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  • Writer's pictureJen Chappell

Share Your Story Tuesday- Gracelyn Rose Gonzalez

I'm a wife to an amazing man and we have 3 wonderful boys...12 year old twins and a 7 year old. In January of 2018, we became pregnant with our 4th. Other than terrible morning sickness, everything was fine. We never announced our pregnancy. I'm not 100% why (I kinda had a feeling something was gonna go wrong... just didnt know what...I was expecting maybe the baby would be born early like my twins, who were born at 28 weeks), but I knew I didn't want to find out the gender until birth and I wanted to be like, 'Surprise! We have a new baby!' But on April 30th, at our 18 week anatomy scan, we never got to the gender part and were given news that something might be wrong with our baby. The bones in the arms and legs were measuring behind so we waited to see our doctor. "Skeletal dysplasia" was what he said. He tried to give us some reassurance by saying that we could just be having a short baby.. maybe even dwarf size. I have some short family members, but my husband is almost 6'8, so even though that wasn't the worst news, we were still devastated. Because of those findings, we were sent to a high risk Dr. During that week and a half of waiting, I did a lot of research online and read many things I didnt want to see. I had to tell myself, 'Ok, I can handle a short baby. Please let the baby just be short. I can handle special needs, too.'  I prayed so hard they were wrong. That we would have a healthy baby and he/she would be ok. I was so very hopeful. I put my faith in God the best I could and just tried to act as normal as possible for myself and family. On May 10th….our appointment was at 10am. We were there for almost 3 hours. The longest 3 hours of our lives. Our baby was diagnosed with a form of 'lethal' skeletal dysplasia. The Dr. told us that the bones in the arms and legs were not only behind in length, they were starting to bow. There was frontal bossing of the skull. The chest cavity was small and therefore the lungs wouldn’t be able to develop properly. Although the heart seemed to be working normally, it was angled differently than it was supposed to due to the small chest. And the arteries from the lungs to the heart were narrow. Because of those issues, he said our baby would not survive long after birth and that we had the option to terminate. We were 20 weeks and the law in Texas states you can be no further than 21 weeks and 6 days. I always knew my feelings about “termination”, being how early my first babies were born and I couldn’t fathom the thought of someone purposely doing that to their own baby or babies, who were not too much earlier than mine were born. We had so much to process. So much information, yet not enough….so many questions. 'What is the best decision? What is the right one?' Two weeks to somehow decide….but I just couldn’t do it. Taking a life, my baby's life, was not my job. It was in God's hands. He gave my baby to baby had a purpose and as long as that little one was kicking inside of me, they deserved every chance to live! So I prayed for a miracle! But I also prayed prayers I never thought I'd pray for. I prayed to Him to please take my baby if he/she was suffering or hurting inside. To please take my baby if he/she was going to suffer after birth. But then that precious little one continued to live in me just as perfect as could be. Six weeks went by of having to act normal and happy for our boys…pretending everything was ok when being asked questions, but also feeling numb. During those 6 weeks we had genetic testing done, which all came back normal. That is when we also found out that we were having a girl.... our first girl. 