Friday, October 16, 2009

Welcome to Sullivan's Story

Welcome to the website! Hopefully you're here because you were the recipient of one of our random acts of kindness and have followed the web address on the card to this website. We created this so that people can hear about our sweet Sullivan and about our Savior.

You can read the parts to the story in any order you wish, but if you'd like to read from the start to finish, here are the titles and the links for you.

The Pregnancy

Finding Out

Telling People


Meeting Sullivan

The Funeral


Thanks for stopping by! Please leave comments, we'd love to hear how your life was touched by Sullivan.


Some would say we got no miracle. Our baby died. I say we got a miracle. It wasn't that our baby lived. It is that he died and we survived.

Over the course of this journey so many people have told me how strong I am. And they are right. But I want you to know HOW I am strong. WHY I have been able to deliver a dead baby, bury my child, and still get up in the morning.

No one would have blamed me if I had shut myself in the closet and refused to come out. Oh I have cried in the closet. In the car. In the bathroom. In the living room. At the cemetery. At the scrapbook store. At the grocery store. At church. In Sunday School. At doctor's offices. You name the place, I've cried there.
But I get back up.

Somehow through the darkest of nights and bleakest of days, I've always gotten back up.

Here's how I've been able to do it.


Because I accepted that he took the place on the cross and died for MY sins, I have assurance that one day when my time comes, I'll be reunited with him in heaven. Him and all my beloved family members who accepted him. And Sullivan. Babies aren't old enough to make a choice to accept Christ, so they ALL go to heaven. This life on earth doesn't last long. I know soon enough I will be able to see and kiss my baby boy again. Without the assurance of a Savior who conquered death, I don't know where I'd be.

If you want to know more about Jesus or how to become a Christian, please seek out a Christian church in your area, a minister, or you can even post comments here and I'll do my best to answer them. If I don't know an answer, I can find you someone who does.

This life will end soon. I'll be spending eternity with my baby and my family. Where will you be?

Some references for you:

Romans 5:8 (New International Version)
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 10:9 (New International Version)
"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

John 11:25 (New International Version)
"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;"

Another resource for you is here, this page explains what the plan of salvation is.

The Funeral

We had a grave-side service on June 17, 2009. We did not have an open casket, we had said our goodbyes at the hospital and thought that would be too hard to face, for us and for other people.

It was a beautiful day. We'd been a little afraid of rain or bad weather, but it was great. The sky was bright blue, the sun was shining, and there were white fluffy clouds dotting the sky. Our son had wanted to make a wooden cross for his brother at the funeral. The night before we helped him make one out of popsicle sticks and you can see it up by the casket in this photo:

The head minister at our church did the ceremony and many other ministers were there to pay their respects. It was especially meaningful for the head minister to do the ceremony because he and his wife also had a child stillborn some years ago. Some of my family from out-of-state came, my boss, my husband's new boss, several co-workers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, grandmas, friends.

The minister spoke about the story of David and Bathsheba's first baby, that died. David was wrought with grief over it but also had hope. "The child will not return to me, but one day I will return to the child."

Our Sunday School class hosted a lunch for us after the funeral. It was really nice to have that time to go eat and relax.

Somehow we made it through the day. Plenty of tears were shed but we were able to maintain an amount of composure.

You never expect to bury your child. To see that little casket.

Here is a picture of the outfit we buried Sullivan in. We had to go to the mall in search of something for him to wear. I didn't want a stuffy, uncomfortable suit, and most of the sleepers we saw were really bright and cheerful and inappropriate.
Then at Von Maur we saw this little Ralph Lauren set. Super soft and cozy. Subdued with light blue pinstripes. It was perfect. We also buried him with the stuffed elephant you see in the crib. My sister had bought that for him and then brought it when she came for the funeral. It gives me such comfort to know my baby isn't in that casket alone. He has such a soft, snuggly animal in there with him.

Remember I said a vein blew out while they were trying to get my IV in? Well it bruised into the shape of a heart on my forearm. It lasted at least a month. I loved that bruise!

Meeting Sullivan

June 12, 2009. 3:40pm. Sullivan was born. How can your date of birth be AFTER your date of death? Somehow in our story, it is.

As soon as he was born I felt the exact same rush of "ohmygoshIloveYousoMuch" that I had felt the instant our older son was born. Sullivan looked so very much like a perfect baby. We just kind of waited for him to gasp for a breath. Obviously that didn't happen. His perfectly formed, perfectly healthy body just lay there.

The nurse put him on my belly for a bit after he was born. We were crying. She took him to wipe him off a little and weigh and measure him. 7lb 4 oz. 20 inches long.

Sullivan looked SO much like his older brother! They have the same full cheeks, little button noses, and adorable ears. The one difference is hair. Our oldest son had a head full of VERY dark, very straight hair at birth. Sullivan's hair was more dirty-blonde/brown and crazy wavy..just like my natural hair.

