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My husband Dominic and I were expecting our second child and
first daughter, Emmalynne, to arrive on January 15th, 2019. She was
an answer to our prayers–the daughter I had prayed for since I was little. Emmalynne
comes from the two names, Emma: meaning wholeness and Lynne: means a reservoir.
We believe that she is a resource of healing who will bring wholeness to all those
her story touches.

On January 9th I was at a work function (the first day of what was supposed to be a 2-day retreat) when I began having intense pain in my stomach. My friend and I joked that I was going into labor as we predicted would happen at this retreat. However, this pain was different. I called my mom and called the doctor describing what I was experiencing. After a few minutes of the pain not ceasing and confirmation from my doctor’s office, I had a friend drive me to my hospital which was 45 minutes away from where we were. The whole way, the pain continued without relief.

I called my husband, Dominic several times but was not able to reach him because he was working on a remodel project at a home that did not have strong cell reception. I had to call my dad, who had to call the homeowner and have him physically go to the house to tell Dominic to come to the hospital. I laid down in the back of the car clutching my stomach with one arm and holding myself up on the other as it was getting difficult to breathe through the pain. On the way, my Pastor called (not having been notified of any of this) and left me a voicemail saying that he had an urging to pray for peace over me–peace for whatever was going to happen. Looking back, I truly believe this was God helping to prepare my heart and shape my lenses for what was coming.

When we arrived at the hospital, Dominic was still a few minutes behind us. They checked me in and asked me to change. I struggled to even stand because the pain was so intense. The nurse helped me to my bed and began to search for Emmalynne’s heartbeat. They could not find it. She kept searching, thinking that Emmalynne was hiding in the womb. She pressed harder and continued to run the monitor over every inch of my stomach. With every stroke over my belly, the pain intensified and felt like a knife was cutting through me. The nurse asked me if it had been difficult to find in the past and I said no. She had always had a strong heartbeat and it was one of my favorite sounds.

I knew at that moment that the future I had pictured was changing rapidly. They called in the doctor working the floor that day, and searched my belly again with the sonogram, still producing incredible pain. I could not see the screen, but the look on the sonographer’s face confirmed what the nurse had discovered. At that moment, things began to move rapidly. Nurses and doctors were quickly prepping me. Out of nowhere, it seemed, my doctor came in the room and shared with me what was happening. Since they could not find the heartbeat, they were taking me back for an emergency C-section. There was no time to wait–I had to go now.

Dominic was still not at the hospital, and I was being
wheeled out of the room and rushed back to surgery. My mom had called my friend
while this was happening and before I was wheeled out of the room I told her
that they could not find Emmalynne’s heartbeat. She began praying and I had to
give the phone back to my friend. I shouted on the way out of the room for her
to call Dominic and tell him and for someone to be here with him while I was
gone. I had not ever gone through a major surgery and did not know how to
process what was about to happen. The only thoughts that filled my mind were
concerns about Dominic being alone in the waiting room, not knowing what was
happening and questions about the severity of what was happening in my womb.

Back in the OR there was a team of people moving quickly. I
had no IV in so they moved me onto the operating table and began trying (what
felt like every vein) so the anesthesia could be administered. One nurse came
up to me and looked me in the eyes and told me her name and that she was going
to do everything she could to care for my sweet girl once she was out. I could
only see her eyes due to her face mask but she looked identical to my mom’s
cousin. As strange as this may sound, it felt as if I had family in the room
with me. I felt the Lord say that He was with me and He was in this…not only
was I in His hands, but Emmalynne was too.

While I was in surgery Dominic arrived and had to wait in
the waiting room. He immediately asked to go back to the OR, but because of the
nature of the situation they did not allow him to do so. He was forced to wait
without answers or understanding of what was happening. My mom had called my
Aunt, Uncle and, Pastors and they were all on their way to the hospital. My
Aunt arrived first and was able to be with Dominic and the friend that drove me
to the hospital. I asked Dom for the details of his experience while I was back
in the OR. He said that nurses came out and updated him on the process when
Emmalynne was out and the doctors were working on her.

Dominic said he was in constant prayer since he got the
phone call from me. Our friend, Nicole, and my mom were on the phone with him
and they were all praying together. A few minutes later the doctor came out and
shared the news with Dominic (and Nicole and my mom on the phone) that the
placenta had detached from my uterine wall, leaving Emmalynne without a life
source and they were not able to revive her. They shared with him that they were
closing me up and he would be able to see me soon.

