Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Remembering Ganya Lily and Zaria Dawn

The following are eulogies written for two very special sisters, Ganya Lily and Zaria Dawn. Both of these precious babies were Carried to Birth after a fatal diagnosis. They are loved and missed every day.

Written by Tanya Loewen-Watson

Ganya Lily - June 9, 2013

Thank you all for being here and showing us your love and support today and throughout these last several months. We are so grateful you have chosen to be here to pay tribute to our daughter’s beautiful, yet short, life. Your support and prayers have been evident in our lives. During times of trial one often feels like God is not near or answering and I have felt this way but knowing in my heart God is always close by. I kept a list of all the cards and gifts people have given to show tangible support and one day looking over the overwhelming generous list, said to myself, 'If I can't hear God right now, obviously He is still speaking to someone and others are still hearing Him and obeying His voice'. God has been faithful and good and shown that to us through all of you here today. Thank you.

Last October we came home from a rare date to a Petra concert and after Brent had gone to bed, I decided I needed to go to the drugstore. I took 'the test' and went to wake Brent and with the most excited silly grin on my face, I showed it to him. I got the biggest hug in response. We were going to have child #4; exactly what we wanted. A family close in age to grow up and play together. The joy was indescribable. We knew we were in for a zoo at home in the first few years but were ready to welcome the challenge. Ganya's life had officially begun.

We continued to be excited in the following months and had started to prepare for where baby would sleep and that never ending conversation about what will we name this one. However, on January 2 our world came crashing to a halt. I had a significant complication that sent me to the ER. I spent New Year's Day waiting at the ER and was sent for an ultrasound the next day. I was taken in and two doctors scanned our baby for an hour and then grabbed a box of Kleenex and took me a room across the hall. There it was explained that there were many abnormalities and one thing cascaded into another for problem after problem. She would not live after birth. They recommended I terminate. That was not an option. This was confirmed to me when I cried out to God in confusion about 'what to do' and I got a sense in my heart clear as day that said, 'I will take her when it's time, and it's not time yet.' I knew then it was my task to carry her and not scientifically knowing the gender knew in my heart we were having another girl. I was not surprised at all when that was confirmed by ultrasound.

I cried, oh how I cried. And the river of tears didn't stop for several months. We continued to prepare for our baby but in a whole different way. This was going to be the only life she had and we were going to prepare for what it was going to be. We prepared for there to be a photographer to capture her life. We met with a palliative care team and neonatology prior to her birth to make sure her life would be comfortable. We asked people in advance to help us celebrate her life here today. We named her and where most keep the name a secret until after birth, I said I needed to share it as this now was going to be her whole life.

Here's some background on how we came up with her name. One night after many tears, I came to Brent and sat on the floor in front of him and put my head in his lap and not yet knowing gender I cried, 'I need to name it Ganya'. With the many discussions of names, this one had come up because of what it meant, Garden of God, and I liked it especially as, on top of its beautiful meaning, it was a take off of my name. Tanya with a G. With that I thought of our child in God's garden and the theme of her life became flowers from God's beautiful abundant garden. But now she needed a middle name. Rose? No, roses have thorns. Daisy? No, that sounded too much like Daisy Duke. Iris? No, that just didn't quite fit either. So I started to think of scripture that had flowers. The only one I could think of was in Matthew 6:28-30 which talked about how God cares for the lilies of the field that are here today and gone tomorrow. He would then look after our daughter and continue to look after us. That was it - Lily was her middle name.

The day had arrived. June 9, with lots of love and support around us and amazing doctors and nurses guiding us, Ganya Lily arrived in our arms at 5:05pm. She and God must have had a chat about arriving on the day of my mother and father's 40th wedding anniversary, to honor them with the gift of her presence.
She was alive. Praise be to God, she was breathing and did not need the medical intervention to help her breath or for pain. God had spared her that. At this time it felt to me that her life was nearing its end. We had known that when she was born most of her life had already been lived inside of me. Now it was time to celebrate her 1 and only birthday. So we celebrated. We took turns holding and kissing her. I was able to do a mother's loving 'duty' of bathing and diapering her. We swaddled her in the blanket made with love, prayers and tears by her grandmother. We held her hands and kissed her toes and bathed her with our tears of 'see you later'. All this time was captured in detail by an amazing volunteer photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I will always be grateful that she was there to document Ganya's birthday.

Though God had only allowed her to be in our life for 1 hour, she was all along only 'borrowed' to us. I am very confused, however, at why God chose to only gift her to me for this short time if it means I will miss her immeasurably till we meet again in heaven. This has also brought me God's lesson that though I call my other children 'mine' that they too are only borrowed to me to raise for Him. And I need to continue growing to be His light in their lives.

