In 2007, Tom and I were both teaching at that time. We had talked about starting a family many times, but just never quite felt ready for the responsibilities of raising kids and the financial toll it would put on our life as a couple. A few years earlier, we had taken a Crown Financial Ministries Bible study. It taught us so much and we really began to see a snowball of debts being paid off quickly. Our dreams were to one day be completely debt free. That is still a goal.
That same year, we decided to head to Chicago to see our favorite college basketball team play, the KU Jayhawks. They were in the first round of the NCAA tournament and we found some pretty reasonable tickets. Needless to say, we were excited for the opportunity to see them play and to do some traveling. Several weeks after returning home from Chicago, I began to feel pretty lousy. I wasn't sure what it was, but I had not felt that sick in a long time. I couldn't eat anything and I felt very nauseous. I hadn't really thought about it too much, but that sick feeling just would not go away. So I decided to take a pregnancy test. Sure enough, it was positive. I was completely shocked!!!! We had talked about starting to have kids soon, but were planning on trying after the school year was over for the summer. I had no idea that it could happen so fast!!!
After getting used to the idea of being pregnant and becoming parents soon, we started to get excited and plan what to do for a nursery. I had a picture saved from when we took a trip to Home Depot and I told Tom someday that I would like to decorate our kids' room like that. He remembered and that was that. We picked out the bright colors of lime green, yellow, and turquoise. Tom spent a weekend taping and putting the colors into a checkered pattern. When he finished it looked just like I had imagined it to be.
Later that summer we found out that we were going to have a boy. We were both pretty excited b/c he was going to be the first grandson on both sides of our families. We were excited to be able to teach him about all of the things we loved, like Jesus, sports, family, traveling, and much more. We were anxiously anticipating his arrival.
School started that August and I was busy!!! I was teaching 3rd grade at the time and really wanted to get my students off to a good start before I would be taking my maternity leave in December. I was also quite stressed since 3rd grade is when state assessments start. I wanted to get my class off to a good start. I had quite the challenging group of kids which made the task of preparing them for when I would be gone a little harder. But I was up for the challenge.
On one of my appointment days, I had to leave school really quickly to get to my appt. on time. I also forgot that I had afterschool duty that day too. I was needless to say a little overwhelmed and stressed. I ended up making it to my appt. on time and luckily for me, Tom was able to go with me. Little did I know that day would forever change my life.
We went into the Drs. office and I thought it was a regular check up. The nurse checked the regular things like blood pressure and proteins and such. She said that my blood pressure was high, but didn't really seem too concerned about it. As my Dr. entered the room, I just knew that something was different about this appt. then the others. She said that my blood pressure was too high and that I had too much protein and she was sending us straight to the hospital. I was terrified. I was only 30 weeks pregnant at that time and not ready at all to have a baby.
We went to the hospital and I was given a dose of steroids and lots of other fluids to try to get my blood pressure down. The nurses there were so kind and took great care of me. I was ready with the steroid shots just in case I was going to have the baby early. I was in the hospital for a total of 4 days before they let me go home. I was put on strict bed rest at home and was going to stay at home until I had the baby. My Dr. diagnosed me as having preeclampsia. It is pregnancy induced high blood pressure, and is sometimes common in women with their first pregnancies. The only way to get rid of it is to have the baby, but it was too early for that.
I had to get used to the idea of being on bed rest. I sat in my house and stared at the walls wondering what to do, but knowing that I just had to stay put and rest. So I obediently followed all of my doctor's instructions. I also had a lot of time to think, think, and think some more. Not only did I have time to think, but I also had a lot of time to read. I was given several books and put them in a basket by me. I read a lot about parenting and also just some fun Christian fiction novels. I used a lot of that time to pray and speak to God. It was a great time for me to ask for wisdom as we were about the embark onto a new journey of parenthood. It was during this time that I started to make lots of notes in my Bible and put sticky notes on the pages which had verses that really spoke to me and gave me great comfort.
Three weeks later, my Dr. sent me in for a biophysical profile, which is basically a sonogram, but they are looking for specific movements. As I went to that appt. my pastor's wife at the time took me, because Tom couldn't come with me. I went in with a positive attitude and just was waiting out the last several weeks until I could hold my baby in my arms. While I was there, I could just sense that something was different. The sonographer sent me immediately to my Dr. I thought that was strange as I didn't have an appt. with her then. As I entered the office, I saw the receptionists talking and then fell silent as I entered. It was then that I knew that I would not be getting good news, but I was still hopeful. I thought that I was going to have to go into the hospital right away b/c of some of my protein levels. I had no idea what was about to happen. My pastor's wife stayed out in the car to wait for me, b/c I didn't think it would be too long.
