Baby Samuel 11/11/2011

For those who have heard, and for those who have not, I felt it would be helpful to share publicly about the unexpected events Erica and I experienced this weekend.  Hopefully sharing it in this way doesn’t seem too impersonal.  It does spare us from having to share all the details over and over.  Talking out loud about it is the hardest thing right now.

Friday night, I was in Detroit at The Call (, when I received a text from my wife that she was in premature labor and would soon deliver our baby.  Usually, news like this is exciting.  But, we were only 16 weeks into this pregnancy.  There’s no way for a 16 week baby to survive outside of the womb (it has no lungs and cannot breathe).  I was in shock and ran from the stadium and to my car in a blur.  I called Erica as I sped all the way home (about a 1.5 hour drive).  Between tears and contractions, she tried to explain what was happening.  I felt helpless.  Her phone kept dropping the call (reception in the hospital is sketchy).  I resorted to lots of praying and asking God to transport me there supernaturally to her side, so that she would not be alone.  A friend from church was watching our daughter, Chloe, at our house.  I called and found that everything was ok with them.  I felt a bit better knowing that Chloe was safe at home and sleeping.

I arrived at the hospital as they were doing an ultrasound.  The baby was alive, good heartbeat and all.  And, Erica was having serious labor.  This baby was coming.  I stepped out and talked to our doctor.  I asked him what was going to happen.  Basically, he said the baby was going to be born, and we could not stop it.  “And then what?”, I asked.  “Well, the truth is, he won’t live.” he said, with a tear in his eye.  And, he put his arm around me as we walked back to the room where Erica was.  He’s a good doctor.  They were not sure what had caused this premature labor.  The best they could figure was that an infection had grown in the womb and was the threatening baby and mother.  The body’s response is to get the baby out.

So, going through labor for this baby wasn’t an expectant rush to see our new baby, but more like being subjected to an unwelcome process that we could not reverse.  Erica wanted to fight the progression, but knew she could not.  She endured each contraction reluctantly (and with a few tears) as I tried to comfort her and coach her through the pain.

Labor progressed to a long painful transition period, and in a moment, without so much as a push, our son was born at 11:47pm.  There was what felt like an eternity of silent stillness as the medical staff looked at him, laying on the bed.  It took a long minute for me to realize that he was actually out.  From my vantage point by Erica’s head, I couldn’t see anything (he was so small and did not cry).  As I moved toward the foot of the bed, I saw him, and the doctor began to take hold of him and clip off the umbilical cord.  He was alive.  He was moving.  The nurse wrapped him in a warm blanket and let me hold him as he continued to make small, slow arm and head movements.  I spoke to him.

He was tiny (7.5 inches) and so light.  He felt like nothing in my arms.  His skin was not fully formed, so he was pretty transparent (I could see all of his tiny blood vessels, etc.) and purple.  But, he was beautiful.  He had the most amazing teeny tiny little fingers and toes, arms and legs.  I could see that he looked like me.  His eyes were not fully formed and his nose and mouth were not yet opened.  I told him that I loved him.  His movements became less and less.

I stood with him by Erica’s side as they tried to remove the placenta.  It would not come out (this happened with our first child, too).  Every attempt to “help” it brought an excruciating scream from Erica.  She looked several times at our child as she endured the poking and pushing, sadness in her eyes.  The placenta was not coming out.  A surgery would be needed (again).  Everyone left the room for a moment to call the surgical staff and prepare.

Erica took our son into her arms and examined all of his precious parts and held him to herself.  She kept saying, “Sorry”, as if she was somehow to blame.  I tried to reassure her that she was not at fault.

Soon, the medical team was back in the room explaining anesthesia and whisking her off to the operating room to remove the placenta.  This would be the second time that modern medicine saved her life in childbirth (an un-removed placenta would cause her to bleed to death).  I am thankful for modern medicine.

I was left with our son and transferred to the recovery room that Erica would be brought to after surgery.  He hadn’t moved in a long time.  He didn’t feel warm any more.  I cradled him and walked and talked to him and prayed, and cried.  I thanked God that we got to meet him, even for a moment.  I was sad that we didn’t really get to know Him.  And, I thought, perhaps he is one that “this world is not worthy of” (Hebrews 11:38).  And, as I searched for thoughts of how to explain this to our three and half year old daughter, I thought “I guess Jesus wanted him back”.  That thought brought me comfort.

