Friday, April 29, 2011

Samuel Luke's Birthday--A Story of Hope for National Infertility Awareness Week

This week has been "National Infertility Awareness Week" and April (among other things) is "Infertility Awareness Month." Somehow, a week, or a month doesn't cover it. As a sweet new friend recently told me, "Infertility makes me desperate."

Yep, me too. It has made me desperate for the last 11 and a half years. It still makes me desperate. Even with a beautiful, wonderful, precious baby boy in Heaven and another in my arms on earth, I'm desperate. I mourn what I missed out on for so many years, and mourn what I sadly feel will never be again at my age and with my 'hostile' eggs. Infertility ingrains itself in one's heart and soul, and is like a pair of glasses with which one looks through everything a bit differently. It's grief in a way that many people just don't understand, and when one adds in grief over the loss of a's like a double dagger to the heart.

"Think you beat infertility? Watch this! Bam! A coffin!"

That's how I felt November 29, 2009.

January 4, 2011 brought a new hope. Still needing infertility treatments, God allowed them to be used to give us another miracle. Some salve for the heartache that we've endured--through failed treatments, a failed adoption and the death of our sweet first-born.

One year ago today, my sweet little Samuel Luke was placed back inside of me...8 amazing cells all touched by the hand of God. What a blessing he has been for the last 16 weeks and 3 days. He has brought more joy to our lives than I could have imagined possible, which is no small feat considering we'd been in the darkest days of our lives.

Today I want to remember as much as I can about his birth.

Christmas seemed extended. In fact, if I am honest, the anticipation that so often comes with Christmas and the festivities of the day seemed extended. Luke’s impending arrival carried that anticipation over and past Christmas, to the point that the season really flew by.

Because we’d decided to stay in Annapolis until Luke was born since I’d been having so many contractions, we were really and truly just waiting until Tuesday, January 4. My sister and her family were also staying in Annapolis with us, and we all just enjoyed visiting as we waited. On January 3, the night before Luke was born, John and I watched Virginia Tech lose horribly to in the Orange Bowl. John is known for being a GRUMP when Tech loses, and honestly, if it wasn’t for the fact that we were HAVING A BABY the next day, it would have been a really miserable night! Luckily, he realized that things could be much worse, and we spent our last night before Luke was born video-taping my stomach wiggles and entering phone numbers and email addresses into our ipad and telephones so we could update people the next day. I had made the offer to ‘friend’ me on Facebook, or to send me a phone number to receive a text message on my blog and I got over 200 phone numbers/FB friend requests that day!!! Needless to say, we felt extremely supported, prayed for and loved!!

Waiting for the next day to use his onesie!

We had to be at the hospital by 11 the next morning, and after breakfast and checking out of the hotel, we went to the hospital. When we got there, they were getting a room prepared for us and I just remember sitting in the hallway with medical people passing us by and thinking, “Do they know what’s going on in my head right now? Do they know how terrified I am?” John and I just sat on a sofa outside of the room that eventually was mine, and finally a nurse said, “Is the section here?”

I was the section.

My sister-in-law Amy was only about 5 minutes from the hospital when we checked in, and she soon was upstairs with us. I began getting prepped—and more family came: Mom and my sister and her family. It was a pretty light mood—and I think for the first time in this entire pregnancy, I began to breathe and really believe he was going to live. My fear for the several weeks prior to his birth was that he’d be stillborn, and I think one of the most reassuring sounds I’d heard was when the nurse hooked me to the fetal monitor and we heard his heartbeat. I felt like I’d made it, which is sort of surprising to me since we got way past that point with Matthew and he’d still died.

My sister and brother-in-law with John, excited!

Our sweet admitting nurse...

About to lose quite a big belly!

Yes, still having contractions and they hurt!

Dressed in our finest!

From 11:15 to 1:00, the room was a flurry of excitement. My nurse had a hard time getting my IV in, and apologized over and over for how much pain she was causing me. It wasn’t comfortable, by any means, but I remember thinking about how my perspective of pain was so very different with this birth of my second son. Relative, to say the least.

When Dr. Shonekan came, I cried. That was the first time I cried that morning, and I was just so, so glad she was there and would be with us. She had taken her own personal time, as well as having sweet Dr. Polko cover for her in their office, just so she could come up and be with us during the surgery. She wasn’t doing anything officially medical—just there supporting us. Really—what doctor does that???

Mine. What a blessing.

