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February 21, 2019
Initially, Sawyer did great at home, was adjusting well, and starting to take on a personality all his own. He was a spitting image of his daddy with a tender soul and quiet demeanor. But at a mere 8-days old, Sawyer became irritable, lethargic and had a seizure while in Tim’s arms. We called 911 and were rushed to the local hospital. During the ride in the ambulance, his seizures had passed and he seemed ok. Minutes from the hospital, Sawyer’s vital signs dipped drastically, the sirens sounded, and the ambulance sped up. I recall sitting back, stiff as a board, gently saying his name over and over, loud enough for him to hear me, coaxing him back to us, gripping the seat beneath me, and watching my future slowly pass before me. When we arrived at the hospital, Sawyer had recouped, and again, seemed ok.
Our son’s condition and our frail emotions, continued to roller coaster for the next couple of hours. The expert neonatal team from Maine Medical was called in and Sawyer was transported to their facility. An amazing team of doctors and nurses worked tirelessly to diagnose and treat our son’s unknown condition. Blood was taken and sent to labs both locally and across the country. Numerous tests were done: cat scans, brain scans, EKG’s, you name it — it was done. We were told, “there’s nothing your son can’t throw at us that we can’t fix” — and we all truly believed it.
24-hours after arriving at Maine Medical, a massive team of doctors and nurses were ordered STAT to discuss the findings. We were informed that Sawyer was no longer breathing on his own, and that he had little to no brain activity. The neonatal neurologist told us that our son had a suspected metabolic disorder (a condition from conception that we had no control over), and that his blood pressure and heart rate were dropping rapidly. Sawyer would not survive. We had decisions to make, ones no parents should ever have to face. The doctors were speechless, the nurses lowered their heads, and we were all in shock.
Hours later we laid in a hospital bed with the tiny strength of our son between us. We told Sawyer it was ok to go. We held and loved him and felt warmth and pride as we allowed our son to leave this Earth for greater possibilities. We ached, we yearned, we felt empty, we felt it all. To watch your own child, your own flesh and blood, the product of the love between you and your very best friend, pass before your eyes… that moment is frozen in time. We loved, held, and cared for our precious son up until the very last beat of his heart.
The next year was the most trying time of my life. I doubted, I blamed, I questioned. We sought help and stumbled upon a local support group. Surrounding ourselves with people in our position was invaluable. We were not alone. 5 mothers in particular became my lifeline. Each lost a child in their own unique way. Each could have curled under their sheets and hidden from the world. But we felt the pull to give back, and to make our baby’s lives matter. Together, by sharing our stories and reaching out to other grieving moms, we learned to laugh again and to bring sunshine back into our lives.
Along with our spouses, we co-founded a successful non-profit known as Angels Walk for Wishes. It was a walk to celebrate lives cut too short and to mourn futures left untold. It was a way to keep all baby’s memories alive and to allow them a voice. During our event’s 8-year crusade, we raised over $250K for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of NH. And more importantly, were able to do for other children what we were unable to do for our own… make their wishes come true.
In addition, we attended workshops on pregnancy, stillbirth and neonatal loss, held grief and bereavement groups, met with local hospitals to discuss ways in which they could better care for newly grieving parents, and sat on parent panels to share our stories and offer insight into our journeys. We became the lifeline for other mothers, like those we were lucky enough to stumble upon after our own losses. And we became the voice for those who could not muster the courage to yet stand on their own.
Today, 11+ years later, Sawyer has a big sister, and two little brothers. I know for certain that he was not sent here to break my heart or to be a mere statistic. He would not want me to dwell in his absence, but to persist in the awareness of his love. Sawyer taught me that beauty is to be felt, and not seen. He is our constant companion and lifelong angel. We have moved forward, and have taken our son with us. We still hurt and we still cry, but we have found laughter and joy in the face of adversity. Good has come from our tragedy… and we have welcomed it.
I share this story not for sympathy, but to inspire others to seek the other side. Empower yourself. No matter how hard life seems, there’s always light after dark. Dust yourself off and believe in your own strength. Empower each other. If you see somebody down, lift them up. Give them the courage to stand. Because when great women come together, even greater things can happen.
Much love and many thanks to you my Angel Moms (Toni, Shannon, Lee, Sarah and Rachel)!
Endless Hope, Lindsay
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January 01, 2019