On June 25, 2013 I came out of the bathroom beaming with the news that we were going to be a family of four. Baby #2 was on the way in our family and we couldn’t be more excited. We were thrilled. We kept the news to ourselves for a few days, and I remember laying in bed saying to each other “Can you believe we are having another baby?!?!” It wasn’t too long before we had our first doctor’s appointment where everything looked perfect. We heard the most precious sound as we listened to our baby’s heartbeat, and quickly went and bought Stella her very first BIG SISTER shirt. We Skyped with my Mom while Stella wore her shirt, and eventually put a picture of Stella in her shirt on Facebook to announce the news.
On October 4,2013 we had our anatomy scan where we saw a beautiful healthy baby GIRL. Immediately we began imagining what it would be like to have two little princesses at our house. We thought about tea parties, dress up, and the giggles of two little girls that would be in our future. When we left our appointment we headed right to Kohls and bought Sophia Kate her very first little dress. We looked through the whole store and settled on a gray dress with white polka dots and a soft teal onesie to go under the dress.
I really loved being pregnant, and had a perfect pregnancy. We spent the last months of pregnancy preparing for our little girl to arrive. Stella was so excited to meet the baby and would kiss my tummy every day and talk to the baby. Soon our house was full of baby gear, and hospital bags were being packed. The last things were bought and we started to play the waiting game. Because Stella had been such a big baby I went in for an ultrasound on February 4th to check on Sophia. She looked perfect and was getting bigger. We could even tell on the ultrasound that she looked like her big sister.
On February 7th everything changed. It was going to be a busy day, there were lots of errands to run. I sat down in my favorite chair with my Bible and my journal that morning. I could feel my sweet Sophia moving in my tummy, and in that precious moment I wrote these words. “God’s ways don’t always make sense to our finite minds, but we can always trust that His way is perfect. Help me to follow You no matter what, even when it doesn’t make sense. Help me to trust Your heart and rest in You, for You are good”.
The rest of the day was busy with errands, and picking up last minute baby things. That evening when we settled in bed I realized that it had been a little while since I had felt a kick. It had happened many times before so I didn’t mention anything to Jeremy as he fell asleep. I just decided to wait to fall asleep until I felt my baby girl move. I waited for about an hour before I realized that something was terribly wrong. I laid there in bed and I prayed that I would feel a little movement, but I couldn’t shake the sick feeling in my stomach. I woke Jeremy and told him that we needed to go to the hospital. For a moment I think he thought about telling me to wait longer, but he could see on my face that something was not right.
We drove to the hospital and as he held my hand he said “no matter what happens, God will get us through.” When we arrived on the labor and delivery floor and signed in the nurses were so sweet. They took me to a labor and delivery room and used the heart monitor to try to find Sophia’s heartbeat. After a moment I could see the face of the experienced nurse start to shift. Her cheerful spirit was fading as she called for the charge nurse to come look. At first they tried to tell us that she might be hiding, but as I looked at my very pregnant belly I knew there wasn’t a place for her to hide. The charge nurse tried to find her heartbeat as well until after a long while of searching they called for the sonographer. As she rolled her cart in and placed the gel on my tummy it only took an instant for our sweet Sophia’s image to appear on the screen. Our precious baby girl, with a still heart.
All the sonographer could say was “I am so sorry” as she shook her head to the nurse. In that moment I felt completely numb. It took a moment for the tears to even form as I felt so many dreams being shattered. Jeremy fell to his knees at the side of my bed as we both wept.
We had to wait until the next morning to be induced so during those first few hours we called family and friends to tell them of the news. As soon as we received the news we so badly wanted to cuddle up with our sweet Stella, but we waited until the next morning until she woke up. What a comfort our sweet Stella is to us. Throughout our stay in the hospital we had so many sweet friends and family members visit us. On Saturday morning Jeremy put an announcement on Facebook about what had happened. It was hard to think of the right words to say, but what happened next was amazing. Comments and messages started to pour in from people we knew, and from people we had never met. We received such an amazing outpouring of love in those hours that we were overwhelmed. We sat for the long induction process and read and cried as we saw each comment come in.
The induction process was started and it just didn’t seem to be working. In the moment it was frustrating to have the medications not work, but in hindsight we were able to spend that time with friends, and with each other and the Lord and start to process what was going to take place. One of the sweetest moments on Saturday was having our sweet friends surround my hospital bed and pray with us. As guests came the comment we heard often was that they could feel God’s peace in our hospital room.
