German and I started dating about 12 years ago; early in our relationship, we found out I was pregnant. Because of the lifestyle we had, we decided to have an abortion. We continued dating and two years later I found out I was pregnant again, but this time we decided to parent. Giselle was born in June of 2007. She brought so much joy to our lives that we often expressed regret in aborting our first pregnancy. When Giselle was two years old we decided to get married and have another child. Gavin was born in June of 2010. German and I both wanted to have three kids, so it came as no surprise when my husband started talking about baby #3. I, however, struggled with guilt, regret, and shame from the abortion and was no longer on board with another child. We came to Wichita from California in 2011 seeking a family-oriented lifestyle. We started attending church and I was conflicted with my past abortion after hearing of Jesus dying for my sins. I needed God’s forgiveness. I attended a retreat for post-abortive women and came home feeling renewed and redeemed. God is gracious and I had been at the receiving end of that grace. It was then that I shared with my husband that the reason I had said I didn't want to have another child was because I felt we already had three and I didn’t want to replace our aborted child, Giovanni, for another one. We prayed and asked our small group, friends, and family to pray for us to seek God’s guidance in growing our family.
On May 22, 2015, as we prepared for my father’s memorial service, it dawned on my husband and I that in caring for my father we had failed to notice that “Mother Nature” had not made her monthly visit. German was excited as we saw the positive test result. I was filled with mixed emotions. My father’s death was still raw and my excitement was hard to feel and show. We shared the news with our immediate family before the service and everyone was happy for a new life to join us after a great loss. Blessed as we were, I could only think of my Dad not getting to meet this coming baby. He loved children and had been insisting that we have another child for some time before his death. His favorite Bible verse was Proverbs 17:6: Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children are their fathers.
At our first pre-natal appointment we learned that my due date was January 25, 2016, a day after my mother-in-law's birthday. Aside from the nausea, which I didn’t have with my other pregnancies, this pregnancy was going great. I was beginning to look forward to 2016 with anticipation of the new life and new year filled with joy rather than sorrow, and having my husband’s family visit from California to meet our baby. On September 8th we had our 20 week checkup and found out we were having a girl. On the way home we stopped and got the kids donuts with pink icing for the reveal. Giselle was so excited to have a little sister to dress and comb her hair. Gavin cried because he wanted a boy. We regretted not recording their reactions. Gavin was soon calmed when his Dad told him he would be the protective big brother and told him now he would get to be the “boss” of the baby just as Giselle was his “boss.” We already had a girl name picked out from when I was pregnant with Gavin. Her name would be Gianna, which means “God is gracious.” Life was beginning to come full circle for our family.
The weekend of October 10th was filled with a long list of tasks. After a morning of kid’s games we went home to move things around and get Gianna’s things set up. On Sunday I woke up feeling sore and tired with a stomach ache and decided not to go to church to rest from all that we did the day before. I slept most of Sunday and when Monday came I noticed the stomach ache was still present and as the day progressed so did the pain. I then realized I hadn’t felt Gianna move since Saturday morning, that I could remember. I spent my work day concentrating to see if she moved but there was nothing. Since I volunteer at pregnancy crisis center on Mondays, I asked if they would do a sonogram to ease my worries about the pain and Gianna. As I saw her little form in the screen I quickly noticed how still she was. No kicking legs or moving arms, nothing. She was completely motionless. I could feel a knot in my throat as I attempted to speak but I couldn’t. It was at that moment that the battle with my faith and my silent plea began, “Lord, your daughter needs You. I know You can do anything. Please prepare my heart for what is coming. Please give me Your peace.”
After what seemed like forever, the sono tech broke the silence and said, “You should call your doctor’s office and tell them we just did a sonogram and could not detect any movement or a heartbeat.” I could almost feel the exact emotions coming over me again. I pleaded to God over and over. I knew my Heavenly Father could do anything. He could make her heart beat again. So I pleaded for Him to do it. The on-call nurse said I needed to head over to Wesley’s delivery unit and be admitted. I got in my car and prayed for His comfort, for Him to give me peace and understanding. To prepare my heart for what was coming.
