Two years ago I gave birth to my first son. It was the most bittersweet moment of my life. I was so happy to have him in my arms, even though he would never open his eyes, never call me “Mommy,” never know his sister, at least not in this life.
Benjamin was a surprise. We were so happy to know Charlie would be big sister! I knew he was a boy right away. Everything was going great. When we had our 19-week ultrasound, we found out that my hunch had been right, but we also found out our little guy appeared to have some severe health issues. After a couple of appointments with some specialists, it was confirmed that the baby would likely not survive length of the pregnancy, let alone live long afterward. We decided to name him early, since we knew that we wanted to bond with him as much and as quickly as possible.
It was a very long and emotionally difficult summer, carrying a baby that was both growing and dying at the same time. But as hard as it was, I’ll say that I so enjoyed carrying my little guy. Every kick and every hiccup were precious, never knowing which was going to be the last.
Our strong little fighter held on much longer than was expected. I like to think that he knew that he was loved, and he loved back. He was born full-term on September 3, 2007. And God gave us the most wonderful gift that day. Benjamin was alive for more than an hour after his birth. Charlie and my parents were able to meet him and hold him before he died. He passed so peacefully that we weren't even sure the exact moment that he went to Heaven.
Paul and I spent a few hours with his little body before we had to say goodbye. We were even able to give him a bath and take some plaster prints of his hands and feet. The most painful moment of my life was when I had to hand over his body and be taken to my recovery room, but I knew that Benjamin was already gone and that was just his earthly body. I know we will meet again someday, and knowing that made things a little easier.
We found out later that Benjamin had Trisomy-13, a chromosomal disorder that occurs when extra DNA from chromosome 13 appears in some or all of the body's cells.
One wonderful blessing about knowing so early that Benjamin was sick was the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation. We were able to arrange ahead of time for a professional photographer to donate her time and meet us at the hospital to photograph the birth and shoot some portraits afterward. I can't say enough about this beautiful organization. I like to share our experience whenever I can so that people get the word out so that, God forbid, if anything should happen, others can have lasting photos like ours. They've been such an important part of our healing process.
We have also so much support and love from friends and family, even now. And God has wrapped his comforting arms around us like no one else can.
Today, we remember our beautiful baby. Benjamin, you are so loved and by so many people. We are all thinking of you today. I can't wait to see you again and hold you in my arms. Your mommy, daddy, sister, and brother love you so very much.