When Dr. Sweeney came in, he was just as jovial! Amy was taking pictures for me of all the stuff going on, and when John and Dr. Sweeney stood near me for a picture, I laughed—they were both standing together like two buddies who’d just caught some great fish or something, and there I was, laying in that bed and all attached to various things just sort of there—if it wasn’t for the fact that I was the one with the baby, I’d almost think I wasn’t even necessary!

When it was time to get wheeled to the OR, I really couldn’t believe it. I’d had some medicine, though I wasn’t really feeling like I had. I wasn’t even nervous—I think I was expecting to be far more nervous when I got into the OR. Once there, though, I really wasn’t that nervous either.

Nope, not that nervous...yet!

The anesthesiologist gave me the spinal block, and I remember him telling me what it would feel like. I worried when it didn’t feel like he’d said, and then all of a sudden, it SO did! They moved me to the table, put the sheet up and started prepping me. Dr. Sweeney and Dr. Morris got ready with their scrubs and John and Dr. Shonekan were at my head just telling me what was going on. Dr. Morris asked several questions that I didn’t have the answer to—and gratefully allowed Dr. Shonekan, who did, to answer.

And then she prayed. She held our hands and she prayed for us all. I will never, ever forget her holding my hand and asking God’s blessing on the delivery and my sweet Luke. She asked for His favor and we were so abundantly given it.

I don’t remember too much of the surgery itself, other than Dr. Morris and Dr. Sweeney were in great moods; banter flew back and forth and every now and then, Dr. Sweeney would peek over the curtain and say, “Howya holding up?” I felt like I was holding up pretty well…and again, not as emotional as I thought I would be. In hindsight, I think I was just hanging on until I was sure we’d hear our baby boy cry.

As Dr. Sweeney looked over the curtain one last time, he told me, “Get ready to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to your son!”

Seconds later, I heard a kitten and wondered who ON EARTH had brought a baby cat in the operating room?!?

Baby Kitty Making His Debut!

Seriously…my son was just born, and going through my head was, “That is SO unsanitary! What if that kitten has germs??? Where has it been? Why is it in here?”

Before I could even ask John, he was gone and Dr. Shonekan took my hand and started crying. She said, “Here he is! He’s beautiful!” and that’s when I realized that the baby kitten was LUKE! (Well, I sort of realized that then…later, in PACU, I would ask all the nurses and doctors how the baby kitten was doing!! Guess medicine affected me more than I thought!)

When they brought him to me, I just couldn’t believe he was real. My eyes told me he was. He felt real. He sounded real.

This is when the tears started...

My heart just still couldn’t believe it though. He was there, healthy and I could hold him and kiss him. Before Luke was born, I thought that when that moment came, I’d be caught up in the emotion of Matthew’s birth mixed with the emotion of Luke’s and I didn’t find that to be true. While I struggled a lot with that for weeks after he was born, there, in that room, I didn’t think of a single thing other than I couldn’t believe he was there and ok…and how extremely grateful I was for it.

Just as we had agreed with Matthew, John and I decided that he was to be with the baby every second. I’d be fine, and was in good hands, but I wanted him with the baby EVERY second. While he went off with Luke, Dr. Morris and Dr. Sweeney stitched me up and Dr. Shonekan just sat up at my head with me, holding my hand, crying as we both thanked God for the miracle of another son in my life. Things get pretty hazy for me right after that, though, because I went into shock. My blood pressure was pretty low and my core body temperature was down several degrees. I guess between the emotion and the anesthesia, my body decided that it needed a little extra TLC, so I didn’t get to hold Luke much more until they’d warmed me up and my blood pressure came up. I remember being EXTREMELY hot, yet them telling me that I was in no way, shape or form hot! I had this paper/plastic blanket that they blew up with hot air on me, and though I couldn’t hold him yet, they brought Luke into the PACU with me.

We are wrapped under that 'cozy' warm blanket!

They told me he was perfectly healthy and fine, and I asked them to take a pulse ox reading. The nurse looked at me like I was nuts and I told her it could save his life and I wanted her to do it. She told me she was only doing it because I asked her to, and I remember thinking that it was attitudes like hers that so many of my friends who have lost babies have had to suffer through and I was just glad I was cognizant enough to insist she do it anyway.

