Tuesday, May 31, 2016

INSPIRING WOMEN {Skye Longhurst}

This months inspiring woman is Skye...

Her testimony of God and His plan for each of us is undeniable. Her words have helped heal my heart and gave me hope that all will work out in the end. Skye is an amazing mama, wife, friend, and person. She is the first woman I have asked in person to share their story, her reaction to my question gave me an instant feeling of peace. I knew she was supposed be May's inspiring woman. She was so humble and so touched. It surprised me how surprised she was that I wanted her to share her story. She seriously has no idea how inspiring she really is. I am so grateful she was willing to share.  

Here is her story....

My name is Skye Longhurst. I’ve been married to the most wonderful man, Bracken for almost 11 years. We have four beautiful children we get to raise in this life, and two more who were only with us for a short time. Our two oldest children, Hayes and Kamri were relatively easy pregnancies. With Hayes I had some complications at first and learned I had a bicornuate uterus that makes me high risk for pre-term labor and placental abruption. The placenta did end up tearing at 38 weeks so he was delivered by C-section. Kamri’s pregnancy was smooth sailing until I was in the hospital, in labor, fully dilated and complete when the doctor checked me and the baby was breech. Kamri was delivered by C-section as well. Born 3 days before her due date, she was my largest baby at 8 lbs 13 oz. Although the complications at the time were scary, both of our children were healthy so we were not nervous when we decided to get pregnant with our third.

We moved to Las Vegas, NV when I was 14 weeks pregnant. Even though the decision to move had been done with a lot of prayer and I knew we were making the right choice, it was really hard for me. I often questioned why we had to leave a good job and a place and people we loved to move where we knew only a few people and Bracken would have no income because he was attending law school. One night, when I was 26 weeks along, I started bleeding. We called my dad’s cousin who was the only family we knew well in Las Vegas at the time. She came and stayed with our kids while we rushed to the hospital.

That night was full of a lot of pain and waiting. The specialist on call was trying to determine what was causing my bleeding and trying to get contractions to stop. They weren’t successful and my doctor came in (even though he wasn’t on call so the hospital never called him) and took over the situation. I’m not sure why it wasn’t obvious before that it was a placental abruption since I had that with Hayes and everything was pointing to it being the same. Our doctor sprang into action to help me deliver the baby, I pushed once, he gave me a numbing shot (which were super painful) then an episiotomy, (now grateful for the numbing shot) and I pushed once more. After one more push the doctor could see the baby’s face presentation was wrong and the baby’s heart rate was dipping. The baby’s little body couldn’t handle more stress so my doctor yelled for an emergency C-section. What happened next was a blur of movement, nurses throwing sheets, lifting me onto a wheeled bed, holding my arms and legs as they splashed me down with antiseptic solution. I was out in ten seconds as they rushed me down the hall. One minute pure panic, then nothing. Bracken was left alone in a room that looked like a crime scene, not knowing what would happen to me or our baby. Dane P was born Sunday, November 15, 2009 he was 2 lbs, 6 oz and 14 inches long.

Monday and Tuesday were full of visits to the NICU from my hospital room, updates from the nurses and doctors, and many visitors from people in our church and a couple we became friends with from law school. I was so grateful for every single visitor while Bracken was away at class. Most of them didn’t know me well but came and provided me comfort and a temporary distraction from all the stress. The doctors had told us that being born at 26 weeks Dane had an 80 % survival rate. It seemed like none of them were worried that he would die, just what minor setbacks we would have and what would be done to fix them. I was worried but truly felt peace from all the visitors, calls, text messages and prayers that were said on our behalf. Another tender mercy was one of the nurses who worked there was in my ward at church. I had only met her once before I got to the hospital, but she took care of me on one shift and made sure I had the best nurses for other shifts.

Wednesday morning the NICU called and the doctor wanted to meet with me and Bracken. A whole group of doctors and social workers came into our room and we knew it wouldn’t be good. We were given the news that ultimately our son wasn’t going to make it and we needed to prepare to say goodbye. The doctor was choking up as he told us the news, and I kept thinking that this can’t be real. One of those bad dreams. We talked to a second doctor the next morning and he unfortunately had the same conclusion.

