Carrying Cullen

A Journey of Life, Love, and Daily Blessings with Our Baby Boy

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Cullen's Birthday (from mommy's view) Pt. 2

The trip from recovery down the hall, up the elevator to the 9th floor, Maternity... was a bit of a blur.  But we made our way to Room 936, a number I'll never forget.  A place I'll never forget.  The place we spent the rest of our time, here, with our precious Cullen.   

Our nurse(s) got us settled in and our nurse, Margaret, checked Cullen's heartbeat.  She actually checked it twice just to be sure because it was higher than it was on the 8th floor.  His heartbeat was 42 bpm.  He was a fighter. 

After we made ourselves at home in 936... while some of our family and friends gathered in the hallway and others in a waiting room down the hall, we welcomed our immediate family in to spend time with us and Cullen again. 


Holding Cullen in my arms, and Joe by our side, we joyfully but quietly sang "Happy Birthday" to our special birthday boy.  And we joined in chorus again singing "Jesus Loves Me" after that (a song special to me and Cullen, as I played that for him many times during my pregnancy).  It was a blessing to pass around a book we read to him during our pregnancy, "How Do I Love You", to each family member, so we could all read to him, too.  He was surrounded by song, by story, and by his family who loved him so much.    

Happy Birthday Cullen

Jesus Loves Me

Our next nurse, Kristen, could not have been any more accommodating to not only Joe, Cullen and I, but our families.  She made sure we were all comfortable and had everything we needed.  For me, I had everything I needed, wanted, and waited for right in my arms, but I appreciated so much that she was so kind to all of us.


Time seemed to go by too fast as Cullen remained in our arms.  He was never put down.  A few more of our friends had the chance to come in and hold him, as many were in and out of our room. 


Holding him later, I grew concerned he was not looking so well, so we had our family come in to be with us.  We prayed, Joe read scripture and we sang "Sanctuary".  Nurse Kristen checked his heartbeat and unbelievably his heart was beating 80 bpm.   But she respectfully warned us sometimes their heartbeat increases before it slows down... something we needed to prepare for.

But Cullen stayed...lived with us for a few more hours.  We took more pictures, we kissed him, held him and enjoyed him.  He amazed us even more when he cooed several times.  Our nurse explained that newborns do not coo... most often its not until 6 weeks to 3 months before babies start to coo and make such noises.  Just another miracle to add to the list of so many given to us.  We had the chance to hear him make sweet baby coos only hours after he was born.  Beyond that he hiccupped and blew bubbles.  It reminded me of when he had the hiccups constantly during my pregnancy; such an amazing feeling.  The whole time I held him, I just felt happy, comfortable and stared at him in amazement.  He took my breath away and just made me smile, inside and out.  I could've stayed in those moments forever. 

Dr. Tressler came in to see us and our strong little guy in the early evening.  The sun was shining in our window, directly on Cullen as I held him in my hospital bed.  Joe, trying to be a good dad, was blocking the sun from coming into Cullen's face.  Dr. Tressler mentioned about the sun shining in.. and Joe said, "I know..I'm trying to block it for him..."  And Dr. Tressler said, "No, the Son is shining in..."  He was saying that the Lord was with us, shining down on us, wrapping his arms around us, and I believe, was ready for Cullen to come home.  Just a short while later, the sun began to set, and  Joe was holding Cullen.  He felt he wasn't good, so he placed him in my arms and said I needed to hold him.  Our nurse mentioned about the beautiful sunset, and I said, "He won't leave us until the sun sets."  We called our immediate family to gather in the room once more.  Our family in the room cleared a spot that Cullen and I could view out the window a little better. 


In my arms, with his daddy by our side, and family surrounding us, Cullen passed away into the arms of the Lord just as the sun had set over the Susquehanna River at 6:30 that night.  8 amazing hours after he was born.  We knew he was at peace. 

He was not rushed away from us, and we had the chance to keep him for several more  hours.  We knew he was with the Lord, but we still cherished the time we could hold him after he passed.  Family and friends gave their last kisses and said their goodbyes as the night went on.  Cullen's Mem, Grammy and Pappy held him one last time before they left...  Eventually it was just Joe, Cullen and I.  We held him quietly and I pray he could feel our love, as his mommy and daddy, embracing him.  

When Nurse Kristen and Lisa, from the Gift of Life organization, came in around 10:30 pm, we were reading him his Bible one last time.  It was the same thing we did with him every night before bed during my pregnancy.  We knew it was time...  We kissed him, hugged him and handed Cullen to our nurse.  As they put him in his bassinet, to take him for his organ donation procedure, I said "Goodnight Cullen, mommy loves you," one last time to the most precious life I have ever known...  I was (am) so proud to be his mommy.


I just remember sobbing after they left the room, Joe gently crawling in bed next to me and holding me.  It was the most joyfyl, sweetest and happiest day of our lives, while at the same time, the hardest, saddest and most overwhelming... 


The next few days in the hospital, Joe was with me 24/7.  Rarely did he leave my side.  I couldn't ask for a stronger, more loving husband.  And I was blessed, we were blessed, with the most incredible nurses.  We can't thank Allison, Emily, Jeanine, Amanda, and all the other 8th and 9th floor staff enough for their respect, support and utmost care the days following Cullen's birth and passing, while we were trying to process emotions most parents fortunately do not have to face after their baby is born. 


Day three I was allowed to come home.  It was the hardest day up to that point after losing Cullen.  Coming home with empty arms... was simply, heartbreaking.  But we were reminded of the most amazing day we had with him.  The hours we had to hold him.  Miracle after miracle that the Lord had graced us and blessed us with.  Even the greatest sadness, hurt and pain, can not take away the most beautiful and happiest feeling we had that day. 


Psalm 23  --  Psalm 139  --  Psalm 18:30

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I love reading your blog. It's amazing how God does give you miracles and carries you through a lot. You all have been in our prayers as well as our church prayers for the journey you have been through. Hugs. Prayers.

You and Joe are such wonderful parents and an inspiration to us all. I don't know you guys personally, but as soon as I visited this site, I fell in love with your story and sweet baby Cullen. Thank you for sharing your story with the world and reminding us what true, ever-lasting love is! Much love and peace to you today and always.

I know this story all to well. I to lost our son like this 16 yrs ago. It's a loss that never goes away. I think about him each and every day. My prayers are with you and your family. The only joy we know is they are in God's arms now!