If I Could Save Time In A Bottle

It’s my Dad’s favorite song, by Jim Croce, and it continues, “The first thing that I’d like to do, is to save every day till eternity passes away, just to spend them with you.” Oh baby girl….if only I could. If only.

I’m raw with emotion. I’m not sure what emotion(s) I’m feeling, I just know that every ounce of me hurts, aches, and feels so stung. So very, very stung.

I felt like what I was experiencing wasn’t right. I called the hospital and told them I was coming in. My contractions, though inconsistently timed, were so very painful. I arrived and was admitted. We knew from the moment we arrived, essentially, something was wrong. They couldn’t find her heartbeat on the fetal monitor. We hoped we were misunderstanding. The ultrasound confirmed her heart was no longer beating. Our baby girl had died within my womb. After everything had been perfect, flawless, and she was such a perfect baby – she was suddenly gone. I don’t know that I will ever forget the doctor’s words: “I’m so sorry, but I don’t see her heart beating.”

We didn’t answer. We couldn’t. We were all looking at the screen, with the motionless chamber. We all knew the sickening, wrenching truth. She was gone.

Brent called our family to let them know…sharing the news we never wanted to explain. I had to decide how she would be delivered. I thought a cesarean was the only logical answer. I couldn’t emotionally handle delivering her otherwise. They called a team together and were about to prep me for surgery.

That’s when the contractions intensified and would not stop. I was trying to be tough and quiet, but I was in so much pain and the contractions were so strong and close together, I don’t think I got a break. I was clinging to my husband – the room was full of people, but he was the only one I could focus on. He helped me through each fit of screaming pain. I was hollering, and most directly in his ear. I didn’t understand how they got so bad so quickly. I tried to get back on the bed, as I had been squatting to try to fight through the contraction pain. They needed to get me wheeled back to the OR. As I stood up and fought through another contraction, I felt my water break. That was a feeling I had been longing to experience. When it happened then, it was the last thing I thought I wanted. Water breaking was supposed to be representative of a new life, but in that moment it was representative of the life that should have been, and wouldn’t be. And there was nothing I could do. Nothing. This mommy couldn’t do anything to save her baby. My heart was broken long before my water was.

As soon as that happened, and from the intensity of my contractions, everyone knew I wasn’t making it to surgery. This baby was going to be delivered in a hurry. I was begging, pleading, with everyone in the room to make the contractions stop. I couldn’t do this. I didn’t want to do it this way. I didn’t have a choice, though. My labor was moving so fast. No one expected it. But it was happening. I pushed during four contractions, and she was out. They asked if I wanted to hold her. I nodded through my sobs.

They placed little Harlynn Renae on my chest. She was beautiful. She had so much hair, and she looked so much like her big sister, only fuller-faced. She looked so peaceful…so perfect. She felt so soft and as she was wrapped in the swaddling cloth, I was trying to look over and memorize every single one of her features. Trying to understand why I would never hear her cry. Never change her diaper. Trying to understand why I would have to plan her funeral rather than her first birthday party. I don’t understand any of it. We don’t know why her heart stopped beating. We don’t know anything, other than the fact that she’s gone.

We held her, Brent and I, for quite a while. I held her hand. I kissed her forehead. I told her how much we loved her, how much her big sister loved her. I tried to keep her wrapped in the blanket, as if keeping her warm was making her comfortable. The weight of holding her against me was far heavier than I expected. I didn’t want to give her up, to watch her be taken away. I didn’t want any of this to happen the way it did. I was supposed to have a full-term, healthy, crying baby. I was so proud to have made it to 37 weeks. Yet there, holding her, I would have given anything to deliver prematurely if it meant she would be with us.

We believe she is in the best possible place – Heaven – and we take comfort, though minimal right now, in knowing we will be reunited with her again. We are struggling to wrap our minds around what happened. We can’t fathom how our over-active baby girl suddenly left us without reason. We can’t determine how to accept we don’t get to take her home with us. We don’t get to hear her cry, coo, giggle.

Today has been a blur. An emotional blur. I keep wanting to wake up and realize it’s all been a bad dream. I want to bring my baby girl home. Sweet, precious, Harlynn. Now, I’ll have to pack away the baby clothes and swaddling blankets. Put the bottles back in storage. Cling to the sight of her perfect little face. Live without her.

We don’t know what’s up ahead for us. We don’t know what decisions to make, or what decisions are even out there needing our attention. We don’t even know how to grieve. The support, love, and prayers we’ve received has far stretched beyond our expectations. We know we are loved, and we know little Harlynn was loved in circles outside of our little family. To all of you who have shared your love through words, visits, gestures – your support is unmatched. We can’t appropriately thank you for how you’ve been there for us – with us – through this.

We believe God is good. We believe He has a perfect plan. We believe He is with us as we mourn this intense, inexplicable loss. We believe He is holding Harlynn, and sharing with her how loved she was, is, and always will be. I would be lying to you, though, if I said I wasn’t questioning His plans, if I said I wasn’t hurt in my belief, or if I said I wasn’t devastated. I am broken. I prayed I would be spared this pain, this experience. Instead, I’m left turning to puddles of tears, missing my sweet baby girl. Wanting nothing more than to have her alive and well. Watch her smile at her daddy. Watch her torment her older sister.

My precious Haley…I know you don’t understand. I know you may never understand. You’re still the best big sister in the world. We are so blessed to have you.

My precious Harlynn…our hearts ache so intensely for having lost you. My prayer is that you knew, in whatever fashion, how very loved you were and are still.

10 Replies to “If I Could Save Time In A Bottle”

  1. I wish I had better words for you Val, but the best I can do is I'm sorry and all three of you will be in our prayers. You are loved.

  2. Val,
    Words cannot express the sadness and heartache I feel for you and your family this evening. I am so very sorry for your devastating loss. Please do not hesitate to ask if you need anything. You all will be in my prayers. May God give you strength as you face the difficult days ahead.

    With deepest sympathy,

    Ashley and Tony Kunz

    Matthew 19:14
    But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

  3. You and your family have been in my thoughts and prayers since I read your post yesterday. My broke when I read your blog last night. I will continue to keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. Val,

    When I saw your facebook post yesterday morning I sobbed for you and Brent and Haley. Although i have never been through anything like this I felt your pain as a mother and my heart broke for you. Be strong and when you cannot be know that there are people here who will be strong for you. You are in my prayers and may God carry you at this time.

  5. You don't know me; but my daughter, Megan (Sartwell) Grundstrom — devastated for you –shared your story with me. Every mother dies a little when she hears of a precious baby passing. I wish we each could take a piece of your pain and ease your sorrow. I am so sorry. Lisa Sartwell

  6. Hi Val,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. You are in our prayers. Your faith is beautiful. God is truly your strength and comfort and it shows. I pray He will bless you in unimaginable, surprising and awesome ways through this horrible trial. May His peace and comfort surround you fully.

  7. We are sharing your grief, confused, heartbroken, and speechless.

    Rom 8:26-27
    26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

  8. Found you through a facebook share. I am so terribly sorry for the devastating loss. I am encouraged that you do not grieve as those who have no hope.

    3 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”

    They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”

    35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”

    Through the pain may God be close.


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