A long anticipated arrival, a short time together

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I got to experience the miracle of birth last week for the second time. It was not as we had expected, Eoin Matthew (pronounced like ‘Owen’) came a few days before his due date while Kora was almost 2 weeks late. And ‘not as we had expected’ is truly an understatement…as Mark mentioned in his post below. The labor with Eoin was fast and intense. My contractions started around 5:30pm and he was born at 1:05am on the 9th of October. When we arrived at the birth center around 12:50, my waters broke and they rushed me in where they searched for a heartbeat but called the EMS immediately as they couldn’t find it at all. The midwife told me I was almost fully dilated and if I had the ability to push, I should push him out as quickly as possible. She said I pushed him out in 8 minutes – my body wasn’t really ready for that, so I’m left with a lot of healing, but it was well worth it for my little boy. I don’t know how much longer he would have been stuck inside me without oxygen if we had to wait to be transported to the hospital. Instead he was put on my tummy as soon as he made it out, and I had about 15 minutes of terrifying yet blissful moments holding my little boy as they began trying to get him breathing right there on top of me. I’ve told the midwife so many times how much I appreciate her encouraging me to get him out – it meant so much to me to do what I could to save his little life.

One of the hardest facts to cope with for me is that Eoin was a healthy, happy baby up to the very end of labor. I felt him kicking alongside contractions earlier in the evening…he was a very active little guy in me. And then a random thing occurred, no one can tell us why, the placenta abrupted, or detached from my uterus & at that point he had no more oxygen coming to him. Just like that, for no apparent reason, his chances for survival were cut to little to none.

The next few days were filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. We are surprised that we have yet to feel anger and despair, though sadness has been with us all along the way. Through all of this we have felt an undergirding of Peace that we can only attribute to Jesus’ Presence with us. And then there was the constant stream of prayers and love from our family and friends all over the world. We really couldn’t have survived those hours without all the hope and faith of others upholding us and strengthening ours which was waning. Each conversation with doctors knocked our faith while there always seemed to come an encouragement from someone else soon after. We were overwhelmed by the love, even from those we don’t and won’t ever know. I told Eoin that he was a famous little guy!

From Friday to Sunday, Eoin was surviving on an Oscillator ventilator and nitrous oxide. The hope was that after he was warmed from the cooling treatment (which was meant to protect his brain from any further damage over that time period) that he would begin to try to function on his own, try to breathe, move, etc. Unfortunately he never opened his eyes, never tried to breathe, never squeezed my finger.


On our final day together, I was able to spend some precious moments with our little Eoin. I fed him some of my milk with a cotton swab – he probably never swallowed, but the nurses assured me it was still good for him. I helped the nurse bathe him and take some of the monitors off him. I got to spend time chatting to him about all his family and friends who loved him. Kora, Mark & I prayed over him and we sang one of the songs we sing with Kora every night before bed. His little feet were dry, so I got the baby oil out and massaged his legs and feet. And finally, when all the cords had been removed, I cuddled my precious little one.


The nurse had encouraged us over the weekend to have Kora involved, to meet him and draw him pictures that they would hang by his bedside. On Sunday she colored a picture of a bear (pictured above)- it was just the first page we came to in her book, nothing special, but it has come to mean a lot to me. The nurse hung it right above Eoin’s feet and this little picture of a chubby bear playing with a butterfly has brought me a lot of hope during those days and beyond. The bear is lying on his back as Eoin had the whole time we knew him – and as Eoin was quite chubby with the extra fluid he was retaining, he reminded me of the bear. Thus Eoin became my little baby bear. But more than that was on Sunday or Monday night, I can’t remember which, I had a dream with bears in it. We were driving along in a beautiful place & out of the grass came a huge mama bear…and just behind we could see her baby bear. We began backing the car away, but we were more in awe than scared. That’s the extent of the dream, but as I contemplated more on that dream and this picture, I felt Jesus speaking over me how He was now the mama bear, protecting my little cub. That the happy, playful bear in the picture was how Eoin would be with him, enjoying his little baby life to the full. And then on his final day, I noticed the butterfly that the bear in the picture was playing with…and I remembered that it is often a symbol of resurrection life…something our little Eoin is now experiencing in full, a promise that I cherish.

Such joy and such sorrow all in one. We don’t know how the next few weeks, months, etc will feel or be like, but we’re taking it a day at a time & appreciating the moments we as a family have together.


