Hannah’s Story

 I wanted to share my story, but I dreaded having to find the words to tell it.  This took me a week to write.  I think I’ve cried off an entire tube of mascara trying to put just a few memories from those three days into words.  Nothing I say or write could ever accurately express what I felt during that time.  Words don’t exist to tell you how absolutely horrible, amazingly wonderful, and tremendously sad those few days were for me.  It’s something that only my soul could show you.

I found out I was pregnant with Hannah on July 3, 2011.  We were shocked and so excited!  By 9 weeks, everyone knew we were expecting, and our little one was already so loved.  I had a pretty easy pregnancy, and we decided not to find out if we were having a boy or a girl.  We wanted that traditional, “Congratulations!  It’s a ______” moment in the delivery room.  I had several ultrasounds during my pregnancy due to a minor issue with Hannah’s kidneys, but by 36 weeks, all the fluid levels were back to normal!  Now, looking back, I think that God allowed us to have so many looks at our little one because He knew that would be the only time we would see her alive and moving.  The only picture I have of her smile is from one of these extra ultrasounds.

On March 15th, I had my 41 week appointment, and I was so ready to have the baby!  I had an ultrasound, non-stress test, and an exam and everything was perfect.  All the fluid levels looked good, and I got to see my little one sucking on her hand.  I was praying I would be able to be induced soon, but next available spot the hospital had was 6 days later.  I left with my induction papers in hand, and said, “Hopefully I’ll see you soon!”  That night was the last time I felt her move.

The next morning, I woke up early with contractions.  Nothing regular, but they were there and I was excited.  I did some laundry and took a nap because I was convinced she was coming.  When I woke up an hour later, I realized I hadn’t felt her move yet that morning.  I wasn’t concerned because she was definitely a night owl and was often very, very still during the morning, so I poked her a little bit and ate a bowl of Fruity Pebbles.  Nothing.  Drank some cold water.  Nothing.  Rested on my side.  Nothing.  Walked around the house.  Nothing.  Poked and pushed her some more.  Nothing.  Started crying and begging God that she would move.  Nothing.  Sat in my glider with tears streaming down my face.  Nothing.  It had only been 30 minutes since I woke up from my nap, but I knew that something was seriously wrong.  I called the office and they told me to come in, so I got dressed, called Zach, my sister, and my mom, and I headed to the office.  It was the longest 15 minute car ride of my life.  In my head I kept thinking, “This isn’t happening.  She has to be fine.  She’s just really still because I’m going into labor.” but in my heart I knew that when I walked into that office, my life was going to be different.

I walked back to the same room I was in the day before, sat down in the same recliner, and waited.  A minute later a sweet older lady came into the room and used the same sensor to try to find the baby’s heartbeat.  After moving it around a few times, she said, “Where do they normally hear it at?”  As soon as she asked me for help, I knew it wasn’t good.  I took the sensor and put it on the same spot on my belly as the day before.  She kept saying, “Don’t worry.  I can never get these things to work right.  I’m sure everything is ok.  Don’t cry.”  At the time, I felt like I was in that room for hours, but it was probably only a minute or two.  She took my hand and led me to the ultrasound room.  As she was leaving she squeezed my hand and shook her head at the ultrasound tech.  I never felt more alone in my entire life.

The same ultrasound tech who did my scan the day before, had the wand on my belly before I could even lay down.  She looked at the screen for less than a second and said, “I have to get the doctor.  I’ll be right back.”  She had the screen turned more towards her, but I could see that the little spot in the baby’s chest that I had stared at in amazement at every ultrasound was still.  There was no movement.  My baby didn’t have a heartbeat.

A nurse knocked on the door with tears in her eyes and said, “Your husband’s here.”  He walked in the room, and through my tears I told him that the baby was gone.  Nobody had actually said the words yet, but I knew.  When the doctor came in, she sat on the table at my feet, and I asked, “There’s no heartbeat, is there?”  Then, she finally said the words I already knew, “No, I’m sorry.  There’s not.”  I remember sobbing and screaming and when I finally opened my eyes, there was nobody in the room but me and Zach.  She came back in the room with tears in her eyes and explained that it was probably a cord accident and told me over and over again that it wasn’t my fault.  The doctor said that Hannah had probably passed away during the night.  She talked about what was going to happen next: needing to deliver the baby, what to expect at the hospital, and how to deal with my milk coming in.  Before we left, I asked the tech to look at the baby and tell us if we were having a boy or girl.  When she said the baby was a girl, my heart ripped open.

