The Lusk Clan

The Lusk Clan

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Good Bye Levi

Warning: I have posted a few pictures of my son, Levi, born at 18 weeks gestation. While he is beautiful to me and to my Creator, it may be difficult for some to see him. Please use caution.
It was the longest weekend of my life. We felt we had no choice, and may one day share how the next steps were determined, but until then know that the following Monday was the induction of our son.
We tried to keep the weekend light and fun for our girls, while in the back of our mind knowing what was coming in a few short days. I remember sitting in a restaurant looking at the people around me wondering of they were hiding a tragedy like me. I looked normal, no one would have known the situation I faced. 
My parents came in Sunday evening, the visit was short and sweet. Monday came very quickly and Scott and I headed to the hospital.
We entered the emergency room at the new Madison Hospital and signed some paperwork. I was then given a hospital bracelet, and that marked the first of many water works. I remember thinking about my little girls bracelets with their dates of birth I could always keep. I knew that there wouldn't be a little bracelet for my son. This was the only bracelet that would be given this time.
After a few moments we were taken to our delivery room. When I walked in there stood the baby bed with the light and sweet baby blankets where my son was going to go. This wasn't the joyous bed that it had been when I was blessed with Ellie or Maggie. This bed wouldn't hold the baby that had grown in side of me healthy and well. The waterworks began anew.
My sweet nurse for the day, Hannah came in and introdcued me to her trainee Sissy. They were so empathetic and compassionate to my situation. They cried with me and encouraged me. I'm grateful for the staff who loved on me while I was there. I had been praying for them as well. Knowing this would not be a routine delivery, and I wanted God's protection for my nurses and doctor's minds as they worked to help me. I didn't want them to be hurt by the situation or have a difficult time looking at my son.
I was given at this time a ton of paperwork about dealing with still births or infant loss. I'm still not quite sure what to call my experience. However, I was also given a little bonnet. This was a gift from someone who would blessed me by this sweet gesture. I was told I'd get to take the hat home and that was a nice surprise.
This was one of my most difficult struggles through this. I don't handle visually scary things. The Orcs from Lord of the Rings creep me out, and I hate Halloween and all the scary images that come along with it. I was warned that my boy would not look like a normal full term baby. He would have red skin and be very little. I knew he would not have his full head, but was told that there would be skin covering the area that was missing. In my head I had always envisioned my baby whole and healthy. I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to handle this. They asked me multiple times if I wanted to see him when he came  or hold him. They offered me privacy and a chance to spend time with him alone. I just didn't know what I wanted.
Hours and hours and hours later, after being pumped with medicine after medicine after medicine to jump start contractions and labor things began to happen. I was so cranky. Things had not been progressing, 28 hours into the process I was still there. As much as I was sad that I was going to leave the hospital with empty arms, I was eager to be done. I truly feel this was God's way of preparing me to be ok with leaving. It was going to be difficult leaving with an empty tummy and an empty backseat, but I think that it took so long to help me mentally be ready.
I finally delivered my son at 8:40 pm, September 10, 2013. He was 5 oz and 7 3/4 inches long.
I was sad, but relieved. My incredible nurse, Shauna handled my son with the utmost respect. He was a perfect little baby in her arms and she took care of him, even though he was already gone, already playing with his bigger sister who had joined heaven in February 2011. He was already in heaven with Jesus.

She took him away to clean him and measure him. Then when I least expected it, she came back with him in her hand. I gasped. I wasn't ready to see him. I hadn't even decided if I would see him. Until I saw the little crocheted blanket.

"Are you sure you want to see him?" my mom asked. "Yes," I said with confidence. And then I took him. I saw him. He was covered in a little blanket that matched his little hat. The hat was still too big for his itty bitty head. I saw his little nose that was the exact replicas of his big sister, Maggies. I saw his sweet little lips. His tiny hand had fingernails and his little pee pee was all boy. His feet were so large I thought and his legs my mom commented looked so muscular. He was perfectly formed and proportioned, except for his head.
I held him and cried for a minute, then Scott held him too. My mom and our nurse took several more pictures without him covered up, but I haven't been able to look at those yet. These are the ones I look at.
Mommy and Levi
Daddy and Levi
Levi's sweet nose and hand
I'm so grateful that I had the courage to share those few minutes with Levi. Again, I know he's in heaven, he didn't need me to hold him, but my future self did. I think it made the whole situation more difficult that day,  but the me in five years will be grateful for this memory.
I don't know why God allowed this. I'm thankful that I didn't think for a second that he did this to me. My God loves me too much to inflict pain on me just because. I do know that He will use this situation for His glory someday. We were reminded by friends that we will be watched to see how we handle this, and my biggest prayer is that people see how much and incredible strength and refuge God was to me/is to me as we continue to grieve and mourn. I want to be faitful with this lesson, and hope that I can bring others to Him.
As we arrived home and said goodbye to my parents, dear friends continued to pray and love on us. One of probably the best statements that was shared with me was the fact that the first thing my sweet Levi saw when he opened his eyes, was Jesus smiling and welcoming him home. I can't wait to see what he saw, and hug my sweet Levi and his big sister Taylor to my chest. For now, I rest in the refuge of God and know that He is taking care of my kids until I meet them one day.

