Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Charlotte Jane

Do you remember?

Maybe you didn't know me back then?

If you haven't heard the story--I'll tell it again.

I was pregnant with a little girl and had picked the name Charlotte--kind of after my dad, Charles, but really I just loved the name. It was my first pregnancy and I had made it to the day I had longed for--Friday, March 2nd and saying goodbye to the 4th graders at Monte Vista Elementary. Honestly I was exhausted, and as much as I loved teaching, I was ready to have a baby. Really, I had had 5 baby showers, and I had worn stretch pants for 3 solid months. I was ready! My due date was Tuesday, the 6th, but I had felt movement and contractions all day and figured she was coming soon.Rebecca, Me and Amy on that last day.

On the way home from work I stopped at Target and bought yellow pajamas and a bag of peanut butter M&Ms. That night we hung shelves and set up the crib.

Sleep was tough until about 3am; she was just so active. She finally fell asleep around then and gratefully so did I. I woke up the next morning and found James in the spare bed--"I think we should have this baby today", I told him. He smiled, he had had a good night's rest.

The contractions were sporadic but they felt like the real deal so after breakfast I called the doctor. He asked if I had felt her move. I thought and --well last night I had but this morning I'd been having contractions on and off and I just hadn't been paying attention. He suggested coming in to see how things were.

On the drive over I honestly felt like everything was fine. The first nurse that came in started seaching for a heart beat. She didn't say much but left to get an ultrasound machine. We asked why and she replied, "I can't seem to find the heartbeat."

I still really wasn't all that worried. I was huge--I was in labor, or some form of it anyway. I had been pregnant for eeeeeever and I had felt her so much the night before. No heartbeat? Well that must mean... She went to get the doctor on call and when he came in--I knew.

A baby...where was she? I had felt her spirit so close the few days before--Where had she gone? This scripture from the Book of Mormon popped into my head, ...that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body,.... are taken home to that God who gave them life, Mosiah 40:11. I knew where she was now.

On the ultra sound machine the doctor showed us her little chest cavity that was white. Where the blood had pooled and where the heartbeat usually is. I was in shock and my blood pressure dropped. I hadn't felt a contraction for a while. I looked up in tears. "Are you going to send me home? I don't think I can go home." They assured me that they wouldn't be sending me home but that they would induce me as soon as I was a little more stable.

I'd have to deliver?...ugh.

This is going to be really hard...

With no baby in the end--oh it hardly seems worth it...We knew we had to call our parents. We waited a long time--if we told anyone it would be real. I felt such sadness and failure. Failure was the most puzzling emotion I could have felt, and yet it was most intense. I could not have prevented what had happened. I went over and over in my mind how this could have been my fault and I knew it wasn't but I still felt like I had let Charlotte down--like I had let everyone down.

Her birth was climactic in the fact that we got to see her. This beautiful little girl with wisps of strawberry blond hair, who had passed this life's test. Anticlimactic because I was really pulling for a miracle. No such luck. Around 10:00 pm she was born, 7 pounds 10 ounces of baby--really real and very still. It was an extremely emotional moment. Even the doctor was crying.
We took a bunch of pictures, blessed her and fell asleep. And truly the hardest part was around 4am, when we woke for the mortuary to take her. She had only been held and then cradled in bed with me up until then. We handed her over to a complete stranger. Then we really cried.
The next three days were a blur. I remember leaving the hospital with many things--but no baby. Very hard. When we got home--we just shut the door to the nursery and it was a while before I could go in there. I do remember my grandfather giving a wonderful talk at her funeral--it had a great theme--hope and more children. It was really warm that day and at the cemetery, I remember kids playing. James was the lone pallbearer and carried the pink casket himself.
The doctor called sometime in that time with some results. Because there was a lot of blood in the amniotic fluid--it's possible that a placental abrubtion occurred but that's associated with pain and bleeding and I didn't experience any of that. Also the placenta was a little swollen which can be a sign of infection but they really couldn't tell.

Now the miracles. We really felt carried through the whole ordeal and for a long time after. We had so much support; family, friends, students, co-workers, that gave us phone calls, meals, letters, momentos, visits, flowers, and lots of prayer. We could feel it; it's one of the ways we made it through. That and time.

For weeks and months I'd be jealous of those who had been through a death, but, had time on their side. It wasn't the first thing they thought of getting out of bed in the morning, the only thing they thought of during the day and the ceaseless dreams that filled their nights. Now I rise, think and sleep with my thoughts at peace.

I now have time on my side.

Eight years.

I still think about her and what happened. This blog post has been somewhat cathartic reliving it all and wondering how I ever did such a hard thing. It seems sometimes that it was yesterday and other times that it was a whole lifetime ago. We have been immensely blessed since. We have a beautiful family now. Eight years ago I could not picture the future--it seemed full of holes and hopeless--but time has worked it's miracle. I have babies now--that are growing up really fast.

Adelaide and Benjamin are always remembering Charlotte and reminding me (and total strangers too) that there are really seven in our family.
Happy Birthday Charlotte Jane!