We went home to get my hospital bag that was packed and waiting by the door.  While we were there, we took her car seat and stroller out of the car and put all of her things inside the nursery.  I went through the bag I had packed and took out all of the things I wouldn’t need anymore: her pacifier, the little mittens to keep her from scratching herself, my breastfeeding things, her socks.  I remember checking the mail before we left and finding the newest issue of Parents magazine sitting inside my mailbox.  I threw it away, closed the nursery door, and walked back to the car.

When we got to the hospital, I checked in at labor and delivery, and they wheeled me back to my room.  I think our whole family was there already, but I don’t remember.  I just remember standing in the bathroom and putting on my hospital gown thinking, “This isn’t right.  This can’t be happening.  I can’t do this.  Why couldn’t it be me instead of her?”  I was there for about two hours before I let them start the pitocin.  I don’t know how I kept functioning.  The only thing I know is that the grace of God kept me breathing.  If it had been up to me, I would have died on that ultrasound table.

My labor was easy.  I really didn’t feel any pain.  Or maybe, I did, but compared to what I was dealing with, it didn’t even register.  I remember my doctor coming in to check me and break my water.  That was difficult because I knew that I was getting closer to saying goodbye.  When it was time to push, I remember thinking that there was no way I was going to be able to do it.  How do you mentally and physically prepare to deliver a baby who’s already with Jesus?

Hannah Lee was born on March 17, 2012 at 8:24 in the morning.  She was 7 pounds 15 ounces and 21.5 inches long.  She was the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen.  The quiet in the room was overwhelming.  I had finally delivered my first child, but there were only sad smiles and tears in the room.  Holding Hannah in my arms for the first time and getting to kiss her, and look at all her little fingers and toes, and tell her how much I loved her was the best moment of my life.  It wasn’t anywhere close to how I pictured that moment being, but the feelings that any new mom has were there: I felt an overwhelming love for this small piece of me and Zach, pride that God had chosen us to be her parents, and amazement at her perfect little features.  I was so proud to show her off to everyone who walked in the room!

Looking back on the day, I question whether I held her enough and kissed her enough.  I wonder if through all my sadness, she knew how much I loved her.  I hated that her birthday was marked with sadness instead of pure joy.

We got to spend about 11 hours with Hannah before the funeral home came to pick her up.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to let her go because I knew that was the last time I would ever see her face.  I felt God tell me, “She’s with me now.  It’s time.”  I knew He was right.  In my heart, it was time.  So, I held her tight, kissed her one last time, whispered in her ear, and handed her to Zach.

I can’t describe how it felt leaving the hospital that next morning without her.  Instead of holding onto a baby, I was clutching a box of Hannah’s things as they wheeled me to my car.  I went home with a blanket, a hat, a brush and bottle of shampoo, a lock of her hair, her footprints, and a Recognition of Life certificate, and it was all I had of her.

Her official cause of death was Sudden Intrauterine Unexplained Death.  There were no issues with her cord.  Her heart just stopped.  I know in my soul that God knows exactly how many days we have on earth.  Her death, while horrible, was not an accident or a mistake.  Her short life of exactly 41 weeks was exactly how long God had always intended it to be.  And, even though He knew that Hannah was never going to see my face, He still chose me to be her mother.  And that is the biggest blessing that God has ever given me.

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23 Comments

Filed under Grief, Hannah

23 responses to “Hannah’s Story

  1. Sue Dunlow

    Beautiful, beautiful words to describe such a precious life!

  2. Ginger Ritter

    Beautiful words Amanda…you truly touched my heart and soul. Even though I never met Hannah (or you yet) she has made an impact on my life. Hugs to you…xoxo

  3. Leanna Cedola

    Wow …what a wonderful way to honor your beautiful baby girl. Your faith and your strength continue to be such an inspiration to each and every one of us. I pray for your heart to heal and for you to always find the strength you need to rise above this tragic loss. I believe you were chosen and you are a beautiful and wonderful mother! Miss you

  4. Terri Hall

    Your story sounds so similar to mine 25 years ago. I had a stillborn son, John Wesley on Dec. 15, 1986. I know how you feel and that God has a precious boy waiting for me someday. Donna Lewis’s song ” I Love You Always Forever” was playing after one of my visits to his grave and after that I felt like he was letting me know its ok I’m with you every time I hear it.
    This past year my daughter had her second daughter on Wesley’s birthday. God has brought joy back and filled a hole in my heart for so many years. He also blessed me with a wonderful son 2 Yrs after Wesley. God will help you and give you strength.