When I got home I updated German, we left the kids with my mom, and left to the hospital. I didn’t want them to worry so I said we would be right back, yet I knew that may not be the case. On the way to the hospital I could see German was upset. Although I knew he was not upset with me I couldn’t help but feel guilt for what was happening. I remember telling him I was sorry and he said it was not my fault. He was just upset at the thought of losing Gianna. We had prayed for this child, we had asked others to pray for this child before we even knew of her. We had done things right this time, we were married, and we are followers of Christ. It had not been long after my father’s death and this was a new beginning for all of us. After I was admitted the doctor ordered another sonogram to confirm the first one. He then said, “I am sorry but there is no heartbeat. We will give you some time and then talk about the next step which is to induce labor.”
I was exactly 25 weeks that Monday. Everything after that is a blur. I can only remember what compassionate staff took care of me. In the midst of total devastation God still was there, I felt His presence in every person that came and went from our delivery room. I remember there was a Dodger game on so I concentrated on that instead of my pain. I became numb. Then my sisters arrived to be with us, and that’s when I cried. My older sister had had two babies born still so I knew she felt my pain. My middle sister and I are close and I could see her face filled with empathy. We had friends and family stop by and express their condolences. One of our pastors came and prayed with us. My heart ached, but I was calm. It amazes me to know the peace of Christ, how it truly surpasses all understanding to get us through the hardest moments in life.
1 Samuel 1:27-28 For this child I prayed and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord. And he worshiped the Lord.
Gianna Marie Enriquez was born still on October 13, 2015 at 8:26am. She was 1lb 2oz and 13 ½ inches of beautiful perfection. There was a silence in the room that no sound could penetrate, she lay perfectly still in the sac when she came out that I almost didn’t want the doctor to cut it open as if she would disturb her sleeping. We decided to have my Mom come and bring the kids to meet and hold their little sister. Giselle was heartbroken, she cried and cried and then held her sister any chance she got. We received a cradle from Bridget’s Cradles and it was such a blessing that someone took the time to knit this cradle for our Gianna. To know that they had prayed for our family was comforting. This gave Giselle the opportunity to “dress Gianna” as we laid her in her cradle and tried on little caps to see which fit better. A volunteer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep came and took photos of us with Gianna. Precious and priceless moments, I often look at those pictures so that I don’t forget her face. Not that I could. We got to have her for several hours to hold her, and try to give her all the love and kisses we had to give. I was comforted by my husband, mom and sisters.
The autopsy showed Gianna had a stricture or narrowing of the umbilical cord. It also concurred that she had more than likely been in our Heavenly Father’s arms since Saturday when I last felt her move. We had Gianna cremated and with the generosity of friends and people I work with. We had her ashes placed in a bear embroidered with her name and born into Heaven date. She is truly my “Not a day goes by.” I would be lying if I said that my faith has carried me through. Truthfully it was hard to see God’s doing in my life in the midst of it all. There was questioning, anger, confusion, sadness, even thankfulness at times. But by His grace He has created beauty out of ashes. We had big hopes for Gianna to bring us new life and a new beginning; however, Jesus had already given us that.
Gianna was my companion in the car as I sang the wrong lyrics to every song and danced. When I missed my Dad and cried, she reminded me I was not alone. I told her all about my Dad so she would always know him. She helped me through my grief and her movements were a reminder of God’s gift of life and to keep choosing life. I carry her in the root of who I am, no matter how old I get she will always be with me. I will continue to pick out thorns from the depths of my heart, and any time I think of the past she will be my first thought. My husband and I have grown even closer than what we were before Gianna. We have amazing friends and family and have made new friends through this journey. I have no doubt He will continue to bless us as we learn to live without Gianna. For now I live one day at a time, and I am thankful for Jesus’ death and resurrection. For His word that promises us that there will be a day with no more tears, and no more pain in which we will hold Gianna for all eternity.
Written by Karina Enriquez, Gianna's Mommy
Photo Credit: Christi Kidd, 9 Sparrow Lane Photography