Monday, July 15, 2013

Mattie Claire's Birth Story

As many may already know, this story didn't have the ending we anticipated with so much joy. While it may be thought to have the saddest ending, we find comfort in knowing and believing that this isn't the end of Mattie's story.  It has now been over two weeks since the fateful night of Mattie's birth.  During the events of the last two weeks, I have thought often of how I wanted to record the details of her birth.  As with my other children, I want these details recorded for my own personal record because I don't want to forget these precious moments, but I especially do not want to forget any details of the life of our precious daughter.  While the rest of the world will likely soon forget her short life, her mommy, daddy, and big brothers will remember her always.  Her pictures will always be displayed in our home, and she will always be an important part of our lives.  I find comfort in knowing we will never forget her.  I look forward with much hope to an eternity spent with her catching up on the lifetime of memories we will miss out on here.

Her birth story continued after her due date of June 24th came and went with no signs of her arrival.  We went to my doctor on Tuesday, June 25th for an ultrasound and NST to make sure she was doing okay and to hopefully determine a plan to get her here safely.  Her ultrasound showed she was doing well and was estimated to weigh close to her big brother Brody's birth weight of 8 lbs. 9 oz.  The NST showed her heart beat was strong in the 160s up to 170 and that I was having some contractions.  Unfortunately, I still wasn't dilated so my doctor wanted to wait until 41 weeks to schedule an induction to see if I would dilate more or go into labor on my own. We spent the following days enjoying some special time together as a family.  On Saturday June 29th, I was noticing my contractions coming more regularly, and by Sunday morning, I was timing them at about 10 minutes apart.  I had instructions to call my doctor and prepare to head to the hospital when they were 5 minutes apart.  Everything seemed to be progressing normally with no signs of any distress.  My water was intact, and I wasn't sure I was even dilating.  I continued to monitor the contractions as we headed out to eat lunch and take the boys to get their hair cut. When we arrived back home, my contractions had progressed to about 7 minutes apart and were getting much stronger as I lay down to rest and monitor them.  Daddy commenced making final preparations to head to the hospital once Grandma arrived to stay with the boys.  By the time Grandma arrived around 5:00 p.m., my contractions were definitely 5 minutes apart although my water was still intact.  I called my doctor to alert him, and we prepared to head to the hospital.  As we pulled out of the driveway, a heavy rainstorm hit.  As we drove through the heavy rain to the hospital, my contractions were coming stronger and faster so that by the time we arrived, they were only about 3 minutes apart.  I wanted to attempt to walk in to the hospital but quickly realized how difficult that would be and gave in to the assistance of a wheelchair.  On the labor and delivery floor, I was given a hospital gown and changed my clothes.  As I lay in a bed in the triage room, the nurses attempted to find Mattie's heartbeat with the doppler.  As the seconds ticked by and the nurses still hadn't located the usually strong heartbeat, I convinced myself that Mattie was just curled up in her usual ball making it hard to hear her heart.  I couldn't even imagine any other possibility at this point.  My doctor arrived and quickly hooked up the ultrasound machine to take a peek.  Our worst fears were realized when he uttered the dreadful words, "There is no heartbeat."  Daddy and I were devastated as we cried and pleaded for something to be done to save our sweet little girl that we had not even held in our arms.  How could such a strong heart just stop beating?  We prayed and asked for a miracle as the doctors and nurses prepared me for delivery.  I was indeed already dilated 10 cm and was ready in every physical way for what should have been a joyful experience.  It seemed Mattie had indeed wanted to be a June baby just like her girl cousins. I had always wanted to go into labor on my own and deliver without the necessity of being induced, but now all I felt was an empty hole starting to grow in my heart knowing that I would never get to know my precious little one in life.  After my water was broken and I attempted to push, my energy was quickly depleted.  Finally, my doctor encouraged me to get an epidural to help me relax enough to finish the delivery.  At about 9:30 p.m., Mattie silently entered the world.  She was placed on my chest, and we had our first look at her beautiful, peaceful little face.  Her eyes were closed as if she was having the most peaceful dream.  Her beautiful little face and perfectly formed body told the tale that her life had been stolen just as she was ready to begin it.  Our doctor confirmed his suspicions of a cord accident as her cord was above her head and appeared to have been pinched between her head and the birth canal.  She weighed a perfect 8 lbs. and was 20.5 inches long.  Her face and silky dark hair was like the delicate and perfect creation of a handcrafted porcelain doll.  Although the pain of our loss was beyond anything we could have imagined, we were thankful that we had the opportunity to hold her in our arms and can never regret the beautiful gift of her life.  I held her all night because I couldn't bear to put her little body down as I knew I would soon have to part with her.

We find hope and even joy in knowing that her life was indeed a gift from God and that He would never take her or any other child from its parents.  God is the creator of life and not the destroyer. There is only one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy what God creates.  Anyone who doesn't believe that evil exist, I encourage you to open your eyes because it is all around us.  Fortunately, we are not without hope.  Although the evil one seeks to tear us down and keep us from God because he is forever separated from God, his creator, we will not allow him to keep us from God or from seeing our precious Mattie again.  Heaven is the reward we long for at the end of our life journey, and we now look forward to it as a joyful reunion.  We are thankful for many blessings in the last two weeks that have helped us get through this journey.  We have received so many kind words, e-mails, texts, facebook messages, cards, and flowers from so many people in our lives to let us know they are praying for us and thinking of us.  We received wonderful words of encouragement from our church and associate pastor who visited us.  We have enjoyed the wonderful sermon series at church about what heaven will be like.  Coincidence that this message came at such a time as this?  I think not.  God has a special way of helping us get through the most difficult trials, and we have experienced His love in such a real and personal way.  I pray that this experience will allow me to be a compassionate source of hope and inspiration to others experiencing a similar loss.  Just last year, I was humbled to witness similar losses by two women (little Henry's mother and my law school friend's loss of her baby girl) who have been so inspiring to me.  I didn't know that maybe my witnessing of these women's stories was God's loving way of preparing for my own loss.  I know that although God doesn't ever plan or orchestrate such pain for His creation, I know that He knows in his infinite wisdom what the evil one may be planning, and He can help prepare us and help us get through the pain and loss if we trust in Him.

