Sunday, May 31, 2009

Diane's Story...from a sister's perspective.

I have a sister named, Diane. Out of all of my sisters (I have 3) she is closest in age to me….but we are six years apart. Growing up we shared a room, we shared laughs, we shared the secret places our parents hide the Christmas presents and as I got older we even shared clothes from time to time. Once she got married and moved out I spent nights at her house and we had a lot of fun together. The years have moved forward but the friendship remained. I want to share with you a story about Diane…about her daughter, Jessica and how she changed Diane’s life and my life forever.

Diane and her husband Russ were high school sweethearts…well she was in Jr. High and He was in High School…but they were as Bambi says “Twitter pated”. After Russ returned home from his 30 month LDS mission (yes they served that long back then) in Australia and after Diane graduated from High School they got married in the Jordan River Temple. A couple of years later Jeremy was born. About 5 year later Trevor was born…it took a while to get pregnant. Diane and Russ always wanted a little girl….so after a number of years they decided to go off birth control and try. Two years or so without birth control and nothing happened. So Diane went back on…with the history of PCOS in the family and the way her cycles were going she needed to be on something. Sometime later she discovered she was pregnant. We were all excited!!!! Trevor was now 11 years old.

From the beginning Diane included me completely! She let me experience pregnancy vicariously through her. A few months after Diane found out she was pregnant we got our own incredible news…..a special Birth Couple who learned about us through Brad’s co-worker had decided to place their baby with us. The baby was due in November. Diane’s baby was due in May….we were all so excited about have babies come into our lives around the same time. We planned play dates and how they were grow up being friends.

When Diane was around 20 weeks she had the much anticipated ultrasound. Once again I was there to witness…I went to every appointment and we spent a great deal of time together and on the phone. Diane cried as she found her dreams coming true… was in fact a girl! She looked absolutely perfect and we all thanked Heavenly Father for this incredible miracle! But as Diane gave thanks she was also full of concerns and worries that something would happen. I would try to reassure her and say “Why would Heavenly Father bless you with this incredible miracle just to take it away” (not exact works but close). Diane prepared and was excited and yet still apprehensive.

As time drew near we threw her a baby shower….and she received many wonderful baby girl items…it was so fun! Diane had this blessing dress she fell in love with as we went shopping one day. It was beautiful but also pretty pricey. So as a special gift I got some family members…Grandma’s and Aunts to go in on this dress with me. We gave it to her at the shower and she cried and was very excited. It was a wonderful day! Later as everyone said their goodbyes and we were cleaning up I took the blessing dress and went in Diane’s room to hang it up…as I laid it out on the bed a horrible thought came to my mind. It stated “you will not be blessing her in this dress…you will be burying her in it.” I was so upset that I could think such a horrible thought. It shook me and I had to wipe it out of my mind. Little did I know then that others had the same though as they saw the dress and none of us knew what was about to unfold.

Time ticked on and Diane started showing all the signs of getting ready to deliver…she was seeing her doctor every week now and she could deliver at any time. One morning we went to her appointment and had lunch and enjoyed the morning. All seemed well. We were listening to Michael McLean’s song “Together Forever” as we drove into her garage. Diane couldn’t handle hearing that song…she felt worried that something would go wrong with the baby. Less than an hour later she was on the phone with her OB’s office as she realized she hadn’t felt her baby move since sometime in the night. The doctor told her to drink a coke to see if it perks the baby up. She was to wait a certain period of time and then call the doctor back. Little Jessica (as they were planning to name her) didn’t respond to the coke. So they sent Diane to the hospital. I was already with her….we headed to the hospital. We got word to Russ to meet us there. Brad was meeting us there too because of the first time in his life he was going to witness the birth of a child. They got Diane hooked up to the monitors….we could hear her heart…but they wanted to get a better understanding of how the baby was doing so they put an internal monitor on her. Within a matter of minutes of being on that monitor little Jessica’s brain started to crash. They had Jessica out of the uterus 6 minutes later….when they cut the cord her heart stopped beating. The pediatrician worked on her for 20 minutes but Jessica didn’t survive. She was considered stillborn. The pediatrian came in with tears in his eyes to let us know he did everything he could. He then shared with us that Jessica appears to have had Down Syndrome. They were guessing she could have had a hole in her heart and couldn’t make it. They weren’t sure the exact cause of the stillbirth.

Just as we received this news my Mom (who lives 3 hours away) had finally made it to the hospital….we had to greet her with the news of Jessica’s death rather than her birth. I remember the way her faced looked and I remember her words…”NO, NO, NO!”. She broke down. A few moments later a nurse came in to see if the OB should still move forward with tying Diane’s tubes. This was the plan because Diane was severely obese and this pregnancy was incredibly hard on her body. She got her girl and she was happy to have that be it for her family. Russ was left with the decision (that I don’t think any husband should have to make) but he felt they should go forward with it…feeling that Diane couldn’t do all of this again. I questioned his decision but respected his authority. A short time later they brought Jessica in to us…it was just Russ, my Mom, Brad and me and we held her and saw her beautiful red hair which is a Blair trademark. She saw that she looked like her older brother Trevor. Jessica was a big baby weighting in at 9 pounds. She was beautiful and we love her!