April (Thorup) Oaks said...

Nora, I can't tell you how much this trajedy affected my life. I have thought of this hundreds (thousands?) of times and never took for granted the miracle of my pregnancies. I love looking at your blog now and seeing so many happy children in your life. I know they are really lucky to be in your home and have you and James for parents. I have a friend that just went through this. I'm going to tell her to come read your blog.

Seth and Sharon said...

I never really understood any of this until I had Charlie, then I was in shock at what you and James went through. Your example of faith has had a huge affect on me. We are thinking about all of you today.

Jen said...

You are and James are such beautiful parents.

Miss M said...

I remember hearing about this from Sushi, but didn't know the story. Thank you for sharing this. I can't imagine how challenging it must have been to go through. It must have been a huge blessing to have the gospel. She is a beautiful little girl.

Amy Anson said...

I think about her all the time too. She has already blessed so many peoples' lives. We love you and are so impressed by your example of faith.

Christensen family said...

Nora - I was really touched reading this. I never knew this story. What beautiful pictures and you sure do tell the story well. I have many tears in my eyes! Thanks for sharing this story!

Amber said...

Nora, don't you know it's WRONG to make someone cry this hard this early in the day?!!

What a hard, hard trial you lived through. I admire your perspective now, and the fact that you can find such strength and hope through this experience. I am grateful to know you and your beautiful children!

Donna and Bevan said...

I really shouldn't have read this during work. I hope my boss didn't see me tearing up. It made me relive it all over again. I can't believe how far you've come since then. Charlotte was so much a part of all our lives and her memory will always be there. We love your family.

Susan said...

Oh, Dear Nora,
What can I say? You and I have shared so much of this experience already. Eight years is hard to believe. She (both of them) would have been baptized this year....I can't help but think of that each baptism we go to. Yes, we have time on our side. Now, in this life, and in the eternities to come when we'll get that time together again. I love you so much. And I'm so grateful that we share this blessing. Thank you for the beautiful bittersweet reminder.

Sharon said...

I too have thought about this trajedy you and James experienced. I have often asked myself if I would ever be able to get through it as you did. You are such a strong, faithful, happy person, and you are a wonderful example to us all. Faith and enduring to the end is Heavenly Father's plan, and I am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation. I love you, and I'm thinking of you and James, this bitter-sweet day.


Jade said...

Oh Nora. I remember like it was yesterday. You were so strong and brave. Those were some tough times. And now as I sit here bawling like a baby and seeing your beautiful family and how those 8 short years have changed us, I'm thankful for your friendship and all that you have taught me. Charlotte was a beautiful baby, just like her brothers and sisters. I love you and am thinking about you. Love, Jade

LaurieJ said...

I will never forget watching James carrying that casket..

I want you to know I am still so amazed at what you went through. You are a great example and I am glad you felt comfortable writing this post. I know we will always remember her

amylouwho said...

Tears tears tears.

I saw what your post was about this morning and had to wait until I had a quiet moment to revisit this. I love that picture of us, and remember so well you leaving work that day, all of us hopeful and excited to meet little Charlotte.

You are amazing. I can't believe it's been 8 years. It's been one year today since my dad died. I didn't realize they shared this day.

I love you!

Crapo Six said...

Thanks for sharing your story again. It is just what I needed to read, to prepare me for little Gracie's funeral later this week. I know time will heal their sweet family, as it has yours. I guess I needed a good cry this morning. I am glad I read your blog first and then Gracie's. I still cried, but it made it a little easier.
Thanks -Kim

kelly said...

I think all the time that no one should ever have to go through what you and James had to endure. I know that because of your knowledge of being together for eternity has had to make it a little easier, but still something that someone should never have to go through. When this happened to you I couldn't believe it could happen to anyone that I knew. I wanted to be able to take all your pain away but could not. You say that you have time on your side, she will always be a special part of your life. I just want to let you know that you are such a special person and that you have so much to offer/share to others that have gone through this same thing. I am so glad that you have such a happy, healthy family. I am grateful for having you in my life and the example that you show to me.

Stacey said...

I remember it so well. I remember seeing you in the hospital, and crying on the way home. I remember Mark coming home from home teaching you guys and commenting on how impressed he was with you guys. I see your family and all you have gone through to be where you are, and I admire you. Thank you for your wonderful example. Thank you for your courage. I think you are truly amazing!

Megan said...

I was only 7 years old when Charlotte passed, but I can still remember it well. I'm so glad to have you as a cousin and you are such a great example! I love your family!
~Miss Megan

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

oops. I messed up.

This made me cry. Kyle and Emma remember Charlottle. They were so young then, too young to really comprehend the tragedy. (I don't comprehend it myself.) But the fact that they remember speaks to me of how much they love YOU, Charlotte's mother. Your ability to emerge from this as such a strong, happy woman has made a great impact on us all.

We love you, Nora.

dishes and laundry said...

I haven't clicked onto your blog in ages...and then for some reason I did today. I remember Charlotte! What a beautiful little girl. You said it perfectly - time on your side makes all the difference. Thanks for this post.

