So it has taken me so very long to write about Caden. Most of the time it has been too painful for me to handle, and my life right now has been heading towards lots of change and newness. I must say that putting our journey in print has not been on top of my list of things to do. So here it goes.
Tom and I had been teaching for many years. We planned on waiting to start to have children until we were ready for them financially. About 5 years ago, we took a Crown Financial Bible study and learned so much from it. That fall I started teaching in Newton right across the street from Tom. We began to apply the principals we learned in Crown, and were well on our way to hopefully becoming debt free.
A couple of more years past and we decided to head to Chicago for a KU first round basketball game. It was a great vacation for us!!! Several weeks after returning home from Chicago, I began to feel pretty lousy. I wasn't sure what it was, but I had not felt that sick in a long time. I couldn't eat anything and I felt very nauseaous. I hadn't really thought about it too much, but that sick feeling just would not go away. So I decided to take a pregnancy test. Sure enough, it was positive. I was completely shocked!!!! We had talked about starting to have kids soon, but were planning on trying after school was out for the summer. I had no idea that it could happen so fast.
So after getting used to the idea of being pregnant and becoming parents soon, we started to get excited and plan on what to do as far as a nursery was concerned. I had a picture saved from when we took a trip to Home Depot and I told Tom someday that I would like to decorate our kids' room like that. He remembered and that was that. We picked out the bright colors of lime green, yellow, and turquoise. Tom spent a weekend taping and putting the colors into a checkered pattern. When he finished it looked just like I had imagined it to be.
Later that summer we found out that we were going to have a boy. We were both pretty excited b/c he was going to be the first grandson on both sides of our families. I was really looking forward to teaching him our love for basketball and sports. We were really anticipating his arrival soon.
School started that August and I was busy!!! I was teaching 3rd grade at the time and really wanted to get my students ready for the dreaded State Assessments. Most upper elementary teachers will know what I'm talking about.
On one of my appointment days, I had to leave school really quickly to get to my appt. on time. I also forgot that I had afterschool duty that day too. I was needless to say a little overwhelmed and stressed. I ended up making it to my appt. on time and luckily for me, Tom was able to go with me. Little did I know that day would forever change my life.
We went into the Drs. office and I thought it was a regular check up. The nurse checked the regular things like blood pressure and proteins and such. She said that my blood pressure was high, but didn't really seem too concerned about it. As my Dr. entered the room, I just knew that something was different about this appt. then the others. She said that my blood pressure was too high and that I had too much protein and she was sending us straight to the hospital. I was terrified. I was only 30 weeks pregnant at that time and not ready at all to have a baby.
We went to Wesley Hospital in Wichita, Ks and I was taken care of very nicely. The nurses there are some of the best that I could have had. They gave me steroid shots just in case I was going to have the baby early. I was in the hospital for a total of 4 days before they let me go home. I was put on strict bed rest at home and was going to stay at home until I had the baby. My Dr. diagnosed me as having preeclampsia. It is pregnancy induced high blood pressure, and is sometimes common in women with their first pregnancies. The only way to get rid of it is to have the baby, but I was too early for that.
Bed Rest. I was not a person who would just sit and do nothing unless it was a Saturday morning. This was quite hard for me. I was at home all the time and kept seeing lots of chores that I needed to do around the house that I couldn't even help with. But I knew that it would be worth it to keep my baby safe and to hold him soon.
Three weeks later, my Dr. sent me in for a biophysical profile. It is basically a sonogram, but they are looking for specific movements. As I went to that appt. my pastor's wife at the time took me, because Tom couldn't come with me. I went in with a positive attitude and just was waiting out the last several weeks until I could hold my baby in my arms. While I was there, I could just sense that something was different. The sonographer sent me immediately to my dr. I thought that was strange as I didn't have an appt. with her then. As I entered the office, I saw the receptionists talking and then fell silent as I entered. It was then that I knew that I would not be getting good news, but I was still hopeful. I thought that I was going to have to go into the hospital right away b/c of some of my protein levels. I had no idea what was about to happen. My pastor's wife stayed out in the car to wait for me, b/c I didn't think it would be too long.
I have always been told that God never gives you more than you can handle, but I never really knew what that meant until that first day in November. A different Dr. came in and asked me if there was anyone that could come in the room with me. So I called my pastor's wife in the car and let her know what they said to me. She advised me that I should call Tom. She also called her husband and they both came into the room with me. It seemed like I was waiting forever for someone to tell me what in the world was going on. Finally another Dr. came in and said that my baby had no heart beat. I really didn't know what to do at that point except to cry. My whole world fell apart. I remembered thinking that it was a mistake and that they should do another sonogram. Tom came and I had to tell him the bad news. His words were those of the best kind of loving husband. He simply said "God is in control." It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but it was the truth. We both sat there and cried and prayed that God would give us the strength to do what we needed to do and grieve in a way that brought glory to His name. I somedays don't know if we have done that. So much has happened, but I know that God revealed himself to me in ways that I would never have imagined.
Later that day, we headed to the hospital again. My dr. was not oncall that day, but she came and did whatever I needed so that I would have minimal pain and that it would be a quick delivery. I appreciate her kindness and willingness to stay and be with us for that tragic moment. On Friday November 2, 2007 at 1:15 pm, I delivered a stillborn Caden Everett Ehrlich. He weighed 3 lbs. and 6 oz. He was so tiny, but so complete too. Tom and I were able to hold him for as long as we wanted to. It was a bittersweet moment. I knew that he was not there, but all I wanted to do was hold him. I felt so empty!!!
I ended up having to stay in the hospital for another 4 days until my blood pressure went back down. While I was there many great family and friends came to visit. It brought a little comfort at such a painful time of my life. Tom and I also had to prepare for a memorial. Neither one of us had even considered having a memorial or knew what we would do. Our pastor told us about an organization called Agape Care Cradle. So we said that we would look into it. They helped us decide what kind of service we wanted to have and how we wanted to remember Caden. We never thought that we would have to have our baby and then give him a memorial service all in the same week. It broke both of our hearts.
Caden's memorial was a way for us to share our faith with many people. Our students at work made cards and shared with us similar situations that they had with losing a little brother or sister. I also heard from many people that they were amazed at how we were able to leave the hospital without Caden. There was not amazement about it. For us we had no choice. It was what had to be done. I also had many people that wanted to donate in Caden's name to different organizations and such. I was overwhelmed at how much Caden had affected others. I decided that I did not want to waste my pain and I wanted to do something to honor him.
This blog was my way of doing something for him. I talk about my trials and how we have come through some rough storms. I never think of myself as someone who is strong, but with God's help, He helped me to be strong when I felt like giving up. Losing Caden taught me many things about the world around me and what is really important. Caden I believe is living in perfection and I am so jealous. His first experiences are of our heavenly father. I have learned so much from him. I hold him in my heart always and he will never be forgotten. That is what faith is really about. So I hold onto my Lord and wait until he decides that I can see Caden again.