I have always been told that God never gives you more than you can handle, but I never really knew what that meant until that first day in November. A different Dr. came in and asked me if there was anyone that could come in the room with me. So I called my pastor's wife in the car and let her know what they said to me. She advised me that I should call Tom. She also called her husband and they both came into the room with me. It seemed like I was waiting forever for someone to tell me what in the world was going on. Finally another Dr. came in and said that my baby had no heart beat. I tried really hard to hold it together, but all I could do at that point was to cry. My whole world fell apart!!! I remembered thinking that it was a mistake and that they should do another sonogram. Tom came and I had to tell him the bad news. His words the best kind of loving husband. He simply said "God is in control." It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but it was the truth. We both sat there and cried and prayed that God would give us the strength to do what we needed to do and grieve in a way that brought glory to His name. I sometimes don't know if we have done that. So much has happened, but I know that God revealed himself to me in ways that I would never have imagined.
Later that day, we headed to the hospital again. My dr. was not on-call that day, but she came and did whatever I needed so that I would have minimal pain and that it would be a quick delivery. Yes, I had to deliver as if he was a healthy live baby, but with the knowledge of knowing that he was gone. I didn't think that I could do it. For an entire day, I was being prepped to deliver a baby that was no longer alive and it really made me angry!!! They decided to induce me, so that things would go along faster. There was a lot of fuss, and rushing to get everything going quickly, and I wondered what the rush was all about. Everyone kept asking me how my vision was, how I was feeling, and if I felt faint or something. I thought it was really strange and just wanted everyone to leave me alone to cry and grieve silently. What I didn't know, but found out later was that they were extremely concerned for my health. My blood pressure since first arriving at the hospital rose to dangerous levels and they were concerned for my safety. At one point, my blood pressure was 200/100. I never paid much attention to blood pressure, but that was extremely dangerous, even more than I realized at the time.
So, after a day and a half of crying, pain, induction, and trying to deliver a baby, on Friday November 2, 2007 at 1:15 pm, I delivered a stillborn Caden Everett Ehrlich. He weighed 3 lbs. and 6 oz. He was so tiny, but so complete too. Tom and I were able to hold him for as long as we wanted to. It was a bittersweet moment. I knew that he was not there, but all I wanted to do was hold him. I felt so empty!!!
I ended up having to stay in the hospital for another 4 days until my blood pressure went back down. While I was there many family and friends came to visit. It brought a little comfort at such a painful time. Tom and I also had to prepare for a memorial. Neither one of us had even considered having a memorial or knew what we would do. Our pastor told us about an organization called Agape Care Cradle. So we said that we would look into it. They helped us decide what kind of service we wanted to have and how we wanted to remember Caden. We never thought that we would have a baby and then give him a memorial service all in the same week. It broke both of our hearts.
Caden's memorial was a way for us to share our faith with many people. Our students at work made cards and shared with us similar situations that they had with losing a little brother or sister. I also heard from many people that they were amazed at how we were able to leave the hospital without Caden. There was no amazement about it. For us we had no choice. It was what had to be done. I also had many people that wanted to donate in Caden's name to different organizations and such. I was overwhelmed at how much Caden had affected others. I decided that I did not want to waste my pain and I wanted to do something to honor him.
This blog was my way of honoring him. I talk about our trials and how we have come through some rough storms. I never thought of myself as someone who is strong, but with God's help, I am stronger than I ever wanted to be especially when I felt like giving up. Losing Caden taught me many things about the world around me and what is really important. That day God changed me and allowed me to lean on Him in the most vulnerable way possible. I don't know how I would have been able to go through all of that without my Faith and Hope in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Knowing Jesus gives me hope that this world is not all there is for me. With lots of help from Him I continue to trust in the plans that God has for me and my family. I don't begin to know or understand the things God has planned for my life, but I do know that one day my tears will be wiped away and I rejoice and hope for that day. As I look at all the ways God has blessed me and my family since losing Caden, I know that I have learned so much about the kind of parent the Lord wants me to be. As I think about Caden, I cry a lot, but I also celebrate what I've been blessed with and how I've grown as a Christian, woman, mother, wife, daughter, and friend. I want to be intentional in how I grieve so that my kids will see God's glory through losing Caden and will celebrate what the Lord has brought us through and how we've grown.
Caden, I believe is living in perfection and I am so jealous. His first experiences are of our Heavenly Father. I have learned so much from him. I hold him in my heart always and he will never be forgotten. As I remember him, I cry a lot, but I also think about the blessings I've received and that my faith means so much more now. So, as I cry and grieve this year, I hold onto my Lord and wait until he decides that I can see Caden again.