Now let me start from the beginning...
Since our release from Rochester on Friday, I remained contracting...hard. The pain was becoming increasingly intense and would vary from 4-6 minutes apart, to 8-10 minutes apart. Bryan and my mom were doing all they could to help me but I was just so tired and fed up! I was not good company. I tried standing, sitting, rocking, laying, crying, throwing things, baths and heating pads. Nothing changed them. After another sleepless night, I was just so fed up I cried and cried. My good friend Jaimi and her family were planning to come visit and bring us food and baby shower gifts (the ones I wouldn't be opening at my then rescheduled shower) around 2pm. I was not feeling my best, but super excited to see them and have a bit of a distraction. During their stay, I had several contractions that I had to excuse myself for. I'm sure it was uncomfortable for them as I panted away, but it was so great to have them there! After they left, suddenly things took a turn for the worse. The contractions started coming super close together and were horrifically painful. I couldn't do anything but moan and try not to die during them. After about an hour of them, Bryan said "We've gotta go to the hospital!" I agreed but was thinking "What's the point?" We had been at the hospital so many, many times and nothing was happening. I was not feeling optimistic. This time, instead of bringing all the bags and such, we decided that only Bryan and I would go and my mom would bring our bags if required.
We got to the emergency room (just how many times can we go to emergency rooms!?) around 4:30pm and I was barely able to stand. The contractions were excruciatingly painful and coming on almost without stop. I just kept praying "God, help me!"
They got me upstairs and checked quickly. I was at 5 cm. I KNEW it had to be real labor! Our doctor was on call, so he came in to talk to us. "Unfortunately," he said, "it's too late to get you to Rochester". Ok... I figured. He did an ultrasound and found Samuel in his breech position with his legs tucked up around his body. I was in SO much pain I was almost delirious. Since there was not time to get me to Rochester, and since he was breech, it was decided I would need a C-section. I was in no position to argue. Everyone immediately sprung in to action. They began prepping me, the doctor called Rochester and Bryan began calling friends and family to ask them to pray. It was decided that the neonatal group we needed from Rochester would helicopter over to be there in time for his delivery. "I just need you to know", the doctor told us, "he may not live through the surgery". We told him we understood. "God, you are in control" is what I prayed. I looked at Bryan and said "Are you ready to meet him?" He was!
Since I was going to get pain meds for the surgery, I began to get encouraged. "I can do this...only 20 more minutes until there will be some relief." The doctor told me they would administer them as soon as the neonatal team touched down at the hospital. So I looked at the clock and began the countdown in my head. After said 20 minutes, there were still no meds and the doctor came back in to say "they are just about to leave Rochester". What? No way I can make it 30 more minutes, I thought. But I kept on working through the pain. Finally, at 5:50pm, they finished my prep and wheeled me into the OR. The neonatal team was on the ground and on their way in. They gave me the spinal block (Thank you Lord!!!), the team rushed in and set up for Samuel, Bryan was brought in and they began. At 6:28pm, Samuel came out and took a breath! "Thank you Jesus! He's alive!!!" Bryan jumped up and went right over to him. (We had planned that Bryan would stay with Samuel no matter what).
He held his hand and Samuel looked up at him. "Hi Samuel, this is your daddy. Daddy loves you!" I was behind the curtain so I couldn't see him, but Bryan came to say he was crying and ok for now. "He's beautiful!" he told me. Thank you Lord!! They quickly rushed him out of the room in his warmer and Bryan went with him. All I could see was the top of his perfect little head. "He has hair!", I thought. "God, be with him!", I prayed. It was out of my hands (as per usual) so I just did my best to be calm and they finished my surgery. I was told later what happened while I was in the OR...
My family was all at the hospital. My mom and dad were sitting in the hall outside my room and got to see him as they rushed him by. The team took Samuel in to the nursery and began assessing him. Bryan was holding his hand and speaking lovingly to him "Samuel, daddy's with you! Samuel, daddy loves you! Daddy is right here Samuel!" He never left his side and kept talking to him. (During my pregnancy, Samuel always got so excited to hear his daddy talk to him. I just know it was a comfort for him to have daddy right there with him the entire time in the nursery.) After he was stabilized, they began allowing my family to come in, one by one, to see Samuel. My mom and dad came in first. "Hi Samuel, it's grandma" she said. She picked up his foot and counted his toes. "One, two, three, four, five....yep, all there!" She said, "Just perfect!" Then she picked up his left hand and counted fingers. Same thing - all perfect. Next she looked at his face and his eyes were closed. My dad said hello to him also at that time. Since only two people at a time could be in there with him, my mom left and Ryan came in. He held his hand, touched his body, and spoke softly to him. All this time Bryan was still talking calmly to him. (Many people have told me told me now that he was an awesome daddy to Samuel. So very loving and gentle. "It was precious to watch him with Samuel" is what I was told.)