We hadn’t yet settled on a name for him, but as I waited there with his body (he wasn’t with us any more, I was pretty sure), I felt him — what did his hands feel like?  His teeny tiny nose; his head?  And, I thought, “Samuel”.  We’ll call him Samuel, because he was given back to God for all of his days (I Samuel 1:27-28).  Samuel had wonderful long fingers, and I wonder if he is ministering to the Lord on the piano in Heaven.  We will see him soon.

Though his life on this earth was only a flicker, we have been forever changed.  We love this baby boy that we hardly knew, and we miss him. He was bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.  We know he’s in the best possible care now, so we’re only sad that we have to wait so long to get to know him.  But, on the other hand, he is one blessed baby, who never has to deal with the fallen, sinful world that we all live in.  He got an instant promotion.  We’ll have a lot of time to hang out in Eternity.  Maybe we’ll even play some piano duets.

Many thanks to those of you who have expressed sympathies.  Your many kind words are much appreciated.  We don’t understand why it all happened this way, but we DO know that God is God, and He is good.

28 thoughts on “Baby Samuel 11/11/2011

  1. Oh Jessie. I’m so sorry to hear about baby Samuel. May God give you and Erica His peace through this emotional, troubling time. Just remember to focus on what you have, and not what you’ve lost. (This loss is temporary.)

    1. All will be well just take it one day at a time. No blame game. Just rest in the arms of God. I love you guys and I’ll talk to you soon.
      Love Sissy!

  2. Dearest Jessie and Erica, I am so deeply deeply sorry for your loss. Erica this is not your fault. You are an amazing mother. Jessie you are a valiant father. I am praying for you both. May our Lord Jesus comfort you as you mourn. May He hold you so close that His presence is palpable, His peace beyond understanding. Thank you Lord for Jessie, Erica, Chloe, and Samuel. Samuel, ‘we are so glad you came’. This helped us during our loss… I hope it will help you as well, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Psalm 126:3-6. This is my prayer for you all.
    Love you both, Julie

  3. Dearest Jessie and Erica, I am so deeply deeply sorry for your loss. Erica this is not your fault. You are an amazing mother. Jessie you are a valiant father. I am praying for you both. May our Lord Jesus comfort you as you mourn. May He hold you so close that His presence is palpable, His peace beyond understanding. Thank you Lord for Jessie, Erica, Chloe, and Samuel. Samuel, ‘we are so glad you came’. This helped us during our loss… I hope it will help you as well, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Psalm 126:3-6. This is my prayer for you all.
    Love you both, Julie

  4. Jessie and Erica, my heart goes out to you for your loss. A baby is GOD’s gift to us but sometimes we don’t have much time with them. We will not know why these things happen until we join them in heaven. Both of you are wonderful and for whatever reason this happen, it wasn’t your fault. GOD knows what you are going through because he is going through it too. I personally don’t know what you are going through since I have never experienced this, but I think I know how hard it would be.

    GOD please stretch out your arms and hold Jessie and his family in your arms, comfort them through this trying time and continue to guide them. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Thank you GOD for the hugs, kisses and being there for them!

    Samuel is a great name.

    Love to you and your family,

  5. My sympathies to you. We have never met, but our family has been where you are, saying goodbye to a little one, gone too soon for you but in the right timing of the Lord. It may take time, but I hope both of you will know that you did for little Samuel what he needed – you gave him a body, and a family, and love and care. Those are precious. He is yours and you are his and you are all together in the Lord. Peace be with you.

  6. I am so sorry to learn of your loss. I am crying as I write this. May God bring you comfort and a peace that passes understanding.

  7. Dearest Jessie and Erica: my heart hurts with you over the loss of Sammuel. God brought Sammuel into and out of your lives maybe to make heaven an even greater tresure to you both. And that’s right you will see him again and spend time together. How great is our Hope; how thankful we are to have Christ’s salvation!
    Praying for God’s comfort through this time.

  8. Jessie and Erica, Words can not express the saddness I feel for the three of you during the difficult time. Praise God for His Grace and Mercy that help carry us through these difficult times. What a comfort that you were able to hold Samuel as the Lord took him home. May God Grace and Mercy continue to surround you as you begin the healing process.

  9. Our deepest love and sympathies go out to your family. In moments like these God’s love and purpose are hardest for us to fully grasped. May you know that deep all encompassing love He has for all of you. You are in His Hands with His thoughts always for you. Yes Samuel is back with His heavenly father. Samuel completed his mission and purpose here on earth early and gets to start his eternity with Jesus early. 🙂

  10. Jessie, Erica and Chloe,
    We are so sorry for the loss of Samuel. You are right that he’s very well off. But the pain of not having him here on earth must be excrutiating. Please know that each of you will be in our prayers as you grieve in your own ways. We love your family and are blessed by your faith-filled perspective.

