About the Guest
Our greatest pain often becomes our greatest ministry. That's the case with Angie Smith when she began to blog about her crisis pregnancy. Doctors told her that her baby had complications that made her incompatible with life. Angie still believed God had plans for her child.
Our greatest pain often becomes our greatest ministry.
Angie: One of the things that I will remember about that night is that we checked into the hospital and we went to set our things down and we opened up the windows. Of course it is dark. It’s a Nashville night. It’s just beautiful. And our room was looking exactly at the place where we had had our wedding reception. I just thought to myself we had no idea when we were saying the things that we said that in a matter of time we would be standing in a completely different room asking to make good on the vows that we had said in sickness and in health.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, May 28th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Todd and Angie Smith join us today to talk about how they learned to love one another for better or for worse.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today; thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I know for you Dennis it is hard to step into this story that we are hearing this week without it bringing up a lot of memories of your own journey down this dark path that you and your own family walked.
Dennis: Yes. Barbara and I had six children and we didn’t come anywhere near experiencing what our daughter Rebecca experienced when she gave birth to a little girl who lived for only seven days but who left a mighty legacy.
We have a couple who can identify with Rebecca and Jake. Todd and Angie Smith join us on FamilyLife Today. Todd and Angie thank you for sharing your story with our listeners.
Todd: Thank you for having us.
Angie: Thank you.
Bob: Yes, we’ve already heard from you this week about becoming parents for the first time with twins and then a couple of years later giving birth to a third little baby girl. Then you found out you were pregnant when Kate was two years old and learning in the first trimester that there were problems with this first pregnancy. As you’ve shared when those problems first emerged and the doctor said you might want to terminate and you chose not to. You started to see some things that gave you hope but you didn’t want to get your hopes up. Was it during this time that you started blogging and sharing your story or had you been blogging before this?
Angie: I started blogging when we got the diagnoses but I just wrote it for friends and family because it was so hard to tell the story over and over again. So it was certainly not intended to become what it has become.
Bob: It grew quick and fast and there were tens of thousands of people following your pregnancy and praying for you.
Bob: It was just a great outlet for you to be able to pour out your heart.
Angie: It was.
Bob: People were right there with you weren’t they?
Angie: Absolutely. It really became a community and I felt since Audrey’s diagnosis it’s amazing how many women I meet who have either a similar story or something close to it. We’ll say at concerts “if you’ve ever lost a child would you mind standing” and it’s unusual for less than 50 percent to stand.
Angie: I’ve met several women who are in older generations than I am that recall finding out that their children had died. This one woman who was a pastor’s wife it had been 30 years since she had delivered her son and right after they took her son out of the room they came back and said to her that he had died.
They said, “We are so sorry.” She said, “Can I hold him?” At that time they really felt they were protecting the mothers by saying, “No it is best that we keep him back there.” So she went home and they didn’t speak of it then and they haven’t spoken of it since.
But a few weeks after he had passed away she received his death certificate and it turns out he actually hadn’t died until much later that night. About nine hours later. The thought of him being alive and her not able to see him was just overwhelming.
Dennis: Oh, my goodness.
Angie: I am blessed that I live in a time where I do feel there is more dialog. There is more conversation about these things. Really I am blessed to have the community that I did. It made a huge difference in my walk.
Todd: For that woman it was like the first time. It was like it had happened yesterday. It was 30 years before but she was just bawling her eyes out.
Angie: She had never talked about it.
Todd: It was so many woman and fathers, too. For a lot of them it’s like the first time because their child’s life was never recognized. I think one thing, too, that they see in concert if we do have them stand we’ll tell them to look around just to see how many other women there are who are also standing.
Both my sisters have miscarried. Angie’s miscarried. So many have miscarried and they feel like they are the only one. Or they think what sins did I commit in high school or college or whenever that God is punishing me now? Especially if it is your first child I think a lot them think will I ever have kids? What is going to happen? They just think they are alone.
Dennis: I think we ought to mention that you are speaking of a concert and the group you sing in Selah. People are being asked to stand up during your performance at that point. You experienced other things that I know our daughter Rebecca experienced afterwards, after Molly was gone. You were still looking forward to delivering Audrey. You went to a baby shower for a friend and those are tough moments.
Angie: Yes. Three days after Audrey’s diagnosis one of my dear friends was expecting a baby girl and it was an incredibly hard but everyone there knew what was going on and I remember leaving the party and giving her a big hug and feeling her stomach press us against mine and both of us crying. She wanted more than anything to make it better.