The next thing I remember was waking up in my hospital room
with family around me and my doctor standing by my bedside. I remember looking
up and knowing that Emmalynne did not make it. I stated what I felt was true
and had it confirmed. My doctor shared with me that Emmalynne’s placenta had ruptured
and detached from my uterus. She said it was like an explosion went off in my
body. At that point blood began to fill my uterus and seep into the uterine
wall. When she cut me open she found it to be already black and blue. I lost
1/3 of my body’s blood amount from this. The miracle was the fact that my
uterus was not destroyed during this event. She said if I had waited any longer
it would have been too far damaged to save and she would have had to do a full
hysterectomy leaving me without the ability to have children in the future.

I asked her if I could see my baby girl. Emmalynne was
brought to me wrapped in a tiny baby blanket and had a tiny hat on her head.
She was the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. Her sweet hands were
folded and her eyes were closed as if she was simply sleeping. My mind tried to
comprehend what was happening as my heart was screaming with hope and fire,
“WAKE UP SWEET GIRL, WAKE UP!” I held her so close and with all my might. I
treasured that moment as much as I could, knowing it was fleeting.

More family and close friends came in and out of the room,
each having an opportunity to hold her. I was on strong medication and was in
and out of sleep. My nurse came into the room and I asked her how long we would
be allowed to keep Emmalynne. She said, “As long as you need”. They were
willing to take measures to preserve her body in our room if needed. As I was
holding Emmalynne, I looked at Dominic and said, “I know the longer we hold
her, the longer we will prolong our healing”. He agreed. We could have held her
forever. Believe me, we could have. We also knew that we were standing in the
middle of a life changing moment and whatever we chose in that moment could
shape the rest of our lives. Nothing can mentally prepare you to process such
unexpected and devastating loss. We were flooded with so much pain, questions
and shock.

At the same time, we had
been preparing for this moment our whole lives. We know that God is Good and He
is Love. He does not have to be the author of something in order to be the Finisher
of it! He sent and gave his son to die for THIS moment…for our pain…AND for our
freedom FROM this moment and this loss! We were being given a choice to remain
in our loss and in the death we were experiencing, or to choose life and allow
the cross to encounter our current reality.

I then turned to Dom and said, “Let’s choose now to not
allow this to make us bitter”. We knew the power of the downward spiral of
bitterness and we had decided a long time ago to let forgiveness and surrender
umpire our hearts. We choose to surrender and forgive in the small things and
in the big things. I then took his hand and looked back at Emmalynne and we
walked out that surrender through worship. I began to sing, “Your praise will
ever be on my lips…” (Ever Be by Bethel).  

I continued through the several choruses, verses and the
bridge. As we sang, the room filled with friends and family joined in with us, “Your
praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips, your praise will ever be on
my lips, ever be on my lips. You will be praised, you will be praised. With
angels and saints we sing holy are you, Lord.”

I then sealed our decision once again in prayer. “God, thank
you that you are here. We choose to not allow this situation to produce
bitterness in our lives and in our family’s lives. I thank you for the
opportunity to carry the life of your daughter in my womb for these 9 months.
We choose now to commit her back to You. We love you, in your Name we pray, Amen.”

We are aware that this is not the normal response to a
situation like this. We chose to worship. We chose to not be bitter. And we
chose to declare the faithfulness of God, to claim our authority over death and
to fix our eyes on Him and His power to restore IN the VERY MOMENT of our pain.
Rather than blaming ourselves or even blaming the enemy and giving him the
power over Emmalynne’s life… we chose to give our daughter back to God. We also
chose to give ourselves, our lives, our expectations of the future, and our
hearts to Him once again.

That moment and choice did not mean that we would not feel
the pain of the current and coming grief. It was not a magic cure that exempted
us from walking a process of grief. Our hearts still very much miss our little
girl and we are navigating this season with God on a daily basis. It is
beautiful and messy. It is full of tears and praise. It is full of constant
surrendering through worship and prayer. We know there is more life to come
from our story and we pray that healing and wholeness continue to be a result
of her life and ours. Thank you for your prayers and support.

With hope,

Dominic and Tabitha Denney

Tabitha Summers | Redeeming Hope
Site by Alex.