neonatal death

The Gift of Life

There are pains I can’t imagine.  Sometimes my thoughts wander that direction.  Sometimes I question myself.  Would I be strong?  Could I endure?  Is my faith secure? One such pain is that of losing a baby.  I remember the emptiness I experienced when we miscarried our second baby.  We had tried for eight months, and after seven weeks of pregnancy, we miscarried.  I had this sense of failure, of guilt and responsibility.  Brandon and I had anticipated having that baby before we even had a confirmed test.  We grieved the life we would never know, the baby we would never hold, the little cry we would never hear.  It was a loss that changed me.  It was a loss that gave me a glimpse to a pain I can’t imagine, carrying a baby, delivering and burying such a small body.

It grips my heart to know and see families endure this pain.  Last week I had the privilege of sharing a time of remembrance and reflection with families who have suffered the loss of their baby.  Each year the labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care unit staff at Saint Francis Hospital holds a service in memory of our babies lost.   I was honored to share the closing at our eighteenth annual Angel Tree Memorial Service.  I sought the Lord for words of hope, comfort and peace.  He was faithful to provide, but it was the time during the service when the families shared their stories that testified to the hope, comfort, peace, strength, endurance and faith only one who has walked that road can share.

A few days before the service, I read an insert in the Tulsa World featuring Life Share Oklahoma stories.  The front story was “Pistol Annie,” written by her mother, Abbey Ahern.  This family had remarkable faith and bravery.  Their precious baby was diagnosed with anencephaly, and they made a decision to give life through her precious life.  Their baby girl passed away 14 hours and 58 minutes after her birth, and became the first newborn infant organ donor in the state of Oklahoma.  Abbey shares their journey through her blog, Tomorrow Will Be Kinder.  There she quotes, Angie Smith, “I gave my deepest hurt to the Father who wanted nothing less than every bit of it.”

It is true that a mother carries her children in her heart forever; however short a time they are given.  Selah sings a song in memory of member Todd Smith’s baby titled, “Audrey’s Song.”  The lyrics reflect the faith and assurance these families display.

“I will carry you.

While your heart beats here

Long beyond the empty cradle

Through the coming years

I will carry you

All my life

And I will praise the One Who’s chosen me

To carry you”

Personally, I know how great of an impact these babies make from the moment they enter our world.  Each staff member who steps in to provide care is touched by that life, and we are deeply grateful to the families who allow us to share those moments with them.

As we enter this Christmas season, and scurry around finding the perfect gift, let us reflect on the One who came to give us the most perfect gift.  Life.  His gift is eternal and His gift gives us the peace to know that one day these families will be reunited where there will be no more pain, or sorrow, or suffering; only life; never ending.

visit to register to be a donor

Audrey's Song:  (Angie Smith shares their story on her blog at

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Trust in You

I am a planner. I like to know as far in advance as possible what I’m going to be doing. Before I even finish a task, I am mentally planning and plotting the next. I try to keep these thoughts tucked nicely inside my mind and pace sharing them; otherwise, I completely overwhelm my husband. He gets tired just listening, and I think my kids probably do too. Nursing school stretched me in the department of flexibility, no doubt. And it’s a good thing, because I can’t see how anyone can be a nurse without being flexible. We never know what the day will hold and we just have to roll with it and face it as it comes.

We all know though, that life is full of things we didn’t plan for; even if it is minor inconveniences. Like making a special trip to the local hardware store only to find that they are out of the one item you needed, or getting called in to work on a day you planned to spend with your family, or having the dryer go out when you have seven loads of laundry, two of which are already wet. These things happen all the time and it really puts a dent in the planning.

But what about when it’s not a minor inconvenience, what about the times that it’s completely devastating?

After finishing the first semester of nursing school, we had three of our classmates who were expecting. We teased that we all handle stress differently. A fun joke for our class that was exceptionally close. These babies were a celebration and sweet anticipation for us all. All three of the girls were due within about a month of each other. The first baby due was sweet Emily, Katie’s baby.

Katie went for a routine appointment a week before her due date, checking out just right. However, throughout the evening, Katie noticed that Emily was not moving around; mindful of those ever important kick counts. She went to the emergency department in the middle of the night. A short time later, in labor and delivery, Katie received news that she wasn’t prepared to hear. Her precious baby had died in utero from a cord accident. Katie had to proceed with delivering her baby and doing something no one plans to do; making funeral arrangements.

Most of our class attended Emily’s service. We grieved for our friend at the unfair reality of this imperfect world. But I personally, stood back through that season with complete admiration for this young woman. Katie pressed on in nursing school and she graduated from the University of Oklahoma with her bachelor’s degree in nursing. And she did it without delay. Katie walked that stage with all of us; the same group with whom she began that journey.

I thought of my friend recently while visiting with a patient’s mom. We had her fifth baby in our unit and although her baby was considered non-critical, it was absolutely devastating to this mother the events that had taken place surrounding her baby’s birth. She had planned to have this baby in the manner that she had her other four children; vaginal birth, no complications, straight to breast. However, she had to have a C-Section due to decreased fetal movement; the baby had a nuchal cord. The mother continued to explain to me, in floods of tears, that she wasn’t able to feed her baby. She was absolutely heartbroken that her baby received the first feeding through a nasogastric tube.

It’s all a matter of perspective. This mother never even imagined giving birth to a baby and it not going as planned. But it doesn’t always go the way we think it will. But it’s not about us, it’s about the baby. This is exactly what I thought several months ago when I asked about the delivery of a distant relative of ours. I was told, “Oh, Heather. She was a rock star. She did it without an epidural or any medication.” Really? Does that mean that the mom who was hospitalized, under observation, on bed rest for six weeks and then rushed in for a C-Section isn’t a “rock star?”

I have to say, that I take my hat off to all the moms who do whatever is within their power to safely give birth to their baby. We all know that life doesn’t always go as planned, and that includes minor and major events. These are the times that we rely on our trust in God. Do we trust Him only when things make sense and go according to what our minds can comprehend? Or do we trust Him no matter what, at all cost, at all loss? Of course it’s easier to turn our trust over to Him when life is sweet, but what about when it’s unfair, unkind, and confusing? This is where our faith is at work.

I leave you today with two scriptures I pray challenge you spiritually and bring you comfort and peace.

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times; and His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”


Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death ~ MEND  

*special thanks to Katie for permission in publishing this post~ a strong young woman who is willing to share her heartache to help heal others.  To read more about her and her journey, visit










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