We let our older son come in and be the first to meet Sullivan. Then the rest of our family came in a few at a time to see him and hold him. As you can imagine, there were lots of tears.

Once all the family left, we kept Sullivan with us in the room for several hours and took turns holding him. I sang to him. I kissed him tons. I wanted to be sure to send him to the grave with at least 100 kisses. So I counted and counted until he'd had 100. Then I kissed him tons of other times too without counting.

I won't say much about my husband's thoughts or expression of grief because that is so personal. He is a more private person than me and his experience is HIS experience to choose to share or not share.

Around 8pm I called for the nurse and told her we had said our goodbyes. She came in to take him around 8:15pm. Watching him leave, knowing we'd not see him again, oh man. That was so hard.
This is the very last picture we ever took of Sullivan.

The nurses had him and took some nice photos for us. We got a lock of hair and an angel ornament, and hand and feet prints.


My dad drove me from the doctor's office to the hospital, and my husband came straight to the hospital from work.

It sucked that when I signed in, I had to fill out a paper with name, etc, and it also asked for the name of the pediatrican we would use. I just left that part blank. We HAD a doctor but obviously wouldn't be using his services.

So they get me back to my room and start trying to get my IV in. Nurse 1 tries. No luck. Nurse 2 tries. No luck. They get heating pads for my arm. A vein blows. They have the nurse anesthesist come and try. It takes her 2 tries but finally she gets it. They load me up with fluids and I keep having to get up and go to the bathroom.

They try to put in the drug to start labor but my cervix is still so tightly closed they aren't able to do it without causing me horrible pain.

They decide to give me the epidural before that.

I get up to go pee one more time. I took a long look at myself in the mirror, the last time I'd see myself pregnant with Sullivan.

My OB arrives as they are putting in the epidural. We chat about his recent unexplained illness. (He is fine now). While he is talking, he raises one eyebrow. I tell him his face will freeze like that. ha.

Labor lasted 23 hours. During that time our family and friends were in and out of the room visiting with us.

Labor was not progressing well at all. I dilated to a 6 and got stuck. My OB did an ultrasound, found no answers for why the baby wasn't moving down. He asked if he could pray with us. And there, in my hospital room, he held my hand and prayed with me and my husband.
Soon after we started talking about a csection. If the baby wasn't going to move down, we'd have to have the surgery. I was okay with that, but knew recovery would be bad.

The nurse came in and started going over funeral arrangements with us for Sullivan. She had called local cemeteries to find out what they offer, the cost, etc.

My OB had to leave for vacation before it was time to deliver. I'd gone to him for almost 7 years and did not want someone else delivering my baby! But a nurse friend of ours said the on-call doctor is her personal OB and he is great. Then our family friend who is a physician called and said he knew the on-call doc and we'd be fine. That was very reassuring.

While my nurse was talking to us about the cemeteries, the on-call dr came in and checked me. Still at a 6. We talked about 10 more minutes about funerals and I interrupted the nurse feeling a lot of pressure (TMI, but I thought I had to poop, that is what it felt like). She checked me and I had dilated to a 10. "No wonder!" She said, "You're ready to push!"

I really think the prayers are what got me from a 6 to a 10 within ten minutes.

I asked my nurse to let my regular OB know that I didn't have to have a c-section. She had him paged and he called my room and I was able to talk to him on the phone for a few minutes before delivering.

The on-call doc came in and we got ready to push.

It only took me probably 10 minutes. I pushed for just 3 contractions.
At one point I thought "I'm doing this to deliver a DEAD baby!" And I made myself not think about it like that because otherwise there is no way I could push.

We were relieved to finally be getting this behind us after 23 hours, but yet I also wanted to keep him in my belly. Just keep him forever.

But I pushed anyway, and at 3:40pm Sullivan was born.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Telling People

My son and I went back to the exam room so I could get dressed and start making calls. He looked at the doctor and said "Why'd the baby's heart stop beating?"
Poor Dr. E just said "We don't know."

I told our son "He died and went to heaven to be with Jesus. We will miss him because we wanted him to get to be with us for awhile, but we'll see him again someday."

At the time, my husband worked an hour away from home and as luck would have it was NOT at his desk and not answering his cell phone. Great.

So I called his mom, she was nearby and came to get our son.
Still no answer from my husband.

I needed someone to come be with me, so I called my mom. Thankfully SHE answered her cell phone. I told her there was no heartbeat and she left work immediately to drive to the doctor's office.
While I was waiting for her I kept trying and trying to get ahold of my husband. No luck. The nurses helped me use their computer and try to look up a main phone number for the company. Eventually someone must have gotten ahold of security because later we found out that the entire facility knew something was up, even though my husband only told his boss when he left later that day.

Then I called one of my best friends. I knew she'd be thinking I'd gone into labor, we were all anxiously awaiting that! I told her I was at the doctor and the baby had died and would she call the rest of our group from church and anyone else.

Next, my mom arrived at the doctor's office, followed soon by my dad.

