Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mama's turn

During the last few months, I would often sit in the glider in Samuel's room, rocking my pregnant belly and imagining the day I would cuddle up with him on my chest as I rocked him to sleep. I would imagine the feel of his body against mine, the "new-baby" smell of his head, and the feel of his warm sweet breath on my skin as he drifted off to sleep. "Oh, Jesus", I would pray, "I can't wait to hold my baby!" My heart longed for that day. When I was in the hospital and found out I wouldn't be able to hold him, those dreams, along with so many others, shattered. For what seemed like the hundredth time that day, my heart broke again. I cried out to God, "Not this too! You already have taken him I don't even get to hold him!?" I wanted so badly to scream at someone and force them to go get him. I wanted to be so angry that there were laws against such a things as a mommy wanting to hold her baby one last time. But I couldn't get mad. God must have been comforting me silently because I felt a wave a peace that seemed to say "it's ok, Bryan is there and it's going to be ok".

Much later, when Bryan returned from his time in Rochester with Samuel, he sat next to me and told me all about what it was like. He explained what it felt like to hold him and what he noticed about him and how special he was to him. Again, I had the urge to be upset but it quieted and the same peace washed over me..."it's ok". Later that day, after we had slept, I was telling Bryan just how much I hurt over not being able to hold my baby. He knew how important it was. He came up with an idea: maybe we could have the funeral home hold off on cremating his body until I could get over to see him.  For a moment, the idea scared me. Would I really want to hold his body after a few days of him being gone? Yes, I quickly realized; this could be my only chance. "Ok, let's do it if we can." We called to see if this would be a possibility. "Yes" was the reply. Immediately, I was so thankful to God. "Lord, you knew how important this was for me and you gave it to me despite the circumstances. Thank you!"

Since I was doing so well recovering from the surgery, I was released from the hospital Monday afternoon. We made plans to be at the funeral home at 10am on Tuesday. Since my mom had also not been able to hold him, she also decided to come along. My brother Josh offered to record video of my time with Samuel, as well as take photos for us.

After a long day at the hospital and an afternoon of guests at home, Bryan and I found ourselves alone in the evening Monday night. As we looked  around at our home that was waiting expectantly for our baby, we lost it. Waves upon waves of sorrow crashed down on us. I wanted to run and find Samuel, steal him away and hide him where no one could ever take him from me again. But it was too late; he was already gone. We held each other and cried for what seemed like hours. The strange part was that despite our great sorrow and pain, we  both also acknowledged a sense of peace that Samuel was ok. We were crying not out of despair, but out of the misery of being without him. We miss him so!
After some time, we talked about him. "What do you think he's doing in heaven right now? I bet he's playing with lots of fun animals... I bet he's fishing with great-grandpa and being spoiled by great-grandmas... I bet he's being snuggled by Jesus himself and listening to angels as they sing lullabies to him... I bet he's so happy!" We prayed together right then and there. "Jesus, please take care of our precious little guy. Please tell him all about us and let him know just how much we love him. Thank you that his body is now perfect. Lord, help us to make it until we get to see him again!" We then finally went to bed.

Early in the morning, I woke up feeling excitement. I get to hold my baby today! It was still hours until we were going so I just laid in bed and thought about it. While I was doing this, the idea that maybe my friend Jaimi - who had missed seeing Samuel by 20 minutes - would also like to come. I hesitated for a moment...maybe she'll think that's weird...but then realized it didn't matter. I'd offer and she could make up her own mind. (Jaimi just had a beautiful baby girl a couple months ago, so I knew she'd be up early). I sent her a text to ask and she immediately replied "Yes!" She would be there at 10am.

Time dragged on for a while but finally it was almost 10 and time to go. We all packed up and headed over to the funeral home. The funeral director met us at the door and was very kind as he welcomed us and offered his condolences. He brought us down to a lower room and we sat down to go over some details. Then, finally, the moment had arrived. I had a twinge of nervousness about the strangeness of the situation, but I prayed that God would help me be ok and to make the most of the time I had. Bryan and I opened the door to the room where Samuel was laying and I saw my baby waiting for me on a little bed. (I was afraid of what he would look like, but he just looked like he was asleep).

He was so tiny but so perfect. I walked over to him and  gently picked him up. All the concerns I had over the situation melted away. "Hello my love!" I said as I held him close. He was so light, but I had needed so much to feel the weight of his body. I walked over an armchair and sat down. I held him close and touched his face. He was so soft! I caressed his hair with my fingers and ran my hands over his precious little nose. Yep, he definitely has my nose. (He mostly looks like his daddy, but the chin and nose are mine.) For a long time, I went over every nook of his face, arms and legs with my hand. "Please God, help me to always remember how he looks". Again, I marveled at how God had protected his body from any of the damage the doctors has predicted. He really is a miracle!

Finally, after all the months of dreaming about it, I got to hold him up against me and rock him! (God answered me, once again.) I love him so much! I sat with him and cried...this isn't how it should be. I wanted to hold him close forever. But I also knew it wasn't really him.

After a while, my mom, dad, my brother Josh and Jaimi all took turns holding him. Then Bryan and I took some time alone as a family. When we eventually felt ready, we cried together, swaddled him up in his blanket and set him back on the bed. We both hurt deeply because we knew it would be the last time we would see him on earth. "You know," I said to Bryan, "he's up in heaven, so happy and perfect. We don't need to worry about him". God gave us peace as we walked out of the room.

My dad and brother Josh had recorded the entire time I got with Samuel. I know that will be a treasure I will cherish forever.

Right now my heart is so broken. I miss my love so much I honestly don't want to keep going without him. Somehow, God will help me. For now, all I want is Samuel.

Samuel's Memorial Service will be Saturday, April 28th, 2012
Hillside Church in Mankato, MN

The service is at 2pm and a lunch will be served afterwards. All are welcome to share our love for Samuel.
Childcare will be provided for young children.


  1. He is so beautiful. I'm so so so glad that you got to hold him!

  2. You tell such beautiful stories, RaeAnne. Thank you for sharing these moments with us also. It makes me feel so happy you got to hold him and that your family got to spend some time with him. What a blessing Josh was there to take photos. They are absolutely beautiful photos that will be cherished forever.

    We continue to think about you guys constantly and I cry along with you in your sorrow. I also imagine that Samuel is playing and having the time of his life with Jesus. Love you lots and see you soon!

  3. Most people won't understand what I am about to say but yesterday was perfect. It was as if time stood still while we loved and cradled and cooed over Samuel. His little body was perfect in every way. Thank you God for protecting his precious little body. We cried deep healing tears together. We were holding a glimpse of heaven in our hands. Samuel is already there in complete perfection. Thank RaeAnne and Bryan for leading us in triumphal procession, pointing us all to the God of the universe. We are so very proud of you.

  4. Oh, RaeAnne. I am so glad you were able to hold him. I can't tell you how much my heart broke when I read your blog yesterday and found out that you didn't get to see him again.
    Continuing to pray for you and Bryan. <3


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