Thursday, August 9, 2012

More Blessings

Today some blessings arrived in the mail. The first package was the breast pump that was donated to me that is going to enable me to pump and donate milk once I give birth. This was really important to me, because it doesn't look like donating Eden's organs is going to be an option. To be able to donate her milk to another mama who needs it will really make me happy - I've always wanted to donate breastmilk, but I never could get significant amounts while also breastfeeding a newborn on demand - I probably wasn't committed enough, or maybe Brooklyn was just a little piggy, but only after she went to bed and it had been several hours could I get more than a half ounce for all my efforts.

Eden's gown, sewn in Bethlehem.
The second package was so very special. A really sweet friend, Sarah, got us a beautiful gown from Bethlehem for Eden to be dedicated to Christ in. She had a friend of hers make a little hat to match it for us to put on Eden, and also had her made a couple of really gorgeous blankies for my daughters, each containing a portion of my wedding dress. The blankets were something I've always wanted to do since having Brooklyn, but I never had the confidence to take scissors to my wedding dress. They gave me the rest of my dress back so my future children can each have a special blankie. Sarah also sent a couple sleepers, one in preemie size and one in newborn size, so we'd have something for Eden to wear under her gown. This package was so special to me, and as I took each piece out of the box, I was smiling through tears of joy. My little girl is so incredibly special to us, and now she has a very special gown, and a very special blanket, that we'll be able to wrap around her and then keep once she's gone. Eden is part of a new special tradition of having a special blanket with pieces of my wedding dress, and it really warms my heart that she's included in something like this.

The day that Sarah put my package in the mail, she sent me an email containing an experience that is definitely a God thing. She put everything together last Friday, and by the time she had every packed like she wanted it, gone to a few different stores for find the sleepers she sent for Eden, found a large enough box, etc. her local post office was closed. The box was just a little too big to fit into the 24/7 drop-off, so Saturday morning she sought out another post office. Here's the email she sent me (published with her permission),


A quick google search this morning led me to one post office that may or may not be open, depending on which site I was looking on.  Of course no one answers their phone, there is only automated systems, so I put the package in my car and followed mapquest.  It is in a area of town I am not intimately acquainted with, but certainly familiar with all the main roads.

I was happy enough as I was driving -- sad that you don't get to raise Eden, of course, but joyful at providing actual clothing and blankets to a little being so close to God, and thinking if I feel that at giving her clothes, what you must feel in carrying her!  I know it is not all sadness.

But as I approached the block where the post office was suppose to be, the mood quickly changed.  Yes, there was the post office, right where it was supposed to be, and I was relieved it looked open.  It was on a corner.  The first thing I noticed was across the street on one side were a group of about 12-15 people, with crosses, gathered in prayer.  Across the street on the other side was an an abortion clinic.

I drove past the Christians in prayer, and past the abortion clinic, and into the post office parking lot.  I stood in line, and paid for the package.  It felt very surreal.  I thought, "The majority of couples who find out their baby has anencephaly ask for an abortion -- but Virginia, Virginia asks for a gown for the baby's blessing, a bonnet to cover the unformed part of her head for photos, and a blanket made out of material from her wedding dress to wrap the baby in.  How truly blessed she is, and how I wish that was available for all the women entering this clinic today -- and it is, it is available, right in front of them, and they just can't see it and pick it up!"  I wanted to run out into the street, and show all the women going in, "No, see look!  It doesn't have to be this way."  But I got back in my van and drove away.  I don't think they would have believed the contents of the package I was mailing if I told them.

With love,


As I read Sarah's email, I cried. God was telling me that this is one of the reasons He gave me Eden. I choose a path far less taken for Eden, and my job is to help other women with that same decision. I had said before, in my first post, I think, that we had "considered" the other option - we talked about an "early induction", but I knew it was just a euphemism for ending my daughter's life unnaturally and before her time. I really did think that maybe it would relieve our pain sooner, and that we'd be able to move on quicker, and that it would hurt less than "constantly being reminded of my dying baby"...but I know, and I knew then too, though I didn't want to admit it aloud, that none of that was true. I kept going onto Google and finding stories of women who had terminated, so I'd feel more justified in thinking that way...but instead I found some ladies regretted it. So I stopped searching for specifics, and read about ladies who carried their sweet babies to term, and I didn't find a single one who had any regrets. I don't think it's possible to regret giving your child the longest life they can possibly have. If it was Brooklyn who was suddenly diagnosed with something fatal, I wouldn't tell the doctor to go ahead and "terminate her" - that isn't even legal. I'd fight for her, and I'd cherish every single second I had with her, and I'd love her with as much love as I could possible give. Eden is no different.