    • Terri,

      Thank you for giving me hope and sharing your story. It is always encouraging to hear from people who have experienced the same thing. Reading that your daughter had a baby on Dec. 15th gave me chills! God is always at work!

      Amanda

  5. Chelsie Sedillo

    Thank you for sharing Hannah’s story with us. You and Zach are some of the strongest and beautiful people I know and I pray for your family everyday. We love you!

  6. Stephanie Horeth

    I work with Ashley and I remember coming onto the unit the night you were admitted and the first people I saw coming through the door was Ashley and your mother. I smiled and said hi and wondered why Ashley was at work in her street clothes. When I got to the NICU I saw your name on the board (all units have the monitors so we know what is going on in labor and delivery). As I am standing there looking at that board I realized the heart breaking situation you and all of your family and loved ones were experiencing. Words can never describe the visceral pain you feel to know a mother has to deliver a baby she knows has already passed. I know we have never met but I think Ashley is so wonderful and sweet and I know I speak for a lot of people when I tell you that in that moment you became part of “our” family. It was as if one of our own was experiencing this unbelievable pain and feeling so helpless that there was nothing we could do to change the outcome.
    I’m not sure there is anything I could say that would help you heal but please know there were a lot of us praying for you and thinking of you.
    I am so sorry for your loss and I am glad that Ashley shared your blog because it is so wonderfully written. I hope you are at peace and I cannot begin to imagine how hard it was for you.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Stephanie,

      Your hospital is wonderful, and I couldn’t imagine delivering any place else! You all treated me and my family like we were yours, and none of us will ever forget that. The kindness and compassion you showed us that day went a long way in making a horrible situation a little more bearable. I am so glad that my sister works with such loving and supportive people!

      Amanda

  7. Natalie

    Because you did not turn your back on God during this most difficult time and still recognize his almighty love for you, I do believe that greater is coming for you and your family. I don’t believe I have ever seen more genuine love and support as your family, church, and friends displayed during your time of need in the hospital. God bless you. This story touched me and I will not forget it.

  8. tara bennett

    That was very hard to read.I can’t describe how sorry I am for your loss. I am praying for you and your family. Hope this helps you deal w your loss by writing what happen.

  9. Staci Phelps

    I knew I would cry when I read this… so I promised myself I would just read a few words and come back to it later when I could prepare myself. But I couldn’t stop reading and I would not have been able to stop the tears even if I were “prepared”. Your story is heart-wrenching and compelling and I know that no one can ever FEEL what you felt that day and beyond, but this is a glimpse into your heart. Thank you for sharing, I hope it was cathartic for you and I so hope you are healing a bit every day. We think about you guys all the time. Sending love to you both, Staci

  10. Megan Galan

    Amanda, You are a beautiful person and I am amazed by the way that you are able to recount your last days with your beautiful daughter. There is such a difference when people have the hope of seeing Jesus and their loved ones again. I know that those days are very difficult, having lost a child also, but the strength that you and Zach had while dealing with this definitly pointed people straight to your faith in the Lord. I pray that you are surrounded by people who love you and share your strong faith in the Lord. He is the only one that can comfort you during this time and over the years to come.
    Megan Galan,
    I work with Ashley.

    • Megan,

      I definitely remember you, and I count you as a blessing. You have no idea how much your compassion and kindness has stuck with us. You handled Hannah with such great care and provided us with such a precious memory. We had all of our family come back to look at her hair and her sweet curls. We shared so many smiles those last few minutes because you took the time to care for her and allowed us to be able to experience that “new baby” smell. I still remember how soft her hair was and how sweet she smelled. I can never thank you enough for that. And, your letter to us is something that I will always keep with Hannah’s things. I believe that God places us in people’s lives for a reason, and you have a special place in mine. I am grateful that God demonstrated His love through you that day!

