I don’t really know where to start. I want to record some of the tender mercies the Lord has made possible in our lives through Xander’s birth. Something's are very personal and tender and I have recorded those things in my journal, but I want to share with those of you who would have known and who love Xander. What a very, very special boy he is. I say “he is” because we know that Xander still lives, his spirit is at peace and home with God who gave him life. We were so blessed, and lucky to spend the time with him that we did. I would like to share with you how the Lord blessed us with that opportunity.
As you can imagine knowing that our baby boy was sick, for around 7ish weeks, was really hard and stressful. I remember after that first ultrasound when we met with the doctor and he told us that “things didn’t look good for our baby” such a sense of peace filled the room and our hearts, we were truly being held up and comforted by our loving Heavenly Father who knew this would be a challenge we couldn’t face alone. We weren’t sure what the outcome would be, and not knowing sometimes was the hardest part. We of course wanted him to get better or at least not get worse so that when he was born he might have a chance at life through medical intervention. We wanted the chance to raise him, with his brothers and sisters. But as the weeks past, and I continued to fast and pray for him, I found myself praying for a chance to meet him, to hold him, and to spend as many precious minutes with him as the Lord would give me. As you know I was scheduled to go to Seattle on March 24th for extensive monitoring. Something I have never mentioned was that, when babies have hydrops sometimes the mom’s get something called Mirror Syndrome. That is when the mom starts having some of the same symptoms as the baby. On March 11th I noticed a major decrease in Xander’s movements, up to this point he had been very active and very much like all the other kids. I had a doctor appointment on Tuesday the 13th and his heartbeat still sounded strong, but his movements never returned to normal, and for me my blood pressure had increase a lot it was still in the normal range, but for me and my normal BP it was a huge jump. Then by that Friday night I started to swell up quite a lot. My hands and feet were huge, and I spent the entire weekend on the couch. Unfortunately it looked like I was getting Mirror Syndrome. Sunday night March 18th my doctor from Seattle called. She had never done that before. And she asked me how things were going, so I told her about the swelling, increase blood pressure and decrease in fetal movement. She asked me to go get my blood pressure checked right away. It was Sunday evening so I called a friend down the street and she checked my pressure and it was still high for me but still in the normal range. So she told me to go see my Bellingham doctor again sometime that week and to take my BP everyday and record it and she would have her nurse give me a call. Then as we were ended the conversation, she made a comment, (I can’t remember exactly what she said) but it let me know that she was inspired to call me that night. The next day, Monday the 19th the kiddos were off from school, so I figured I would call the doctor on Tuesday and set up an appointment. But that afternoon (Monday) my Bellingham doctor’s nurse called to set up the appointment for me (again something that never happens). We set the appointment for Tuesday, March 20th at 9:00 a.m. I dropped the girls & Tanner off at the bus stop and headed to the doctor’s office. My blood pressure had increased even more and I had gained about 10 lbs. in the past week. When the doctor checked Xander’s heartbeat, it didn’t sound as good has it had been sounding up to this point. He said if I got worried to come in again anytime before I left for Seattle on Saturday. So I left and took Aftyn and Marriner to playgroup I stayed for about an hour. After playgroup I went extensive grocery shopping in preparation for being gone so long. By the time I got home and got the car unloaded it was about 2:00 p.m. Then I actually checked our voicemail which I always forget to do and found a message from my doctor instructing me to go to Seattle ASAP and that they were expecting me that afternoon. Later when I spoke to my doctor on the phone, he said that he just didn’t feel good about how things were going so he took it upon himself to call my doctor in Seattle and they both decided it was time for us to go down there and not wait until the 24th. So I quickly started to make arrangements and called two of my closest friends Keely and Susan and another lady from our ward Jill who had said she would be willing to help if we needed her. Keely and Susan came over and helped watch the kids and helped me pack what I thought I might need very quickly as Cameron made his way home. They also were left with the enormous job of putting all our groceries