🥰 We waited for school to be out for summer before we told our boys, and oh was that so very hard to do. But we had to so they could prepare their little minds and hearts for what was to come. After we told them, we announced our news at church and on FB. We had to not only tell everyone around us because of the normal questions that would be asked from being pregnant, but we needed all the prayers we could get. This was never how I imagined making our pregnancy announcement. I had many more Dr. appointments throughout the summer....each ending with a little more worse news than the last. I kept my head high, though. We clung to every bit of hope we had, that God saw we chose life for our little one and would heal her completely.  Even with that hope and faith we had, there was still the reality behind it. Even though she was perfectly fine in my womb, I saw what the Dr was saying. She felt normal but things didnt look normal. I had to think about things I didnt want to: who I wanted at the hospital; did I want pictures; cremation or burial? How do you prepare for the death of your baby that you haven’t even seen or heard or touched when they feel so very much alive inside? I grieved my baby before she ever died. It took us forever to pick a name. I had a list of girl names that I had always loved and dreamed of giving my little girl, but after finding out she may not live, I just couldn't give her one of them. I couldn't imagine naming her and then not ever getting to call out one of those names every day like I had wanted. ((This may sound bad, too, but it was how I truly felt at the time. My mind and emotions were all over the place and couldn't think clearly most of the time.)) But we found the perfect name for her. Gracelyn Rose. Gracelyn because it sounded angelic and meant 'favor' and 'a blessing', which is what she was. And Rose because that's my middle name as well. At the beginning of August, I had to have an amnio reduction because of too much fluid along with an MRI. The results from the fluid came back as her having Thanatophoric Dysplasia type 1. And the MRI showed just how small her lungs were. Within in 2 weeks, the fluid came back, plus some. I was measuring 45 weeks and was only 35 weeks. At that dr appointment I was struggling with picking a day for my csection..not only her date of birth, but possibly her date of death as well. I prayed to not have her on either of her brother's birthdays... August 25th or September 10th.Even though her original due date was Sept 27th, because of how big I was, we knew it was gonna happen sooner or later, so it was just too hard to decide. Two days after that appointment, I called my dr and begged to do a reduction the next day. I was miserable and scared. But he was out of town for the next few days, so we scheduled it for the following week. I prayed I could make it until then. Then on Sunday, August 26, 2018, around 6:30 pm, the day after my twins turned 11, my water broke at home. My husband had taken them and 2 of their friends to the movies to celebrate earlier that evening and it was just me and my other son. I had actually just sat on the toilet to pee and was having a talk with him about his birthday party. And as I stood up my water broke. My heart stopped. Oh my heart. I couldnt get ahold of my husband so I called my mom to come get me. My husband had to meet us at the hospital so he could get the boy's friends home.  We got to the hospital and they brought me up to labor and delivery in a wheelchair. I remember the nurses smiling and saying, "oh yes it definitely looks like your water broke!" as they looked at the puddle of water on the floor. I also remember telling them that Gracelyn wasn't supposed to live and that I wasn't supposed to have her yet. And they would need to wait until everyone got there. Those sweet nurses' smiling faces suddenly became comforting ones. Even though I was shaking uncontrollably, I had a calmness within me. They took me back to get ready for my C-section. Once they cut me open I remember hearing the water hit the floor. At 11:51pm, Gracelyn Rose Gonzalez came into this world when I wasn't ready. 7lbs. 3 oz. of perfection.