What happened this week

We have had lots of support, love and prayers from all around the world this week….but it occurred to us that not many people really know what happened. Its actually helpful to write this out and share our story.

Its now been more than a week since Jennie first went into labour. Last Thursday evening, the 8th October Jennie started to have contractions and we visited our birthing centre at 9pm that evening. Everything was fine and we could hear a our baby’s heart beating strongly. Everything going well, as it had done throughout the entire pregnancy.

We were sent home as Jennie was still not that far along in her labour. Everything moved very quickly and we were asked to return to the birthing centre by 1am. At this point no heart beat could be found with Baby Eoin. We later found out that the placenta had ruptured at some point, probably in that final 30 minutes of labour. This meant that Eoin was not getting the oxygen he needed. Apparently, this is a condition that will affect only 1 in every 1000 births. Its rare and we don’t have any answers for why this happened to us.

We’ve asked ourselves this question a few times this week. Could we have done anything differently? It seems like the answer is no. Whatever went wrong happened in the very final stages of labour, this was completely unexpected. We were very very unlucky.

The days following Eoin’s birth were dramatic, hopeful, difficult, tough. All those emotions rolled into one experience. You see, the doctors resuscitated Eoin 30 minutes after he was born. This itself was a miracle. He was given a pioneering cooling treatment for the next 72 hours, the doctors hoping this would minimise the impact of his lack of oxygen during the final moments of labour.  I’ve not experienced a time like that before in my life, torn between being hopeful for a miraculous recovery and trying to be realistic that his condition was very severe.

To be completely honest, i was dreading having to make a difficult decision about continuing or ending Eoin’s treatment, this was my worst nightmare. In the end our decision was an easier one. Eoin simply never responded to the treatment he was getting. His never opened his eyes, never breathed for himself and his vital functions just started shutting down.

I expected to be finding this harder than I am right now. Maybe those feelings of loss will come, or maybe God has helped us through the past week. Eoin passed away on Tuesday and I have been surprised to have felt some relief since then. Going back to the hospital each day, seeing Eoin’s condition get worse over time, it was very hard. Other things have helped too, having close friends who have been through this before and everybody’s prayers and love for our family. Our 2 year old daughter Kora has been a source of entertainment.

We have been told that Jennie should be able to have children in the future, that is at least some comfort. Of course that is not on our minds right now, we need time to heal and grieve. On 28 October we will travel to Ohio and Eoin’s final resting place will be there, next to Jennie’s parents farm. There are many years of family history at the farm, and it feels like the right place for him.

Amazingly we received a large tax rebate in the post, the morning after Eoin was born. This has helped us to cover most of our bills and gave me amazing sense that God has been in control throughout the entire situation. Its just a small thing in light of what has just happened, but has helped me to cope with a very difficult week.

Chaos and Genesis

Often, neighbors in the type of community we are living in feel as though their life and their world are a complete mess. Their picture of God might resemble that of Marduk more than the God of the Bible. They may believe that their life is up to them, and they can rely on only their own wits and strength to make it. Genesis 1 however says to them here that God is in complete control. He brings life out of death. He triumphs over chaos and desolation. There is no contest. It follows then that the God who made heaven and earth wants their complete trust, for he alone can defeat the chaos and death that threaten to overrun their world. What he has done before, he can do again.

We have been studying Genesis 1 in our men’s bible study recently. It is fascinating to see the response that the guys have to these stories of God bringing order of chaos. For some it is very difficult to believe this possible when these cycles of self destruction have been continuing for a long time. Can God really help us to break out of this?

We are called to image God, and we must, with faith and courage, continue reclaiming our identity and destiny. This is difficult when people continue to make bad choices. One of our new friends in San Antonio has fallen badly in the past few weeks and is now wanted by the police. Its very likely he will go to jail. Its very sad and hard to deal with

But there is One who, unlike us, did not fail and carried out this mission to its fullest extent—even to death on the cross—and he did it on our behalf. Because of him, new creation and New Jerusalem is assured for us. Victory over chaos and death is assured. Therefore we do not lose hope even as we dedicate our lives to struggle against what appears to be overwhelming odds in our cities and sometimes get overwhelmed and wounded. Shalom is near. Christ has secured it, and his Spirit brings it to us and leads us in it. We must hold on to this good news and must hold out this prophetic vision for our neighbors and friends in a way that can make sense out of their places and lives within them.