Often, when we are out as a family, Erick or I will turn to each other and say "someone is missing". Do you ever feel like that, like someone from your family is missing? I feel like that all of the time. Someone is missing. My little boy, Samuel Isaac, is not here with us. Seven years ago, on December 1, 2003, our fifth child and second son, Samuel Isaac was born. He was born "sleeping", as many people, mostly those who have also suffered this tremendous pain, refer to stillbirth.
What is stillbirth? Stillbirth is the term used to refer to the loss of a child during pregnancy from twenty weeks gestation up to full-term. What causes stillbirth? There are many factors which cause stillbirth: umbilical problems and post-maturity are just two of them. One out of every two hundred pregnancies in the United States ends in stillbirth each year. It makes me so sad when I think of the families that have to go through this, I know their pain.
My pregnancy with Samuel was somewhat normal. I say "somewhat" because we did have a scare during a routine ultrasound but we found out shortly thereafter that our baby was fine. Because of this incident we decided to find out the sex of our baby, this was the first time we had ever done this. I am so glad we did this, this really changed the way we bonded with this little one, and God knew we needed that.
My official due date was November 26, but we all know that babies don't know that. By this time I had given birth four times before and three of those babies were "late", with the latest one being 10 days late. That was Leah, and to this day she still runs late! So,when my due date came and went I wasn't surprised.
Everything was ready for our little baby, we were just waiting for him. His clothes were all washed and put in his drawers. His carseat was in the car ready to go. My hospital bag was packed. Erick would call me everyday from work to see if anything was happening. We waited patiently.
Sunday, November 30 was like any other Sunday. We woke up, got ready for the day and went to church.
The church we were going to was small at the time and our pastor asked the women to lay hands on me and pray for my labor and delivery. After church we had a potluck and then we went home. Once we were home Erick took the kids for a walk and I laid down on the couch and rested.
Some time went by and I realized I couldn't feel Samuel moving. I pushed and poked like all pregnant women do and I didn't feel his response like I usually did. I drank some juice and laid on my side, hoping to wake him up. I made a phone call to a friend and we chatted. I was telling her that one of my greatest fears as a mom was having a child die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and she told me her fear was stillbirth as she was also pregnant. Oh the irony! Here we were talking about it and all the while my own child was already dead.
Erick came home from his walk and I told him my concerns. We called the hospital and they told us to come right over. My emotions were all over the place at this time. Part of me was begging God to let our baby live and the other part already knew our baby was gone. We arrived at the hospital and right away the nurse tried to locate the heatbeat. Of course she couldn't and she tried not to show us that she knew what had happened. They called our family doctor and ordered the ultrasound machine to be brought to our room. I did not want them to turn on that machine. I didn't want the finality. I knew the truth, but I didn't want to have to acknowledge it. The machine was on for about 30 seconds and then it was shut off quickly. The doctor was at the foot of my bed, he touched my feet and he said "I'm sorry".
How do you tell a mom whose child is over due, whose child was alive and kicking yesterday, that her baby had died? What happened? How could this happen? Why did this happen?
We went home that night and tried to sleep. We had decided that we would be induced the next day with the midwife whose care I had been under. On Monday December 1, 2003, we drove to the hospital knowing that we would be delivering a dead baby. I'm sorry I can't paint a prettier picture for you to read. Just because our son had died before he was born didn't mean that he just vanished physically. He still had to be delivered. I still had to go through labor, knowing that my son was going to be born without a sound, "sleeping". After a very long and difficult day, Samuel was born. He was perfect in every way. Ten fingers and ten toes. Sweet lips. Soft skin.
We spent time with him. We dressed him in his going home outfit. We took pictures of him, which I still cherish.
The funeral home came and carried him away, nestled safely in a little basket. Oh, it makes me so sad to think of it today. My precious baby boy, wanted so dearly, gone in a heartbeat. Literally.
We don't know why Samuel died. The doctors had no answers for it. For many years I would stay up late and google "stillbirth". It would tear me up emotionally, looking for answers. As time has passed, I have come to believe it had to do with his post maturity. Although my babies tend to be on the small side, Samuel was the smallest and I think at the end of my pregnancy he wasn't thriving, but we just didn't know it.
I am so thankful that I know where my precious son is and that I have a promise from the Lord that I will see him again in Heaven, and what a glorious day that will be! I don't understand why he had to die, I don't always understand what happens in this world. Even though I don't understand, I still trust in God and believe that He is in control. Believing in God and trusting Him doesn't mean that I don't feel pain and sorrow. My heart still aches for my little boy. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of him. The bedding I lovingly purchased for him is still boxed up, even though it's been seven years and I haven't been able to let go of that. Someday maybe I will.
Samuel, you truly are missed.