Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cheyenne's Day

Today is the 11th anniversary of my daughter Cheyenne's death. She was 15 days old. The previous day we had been told by the nursing staff that her chances of survival had gone up from 50% to 75%. That day was the first day I took "off" from going to the NICU. Instead I went with my husband to his workplace and made up a birth announcement on the computer and sent out some email updates about how well my surviving two triplets were doing.

This is Cheyenne - taken on her 14th day of life - I celebrated each week with a new 3x5 card...

We brought the camcorder with us to the NICU that evening for the first time. When we showed up we were told to wait outside because a baby was coding. I knew it was one of mine. I asked and they confirmed that it was Cheyenne. My husband went off to use the phone to call his Mom. I waited outside the door. They came out and updated me. She'd dropped her heart rate and she'd been down for almost 20 minutes. I asked IF she survived what her quality of life would be like. They said she'd be severely brain damaged from the lack of oxygen. I asked if we could make the choice to discontinue efforts. They said we could. So when my husband came back we talked about it and had them discontinue efforts.

They took her off the vent and handed her to me in the blanket. She opened one eye and looked at me as if to say goodbye. We took turns holding her and touching her. Occasionally a doctor would pop into the "family room" to check and see if her heart was still beating. Even though she was (for all purposes) dead they had to wait till her heart quit beating before they called her time of death. And because they'd given her so much medication to try and get her heart beat to seemed like it took forever before she was finally gone. This is the only "movie" I have of her...and it's still somewhere on the original 8mm tape. We've never viewed it or put it to regular tape.

I grew up as the only girl in a family of boys. My Mom was quite masculine as well. I wanted a daughter to do all the girly things with. When I was pregnant I'd always say there were two girls for me and a boy for dad. Well, with Cheyenne my dreams for a daughter died as well. There would be noone for me to dress up and do their hair. Noone to take shopping. Noone to teach to bake. Noone to buy an ezbake oven for.

I don't care how many years pass - I have never been able to find any sense to the experience we faced. I'm not a better person because of it (stronger maybe but not better). I was a good person to begin with. In general, with grief you try to focus on the positive things you got from knowing the person. When your children live for such a short time and their whole life is's impossible to find that something positive to focus on.

My beliefs in God have changed. I no longer believe in a micro God. A macro God that created the earth and that has a general plan for our life...that idea I can still believe. But a micro God who knows and cares about everything in our life. That I can't believe. I can't believe a micro God with "all knowing and all power" would allow what happened to happen. And I can't set foot in a church after the "family" I belonged to for several years then decided they needed to blame me for my daughters' deaths. When bad things happen it can't be God's fault so it must be the fault of the person it happened to. I was told by church leadership that I must have had my priorities out of line and wanted my girls more than I wanted God and that's why He TOOK them. I was also told that if it weren't for my lack of faith that I'd still have all my babies (like the McCaughy's). Not a single person from that church sent a card or offered to help in any way. No food was brought. No rides were given to the hospital (I'd had a c-section and wasn't able to drive). And when I called my pastor after Cheyenne died (after losing two children in two weeks time) he asked if I absolutely NEEDED him because he was busy with preparing for his son's wedding. I told him no...I guess I didn't NEED him. Grrr.

So I'm sorry if I offend anyone by stating my beliefs. And please don't try to "fix" my beliefs. They won't change. Believing in a macro God is the best I can do...and that's my own PERSONAL belief. I no longer will attend a church full of hypocrites who kick people when they are down. It's easy to be on the outside looking in. It's easy to say trite things about God and heaven and angels. It's a whole other experience to hold your child in your arms as their heart quits beating. And until someone has experienced this, then I wish they'd keep their comments to themselves and just offer their support instead of well-intentioned words gone wrong. (No, God didn't NEED my daughters more than I did...I also don't believe He TOOK my daughters - I do believe He RECEIVED my daughters...I don't believe things happen for a reason...etc...etc).



ya ya's mom said...

dabbing at tears in my eyes, i can say nothing because nothing will change it. my heart goes out to ya jane. i cannot imagine. keep fighting girl.

StampinbyGeorge said...

Jane ~ Sending prayers and cyber hugs your way. Thank you for sharing your daughters memory with us.

Jan Scholl said...

Jane-thank you for sharing this with us. You and I have very similar beliefs and I often have a hard time explaining them to others. I believe in something greater than myself but that I have a special connection to the earth and inhabitants and how we intermingle. Some people refer to me as a witch or just crazy. I am neither.

