My midwife and husband remained by my side and just looked at me with eyes of understanding when I continued to repeat those words over and over, "Please.... just let me die!" There really wasn't much more vocabulary that was present in my mind at the time. I was so broken inside and I felt so guilty. Guilty for ever thinking one bad thought about someone. I even felt guilty for ever eating any food that wasn't organic or not having every ultrasound that could possibly be administered. Satan was also there to remind me of all my sins and extend condemnation. He reminded me of all the despair that I would feel and what a horrible wife and mother I would be because of my paralyzing grief . He desired for me think the unimaginable. He is often good at convincing us that nothing will ever be able to cure our brokenness and despair.
As the morning daylight was approaching, Jeremy and I took a moment by ourselves to watch the sun rise. We peeled back the shades of that gloomy labor room to watch light and life come in. We held hands and prayed together because we knew this was the day that we would finally meet our precious baby. Not the way we had desired, but the way God had designed, and so we worshipped. God gave me strength at that time to think of His Glory and not just my sadness, His Peace and not just my sorrow. We cried together and it was in that moment that we knew we were not alone, but truly surrounded by the presence of the Lord.
It wasn't long until visitors began to come. The waiting room was soon filled with tons of our family members and friends. We were so thankful for the outpouring of love from each and every one that was present and also with us in spirit. My labor room was filled as well and I remember each person that came and sat by my bed side that day. They got to see me at my lowest and worst. My eyes were swollen very badly, my lips cracked and dry, my hair a hot mess, and not a dab of makeup left. I couldn't muster up the strength to even try to fix myself up when that wasn't at all what was going on inside of me.
Some of my family members were outraged at what had happened and they were blaming it on my choice to plan a home birth. They felt if I had just had a "normal hospital birth" with a "regular doctor" my baby would've lived. They were also saying things like " If she had just come in with the first pain the baby would've lived", and so many more "if onlys". I know that they were just looking for any reason for my baby's death and that's "somewhat" understandable. However, my choices and plans had nothing to do with the passing of my baby. I Thank God for the doctor coming in to explain that to those who were present in the room with us. He explained what would happen and he said "There is nothing that you could've done to prevent this from happening. It's not your fault or any fault of the midwife's. Nothing would've changed the outcome here." What he said did give me some relief because not only did I feel an enormous amount of guilt , but I had others shoveling more on top of it, and it hurt!
22 hours of grief and labor had passed and we were getting closer to having our baby. I was getting so anxious because I could feel that the journey with my baby was coming to an end. My friend Jennifer played one of my favorite songs for me by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Sometimes I can put myself back in that room and hear it just as it was that day, clear and reverent. I couldn't help but cry and raise my hands to my God that had blessed me so much. He was there and that was all that was needed. I felt Him just like He had scooped me up in His big arms to hold me so tightly, and He gave me strength.
"Thou Oh Lord"- Please listen!!
I started to feel lots of pressure and I knew it was time to push. All my room guests were asked to leave except my midwife, my best friend , my mom, my mother in law, and of course, Jeremy. I began to push, but with every push, there came reservation. The doctor and nurse had warned me because they felt like the baby had probably suffered a cord accident, after they couldn't find any other cause. I just couldn't imagine looking at my baby in such distress, knowing that I couldn't help them, and I was afraid. With every contraction I couldn't help but push and it was inevitable that I would meet my baby in a matter of minutes.
When the doctor came back in he looked so disturbed, as I'm sure he does when he has to deliver any baby sleeping. When it came to the last few pushes, I wanted to hold back and I kept crying" I can't do it, I'm scared!" I was so scared of it being over. I was scared of our journey together being over and me viewing some horrible sight when I saw what my baby had suffered while in my womb. I also dreaded the confirmation that my baby's life was gone for sure and that God didn't miraculously breathe life back into my baby as I had hoped.
I had the best cheer leaders that day. It was as if for a moment they were blinded to the fact that our baby was dead. They were excited through every successful push and hoorayed every time a contraction was finished. Then, the most feared time was imminent when the last few pushes were over and it was time to meet my baby. My final thoughts before the baby arrived were "God please help me! Is it a boy or a girl? What will I see?"