It has been and will continue to be our prayer that God be brought glory by her life.

Zaria Dawn - March 19, 2014
Indescribable sorrow. Insurmountable pain. Our daughter has just died and now Jesus holds her hand while she waits for God to bring her parents home to her. Doctors say that the death of a child, especially a baby, is the worst psychological trauma a mother will ever have to overcome. But really, it must have been a fluke. There's no way this could happen again. There's no way God would let this happen again. And with all this sorrow - we needed a reason for joy. So, we have 4 children like we wanted but decide to have a 5th child so we can still have 4 running around us here.

We get pregnant right away and are once again overjoyed. We'll have 2 sets of playmates. We'll have chaos. We'll have the zoo of little ones around us but are once again ready for the challenge so our children can grow up close in age.

Week 10, I go for an early ultrasound as they want to make sure this pregnancy is not high risk. They see some complication that is a possible sign of Down syndrome and try to look for other symptoms but baby doesn't cooperate. That's okay. It will be a different challenge if baby has Down syndrome, but at least they will be here with us. Week 12, they look again. No, it's not actually Down syndrome there's a physical problem. If that's all it is - they can fix it but baby's too small to tell for sure if there more. Week 16, another look. I hadn't kept hope of things being okay because I didn't want to be disappointed. Then, we heard an echo of the past when they say once again that there is problem cascading into problem and this baby would also not survive after birth.

I was shocked. As expected, the question of 'why' resounded in my head and heart over and over again. Oh, how this stabbed my heart. But I couldn't process this immense pain so my heart shut down. I didn't feel angry or sad. After all, we still had 3 children here to look after who needed their mother to be present physically and emotionally.

So, having just gone through this journey, we prepared for our baby in the same way. We chose names. We needed both a boy and girls name ready as part of the complications made determining gender by ultrasound nearly impossible. So, we couldn't share a name ahead of time, which was tough cause I so wanted her life here, while I was pregnant, to be more present with her name known. We met with palliative care to make sure baby's short life would be as comfortable as possible. And we planned for their life to be celebrated by finding meaningful scripture and songs.

We were told that baby was most likely a girl so the name we found for her needed to have meaning. And it needed to fit into our theme. If you take the first initial of each of our children in order, you get S. I. N. G. Sing! So our word needed to be completed. But I also didn't want the same initial used. That meant the last letter would have to be a 'Z' to make a creative spelling. I started combing through names that started with Z and found one I liked but when I looked up the meaning it didn't connect. But a little further down the list, I hadn't even seen the name yet, but the meaning was 'Sunrise'. Oh, how perfect. Zaria also sounded beautiful. Sunrises are in the morning. Fresh starts. Beginning anew with light. Filled with hope. Though, feeling abandoned by God, I had to hold onto the hope that God's love and mercy would never fail, like the sunrise. So, now she needed a middle name. The only thing that fit was Dawn. Zaria Dawn. Perfect! I found confirmation of this light and hope in Lamentations 3:22-24 which talks about being sure of the sunrise and the Lord is all we have to be sure of so we need to continue to put our hope in Him.

As the days ticked by, the anticipation grew and so did my anticipated sorrow. I missed Ganya more and started to already miss the child that we were yet to meet. Yet, on March 19th she arrived in my arms. God's perfect creation. Zaria Dawn's life shone in my hospital room. We were blessed again with a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep to capture her memory for us.

I saw her scrunch her eyes at the new world she had entered and heard her click her tongue a few times as she sucked for breath. She was alive! Praise the Lord! We just loved and snuggled her for what felt an eternity. But very quickly, dawn turned to dusk and I knew she had been taken home. 10 short minutes of life here on earth and she got to start her new life in heaven, join her sister in God's beautiful garden, and meet Jesus. It still feels unfair. I'm very jealous but will wait till called home to dance with them there. And continue with the task I feel I'm called to - being the best mother I can to the children He's borrowed to me here. And purposefully grow in the knowledge and love of Christ, so I can be God's light in their lives.

It has been and will continue to be our prayer that God be brought glory by her life.

~ ~ ~

Tanya Loewen-Watson is a Stay at home mom. She is married to strong loving Brent and mother to 3 1/2 year old twins, Sarah and Ivan and 2 year old Nadia. Also mother to Ganya and Zaria already in heaven. Her angels were both diagnosed early in pregnancy with fatal complications and carried until 36 week where they spent very short earth lives never put down and are carried forever in our hearts and surrounded by our love.


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