A Very Short but a Very Valuable Life

1:58:00 PM

A couple of years ago, we had an official book launch for my Thomas book Grief, Love and Hope. Throughout this launch, I shared the story of Thomas’ pregnancy, his birth, the grief we endured when he died and the suffering we experienced as we tried to get on with our lives without him. I’d put together a display of photographs: pictures of Thomas in the.hospital on the life support machines, Thomas dying in our arms, Thomas in the funeral home, Thomas’ grave... His footprints, pall, gown, ear muffs and other items from his memory box were laid out for everyone to see. It was a very emotional day as I relived that grief-filled time. But despite all the sad memories that came flooding back, I was able to remain calm and in control. 

Then I was called up on to the stage, together with all my family. A doctor, who I'd noticed earlier sitting in the audience, walked across towards me, his hand outstretched: "Congratulations!" My book had been awarded the Doctors for Life Book of the Year.

As I was handed a framed certificate, all my self control vanished.  I remember thinking, “Someone is acknowledging that Thomas’ life was important. He may have lived only one day but his short life had value. His story was worth telling.” Tears streamed down my face as I stood there with my family, clutching Thomas' photo in my hand and the totally unexpected award in the other.

When a baby is diagnosed during pregnancy with a life threatening abnormality, so often an abortion is advised. It's as if the unborn baby is of no value. The slate can be wiped clean and the parents can ‘try again’ for a 'perfect' child. What is the point of giving birth to a child that will probably not live for very long? There is great pressure on parents to follow this advice. I was very fortunate because I had my faith and lots of support. But this does not mean it was easy facing the rest of the pregnancy and Thomas’ birth. No, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I was frightened. Every parent would be.

Thomas was here for such a short time. He spent his entire life in the neonatal intensive care ward hooked up to multiple machines. Then he died leaving very little trace that he’d ever been here on earth: a birth certificate, a death certificate, lots of sorrowful memories and a few broken hearts.

Many people may feel it wouldn’t have made any difference if Thomas had been born or not. Perhaps they think we could have avoided a lot of pain if we had aborted him. But I disagree. One way or another we would have had to face suffering. And the months we had with our son, changed our lives forever. His short life was a real blessing. (And I could never have killed my own son.)

I don't think my Thomas book was given the Doctors for Life award because of its artistic value. It is only a little book in the whole scheme of things. And my story is not unique. Many parents have experienced the same sufferings as us as they have faced the premature deaths of their babies. But what is unique is that I wrote everything down. I have exposed my feelings and thoughts to the world in the hope that Thomas' story might encourage someone else who is grieving.

I think the book award wasn’t meant just for me and Thomas. It was meant for all bereaved parents and all their lost babies. I might have written the book but my story represents all the untold stories of loss and suffering and sorrow.

Our babies may have lived only very short lives but these lives were very valuable. I thank the Doctors for Life for recognising this, and giving me a totally unexpected gift.

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  1. Sue,
    Big hugs from me {{{{hugs}}}}}. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart. I never tire of hearing you story. And Yes, it is not uncommon- having seen this time and time again in NICU- but you are writing it down and hat is so healthy and giving Thomas' life such meaning. XX God Bless.

  2. Leanne,

    Thank you for the hugs!! I am always so grateful that you want to share my son by reading my stories.

    The doctors and nurses in NICU were wonderful. They made such a difference to what was a most difficult experience. They were so compassionate and caring. I am sure you understand, being a nurse yourself,and I can imagine you have made such a difference to your patients too.

  3. Thank you for sharing your heartrending story. May God continue to sustain you and bless you for the good you've done by sharing such a personal journey through grief to hope. I have a dear friend who experienced a similar loss...this article helps me understand a bit better her suffering. God bless you..,

  4. Kimberly, it is kind of you to stop and leave such encouraging words. Thank you for sharing. I am glad my story has given you a bit of an idea about what it is like to grieve for a child. A friend who tries to understand is a real treasure and support. May God bless your friend. And also you! Thank you for visiting my blog.



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