Love you!

Colbys said...

I though about you today--I remember getting a phone call from my mom, and then driving to where Carly worked to tell her the sad news. We prayed so much! It's wonderful to see your family picture now, filled with lots of kids and love.

marisa said...

What a beautiful post, having healthy children really is a miracle and we should always be grateful for them. You are such a strong and wonderful mother.

Nicholle said...

I too have thought of you many many (hundreds) times. Each time a friend calls to tell me they have had their baby...especially in the last couple of months with my brother losing their baby 2 hours and 17 minutes after birth. We said a lot of prayers for you! I love seeing your beautiful little children and their bright shining faces. And I do remember chocolate covered bananas. My kids LOVE them. Oh there are so many thing that remind me of PD!

Traci Gunn said...

Nora, your story totally touches my heart. What an extremely hard thing to go through. I have seen a few diffeerent sides of situations like yours, and I don't think any are easy to live through. I am sure it is one of the hardest things in life to bury your own child. I had a very close friend who's baby died at a week old. They had found out at her ultra-sound that half of his heart had not formed and that he would not live through the birth. Her doctors tried to get her to have an abortion and she wouldn't do it. She carried him to term and delivered him by c-section. I was in the deliverly room with them filming her entire c-section. It was an amazing experience and he was perfect in every way on the outside just like your beautiful little girl. He ended up proving all the doctors wrong and lived a week, but that week was one of the hardest times of my friends life. You were both blessed to go on and have beautiful babies, however it doesn't take the memory away of your precious babies you lost. I totally believe you both were chosen because you are very special people. Even though your babies didn't live a full life, you have never let their memory go and you keep them alive everyday in your hearts. I am so glad to have read your story, even though it made me cry. You are such an amazing person and I am so glad to know you.

Michelle said...

She was a such a beautiful little baby. What a comfort to have the gospel and know you get to see her again! Thanks for sharing this, I remember when my called me with the news I cried. I cried again while I read your post. You're such a strong, faithful person and have always been a good example to me. Thanks for weathering your trial with so much grace so the rest of us could be strengthened.

krissy said...

Nora, you are an amazing woman! I am in tears and feel blessed to have you as a friend. Each baby is a miracle and Charlotte will bless your life forever. Thank you for sharing your story.

Missy said...

I was thinking about you all day on Tuesday. I am so sorry I didn't call. I remember you and James standing up there at the funeral and you smiling, but how I could tell you were really crying inside. I am sorry that all your in-laws were pregnant, it must have been horrible for you. We love you.

jane said...

Nora, you are an amazing mother. What an intense way to enter the world of motherhood, obviously you overcame and your family is beautiful!

Thanks for commenting on my blog and keeping in touch, maybe I will find Vanessa now...

happy blogging!

Janice said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I never knew the whole story. I always knew you were amazing from the moment I met you in Brasil and you had spent your first night in a forgein country at a home of someone you didn't know and didn't speak their language. Tuca and I were soooo happy to see you the next morning. What great memories I have of us in Brasil! You were a great strength to me. Thanks!

Kass said...

Thank you for your beautiful & heartwrenching post. You are truly an elect lady, Nora. What blessed children & husband to have you in their life full time!

I still remember the call from Amy. I have ached for you & cried for you so much through these years. I have also had survivor guilt with our little girls so close together-one here and one fulfilling her mission elsewhere. Charlotte is so beautiful & obviously perfect. I look forward to meeting her someday.

Thanks for showing me how to make it through this brutal trial a stronger and more tender person.

I didn't know you had the balloon tradition too. It is something we all really look forward to. So neat.

The Douglas Family said...

Nora & James,

You know I love you & think of Charlotte every year. Reading your blog took me back to that time. I am blessed to know you and your family. And what a great family it is. Thank you for sharing your story.

Allison said...

I didn't know about Charlotte. Thank you so much for sharing. The first baby I ever lost as a nurse in the newborn ICU was named Charlotte too. What sweet little angels.

sarah said...

a friend of mine showed me this post of yours. thank you for sharing your experience. i experienced this same thing in march, except i was only 7 months along. today was supposed to be her birthday. but really, as i read your post it felt like i was reading my story. it gives me hope to read of your experiences and perspective 8 years afterwards. it shows me that life moves on and continues to be good. thank you for sharing.

emily said...

I found your blog really randomly and went randomly picked this post to read as I quickly scrolled through your posts. Thanks for sharing such a personal story, it always humbles me to get a sense of what people overcome.

Meg said...

Nora - I'm sure that you don't know me, I went to school with your sister Sharon. I recently lost my little boy and she sent me a link to this post. Thanks for writing about this. I wasn't as far along in my pregnancy as you were (I was just 5 months) but it's still such a painful thing to go through. I hope that in 8 years I'm where you are... with time on my side, and lots of other kids to fill my life and heart with. You have a beautiful family and they are lucky to have such a special sister like Charlotte. Thanks for your sweet testimony.

-meg (