Sunday, July 29, 2012

Isaiah's Story - Part Six

If you are just joining us, welcome.  You may want to click here on Isaiah's Story - Part One to start at the beginning.

To those of you who continue to tune in - even after I haven't posted for a while - thank you.  Your continued love and prayers mean so much to us.

I recently realized that in the last post I forgot to post pictures of me with Isaiah.  Oops!  I guess that is kind of how it goes.  While writing things from my perspective, I don't usually think of seeing myself with him, but instead relive what I saw through my own eyes.  So I guess I'll start with some pictures of Isaiah and his Mommy (which I am so thankful for), and then continue telling about the kids meeting Isaiah.


As the kids came through the door my heart melted.  Caleb (4) and Lydia (2) lit up when they saw me and ran to the bed crying out "Moommmyy" - just like they always do when I've been away.  They clutched their puppy and bunny lovies, proud that they had permission to bring them along.  Matt had definitely thought ahead and allowed them to have their lovies outside of bedtime - knowing that this would be a tough visit.

I was still sitting in the hospital bed holding Isaiah when they arrived.  I gave both kids huge hugs and marveled at how big they looked (any mom with a newborn can attest to being astonished at the size of their other kids after the birth of a new child).  Almost immediately their attention was turned to Isaiah.  Lydia jumped right up and wanted to caress his face, hands, and feet and kiss him.  Caleb was tentative and unsure.  The kids probably responded to Isaiah just like they would have if they were coming to visit their newborn baby brother who was alive...their reactions definitely rang true with their personalities.

Shortly after the kids arrived, a nurse came in and asked if she could have the privilege of giving Isaiah a bath.  I was unsure about it because his skin had already started peeling more, but she was fairly certain she could be gentle enough not cause any further peeling and Matt agreed that it would be nice if he had a bath.  My mom was also so glad that she got to help with the bath...she told me later that it was something she could "do" for him.  We all felt like we wanted to do something for this boy we loved.

During the bath Matt and I focused on Caleb and Lydia and their needs - trying to answer their questions, but mostly loving on them and letting them know that even in sadness, we loved them so much. 

Our wonderful nurse, T, arrived from her home to take photos for us and started taking pictures of our interactions over the next 90 minutes.  We were so blessed by her willingness to come on her own time to capture our family together.  We are eternally grateful for this gift.

After his bath, mom and the other nurse gently lay Isaiah on a blanket at the foot of the bed.  This was maybe the first time I had taken a good look at his naked body, as he had been wrapped in a blanket most of the time.  He was beautiful.  After being washed his hair was no longer quite as curly looking.  I did notice that his skin was peeling in several places like the mark on his nose.  I briefly thought to myself that his skin could heal quickly - that it was not a big deal - but it hit me again that he wasn't alive.  His skin would never heal.

As the kids took in the sight of their baby brother, Matt bent down next to them and echoed his earlier explanations of Isaiah's death.  He was born, but his body doesn't work.  We can see his body, but his soul is already with Jesus (Hallelujah!).  He isn't breathing - and he can't open his eyes or cry.  He looks as if he is sleeping...that at any moment he could wake up...but he won't.  It was so hard for all of us to understand and explain, but they seemed to just take it all accept it in plain terms...this is how it was...they took it so well.

It amazes me that the kids could deal with understanding the loss of their brother in such natural ways.  It seems like adults try to really figure things out as they encounter good or bad experiences in their lives...they try to compartmentalize their grief and attempt to make sense of things.  Kids just take it as it comes.  They ask plain questions, share when they are sad, and don't feel bad if they feel happy for a moment.  They probably grieve in a much more healthy way than adults - in a naive and natural way that we are incapable of.  

Since the evening had been such a blur, I hadn't even thought to change clothes.  I do wish someone would have suggested this for comfort and for pictures, etc., but alas, a hospital gown it was.

After a few photos of Isaiah, the nurses suggested we put a diaper and outfit on Isaiah.  We see this now as a way they were attempting to normalize go through the motions that parents would go through with their new baby as a way to have those experiences to remember with their child.   The hospital had a few donated outfits that we could've used, but since we had our overnight bags, we decided to use the newborn layette set we had purchased in case we had a boy.  It was a sweet elephant set that will always remind me of my mom because she loves elephants.  We decided to dress him in the onesie instead of the sleeper so that we could see more of his features in the pictures later.  T had brought a beautiful, soft blue blanket that she let us use for the pictures (and keep).  This meant so much to us.


The next hour we just tried to facilitate saying hello and goodbye to Isaiah with our children and our parents.  We tried to make the most of every moment, but it was such a surreal time.  We realized that subjecting our children to the hurt of this loss would be hard, but ultimately we thought it was the best choice.  By letting them go through this with us now, we hoped it would give them a solid groundwork to help them through their grieving - now and in the future.  We weren't sure how much they would understand or internalize (we are continually amazed at how much they DO understand and internalize), but we knew even if they didn't understand or remember, having pictures taken with Isaiah would solidify the fact that they got to meet him and that he was their little brother. 

 Our Three Kids!

It wasn't easy taking photos with a 2 and 4 year old - past their bedtimes - in a sensitive situation, but we are so thankful that we did.  It is hard to believe that these are the only pictures we will ever have of our family with all three of our children together - our family of five - yet I am so grateful to have even these. 

Our Family of Five!

As T finished taking photos with us (many more of just Isaiah and some of Matt and I with Isaiah), my heart was so heavy to have to see the kids go, especially since they wouldn't be back again to say goodbye to Isaiah...this was "it."  Obviously Isaiah was already gone and they would see his body at the funeral, but every moment with him just felt so final.  How do you tell a 2 and 4 your old to savor this moment or to memorize the face of their beautiful baby brother?  I was so thankful for their young ages (to buffer this sadness) but still anguished at the thought that they might not remember him.

We helped them say goodbye as best we could and Matt and his parents took the kids home to tuck them into bed before Matt would return to the hospital for the night.  While they were gone my parents helped me pack up our stuff to move to another room.  I didn't know how I would bear yet another hard moment...this time being wheeled through the delivery unit full of happy families while I held my beautiful, yet very still baby.  Thankfully God had shown us so much mercy and grace thus far, I knew that He would continue...but every corner we turned it seemed like we had to face another scary moment or decision.  I kept wondering when this would be "over" - not understanding that it would never really be over.  I don't know if we realized just how many hard decisions were still to come...yet praise be to our Lord who was with us every step of the way.  

To be continued...

Sweet Lydia with Isaiah


  1. Your pictures of Isaiah and your family are precious. I am so glad that you have so many of your family as a whole. :) Isaiah is a beautiful boy. What a wonderful memory for your mother to be there when the nurse gave him a bath. I believe my father was present when my son Jacob was given a bath, although I can't remember, and we haven't talked about it. Thank you for sharing this part of your story with us.

    Have a great Tuesday!

  2. Oh Becky, he's so sweet and beautiful! I love the closeup of his little face and the one of his long little feet! I still can't read about anyone else's experience without all the feelings flooding back. Painful, precious, hard, beautiful moments. I love the way Matt explained it to your little people. So well said. Hugs to you.