Finally my husband got out of the meeting he was in, saw the missed calls, and called my cell phone. I told him there is no heartbeat.
He said "So what does that mean?"
I replied "It means he's gone, J. The baby died."
"Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I'm on my way." he said.

I had a choice---to be induced immediately, or to wait for labor to occur naturally which could take a few days/weeks. I chose to be induced. No way could I live through the next few days or weeks knowing there was a dead baby in my belly. No way could I face strangers out at stores or restaurants who would smile or ask when I'm due or what we're having. I mean how would you even answer those questions?!

With the choice to being labor immediately, our journey was beginning......

Finding Out

Tuesday, June 9th was our oldest son's birthday. I was 9 months pregnant, had been having contractions and was tired. We went bowling with some friends and family.
The next evening, June 10th, I went out shopping for my doctor and nurse.

My OB and my nurse were wonderful. Knowing I would have the baby soon, I wanted to get them each a thank-you gift. So I went to a local Christian book-store and got an engraved cross statue thing for my doctor, then I went across the street to Lowe's and got a hanging plant for the nurse. I wrote out their cards, packed stuff in the car and went to bed.

The morning of June 11th was a crazy morning. Our son was going with me to the doctor's appointment as he had so many times before. The house was a mess, we were running late, and my patience was wearing thin. I arrived at the doctor's office thinking I was 15 minutes late. Turns out I had the appt time wrong and was an hour late! They said it would be okay and could probably work me in.
I went and sunk down into a waiting room chair and started to cry. "I HAVE to be seen today!" I thought.

They were able to get me in right away. I did the standard pee-in-a-cup, take your blood pressure, and so forth. Sat down in the exam room. Dr. E* came in and chatted with me. I told him how ready I was to have this baby! Pregnancy was wearing on my body and I was ready to hold my baby! He checked my ankles for swelling (thank you doctor, for NOT referring to them as "cankles," though that would have been an accurate description).

I laid back on the bed and he got out the doppler. Every visit the doctor listens to Sullivan's heartbeat. He couldn't hear one.
So he had me lay on my side. Still nothing. .......

Finally a little bit of a beat. Very slow compared to what a baby's should be.

"Is his heart okay?" I said, "It sounds awful slow."
"I agree." Replied Dr. E.

He left the room and the nurse came in to get me across the hall for an ultrasound.

I sat in there (remember, 6 yr old in tow) and waited. I didn't think my baby was dead, but I knew something was up. I started singing "Blessed Be The Name of the Lord."
"Blessed be your name, when the road is paved with suffering,
though there's pain the offering, Blessed be your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be your name, Jesus.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be your glorious name.
You give and take away, You give and take away...
When the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say, Blessed be the name of the Lord..."

Dr. E came in and fired up the ultrasound machine. Started scanning and scanning my belly with the wand. Not saying anything.
"Tell me what you're seeing, talk to me." I said.
Then Dr. E showed me on the screen all 4 chambers of the heart and how there was absolutely no movement. There was no heartbeat. The one we had heard earlier was my own.

It took a minute to sink in.

"So (pause) he's gone?" I asked.

I will never forget the look on Dr. E's face as he nodded. I'm sure it was the same look of shock and horror that was on my own face. Some would probably say a doctor shouldn't express such surprise or emotion. I say phooey on that. I am SO glad that my OB loved my baby so much that he too was horrified when the baby died. I want an OB that loves babies and is visibly moved when something goes wrong. I've said many times over that I adore Dr. E and this is just one reason why.

So there, in that ultrasound room, on June 11, 2009, I found out our baby boy had died. The only problem was, I was alone and now had to start telling people.....

*I only refer to my doctor as "Dr. E" in the blog in order to respect his privacy. I will not give his full name or information on his practice. I will only say that we have found him to hold no fault in our horrible loss, I continue to use him as my physician, and anyone who goes to him should count themselves lucky.

The Story of Sullivan--The Pregnancy

October 11th, 2008 we invited our parents over to see some "landscaping" we had done in the yard. What they REALLY saw when they pulled up was a big yard card that said "Baby #2 Due June 22, 2009."
We had the camcorder and videoed their reactions. Both sets of parents were shocked and thrilled!

My pregnancy progressed very well. I went to all of my OB visits, and didn't have any trouble (aside from the regular ailments of pregnancy: backache, etc).

The day of our 20 week ultrasound we took our oldest son to Build-A-Bear to make a bear for his baby brother. This was going to be his gift to the baby at the hospital.

At 37 weeks I had an ultrasound just to check and make sure Sullivan was no longer breech. We are so thankful for that ultrasound! My doctor had just gotten a 3D machine so we were able to see Sullivan very clearly and see him scrunch up his face and move around. It would be the only time we'd ever see him move.

Some pictures from pregnancy---the 38 wonderful weeks I held Sullivan:

At 38 weeks I went in for my regular weekly checkup and that is when things went downhill.....