This was probably the most difficult story I received for the Madonna and Child Project. It describes the death of a baby, and I cannot read it without crying even today. It's an incredibly beautiful, sweet and touching account of loss.
My son was born on June 1, 2010. Exactly twelve weeks before his August 24th due date. Because of his prematurity, my beautiful Sawyer was unable to even have a chance to fight the congenital heart defect that was diagnosed shortly after his birth.
It is amazing to me and a testament to his will that Sawyer survived long enough for his father and me to hold him and say goodbye. He fought harder than any of us could have imagined, especially given his diagnosis of a severe form of Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia - a defect in which his pulmonary artery never formed.
At my twenty week ultrasound, Sawyer was positioned in such a way that the ultrasound technician was unable to get any scans of his heart, kidneys and bladder. We were scheduled to come back at 24 weeks to complete these scans. Nothing was out of the ordinary and we were thrilled to be welcoming our first son - and a new little brother for our two-year-old daughter, Sadie.
The month of April soon arrived and during my ultrasound scan at 24-weeks the technician simply said, "Are you here because your fluid is so low?"
I shot straight up and asked what she was talking about, and she ignored my questions as she went on to complete the ultrasound. We then had to wait nearly an hour to see the doctor. It was one of the longest hours of my life, as I was so worried and concerned about our little Sawyer. Would he be okay? What does low fluid mean for both of us?
My doctor, an excellent MFM out of the University of Chicago, immediately informed me that I would need to go on bedrest and I received steroid injections to mature Sawyer's underdeveloped lungs in case I went into labor too soon.
On June first, four weeks after receiving that news, my water unexpectedly broke early in the morning at four in the morning. I was admitted to the hospital for observation but by four in the evening. That same afternoon I started to bleed heavily as my placenta began to detach.
Within a few short hours, I had an emergency c-section under general anesthesia. Sawyer was born at 8:13pm, limp and gray. He had no heartbeat. His premature body had no idea that labor was in progress and it failed to complete many important tasks that babies do naturally before being born. I could not imagine being awake and in that room - knowing that my baby was born dead.
A team of doctors and nurses diligently worked on Sawyer, stabilizing him enough to transfer to the NICU. At that moment, we had hope.
Not even two days later, on a beautiful, late-spring morning we were told that our beautiful baby was losing his fight. His neonatologist quietly whispered to us that “there is only so much we can do.”
We called for a hospital chaplain and in the dim light of the NICU his father and I each took hold of Sawyer‘s tiny hands and lifted them up toward God as he was baptized. Many nurses, doctors and staff surrounded Sawyer in his tiny isolette as we all said an “Our Father” and turned off the machines.
Sawyer’s heart slowed over the course of an hour but he continued to fight. Even as he struggled to breathe Sawyer let out a tiny coo for us to hear. The beauty of this moment, is indescribable.
His nurse pushed me in a wheelchair to a private room as I held onto Sawyer. She stopped in a brightly-lit hallway and motioned for someone to open the door toward a courtyard. “He’s never felt the sun,” she said with tears in her eyes.
It was at that moment, with rays of warm, morning sunlight shining down upon us, Sawyer died in my arms.
Angel, you were born to fly.
I love you Sawyer - for all eternity.
Michelle wrote me with an update- "Landon Sawyer Williams born June 30th, 2011 @ 5:10 p.m. - 6lbs 7 oz, 20 inches long. This is my favorite picture of him from the hospital. You can see Sawyer's necklace in the photo...Sawyer in my heart and Landon in my arms. Bittersweet, but we are overjoyed."
A blog on art, roller derby and life.
I'm an artist and mother of two in Courtenay, BC. I've completed a project called the "Madonna and Child Project," and I'm now working on a series of roller derby inspired drawings. In my spare time I play roller derby with the Brick House Betties.