Cause for Concern

I was armed with my girls and a pan full of warm brownies. I arrived at my 17 week appointment early and hopeful. I was not scheduled for an ultrasound for four more weeks to determine the sex of our unborn baby, but I hoped my sweet talk and brownies would change that.
In typical pregnant lady fashion, my bladder was on the verge of exploding when I walked into the office, so I made my way to the bathroom and found a bit of spotting. I wasn't worried about it, but told my nurse. 

The docotor came in and said we could go ahead and do an ultrasound, just to make sure everything was fine. I was elated! I was going to find out the sex! I wasn't at all worried about the spotting, it hadn't been happening and again, I was a bit used to it. 

I laid on the table with my girls in the chair beside me doing my best to sweet talk the tech into telling me the sex. "No, we generally don't even try to look this early on because it can be difficult to determine with certainty what you are having." I had found out at 16 weeks with Maggie, so I wasn't buying what she was selling.

"The babies head is curled up to its chest, so I'm having a hard time getting all the measurements needed," she said. Ok, whatever...I was a bit grumpy with her for not helping a sister out.
After a few more minutes of her clicking around and taking pictures, my girls were over being still and quiet. I was led to another exam room to await my regularly scheduled appointment. Minutes later, the incredible Dr. Charles McCain entered the room and sat down. I was juggling my girls, trying to keep them happy and relatively quiet when he began talking.

"The ultrasound showed signs for concern. The baby's head is measuring three weeks smaller than it should."

I was shocked! Everything had been fine. I had been feeling regular movement for a few weeks now and the heartbeat had registered normal!

He went on to tell me that because of this reading, there could be many things that were wrong, but it was more than likely a genetic disorder. I was a bit shocked, and upset, and trying with everything in me to hold it together with my girls crawling all over me. I asked if there was a chance things could be wrong, maybe because the baby's head was curled up they were wrong. Maybe, it showed something now, but the baby would grow out of it. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

"I'm not going to say that an ultrasound can never be wrong, but it looks like your baby has a genetic issue. There are hundreds of possibilities it could be. Sometimes babies can even be born without a brain. We are just going to send you to a Maternal Fetal Specialist to get a better ultrasound and try and determine what we are seeing."way to the back. I discovered that I had begun to spot a bit, but wasn't overly concerned about it. I spot my entire pregnancy with Ellie and nothing was wrong, but I mentioned it to the nurse anyway.

I asked to call Scott, and he left me then. I called Scott and told him what I had found out. He was concerned, but we still had tests to be done. I called my mom and asked her to begin praying. And then I cried. Maggie asked me why I was sad, and it broke my heart I couldn't hold it together for her. Looking back though, I did hold it together. I wasn't a puddle of mush on the floor, though I wanted to be. I explained that our baby was sick and we had to find out what we could do to help. She was content with that answer and went back to her iPad.
I was scheduled for an appointment that afternoon and immediately began thinking of who could keep my girls. I did not want to do this without Scott beside me. My dearest friend Missy, though fighting her own battles dropped what she was doing and assured me she would watch my girls. 
We text a few dear friends who we knew would pray for us as we faced this situation. 
As I drove home, I prayed. This is a big deal. Typically, when things are not going how I would like I call my husband or my mom. They will fix it. They will encourage me. They will make me feel better. But I knew, they couldn't fix this. I prayed for strength, I prayed it was a mistake, I prayed my baby would be ok. I prayed for different genetic diseases that I thought I could handle. Then I heard a song. "He Is With Us" by Love & the Outcome. I felt Him speaking to me, and we'll being with me too. 

What truth, I didn't know where I was going, I didn't know the story of tomorrow, but I could trust my God, even if it did hurt now. So, I rested in that as I drove home. I put my girls down for a nap and crawled into my bed. I opened my bible and felt an urging to look at Psalm 46. This is what was waiting for me.

