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  • Writer's pictureJen Chappell

Share Your Story Tuesday- Lillian

Dreaming with a Broken Heart

When you’re dreaming with a broken heart

The waking up is the hardest part

You roll out of bed and down on your knees

Wondering, “Was she really here?

Is she standing in my room?”

No she’s not

‘Cause she’s gone, gone, gone, gone, gone

John Mayer

During the summer of 2017 we were preparing to have our second daughter, Lillian. Our daughter Elizabeth Anne had just turned two years old and I was taking the next year off of teaching to be home with both of them.  We were under contract on a bigger house in our current neighborhood. Things seemed to be working out perfectly for us.  

        We left early in the morning for the hospital as my contractions progressed throughout the night. I was 39 weeks and 2 days. I was sent to the triage room first, which is a room that is entrenched in my mind. The nurses were having trouble finding Lillian’s heartbeat. We tried to remain calm but I could tell in their faces that something was wrong. We prayed for a miracle.  It seemed like it took forever for the doctor to come in and do the ultrasound showing us were her heartbeat should have been. We screamed and we cried. We were then wheeled down to the farthest room at the end of the hall.

At that point there were no explanations to what had happened, but when she was born we had our answer. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck five times. That’s when the blame set in: I should have felt her getting twisted, I should have come to the hospital sooner, I should not have had that sweet tea at dinner… I remember thinking and saying “I just want this all to be over. I want to get out of here as soon as possible.”

When all I wanted to do was run away, a sweet nurse bent down to me and told me to cherish this time with our sweet baby.  We would only have these memories.  I decided to take her advice and we spent the next 24 hours with our sweet Lillian.  Mike gave her a bath and washed her curly dark hair (not sure where that came from), we dressed her in her coming home outfit, and swaddled her in her Lillian blanket. We were extremely fortunate that our nursed knew to contact Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep so that we could have professional pictures of our sweet girl.  She had a visit from one of our ministers and from all four grandparents. We cried and we prayed.  

I remember looking and Mike and saying “This is going to be the hardest thing we have ever gone through, but we cannot let it break us.” As we sat in the hospital holding our precious girl, we played John Mayer’s song “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” over and over.

 So many mornings I woke up and thought that it was all a dream, then reality set in. There have been bad days, good days, and really bad days over the past two years, but we just keep going. We would not be where we are today without the love and support of our family, friends, church family, and our Empty Arms grief support group.

Shortly after losing Lillian, we knew we wanted to find a way to honor her life and make it purposeful.  One of our biggest struggles was how to explain to Elizabeth Anne that her baby sister would not be coming home and was now in Heaven. An acquaintance, who had been through a similar situation, recommended the book Heaven is for Real for Little One.  I knew of the novel and the movie, but did not know there were books for kids.

 This book helped Elizabeth Anne learn about Heaven and gave us a springboard to talk about Lillian. From this experience we created Lillian’s Library. We send Heaven is for Real for Little Ones (ages 2-4) and Heaven is for Real for Kids (ages 5-10) to kids all over the country

who are experiencing grief. Helping others helps us!

Sharing our story has also helped us on this journey. A friend sent me a text on my birthday and she said “I am grateful for your willingness to be vulnerable and share your pain with others, telling us all it’s ok to not wait until you’ve made it to the other side with a happy ending to share” We are far from our happy ending! We want more than anything to give Elizabeth Anne a sibling, but have suffered two miscarriages in the past two years, one with the help of IVF and genetic testing. We won’t give up and we will continue to talk about stillbirths and miscarriages. No one should feel alone in this struggle.

A big thank you to The Cooper Project for providing a place for moms to tell our story and necklaces for loss moms. A piece of jewelry does make me feel closer to Lillian.

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