Nicholas was born on a beautiful day in the summer of 1984. My labor was short – perhaps two hours – and I birthed him easily into my own hands as my nineteen-month-old daughter Joy stood beside me in the bathroom. As with my other births, I had very little pain, but this time all was not well.
The baby wasn’t breathing, so instinctively, I breathed into his nose and mouth. Suddenly he came to life. Over the course of the next several hours, he nursed and slept. My boys woke up, David came home, and everyone was excited to meet our new baby.
At some point I decided to change his diaper. I picked him up, laid him on my bed and realized something was wrong. His eyes stayed closed and he didn’t move at all. We called the paramedics but they were unable to revive him. Efforts by the doctors in the emergency room were also unsuccessful. Our little one was gone.
An autopsy was done, and several days later, the coroner explained to me that our baby’s body had never developed properly. He had a congenital heart defect, influenza, pneumonia, and sepsis. The coroner also said that the defect was severe enough that he didn’t feel Nicholas would have survived regardless of where he had been born.
Although we grieved for Nicholas, we also knew that somewhere he continued to exist. Death is not the end, nor is it something to be feared. Nicholas died peacefully in his own home, surrounded by people who loved him. We should all be so lucky.