I needed that. I didn't know what was coming, I felt strongly that God could have this go away. It could be a couple hours of deep fear and hurting, and then it could be over. Later in the chapter it tells us to, "Be still and know that I am God." I for a moment thought, ok great! He's got this, its going to be a big misunderstanding! Then for a second time I felt Him tell me something. "Even if it isn't ok, I'll still be your strength and refuge."
A couple of hours later we arrived at the specialists office. We couldn't find a parking spot, and after two trips through the lot saw a parallel parking spot available. Scott backed in and we sat for a moment preparing ourselves for what was coming. As we made our way into the building, I noticed that the cars we were parked in front of and behind still held drivers. We had cut in front of someone waiting in a school line! It was a moment of levity that was needed.
We waited for about an hour in the waiting room, but I remember texting my mom that at least I wasn't waiting at home with no answers in sight. After the in take inforamtion was completed (another blessing to be connected through people in our church to the nurse made for a few moments of normalcy in talking about people we knew in common.) I was called back to the ultrasound. The tech would complete a series of measurements, leave the room to consult the doctor, and then return with the docotor to let us know the findings.
What seemed like only a moment later, the doctor entered and asked to be shown another view of our baby. She then told us with a straight face that our baby suffered from a genetic condition called anencephaly. Our baby had not developed a brain or a skull and would not live.
And just like that my world changed. I lost it. I wailed. No! Not my baby! No! Please no!
"Can you tell us if its a boy or a girl?"

"It's a boy."
I continued to wail. Scott held my hand as I continued to cry without thought to anything but the devasting news that I was hearing.
There are varying levels of anencephaly, and our son had the worst case. If our son had been able to live through the entire pregnancy, he would not have been able to live beyond a few hours. Becuase he did not have a brain he would not be able to do anything, including breathe on his own. We left the office devastated, and had to stop a couple of times on the way to the car to weep.
I called my mom with the news and we drove home.
The hours that follow that devastating announcement were so difficult, but the presence of my dear friend Missy helped in ways I will never be able to explain. Scott took our girls out to dinner giving me time to share my news. The first thing she did when I told her was jumped on me and hugged me. She sobbed with me and felt my pain. I didn't feel alone at all, because God had put such a blessing in my life with her friendship. I hate that I made her sad, but was so grateful that I had a sounding board when my mom was so far away.
My journey continues a few more days, but I'll pause here for now. I will say that I have learned so much through this tragedy that God saw fit to allow me to experience. I'm grateful for the lessons, as hard as they have been to learn. Please join me in a few days, as I share how I had to say goodbye to my son, much earlier than I ever would have wanted.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Life Goes On

I've lived a pretty happy life. The hard times I've faced are the typical ones any young woman faces. I've had mean friends and no friends. I've felt rejected and insufficient. I've been poor and left wanting. But nothing has ever truly impacted my world. Not in a "Your life is now different" kind of way. Until September 5, 2013. My world changed that day. Sometime soon I will share the loss I experienced following that fateful day. In the fifteen days following though I've learned that life goes on.

Whether you want it to or not, life goes on. In rain or sunshine, life goes on. In hurt and pain, life goes on. In good times and bad, life goes on. And its going on for the Lusk Clan.

We've been in a period of transition for a few months. Wondering and planning all that we thought God had in store for us. Two days ago, He revealed what the next step is going to be. There are still unknowns, but my Software Developing Husband has been offered and accepted a new job in Lexington, KY. The military brat in me is elated for a change of sceneary. While Huntsville, AL hasn't been a bad place, I feel the doors closing on that chapter of our life. The Alabama native who is my husband will have a harder time finding all of the excitement in this change. We know however that God has guided our steps. He has been faithful through our search for a new position. He has been faithful in working out the numbers, and I have no doubt that He will be faithful still as we continue to try and sell our home.

Its been on line for 35 days, and we've had 5 showings and one almost offer, but now we have a destination anda  very real time line. My love will begin his new job on October 14, and we don't want to be apart for long. So, I continue to work on that dreadful fruit of the spirit, patience. The one I've never conquered and strive to best daily. I rest in the fact that God has shown me in my own life, time and again His timing is perfect.

Trust me I should know, the story of how this happened is a HUGE testament to His perfect timing...Another story, for another day.

So, for now the Lusk clan will work on the transition to moving our life to Kentucky, remembering the things we have been taught, the people we have loved, and the little ones we have lost. Until next time, I'm thankful that indeed my life is still going on.