There are choices a mother has to make when told the child they are carrying is going to die shortly after birth, if not before, and it's so much deeper than the choice of life or early death. The healthy child we imagined in our minds simply never existed, and we could go on mourning this imagined child, or we can choose to love the actual child inside us. I do mourn the fact that I'll never get to see my Eden grow up, but the reality is that I was never meant to watch Eden grow up, but I was supposed to love her for who she is, and I wholeheartedly do. I could choose to see this pregnancy as a disaster, a tragedy, or even a curse, or I can choose to see it as an opportunity to help others, a blessing for the time I have with my daughter, and an opportunity to grow into a better, more compassionate person just for knowing Eden and being able to call her my daughter. I could choose to focus on the pain, on the impending loss of Eden's life, or I can focus on the pure joy, happiness, and blessings her life is bringing to my life. I can be angry at God for allowing this to happen, or I can praise Him for the incredible peace, love, and joy He's bringing to my life. I'm still going to be heartbroken when my child dies - I don't think there is a mother out there that wouldn't grieve the loss of a child, but in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my child's life while she still has it.

I know when presented with the "options" of terminating a pregnancy because of something like this or continuing the pregnancy, it's difficult to even think straight, never mind process everything and make a rational decision. I am very blessed to have the OB I have for this pregnancy. He let us know he was completely supportive of whatever we choose to do, and he urged us to take the time to think about it and process what he had told us before making any decisions. Unfortunately, a lot of women don't get that courtesy. Women are often rushed into a decision, or pressured into terminating, or even told they don't have a choice by doctors who just don't seem to know how to handle these situations. Some doctors drop patients who won't terminate, and some doctors will refuse to take on a woman who's baby has been given a fatal diagnosis. Some doctors just don't give their support when women need it the most. Over 95% of anencephalic babies are aborted, and I'm willing to bet so many of those women had always considered themselves pro-life. I'm willing to bet so many women are grieving for the time they lost with their child. I'm willing to bet a lot of those women hold that decision as their deepest regret. We are mothers, and even if you don't believe in God, you can't deny the natural instincts are to protect your babies, even if they are "incompatible with life"...I know that can mean different things to different people, but to me it means letting my child live her natural life, and I know I will never regret the decision we've made. 

If you are reading this and you are facing this decision, please know that you are not alone. If you don't have your doctor's support, or your family's support, or friend's support, but deep down you know you won't want to end your pregnancy, please don't give up. You can contact me, and I will respond back to you and try to support you the best I can. I know I'm just one random lady on the internet, but I've been there, and I know that just having someone to talk to who's been there helps so much. I know what it's like having those thoughts running through your mind, but having that gut wrenching feeling in your heart screaming no.

I'm sorry this is such a long post, and if you've made it this far, thank you. Please continue to pray for us, and if you happen to look at your clock tomorrow (Friday) and it's around 10:00 am central time, please say a quick prayer for a final exam I'm taking for one of my classes - I've been really stressed out and worrying about this test, and I just need to pass it and be done with it. I'm trying to accelerate my classes so I don't have to worry about them after Eden is born, and this would be 1 out of 3 of my classes completed.   I passed with a 85%!! Thank God!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5

Brooklyn's Blanket.
Eden's blanket; it says "Eden Marie" at the bottom.

The note included with Eden's gown.


  1. This is all so beautiful, thank you for sharing! Hope your test went well, fingers crossed for you :)

  2. I feel silly sharing with you (and your blog) however I am compelled to tell someone my heart and sometimes a stranger is best.
    We recently found out we were expecting AGAIN. For most this is joyous news for us it is not. We are a blended family. I have 2 children and we have one together. Our home CAN NOT fit another child. Our car CAN NOT FIT another child. Our family's will be furious, disappointed and a bunch of other really sad things. I am disabled and he is unemployed. We both are pro life, he less so then me. But honestly I have no idea how this will work. We are so beside ourselves, neither of us want to kill our baby but everything is looking bleak. We sort of think if we have another girl we will adopt it out. Yet this feels wrong on so many levels. I don't know what to do. I know I cant kill it, I am fairly certain no matter the sex or health we cant give it away (selfish maybe but honest) and yet the thought of cramming another child in our home scares me. I fear of authority's saying we don't have enough space for our kids or something equally awful.
    I again feel silly whining about this to someone who lost their child. I have no family of my own since my parents died and I am only child. SO if you could perhaps pray for us for guidance, help , and Gods will.