And finally, I am especially thankful for an organization of photographers called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep offering their free services for remembrance photography to families experiencing the loss of a baby.  A wonderful photographer from Love Shutter in our area came to the hospital and took beautiful pictures of our family and our precious little girl so we can remember her always.  The black and white pictures are credited to Ron of Love Shutter while the color pictures are our own.

And without further ado, we introduce our precious Mattie Claire:

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The more I look at her face, the more I see her big brother Evan.  

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Sweet big brother Evan meeting his baby sister. 

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Yes, he gets the best big brother in the world award!

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Mommy enjoyed dressing her in her special outfits and hair bows. 

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Our new favorite family portrait. 

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We dressed her in her final outfit before leaving the hospital.  Her little onesie even had bunnies on it!

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Good night, my sleeping angel! 
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  1. Oh Sherry, my heart is just aching for you. What a beautiful testament to your love for your daughter. There are just no words to convey the grief I feel for you and your whole family.

    I am glad you were able to write this. I hope it was healing for you. You may think that others will forget Mattie in time, but I don't think they will. She will always be a part of your family and a part of you and others, even those not in your family, will remember her because they will always recognize your love for her.

  2. I am so very sorry to hear of this very sad turn of events!! We will be praying for you and your family.

  3. Mattie Claire is beautiful! She does look so much like Evan. The amazing amount of love you have for her is felt by everyone who read your precious words about her. My heart hurts for your family. I'm praying for you and your family.

  4. Mattie Claire is absolutely beautiful. My heart aches for your loss. There are no words to ease your pain but please know that another family in NC is praying for your family. Your dedication to the Lord during what has to be the hardest time for your family is a true testament to His love. Baby Mattie will not be forgotten. Hugs to all of you.

  5. My Heart Is Aching For Your Family Tonight. Someone I Know IRL Lost A Baby Last Week As Well. Such Trying Times That I Cannot Even Comprehend. Little Mattie Is Such A Precious Girl. What A Gift To Be Able TO Spend The Time And Have The Beautiful Pictures. May The Lord Continue To Hold You AllSending You Lots Of Prayers And Hugs.

  6. My heart just breaks for you. I am so honored to be able to read about Mattie. I have thought of y'all often over the past few weeks. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us.

  7. I've prayed for you and your family everyday since I recieved the news that sweet Mattie Claire went to live with God in Heaven. I've prayed for you all to find peace and strength. I've even pondered coming to NC to give you one big hug! You are a strong woman and strong family. Mattie is so beautiful and I too think she resembles Evan! Be strong my love! I'm just an email away if you ever need me!

  8. What wonderful words- and what a wonderful spirit you have! May God continue to bless your family and hold you strong in faith and comfort!!

  9. Oh, Sherry. I am so sorry for your loss and so encouraged by the way you continue to give God glory in the midst of great pain. Your family is in my prayers.

  10. Honestly words escape me. I'm sorry that your family has to endure this. My heart is breaking for you. I will keep you all in my prayers as you continue on this journey and celebrate Mattie's life. She is a beautiful baby. If there is anything I can do please let me know. I will not say I understand because I do not, but I do know the emptiness and grief I felt in losing our Hope. Big hugs.


  11. Thank you for sharing Mattie's life with us, Sherry. She is absolutely beautiful. Lots of love and prayers coming your way...

  12. Diana Stoker BeasonJuly 17, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    Mattie Claire's Birth Story was so heartfelt. As my emotions flow with compassion over your little angel, I feel with this being the most difficult event in your life, you still speak of hope. You are truly amazing. Through the years I have tried to be an inspiration to you, but in reality you are my inspiration. Mattie will always be in our hearts. Her Memorial Service was beautiful. The stories that you and Eddie spoke reflected so much love. May God's grace, love, and mercy be with you and yours always. Love to all...

  13. Sherry -- I am still lifting you up in prayer every day. Thank you for sharing Mattie Claire's story with us. We love her too and she will not be forgotten. She is completely beautiful. Sending you love and hugs.

  14. Hey honey, I am so sorry to hear this. I am so glad you let your son hold her. My mom lost a two week old baby, and she didn't let my brother (who was five) go to the funeral. Two years later, she adopted me. It was all just so bitter-sweet. Praying for y'all.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing! Such a beautiful baby! Praying for you and your sweet family, may the Lord continue to fill you with the hope and peace he has given you.

  16. I am so sorry to read of your precious Mattie. I have sorta been on a blogging vacation. Not really, just had to limit my online time due to it taking up wayyyy to much of my time. I am praying for you and your family. May God give you what you need each and every day.

  17. OMG, Sherry, I missed this and came back and my heart is breaking. I'm soooooooo sorry and I know that means nothing, but I'm so sorry none the less.

  18. God Bless and rest your tiny angel for ever. May Jesus hold your family in his compassionate loving arms and hold you close in your grief. You must be one amazing woman to be the mother of an angel.


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