away, I felt really bad leaving them in such disorder. But I felt like I left our kids in very capable hands and my mind was at peace the whole time regarding our kids left at home. All of the wonderful women who help take care of our children said that there was a special spirit felt in our home while we were gone. I was very glad to know that, our other children were being comforted and protected too. We arrived at the hospital a little after 5:00 p.m. and I was brought back to a room where I was hooked up to a fetal monitor. Very quickly it was obvious to us that Xander was not doing very well. His heartbeat was very erratic. I was only on the monitor for a very short time before my doctor came in and did an ultrasound. She found that Xander’s hydrops had gotten a lot, a lot worse. She let us know that we she needed to deliver him immediately. Then she also told us that there would be nothing they could do for him once he was born. That was really, really hard to take. We asked everyone to give us a few minutes alone, so after everyone left the room Cam and I prayed together and Cameron also gave me a blessing. From that point on, I tell people it wasn’t me that was dealing with everything that happened. I was being held up, there is no way I could have gone through what we went through without the grace and love of God. We were not alone. Then before I knew it I had five different people talking and doing things to me, in preparation for the c-section. Things proceeded as they do for a c-section and before I knew it, I was already to go and Cameron was by my side. I remember Cameron leaning over and whispering in my ear. “We get to meet our son today.” It’s hard to describe the mixed emotions of happiness in meeting him with the sadness of knowing he wouldn’t be with us long. Xander was finally born at 7:11 p.m. They brought him over to a warmer where Cameron cut his cord, they quickly wrapped him up and Cameron brought him over to my side. When I saw him for the first time, I realized what the doctor meant when she said that they wouldn’t be able to help him. He was very, very swollen from the excess fluid. Cameron held him right up to my head so that Xander and I were head to head. Unfortunately because of things that were happening to me I wasn’t ever able to hold Xander while he was alive. When they started my IV they put it in at my elbow, so I couldn’t bend my left arm at all without interrupting the flow of medication going into me. And I was also losing a lot more blood then they liked so my blood pressure cuff was going off very, very frequently on my right arm. So when I wasn’t having my blood pressure taken I would reach my arm over and stoke his head, rub his chin and tell him over and over how much I loved him. How proud I was to be his mother. I kissed him and rubbed him and when I would rub his chin he would move his little arms. I wish all of you who love Xander could have been in that room to feel of his sweet spirit. I can’t describe it or do it justice in anyway but he is a very special little boy, and I truly feel honored to be his mother. While Cameron was holding Xander he was able to give him a name and a blessing before he passed. Then all too soon the pediatricians let us know that he had died. Finally after they had controlled my bleeding good enough they finished sewing me up and I was able to hold Xander for the first time while I was being taken back to my room. And even though he was already gone, we could still feel his sweet spirit with us. All during that night Cameron and I would take turns holding him. One of the most special experiences was when Cameron and I had the opportunity to give him a bath. We were alone with him and the nurse had spread a big blue cloth over my chest and stomach and Cameron placed Xander on me while we washed and cleaned his body. I wish I could describe that experience for you; there is something very holy in that act. Then the nurse took hand and foot prints and she also did one really great foot print/mold. Then she weighed and measured him. He was about 15 1/2 inches long and weighed 8 lbs. 9 oz. I’m not going to tell you about how Xander looked; to me it just doesn’t matter. But I will say that Xander was delivered at exactly 27 weeks and a baby at 27 weeks should weigh somewhere around 2 lbs. One of the very, very sad things about this whole experience was that the kids were not able to see Xander at all, not even a photo of him. That has been hard for them and for Kaylynn especially. There are people who donate things to the hospital to give to couples who lose their baby. Some of those things we got were a memory box, a layette (which we dressed him in) and a baby blanket. Sometime after he was born they moved us to a different room, away from where all the new babies who were being born and tucked us into a little corner room with women who were on hospital bed rest. Again all through the