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When There Are No Answers

By Jill Thigpen

(A story from “Morning Will Come”)

Sometimes in this world things happen and there are no answers to the question “why?” I know because I began looking for that answer in 1988 when our daughter Haley was stillborn.

Her death was totally unexpected. Her movement stopped and an ultrasound confirmed our biggest fear. Our baby had died in utero. After twelve and a half hours of difficult labor our baby was delivered. She looked perfect and beautiful, like a little angel. My husband named her Haley, taken from an angel’s halo. Our doctors and nurses were gentle and sensitive. They gave us privacy to hold our daughter and begin to make plans. Because she was delivered late in the night, none of our family was able to see or hold her. Then we went home with empty arms and heavy hearts. We buried our daughter in a special part of a cemetery set aside just for infants. Her marker says “In Jesus’ Arms,” which is how we feel. She went from our arms to our Savior’s arms.

I thought I could not live to see another day. I felt an indescribable loneliness and hurt. The hardest part was trying to understand why God allowed this to happen.

The autopsy found no cause of death and our doctors encouraged us, so I became pregnant again almost right away. Looking back I think it helped me deal with the loss of our first child, but I also became very fearful. I visited Haley’s grave each week; then as I got further along in this second pregnancy, my visits became less frequent. I was afraid to face death, and I thought if I didn’t go to the cemetery, death would seem less real.

From the time I found out I was pregnant the second time, everyone I knew, and many people I didn’t know, were praying for us and this unborn child. Through the death of our daughter we discovered that my blood and my husband’s blood were incompatible. Although the autopsy report did not say this was the cause of our daughter’s death, the doctors then knew how to treat this second pregnancy. My husband and I began weekly trips to Chapel Hill, N.C., to see a specialist. Through a procedure called fetal blood sampling, whereby a needle passes through the mother’s stomach and amniotic sac and into the umbilical cord to withdraw a sampling of the baby’s blood, it was discovered that my blood and the baby’s blood were different. My blood was unable to give the baby proper nourishment and therefore was causing the baby to become anemic.

Dr. John Seed at Chapel Hill treated this condition with bi monthly in utero blood transfusions – blood compatible with the baby’s was slowly passed into the umbilical cord. Each transfusion would supply the baby with enough nourishment until the next transfusion. I dreaded our trips to Chapel Hill because the procedure was very painful and also put the baby at risk. But each visit brought us closer to the time our baby would be born.

I was so afraid to hope for the future, but I honestly thought that God was working a miracle in our lives and for our baby. I felt God was trying to teach us something through the death of Haley and whatever the lesson was, I would learn it without having to suffer another loss. In my mind I justified Haley’s death because through it the doctors learned how to treat our next baby. We were praying so hard, as were our friends and family. I felt sure we would get to bring this second baby home. An ultrasound revealed our baby was a boy, so we named him Garrett Ezekiel, which means “our brave warrior whom the Lord strengthens.” As we watched him fight for his life every day, the name seemed to fit our son perfectly.

During our last transfusion, our baby’s heart rate dropped. Though I could not see what was going on, I instinctively knew something was wrong. My husband, who stayed by my head, held my hand, and talked to me throughout each operation, told me one of the doctors had left the room. Then I knew something was terribly wrong. Dr. Seed told me that in order to try to save our baby, they would have to do an emergency C-section. Within seconds the operating room was filled with doctors and nurses. My husband was pushed out of the operating room and a nurse began hooking me up to all sorts of machines. I was so afraid. I remember telling the nurse, “Please don’t let my baby die!” Within six minutes our son, Garrett Ezekiel, was born. The doctors were able to stabilize him and move him to the neonatal intensive care unit. As soon as I came out of recovery, the nurses took my husband and me into the ICU to see our son for the first time. He was under warm lights and had tubes running in and out of him. But as I looked at his tiny, helpless body I was filled with such love and peace. He was such a miracle. The nurses carefully laid him in my arms. He was so beautiful absolutely perfect. I don’t know how long I held him, but I have every detail etched in my mind. The doctors told us he was a very sick little boy, but they would do everything they could to help him.

I was taken to my room where I began to doze due to the anesthesia. I awoke with a start when the neonatal doctor came into my room. He didn’t have to say a word; we knew that Garrett had died. Our beautiful little boy, for whom we had fought so hard, lived four short hours before joining his sister in heaven. Another part of me died that day, too.

Not long after the doctor told us our son had died, the nurse brought Garrett into the room, and we held him for a long time. My brother and his wife, who live in Chapel Hill, came. They held Garrett and held us as we cried over our second loss. Why? Why did the Lord find it necessary to allow our second child to die? I struggled to find an answer.

Because no one else in our family had seen our daughter, it was extremely important to me that my mom and dad see their grandson. Early the next morning my parents and our ten-year-old son, Ricky (my husband’s natural son, whom I had adopted), came to the hospital. The social worker at the hospital brought Garrett back to us. His little body was cold, but he still looked so pretty and sweet. It was important to us for our family to see Garrett; I think Ricky needed to be a part of this to help him understand that he had a brother. Not having seen Haley, it was easy to pretend she never existed. But both Haley and Garrett were real; they were members of our family, and I wanted everyone to remember them.

