The last week of May I ended up in the hospital with contractions. I left after work and decided to go because I was so concerned. Sure enough, I was having contractions, but the baby boy was healthy. His heartbeat a steady rhythm on the monitor as the nurses tried to get the contractions to stop. They stopped around six that night and we were free to go home, only to return at midnight with them once again.
My amniotic fluid was high, and I was going in for weekly ultrasounds. The doctor told me with it being so high that having some preterm contractions were normal and didn’t always result in preterm labor. So, we resumed with our ultrasound and appointment on Friday to find that the fluid went down by a lot! But nothing to be too alarmed about.
The week went by, I thought I could feel him rolling somewhat but the movements were less intense than they normally were. I wrote it off as him being confused by the sudden change of fluid.
On Friday, June 1, we went in for our weekly fluid check. His little face appeared on the screen and deep down I just knew something wasn’t right.
He was still.
She went over his chest once...no movement.
Twice...where is the flutter I was so used to seeing?
The tech placed the machine off my belly and said, “I am so sorry...but there is no heartbeat...” I’ve never felt so sick to my stomach in all my life. My husband instantly flew out of his chair and laid his upper body over me in a hug, as if to shield me from the overwhelming wave of pain that crashed into the very fiber of my being. I’m sure every patient in that small section of the doctor’s office heard my screaming and sobbing. But I didn’t care. At 29 Weeks our first-born sons heart stopped beating, and I haven’t been the same since those words left that techs lips.
We were moved into a room for further instruction from the doctor. She was extremely sympathetic, answered all the questions we had right out of the gate, and even eased into the moment where she told me what I already knew. I had to deliver my dead son.
But I had a choice.
I could keep him for up to a week or go to the hospital that day to begin the process for delivery. She gave us our time in that hospital to let our emotions take their course for as long as we wanted. Immediately my thoughts turned to my husband. I cling to him. I knew that these were the kind of things that tore apart a marriage. I whispered, “Please, don’t let this ruin us.” Those were the first words I told him before apologizing, continuously for the course of our stay at the hospital.
I knew that as of that day, the people we were before, the couple we once were, also died with our son. So, not only did I lose a child. I lost the two, ten, eighteen-year-old boy I was supposed to have. I lost who I was. I lost a very significant part of my relationship. I lost the man who I married. That is a lot for a single person to lose in a single instant. We called our work. We called our family members. I don’t remember how many times I apologized.
I felt like this was my fault. For whatever reason that this happened, it was because of me, that not only did I have to deal with this heartbreak, but our entire family had to deal with it. I felt responsible. We picked up our things, went out to the car, and numbly made our way to the hospital. I remember just numbly walking down the halls of the hospital toward the birthing center, not knowing what to expect.
And in that numbness, something inside of my head clicked. As we got to the front desk of the birthing center I knew I had a choice to make. I could go down the easy road, the one that was angry, the one that saw all of the negatives, the one that pointed fingers, the one that felt sorry for themselves, the one that raised their fists to God screaming, the one that never saw the good, the happy, or the joy out of this overwhelming grief. Or I could go down the hard road, the one that turned this awful experience into something good regardless of the circumstances.
I decided the hard one.
God deeply provided with that choice, turning something difficult into something a little easier. His blessings bathed us and haven’t stopped.
We were blessed for five days by the nurses and staff at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.
I prayed as we walked into that room, immediately surprised at the number of staff that were there and hugged us apologizing. They helped my husband and I get settled, setting me up onto IV’s and monitors. Before they even went to get the doctor that would see me through the weekend they sat there and answered questions we had already. Our family came to the hospital. The nurses sat there and answered all their questions too. They prepped not just us but our families for what they may expect for when the baby arrived.
We were blessed with Doctor B.
Who called me every week during my pregnancy to check in on me, and who was equally as devastated as we were about the loss of our child. For he too knew what it was like to lose a baby around the same time we lost ours. He was the doctor that would be with us for the weekend. He told us that we may not get answers about what happened or why it did, but sometimes no answers are good answers.
We were blessed for the St. Elizabeth genetics department.
A genetic counselor met with us to go over a couple options. We had the choice to get an amniocentesis done before delivery, along with a biopsy post delivery. The amniocentesis would give more accurate information about the possibility of chromosomal abnormalities or what possibly caused the demise. So, we decided against the biopsy. It took a couple hours, but we were soon wheeled back to a room for the amnio to be drawn.
We were blessed with a funny doctor to perform the procedure, along with the nurse that was taking care of me to join us in the room.
I watched the ultrasound screen as the needle went through my stomach to begin collecting fluid. It was painful, and my body didn’t react very well to it either. But we got over ten vials full of fluid for them to test. The nurses wheeled me back into the room where we would stay for four more days. There they began to start the process, so I could give birth to Reece as naturally as I could. They were afraid if they did things too fast it would cause my uterus to rupture, the same fear was with a c-section as well. That would have been our last resort.
We were blessed to have our families with us the entire time.
Day in and day out they stayed with us. The room was packed full of my parents and sister, and my husband’s parents and sisters. We shared many stories and laughed so hard we thought we would pee. Our aunts and cousins even visited as well. It was a time where we all got to know one another very well, and even grew closer as a family.
We were blessed to have a special someone visit who also lost a child, who would subsequently become our grief counselor.
I got to bounce ideas off her. I was able to share with her my fears, my thoughts, and she aided in the decisions I needed to make. I got to hear her story, I got to see first hand that she made it out of the valley. She survived this terrible nightmare! And she has living children afterward too. She stayed with us the whole day, making plans for us afterward as well.
We were blessed by Grace Fellowship Church pastors and members.
We had a pastor come by to not only pray with us but talk with us. We had another pastor lead our funeral service the following week. We had our small group leaders and members stop by to Love on us, cry with us, and most importantly pray with us.
