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January 26, 2011

In the moments after...


After Rick and I left the hospital we wanted to get our boys... We wanted to hold them and love on them and never let go. As we drove to where they were, we were in shock. We were in a daze, still in a dream. Had this terrible tragedy really happened? And had this really happened to us, to our lives? It seemed so unreal. It still does.

I don't remember much else of what happened other than the fact that when we pulled up to get them at the house, I ran to them. I hadn't thought about it but they had no idea of what was going on. They had spent the night with their grandma and the last they knew was that they were coming home in the morning to see us and see Maddie Grace.

So, what was the first thing they asked when they saw us?

Where's baby Maddie? I thought I would hit the floor. I remember gasping for breath and grabbing them. This wasn't fair... How do I tell my 5 and barely 3 year old that Baby Maddie had passed away. A sister that they had been looking so forward to for months. A sister that they had just held the day before... It just wasn't fair.

I don't know how he did it, but Rick had enough strength to get the 3 of us into the bedroom so we could talk. The boys continued to ask the whole way there. "Where's Baby Maddie?" "Where is she?" I thought I would die as I saw Noah's eyes fill up with tears and as Rick said "We need to talk to you boys about Baby Maddie." It was like Noah already knew. He was forcing back his tears as Rick explained that Baby Maddie had a hard time breathing and went to Heaven to be with Jesus. I looked into my boys faces and I was crushed. I couldn't understand why? Why our family? We loved Madeline. We wanted Madeline. We needed Madeline.

Elijah didn't quite understand much of it but I remember him looking so sad. He knows what Heaven is though, and he did repeat back to us that she was there after having it explained to him. The four of us sat on the bed and we cried. Rick held me and we cried. Then I saw Rick do something that still amazes me to this day...

He reached into his pocket and pulled out Madeline's pacifier. The one that she had sucked on for the last day and a half. He handed it to Noah and told Noah that Baby Maddie wanted him to have something special.

Then he said "Do you remember when Baby Maddie was getting her bath and she kept crying?" Noah answered, "Yes" in a weak little voice. Then Rick replied, "Well, Baby Maddie loved that you calmed her down and made her stop crying. You soothed her, Noah. Just like this pacifier soothed her. She wants you to have it." I watched as my precious son reached his tiny hand out and took the precious pacifier from his daddy. He held it tight in his hand and told us he would always keep it, always.

After talking with the boys, they were taken out of the room. Rick and I held each other and sobbed. Our hearts were broken, for the loss of our daughter and for the heartbreak of our boys...

After a little while I told Rick I wanted to take the boys home. To do what? I wasn't sure. I cried the whole way home and I've never felt so weak. It was a feeling that I didn't know I would still be feeling 2 1/2 weeks later, to the same degree. It's like my heart has been removed.

When I walked in the house I went upstairs to our room. I went to the place that we had just spent an amazing first night at home with our little girl.
I saw her blanket laying on the bed. The bassinet was still right there, her hat was laying inside. I fell on the bed and wept. How was this happening? This can't be my life. I kept pitching myself, truly trying to wake up. I thought I would look over and see Maddie in her bassinet sleeping away. It was all a dream. It had to be. It wasn't.

Rick had to come in and pick me up off the floor. He wanted to take me from the room. Take me from the place that I had my last moment on earth with my little girl. I just couldn't leave. I was a complete mess. We both were.

I clung onto her blanket and put it to my face. I just held it. There was still a diaper on the night stand. Rick took it out. He made the bed and cleaned up the room. All the while I sat there, so empty, so broken. I knew it was how he coped and I understood.

People had started arriving to the house. I was numb. Everyone wanted to know the same thing. What happened? She was the picture of health. I wanted to know too. God wanted her. He just wanted her. This was what Rick and I kept telling each other. We didn't know what else to do. I remember never getting mad. Just feeling like she had been taken from me, way, way too soon.

Our friends and family just sat and listened to us talk and cry and they held us. They prayed for us.

I don't even remember much more of the day. I remember people telling me I needed to eat and sleep. I couldn't do either. Rick and I went up to our room at one point to try to sleep. We couldn't. We both had the events of the day so fresh on our mind. I kept picturing Maddie's face in that moment of panic knowing something was wrong. What could I have changed? What else could I have done? Rick reassured me over and over, it wasn't your fault. But I just felt like something had to be the blame. What was it? It was one of those unexplained moments in life that you would die for an answer to.

I layed there and he held me and we cried. I remembered holding her after they told me she was gone. Putting her face to mine and trying to cherish the last moments of her in my arms for there would be no more. I wasn't going to watch her grow up. I wasn't going to see her again, ever in this life. How could this be...

