I need to pause from telling the story of Keller’s birth, and highlight a few incredible servants.
Dr. O –
Praise the Lord for providing us with Dr. O. I asked Wendy and my family to send me everything they could remember about Keller’s labor and delivery. Each one mentioned our Doctor. She worked with the perfect blend of professionalism and compassion. I love her. I always will. She was tender and strong. She saw our pain, and reached out in love. She saw our agony, and became family. She saw our fear, and rolled up her sleeves, ready to work with and for us.
September 15 was just another day of work. September 15 was the day our world stopped. Dr. O saw our world come to a screeching halt and made herself vulnerable to our grief. She cried with us. She attentively cared for us. She had to be the one to tell us our son’s heart had stopped beating. There is such poetry in the fact that she bookended Keller’s birth. My body progressed very little throughout the day, and then Dr. O came back into work. Within a few hours, Keller’s little body was ready to be born and the same doctor that told us of Keller’s death was able to bring him into this world. She held my parents as they wept on the floor outside of the delivery room moments after Keller was born. She was and is everything you want a Doctor to be. Praise the Lord for you Dr. O. You are doing a good and mighty work. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to day in and day out, making yourself vulnerable to the tragedies of others, but thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for opening your heart and serving us with perfect compassion. You are forever a part of our story.
The Nurses –
Each nurse played their role perfectly in our story. I know each of their names. I praise the Lord for the career path they have chosen. Take this as my bear hug to all those who serve as nurses. Nursing offers you a unique opportunity to touch the most intimate and raw moments of others lives. God bless those who put themselves aside and give fully to those they attend each and every shift.
Our first nurse wept with us as we came to grips with Keller’s death. Our second nurse had a heart filled with empathy. [She snuck me popsicles, jello, and chicken broth as long as I didn’t tell ;)] Our third nurse had perfect attention to detail. She did not neglect a single need. She worked her hardest to provide the best possible medical care in the worst possible situation. Our fourth nurse got our boys feet and hand prints with perfect respect and gentility. She was the nurse who wheeled Keller away after we said goodbye. I have no words for this act of service. Our fifth nurse provided a comedic anecdote to share in the days after Keller’s death. I won’t go into details, but you know, everyone has a role to play, and her role was to shock us into laughing till we cried. Our last nurse didn’t know much of our situation. We were moved out of labor and delivery, and into a regular hospital room. She checked in with us and brought us lunch and juice. Thank you for feeding us.
So this is my love song to all those who serve in the medical field with compassion and vulnerability. Labor and delivery nurses are able to see and experience incredibly joyful moments. They witness moments of new creation entering this world, surrounded by parents ready to fully sacrifice themselves for the sake of their child. Our story was different. Our nurses had to witness incredible grief. I can’t imagine the difficulty of toggling the two emotions. One room is filled with the light and love of new birth, and another heavy with the heartache of the death of a child. Thank you for putting yourself aside to serve so beautifully in each capacity. I cherish your talents. They leave me in awe. You touch so many lives. You have such power to bring light into darkness. Thank you for serving us on our darkest day. You are forever a part of our story.
Dr. M was my prenatal and postpartum therapist. I can only fall to my knees and thank the Lord for providing Dr. M. When I became pregnant with Keller, my insurance had recently started offering free counseling to pregnant and postpartum women. She and I had gotten to know each other rather well throughout my pregnancy. She patiently worked to guide me through the dense forest of Anxiety and OCD. She expertly led me to resources and exercises to rewire my misfiring brain. I credit her for the bulk of my progress.
If you are reading Dr. M, I’m out of the darkness. I turned a corner. I still battle, I know you know that. I just want you to know how much you have meant in our lives. I praise the Lord for you. I scream out thanksgiving because of the skill set and compassion you gifted me.
She heard that we had lost Keller, and, on her own time, came to our hospital room. We hugged and we wept. I will never forget or minimize this act. In later visits, she told me she was angry for days after Keller died. She saw our struggle and made herself vulnerable to our pain. Empathy is an incredible gift. You are everything you want and need in a Psychologist. I love you. You are forever a part of our story.
Guys. You should get yourself an Abby – as well as a Wendy. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is an incredible ministry. NILMDTS “trains, educates, and mobilizes professional quality photographers to provide beautiful heirloom portraits to families facing the untimely death of an infant.” Each photographer volunteers their time and hearts and offers “a free gift of professional portraiture” to families of stillbirth and infant loss. I know. What an INCREDIBLE work.
We only had 7 hours with Keller. 7 hours. 7 hours can’t hold enough memories or take enough mental snapshots to ever capture Keller’s face perfectly in our minds, no matter how hard we may have tried. Wendy and the medical staff were aware of NILMDTS and contacted the agency for information regarding a local photographer. They were put in touch with Abby. Wendy recently told me that NILMDTS doesn’t do photography between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. (Keller was born at 11:57 p.m.). So, Abby reached out and told Wendy to contact her directly whenever Keller was born. She got to the hospital within 15 minutes. She left her husband and toddler in the middle of the night to serve our family. She sacrificed her rest and her heart to provide a gift to total strangers. She captured so many incredible moments with our son. We will forever know each little detail about Keller’s perfect body thanks to the selfless service of Abby. I’ll forever be certain that he indeed has my nose. Man. Isn’t he just the most handsome thing you have ever seen?
Abby and I formed a friendship that I imagine will last forever. She shared her heartache of miscarriage, infertility, and failed adoptions – all of which led her tender heart to serve others experiencing loss. Our toddlers played together. She took family photos of us and our “Keller Bear” before leaving California. We keep in touch and I am in constant awe of her undeniable urge to serve the defenseless. I love you Abby. You are forever a part of our story.
Thank you all for your service. Thank you all for using your talents to enrich the lives of others. Thank you for changing our lives. Thank you for allowing the Lord to work through you. You are FOREVER a part of our story.
Some have asked how they can honor Keller on his upcoming 1st birthday. If you are inclined, please consider making a donation in his name to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Click here for more information.
It is inspiring to see the way you count your blessings and think of others during your darkest hours. Thank you for shining your light.