The Sun Barely Rose

I was at work. The phone rang, and I answered, "Clem's Collectibles. This is Regan. How can I help you?" It was Dewitt Women's Health. They asked me to meet my wife, Lindsay, at the hospital. They wouldn't tell me why. Lindsay was pregnant, and we were expecting twins. My mind figured that one of our babies had died. I walked out to the car and started to cry as I put my key in the ignition. I asked God, "Why? Why does this have to happen?" That was the first of many times.

I drove across town and twenty minutes later arrived at the hospital. Lindsay wasn't there. At this point I still had no idea what was going on. Confused. Sad. Worst case scenarios running through my head. They had mistakenly told me the wrong instructions. I was supposed to have gone to pick Lindsay up and drive her to the hospital. I went back down to my car. Turned on the ignition. The car roared to life. I continued to cry. 

Twenty minutes later, I went in to Dewitt Women’s Health and gave Lindsay a big hug. I don't remember what was said. We proceeded to get in the car. Held hands. And drove to the hospital.

All I remember from the hospital that night was the ultrasound. The saddest event of my life. All of the dreams we had of the future came crashing down. The death of a baby that isn't born isn't just a death of a life that hasn't taken its first breath of air; it's the death of every dream we have of a shared future. Dreams that my cold, clammy hands were clinging to. Dreams that I didn't want to be ripped out.

I sat in the corner of the semi-lit room. The floor was cold. The metal on my chair was cold. Everything seemed cold. Lindsay laid on her back. The ultrasound was out of her view, so she looked at me. Eyes searching so desperately for a sign that things are okay. Inside I wept. I felt that I had to be strong. For about an hour the ultrasound technician took photos of the babies. She measured their heads, their hearts, everything. I kept praying in my dark, cold corner that God would heal them. I wanted to see them start moving. I wanted to hear the heartbeats on the monitor. I wanted them to live so badly. I told God, "I will tell the whole world of this miracle if you would just give life back to them." They didn't move. Life could not be found. Life was lost. Lindsay and I left that room broken and filled with more sadness than either of us have ever encountered in our lives.

They moved us to a room in the Women & Children’s section of the building. In that room, while we waited, we could hear the cry of newborns, which became a bittersweet background noise for the next few days. Way more bitter than sweet. Those cries, a constant reminder of something we could not have. Something lost.

I ran into a happy, new father by the refrigerator in the snack room. He had no idea that I was going through hell while he was experiencing heaven. "Isn't this great?” he said. I replied, "Sure is." I didn't want to ruin his day. When we gave birth to our firstborn, I had no idea that someone in the next room could be giving birth to death. How close happiness and sorrow can be. Almost like they intermingle to create life.

Then we went home. We went to bed. I'm sure we held each other in bed and wept. The sleeping pill prescribed to Lindsay to help her sleep didn't work. She laid there in bed knowing that two lifeless babies rested inside of her. Two babies we had dreams for. Two babies we already loved. At some point during the night I woke and joined Lindsay. We decided, out of desperation, to go get some oil and anoint her with it. We wanted a healing. Desperately. We read Scriptures of healing and Jesus bringing back the dead. We prayed. It gave us hope. We wanted to go back to the hospital the next day and see that our babies were alive.

The next day came. The sun barely rose. We asked for another ultrasound when we arrived at the hospital. They thought it was ridiculous since they had confirmed the death of our babies the day before. However, the hospital staff humored us because of what we were going through. We returned to the cold ultrasound room. It was just as cold. Just as still. Just as haunting.

After many tears and prayers, the screens confirmed the same findings as the night before. No heartbeat. No movement. No life. They were dead. Lifeless.

We proceeded to a delivery room. We were placed in the same room that we were in after the birth of our first child. It all seemed so ironic. Dreamy. Surreal. Nightmary. Pills were given to induce.

All I remember is waiting. Both sets of our parents arrived. It was hard on everyone. At times when we were alone, I remember climbing in bed and hugging Lindsay, weeping uncontrollably. We took turns weeping. We shared times of weeping. We wept. All the while, the cries of newborns echoed through the halls.

The delivery doesn't stand out much in my head. It wasn't until the 2nd full day in the hospital that our babies arrived into this world. They were so small and they came out so easy.

We held them. We kissed them. We longed for them to be alive, to see their lungs move up and down with life. To see their rib cages bounce from a beating heart. They were placed in a little basket like Moses once was. Yet unlike them, they sat there at the foot of the bed. No water to float on. No life.

We had to reach the point where we were comfortable with giving them to God. At the risk of being a heretic, I baptized them. It wasn't for their salvation. It was just a crazy idea that I came up with that would be an outward sign to God that we were okay with him having our babies. Our parents and Isaac joined us in the room as we sprinkled the babies and shared a prayer together. I wept while leading prayer. Everyone understood.

Uncontrollable weeping followed. Life was dreary.

We went home. The sadness didn't stay at the hospital.

I went back to work, and the sadness was even there. I couldn't get away from the sadness. I would just weep when nobody was in the store. Life seemed like it would never get back to normal. Every dream seemed to be gone. Our future needed to be reconstructed.

Some friends sent flowers. Some sent money to help with the expenses. Others sent gift certificates to restaurants because they lived too far away to give us meals. We were blessed and so thankful, and still are, of the support that was shown to us during that time. The saddest days of our lives sort of shine because of the love showered on us by friends and family.

We named our next boy Elisha Zane. Elisha means "God is generous." Zane means "God's gracious gift." He is a blessing we wouldn't have if we hadn't lost the babies. He will turn ten this month. We have struggled to find good in the midst of this tragedy.  It wasn't easy.  But if we look hard enough and with eyes wide enough, it is there waiting to carry us through.  It’s that way with all tragedy.  It’s that way with your tragedies.

Andrew Peterson's Lullaby