We were expecting our first baby and it was a girl. We celebrated, planned, and embraced all the first parenting excitement that comes with the joys of having a baby. We had a great pregnancy with the exception of a lot of morning sickness, crazy cravings, and bed rest in the last trimester for a little scare delivering early.
Well we made it through and I was 39 weeks and her due date was quickly approaching in a few days. I was having contractions that day but not close enough to be admitted. I had my check up that morning and I had concerns that I wasn’t feeling our baby moving. I heard her heartbeat and was reassured everything was great and I would be having a baby soon. I headed home and decided to get a few last-minute things taken care of while my hubby was working at the fire station that night.
I went to bed that night with uneasy feelings and contractions strong but still not consistent. I called the nurse and she told me when I should come in with the timing of contractions. I don’t remember falling asleep but I abruptly woke up at 2:00 am when my water broke. We don’t live real close to family and we had just moved in our home three months prior so I called my husband at the fire station and drove to meet him since he was closer to the hospital. We were on our way and I was so excited we were finally having our sweet baby girl. We arrived at the hospital and I told them my water broke and of course we have to go through triage first. Put the hospital gown on, they tested to make sure my water had broken, and all those other little things to check in to the hospital before they believed me that my water broke. It seemed like eternity. When the nurse finally decided to check for her heartbeat to monitor and prepare to be admitted for delivery it was silent. She kept listening but still no heartbeat. She called for another nurse and then it happened so quickly. I was rushed into a private room with nurses every placing iv’s in my arms, checking vitals, sonographer, then trying to get our baby’s heartbeat in-utero through an exam since they could feel her head. A doctor came in and did our sonogram. I will never forget those two words he said to me. I’m sorry.
I was in complete shock. I’m sorry. No emergency c-section to save our baby. There was nothing the doctor could do. I was praying for a miracle and I kept saying this isn’t fair. I don’t know why those words but I was definitely feeling like why me? Why would my baby die?
Our family and friends were so comforting and rushed in to be with us as soon as they heard. I was overwhelmed with the support and love they poured out on us. The time came and baby girl was ready to be born. I was overwhelmed with raw emotion that I was in labor giving birth to my baby but she wouldn’t be breathing. The doctor came in and delivered our baby and I will never forget him asking me if I would like to hold my baby. He didn’t try to just take her away he offered her to me. I didn’t want to ever let go of holding her. She as absolutely beautiful. We named her Payton Riley and she was 6 pounds 4 ounces with the softest wavy auburn hair.
Our nurse was absolutely precious. She stayed with us through the entire delivery, took pictures for us and made a memory box with all of her little things and clippings of her, and her feet and hand prints. I cherish that box oh so very much.
Handing my baby over to the nurse was so incredibly hard but the days ahead were promised to be just as painful and I was completely broken. I was terrified to let her go since the hard reality flooded with emotions I would never hold her again on this earth. We left the hospital and drove to the funeral home in complete silence with en empty infant seat all buckled in and ready for her arrival. We left empty-handed except for the box of memories of her very short life. I sat in the funeral home fighting tears and desperately seeking a breath of fresh air to make it all go away. It was all so much to handle. I was so conflicted with emotions of once picturing the excitement and how I would be so overwhelmed with love for my baby but instead I was choosing her tiny casket and flowers for her service.
I would never ever want anyone to walk this path but the reality is it happens often and parents are left with out their babies. I pray they find comfort in know they are not alone. I found that comfort in friends who my husband worked with who walked this path before and they walked our path with us every step. I am forever grateful.
She was born on March 16th and her memorial was on March 20th, 2006. The funeral home was filled with so many family and friends there to support us and honor our sweet daughter. I was in awe of God’s love and mercy on us through everyone. The hugs, the card, the tears, the comfort will never be forgotten. To hear Amazing Grace played on the bagpipes by fellow firefighters for our sweet baby was absolutely breathtaking. Every time I hear that sound I am immediately taken back to that day. To see my husband and his brother carry her casket was one of the bravest things I have seen in my life that left a huge imprint on my heart. God was there in every moment, every detail, every word spoken, and he was there with my broken heart.
I wouldn’t be honest if I said from that day forward I didn’t question his ways and felt anger but he never left my side and he never fails. He was the comfort and light that would glimmer through my darkest days ahead. He walked with our broken hearts that even affected our marriage but HE never fails and GRACE won.
When you lose someone you love it changes you. Losing this sweet baby who I never got to spend morning of giggles, spilled cheerios, story time, and more left me feeling vulnerable and I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was supposed to be a mom and my dreams where shattered. God rescued my lost soul and reminded me that I am a mom. A mom to his child whom he needed more. God blessed me with two healthy and beautiful babies that brought hope in to my life again through him. The pregnancies were not easy and my prayers changed to God whatever your will is it be done for your glory.
My life changed the moment I had to say goodbye. My faith was challenged but grew stronger and my heart craved Jesus more than ever. I have met some incredible women through my journey and they have blessed me more than I can ever express. I pray that through my walk of losing a child, brokeneess, healing, faith restored, and grace I have shown HIS love and mercy and goodness.
I wouldn’t choose this path. Who would? Looking back almost ten years and trusting HIS ways have brought me unspeakable joy, passion and compassion I had never felt, love and mercy, and comfort that I will meet my maker face to face and my sweet baby will be in the arms of Jesus to greet me. Before those days I may have not truly believed that as much as I do now. He witnessed himself to me through my pain and loss but the glory that unravels is beautiful.
He has healed so many scars and the corners are of my broken heart have mended over the years. I miss her still and I always will. HIS love never changed for me but my love changed for him.
I have always loved singing Amazing Grace and this Hymn. I sing it with deeper passion in my soul that changes me every time.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Ten years ago I never could have imagined where my story of grief and child loss would take me. God has carried me through it all. Without him I know I wouldn’t be able to face the days and share my story, her story, HIS story with all of you. The day will come when least expected and you can embrace your journey of loss and remember to be grateful for the all the beautiful blessings in your life and the fall you faced. It’s because of the fall your shattered soul will carefully be mended with love and grace that will one day begin to pour through the cracks of your mended heart ready to share and intertwine with in the very depths of you that will overflow to others. Creating a beautiful story that God created within you to be brave and share his goodness to others for HIM.
No matter what cost my heart took, I promised to love her forever and I will. I never imagined I would be a bereaved mother yet I feel like the luckiest mom in the world to know and love my daughter. To hold her in the presence of Jesus is a life worth living for. Jesus you are my living hope and I will praise you and welcome your presence no matter the cost. Nothing will ever change my love for my daughter and I will honor and cherish her short yet precious life that God created and chose me to be her mom.
Written by Angie, Payton Riley’s Mother.