We were blessed by the nurses sitting with me, holding my hand, and crying with me. As they administered medication and I cried because of the pain. As I woke up at two in the morning crying and they “just so happened” came in for a routine check, and they sat on the edge of my bed, took my hand in theirs, and cried with me. They prayed with me throughout the days I was there. They made Reece, my husband, and I matching bracelets to keep.
We were blessed to receive a box that held significant items from Raising Blue.
It held a ceramic kit, so we could always have his footprints to show off. It held a blue crocheted blanket and hat, a book, and other items that I was able to use to help through this time.
We were blessed that my husbands cousin was a photographer affiliated with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.
She captured Reece’s birth with amazing photos and a few videos. These pictures I have in a book on a shelf specifically to remember my child. She was able to get every detail, even parts I forgot about.
We were blessed with the same doctor who gave us the devastating news to help us deliver on Monday, June 4.
She coached me through the contractions, told me how great I was doing. She gave the nurse my boy, so I could hold him skin to skin. She patched me up and stood there crying alongside the nurses as my husband and I wept.
I was blessed with a beautiful and perfect baby boy.
Maurice James Lee was perfect and pink. He had curly brown hair and even had some on his shoulders and arms. He had finger and toenails. He weights 3lbs and 12oz and measured 17in long. We got to love on him and keep him with us for two amazing days.
Through what felt like hell, God never abandoned me. In fact, he provided for us richly. He didn’t have to, he could have just left me be in my suffering. He sat with me in that ultrasound room. He hugged me as I clutched to my husband before we made our way to the hospital. He cried alongside me all those days and nights that I cried in the hospital. He sent person after person after person our way to help aide us while we were there. Including the doctors and nurses. He formed and knitted Reece in my womb and placed him in me to take care of for 29 weeks.
Our children are only ours to borrow. They are a gift from God for us to take care of, and they are his to call back home to heaven. I weep not only tears of grief for not knowing my child for as long as I wanted to, but tears of utter joy that my baby was called back home. He is standing in front of God and Jesus, not having to suffer the pains of this world, and I don’t have to worry as a parent whether my child will come to know Christ. For he is already with him.
As soon as Maurice James Lee Summers opened his eyes…he saw the face of our Savior…
Oh, what a sight to have seen!
God didn’t stop there though. In fact, he continued to bless us abundantly:
With people who donated money for Reece’s funeral and gravestone, hospital bills, our regular bills.
People who came by and gave us food, so we didn’t have to worry about cooking.
My work giving me maternity leave.
My husband’s work giving him FMLA, so he could be with me the entire time and giving him time to grieve properly as well.
Our family helping us to get away for a few weeks to Florida, and my husbands family opening their homes while we were there.
Our friends spending time with us almost daily.
The manager at Donato’s and Witts in Independence setting up a day where proceeds would help us.
Grace Fellowship Church aiding us in our time of need.
The number of cards and prayers we received.
That Stevens sister has a four-month-old that I can snuggle and bond with.
That I was able to pump for a little while and store some milk and give the rest to his sister for her baby.
All our testing came back normal. Even the ones for autoimmune. There is absolutely no explanation as to why Reece died.
The list could continue for a long time, but the truth is, even in our darkest time God was there. The devil was there too, but God made it clear that he was going to use this tragedy to glorify him from the very beginning. Did we suffer and continue to suffer? Absolutely. There will never be a day that I do not miss my son or think about what could have been.
But I know I did not go through this without Him. While in the hospital and even today there are a few key things in the Bible that I clung desperately to. Especially when the devil threatened to take hold of my thoughts.
1. God lost a son too and he did it because he loved us (1 John 4:9, Matthew 27:32-56)
2. Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died (John 11:1-45)
3. God is always good (Nehemiah 9:20, Acts 10:38, Romans 2:4, Psalm 145:9)
4. Jesus suffered in worse ways than I did (Matthew 27:26, Isaiah 53:3-12)
5. Jesus paid for my sins (Galatians 3:13-15, Romans 6:23, 1 Peter 1:18-19, 1 Peter 2:24)
6. Because I have a relationship with Jesus I will see my son again (Ezekiel 37:14, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 2 Timothy 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 4:16)
7. God is always with me (Joshua 1:9, Matthew 28:20, Psalm 23:4, Joshua 1:5)
I also know this. Everyone grieves differently and goes through this valley differently. My story is completely different than any other person that suffered a severe trauma and vice versa. I know that there are too many women who feel that they cannot share their story, or feel their loss wasn’t as significant as someone else’s. Every loss is a loss! No matter if they were a day-old gestation to a child who is 80 years old! Every parent should never go through this. And they shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Period.
One year later, that pain still exists. I still relive that day when my son’s heart stopped beating. I recall the moments that happened over that course of time. Yet, this I know, my rainbow came after the storm. God fulfilled His promises and has used me in ways that I didn’t even think were possible. I’ve been blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Emmelia Louise Jean Summers, who was born on May 21, 2019. I’ve also been blessed to help other women and families that have gone through the same trauma that we have. God’s plans are always greater than our own. He is the same God that He always has been, in the valleys and in the mountain, and I can show countless examples through my life of this, especially within the last year.
Am I still anxious and hurt? Yes.
Do I have scars from my trauma? Yes.
Am I a better person today? Yes.
Since the birth of our Emmy I have been suffering from night terrors and anxious thoughts. The deep-rooted scars of my trauma still linger within me, and I doubt that they will ever fully heal. If anything, this has taught me to hold onto the hand of Jesus even tighter. He will not leave me, even in the darkness that tries to take hold.
I have so much to be thankful for, and I would choose to go through what I went through all over again if that meant just knowing my Reece for that short period of time. For it is better to have loved than to never love at all.