he spared David and I having to watch him take his last breath. We both know we couldn’t have watched him suffer. We truly had an angel in our room “Janice” if it wasn’t for her kindness and her faith in God the whole situation could have been much worse.

To Zeke....Your name is so fitting for you! "God Strengthens" You were a fighter and you fought hard you stayed with us much longer than any of the doctors imagined and you made it to 2lbs and 2 ounces when they said you wouldn't make it past 1 pound! You have truly strengthened me and your dad in ways we couldn't imagine and we are so grateful for your little life even tho it was to short for us we know you didn't need to be here long to fulfill your destiny. Happy Birthday sweet boy I love you and I am so thankful I am your mommy! I would go through it all over again just to feel you kick me one more time! Your Daddy and your brothers miss you so much and we talk about you all the time! We are having a birthday party tonight for you! The boys are honored to smash your cake in your absence. I hope you enjoy the balloons everyone sent you and I bet you and pawpaw and my grandma and grandpa were having a blast catching all of them! We miss you all so much but I know in my heart you are were you are meant to be.

Hugs and Kisses ...... love always your Mommy!


  1. Stefani...I have no words right now, just lots of emotions and hugs for you. What a testimony. God will bless you, David and the boys for your Job-like strength, faith and endurance, and He will RESTORE. Love you so much.

  2. Stef, thank you so much for sharing this. I am amazed of God's strength in you. Hugs and prayers to you dear one!

  3. Stefani, I know you don't know me, I am one of the June moms and have followed your blog this past year. Thank you for sharing your journey as a mom, and as a family, with us over this last year. Your family, and Zeke remain in my thoughts and prayers.Happy Birthday little one.

  4. Wow. I'm wiping tears from my eyes. I'm so sorry that you had to go through this. You are, without a doubt, one of the strongest women I know. Zeke's story has impacted many lives- mine included. He is precious, he is loved, and he will not be forgotten. I'm sorry that I didn't get a chance to know you when we went to church together and I'm honored to "know" you now. You and your family are still in my prayers.


  5. I couldn't stop the tears as I read of your experience. The thought that kept coming to my mind as I read of the little miracles in the midst of such tragedy is 'what a tender mercy of the Lord'. So at the end when you said how God showed you so much mercy, I felt the power and truth in those words. I am touched by your courage and faith, it is beautiful and inspiring!!! My thoughts and prayers have been with you and your family!

  6. hi i know you do not know me i am a june mommy and have been readin your blogs from the beginning, i just wanted to say that your story has brough tears to my eyes everytime i read your posts it just makes me sad to think of my little one, and how your son would be doin the are the strongest woman i know jsut keep having faith that in the end he is with god. Happy angelversay Zeke.

  7. Stefani, I am another of the June moms & I have followed your story from a a few weeks before you realized you lost little Zeke. I want to thank your for sharing this. I am in tears & just overcome by emotion. You have truly blessed me with your complete honesty over the past year & sharing what was on your heart. I cannot thank you enough. A dear friend of mine is 5 months into her pregnancy & just found out that her daughter has a rare medical condition. I plan to share your blog with her in the future. It may be the distant future, but I know it will comfort her when the time is right. May the Lord bless you & keep you always.