After the NICU checked her over, they layed her on my chest. I watched her gasp for air a few times. A piece of my heart broke then. I wanted to hear her voice. But, she never cried. Another piece of my heart broke. When I placed my finger in her tiny hand, she didn't grasp it. I just wanted her to close her hand over my finger so bad. But, she never moved. And another piece of my heart gone. I wanted her to open her eyes. I wanted her to see us. I wanted to see what color her eyes were. But, she never opened them. There went another piece of my heart. When we got to the recovery room, we waited for family to come. Although I wanted her to do all of those things for me, she was so peaceful. I prayed for that, and God heard me. I never wanted it to look like she was suffering and she didn't.  All while getting her first and only photoshoot, we loved on her while surrounded with our family for about an hour and a half before her sweet soul was welcomed into Heaven with Jesus. We don't know exactly when it happened or who was holding her when she left this world. But when the nurse listened and shook her head saying 'there's no longer a beat', half of my heart went to Heaven with her. I didn't cry though. I wanted to be strong like her. Even when her body failed her, she didn't show to be in any pain.

She was the strongest little human being I'd ever seen. She was peaceful and perfect. And I knew where she had gone. So I smiled. It hurt like nothing I'd ever felt before, but I was so happy for her. I know that when she opened her beautiful blue eyes (in my heart I know they are blue) for the 1st time, she saw Jesus. I'm a little jealous I didn't get to see them 1st, though. ☺ I remember them taking her to give her a bath for me and making the molds of her hand and feet. When they brought her back to us, I remember being so amazed by her beautiful head of hair that was light brown already sparkling with highlights. For a moment I imagined getting to run my fingers through her hair as she grew, getting to play with it and braid it. But that moment quickly faded away as she laid forever still in my husband's arms.

I remember watching him hold her and grieve for the first time since we found out we were expecting. He

held it all together until that moment. She was so peaceful and just absolutely perfect in every way. She was the most beautiful baby ever. We weren't alone until after 3 that morning and we finally were put in another room on the postpartum floor. We took turns holding her all throughout the early hours, sleeping off and on. Around 10:30 that morning, my husband said it was time to let her go. Everyone had already said their goodbyes and we didn't want to put the boys through that again.

So we cried and called the nurse in. She cried with us, laid her on the edge of my bed, unwrapped her, changed her diaper, fixed her top and wrapped her back up, put her in the crib, and rolled her way. At 10:38am we said goodbye to our little girl forever...the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life. And I'm so glad I kissed those 2 precious tiny hands, those 2 precious tiny feet, those sweet little lips and beautiful hair before having to hand her over. Leaving the hospital without my baby ... that's something I'll never be able to describe. I'm so thankful for my daughter's life even though it was short. I prayed for her to be healed and she was! It wasn't here like I wanted, but I knew deep within me where her healing would take place and that gave me some peace.  I don't regret my decision at all and I would choose to carry her every time if I had to, just to see her beautiful face. 💛 The day I came home from the hospital, was the day I 100% decided to pump. I had thought about it before, but hadn't really made a decision. I knew I wanted to help other babies if I couldn't help my own. Once I found out her organs and tissue couldn't be donated, the next best thing was breastmilk. So I made a huge commitment and got busy. I set alarms all throughout the day and night so I wouldnt miss any sessions.  I was able to pump and donate 16,800 oz. of my milk in Gracelyn's memory to 6 precious babies, and I stopped just shy of 10 months in June. I know for a fact that doing this one thing not only helped my body heal faster, but also emotionally as well. It was such a rewarding experience during so much heartache.

After I stopped pumping, I noticed a change in my emotions. I felt like I was grieving in a much different way. My grief brain just seemed to get worse. I thought I was ok, but I finally sought help with antidepressants. It took me a little over a year to figure out I needed them, but that's ok.☺️ I'm still trying to find my purpose in all of this. One thing I've learned from this journey so far is that it's ok to cry. It's ok to scream. It's ok to be mad. It's ok to want to be alone.'s also ok to smile. It's also ok to laugh. It's also ok to be happy. It's also ok to do something fun. I have never in my life longed for Heaven like I do now. This is my story. A story I have flashbacks about everyday. Sometimes wanting to forget because it's painful. But also a story I want to remember forever because I had a beautiful daughter. It's been so hard to fix my eyes on God and see what's right in front of me rather than the sadness and angriness I feel. But I'm getting through it. Recently I came across something another mom wrote and I felt every word as if it came from my heart. "God trusted me enough to give me something so special. He planned her, formed her and chose me to carry her in my womb. When He breathed life into her, He knew her heart would only beat for an hour and a half, and yet He gave me the honor of carrying her anyway. He chose me. Me! To love, protect and cherish a child made specifically for heaven. He chose me to be her mom. I am a mommy to a child of God who is already back home with God. What more beautiful outcome could I ask for?" I could read those words everyday to remind me of the joy that will come when I see her again. My sweet, beautiful, & precious Gracelyn Rose, oh how my arms ache for you. I miss you and love you and will do everything in my power on Earth to please God so I can hold you again one day in Heaven. 💛

"When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother's womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there—you saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began." Psalm 139:15-16

"Before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace." Galatians 1:15 

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