"Tiny fingers, tiny toes.
Rose bud lips, a button nose.
Soft dark hair, an angel face.
Much too precious
for this place."
Abigail Graceland Werner was born sleeping on November 29th, 2006.
Abby died during the early stages of labor due to a large blood clot that had formed in the umbilical cord. The cause of the blood clot remains unknown. She was 6 lbs. 12 oz. and 20 inches long from head to toe ...
perfect in every way.
We will forever love and miss our precious baby girl. We love you Abby and can't wait until the day when we will hold you again!
This is our story ...
Abby was another "miracle" child for us and was very much loved and wanted from the second she was conceived. My husband, Chad, was so shocked that we conceived so easily this time that he made me test twice to prove I was really pregnant! We were told in 1997, just before we were married, that it was likely that we would never have children. Six years later with the help of a very gifted reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Neeoo Chin, (and lots of prayer!) we conceived our first child, Benjamin, not knowing if we'd ever be able to have another. It took 6 years to conceive Benjamin and only 6 months to conceive Abby!! We were thrilled to announce to the world on Easter 2006 that God had given us another child!
I especially remember the day that we found out that she was a girl. Tears of joy streamed down my face as the ultrasound technician made it official. I didn't even know that I had wanted a girl so badly until that moment! Planning and preparing her room was an absolute joy ... with everything pink and pastel ... flowers, birds and bees. Her room was absolutely heavenly! We chose her name very carefully so she would know how very special she was to us. "Abigail" means "My Father's Joy." That was especially important to us because we wanted her to know that she was not only her earthly father's joy, but that she was her Heavenly Father's joy as well. "Graceland" means "Land of Grace" and was my maternal grandmother's middle name and we chose it to honor her memory. Little did we know when we chose those two names together how true it would actually become ...
"My Father's Joy in the Land of Grace."
Throughout my pregnancy, Abby and I were watched very carefully. I had been considered "high risk" from day one due to my uterine abnormalities and being over 35. However, we enjoyed an almost trouble-free pregnancy. We had a bleeding scare at about 8 weeks, but got through that without any problems. The same thing had happened when I was pregnant with Benjamin, so I wasn't too worried. But, at 19 1/2 weeks, a large amount of fluid was discovered around her heart and we were scheduled for a fetal echocardiogram to be performed at 24 weeks. Immediately we called on our church, family and friends to rally behind us in prayer. We had to wait five long weeks to find out the seriousness of the heart problem, only to learn that the fluid had miraculously "disappeared" on it's own! Of course, we knew God was the real miracle worker! We believed this to be an answer to prayer and a sign that we were home free for the rest of the pregnancy.
Or so we thought ...
I went into labor while watching TV around 9:30 p.m. on the evening of Tuesday, November 28th, only 13 days before I was to have my scheduled repeat c-section. At first, the contractions were irregular, so I wasn't sure if it was the real thing or not. I had been having braxton hicks contractions for a few weeks and wanted to be sure before calling the doctor and making the 45 minute drive to the hospital. After all, this was my second pregnancy and I felt that I "should" know the difference. After the contractions had persisted for about an hour, I decided to start timing them. They were getting closer together and increasing in intensity, but they were still irregular at that point. Abby was happily kicking like she did every night at this time, but as the contractions began getting stronger, I became more focused on the pain than on her movement. I never even noticed that she had stopped moving or had any reason to suspect there was a problem. Finally, they were anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes apart and getting quite painful, so we called the doctor. He said it was time for us to come to the hospital! I called my parents and they said they would be right over to watch Benjamin (then 2 1/2), who was already fast asleep. They arrived around 12:30 a.m. and we gathered our bags and left for the hospital to have our baby!
We arrived at the hospital at around 1:15 a.m. and took our time getting up to labor and delivery. I had left some things in the car that I wanted, so Chad went back out and got them for me while I waited in the lobby and breathed through my contractions. We finally made it up to L&D around 1:30 a.m. and they took my registration. It was 2:00 a.m. by the time I was taken to an exam room to put on a gown and be checked by the doctor on duty. The nurse proceeded to put the fetal monitor on my belly, but all we heard was static. She said she was having trouble finding the baby's heartbeat and thought she (the baby) might be in a strange position. I told her that we often had the same problem during our twice weekly NSTs and still was not concerned there was a problem (they performed non-stress tests twice a week throughout my third trimester since I was high risk). She ran off to get the ultrasound machine to see if she could figure out how the baby was lying.
I suddenly began to worry as I waited alone in silence ...
The nurse finally returned and the room was completely silent as she moved the wand around on my belly over and over and over again, trying to get an image on the screen. I started to panic and asked her if something was wrong. She said she couldn't say and needed to get the doctor. I told her to bring Chad back ASAP (he had still been waiting in the hall until this point). When he came back, I said, "Honey, don't freak out yet, but they can't find a heartbeat. Just pray!" So we prayed and waited for the doctor. When he arrived, he moved the wand around my my belly some more as we waited in silence and the nurses looked on. Then he turned on the infrared vision and said, "There should be color showing up on the screen. I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat. Your baby is gone." I was in utter shock. I don't even think I cried just then. I think I was just in complete shock.