    1. M, my heart is breaking for you and how you must be feeling. I know how bleak things can look in the face of crisis - the same type of thoughts you are having crossed my mind when we first found out about Eden's anencephaly. Besides being devastated, I was angry that this was happening to us, scared of the unknown of what's going to happen, and worried about the financial issues this will bring us. I was also so afraid of how family and friends would react - I actually felt like I was letting people down by not having a healthy baby, even though it was completely out of my control. I know that having support throughout pregnancy is so important, and I'm so sorry that your pregnancy won't be celebrated by your families as it should be, but I'm here to tell you right now that there ARE people out there (including me) who will support you and help you throughout this pregnancy, and that you deserve to hear congratulations for the miracle that you are carrying inside of you. I know that it's hard to believe, but I promise that things will work out even when they seem like they won't if you put your trust in God. He doesn't make mistakes - Eden's anencephaly wasn't a mistake, and you becoming pregnant wasn't a mistake - it's all part of God's awesome plan. And trust me - I know that you probably don't want to hear about God's plan; if someone had told me that my child having a fatal birth detect is part of God's plan for some higher purpose, I probably would have smacked them. But now that I'm living this, I am realizing that Eden's life isn't a waste, and that God didn't just make a mistake that I needed to get rid of and try to forget about - my little girl has a purpose, and so does the little girl or boy you are carrying.

      When I had those thoughts of termination in my head, I also constantly had the word regret running through my head. I KNEW if I had chosen to end Eden's life, I'd be filled with regret, and I know it would have been a regret that I would have lived with the rest of my life. However, after we decided to carry Eden and let her life her natural life, the word regret disappeared. I know wholeheartedly that I will never regret giving my child life, no matter how short, and I know that you will never look at your child and regret allowing him or her to live, no matter how hard things become, and things will be hard at times. Unfortunately, that's not something that we can avoid in life, and anyone who tells you differently is lying. Everyone at some point in their life with go through something that seems completely hopeless, but God will carry you through it if you ask Him to.

      (my comment is too long, see comment below for continued)

    2. I don't know your current living situation, but with love, no home is too small for another child. They used to pack families of 10 in one room cabins back in the day, and while the thought of that is just crazy, it goes to show that people don't need a lot of room to live in. Even if you have all of you packed into 1 bedroom, it's probably only temporary, and it's definitely manageable. If you have a 2 bedroom house, even better. Especially when they are young, kids usually don't mind being in the same bedroom, and if they are older, they are probably old enough to understand the situation and why they are all in the same room. Baby will be able to stay in your room for a while - our 18 month old still sleeps in our room, and we aren't in any hurry to get her out of there; she doesn't have a bedroom right now and we don't see a need for one really until she's older. As for sleeping arrangements, there are usually programs out there that can help you get a crib for free - the crib we have for our daughter was free from a WIC program, but even if you can't get a crib, safe co-sleeping is an option. Honestly, we co-sleep more than my daughter actually sleeps in her crib. Breastfeeding and baby led weaning (not buying special purees but instead giving baby solid foods when they are ready for them around 6-7 months) make feeding baby practically free for that first year - the little bit of actual solid foods that s/he will eat before a year doesn't amount to terribly too much, and if that's something that you aren't able to do, WIC does provide formula and purees for that first year (and milk and food for you while pregnant and breastfeeding). As for diapers, I've never bought a disposable diaper before so I have no idea how much they cost, but cloth diapering can be done very inexpensively, and it isn't as hard as you would think. If you have a washing machine and dryer, then it's really easy, because you can get the modern diapers and just wash them in the machine. If you don't have a washing machine or dryer, it's a bit tougher, but still very doable, especially when faced with having to choose between diapers or an electric bill. It's more "old fashioned" to an extent, but there still aren't rubber pants to worry about!

      I know that you don't want an abortion, I know that you also don't want to put your child up for adoption, and I know if you make a decision like that in a moment of desperation, you'll have regrets, and no one should have to live with regrets like that. I know that if I had chosen to abort Eden, it would have eaten me away inside for as long as I live. I know that it is easy to fear the unknown - I'm still struggling with fearing the unknown about Eden's birth, but some things that you do know is that you love the child you are carrying, you'll love that child when s/he is born, and you'll never look at your child with regret for choosing life for your child, even if it isn't the life you wish you could give him or her. The only thing children truly need is love - the rest will fall into place, I promise you.

      Please don't feel silly about sharing something like this with me. God blessed me with Eden so that I would be able to help people, and I want to help you, even if all I can offer is a virtual shoulder to cry on. If you want to contact me directly, my email is virginiabrill(at)gmail(dot)com. If you want to talk to someone on the phone, there is a really helpful pregnancy crisis line that you can call at 503.249.5801 - it's available 24/7.

      I will most certainly be praying for you, and I'm here if you need to talk some more or have questions about anything. I know how to live on a very tight budget, so if you need help with that too, let me know. God bless you and your family.