night we took turns holding him. I remember one time he was lying on my chest and I unwrapped him enough to reach his tiny little hand, I just held his little hand in mine, and rubbed his soft skin, I didn’t ever want to let him go. After we had, had him about 10 hours the nurse started asking us about letting him go and I just wasn’t ready. But over the next couple of hours I realized it was getting time to say good bye. Xander needed to be taken care of, and it wasn’t a job that Cameron or I could do. So about 8:30 in the morning the nurse came and took him. That is when I finally lost it, I had been so calm up to that point, but it was heart wrenching to see him being wheeled away and knowing I wouldn’t kiss his sweet little head, or hold his sweet little hand again; until we meet in the next life. The next couple of days were spent trying to recover enough that they would finally let me leave. Because of the excess blood loss I had to wait until Friday to leave. They had been giving me a lot of iron, because my hematocrit had gotten down to 24 and they wanted to give me one more bag of iron before I could leave on Friday morning. We left about 11:00 a.m. Friday morning, but leaving was also really hard. I left that hospital with a box of footprints on my lap and not a baby, another gut wrenching experience. Then on our way out we just happened to pass my doctor and she stopped and gave me a hug and said she knew it would be hard to go home to an empty house and that she would be thinking of me. I remember thinking that thank goodness my house is anything but empty. I knew I had five little cuties waiting for us at home. I have to add, that all of the hospital staff were amazing. They were kind, compassionate and always called Xander by his name, and always recognized our loss with an “I’m sorry”. The anesthesiologists, were super amazing, not only did they keep me informed on what the doctors were doing but one of them spent the entire c-section rubbing my chest, because I had such enormous referred pain there from the surgery. I wish I could really let them know what a difference that made to me.
I really, really didn’t want to leave Xander in Seattle, so on the way home from the hospital we stopped by the funeral home and made arrangement for them to pick him up and they were able to get Xander that night. Cameron took care of all of that, I put a pillow over my head and pretended I wasn’t there, you’re not suppose to stop by a funeral home on your way home from having a baby. We had decided to tell the kids in person, so they didn’t know Xander had been born and passed away. When we got home we sat the kids down and told them what had happened. Kaylynn, Paytyn and Tanner took it the hardest. Kaylynn asks lots of questions and is working through her grief and knows she will be with Xander again someday. Paytyn cries and worries about other people dying. I think she holds some of her grief in, but as the days pass I see her getting better and better. Tanner just keeps saying “I wish baby Xander wouldn’t have died.” I think Aftyn finally understands that baby Xander is not in my tummy anymore and that he has gone back to live with Heavenly Father. We are having a memorial in honor of Xander on Saturday, March 31st. Here is the program for the memorial.
March 31, 2012
In Loving Memory of
Conducting: Cameron Southam
Opening Song: Families Can Be Together Forever
Aftyn - Sister
Opening Prayer: Paytyn Southam
The Atonement: Cameron Southam
Where Xander is Now: Jaime Southam
Other Thoughts: The Southam Kids
Closing Song: I am a Child of God
Tanner - Brother
Closing Prayer: Kaylynn
The memorial went really well, and it was another tender experience. I’m so grateful for the knowledge of the gospel, and the atonement of Jesus Christ; that through faith in Him and by Him we are able to return to live with Father in Heaven again and that we will be with Xander again. I didn’t point out all the tender mercies, but I hope that you can see as I see that Heavenly Father answered my prayers. He orchestrated Xander’s birth, inspiring doctors and nurses to call me and have me at appointments that made it possible for us to spend some very precious moments with one of his very precious sons. He truly heard and answered my prayers and for that I am truly grateful. Xander is and will continue to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. Some of you might think that this is a trial we are going through, but I can’t look upon Xander as a trial. Xander is truly a blessing to me, to Cameron and to our family; a blessing that I’m only beginning to understand, but that I’m very grateful for. My arms are empty for now, but my heart is full of the peace and love that I know only comes from one place. I still have really hard moments and I miss him so much my heartaches but there is only One who understands a parent’s grief at losing a child and only He can heal our hearts and He is.