  11. Dear Jessie and Erica,
    The tears are flowing. Oh, the pain you are going through, I’m so glad you know the Lord, He will help you through this. We just wrap our arms of prayer around you asking God you give you His peace and comfort. I’m glad you can share in this way, it helps those who haven’t gone through it to understand the pain a little bit. Samuel will never be forgotten, he is special and you never know all that he will continue to do in other people’s lives. His story is not over yet. Hugs, dear sweet ones.
    Debbie and David and gang!

  12. Dear Jessie and Erica,

    It was with a very heavy heart that I made the announcement on Sunday of the loss of your son Samuel. Many who know you guys were visibly shocked and grieved. Know that you are both loved and appreciated and that we are all upholding you in our prayers. I pray that God’s grace will continue to flood your hearts and minds at this time and give you comfort.

    All our love

    Mike and Flora

  13. I’m a friend of Kevin Houk’s and saw this via facebook. I cannot imagine what this time is like for you, your wife and your daughter. I am so very sorry for what has happened. Take comfort in the knowledge that God is still good even when our circumstances are not. Praying for you and your family.

    This brought to mind the hymn my dad used to sing to me as a child to help me fall asleep:

    “Around the thrown of God in heaven thousands of children stand,
    Children whose sins have been forgiven, a holy happy band singing
    Glory, glory glory!”

    Much love and prayers

  14. I love you guys. I’m sorry this happened. I am so glad you were able to meet him. We will be praying for you. I am blindsided and devoid of any comforting words other than I’m sorry you hurt so much. I know God has what you need.

  15. Jessie and Erica-

    I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the pain as you know i am pregnant with our first… i do not know what you must be going through. All i can affirm is yes, that God is good and that samuel is well taken care of. You have my prayers, and they simply are that Jesus would be very near to you now and ministerting to your family in very real ways.

  16. Erica and Jessie, I am extending a hug of a Mom and a shoulder to cry with to you. Samuel was a blessing and thank you for sharing his short life with us. I can almost see his tiny body in your description and just love him as he is, now he is with Jesus. Love, Lois Friedrich

  17. Dear Jessie, Erica, and Cloe, I cried to as I read about what happened. I cannot imagine what the loss must feel like, since the loss of a child is one of the most painful to experience. I pray that you all will sense what Jesus is saying to you, that you will feel His love, warmth, reassurance, and consolations.. He is your burden bearer. He is aquainted with sorrow and aquainted with grief. He is enough and all you need for this time of questioning. May he comfort you with the deepest of comforts, and release you from the sting of loss. May He restore everything to you as you respond to Him in faith, and may He hold you all close to His heart until all the tears have flowed, and all the grieving is done, day by day, and week by week. Your Father in heaven is crying with you. Remember Lazarus.
    I never met one of my sisters. Her name was Linda, and she died before I was born and before either of my other two siblings was born. She was a day old when she died. My mother contracted the German measels when she was pregnant with her and her heart never completed it’s development. I had a dream in 1999 or 2000 that I saw her in heaven. She was alive, and in the dream she recognized me and I recognized her. She had a quiet joy about her, and a peace about her. She seemed to say “I am waiting for you..” I believe the Lord gave me that dream to encourage me in my walk with Him, and that He cares about our love for our family. It was like He was saying “You will get to enjoy your sister Linda’s love, when you see her in heaven. Here, I am giving you a foretaste of it through her smile.”
    I believe the Lord was also showing me a confirmation of the verse, “since we are encompassed by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw aside and strip off every encumbrance… and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active perseverance the appointed course and race that is set before us…Hebrews 12:1-3. my paraphrase.

    God bless you and love in Christ, Lisa Groen

  18. Jessie and Erica,

    We’re so sorry for your loss. We too have a child waiting for us in Heaven. We’ll be praying for you both as you go through this, and we love you guys.


  19. Jessie, Ericsson and Chloe,

    My heart goes out to as you walk through this season. Know that our prayers are with you. The article was beautifully done. Thank you.

  20. I wonder if how we are feeling right now is like how God feels when someone dies before being saved.

    This life really is just a vapor, and what comes next is going to be much deeper and better and unending. I can’t wait to meet your son too!

    I love you guys and we both know God does too.

  21. Jessie and Erica,
    I wanted to thank you for your hearts and love for our Lord. Anna and I love you both and know that God is with you as you are faithful. Thank you so much for your expression of love for your son through this post. Your family has been in Anna and I’s prayers and tears since we found out, and we will continue to pray.

    Thank you again!

    James and Anna

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