Hudson Seth Maendel - A Loving Tribute


Today was our little boy's due date. The day I have been counting towards for nine long months - the last one with the heartbreaking knowledge that my joyful anticipation has been stripped away. That child I prayed for before conception, nurtured for eight months with anticipation, sang over with love, and sacrificed for in multiple ways is buried in a little pine coffin in the town cemetery just a mile from where I sit writing now. My heart is comforted with the knowledge that he is blissfully happy in heaven, but my heart still breaks with the desire for what could have been....

It seemed appropriate to start his story today, though in reality, it's taken me over a week of writing sessions to present to you this finished product. This writing is such a painful thing for me, and yet incredibly healing at the same time. I still have yet to wrap my mind around how those two can go together...

Last September was an incredibly exciting month for us. We learned that we were going to be parents again, and Leana a big sister. We honestly couldn't have been more thrilled! Having our first two pretty close together was always a dream of mine, and a very special gift I felt I could give my daughter. Having this specific prayer and desire answered was such a faith booster for me, and we eagerly looked forward to Spring. 

My early pregnancy went very well, other than some strange passing out spells I had. The most notable was in the middle of the train station on the way down to surprise my family with a visit. Weird, I know, but apparently, a very common pregnancy symptom as my midwife assured me. Having nothing remotely similar with Leana made me think right away that this was a boy, coupled with much less morning sickness than with her. 


We had an early ultrasound designed specifically to look at this new baby's heart. With Leana's history, the doctors wanted to be sure her heart condition wasn't a re-occuring genetic issue. After a thorough examination we were given the all-clear, and we rejoiced in what was turning out to be a very healthy, uneventful pregnancy. No worries of anything going wrong ever crept into our minds after that point.

Early second trimester
The next months alternated between flying by and feeling long, depending on the ups and downs that accompany growing another human being. Leana kept my days full, so the time didn't feel quite as long as with her pregnancy, but nevertheless, those last few weeks crept by as we looked forward to meeting our child.

Just 5 weeks before my due date, a nasty virus went through our house. Every one of us got it, and it wasn't very pretty. The day I was sick, baby's movement turned very weak, and became almost imperceptible. In talking to my midwife, she wanted me to go in and get things checked out, especially since there seemed to be a good chance I was dehydrated at that point. Of course movement started up again right about the time I was admitted into the ER. Everything checked out clear, and baby's heartbeat was great. I was on my way home within half-an-hour of checking into the hospital. 

Three days later I was still not completely healthy, but I was mostly feeling better. I worried a bit about baby's continued decreased movements, but they were technically still in the 'OK' range that the midwives gave as a guideline. Suddenly again on Sunday, they became very minimal again. By that evening they were next to nothing, and after several hours of stress, juice drinking, and trying to get baby to move, we took another trip into the ER at 4:30am on Monday . Baby kicked the moment they hooked me up to the NST monitor, and after an hour or so, I was released saying everything looked ok. I closely questioned them on the drastic differences I was sensing in baby's movements, and was assured it was because he was running out of room. I tried to put my heart at rest.

The next day I finally started to feel encouraged again. His movements were stronger than they had
Growing.... 
been in almost a week, and I fell asleep that night rejoicing in his constant pokes, rolls, and prods. I felt like the turmoil and anxiousness of the last 5 days was finally over. I drifted off to sleep, consciously thanking the Lord for this precious life inside of me. Little did I know that these were the last movements I would ever feel. 

The next day was Wednesday, the 30th, and I was pretty busy all morning. Mid-afternoon hit, and it started to dawn on me that I hadn't noticed any movement all day. I passed it off a bit as being busy, and focused on eating some sweet foods and sitting down a bit to wake baby up. When this didn't seem to help, I started down my track of worry again. When Joel got home from work, I had him bring in the stethoscope we had buried in our garden shed. When neither of us could find a heartbeat, we were out the door to the ER within 15 minutes. Some friends graciously offered to watch Leana, and we nervously drove the 35 minutes to the hospital. We were desperately hoping it was just a coincidence, and baby was in a strange position. However, I sensed inwardly that the strange peace and calm I felt was given to me for a very specific reason. A reason I could hardly bring myself to even think about at that moment.

Last pregnancy picture... 
My heart was pounding as they got the NST machine ready to start monitoring again. How I longed to hear that reassuring heartbeat again, but the hollow silence that met all our ears said more than words could have. For the next 20 minutes, the midwives kept offering me assurance that baby was probably just in a strange position, and that these things happen sometimes. For a couple breathless minutes they thought they had found it, only to discover it was my own pulse racing out of control. 

After 30 minutes they ceased offering encouraging words, and 45 long minutes later they left the room, saying a doctor would be in shortly with an ultrasound machine to give us a final answer on now voiced worries. After seemingly endless waiting, the doctor arrived. After a few minutes, a tiny, still form appeared on the machine's screen, and no words needed to be spoken to confirm our worst fears. Devastated can't even begin to describe our emotions at that point.