Thursday night Bracken and I held our son for the first and last time. It was a tender mercy from our Heavenly Father that we were able to hold him as he passed away. It was the hardest thing, the worst thing, and yet the most amazing thing I had ever done. There is nothing to describe the mixture of utter heartbreak and complete peace that I felt. I know that my love is not perfect but the love I felt for Dane was so immense, I can only imagine how strong God’s perfect love is for all of us. As I sat there holding my baby as he took his last breaths, I was in despair but enveloped in pure love. November 19, 2009 was the day that cemented in my heart the importance and truth that families are eternal.

Two weeks later, I was sitting in church and we were singing hymn number 97, “Lead, Kindly Light.” The words struck me as I sang. The first sentence seemed to be my life the two weeks before, 'Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom..' There were days that I still felt gloomy but when I would think about all Heavenly Father has blessed me with and the experience of holding Dane, I felt His Light carrying me on.

Besides having lost a baby, I also grieved over life not going as Bracken and I had planned. It had seemed perfect, Hayes and Kamri were 21 months apart and I loved it. Kamri and Dane were going to be 21 months apart and now we didn’t even get to have him with us. Why couldn't it just go like I had planned, 'I loved to choose and see my path; but now, Lead thou me on!' but I started to realize (oh so slowly) that Heavenly Father does know what he's doing, he does love us, and we need to sit back and realize how little we can really control that happens in our lives. But oh how much HE cares for everyone. And even if life doesn't go how we planned it, we'll be better for it because it goes how He planned it.

About 9 months after we had baby Dane we felt like it was time to get pregnant again. When I was about 20 weeks pregnant I was hit with a bout of anxiety. In some ways, I had been in denial that anything bad could happen again and I suddenly realized that one loss didn’t negate the possibility of another. I was frozen in our rocking chair with fear when I had a sudden small prompting to study hope. I grabbed my scriptures and studied everything I could find about hope. I was filled with a feeling of peace. Even if things didn’t work out again, I could be filled with hope, that through Jesus Christ’s atonement and temple covenants we could be an eternal family.

I ended up on full bedrest at 26 weeks, although not ideal, we were grateful to keep our baby in there cooking! This pregnancy humbled me. I’m a very independent person but being on bedrest I had to have help with our two older kids. Bracken went to law school full time and would come home and take over everything I usually did. People we barely knew brought us meals. For two weeks, friends and acquaintances took turns taking my kids for the day while Bracken was at school. Family took my kids for a week at a time and finally one of my cousin’s sacrificed two months of her life to come live with us and care for my kids. I don’t see many of them on a daily basis anymore but I think of them often. The love that so many people showed my family I will never forget.

Our beautiful baby girl, Lyla Hope, was born 6 weeks early in April 2011. She was 5 lbs 1oz. Even though she was in the NICU for two weeks, none of it was for life threatening reasons. Her calm demeanor helped to heal our hearts. I’ll never forget the look on Hayes’ & Kamri’s faces when we finally brought her home to them. Pure love shone through their faces as they held this little baby sister they had waited and prayed so long for.

We had another beautiful baby boy, Hansen, join our family in February 2013. My pregnancy with him was similar to Lyla’s. Weekly shots, bi-weekly appointments, lots of praying and nervousness. I would lay down multiple times during the day to try and avoid full bedrest. Thankfully, this time around I was able to be up more. Hansen was born at 34 weeks as well, weighing 4 lbs 15 oz. He was also in the NICU for two weeks. We probably seemed a bit odd to the nurses since we were so calm about him being there. Hansen has the funniest personality. He spreads happiness to everyone he interacts with. I really believe that my children were born in the order and time they were for a reason. We would need Hansen’s cheerfulness for what was to come.