Angie: One of the other moments that really stands out to me during the pregnancy was we had to go and choose a burial plot for our daughter and we walked through this dusty cemetery choosing a place where our daughter would more than likely lay and the entire time she is kicking me. Again it was this image of dare I hope that we will never have to come visit her here? Because I can feel her and the reality is that she is alive and this doesn’t make any sense that I am planning this right now. So it was a very delicate balance between hope and grieving.
Bob: It had to be a daily roller coaster for you where one minute you are going God is going to do this and the next minute you are going I don’t know.
Angie: Yes. We didn’t give up hope until right after she was born.
Bob: You had hoped to carry her to full term. You said 32 weeks was kind of where you thought you might deliver. Did you carry her longer than that?
Angie: No. We ended up delivering her at 32 weeks. We made a decision with the doctors for several reasons that we thought it would be better to go ahead and do it then.
Bob: You induced labor or how did you do this?
Angie: I’ve never had a C section before and my doctor said she won’t survive a regular birth but she isn’t going to survive anyway and I don’t want to put your body through the trauma of a C section. But we just couldn’t stand that possibility so I ended up opting for a C section.
Bob: Wow. Opting with the thought that if there is any hope. Let’s do this.
Todd: And we would hopefully get some time with her. Early on we were basically told that she would die in the womb or if she lived she’d only live for a minute or two at the most. She would gasp for breath and it could be a very painful thing for us to watch. So as Angie said they said if Angie delivered most likely she would not survive but if there is a C section there may be a couple of minutes. So Angie was willing to do that.
Dennis: I want to know how this worked because with a C section usually you are out aren’t you?
Angie: No, you are usually awake now. So I was awake and Todd was in the room. It was just so surreal. I remember them starting and just feeling pressure and one of the nurses said she’s out. And then I heard Todd say Angie she’s out. I kept saying is she breathing. Is she breathing? Can you put her where I can see her?
They took her over to table right after she was born and started doing some tests on her and we had basically said once you confirm that this is the diagnosis if it is we don’t want any more intervention. We don’t want her hooked up to machines. We are not going to prolong this if the diagnosis is accurate.
So they went over and it felt like an eternity. They had their stethoscopes just checking her out and I remember at that moment looking at their backs and thinking it is not too late God. All of these people are sitting here they could see a miracle. The room was packed with people. My hope really was up and I looked at Todd and said why are they taking so long? What are they doing?
And at that moment I saw one of the women take her stethoscope off her ears and put it around her neck and the others followed suit. They all just looked down and walked out of the room. That was the moment that I knew she wasn’t going to survive.
Bob: To be in the surgery and the labor I know with a C section it is different but to be thinking odds are I’m giving birth to a little girl who won’t live very long. It’s one thing to go through it knowing on the other end is the joy you’re going through it knowing that on the other end is profound grief.
Bob: What is that like?
Angie: I will say it was one of the most peaceful days of my life. I know Todd would say the same and that doesn’t make any sense humanly but we really felt the Lord’s presence in a way that I don’t remember every feeling it. It was such an intense time. We just loved her so much. I felt like we loved her a lifetime’s worth in this very short amount of time.
Angie: I remember them putting her on a scale because they said she’ll never be over two pounds she is just tiny. All that we had been singing over her hymns and praying over her and my girls were playing with her. They put her on the scale and it said three pounds and two ounces and everyone in the room clapped and cheered. I looked at Todd and I remember thinking my daughter had weight in this world. So the image of her on the scale has been one of the things that has pushed me through some really hard times.
This is probably one of the most difficult things I will ever go through as a believer and I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Lord was with me that day while I walked it. He was there when the nurse nodded to me and said her heartbeat is gone. My girls were all sitting around me on the bed. A few minutes later I said Abby, Ellie, and Kate the nurse told me a few minutes ago that Audrey isn’t here anymore so remember how mommy told you that she would look the same but it’s kind of like a doll baby where it’s not really there anymore. Her spirit is with God.
Abby looked at me and said “Okay, can I still play this little piggy on her toes?” I said “Of course you can.” A lot of people say this is just a shell. It’s just her body and I understand that. As a mother you are thinking I know those are just her knees but I wanted to kiss them when she fell. And I know it’s just hair but I can’t braid it. I know what you are saying. I understand that she is not there but physically speaking it was incredibly difficult.
I do feel like the Lord really protected us and we grieved much more after that day. I think he let us have that time with her be a very joyful peaceful time.
Dennis: You know when our granddaughter died this was obviously a different circumstance than yours. She’d lived seven days and we knew the time was coming when they would take her off life support. They didn’t have the chance to process even the possibility of her beginning her life without assisting her in every way possible like you guys did. You counted the cost of that before she was born.