Then I felt the last part of my baby's body arrive into this world. The time was 6:43 pm. Everyone was silent as the doctor took time to look and examine the baby extensively. I couldn't see much because I was on my side as I delivered, however, I could hear. I heard the umbilical cord as it was moved across the plastic on the bed. I could tell it was heavy. I remember glancing over my shoulder to see the doctor opening the baby's mouth and looking at their ears in deep concentration. Then I heard it! Out of the silence and stillness came a voice saying " Crystal.... It's a BOY, You have a boy!!" My heart sank and I wept. It was this little boy that I had imagined the whole time. He was here.... but he was gone. I couldn't help but mumble his name over and over "Zion.... Zion....Zion!"
I was all ready missing this little person that I had just met. I wept uncontrollably for a couple of minutes, that seemed like an eternity. Then, the doctor made his first statement after Zion arriving " Crystal, I'm so sorry.......but your baby is.....your baby is just perfect." My heart sank another 1,000 feet. Perfect?? How could my baby be so perfect and be dead? What went wrong?? I was so confused and crushed! Then, those same feelings of guilt crept back into my mind.
A few moments passed and the nurse asked " Would you like to hold your baby?" I quickly rolled over and sat up in my bed with anticipation to see this perfect baby. When his body was placed in my arms I was amazed at how warm and cozy he felt. He had lots of dark black hair that I had prayed for and we were all in amazement at his beautiful bright red lips. He was meaty and muscular like a boy should be. He was another combo kid like Ellie, having distinct features of both Jeremy and I. I kept waiting for him to miraculously breathe ,but he never did. He just appeared as if he was sleeping so peacefully, because in reality he truly was.
The nurse asked did we have a name for him. It killed me to say it as I wept "Yes, Zion .......Zion Jeremiah" and then I pulled him into my chest and buried my face close to his. My tears covered him as I thought about his name. I knew I would never get to call out that name to this sweet little boy and see him come running. I would never go to the doctor and hear them say " Zion Sams ". I would never get to see his graduation or wedding invitation embossed with his beautiful name. I knew that only a tombstone would be marked publicly with his beautiful name, and I was devastated.
I shared my baby with the people in the birth room that day and they were forever changed. I gazed at their faces as they held him, and they did just as I had. They were screaming inside for this beautiful baby boy to just wake up. They were all broken ,but yet, they rejoiced at how fearfully and wonderfully made he was. He was perfect!
It wasn't long until I delivered my placenta and the birth was finally over. The doctor examined the umbilical cord and placenta and said they were both healthy and beautiful. He found no cause for the baby's death and said that having an autopsy performed was not recommended because it wouldn't reveal anything new. He also said that in most cases of stillbirth the cause is unknown. We agreed about not performing an autopsy, knowing that we wanted to have a funeral for our baby soon and that either way we could not have our son back.
After everyone in the room had held the baby, the nurse asked if she could take him and give him a bath. Following his bath, all of my family in the waiting room had a chance to see him and hold him if they desired. They were in amazement at this beautiful little boy with the crimson red lips. One even asked the nurse if we put lipstick on him because they were so beautiful and red. They saw our perfect little Zion just as we had, and they were changed forever.
Later the nurse arrived back with Zion all dressed in his hospital best. He smelt so good with his new baby smell. The nurse gave me a memory box with all of his hospital momentos. There was a card placed in the box that read that he was a perfect 7lbs. 9oz and was 20 inches long. There was also a petite little envelope that I opened to find a locket of his beautiful, black curly hair. I was so broken as I was reminded again that this baby would not go home with us, but only a little blue satin box full of hospital memories.
I sat in such amazement at this perfect baby that had grown inside of me and I praised God that He chose me to carry him.We had a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep come in to take pictures of Zion and she arrived about 4 hrs after his birth. I was so worried because I wasn't sure what he would look like when she came, but he was beautiful. She couldn't help but cry as she snapped each photograph that night. I'm sure her job is very difficult, however, I'm so thankful for her sacrificing a big part of herself and emotions to minister to hurting families just like us. On March 29, 2011 I was blessed with beautiful memories of Zion that I will forever cherish and I would like to share them with you today.
|Zion Jeremiah Sams|
"Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God hath shined." Psalms 50:2