I remember Rick praying and praying as we cried out. Praying for help and strength and comfort. Praying that God would help us. I'm so thankful He was there. In the darkest moment of my life... He was still there holding Rick and I up.

As the day came to an end and everyone was gone and the boys were asleep, I soon realized that my life would never be the same. A part of me had gone to Heaven. A part of me was no longer here anymore. There was a hole in my heart, there still is. How will I thought "How will I get through this night?"


  1. Natalie,
    I know you don't know me personally and I don't know you. I know we share many mutual friends and have the common bond of Crown College. I live in West Union (Adams County)and my husband pastors here. I don't think we live that far apart. I have been praying for you and your precious family through this very deep valley you are walking through. I have never lost a baby (not even in miscarriage) and we have been blessed with 6 healthy children so I don't even want to imagine the pain you are going through.
    The only way I can relate (in the slightest) is that I became paralyzed from my waist down almost 2 years ago. It has been a deep valley for our family and so in that sense, I know what you are going through. Here is what I know, though and what you are testifying to in this blog, God is so good and His grace truly is sufficient and He is your help in that very moment you need it and think you cannot go on. There will be so many days that all you can do is cry out to God for help and He is there. That is the peace that passes all understanding that so many cannot comprehend unless you have been there. I don't know if you will be up to it for awhile or not, and that is fine, but if you want to meet for lunch or something I would be honored to share our hearts one with another and encourage each other. May God bless and be near you. ~Alicia (

  2. As I read your story I can't stop crying hysterically ...although I have never in my entire life went through a valley this hard, with my imagination I can put myself exactly in your shoes. After 3 boys, I can share the excitement that comes with finding out you are having a girl & all the shopping & decorating & fun stuff that comes with that news! I know the excitement of big brothers in just the anticipation of meeting their sister! So as your story was unfolding I could easily put myself in your shoes & my heart has been so broken for you. Every time I'd wake up during the night I'd pray for you & try to understand a reason for all of this. You are one of the strongest people I have ever had the privilege of meeting (even if not in person). My dad preached a message one time titled "The birds are still singing" and he talked about if God had so much compassion that he wouldn't let a single bird go hungry, how much more does He love & pity His children?!! Ever since then just seeing a bird flying or singing would bring me peace in difficult situations. I'm glad God has given you some peace through the birds also. Also the song Under His Wings( you can hear it on YouTube ), is the song dad had me & mom sing when he preached that message! I will continue to pray for you & your husband & your sweet boys.

  3. Dear Natalie,
    Although we do not know each other personally, I was made aware of your blog thru a mutual friend. How my heart truly breaks for you and your family! I, too, am sharing in the same journey with you in the loss of a child. Mine began 4 1/2 years ago..I pray that that is a testament to you of just how sufficient God's grace is!! When you feel like you have no idea how you'll survive another night, remember, that we are to live by faith and not by sight! I have a wonderful friend who shared with me a wonderful thought about pain...God never wastes it! His purpose for your pain, is just as you say - to glorify HIM. Right after my sweet Katie Beth went home to be with Jesus, someone said to me these words, "God must think that you are really special to entrust you with such a huge trial." The truth is, Natalie, that God knew I couldn't make it thru that trial without Him. He knew, in HIS sovereignty that I would have to hold onto Him for dear life, just to even get the mundane tasks of our every day lives done. And God has proven Himself time and time again...He is enough. He is more than enough.
    I love you sister in Christ!! I'm praying for you and for your family...God has some VERY special plans for you all.
    If you would ever like to talk, or just need someone to pray with you, who has been where you are today, please don't hesitate to contact me.
    Amanda Carnes

  4. Natalie, I am so glad you are able to share this with others. I know it has to be very hard reliving it through words. I do not know the pain of losing a child you have held in your arms and yearned for so many months. I had a miscarriage between Micaiah and Zechariah and I thought my world was ending. After only 9 weeks I loved that little one. God shows us Grace and Mercy through these hard times!! I pray your heart heals but never forgets your sweet baby girl and those precious moments you and Rick had with her. I was thinking last night how in your last post you said you went almost the 2 days with little to no sleep. This was a gift God gave y'all to spend those sleepless times with your precious baby girl. Praying for you, Rick and the boys!!

  5. Natalie, I do not know you but saw your beautiful girl on FB when a relative of mine [who knows you] posted a comment on her picture. I was very touched. Tomorrow I will wear pink in your daughter's honor. Sending blessings your way.