Now I want you to find someone to preserve those movies to dvd or similar for your family. My parents had 8MM and super 8 and never took care of them. And they disintegrated over 50 years. The only photos of my beloved baby brother were on those. Thankfully I have a vivid memory and was able to sketch his face so my kids would "know" him. Watch those movies and celebrate Cheyenne's 15 days-my mom never mentioned my brother again-he was here 15 years! And it put a huge wedge between the family because he was my Boo and no one would see that. I still save a seat while watching Star Trek reruns for him. He helped make me who I am today. So celebrate Cheyenne's life because she counts and helped make the world better however short her physical stay.

Seleise said...

Hugs to you, Jane. I'm sorry you weren't embraced by those around you when you went through all of this. I hope the e-hugs from all of us out here will help.

Jamie said...

Hey Jane, I am here for you. You are right in everything you said, and shame on your so called church "family." Love ya girl

Tammy said...

Jane, so sorry for your loss. I understand your thoughts/feelings more than you will ever know.....


Charmaine said...

It saddens me to think that those that should have given you comfort in your time of need were not there for you and treated you so badly. I am not here to tell you what to believe are shaped by your experiences...and are who you are because of them. Keep your chin up and remember your babies. Maybe your story is reaching someone at this moment that needs it...and that could be something good that came from your experience. Regardles...hugs to you.


Littlekel90 said...

Jane, I know there is nothing that I can say to really ease your pain but know that my heart aches for you, too. Cyber hugs sent your way. Thank you for sharing this with us. As, I am sure it was not easy. With love, your SCS sister, Kelly L

Anja said...

I was sent here by Widdleshamrock. Thank you for sharing Cheyenne's story. Blessings to you.

Bettina said...

I am so sorry.

I am so sorry that you lost your girls.

And I'm horrified that your church wasn't there to support you even though it seems to be an all too familiar story.

hugs to you

laurlynn said...

Wow, Jane, every so often I hear more of the story and it's so heart breaking the way everything happened. I agree with Jan, have the movie tape preserved. . . one day your boys will understand the full pain of what you all endured and may want to celebrate her short life with you.

Jennifer Ofiana said...

I am so teary eyed right now. I feel so terrible for your loss! Thank you for sharing and know that many others do care and will be there for you!!

Belas Creating Place said...

Jane in reading this about your loss and the pain your suffer my heart goes out to you. It is awful that there wasn't anyone who could support your family through this heart wrenching pain. I for one have gone through loss and I have gone through it alone, no support. It does change your beliefes and sometimes sadly who you are at times.

I send you an e-hug and had I been nearby and if I were a friend/neighbour, I would have given you a helping hand or an ear. I guess those of us who have handled loss know how to comfort others.

Take care of yourself.

~KRISTY~ said...


Nancy ~ Inkcicles said...

I am so sorry to read what happened to you. I lost my first born five weeks after his birth almost 20 years ago. My heart goes out to you.


Sam said...

My heart breaks for you. I can't begin to imagine how you must feel. Not only to lose a child, but also to lose the support that should have been there for you. Those people were incredibly wrong to treat you and your family that way at a time when you needed support from everyone.
My best friend of 20 years lost her 17 year old in a car accident 4 years ago this September. Fortunately, she has an incredible support system. I grieved with her and for her and her husband and son. It was a life altering experience for me and a life shattering one for them. It's also something that will always stay with you. You learn never to take anything for granted.
When I lost my dad last year, it was horrible. But even that can't compare to losing a child.
You will be forever in my thoughts. And remember that there are people out there who DO care. I don't even know you, but I care.
Take care of yourself and don't let other ignorant people cause you to give up.
Thank you for sharing your story. You have touched my heart.

Mommato6 said...

I am so sorry that you have gone through so much. I can understand why you feel like you do. Nothing I say can make a difference to you, but, please know you are NOT alone!!!

JC Designs said...

Jane, I am so sorry for your loss! I too lost a child and know the pain that comes with such a loss. My heart aches for you when I read about your church being so unloving. I was very fortunate to have a church who loved and supported us through that time. At my son's funeral, my pastor actually told the people that this event did not occur because we sinned or did anything wrong. I really appreciated that! Please know that there are loving, sincere Christians and churches that do care deeply for their members. I did have people say some things to me that were not supportive in the least, but I came to realize that they really meant well and just had no idea what to say or do. I tried to remember that this is one of those experiences that, unless you've lived it, it's hard to know how to really be helpful. Like you, I don't know why I had to go through the loss of my son; however, I have to believe that God sees the big picture and trust that He is in control. I do know that having gone through my loss has taught me how to support others who go through similar situations and for that, I am thankful. You are in my prayers!