Losing Gavin

Posted by  | Monday, July 14, 2008  at 5:00 AM  
My name is Angela Kaiser, I was asked to talk about how to deal with the loss of a child, and my answer to that, according to my degree in psychology, is to allow yourself time to move through all five grieving steps. Now, my answer to how to deal with the loss of a child, as a mother who lost my son, is you will never be able to “deal” with the loss of your child on your own. I do not care how strong you think you are, losing a son or daughter at any stage in life is not something you can deal with by following some “grieving steps”; you can, and only can deal with the loss by trusting God. He does know what He is doing and He is in control.

My husband and I had our first three years of marriage completely planned out: He was in his third year of medical school and I was going to support him financially until he graduated. We were going to wait for children until he graduated and we had some money in the bank for the baby needs. Every person wants to feel financially secure, I just wanted to have time for our kid. Well nine months into the marriage SURPRISE we were pregnant. I cried… no balled. This was not our plan, I was not ready. I just got married and I was still learning how to deal with the fact that Jake would leave his shoes in the middle of the floor, and not at the door! To top off the anxiety I was feeling from the shock, I had the worst morning sickness. You could set a watch by my bathroom runs. I threw up the moment I got to work, the second we returned from lunch, once more before returning home, and guaranteed after dinner. And of course the hormones in general make a person go crazy… I found myself sitting on the floor of our kitchen holding a spoon and crying because I couldn’t find an open spot to shove the stupid spoon in the dishwasher.

It didn’t take me long to stop being sad about being pregnant. We had our 15 week check up and heard the heart beat. I choked back tears. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. Jake’s eyes just lit up with excitement. Soon after that I began to feel the little bean move; as we affectionately called our baby. Then the glorious day of finding out the sex of our child arrived; this involved the sick joke to ask a pregnant lady to drink 32 ounces of water for an hour and not release it. I laid there belly up, and saw the tiniest penis… we were having a boy! At least that’s what the technician said. I could honestly not tell for the life of me what I was looking at.

We now had to name the little bugger. This you have to take seriously, it is not like you are naming a beloved dog or cat. No, this person will become somebody, have a dream of their own, and have children of their own. The pressure is awful! We were sitting the car listening to the radio when the band Bush started to play. And the lead singers name is Gavin. We loved it! Gavin, he was Gavin Isaiah Kaiser.

The next couple weeks became easier to deal with. I now looked pregnant, and my appetite returned with a vengeance. I gained 7 pounds in a week! A pound a day, needles to say my Doctor told me to slow down. Everything was amazing, Jake and I were ecstatic about our new unplanned future. We had so many dreams for our son. We dreamed about what kind of friends he would have, what his first word would be, and what his favorite color would be. All those things parents wonder about their little ones.

September 15, 2008 around 2 a.m. I woke up with terrible pains that I thought were just gas pains. I used the restroom and had awful diarrhea. My whole body just flushed everything out. The pain continued, and even got worse, and then I noticed that they were coming in waves and getting closer together. I screamed to my husband, he came in with a stop watch. One minute went by and I had a serious wave of pain rush through my abdomen and my back, then the blood came. Oh how I freaked. I knew at that moment, my son was going to be born. I was just 6 months pregnant. It was way too early. He still needed three more months to cook! What was going on?!

We rushed to the emergency room, they took one look at me, and within five minutes I was being rushed into emergency surgery. I don’t remember much, because it all happened so fast. I just remember lying there on the table as they prepped me. Someone was holding my hand. I had never been so scared in my life, I don’t know who was on the other side holding my hand, but I never wanted to let go. They were asking questions and next thing I know I am awake, asking for my husband and my son. The second I saw Jake, he told me Gavin was okay. He came out screaming, and very healthy considering the circumstances. Relief came all over me. I was determined to see him. Completely drugged we made our way to the NICU. There he was, the smallest in the NICU. He was beautiful. I had never felt such immediate unconditional love, so strong and intense. I hated how he was hooked up to so many machines, and all I could do was stare at him through the glass. He needed me, and I could do absolutely nothing. I was his mother and I was absolutely helpless. Later I was told to start breast pumping so that when he was able to be fed, I could feed him. I began pumping, and let me tell you the pain involved in that. I had no milk; I was just trying to encourage the milk to arrive.