I wasn’t sure how I would process or look at Molly after she died but I was unprepared for how beautiful she was. Her face had always been covered with tubes and stuff keeping her alive and we hadn’t seen her face without that. A newborn baby that has made the transition to eternity anybody who couldn’t believe life is precious that life is magnificent and we are made in the image of God. You wish they could be at that moment don’t you?
Angie: I do. Just that we were there for it. We were there for that moment. To look in her face was just…I wouldn’t trade anything that I went through for that two and a half hours. Despite everything it was such a beautiful thing to get to love her.
Dennis: The day my granddaughter died I got up early in the morning to write a little bit about her and just put some thoughts together because I knew it was going to be her coronation day. I looked at my life verse which is Psalm 112 verses 1 and 2 which really speaks of a legacy. It says “Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord who greatly delights in his commandments. His offspring will be might in the land. The generation of the upright will be blessed.”
The cool thing about my Bible is on that life verse is Molly’s handprint which we got before she died. You actually wrote a song as you carried Audrey during those months that Selah ended up recording and putting into one of their albums. How did the words for that song come to you, Angie?
Angie: I was upset that there were so many things I wouldn’t get to share with her and I was thinking through all the opportunities that I wasn’t going to have as a mother. One of the things that brought me great peace was imagining she was going to have a far better parent than I could ever be. While I’m imagining building her sandcastles God could walk her through the parted sea. Knowing that he could give her all these things I could rest in that as a mother. So we wrote this song myself and Todd and a dear friend Krista Wells. We sat down one day while I was pregnant and wrote it out. Basically it’s the idea of saying I’ll carry you as long as I can physically. I’ll always carry you as part of my life but the Lord will carry you and he will carry us through this. Just the idea of her being passed from my arms to his arms and me finding refuge for what that meant for her.
Todd and Angie Smith sing the song “I Will Carry You” Lyrics below:
There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this? People say that I am brave but I’m not
Truth is I’m barely hanging on
But there’s a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this
So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen me
To carry you
Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says…
I’ve shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?
I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen Me
To carry you
Bob: That is Selah with the song “I Will Carry You” written by Todd and Angie Smith. That is also the title of the book that Angie has written that tells the story of Audrey Caroline Smith. If you are interested in the CD that has the song on it or if you are interested in the book go to our website FamilyLifeToday.com. There is information there about the book. There is information about Selah’s new CD which is a great music CD.
There is also information about the book that Barbara Rainey and her daughter Rebecca Rainey Mutz have written called Symphony in the Dark that tells a very similar story to the one we’ve heard this week. It’s the story of Molly Mutz who lived for seven days back in the summer of 2008. The story that Barbara and Rebecca and others share about Molly’s life is really very moving.
Again information about all of these resources can be found online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY.
Let me also mention that Selah is going to be joining with Dennis and Barbara and my wife, Mary Ann and me, and Crawford and Karen Loritts and others on the FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It Valentine’s week cruise that we are hosting in 2011. It’s February 14-18 in the Caribbean and we’d love to have you come along with us. Spend a week focusing on your marriage. Get a little refreshment and relaxation. It is going to be a great time and we still have cabins available. You can get more information when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You’ll find a link there to information about the cruise. We hope you will consider spending a week with us and having a vacation as a couple that has a spiritual purpose attached to it as well.
Finally as we wrap things up this week we hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend. I hope that before you head off to do whatever you’re going to do this weekend even if it is just staying at home doing a BBQ in the back yard or just staying around town I hope you will consider before you get under way making a donation to FamilyLife. We’ve had a matching gift opportunity that has been extended to us during the month of May. There is a group of folks who have pledged to match every donation we receive on a dollar for dollar basis up to a total now of almost up to $350,000. Monday is the cut off day so we are trying to get the word out and make sure everybody knows. If you are able to help with a $10, $20, $50, or $100, $200 or $500 donation it would be a particularly appropriate time. Your donation is going to be doubled and you’ll help us take a step closer to taking full advantage of this matching gift opportunity.
Let me say thanks in advance for whatever you are able to do. We appreciate your support and we appreciate you listening to FamilyLife Today.
We hope you have a great weekend. We hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend and I hope you can join us again on Monday. David Pierce is going to be here to talk about how he responded when his 15 year old daughter looked him in the eye and said I want to climb Pike’s Peak. We’ll hear about their journey up the mountain on Monday. I hope you can be back with us for that as well.
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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