A while later we were able to go into a recovery room to be with Diane as she woke up. She didn’t know her daughter didn’t survive…we had to break the news to her. The first thing she asked was “where is my baby?” We couldn’t speak…finally Russ told her what had happened. She sobbed…she was still out of it but she understood and she cried! It was horrible! Her boys were in the room with us…along with other family members. I had Brad run and get her baby bag so she could dress her daughter in the outfit she had planned to bring her home in. Included was a tiny pink bracelet.

We all stayed at the hospital for hours….Brenley was only 1 at the time so she was with Brad’s parents. But we stayed for a long while and took turns holding Jessica. We took pictures..of everyone holding her. Pictures would be very important for this little family and all of us in the days, weeks and years ahead. Brad and I then went home to get a few hours of sleep. Diane and Russ and their family remained at the hospital holding Jessica.

Waking the next morning I remember the whole event was more real…the shock had worn on and all I could do was sob. I sob the entire day I think. We got dressed and headed up there…this time Brenley came with…she was close to two years old and we felt it was important for her to see Jessica…she needed to understand even if it was just little. She held Jessica and talked to her. We took more pictures….the dreams of our girls playing together wouldn’t be but we did have this one picture of them together. We spent the day with Diane and Jessica. We each took one last time to hold her before the guy from the mortuary would take her and do what he had to with her little tiny body. We each said goodbye to her. It was one of the saddest things I have even seen, felt. And yet there was a peaceful feeling in the room that I will never forget.

Diane was released a day or two later. I was with her as she cleaned up her stuff and packed up. The nurses brought in some special items..This included a mold of one hand and one tiny foot. They were placed in a box. My sister carried all that she had left of her daughter in one tiny box. It was a very hard day for her…for Russ….for everyone.

Hours after being home from the hospital Diane started to run a fever. This meant she had to go back to the hospital. Once there they took out her stitches and started to clean her out. This was a very large wound….and they were digging and pulling and it was hurting. She wasn’t given any medicine to numb her….she once again cried out in pain. Because of the infection she would have to heal from the inside out…they wouldn’t be stitching her up again. She was admitted and stayed in the hospital to receive IV antibiotics. When she returned home she had to have nurses come in 3 times a day. The nurses taught Russ and me how to clean her wound and we did. We filled in so the nurses didn’t have to come so often. Russ did it in the evenings and I did it in the mornings or whenever she needed me in the day. I remember the grief….the long talks…the sadness that lingered. Here she was suffering through this horrible wound issue, milk coming in, bleeding and NO BABY to hold, feed, smell, dress and care for. Nothing to say that it was all worth it. She got the raw end of the deal! She went from anger to sadness to just existing.

Because of Diane’s weight issues….her wound was not healing correctly. It was healing but it was so very very slow. They tried a bunch of things to help speed it up…but those things didn’t work on her because of her weight and the way her stomach fell over the wound area. Diane’s wound took 18 very long months to heal. 18 months of nurses, or relying upon other people to help her. 18 months of hell. And yet she endured it…she lived, her understanding of loss grew….her understanding of how to get answers to prayer grew…her testimony of her Savior grew. Eighteen months after losing her daughter Diane was still sad…still grieving but she was different…a different person than the one before. Stronger spiritually with a love for her Savior!

Diane’s story doesn’t end here. A couple of months after Russ and Diane buried their only daughter…Russ was laid off…the only guy in the place to be laid off. A short time later their oldest son (Eagle Scout, Sterling Scholar son) came out and told his parents he was gay. Even thought this loss wasn’t death…she felt that this was another child lost….they grieved the dreams they had for their son. Their love didn’t stop (all of us love him and always will) but it was a very hard time. …sometimes it still is.

Diane grew again through this loss…..her testimony is build on the Rock, our Redeemer and she stands firm in the Gospel. Diane is now serving as Relief Society President in her ward…a calling she would have really struggled with years ago…she enjoys her calling and loves serving the sisters in her ward. Her marriage to Russ is still going strong…they have gone through so much together…. And yet their love has endured.

Just as the song that played on that horrible day….the song we heard in the car that upset Diane so much….”We can be together forever someday, we will be together forever someday!” this helps keep Diane moving forward in life….she knows her daughter is waiting for all of them….because of the sealing covenant Diane and Russ can be with their daughter someday….some glorious day!

On May 31st 2009 Jessica would have turned 7….I share this story to honor her memory…and to tell her how much I love her. I also share this story…because it is one of the greatest examples to me of enduring,, overcoming and coming to understand that trials are the Lord’s way of helping us become who he knows we can…and to come unto Him!

What I haven’t shared is how this experience with my sister helped me in my own grief over children. I will share that another time. Thank You for spending a little time reading about another of our small adventures.


Sheri said...

That was a beautiful story Brenda. It really touched me deep down and the tears have been flowing pretty hard. I just returned from our Fast and Testimony meeting (our Sacrament meeting is last and next week is Stake Conference) and the Spirit was so strong in Church today. While I felt a huge amount of sadness for your sister, I also felt a lot of love and peacefulness. She has endured so much, but will be a better person for it. Thank you for sharing that incredible story with us.

Amanda said...

Such a touching story..thank you for sharing. We just had a lesson on trusting in the Lord..I thimk your sister is a beautiful example of this.