It has been 13 weeks and 5 days since Samuel was born. My surprise number five. It has taken me 13 weeks and 5 days to write this post. I have struggled to find the words. How will I write this? What will I say? The irony in that statement; me the writer, struggling to find the words. I have debated within me the title of my blog, “Five Under 8″. Does it fit? Does it make sense now? Should I change it given what’s happened? How do I handle that detail? Finally, I know the answer inside my heart. Finally I think I have found the courage to tell the story. And thus, the words find me. Deep breath…………Here they are.
My son, Samuel Jude Rogers died March 20 2013. He was born a day later at the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, March 21 2013. The medical team believes his death was due to a tight knot in his umbilical cord. I was 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant. Our baby was full term and was a gorgeous 8 lb 8 oz little angel. He was long, just like his siblings, measuring 21 inches from head to toe. He looked just like he did in my dreams. At my prenatal appointment the day before, his heart rate was strong, and his movements sure. He kicked me as he usually did in the bath that evening, and again as I ate yoghurt, right before bedtime. Little would I know that those were the last movements I would ever feel.
The next morning I knew something was not right. I just did. He did not nudge me as I heaved myself out of bed. I noticed that. By mid morning I realized I had not felt him move since the night before. ” Perhaps he is sleeping,” I thought. I drank juice to see if the sugar rush would wake him up. Nothing. I jiggled my tummy vigorously. He did not respond. My belly felt lifeless. A sick feeling took root deep within me. I called my husband and we sped to the labour and delivery floor of the hospital. It didn’t take long to have our worst fear confirmed. Our baby did not have a heart beat.
The moments and hours and days which followed were truly the most devastating I have ever experienced. I have never known such sadness and emptiness in all my life. The many horrific World War II images I have seen of mothers having their children torn from their arms by Nazi soldiers, speak volumes to me. This is how losing Samuel feels to me. It is the most unnatural thing in the world, to have your child taken from you by something as final as death. There is no negotiating with or changing death. It is so very final, from our earthly perspective anyway. I understand now why many people simply cannot believe in God. He is hard to see where so much pain exists.
Yet somehow I do still believe in Him. I see Him in the caring hands of the nurses who cared for us at this most tragic time; in the tears of our kind physician Laura, who tenderly helped me deliver our son in the quiet of that morning; in the intimate photographs taken by our NILMDTS* photographer Elizabeth, who captured the beauty of our baby in a room overcome with grief. I see Him in the innumerable acts of kindness from our family, friends and extended community who completely surrounded us and held us up with suppers and hugs and tears of their own; and in all who have listened to the story of Samuel and of our family, who love and miss him everyday. God was there as I gave birth to our beautiful baby boy. He was there in the strength of my husband who had the clarity of mind to convince me to not let my grief consume me, to not let it suck me down into its foggy abyss, but to help me stay present for each moment of our baby’s birth. “This is Samuel’s story,” he said. “It is tragic, yes, but it is beautiful too. You will regret it forever if you cannot be present for this. You can do it Shannon. You can.” Even through my sobs and tears and complete heartbroken devastation, I was able to see it. His birth was beautiful. It was tragic, yes, but beautiful too.
And so it is. I move forward each day with my grief existing alongside my happiness, my tears just behind my smile, and the love for my five children willing me along. Samuel’s life, as short as it was, continues to touch our lives everyday; to shape us, teach us, and to help us live our lives fully. We are a family of five children, four here with us now, and one in heaven. I am a Mom of five kids under age eight. The title of my blog fits. It makes sense. It is the only title that does make sense. The title of my blog does not lie. It introduces our story….my story, honestly.
Here’s to you my precious Samuel. Our love for you is never ending. You are in our hearts everyday and we will miss you forever. We are a family. Not even death can change that. How I am honoured to be your mother, and grateful for you, my angel.
Until we meet again.
Photograph taken by Elizabeth Cranmer of http://www.lizzyanne.com
Elizabeth volunteers her time with *NILMDTS – Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a service providing the gift of remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby. Connect with them at www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org. We are so grateful to her for the gift of these precious photographs.