Maddox Samuel’s Story

As told by his mother, Whitney.

June 7, 2014 was the day our lives were forever changed.  That was the day we said goodbye to our sweet angel, Maddox Samuel and also welcomed our precious baby girl, Hollins Charlotte.

For the longest time I was so reluctant to share our story, but now, over a year later I realize how important it has become to honor our angels and say their name.  Although some never got to take a breath in the outside world, they are still our children, our brothers and sisters, our grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  This is not a story I ever dreamed I would be sharing, nor one that I even realized existed before June 7.  I so badly wish I was still walking around blissfully unaware, instead of now walking around all too familiar…..a member of this club that no person should ever have to belong to.

My husband and I had a plan to begin trying for our second baby right before the holidays of 2013.  Our oldest son would be 4 and that would be perfect timing for us.  We found out we were pregnant in November 2013 and were thrilled….we had been so scared that it would not come so easily this time around.  On December 8 we went in for our first ultrasound where we learned we would be having not 1, but 2 babies.  I knew it was twins before the ultrasound tech even had a chance to tell me – it was clear as day, those two black holes with little white beans bouncing around in them.  My husband laughed and I started crying.  It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy, I was just simply in shock and to be perfectly honest, my emotions were all over the place… could we afford two babies, would we have to get a new car, how would our oldest son, Lawson, adjust???  All of these and so many more, now mundane questions, were bouncing around my head faster than I could come up with answers.  When we left we called all of our friends and family and cried as we shared the news.

My pregnancy could not have been better, easier than my first single pregnancy, save for some mean morning sickness in the first trimester.  We could not even believe our luck as there were no problems that typically plague twin pregnancies….no high blood pressure, no swelling, both babies growing right on track.  It could not have been any smoother.  At 30 weeks I began having my weekly appointments and ultrasounds and everything was perfect……Until June 7. On June 6 I went in for some mild cramping, but nothing too serious.  At the time I was given an ultrasound and saw my two perfect little babies, both weighing in around 4lbs and both with strong heartbeats, no signs of labor whatsoever.  The doctors tested me for Fetal Fibronectin and sent me on my way with orders to stay in bed until we got the results.  Later that day the doctor called to tell me I did test positive for FFN, which basically meant I MIGHT go into labor, but I could still hold out for weeks.  Upon this result, I was told to stay on moderate bed rest for two weeks.  No one was terribly concerned as I was already upon the 34 week mark and the babies appeared to be perfectly healthy.

At 4am on June 7 I went into spontaneous labor.  At first I thought surely it was Braxton Hicks….I wasn’t even dialated less than 12 hours ago.  As time went on, it became very obvious that this was indeed the real thing as they were almost 5 minutes apart to the second.  Immediately I woke my husband and called the doctor who instructed me to come right to the hospital.  We scrambled to get our son ready, make arrangments for him and of course, my bags weren’t packed yet!  By 8am we were on our way and just could not believe this was it!

When we arrived at the hospital, I was ushered back while my husband waited in the lobby with our son until some family could get there to watch him.  Immediately I was hooked up to the machine that registered the babies heart rates as well as my contractions.  Baby Hollins heartbeat registered immediately and was nice and strong.  The nurses struggled for several minutes to find the second heartbeat, all the while assuring me that this was fine, twins are sometimes stubborn.  As time passed with no heartbeat, the nurses faces started to fall and one excused herself to go call the doctor while the remaining one, trying to be positive told me that she has had to have a doctor come in to find a heartbeat.  It was at that moment, that I knew.  I began screaming and crying, yet still the nurse was trying to console me and give me hope.  Not minutes later, the doctor appeared with the ultrasound machine and went straight for the heart.  Then we knew for certain, our Maddox Samuel was no longer living.  The nurse ran to get my husband and stayed with our little boy while I fell into his arms.  How could this be, 12 hours ago our baby was alive?  I was in a dream and surely I would wake up.  At this moment, time stood still as our world crumbled down around us.  I kept repeating “no, no, no” over and over and begging the nurse to tell me it was a mistake.  This is when my memory becomes hazy and I fell completely numb.  The doctors were rushing around and had me in the OR within 10 minutes as they were now concerned that my little girl was at risk.

Being wheeled into the OR was surreal, and I was totally and completely numb.  My husband and I exchanging glances between labored breaths and tears, willing myself to wake up from this nightmare, nurses rubbing my hands and head and crying with us made me realize this was no dream.  June 7 at 11:13 our perfect little angel was born silent, calm, and still, weighing in at 4lbs 10oz. Moments later our perfect little girl was born kicking and screaming, also weighing in at 4lbs 10oz.  They gave me a quick look at our little girl before she was whisked to the NICU and I was wheeled away to recovery.

In recovery is where reality sunk in and suddenly life became all too real.  We were having to answer questions to which we had no idea of the answers.  Did we have any idea what kind of funeral arrangements we wanted?  Did we want an autopsy?  Did we want to do a chromosome panel?  Did we want pictures? Did we want to hold him?  The nurses encouraged us to hold him, to spend time with him and say goodbye to him.  In all honesty my first reaction was to decline but the nurses continued to encourage and we reluctantly agreed.  Thank God we did.  That time we spent with our angel was the most heart breaking time of my life, yet the most special moment of my life.  He was perfect in every way and I am so thankful I got to say goodbye to him and kiss his angel lips before we sent him to be with God.

As time passed, the anger, the fear, the overwhelming confusion, the questions, the resentment, the guilt, the indescribable heartache began to set in, but as they wheeled me into the NICU to see our baby girl, I smiled.  I smiled because she had her very own angel looking out for her.  An Angel who would make sure she made it home with us, an Angel who sacrificed his life for hers, an Angel who would see to it that she was happy and healthy.  We now know that a sudden lack of blood supply was what occurred, but we were fortunate that it did not also claim our baby girl.

It has been over a year since we said goodbye, and what I would want to tell any bereaved mothers is this.  Time does not heal this wound, this is a wound that will remain open until you take your very last breath.  Time does, however, make the wound bearable, the “raw” pain will subside, and in its place will be a dull ache.  I have cried more tears than I ever thought possible. Some days you will hardly even notice it and some days it makes it hard to breath.  Having to bury a child is something no parent should ever have to do, it is something I would not wish upon anyone in the world, but I can tell you that being beautifully broken has made me a better person.  I now appreciate my living children in a way that I had not before, I have an empathy that I lacked before, I no longer allow myself to fret about the “small things”, I notice beauty in the ordinary and I am learning how to savor and appreciate this new normal.  Some days it is still hard to get out of bed, and that’s OK, grief has no time line and I know I will have good days and bad days for the rest of my life, but I also know that the good days far outweigh the bad, and that is what matters.  Our 5 year old has a theory that Maddox lives on the roof, our “Rooftop Angel”, so every day I look up at the roof and know that he is there and I tell him I can’t wait to meet him again.  There is not a day, an hour, a moment that goes by that I do not think of our Angel.

Thank you for sharing in our story, our little Maddox has made such an impact on so many lives, we hope that if you are experiencing a similar circumstance, our story can provide you with some hope and encouragement.