Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Freedom in Forgiveness
This letter was written to my daughter in heaven, but it was written for all the mommies and daddies who have experienced the death of a child. We all have the guilt, the blame, the bitterness, or the anger of our child's death harboring in our hearts. This is my story and my journey in finding peace and freedom in forgiveness.
Since the day you died, the topic of forgiveness has been on my heart. When your dad and I watched you take your last breath, the bitterness and anger set in immediately as we kissed you good-bye. During the days you were alive, I prayed constantly. I begged and cried out to our God to heal you and let us take you home. However, he had a different plan. My faith was strong but untested. I was 31 years old when my world was turned upside down. I knew in my heart that God had you in His arms and had every minute of your life in His control. But I was broken and lost in my grief. I missed you, and I wanted you back.
For weeks after your death, I lived in shock that you were gone. On October 17, 2008, I went into the hospital to have a baby. On October 20th, I left with empty arms. Darkness filled my life. As I replayed the many doctor appointments, ultrasounds, and events of my labor, I began to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I was on a mission to figure out how and why you died. The more I thought about it, the more upset and angry I became with myself and the doctor. I had many questions, and I started to feel responsible for your death. I needed answers and was not going to settle for silence. Was someone responsible for your death or was this a part of "the plan?" Every day there was a reminder of you: a medical bill, a pretty little dress I could not buy for you, or a comment from a stranger about only having boys. In order to begin grieving and for my heart to heal, I needed answers.
Two months after your death, I picked up 554 pages of your medical records. I spent that entire night reading through every page. Engrossed in every detail, I was trying to put together the events that happened during your four days of life in order to determine why you died. Honestly, these records were something tangible about you; I had little that belonged to you! Although I hated that you died, I loved having this reminder of your life. I found my answer in the last part of the records, your fetal heart rate monitor strips. They recorded your voice and progress during labor. I got online and taught myself how to read a fhm strip. The first part of the strip looked normal. My water broke around noon, and I lost blood. The strip went downhill from there. For 30 pages, which was more than four hours, you were crying out for help and no one listened. During those four hours, you had severe declarations, pseudo signal patterns, and eventually bradycardia. As I read the strips, tears poured down my face. My sweet baby girl cried out, fought for her life in a hospital, and was ignored. I was crushed at the thought of you suffering. I did blame the doctor, but I also blamed myself for not being more proactive and for not knowing what was going on with you during labor. I am sorry, Rylan, for not doing more.
Your daddy and I talked and prayed about our findings. We decided to file a wrongful death suit against the doctor in order to hold her accountable. We also wanted to ensure that other families would be given proper medical care and attention in the future. No one should suffer the loss of a baby due to the negligence and arrogance of a doctor. We began this journey of seeking justice for you, Rylan Elizabeth, at the beginning of 2009. After losing you, I kept a journal with a letter to you. The beginning of the journal was filled with sadness, weeping, and anger. In the spring of 2009, my heart was convicted to FORGIVE. Even though it was satisfying to blame someone for your death, I knew that God was calling me to obey and forgive the doctor. I struggled for weeks and justified my anger and hatred towards the doctor due to your death, my one and only daughter. I came to the realization that you were not coming back, regardless of what I did, said, or felt. For the first time in my life, I was not in control and hated it. With a heavy heart, I finally decided to give everything over to God and forgive the doctor. I cannot describe the peace that I experienced; a huge burden had been lifted that day. This was part of the grieving process for me, and I needed to forgive to move forward. I forgave the doctor that was responsible for your death, and I forgave myself for your death. I will never forget you. However, as time passes, the memories of those ten months of pregnancy and four days with you on earth are fading. There are days when I think only about you and what it would be like to have you in our family. On those days, I close my eyes and do not have anger or bitterness harboring in my heart and mind. Instead, I have peace as I try to remember you...your smell, your breathing, your chubby cheeks, and your beautiful lips.
After countless hours of depositions and meetings, your wrongful death lawsuit was settled on February 2, 2012. I have closure and my heart is healing. There was justice and accountability for your death, but there is still no "you." After the mediation was over, your dad and I went to the cemetery. I looked at your headstone and thanked our God for you. I cried tears of joy for our victory. I could finally say "Rest In Peace, My Baby Girl!"
The past four years were a test of endurance, faith, and hope. God kept me out of the pit of darkness and depression; He brought me to the "light." I found that my faith was my foundation. No matter what trial comes my way, I will not give in or give up. I also learned that perseverance and trust in the Lord will carry me through anything. When I look back and think about you, my sweet Rylan Elizabeth, I think of the many good things that came from your life and are still coming because you are my daughter. Your life was short, but you have made your mark on my heart and the lives of many.
Happy Fourth Birthday, Rylan! May all of your days be filled with joy and the amazing wonders of our God in heaven.
Until we meet again,
Posted by The Slate Family at 1:06 PM
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