The next thing I remember is that we were taken to a labor & delivery room since I was already in active labor. They checked my cervix and I was three or four centimeters dialated and more than 50% effaced. They told me that since there was no longer a risk to the baby, I could deliver naturally. So we started the long process of delivering our precious baby girl, Abigail Graceland Werner, who was born sleeping at 11:26 a.m. on Wednesday, November 29th. She was breathtaking. It was very peaceful and the doctors and nurses were amazing. We held her for four hours then we said goodbye and gave her back to God. It was the hardest day of our life together.
Our hearts will never be the same.
The next few days were difficult, too, with my physical recovery, making phone calls to our loved ones, trying to explain to my 2 1/2 year old that his baby sister wasn't coming home, and making all of the necessary arrangements ... but we had such unexplainable peace. We could feel the presence of God and the prayers of our church and family surrounding and carrying us through every moment, every decision. Benjamin was able to "meet" Abby and have his moment in the spotlight as the "big brother" which he had anticipated for months. We even let him wear his "big brother" t-shirt to the service! Many of our family and friends gathered to remember Abby with us and to help us say goodbye. My brother sang, "I Will Praise You in This Storm," and my sister sang, "Psalm 121," at our request. Our pastor gave a beautiful message based on 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 & 18:
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed ...
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
We believe that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). Although we will never fully understand why Abby's life was cut so short, we can trust the One who does. We know that He had a purpose for her life, and ours, and that His purpose will not go unfulfilled. Although we are filled with sorrow over the separation from our precious little girl, we have hope in knowing that her life was not lived in vain, even for one moment, and look forward to the day we will be reuinted with her again in our eternal home.
At the cemetery, we had each of the children, including Benjamin, release a white balloon into the sky to signify our releasing her spirit into Heaven. We watched as the balloons rose higher and higher into the clouds until they were completely hidden from our sight and then we opened our hands
... and finally let her go.
In the days since Abby's death, we have experienced a multitude of emotions, but have continued to experience the "peace of God which surpasses understanding." (Philippians 4:7). We have been amazed at the outpouring of love and support from so many people who care about us, and even many that we don't even know! Little Abby's life was so short, yet she touched so many people in the short time she was here. It is our prayer that she will be remembered and that God will continue to touch lives through her tiny precious life for years to come. There is so much more that I could say, that I would like to say, but I will end with this excerpt from "Holding On To Hope," a book I read about the loss of another beautiful
baby girl named "Hope" and written by her mommy ...
"The day after we buried Hope, my husband said to me, 'You know, I think we expected our faith to make this hurt less, but it doesn't. Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had Hope, and we are comforted by the knowledge that she is in heaven. Our faith keeps us from being swallowed by despair. But I don't think it makes our loss hurt any less.' So many people are afraid to bring up my loss. They don't want to upset me. But my tears are the only way I have to release the deep sorrow I feel. I tell people, 'Don't worry about crying in front of me, and don't be afraid that you will make me cry! Your tears tell me you care, and my tears tell you that you've touched me in a place that is meaningful to me -- and I will never forget your willingness to share my grief.'
"Part of my heart is no longer mine. I gave it to Hope and she took it with her, and I will forever feel that amputation. But embracing my grief means allowing it to do its work in me. That's what Job did. Out of the deepest kind of agony and pain from loss, Job openly mourned. He didn't cover up his sadness or put on a happy face or offer religious-sounding cliches. He tore his robe and shaved his head. He hurt. And he was not ashamed to show how deeply he hurt. Do you know what it is to groan with sorrow? Part of being human is that when you lose something or someone that is valuable to you, you agonize over that loss, and there is nothing wrong with that. Your tears do not reflect a lack of faith. Rather than running from or trying to ignore your grief, would you lean into it? Would you allow it to accomplish its healing work in your heart? Would you be willing to invite God to walk with you during this sorrowful time so that you might experience His healing presence? Would you confront your feelings of hopelessness and heartache with truths from God's Word so that it can become a healing power in your heart and mind?"
The mention of my daughter's name may bring tears to my eyes,
but it never fails to bring music to my ears.
If you really want to show me that you care,
let me hear the beautiful music of her name.
It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul.
"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
~ Psalm 34:18
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We never got the chance to hold her in our arms
and tell her all about you.
Now, please, would you take her into your arms
and tell her all about us?
There is a wee girl
who won't grow up at all.
Did your angel bear her gently
because she was so small?
I wondered that you bothered,
it's such a long long way,
from Heaven to a parent's heart
and then not let her stay.
Forgive the tears and pleading
and bitterness we've shown,
we really did not understand
that she was just a loan.
We forgot in all the sweetness
and joy from day to day,
somehow we never really thought
she'd have so short a stay.
Love is the one thing
death cannot take.
Love is the one bond
that nothing can break.
Love is a cord that
time cannot sever . . .
Yes, love is eternal.
Love is forever.
All she will ever know is love.
"I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live,
even though he dies."
~ John 11:25"