For most people, June 11th, 2007 came and went without any special notice. It was just another Monday with its normal daily commutes; people soaking up the sun’s rays on the California beaches, while cab drivers honked ferociously at jay walkers in New York City. However for me, it was the day that time stood still as I had to make the decision of whether or not to allow my daughter to die. At nearly twenty-three weeks pregnant and my third time in labor, little Kylie was coming into the world, ready or not.
My husband was speeding his way to the hospital, and every contraction became stronger than the last. I had to make a decision no parent ever wants to make. Do I choose to have an ambulance rush me and my unborn child to a hospital in another state thirty minutes away in hopes that they can sustain her life, knowing that I could deliver any minute and possibly die from the pregnancy complications I’d been facing? Do I allow her to be born now and accept that the doctors at this hospital can do nothing for her? Do I allow my daughter to potentially live a life of severe disability, brain damage, deafness, blindness, and possible vegetative conditions with only a respirator to help her breathe? Or, do I allow her to go peacefully into the arms of Jesus, opening her eyes for the very first time in the presence of the King? Feeling as though I had to do something proactive, I signed the papers to allow my care to be transferred to another facility.
With the ambulance staff heading to my room, the pressure intensified both physically and emotionally. I cried out to my Lord saying, “God, if the end result is going to be the same, let us have her here and now.” The very moment I finished praying, my contractions went from two minutes to thirty seconds and my husband rushed through the door. The pain was so intense and by now my doctor verified that our baby girl was completely in the birth canal and could feel her head just a fingertip away. He had told me that if I would allow him to break my water, she would most likely just slip out. She was so tiny that it didn’t even matter if she came out head first; but still I could not bring myself to make this decision. I looked at my husband pleading with my eyes to give me some kind of hope; yet at this point, the inevitable was looming. We were about to deliver our child and I needed to accept that this was our reality. One more intensely painful contraction later, I was a mother making the decision to break the life support for my daughter, allowing her to come into this world all too soon.
Kylie Joy never opened her eyes. She never made a sound. She never knew pain or suffering. She would never know heartbreak; though our hearts were completely torn in two! She was a beautifully perfect little baby with every single tiny body part in place as if handcrafted by a doll maker. Her legs were long and so thin that my wedding ring nearly fit over her foot and would have gone clear up her thigh if it had! Although her eyes were still fused shut, every little detail of her precious body was perfectly formed. Her ears, her lips, her nose, her miniature hands and feet–they were all flawless. She even had a few little tufts of brown hair on top of her head!
As I studied every feature; every detail of my precious daughter’s body, Psalm 139 crossed my mind. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16 NIV)
An overwhelming peace came over me as her pulse and respirations slowed down. Her earthly death would only be the beginning of her life in eternity. My husband held our daughter for a precious moment of daddy/daughter time and then handed her back to me. I tried to locate any trace of a pulse or heartbeat in our sweet little girl. I began to panic, for I couldn’t feel anything. I wasn’t ready for her to die. I spoke to her again to tell her how much I loved her and to let her know that it was okay to go to Jesus. She turned her head towards me one last time as if to tell me that she understood and that it was okay for me to let her go. A few minutes later, one of my nurses walked back into the room and asked if she could bathe and change Kylie. Reluctantly, I handed her our daughter knowing that she had just passed away in my arms. As the nurse walked away, she quietly declared Kylie dead at 2:40 p.m. — a brief hour and seventeen minutes after I gave birth to her.
I don’t know the reason that God allowed Kylie to be born too early to survive. It is definitely not what I would have preferred. But through this devastation, I found myself at a crossroad — I had to choose what I was going to do with this difficult and painful circumstance. Was I going to allow her short life and death to become a stumbling block for me? Or would I choose to allow God to heal me and look at this trial as a stepping stone for ministry? I could not have changed the inevitable or the past, but I did have the power to choose my reaction for the present and future.
I chose Heaven! Not only did I choose to allow my daughter to go to Jesus, but I chose to allow my Heavenly Father to be my Healer, Comforter, Lord and Savior. Too many times in our lives I feel that we miss opportunities to share our faith, our testimonies, or our life struggles with others because we are so caught up in our own anger, frustration and pity parties. And it is so easy to do. We cry out, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” We look at other’s lives and wish to switch places with them, the seemingly “perfect ones”; unaware of the heavy burdens they too carry. We fail to recognize, or perhaps accept that there is no immunity from these types of hurts and pains. However, we do live in an imperfect world and therefore imperfect things happen.
Through this journey (not that it is complete); I found God’s grace so abundant, especially when I didn’t deserve it. I stood in awe of God as He brought people into our lives that encouraged, strengthened and loved us through this harrowing journey. And I learned that we can easily miss the fingerprints of God in and through our lives when we choose to focus on ourselves.
However, when we recognize that our trials can become a part of God’s molding process, we enable Him to use our deepest wounds to touch the lives of those around us. God is all about relationships. So much so, that He sent his Son Jesus to die for our sins so that we may have a personal relationship with Him. What an amazing impact we can have on someone else’s life after we’ve have walked in their shoes, have felt the same emotions; shed the same tears. We can build a rapport with people in similar circumstances that only those that have suffered the same journey can truly understand. What incredible ministry opportunities and peace lie before us when we allow Christ to heal our brokenness and in turn learn to open ourselves up to what God wants to do in the lives of other people through our own human weakness!
To read more about Kylie’s story, see: No footprint too small.
Updated July 2, 2011: Our experience with Kylie has given birth to an eBook, Good Grief! available only on my blog that journey’s through how family and friends can come alongside their loved ones experiencing this unimaginable pain. To learn more, please click here!