When Hansen was 4 months old we moved back to Cedar City where this story all started. As much as I hated Las Vegas when we moved there, I had come to love it and it was really hard to move away, even if it was moving to my hometown! From the time Hansen was a few months old I had this incessant feeling that I needed to decide what to do about more children in our family. Were we done, should we get pregnant again, should we do foster care and adopt? We spent a year and a half praying, discussing, and searching for what we should do. We met with a foster care recruiter and an OB/GYN doctor here in town to discuss different options hoping we’d find confirmation in what we should do. Through prayers and promptings from the Holy Ghost, Bracken and I individually came to know it was God’s will for us to get pregnant one more time and that this would be my last pregnancy.

As expected, this pregnancy was anything but easy. There were ups and downs from the beginning. One night the bleeding was so bad that I was sure I had miscarried. A doctor appointment the next week showed that miraculously there was still a heartbeat in my womb. I went through my weekly progesterone shots, bi-weekly appointments and at 18 weeks had a cerclage in hopes that a stitch would help strengthen my shortening cervix. After three weeks of bedrest, including missing out on our family vacation (Bracken is a rock star to take all four kids on his own!) I started having contractions. They were able to get the contractions to slow and labor wasn’t progressing so they determined I would be on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy in the Saint George hospital. I was feeling much better and we were optimistic that I could handle a long hospital stay. Bracken headed back to Cedar to get my things I would need. About 10 minutes before he made it back to Saint George I started shaking and felt freezing cold. A nurse came in and took my temperature. I had a fever. They ran to get the doctor. Bracken came right as the doctors were discussing what to do. An amniocentesis was done and found that I had an infection in my uterus. The baby would have to be delivered.

Our tiny little girl, Naomi Faith, was delivered still at 6:22 p.m. on June 11, 2015. She was 15 oz and 11 inches long. As they handed her to me, I realized the sheer beauty of being able to deliver a baby and the baby being handed directly to you. It broke my heart that I was being handed a baby that would never breathe, who I would never get to know in this life; but the act of being able to deliver her was a tender mercy. I am grateful to have been able to experience that instead of having to have a sixth C-section. Her body was perfectly formed, beautiful nose, fingers, ears, legs, arms, toes, tongue, eyebrows, hair. It was all there in miniscule. I couldn’t stop looking at her and saying I’m so sorry, over and over. My body had let her down.

Heartbroken again, Bracken and I headed home the next day. Hayes and Kamri had asked after every doctor’s appointment if the baby was still alive. We dreaded getting home this time and having to tell them no. I had been home an hour or so, we had told them, and I started feeling feverish again. I had to go back to the hospital. I spent three more days in the hospital with IV’s full of antibiotics to save my life. As hard as it was to go back and sit for three days in the hospital after everything that had happened, I was filled with gratitude that through modern medicine I would be able to go home and be with Bracken and our four living children.

It has now almost been a year since we had Naomi and six and a half years from Dane’s. Those two children have brought our family closer together. Dane & Naomi are talked about often by their siblings and parents. My children have learned at a young age that death is not the end and we will see them again. I have learned and continue to learn the power of Jesus Christ’s atonement to bear our burdens. There are still days and moments I struggle with my grief but most of the time I am in awe at Christ’s power to bear our burdens and make them light.

I don’t feel like I’m an inspiring person or that my story is particularly inspiring except that through these experiences I have come to know of God’s love for me and for everyone. I have felt God’s love through the hundreds of meals that have been brought to our house, the hours of care that have been lovingly given to my kids, the visits, the calls, the text messages of comfort and support that have been sent and the countless prayers that have been given on our behalf by friends, family, acquaintances and strangers. I have been amazed at how many people have reached out to me at random moments when I have needed it the most.

I am learning to not be critical of others’ choices and try my best not to judge. I am not perfect but these experiences have helped me strive to be better. You never know all of a person’s backstory. I often get the well-meaning comment from strangers when they see me with my kids, “Two boys and Two girls, what a perfect family!!” and while I appreciate that I am significantly blessed to have the children I have, I can’t help but think of the two who are missing. I’m grateful that I know this life isn’t the end, that one day I’ll have my family all together but until then, I hope to help others feel of Christ’s love for them by serving them as so many have done for me.