We drove home mostly in silence that evening, tears quietly dripping down both our chins. Our minds could hardly process what the next few days, weeks, and months would hold. It all seemed like a nightmare that couldn't really be happening to us and that we would wake up from shortly. A sleepless night followed, and the next day was spent at home waiting for labour to start. 

After 24 hours of unsuccessful waiting, I was induced. Through an intense labour, a failed epidural, 44 hours of no sleep, and emotions as raw as they come, many of you dear ones filled in for our utter weakness and carried us on prayer. Though intense, the labour was mercifully only 6 hours long, and at 1:46am, May 2nd, our little Hudson Seth was born sleeping. We kept him with us for the next 14 hours. At 5 pounds, 3 ounces, he was absolutely perfectly formed, boasting his Daddy's thick black hair, and Mommy's long fingers. 


Those hours were filled with resting, cuddling, a few close family member's visit, and a professional photo session provided by 'Now I lay me down to sleep.' Though those hours were painful beyond explanation, there was a preciousness in them, and we will carry those memories with us for the rest of our life.

Two days later we had a memorial service for Hudson, and had to say goodbye to a little person we never got to know, but loved so incredibly deeply. 300 friends and family surrounded us, and we were shown once again how precious the body of Christ is. Those friends have continued to surround us over the past month, and I am grateful to say that I have never lacked for a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, an open home for those times I just need to get away, and the practical needs of meals and such met in a more than sufficient way. The cards still continue to come in our mailbox nearly every day, and I often wish I could thank each of you personally. It has meant so very, very much.

As we pick up ourselves up now, and move on to discover a new normal, the pain seems insurmountable at times. Yet, even amidst the darkest times, the grace of God holds us up and keeps us looking ahead to the good we know will come out of this time in our lives. Though Hudson will always be missed, and there will always be a hole in our hearts, we are looking ahead to the healing promised by God, and most of all, an eventually re-uniting with our son in heaven. What a day that will be!

Writing again


How does one start writing again after nearly nine months of silence? To sort out and remember the pieces of life and try to shove them into one comprehensible post? I don't know if it's entirely possible, but what I do know is that over the past few months, my need and desire for writing has been returning. How long-term it is, only time will tell... Consider this a semi-resurrection of a very comatose blog.

There are seasons in life. The last several months has been a season of busyness with a very active, now almost two-year old. A little girl who's naps are shorter, and who doesn't very much like the idea of me sitting at the computer while she is awake. Couple that with a mommy that needed a lot more rest with pregnancy #2, and spare time was at a premium.

Consequently, a lot of computer stuff, most notably writing and photo editing was put on the back-burner. My camera sat sadly un-used the majority of this past loooong, COLD Manitoba winter, and gaps of a month or more mark my paper journal. I won't even mention snail-mail communication with people I use to write literal books to.... 

But now, the season is changing again. The days are warm and that previously mentioned little girl is enjoying her freedom to run and play outside, and is finding satisfaction in a bit more independent play. Subsequently, I'm finding myself with a bit more time to sit and pull out my pen. The busy work season is also starting up for Joel which leaves me with more quiet evenings to myself. That time lends itself well to writing after Leana has gone to bed for the night. 

The last weeks have held unprecedented paper journaling, and I'm once again finding the release and satisfaction of communicating my thoughts and feelings. Some of that, Lord willing, is going to transfer itself here. How much, though, yet remains to be seen. 

Sadly, it's often the hardest seasons in my life that bring out the most written communication. Maybe because it's my best way of coping with inner turmoil outside of talking with a few select, intimate friends. Even in that rare verbal communication, though, I often stumble for words. Paper is patient. A lot more than I am with myself when trying to explain my thoughts to someone.

Then begs the question to myself - how much do I put out here for the whole wide world to read? Do I turn this into a private blog for my own sense of security and fear of vulnerability? How much, especially at this season of changes and pain in our lives do I open the door to my heart and give people a little glimpse in?

All those questions aren't answered yet in my mind, but I know I'll find a place here to reply to that question "how are you doing" a whole lot better than I can in person right now. When words fail, and tears choke my voice, I find myself running to my pen, and trying to figure out myself where I'm at in this journey of life.

Perhaps our story of late will gradually unfold itself. Right now things are still too fresh and raw. A stillbirth is not something you get over quickly, or ever get over at all. But, I'm realizing that it's a journey that far more than I previously knew about have traveled before me, and by God's grace, I'm acknowledging and accepting that it's the path He's chosen for us to walk. It's one I never in a million years would have chosen for ourselves, but amidst the sometimes seemingly unbearable pain, there is a bittersweetness in seeing what God is doing through it. That is what I pray will eventually transfer itself here... Till next time.... 

Photo credit: Jennifer Tower Photography


 
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