Monday, April 13, 2009

After Abigail had been pronounced dead by the NICU doctor, the nurses asked me if I wanted to help them clean her up. Immediately, Loren said, "No." One of the nurses very gently told him that they weren't really asking him. They were asking me. She explained that the fathers almost always answer the way he had.

I asked them what was involved and they explained that they would be giving her a bath and putting fresh clothes on her. At first I said no, but something in my spirit told me that I would regret it if I didn't. I wanted to try to explain to Loren, but the nurse beat me to it and told him that it would give me closure.

I wanted closure. Really, I did. But what was even more compelling to me was that not once since she was born had I been able to really take care of her myself. This was a way for me to care for my baby girl for the first and last time.

I helped them bathe her body, and we picked out an outfit from the hospital's stash of newborn clothes. Together we measured her length, something that had never been done because it wasn't medically relevant. She was just shy of 20 inches.

They clipped a bit of her hair for us to keep, and we made handprints and footprints in her journal. They gave us a beautiful keepsake box to hold on to the molds they had made of her foot while we had been away the night before. In it, we also placed the gown she was wearing as she passed from this life into the next, her journal, the little bit of her hair, and pictures of her that were made at the hospital.

We took pictures of us holding her, and we stood and looked at the tiny body that had once been the home of Abigail's spirit.

It was hard to actually walk away. She was all tucked into blankets, with her little stuffed animals all around her in the isolette.

There was a hospital chaplain there with us. Judy had called him before Abigail passed, and when we met him he told us he would be there whenever we were ready for him. When we were finally ready to go, we went to the chapel with the chaplain and our sweet nurse, Judy. We asked the chaplain (I'm sad that I can't remember his name. He was so kind.) if we could sing some songs together and share verses among ourselves. So that's what we did until well after midnight. We prayed and thanked God for giving us the beautiful gift of our sweet Abigail Noel. We thanked Him for having a plan for her life, and for loving us through the most difficult time of our lives. It was a worship service, and it held such healing for our freshly wounded hearts.

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