We didn’t get much sleep in those few days in the hospital. just a few little naps here and there. At one point Saturday night I was having a few contractions and climbed out of bed to sway a bit. While Jeremy slept a bit I prayed and cried. The words to a song about Job that I learned in college came to mind, so I sang in the night beside my hospital bed. “The Lord giveth, he taketh away, blessed be the name of The Lord. I served him before, and I will serve Him today, blessed be the name of The Lord.” I didn’t know in that moment that Jeremy was actually awake as I sang but a few weeks later he told me that it was in that moment that he knew that I was going to be ok, and that we were going to get through this.
The contractions went away and the morning came. On Sunday morning and our dear friend Rachel who is a chaplain in a women’s prison took the day off to come stay with us. She was supposed to have moved the month before but I believe that the Lord delayed her job transfer so that she could be with us. She had a message prepared for the women at her job that day called “It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Later”. She shared it with us that morning and we took such comfort in knowing that though we we will not have our sweet Sophia in this world, we will see her again in a little while.
Sunday was a slow day as they continued to try to progress my induction, but things did not seem to be moving. My doctor was on call on Sunday which was such a blessing to have her there with me though we cried as we saw each other for the first time. Friends left around 8:00pm on Sunday and I skyped with my Mom for awhile until around 9:30 when they came in to check how far I had progressed. Sunday morning I had been only 2cm dilated and when they checked me at 9:30pm I was only a 2-3cm.
As the nurse chatted with Jeremy and I excused myself to the restroom I began to feel strong contractions. It had only been a few minutes since I was checked and I was in so much pain. I really wanted a natural delivery but I was having such hard contractions for only being 2-3 cm that I thought I might need to get an epidural. When I came out I was in so much pain and my doctor arrived. She saw how much pain I was in and said that she should check me, I told her that I had just been checked 15 minutes before but she decided to check anyway. I was 9 cm, and with one more contraction while she checked me I was a 10 and I was ready to push. Definitely no time for an epidural so I was able to deliver naturally.
So many people had said how hard labor and delivery were going to be because I already knew the end result, and I was scared of what it was going to be like going through so much pain knowing that my little one was already gone. But it wasn’t how I thought it would be. I still was excited to see my sweet girl who I had waiting almost 10 months to meet.
After only about 20 minutes of pushing, only an hour after labor had begun at 10:36pm on February 9,2014, Sophia Kate Schmucker was born. The room was silent as she entered the world. There was no sweet cry. Only the hushed tears of the doctor and nurses. Yet, it was in that moment that we finally got to meet the little girl we had so anxiously been awaiting. We were able to look at her sweet little body so perfectly formed by the Creator. I held her and wept as I admired every single feature.
Labor had left me tired, so I rested while Jeremy went with the nurse to bathe her. When they returned with her swaddled and dressed in the little gray polka dot dress we had bought for her when we found out she was a girl I just held her. I was so tired and Jeremy told me to rest so I laid down and held her in my arms as I slept for a little while. At first I felt guilty for wanting to rest, but in retrospect I am so glad that I did. Just laying there with her precious body laying next to me felt so normal. I had done the same thing with Stella so many times when she was a newborn.
The next several hours were so precious as we held her and commented on every part of her and who she looked like, and how much we loved her. We took photos of her, and had our friend Nicole come and take photos of us all together.
When the time came that we would leave our room and have to say “see ya later” to our precious Sophia, we took our time. Jeremy and I sat on the couch in the labor and delivery room and just talked as I held her. We talked about how good God is, and we talked about what we had learned in these hard days and how Sophia had changed us. We shared Scripture with each other that God had comforted us with. We changed her out of her dress and swaddled her. We thanked God for her short life and we prayed that her life would have influence and that people would be drawn to Christ because of our sweet baby girl. We held her and sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, through tears we worshipped our Savior for this precious gift. I have never felt God’s presence so near as in those moments.
I can’t help but thank God for this precious girl and the time that I had with her. I wish that I had so much more time, but I am so grateful for the time that we were given. 37 beautiful weeks that I will never forget. I know this may seem like a sad story, but it is also a story of hope because we know that this is not the end of the story. Sophia’s life on this earth was short, but we look forward to the day when we will worship our Savior next to our precious little girl who is worshipping Him already.