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Mom to Rosalie Joy

November 5, 2015

West Lincoln, Ontario, Canada

On November 5, 2015, I had my baby girl. She was born at 39 weeks 3 days – beautiful, perfect in every way. She weighed 8lbs, 1oz. She was born at 1:05 am.

She died at 7:25am.

“What happened?!” everyone wants to know. I had a perfect pregnancy with her (health wise). I, however, was a wreck. I was so nauseous some days it felt like I was floating on top of my body. I had varicose veins making it impossible to sit. I had such intense heartburn I couldn’t eat after 5pm or I’d be up all night with the burning so intense my ears felt like they were on fire. But I hated complaining. It’s such a privilege to carry a child. Some people have a wonderful time with pregnancy. I am not one of those people. At the 20 week ultrasound, I was diagnosed with ‘marginal placental previa’ – meaning the placenta was too close to the opening. Unless the placenta moved, I was scheduled to have a C-section around 38 weeks. At 32 weeks I went in for an ultrasound and the placenta had moved far away, and I was cleared. I could now have a vaginal birth.

The pregnancy carried on as normal, and on November 4, I spent the day painting furniture, in fact (a small business I work from home). I was always careful not to ‘over do’ it. Mark had been with me, helping me all day. After dinner, he went scrapping, I put the girls to bed (I have identical twin 3-year-old girls), then went to bed myself.

At midnight, I suddenly woke up. I quickly realized my water had broke. Not wanting to wake Mark, I got out of bed, but something didn’t feel right. I turned on the light and realized it was blood, not water. We quickly called the midwife, who told us to get to the hospital as soon as possible. I calmly got the girls up, saying “Girls, wake up – we need to go to the hospital. Mom’s going to have her baby”, as the contractions started to come strong and hard.

Upon arriving at the hospital, my midwife checked immediately for a heartbeat. She had trouble, then found a very weak one. The room turned into a flurry of nurses and tubes and questions. Mark stood there with the girls, and I stayed very calm, not wanting to frighten them. My mom came to take them back home just as I was being whisked upstairs for surgery. Once I lost sight of them, my body turned into a shaking mess. There was nothing I could do to stop the shaking. A nurse with wide eyes was commanding me to breath into the gas mask. I lost my breath as I felt the surgeon starting to make the cut. Clenching my teeth, it took all the power in me to inhale that gas.

The next moment I was waking up. A nurse was performing some sort of stomach compressed on me (which I later learned is to try to get all the blood clots to pass through). I woke up screaming, grabbing her arms and hearing, “doctor! she won’t let me!” Someone was telling me how the surgery went – I had lost a 3 liters of blood (your body only has 5). I had received 2 blood transfusions. I was lucky to be alive. Mark was by my side. The surgeon was called for and he came hurrying in. He sat down next to us. All I remember is him explaining how Rose wasn’t breathing when she came out. She didn’t have a heartbeat. How they worked very hard to resuscitate her, and for some reason, after 35 minutes of CPR, she began breathing on her own, and after 70 minutes her heart started to beat on its’ own as well. And how this means she’s alive, but she won’t make it. We have maybe a few minutes, maybe a few hours.

Rose was placed on my chest. She was bruised, and still had some blood on her. With every breath she exhaled she let out a little whimper. I held her warm little body close, completely overwhelmed.

“God is sovereign!” was the first thing I cried out.

I had placental abruption (where the placenta actually tore away from the uterine wall, cutting Rose off from oxygen) They had a hard time stopping the bleeding, and as a last resort, they scrunched my uterus into a ball and wrapped it with string, much like a pot roast. I had come very close to loosing it, as well as my life.

The morning was a complete blur. A photographer was called to take pictures of Rose. Our families were called. We called Rich, one of Mark’s friends who is a pastor. He came, and as we held her, praying over her with the nurses and midwives in the room, Rosalie breathed her last. She twitched a few times, then was completely still. I closed my eyes, and had such a strong vision of Jesus, reaching out his arms. “Let the little children come to me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. He will take better care of her than I ever could. Never before have I ever felt so close to heaven.

