It was March 12 of 2008. I was 23 weeks pregnant when we learned of our precious daughters condition. Up to that point, my pregnancy had been very similar to the first. I had the morning sickness, the acne, the tiredness…I had even had 2 previous ultrasounds confirming that our second baby girl looked perfect. But one early Wednesday morning, everything changed. Our world was turned upside down as we were informed that our daughter, Olivianna Grace, had a condition called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH).
CDH is a fetal defect where there is a hole in the muscle between the chest and the abdomen. The hole allows the contents of the abdomen (stomach, intestine, liver, spleen, and kidneys) to go up into the fetal chest, occupying the space and preventing the lungs from growing to normal size. While in the uterus, a baby does not need its lungs to breathe, because the placenta performs this function. However, if the lungs are too small after the baby is born, the baby will not be able to provide itself with enough oxygen to survive.
At first we were unsure of the severity of Olivianna’s condition. We prayed and pleaded for the best…but in our flesh we feared the worst. After numerous trips to UCSF’s Fetal Treatment Center, and hours and hours of tests, we were told that Olivianna had the most severe form of CDH, and that survival outside of the womb was near impossible.
The next 103 days until Olivianna’s birth and death were the hardest days that we had ever experienced. There were days of extreme sorrow, when all we could do was pray and cry and beg Jesus to take all of the hurt away. And then there were days of extreme joy, when all we could do was shout out to Jesus and thank Him for holding us so closely and for using Olivianna for His glory. It was a time of being refined in the fire…of learning to trust…of learning to submit my life to the Lord, no matter the cost.
Olivianna lived 11 precious minutes on this earth. We held her, kissed her and told her how much we loved her. And then, we prayed her into the arms of Jesus.
This blog came out of a deep need to get my thoughts and feelings out of my head. I desired an outlet to share the highs and lows, to ask for prayer, to give updates on tests and pregnancy, to share Olivianna’s story with anyone who would listen. More importantly, I desired to share the love of Jesus Christ. His grace. His healing power. His salvation. His peace.
We are still on this journey of healing. We miss our daughter so very much, and so often think about what she would be like…who she would look like more…what her three and a half year old personality would be like. Although it is difficult at times, we cling to the promise that we will see her again. And then we smile!
Just like our lives have changed, this blog has changed. It started as “A Journey of Grace” and is now “Grover Style.” Nonetheless, it continues to be an outlet for me to share the things that God is doing, both personal and through my photography business. If you would like to read the posts that I wrote from the time I heard of Olivianna’s condition, to her birth and death, and the healing that took place in the months after, you can start (here) I pray that these posts will encourage your hearts and draw you closer to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you will see not our faces, but His.
He gives and takes away, Blessed be His name.