It was a normal Wednesday morning. I got up early, packed lunches, got Seth out the door and then finished getting ready myself. I was almost ready and just had to run to the bathroom quickly. But when I went to wipe, I instantly knew something was wrong. It felt like I was holding a water balloon between my thighs.
A million thoughts ran through my mind and though it felt like years it took only seconds for me to realize what it was: it was my water. I remember screaming out loud, “God, no! Don’t take my baby!”
It was too early. I was just under 21 weeks pregnant, he wouldn’t survive if he came now! We hadn’t found out the sex but Seth and I were both convinced we were having a boy. I dug my phone out of my pocket and called Seth. I tried my best to explain what was happening, but saying it out loud made it all too real and when I hung up the phone the tears started coming. As hard as I tried to stay calm I couldn’t and my whole body started to shake uncontrollably. Then my worst fear happened: my water broke.
Seth had just gotten back, and he ran next door to see if his mother could drive us to the hospital. Within minutes we were sitting in the back of my in-laws mini van. We sat there in a state of shock and numbness, what would happen now? Was there even a chance we could save our child? We started calling family and close friends and they started a massive prayer chain. We needed all the prayers we could get.
After being admitted to the hospital they did an ultrasound and we got to see our baby. His heart beat was strong and he was moving around a lot, so besides my fluids being low he was as good as could be. They told us that if there was no infection I might be able to stay on bed rest until it was safe for me to deliver. But, if there were any signs of infection, it would be better to deliver him. My mother- and sister-in-laws went straight to work cleaning our little apartment in the hope that we could wait out the next 4 to 6 weeks in bed. In that moment we clung to the smallest drop of hope even though we both knew it was a long shot.
A little later they came for my blood. I have never had a nurse successfully get blood out of my arm, and after three failed attempts she gave up and drew it from my hand. When the doctor came back with the results they weren’t good; my white blood cell count had started to rise. I felt as if my entire world had been ripped out of my hands.
They continued to take my blood every four hours. Each time it was a different nurse who tried to take it from my arm and then would give up and take it from my hand, which was now turning purple from being bled so frequently.
I started to get cramps and after a while I realized they were contractions. They started coming every 2 to 5 minutes. The nurse hooked me up to a machine to try to read my contractions but it couldn’t really pick them up. Even though the machine didn’t register them, it didn’t stop them from hurting. I didn’t mind the pain, it felt good to feel something. It made me think a little less about the agony that had taken over my heart and emotions. As much as I almost welcomed the distraction I knew what it meant: my baby was going to come and there was not a single thing I could do to stop it.
The contractions slowed and then stopped after about three hours. Again I clung to the hope that my slowing labor brought me, but as they continued to take my blood it only brought me more anguish because my white blood cell count was still rising.
We tried to sleep but it was impossible. By morning Seth was looking pretty terrible, he was still wearing his work clothes from the day before, his eyes were red and he definitely could use a shower and nap. I told him to go home and at least put on some new clothes, it took a lot of coaxing but he finally did.
Shortly after he left I had to go to the bathroom, and because I couldn’t get out of bed I had to use a bed pan. The nurse helped me get set up and then she stepped out of the room to give me privacy. After a few moments something felt weird, so I reached down and realized that I could feel the top of my baby’s head. I started yelling for help, for anyone within earshot.
A million thoughts ran through my head: “God, no! God, why? Not me! Not my baby! My baby can’t be born in a bed pan! God, help me, someone, anyone, help me!”
My mom came running in the room and dropped all the food she was carrying. She confirmed what I already knew and then ran out into the hall to get somebody. Instantly, there were nurses everywhere and the doctor was there seconds later.
I yelled for my mom and told her to call Seth. He needed to be here. I couldn’t believe that I made him go home.
Even now, that is the only thing in my life that I regret doing.
It all happened so fast, and before I knew it the doctor handed me the smallest and most perfect little bundle. It was a boy! We had been right all along! He was so beautiful and my heart was so full of love, and yet so full of pain.
He didn’t move or open his eyes, but I could see his heart beating and every few minutes his little chest would heave as he tried to breathe. He couldn’t breathe. My perfect, beautiful baby couldn’t breathe, and there was nothing that I could do to save him. I was so angry, I was supposed to be able to take care of him, protect him and keep him safe, but all I could do was hold him as he lay dying in my arms.
I knew he would recognize my voice, so as calmly as I could I told him over and over again how much I loved him and how beautiful he was. I told him that I was sorry I had to let him go and how much he meant to me. I kissed him over and over as I clung to him. Seth arrived shortly after he was born, just in time to hold his first born son before he left us. Seeing Seth hold William is a picture that will be forever engraved in my mind.
Our little William. William Stephen Lebo born May 14th, 1lb 1.4oz, 10 3/4 inches long.
He had a little bit of dark hair, his daddy’s earlobes and his mommy’s long fingers. He had Seth’s jaw line and my “thunder thighs” as Seth likes to call them. He was perfect! Seth sat on the bed with me and we just cried. We held him until his little heart stopped beating and we cried even more.
Rain fell gently against the window pane, it was as if God was weeping with us.
I felt as though the pain would never end, but given the choice I wouldn’t have given up our brief moments with him for all the pain relief in the world. In our arms laid the purest and most innocent little baby. He was tiny – oh so tiny! But he touched us far greater than anything else ever could.
In that moment, I felt so many different emotions. I felt sad, angry and hurt, but above all I felt God’s strength in me. I knew it was not mine, I didn’t have any more. Everything in me wanted to give up, but God gave me strength and he gave me peace. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. I don’t know why and I may never know why. It will never take away the pain, but with his strength I found a resting place in the peace he gave me. God is in control and he uses all things for his glory even though In the moment it is impossible to see it.
Amanda’s story will continue in God Weeps With Us – Tears of Joy.