      Amanda

  11. Karen Dowdy

    Amanda, you and Zach are forever in my thoughts and prayers!

  12. Christi

    What beautiful words to describe your story and your beautiful daughter Hannah.
    You had my daughter Hannah at River Oaks summer program this summer. When I dropped her off and introduced her, you told her what a beautiful name she had and it took all I had to not cry right there with you. Even though you didn’t know me, I knew of your great loss from my husbands cousin, Katie Tucker. You and your husband had been and continue to be in my constant prayer. I pray that God continues to give you peace even on the days there is no understanding.
    Know that you are prayed for and loved by friends, family and those of us who may not know you but hope you find joy and peace again. God bless you.

  13. Victoria Montello

    Amanda,
    I doubt you remember me but I went to school with you & your sister a very long time ago.I am so sorry for the loss you and your family have suffered.As a parent I cannot fathom the difficulty of living this much less writing it to share with others.I thank God that you were able to get the time you had and be able to have faith through it all.Your story is going to touch so many lives.God Bless.

  14. Brandi Fisher

    Just wanted to let you know that I think about you, Zach and little Hannah every single day and that your story and strength has already blessed me more than you will ever know!

  15. Karen Page

    Amanda,

    You are a true inspiration and so is Hannah. I believe as a mother our children teach us how to truly love as Hannah taught you. You are a very strong young lady and I know your story will be a comfort to others as I know you intend it to be. Thank you for your words!

    Karen Page (I’m a childhood friend of Amber’s and Sue’s)

  16. Christy Chandler

    Amanda,
    You do not know me, however, I know your family through Sue Dunlow, Devyn, and Kim Newcomb. I understand my daughter, Amanda Chandler Turner, is a friend of yours, as well. I have prayed for you and Zach since I heard of the loss of your precious Hannah in March. My heart broke for you and Zach. In your blog, you spoke so eloquently and honestly of your grief. I am so proud of you. To lose a child is not the natural order of life. This is what makes this type of grief so difficult. In the natural order of life, we as parents are supposed to die before our children, not vice versa. I too understand this pain, as my husband and I lost two children. The grief can be very overwhelming and when it was new and fresh, I felt as though my heart could actually break. But, we too were blessed with a wonderful family and friends that surrounded us with love and a very real God that was and is always there to love us through the most difficult of times. I know that our Sarah Grace and Joshua are always with me. I think of them every day. I know that they are waiting for me when it is my time and I look forward to the day when I will see them again. But, in the meantime, I have been blessed with two wonderful daughters, Amanda and Hannah. Amanda is now married to a wonderful man that I call my son and they have blessed us with three beautiful grandsons. Hannah is still in high school and she is our little miracle. We have had quite the life journey. It has not always been easy, but, if you have faith and love one another there are lots of miracles along the way. I would be happy to share them with you some time.
    We will continue to pray for you all.
    God Bless!
    Christy Chandler

  17. jenn Debraux

    I come to this website over and over again. so beautiful and yet touching. It has to be tough, but Smile bc God knows best. ❤

  18. Heather

    Amanda,
    First I would like to say how deeply sorry I am. I heard this sad story from my boss and his wife, David and Belinda Foutz. I remember that day clearly. I was leaving work and I was headed to the door, they were sitting on the couch with sadness and David had told me what happened. I do not know you, but the story hit me like a ton of bricks, at that time my daughter was 1, and I could not imagine. I read Hannah’s obituary I don’t know how many times and I stared at her pictures, and just saw how perfect she looked. She was so beautiful! I saw the date of her service and I remember the next day going and buying some bright flowers and I went and laid flowers on her grave site, thinking to myself why? How? She was so perfect. I cried while leaving, I cried so many times. My heart ached for you and your husband. After reading this, you are an amazing and strong woman. Your story has touched me and changed me in was that can’t be described. I have always wanted to write something to you, but didn’t know how, or if it was appropriate. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Keep your head up high and congratulations on Noah!

    • Heather-
      Thank you so much for your sweet words. I’m amazed by how many people know about Hannah and have heard her story. And, I can’t tell you how much it touches my heart to know that she is not forgotten. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Even with Noah, our hearts are still healing.
      Amanda

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