Gianna’s Story

I went back and found my first post on the Daily Strength support group. Reading it again took me back to those days, back to the pain.  Here it is, posted on May 8, 2009:

I have been drawn to this group over and over again in my frantic search for someone to help me through this pain. I’ve looked in vain for grief counselors, someone caring on the other end of the phone who can give me real answers on how to deal with this. I check my email and the mailbox everyday, hoping for some uplifting note or words of encouragement. But it’s been almost a month now and the cards and letters have stopped. Everyone is back to their lives, and I am left with the reality that is our life now.

I have a wonderful husband, two great kids still with us and many wonderful family members and friends who are only a phone call away. But I don’t want to burden them with this pain anymore, and yet it feels like it’s getting worse. My little Lena brings me tissues and tries to make me smile when my tears come, but the tears just won’t stop and I feel so guilty for being so sad all the time for her.

Sherri & GiannaWe lost our baby girl Gianna Lynne on April 15, 2009. Just a routine visit at the high risk OB, first time I had gone without my dear husband because everything had been looking wonderful. (Was seeing a high risk OB because my quad screen had come back positive, high alpha feta protein. But all looked good, no Downs, no spina bifida, no problems at all.) I hadn’t felt her all that much in recent days, but that was becoming the norm for this pregnancy. Had in fact been in to see my regular OB a few times due to lack of movement. And every time, there she was, just fine. Still, I watched the doc carefully and watched her on the screen as he started the ultrasound. Three measurements, then the unthinkable.

Doc: “When did you last feel the baby move?”
Me: “This morning, I think. I don’t feel her a whole lot. Is there a problem?”
Doc: “Yes, I’m not seeing any movement.”
Me: “Is there a heartbeat?”
Doc: “No.”
Me: “Are you sure?”
Doc: “Yes.”

Gregg Jack & GiannaShe died from a cerebral hemorrhage. We took Gianna’s birth for granted, never thinking in a million years she would not live. You skip past all that when reading about risks and things that could happen. I had been so sick the whole 7 months, I foolishly figured that since I was so sick it wasn’t possible she was anything but healthly.

I feel the grief wanting to completely overtake me. Yet, I read your stories and can see some hope, some light at the end of this very dark tunnel. Perhaps I will make it back to the light. The question is, how?

This was before we started Gianna’s Light, before I knew I would smile again, before I could imagine that one day I would wake up without tears on my face.

I remember how raw I felt, I wish I could put it into words.  But I know if you are reading this, you know exactly what I’m saying.  I can still clearly remember those awful days in the hospital.  The moment when I was being wheeled into the delivery room, and thinking “I could die” and how I was comforted by that thought, because I would be with my baby.  That moment when they brought me my beautiful baby girl, all wrapped up in a pink blanket.  How surprised I was at how perfect she was.  I remember how I hated the folder at the funeral home with her name on it.  How brightly the sun shone on the day we buried her, how my heart broke a little more every time the priest said her name.  The endless tears.  The hours spent in her nursery, surrounded by her things, holding the clothes that once touched her skin to mine, desparately wishing she were here.

Very, very soon after that post, replies, and hugs, starting coming in – hope and love starting coming to my inbox.  The first glimmer of light.

When Gianna first died, I thought her “story” was the story of her death.  That the pain would always be the story.  But her life is so much more than her death.  Her story is not finished.  She has touched so many lives,and continues to.  A Daily Strength sister once said that we must live our lives to honor our baby’s lives, and do all the wonderful things our babies will not be able to.  Gianna’s Light shines bright, and the pain is NOT always the story.  She brings love and comfort.  That is our girl’s legacy.