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.