It should have been a happy time. After years of abuse, neglect, and nightmares, I had met the man I knew was meant for me, and we were having a baby. Though I had two other deeply-loved children, this was my first baby conceived in love. I was the happiest I’d ever been. We were about to bring a little girl into the world and I thought all the darkness was behind me.
Early one morning I awoke in labor. It was a few weeks early, but I wasn’t worried since my older girls were early. At the hospital, the doctors couldn’t stop the hard and fast labor. I was to have a c-section, but there was no time. The baby was coming.
I clearly remember her birth. In spite of never having had a vaginal delivery it didn’t take much effort for her to be born. I remember seeing her little hands and feet moving and hearing the doctors and nurses talking to my husband. I was bleeding badly, so they gave me a sleeping aid.
When the neonatologist woke me, I expected to hear that she was on oxygen since she was early. What he said were words I never in my worst nightmares expected to hear. He quietly said; “Mrs. Clarke, I am so sorry. We did everything we could. She fought hard for a half an hour, but she was unable to breathe. I am so sorry, but we lost her.”
It felt like someone was punching me. I couldn’t catch my breath, and I struggled to even scream. My husband was in the waiting room explaining to my young daughter that the baby had died when the nurse ran out and said I needed him. I wanted him to tell me it was all a mistake, that our baby was fine. But when I saw his face I knew the truth. He held me and we cried.
The nurses brought our little girl to me and laid her in my arms. She was beautiful. Her tiny head was covered with dark ringlets framing pudgy round cheeks and rosebud lips. I bathed and dressed her, brushed her satiny curls, and wrapped her in a pink blanket. I held her for a long time. She was flawlessly formed. Nothing made sense.
That night, I called the nurse and asked to hold Olivia again. I went into the next room so I wouldn’t wake my husband. I rocked and cried, thinking about the story of Lazarus and of the little girl that Jesus brought back. I rocked my baby pleading, bargaining with God to bring my baby back. In spite of my pleas, my baby was gone.
The joy and anticipation just hours before were replaced by confusion, anger, deep mourning, and sadness—and even hatred. I felt as if God had betrayed me, was punishing me for things I had done in my past. I yelled and screamed at Him, cursed, and even said I hated and despised him. I just wanted my little girl back.
I slipped into a deep, dark depression and closed out everyone except my children. I wanted to end it all and go to be with Olivia, but I knew I couldn’t abandon my young daughter. I poured my anguish onto my pillow and into the darkness and out through the pages of my journal.
One night I had a dream where I awoke and sitting next to me was the pastor I had loved and trusted but who had passed away the year before. He told me it was all going to be okay, and that when it was time I would have another child–but that I needed to be strong, pull myself and my life together, and take my young daughter back to church and return to life.
I awoke the next morning and for the first time since I had buried Olivia, I felt alive. It may sound crazy, but I know Pastor Scott in my dream was God reaching out to me. Things have been rough. But I know that God is there, and that it really will all somehow be okay in the end.
Shea Clarke was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and after a 10-year detour in Boston now lives in Aiken, South Carolina. Having left behind a life that had played out like a bad Lifetime movie filled with addiction, abuse, and depression, Shea has now been happily married for the past six years to her very own Prince George. She jokes that he was worth the wait after sorting through a great number of toads. Shea is Mom to Kayla (26) and Marygrace (16)–her princesses here on earth–as well as Olivia (b/d 6-23-07) and Alessia (born still 11-13-08)–her Angel Babies in Heaven. She is also Grandma to perfect little Lorelei, who doesn’t allow Autism to get in her way. A dedicated canine rescuer, Shea highly esteems all of God’s creatures and loves bringing hope to the hurting.
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