We had so many people come and visit. Many friends and family came by just to squeeze us and see our son. It was amazing having such incredible support. We desperately wanted to show off our precious baby, so that is what we did. Don’t get me wrong, we spent every spare second with our son, but I wanted everybody to see the amazing miracle living in the NICU.

Our first night was awful. Jake slept with me in my bed. We got the first phone call around 2 a.m. The medicine they were giving him to help his lungs was causing bleeding, and he needed a blood transfusion. The second night was worse; he needed another transfusion, which led to another. The third night again around 2 they asked us to make an appointment with the Dr. in the morning.

September 17, 2008 our family sat in a circle with the Doctor. He explained that there are three types of brain bleeds. “Gavin has had a catastrophic brain bleed”. The second I heard that, I lost it. I checked out mentally. He had obviously confused us with a different child. Gavin wasn’t planned… God gave him to us as a surprise… Why is He taking him away?!

Gavin would never be able to breathe on his own, feed himself, walk, talk, if he would even survive. It was up to Jake and me what the next step would be. Having a husband going into the medical field, he had only one thought. We should not be selfish and keep him alive for ourselves. Life is meant to be lived and Gavin was never going to get that chance.

Since we had family and friends there at the hospital, we decided to have a baby dedication service right there in the NICU. The staff was amazing, we were able to hold him, and love on him the way we so desperately needed. Again, we shared Gavin with everybody who wanted to love him. We took up about half of the NICU with our amazing support group. We prayed together, we thanked God that he knew what was going to happen. We then took Gavin off all his machines, and took him back to a room where Jake and I, and our closest group of family and friends, had our last moments with him. Gavin was passed on from person to person, and he arrived back to me. I felt him take his last breath. I saw his little mouth fill with blood. I felt my son die in my arms.

“You watched (Gavin) as (he) was being formed in utter seclusion, as (Gavin) was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw him before (Gavin) was born. Every day of (Gavin’s) life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 140:16

How have I dealt with losing my son? I first dove into scripture and gathered as many photos of him as I could and put together a scrap book. This helped me face reality. I think I had the hardest time believing everything that happened was real. I then knew I needed to talk about him, and my feelings, to my husband, and often. We are both the type of people who keep it all inside. Church began to not be a priority. I was personally afraid of going. The times we would visit his parents, and go to church, I was forced to see everybody who came to the hospital, I had to feel. And those feelings were just way too depressing, so I wanted to avoid that at all cost. I have to admit, however, that as much as I say I may have struggled with my faith, I never stopped talking to God. I would have some type of conversation daily. I consistently prayed for individuals: when I would hear an ambulance, I would pray for the people I worked with, I would pray for my husband. I later discovered that I had only lost faith that God would take care of me.

I began to hate my body. I truly felt like the skin I lived in was somehow broken, worthless. I despised both the inside and outside. Pregnancy changes your body, and when I didn’t have my son as proof of why things looked different; I hated that. Time has helped heal this part of my life. I have slowly gotten back to my size, with a few extras, but I no longer am angry when I look in the mirror. I no longer feel frustrated with my womb. This has just recently become okay with me.

Talking with a close friend not to long ago truly helped snap me out of my frustration with God. Jake and I just recently bought a house. He graduated from medical school and got into his first choice residency program. We took a couple to visit the house with us and on our drive back she began asking me questions about my faith. I was completely honest with her. I spoke about how I just wish God would show up. I felt completely abandoned. I no longer needed the “why?” question answered, I just wanted him to be loud in my life. And I couldn’t hear him, or even see his work. She just looked at me like I was crazy. She gave me the “tough love” speech. “Angela, did Jake graduate from Medical School?” my response- “yes”. And she just looked at me like, HELLO GOD?! Then she asked me, “Did Jake get into his first choice for residency?”, again my response- “yes”. Then the kicker… “You just bought a house, in a great neighborhood, with zero problems! How can you tell me you don’t see God in your life?” I had no response. I needed to hear that. God is in every part of my life, I just didn’t want to see it because I needed to be angry with somebody. Anger is easier than feeling the emptiness of not having my son with me. Feelings lie all the time, I had to put everything into perspective. I will always feel deep sorrow from losing Gavin. However, I don’t need to cover those up with anything. I had to recognize that it was perfectly acceptable to be sad. As long as the sadness didn’t become a hindrance in my life, meaning I couldn’t function. The sadness will never go away, and that is okay.

