TWO DAYS WITH BABY GRACE
By Sarah Innes Yeackley: Our story began in November 2009, when I was about 19 weeks pregnant with our second child. My husband, Micah, and I were excited to have our routine ultrasound to find out if our almost 2-year old daughter, Ella would have a little sister or brother. The test started as usual, but the ultrasound tech was having a difficult time and had her supervisor come in to take a look. After silently looking at the monitor for a few minutes, the doctor told us what would forever change our lives. He said our baby had fluid on the brain, a hole in the heart, and fluid around the lungs, causing them to be underdeveloped.
We were not expecting this. Boy or Girl – that’s what we came in to learn. I left the office with tears dripping down my face.
Over the next few days, we had another ultrasound, as well as an amniocentesis to try and determine the cause for these problems in our baby. We also found out we were having a girl. It somehow made it more difficult, knowing that it was our sweet little baby girl who was not whole. God blessed us at this time with a new doctor who was very honest and upfront about our daughter’s condition. He was very supportive of our decision to carry to term.
I think it was the next week that we decided to name our daughter Grace Abigail. We wanted her name to be really special. We knew we had a difficult journey ahead and that the outcome might not be what we wanted. But, we trusted God. We knew that He could heal Grace at any minute.
So, with the support of our family and friends, we decided to give baby Grace a chance.
The next four and a half months of our pregnancy were difficult, to say the least. Every time we went in for another ultrasound, our doctor found something else wrong with Grace. Along with her previous problems, she had spina bifida and a 2 vessel umbilical cord, instead of the usual 3 vessel cord. She was also missing fingers on her left hand. Our doctor informed us that Grace’s lungs were his biggest concern. He said that if she made it to term, she would most likely not be able to breathe on her own. But she was still alive.
Through this, we kept trusting and praying. And praying. And believing God for a miracle.
As March rolled around, we were both anticipating and dreading Grace’s arrival. On March 22, 2010 at 37 weeks of pregnancy, I was induced. After 21 hours of labor, Grace arrived at 10:43pm, weighing 4 pounds, 4 ounces and not breathing. She was immediately put onto an intubator and was whisked away to the NICU. I didn’t even get to hold my baby before she was taken away. She had brain and nerve damage that was irreparable. We prayed for God to heal her, and accepted the answer we received. And we loved Grace too much to keep her trapped on earth in a damaged body.
Around 4 pm on Wednesday, March 24, we chose to take Gracie off of life support. This was the first time we actually got to hold her. We had a private room where we got to hold Grace and spend the remaining 5 hours of her life. She died almost 48 hours after she was born, cuddling on my chest. We wouldn’t trade those precious moments for anything.
We were so grateful to have such a wonderful support system throughout our entire journey, including friends, family, and our church. But our God was the biggest support of all, and there were many times that I could only find comfort in Scripture, or in just clinging to Jesus. He was our lifeline. We trusted him, because faith is not about only believing in the good things and happy endings, but about holding on to a Faithful God when you go through difficulties.
It’s been a year and 2 months since Grace went to be with Jesus. I still miss her all the time. The grieving does get easier, but I will always miss her. I will always wonder what she would have been like if she had been healthy and had lived. She was a gift, even for such a short time. I would like to say that since Grace’s death, we now have a healthy new baby, but I can’t. A few weeks after Grace’s death, our geneticist discovered that she had a chromosomal abnormality that runs in our family. We lost another baby to miscarriage early this year. But, we are not giving up.
God is faithful. I know that I can trust Him and even though we might have a longer journey still ahead of us, we know that God knows what we need, and He will always stand by us.
He stands by you too, and he's saying the same thing: don't give up.