The rest of the afternoon is really a blur…I got up into my room and Luke was in the isolette right beside me, though he was hardly in there because everyone wanted to hold him! He had this sweet little ‘coo’ for most of the day that we thought was precious, until one of the nurses came in to check on me and worried that the ‘coo’ was actually possible respiratory distress. A doctor came and checked, and he was ok, but I remember people thinking she shouldn’t have told me that and me thinking that I was glad she did because that was one thing less I’d worry about! Friends and family visited briefly, and I ‘officially’ met another friend and patient of Dr. Sweeney’s—Talisa. We made sure we got lots and lots of pictures, especially of Luke in his birthday onesie, and Luke seemed to eat okay, considering he was just born!

This surgery hit me quite a bit harder than Matthew’s did. This could in part be because it was my 2nd one in 13 months, but I also think it is because I didn’t have the same chemical protection of grief and shock that I did when Matthew died. I felt more, including the pain, and realize what a major accomplishment it was for me to have gotten out of my bed and walked over to Matthew’s isolette before they flew him to Georgetown. This time, I couldn’t even feel my legs, much less make them move, for a good several hours after Luke was born. It was just another example of how even as Matthew was leaving me for the last time, I wasn’t alone…

So…that’s the story of the day my sweet Baby Kitty was born. John prefers me to call him a Baby Lion or Tiger, but it wasn’t a Baby Lion or Tiger that I first heard in that OR at 1:20 pm…it was a sweet and precious Baby Kitty…and he’s been a joy in our lives ever since.

Our Wonderful Dr. K came to visit on Luke's birthday!


  1. Oh, friend--why do I end up in tears in about 1 in 3 posts of yours??? I loved reading about his birthday. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  2. I am at work, so not much time to read everything (believe me, I will be reading it when I return home today). But just with the pictures I am holding back tears. Thank you for sharing some many touching photographs. Really, the photos have enough emotion to talk for themselves. <3

  3. Love the photos Lori - this is a very inspirational story!!

  4. beautiful post :) so glad that God made it possible for our paths to cross.

  5. I cried the whole time I read this...I pictured myself in that same bed waiting for my sweet second born...and we are only 24 days away!!!!! I can't believe God has brought us both full circle from the death and grief to life and joy!!!

  6. Awe, this was so beautiful! The photos of you tearing up totally made me lose it, I was crying through the rest...what an incredibly beautiful inspiring!!!

  7. Thank you for sharing. Just beautiful.

  8. totally..hysterically..crying. what a wonderful birthday! luke is so gorgeous. i want to call him baby kitten now, too. i keep thinking about nora's birthday. i can't believe she is going to be one years old in a couple of weeks. i want time to SLOW DOWN! my doctor is amazing, too. she was present for my cerclage and came in on her day off to deliver nora. i'm hoping she'll be at the birthday, too. love and hugs. xo

  9. Absolutely lovely. I'd read Luke's birth story before, but this one really got me. It took me right back to the moment when they pulled out Anders and I wept. I'm crying again! Love you and your precious boys.

  10. Sitting here crying and laughing, thinking about your baby kitty! How sweet and how funny! :) Great story!

  11. :*) what a beautiful, beautiful post! And such beautifully emotional photos. I didn't manage to get through THAT one without crying with you...


  12. beautiful -- so beautiful -- thank you for sharing this....and i am so glad for the happy beginning and every single day since...

  13. such a beautiful story!!! thank you for sharing in such great detail, I teared up multiple times! lots of love!

  14. Sweet Lori

    I dont cry so easily but your story really made me cry .
    It is amazing and I am so happy it all went well this time , you so much deserve it .
    Your doctors care is truly remarkable and what dr Shonekan did for you is something I have never heard of before ! She is absolutley special and wonderful and must be God sent .
    I still pray for you and your family often for a very happy future .
    LOVE Angie

  15. tearing up at this, remembering lying on an OR myself, just over 7 years ago. Not believing what my eyes saw...was it really "my turn". Such precious glad you have them too.

  16. I was just about to run out the door to run overdue errands when this showed up in my reader - and of course I had to drop everything to read the post I'd been anticipating for weeks. It didn't disappoint. And then my errands had to wait until the afternoon because I couldn't go anywhere looking like a hot mess of (happy) tears. I'm so glad you were surrounded by nothing but love and support that day (wow, Dr. Shonekan!) and that, in the moment of Luke's birth, there wasn't the mixed emotions you'd been anticipating. You (and John and Luke) deserved to have that be nothing but pure joy. Thanks for sharing the story of that day, as well as the never-before-seen photos that convey more than words ever could.