After that “tough love” speech I began throwing myself back into scripture. I have read the story about Noah over and over. I relate to everything in that story. Every time I read the story, God revealed something completely new to me. I began to gain confidence in myself, in God, and in my situation. I related mostly to the sign of the rainbow. I want my own personal sign that everything is in God’s control. I used to think of the rainbow as a promise that God will never do this again to me, but now I think of it as recognizing that God knows what He is doing. He continues to be in my life after the storm.

If you know somebody who has lost a child I recommend praying for them. Just knowing people were praying for us was very much appreciated. You can always give that person a hug, and just say “I am so sorry”. Avoid, at all costs, the “oh well, you are young, you can have another.” Another attempt to make me feel better was, “At least you were able to get pregnant, many people can’t do that.” Again, that is not comforting, and did not lift me up in any way. Avoid pretty much any cliché such as “God works in mysterious ways”, or “God is in control”. Being a Christian, I already understand this. Also please do not preach. I can honestly say I had to hold back punches to the poor UPS man. His intentions were good, but I had just come back to work, from maternity leave, and he insisted on preaching at me. This is not comforting nor is it beneficial. I wish he would have just said, “Can I say a prayer for you right now”… or “I will pray for you”. The best thing you can do is continue to check up on them months after. I had a friend who recently asked how things are now. I nearly broke down, it still hurts, and the fact that she recognized it after months have passed meant so much to me. The number one thing you can do is listen to them. Take time to listen to their story, this is not the time for you to give your opinion or to give advice. I didn’t want peoples’ advice or their opinion, I wanted to be heard. Accept the fact that your words will always fall short. I found when people would take my hand, and pray for me right then and there, was much more comforting.

Going through this experience has been difficult. But I have an incredible husband who has been open and honest with me. I have a tremendous supporting family, both his and mine; I have amazing friends who tell me the truth when I need to hear it, and most importantly, I have a God that has never left my side, and never will.


Teesa and Bill said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It must have been hard to write it down like that. I had a difficult time writing my story on POH and my son is still with me. God bless you.

ChezDeshotels said...

May God bless you and keep you. Thanks you so much for your bravery in sharing your story.

andysbethy said...

Thank you. I agree, both as a Psych major, and as a mother who lost a baby, that you never "get over it". But talking about him, (or her) is healing. Keep talking, and keep feeling, and if it helps, keep sharing. There are lots of people out there who just feel pain, and do not know the awesome comforter that you and I know. Thank you.

Melissa said...

I would also like to thank you for sharing your story. A friend of mine lost her son recently at 20 weeks and your story was helpful for me to know how I can best support her in this time. Thank you for being so open and honest.

O'Behave said...

Thank you for sharing, I was in tears and completely moved. You have given great advice on how to comfort someone who goes through loss, I will always remember thais story.

Robin Baker said...

wow. i couldn't hold back the tears. i have 2 babies with the Lord - but neither of them were birthed. thank you for sharing and encouraging others. you have been a blessing. may the Lord bless you, even this very day.

Curt, Mariah, & Carli Badura said...

As many have already said, WOW! I also couldn't stop crying while reading your story. Thank you so much for sharing!


Shannon said...

I am so often speechless at the grief and trials that others, like yourself, endure. I am completely inadequate to offer any words that console or inspire or encourage. So I just quietly pray. Thank you so much for sharing bravely. I pray God will tremendously bless and keep you.

Corrie said...

As I read your story, I sat and cried and cried. My heart aches for you and your family. Your words have shed light on how to comfort others and your courage and honesty has inspired me. Thank you for sharing your story.

noahandlylasmommi said...

Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I am so sorry for your loss. I agree with whoever said thank you for being so honest. I really do think God has used the losses ofour little ones to glorify him. Because you told your story and shared with others the things that helped you during this time and also the things that held you back, people will know how best to approach their friends in this situation. So something good has already come out of your story.
You and your husband will be in my prayers!

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