Our babies are conceived through In-vitro fertilization. We learned (after 2 years of trying with no luck) that we could not have children unless we did IVF. That is how our twins were conceived. I struggled heavily with the grief of losing my ability to conceive naturally. The fact that they are identical was a little miracle from God – it was like he was saying to us, “I brought you through a hard time. But I am still God. I’m still in control”. Rose was also conceived using IVF. The whole process is long, full of hormone drugs, and tragically expensive. Now the prospect of trying again is very daunting. It brings a whole new level of ‘hard’ to life.

In the past two months, there have been times of healing, as well as moments of complete despair. The healing has come through processing it all with friends and family – hours of conversation – through trauma counseling, through making a lantern for her grave, lighting a candle for her at family Christmas events, writing poems for her, journaling, and of course through the simple and matter-of-fact way my children process her death. Also through telling her story. Through singing songs, listening to worship music. Through hearing people acknowledge what we’re going through. Even a simple “We’re thinking of you” touches my heart. Through the train of meals, the flowers delivered, the cheques arriving in the mail, the cards. And especially through hearing how her short, little life has changed so many people. How she has changed me. I, will never be the same.

In the words of Robert Munsch:

‘I’ll love you forever

I’ll like you for always

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be”.

The moments of despair come in hearing about yet another birth of a friends’ baby. Seeing the newborn photos on facebook. Rehashing the details of that horrid night as I lie awake at night. Going over the ‘what-if’s’ in my head, over and over again. They come when I dwell on the resentment I have towards the whole situation.

She just wasn’t meant to live. But I have hope. Nay, I have assurance. I know where my baby is. I know who is holding her. Over and over again I have dreams of dying, seeing Jesus, and in His arms is my baby girl. (And Lord, haste that day, when my faith shall be sight!) God is so real in my life.

The last verse of “Away in a manger” –

“Be near me, Lord Jesus – I ask Thee to stay

Close by me forever and love me, I pray

Bless all the dear Children in Thy tender care

And fit us for heaven to live with Thee there”.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.

Jen can be reached at  http://repurposedgems.blogspot.ca/ and mjvanderherberg@gmail.com

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  1. Jen
    Thank you for sharing, this is honestly one of the most heartbreaking and powerful stories I have ever read. Your faith is so inspirational, I want to be able to have that type of faith. God bless you and give you peace in the coming weeks and months. Your baby girl is always with you. Much love.

  2. Ashley Murphy says:

    Thank you for sharing Jen. For me there isn’t a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought of baby Rose and what you must have gone through. It makes me feel angry. I have come to develop a consistent yet waivering relationship with God through your loss. Faith in the Strength and power of the Lord helps me process what happened as well as other tragedies. Your commitment to your faith despite this loss is inspiring. Thinking of you Jen.

  3. Saying a prayer of healing for you Jen.
    Our baby girl was born on 9 th November 2015 and was reunited with God on the 10 th November 2015.
    We miss her so much and do not know the reason for her death. I was low risk throughout & offered a home birth, it doesn’t make sense.
    Sending you lots of love xx

  4. Tina Rose says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I love her name, Rosalie Joy. It is so beautiful and she is so loved. May you continue to find comfort and healing as you navigate life without your beautiful daughter.

  5. Carlo Magos says:

    Sorry for your loss Jen. Like Annie said your faith is inspirational. We just need to trust in Him and evertyhing has its reason. We also feel your pain. We also lost our son Isaac last Dec 31, 2015 after 28 days in the hospital Nicu. My wife gave birth to our son last Dec 3, 2015 at 34weeks. Since he is a premie he gets easily infected with bacteria, we found out he have blood infection. A rollercoaster ride for him, but Isaac is a fighter. Lets continue to pray for acceptance and trust in Him.

  6. Deb Fretz says:

    Praying for peace and comfort as your mourn your sweet Rosalie. Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. Jen, I pray for you whenever you come to mind, which is often. I am so sorry for your earthly loss of Rosalie. Words that have recently comforted me come from John 15 where we are commanded by Jesus to “abide” in him. Your faithfulness to Him is a compelling testimony to the world. God will supply your manna & meet your every need.

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