This is a not so happy Fathers Day. It is my first Fathers Day as a father, but I have no child to celebrate with. My only daughter, Samantha Jean, didn’t make it to term. My wife went to the doctor for a routine pregnancy checkup and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. She called me and I left work. We went home and packed a few things to take to the hospital. Labor was induced and after being in the hospital for over 24 hours, our little girl was born on January 27th, 2011. She weighed 2.4 ounces and was about 6 inches long. She had all her tiny fingers and toes. She even had fingernails about the size of the tip of a ball-point pen. She was about 4 months past conception when she passed.
We got to spend that night and the next day with our baby beside us in that hospital room. We imprinted her handprint and footprint into a little piece of clay.
Our local Catholic Cemeteries offer a ministry to cover the cost of burial and services for people going through a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. We took them up on their offer and it has been very helpful to us on our path to healing. There were about 25 little ones buried with our little girl. It was quite an experience sharing a funeral service with the families of those 25 children. The cemetery also has a healing garden where berieved parents and siblings can go and pray and meditate and remember. There is a memorial wall where you can have your child’s name engraved. We chose to do that.
A few weeks after the service, we were asked if we would be willing to share our story in the Catholic Cemeteries’ newsletter and we said that would be fine. Here is a link to the online version of the newsletter if you are interested. Scroll to the bottom of the second page.
I’ve spent the past few weeks pondering how my life has changed since this happened. Life is more precious. I put more focus on having experiences. I spend less time waiting and watching life go by. I feel things more. I never thought I’d want to change a diaper or wake up in the middle of the night to a screaming baby, but I never got the chance. I often think about what her voice sounds like and having tea parties in the back yard and poking fun at her first boyfriend and walking her down the aisle, but none of these things will ever happen.
Children — celebrate your father. Fathers — celebrate your children. When you get that ugly tie your kid made in art class, wear it with pride. They are only young once, so savor the moment.