It’s not often I am without words.
I find it hard to begin or even to tell you all about Silas, matter of fact I’m even crying right now. This is a lengthy blog and I would grab a box of tissues.
I was contacted a couple weeks ago to shoot a birth. No big, I’ve done a couple. But this, this was very different.
The mother, Heather, contacted me by email asking about a birth shoot and went on with the details of the baby. A sweet boy that she had already named Silas. Early in the pregnancy she had found out that Silas has a condition called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). His diaphragm has a hole in it and his organs had gone through the hole. This caused his heart to be puhsed on the right side of his body and his lungs not to develop.
I was completely honest with her, I’ve only shot two births. Plus there’s a chance Silas might not make it. I gave her the information to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS) a non-profit that shoots babies in the NICU that might/have passed. I told her if they couldn’t shoot the birth I would. We were supposed to Skype as Silas was due mid October. I got a panicked call on Monday from Heather, she thought her water had broken, 5 weeks early. Luckily it was a false alarm. I got another call from Heather a couple days later on Thursday. This time it wasn’t false. She was in labor and being admitted. I’m not gonna lie I was freaked out. Normal births (and OnStar commericals) bring me to tears. How in the world am I going to shoot a birth of a baby that has a myriad of problems? I packed up my gear and left for Winnie Palmer. I met Heather and her husband Eli for the first time at 7:30pm on Sept. 22.
Heather was a trooper (or crazy) and labored for hours without an epidural. She had her first two kids with no epidural (again, crazy I say). This was different she had low amino fluids so every contraction would bring her to her knees. I did what I could to ease her pain between shooting her agony. Holding her hand, pony-tailing her hair and applying wet rags to her head. Eventually she gave in and got the epidural. I think me actually telling her she was crazy to not take it was the tipping point. After the epidural her labor rocketed from 6cms to 10cms within a couple of hours. By midnight she was ready to push.
Heather delivered Silas at 12:31am. 5 weeks early and he had the cord wrapped around his neck twice. Daddy got to cut the cord and the NICU staff whisked him away. We could hear them working on Silas. We kept waiting for a cry. The delivery doctor was completely honest, we may never hear one. They had to intubate and perform chest compressions on tiny Silas. I snapped away while choking back tears. Thank you to the nurses for handing out tissues. They inked Silas’ feet and I watched as he opened his eyes. He had the most perfect nose I have seen. Shortly after getting him stabilized they let mom stroke him through the warmer/incubator. I remember hearing Heather say to Silas “Even though you’re broken, you’re perfectÂ to me”. She didn’t get to hold him. They wheeled him out and up to the NICU.
I hung around for a bit and asked if I could do anything else. They were getting ready to move Heather to recovery. Nothing more I could do, she asked if I might be able to come back in a couple of days and shoot Silas when his color was better and he was a bit stronger. Of course I would!
The minute I walked out of her room I began to cry. Sorry to the group of people who were stuck in the elevator with me. I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know why, just couldn’t.
I was one exit away from my home when I got a text from Heather three words that broke my heart.
He is gone.
I was and am an emotional wreck. Even though I had met Heather and her family less than 8 hours before that I am forever connected to them. I didn’t know what to say. I just called her and we cried into the phone together.
I keep saying I’m fine. Just don’t ask me how I’m doing or I will break down and cry. I don’t know what to say or do. There are no words of comfort for losing a child. I’m sorry isn’t big enough.
I’m asking you my readers to help. Please donate to help out Silas’ family with the burial so they can lay their sweet Silas in his final resting place and begin to heal. Please visit their site and donate, it doesn’t have to be a lot. Just a couple of dollars. Anything left over will be donated to help out the CHERUBS to help other CDH families.
Heather has asked me to share to her birth photos. They are very intimate (don’t worry no girly bits are shown, just baby bits). She wants to spread awareness of CDH and the struggle the families face. These are the only photos that Heather has of Silas with his eyes open. Many CDH families aren’t so lucky.
A HUGE thank you to The Lighter Exchange for allowing the use of “Deliver Me” in the above slideshow. Thank you Christian!!!!