This post is really difficult to write and read... just be warned.
I mentioned in my last post about things falling apart for my family. But before I tell you what happened, I need to give you some background.
My little brother, Collin, is one pretty unique kid. I don't mean that in a bad way. He has always remained true to who he is regardless of what anyone has said to him. I've always admired his strength and security and his ability to love others no matter what. When he met Natalie, his wife, we quickly discovered they were identical in so many ways. Never in the history of the world have I seen a couple more perfect for each other. And she made him insanely happy, which is usually a top priority.
They've been married almost 4 years now and we have adored having Natalie be a part of our family. Natalie is one of those special spirits who is blessed with patience, selflessness, and just an insane amount of love. She is one of those women who was born to be a mother; and she has wanted nothing more since they married. After waiting for so long, we were all beyond thrilled for them when they told us in November that they were expecting their first child. I was so excited to be an aunt again! And it was such a special experience to watch Collin become so excited to be a dad. They found out last month that they were having a boy. Another nephew!!
So it shattered everyone's world, especially theirs, when she went into labor at 22 weeks this past weekend. She started having contractions Thursday night, and it progressively got worse throughout Friday. By Friday night she was in a lot of pain and didn't know what was happening. How could she? No one knows what labor feels like with their first child, especially that early.
To summarize what happened, and out of respect for their privacy the gist of the story is her placenta had detached, and by the time they checked in, it had ruptured. They checked for a heartbeat but there wasn't one. They induced labor and my sweet, loving sister-in-law, who is the last person who deserves pain and anguish, had to deliver her stillborn baby early on Saturday morning.
The first question many have asked, which is normal, is if it could have been prevented. No. Placenta detachment/rupturing is rare, and once it happens there's little they can do to help. 22 weeks was way too early for him to survive. We were actually talking about how it was a blessing he died in the womb because having to watch a baby that tiny suffer and die would have broken Natalie and Collin beyond repair. I don't know how they're surviving with what they have endured, but that would have killed them.
My parents were at the hospital all night and my mom had kept all of us siblings up to date through text messages. Unfortunately, I silence my phone at night so I had slept through the whole thing. I awoke to the messages and I immediately fell apart. I could feel my heart ripping a hole for my brother and his wife. I remember saying, "NO! No! No!" over and over again and shaking horribly as I called my mom to find out what exactly had happened. I then called Collin and just sobbed with him on the phone. I couldn't believe it.
They spent the whole day Saturday in the hospital holding him and spending time with him before they had to turn his body over to the mortuary. We paid them a short visit and it was heart-wrenching. They named him Owen Scott and while I held him I just wanted to scream and cry. He was barely bigger than a soda can and had the cutest little face and nose.
Obviously no one is taking this harder than the parents, and I don't want to make it seem like I'm all broken and battered from this, but I took it really hard at first. I've spent a lot of time in intense anger with God for allowing something so awful to happen to them. They are the least deserving. It was completely unfair and I was just so mad. That has subsided somewhat now. But I also think it was so bad for me because I'm a mother and to make it worse, a mother of a small baby. I got Brynlie up and she cuddled up to me for a good 15 minutes (something that never happens) while I just sobbed and sobbed. How was it fair that I was holding a sweet baby and Natalie wasn't? She wanted to be a mother more than I did. She deserved it! I felt horribly guilty for having children and I just couldn't keep it together. Brynlie made me cry. Her crib made me cry. Her car seat made me cry. Every baby thing set me off. I finally called Cory (who was at work) and he came home early because I was scaring Kennedy. She kept telling me she wanted me to be happy again.
I feel kind of silly now that I reacted so intensely but I HATED that my happy, crazy, baby brother was in so much pain, and at the same time, I had just lost a nephew. The whole situation was awful, and I knew it would change their lives forever. We all felt the hole in our hearts. I've been told that with death, however you grieve or whatever you feel, it is ok. Thankfully the initial hit is over.
My once super-excitedly-anticipating-parenthood brother and sister-in-law were now holding their deceased baby and talking about burial plots and funeral services. It was terrible.
However, regardless of the intense pain they must have felt and must still be feeling, Collin and Natalie have handled this whole thing with inexplicable strength and poise. I have literally been speechless and amazed at how well they seem to be doing. They have shown maturity beyond their years as they've had to face something no parent should ever face.
They held a small viewing for him Tuesday afternoon and then had a graveside service. Watching Collin carry his sons tiny casket to the burial sight was more than I could handle. Natalie's sister played "I Am A Child of God" on her violin which obviously opened the flood gate of tears. My dad dedicated the grave and I saw him cry for maybe the 3rd time ever in my life. Maybe 4th. Then they had a bagpiper play "Amazing Grace" which seriously sent everyone into convulsions. I was holding Brynlie and her hair was soaked by the end and I had to bury my face into her back to muffle ugly sob sounds. It was awful and beautiful all at the same time.
Despite the heartbreaking moments, it was an amazing service and it helped bring comfort to many of us, I felt. I am so grateful for eternal families and the ability that Collin and Natalie have to keep him forever. I am grateful for the plan of salvation and that Owen received his body, and has already been saved in the Celestial Kingdom. While it's sad for us, it's amazing for him. Collin and Natalie are still parents, and always will be. The loss of Owen will always leave a hole in our hearts, especially for his parents, but I can't wait until we are all reunited and happy again one day.
While they were in the hospital, a charity came and took photos of Owen and molded prints of his hands and feet in plaster. These are just a few of the ones they took.