I stayed in the hospital in Chapel Hill for five days. During this time the nurses and doctors were wonderful. They cried with us, they helped us make arrangements to take Garrett back to Charlotte, and they listened. They gave us the support we needed to get us through those first awful days.

Garrett was buried near his sister. Those who had prayed for him attended the graveside service. Then I went home to recuperate from the surgery and begin healing emotionally. It wasn’t easy. Physically, I felt better in a few weeks, but emotionally and spiritually, I was empty. The pieces did not fit together to make sense out of the past year.

Did any of my questions have answers? Some did, but most did not. I knew my children were in heaven and that given a choice, they wouldn’t come back to live on this earth. I knew that one day I would be reunited with my children in heaven. Yet I wanted them here and now, and I just plain hurt. My heart was broken and I felt an endless emptiness. Without my family, friends, and a God who promised to take care of me, I know I could never have made it through those long days, weeks, and months.

Through these experiences I have learned a lot about life, death, and myself. Life is so precious and each child is a miracle. I have learned that no matter what a person has been through before, he/she cannot be prepared to lose a loved one. Yet the Lord promises to be with us, and He strengthened me and upheld me during the many times I felt alone and lonely.

Do I still have questions? Everyday. There will never be a good enough answer to why both of my children died. No one on this earth can answer these questions. Only God can, and I know He’ll answer them when I meet Him face to face.

I still miss my children, and I think of them every day. Nothing will ever take away the pain of losing them; besides, I don’t think I want it to. The pain brings memories of my daughter and my son, and that’s all I have of them. I want to remember their movement within my womb and their tiny faces when I first laid eyes on them. Recalling these things, reminds me of how precious and perfect we are in God’s sight.

For My Precious Children

I wondered who you’d look like
Maybe me, perhaps Dad;
I wondered what your future held,
A future you never had.
I never looked into your eyes
Or held your tiny hand;
Now you play on streets of gold
In God’s heavenly land.
Why you’re no longer here
I just can’t understand,
But I know I’ll recognize you
In God’s heavenly land.
I’ll know your precious voice,
I’ll hug you, oh, so near;
My heart will be complete again –
I’ll thank God He brought you here.

God kept us close to Him and continued to give us a strong desire for another child. Our doctors advised us not to try again because we would face the same problems. So we began to look into adoption.

Through our minister we were made aware of a young woman who was seeking adoptive parents for her unborn child. We prayerfully submitted a profile of our family and waited. On June 5, 1990, we received a phone call from our minister.

The woman wanted us to have her baby. She said she wanted to help ease our pain with the loss of our two babies by giving us her child. Her due date was seven days away. We began to prepare the nursery for the third time. We were excited, scared, and filled with anticipation. There was always the chance that the woman would change her mind even up to ninety days after the birth of the baby. Deciding to put these fears behind us, we placed our trust in God and waited for the baby’s birth. On June 9, 1990, our son, Addison Robert, was born. When the young woman was in labor, we were called to the hospital. We saw Addison when he was ten minutes old and was being weighed and measured. I could not have been more joyful and thankful than when I held him for the first time. We were so grateful to this birth mother and conveyed our thanks through her counselor, since we did not meet her. What a special woman she is. We continue to thank God for her daily. No one could have given us a gift greater than the gift of this child.

We brought Addison home when he was two days old. Those first weeks were a blur. I still couldn’t believe this tiny child was mine. He felt so good in my arms, and I began to feel the rawness of my pain start to mellow. The nursery was no longer a sad room, but my favorite room in the house. It was filled with love and life.

As I watch Addison grow and develop each day, I marvel at what a miracle he is. What a blessing he is to every member of my family. He makes me realize each day how much God loves us to have sent us this little miracle.

Yes, God is faithful and He answers our prayers, although not always the way we think He will. Looking back, I can see God’s hand in every detail surrounding the deaths of Haley and Garrett and the adoption of Addison. He has given me strength and peace. He has led me to new friends and made me more sensitive to the needs of others. Because of Haley and Garrett I look forward to the second coming of Christ with greater anticipation. I have two very special little children waiting for me. When that day comes, I know I will feel whole again.

Those who are hurting every day.
by Jill Thigpen

Keep me strong, help me to stand
Support me with your loving hand
Hold me tight, oh Lord, I pray
Guide me through another day.
Heal my heart and wipe my tears
Take away my pain and fears
Give me peace, oh Lord, I pray
Guide me through another day.
Show me how to share a smile
Push me to go the extra mile
Let me love, oh Lord, I pray

©Caleb Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Reprint.

This article was taken from the book, Morning Will Come, available at www.Amazon.com or www.calebministries.org/estore/Storefront.asp?catID=2. Caleb Ministries is an outreach to women who have experienced infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, and early infant death. Learn more at www.calebministries.org.