Sunday, August 4, 2013

Nan Cochran

July 22 was the greatest day of our lives, and the worst day.  When I think of the sequence of events that filled up those 24 hours, it's hard to believe they were contained in a single day.

George has been sleeping later than usual this summer, so when he woke up around 8am, I went in to snuggle with him, and talk about the day we had ahead of us.  He loves to tell me what he wants to do, and who he wants to see.  When I went in there, he was singing "happy birthday to you!  happy birthday to you!" over and over, and it made me laugh.  I texted Clay that I thought maybe he was telling me that Nan's birthday would be that day, and we both laughed, knowing we had a week or two before she would join our family.

I started having some intense contractions, but I didn't want to overreact so I just grit my teeth, and started cooking dinner during George's nap, and while Clay was on his way home from Auburn (he had to visit a plant in Auburn on Monday for work).  Clay was about 2 hours away from home when I called to tell him that I thought I was starting labor.  I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, so I told him not to rush, and that we'd eat dinner together at home before we headed to the hospital.  

We ate dinner, and laughed at George's commentary of everything going on, and talked about what we needed to pack for him, and for us before we left.  My contractions were coming quicker, and we were getting more and more excited as we realized that this was, undoubtedly, the day our daughter would be born.  

We headed to Saty and Pop's house where George would spend the night.  Saty and Pop were waiting at the edge of their driveway with excited faces.  We gave them George, and they gave us waters (I remember getting SO thirsty during labor and delivery with George, and ice chips just don't cut it), and we were on our way to the hospital.  Clay prayed over me, and over Nan the whole way there.

We got checked in pretty quickly, and they told me that I was 4.5 cm dilated already- I could even have an epidural immediately!  This made so-very-happy.  Once the epidural was set, I got pretty chatty with our nurse, Charity.  I really bonded with her, and told her Nan's whole journey, and why this night was the culmination of so many prayers.  She was the most perfect nurse for us- more than I realized at the time.  After a few hours, and little progress, they told me that they wanted to move to an OR, to be ready for a c-section.  Nan's heart rate was dropping, and they didn't want to take any chances.  I was so disappointed, because I had prayed for months to avoid a c-section.  Our doctor checked me 'one last time' before we were going to head out, and I went from 5 cm to 10cm in about 30 minutes.  There wasn't time to get to an OR, because Nan was ready to come into our world.  

After three big pushes, she was here.  

The moments that follow are moments that Clay and I will treasure forever.  I know that sounds strange, to treasure such hard memories.  They are, without a doubt, the most intimate moments of our marriage.  Clay and I clung to each other.  We prayed unceasingly together.  And in the end, we wept together.  

A little over 30 minutes after being born, and Nan was with the Lord.  

As I look back on her short life, all I can see is God's mercy.  His mercy allowed us to carry her to full term- against all odds and doctors' opinions- and celebrate her life with baby showers from friends and family.  In His mercy, He let us hold her as she took her last breath.  His mercy saved her from ever knowing this broken world, and the hardships of this life.  

Never have Clay and I longed for Heaven as we do now.  

We had to make a million decisions the next day, and in the days soon after.  But the best decision we made was to have a funeral service to celebrate our daughter's life.  Our friends and family came- and just about half of our church- and it reminded me that the littlest life can have the biggest impact.  Nan meant so much to so many people, and she has surely brought so much glory to the Lord.  There was so much peace, comfort, and real rest that afternoon after her funeral.  Our hearts are still broken, because we still live in a broken world.  But Nan's is not.  Nan doesn't need our prayers anymore, and, I think she's praying for us now.  

Planning Nan's funeral was the hardest, and most surreal thing we've ever done.  But the actual planning took about 20 minutes, because everything we needed to choose was sort of already chosen for us.  I started a journal for Nan in March, and there were so many scriptures that the Lord gave Clay and me throughout this season of waiting for Nan.  The three songs we chose were songs that were so dear to us throughout this season of our life.  Clay and I loved them because while they are so real about the heaviness of emotions and brokenness, they are just as real of the hope we have in Christ.  Here are two of the three songs we used- I think they are so beautiful, and so full of hope and truth.  

Clay has been home with me and George for the past two weeks, and it has been so good to have him near.  I was talking to a friend, and she was telling me how amazed she was that we are getting out of the house and doing things.  I told her that there isn't anything for us to do at the house- we have people who have arranged for our house to be cleaned on a weekly basis, men who are cutting our grass, and meals planned for the next 3-4 weeks from friends and family.  We are literally just existing- and everyone around us is taking care of our 'life'.  Then we started talking about how that is, in the truest sense of the phrase, what the "Body of Christ" is.  Our community here- and from California to South Carolina- have rallied around us and reminded us of Christ's love in the midst of the most unspeakable pain.

We have a lot of healing to look forward to in the days to come.  Clay and I went to church today, and on our way home we were talking about the sermon one of our friends gave about knowledge versus love.  We've been Christians for several years now, and have 'known' the Lord's great love for us.  We've known its attributes, its fruit, and even what it looks like in our everyday life.  We talked about how we experienced the True Love of our Lord in that teeny tiny hospital room, and it was all because of Nan.  I'm not sure we will ever experience that intense Love again in this life, but I do know that we will never be the same because of it.  I know that we have experienced the Lord in the deepest way, and we love Him more because He gave us Nan.


  1. This is absolutely beautiful, Julie. I wept at your words, especially when you said you no longer have to pray for Nan. What an absolutely beautiful and redemptive thought. What a blessing sweet Nan is to us all!

  2. Perfect words. I love the thought of nan praying for us. You are a beautiful writer and I am so glad I get to read your words of truth, faith and most of all hope. Love you buddy.