My dad left so someone else could go in. Hannah and Rachel were sitting outside the nursery looking through the window. Hannah went in to see him next.Then Rachel. Everyone got a chance to touch him and talk to him while they were working. Bryan's parents arrived next and got to come in as well. Around that time, it was decided the weather was too bad for the helicopter to fly them back to Rochester (terrible thunderstorms), so they would have to take the ambulance. Ryan volunteered to drive Bryan. My dad and Josh decided they would go along also. They needed to get going so they went to find out how long until I would be finished...
While this was all happening, I was still back in the OR. I kept thinking "man, this is taking so long!" I found out later I had a bit more bleeding than anticipated so the doctor took extra time to make sure I was fixed up well. Finally, a nurse popped her head in and said to the doctor "They are waiting for mommy to come see him before they go". I heard the doctor reply "I need five more minutes". After those minutes, they wheeled me out and down the hall towards the nursery. As I approached the room, here is what I saw. Fifteen or so nurses, assistants, other hospital employees and our family members all gathered around the nursery window watching everything happen. No one was talking but everyone was completely focused. They wheeled me in the room on my bed and put the head up so I could sit up slightly. I peeked up and saw my baby for the first time. "Hello my love! It's mama!" I put my hand up to cradle his head and caress his hair. He looked right in to my eyes and moved his mouth. I know in my heart he knew exactly who I was. "Hello love! Mommy loves you so much! How's my precious boy?" I looked him over. "Not a single mark or indication that he was sick", I thought to myself. "Thank you Jesus!" ( We had specifically prayed for that.) In my heart, I knew he was not going to be healed. Somehow, God gave me peace about it. I was holding Samuel's hand and I said to Bryan, "Let's tell him his story". (His story is a book called "Whooo loves you?" that we read to him a lot - so much that we memorized it).
Bryan and I recited it together:
The birds on the clothesline sing.... You're my little tweetheart! you're my little tweetheart!
The cow grazing in the meadow calls...I love moo! I love moo!
The owl in the tree top says....Owl always love you! Owl always love you!
The puppies snuggled in their beds say... We ruff you! We ruff you!
And what do I say to you? I love you! I love you!
After we finished, they really needed to get going so I said "I love you Samuel! Mommy loves you!!"
They wheeled me out. Those were the only minutes I got with my baby while he was still alive. I will cherish them forever.
After I left, they quickly packed Samuel up and set off for Rochester. Bryan, Ryan and Josh drove right behind them. My dad drove our car behind them, bringing with him Bryan's bags and everything they would need to stay with Samuel in Rochester. I was brought to a recovery room and I just laid there praying for my baby. "It's out of my hands and into yours God. Be with him!" My friend Jaimi had driven down to be with me (Yes, for the second time that day. It's so awesome to have a friend who loves you that much.)
After talking with Bryan later, here is what was happening in Rochester. Bryan, Ryan and Josh arrived just after the ambulance. They had spent the car ride praying and calling others to pray as well. Bryan ran up to the intensive care nursery and the doctor came over to talk with him. He went over the condition and helped him understand everything that was going on. He said "We have given him an IV, but his kidneys were not functioning so they won't be able to tolerate it for long. Over the next couple days or even tonight, his heart will stop. We will resuscitate him, but there may not be much we can do. His lungs are not developed enough to saturate with air".
Bryan took this all in and thought about it. He realized Samuel was not going to live. The nurse came over to say that Samuel's heart rate had dropped significantly and they had started chest compressions. Bryan went right over to Samuel and took his hand. The doctor said, "We are working hard to keep him alive and we will do this all night if you want us to". Bryan replied, "It's ok, if you've done everything you can, then you can stop." He went close to Samuel, held his hand tight and said "Samuel, I'm right here. Daddy loves you! Your mommy loves you, too. God is with you Samuel and He will take care of you". Those were the last words he heard as Jesus took him home to heal him. (I'll write more about what happened next later).
At this same time, back in Mankato, I was in my room with my sisters, mom, and Bryan's parents. We were all just talking about the events of the day when my mom's cell phone rang. I could tell from her voice that something was wrong. I knew in my heart Samuel was not ok. It was my brother Ryan, calling to say that Samuel's heart was stopping and they were doing CPR. Then, a moment later he said to her "Mom, he's gone". She told us what he had said. I think time froze for a moment. I said "It's ok. He is all better now". Only because of God's grace, I was able to be thankful that Samuel was no longer in pain and would be perfect from that moment on. The room went silent as we all realized what just happened. My baby was gone forever and he took a piece of my heart with him. From that day on, I will always carry with me the physical scar of his birth and the emotional scar of his death.
Mommy loves you more than words can say. My heart is aching for you! My arms are empty because you are not here, and my life seems meaningless without you in it. I will treasure the months you were with me and will never forget the moments I had with you face-to-face. You are my precious boy and I will have a hole in my heart until the day I meet you in heaven. I know Jesus is taking care of you and that you are perfect. I will spend the rest of my life counting the days until I get to hold you close and never be without you. Because of you I will never be the same again. I love you deeply and forever.
Until we meet again my love,