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Charlie’s Story

I didn’t get the chance to rock Charlie to sleep, see his first steps, or hear his first words. I don’t get to make him his favorite snack and hear about what he learned at school that day. We won’t see him grow up with his siblings, laugh with friends, discover his talents, or go on adventures. None of the milestones parents dream about. But I’m still his mom.

There’s a lot of firsts and lasts that were taken from us the day we found out his heart stopped unexpectedly, but we do get the chance to parent him in other ways, and one of those ways is by honoring his life by walking with other loss families and raising money to prevent families from knowing this tragic loss. 

I’m so thankful I found Heather and learned about the amazing and impactful work she has been doing. If you don't know it, please read Charlie's story below:

It was the morning of September 10th 2020, I was in the beginning of my third trimester with our second son. I had ordered a couple of new baby things and went back to being busy with work, not really thinking about the fact that I hadn’t felt him move all morning. I already had an appointment scheduled for that afternoon, so I figured it was fine to wait. At an appointment two weeks prior, I had been told that he was starting to run out of room, so his movement was probably changing.

That afternoon at my appointment the nurse was struggling to find the heartbeat, which for some reason didn’t worry me. He was always in the bottom left corner of my belly and I joked with the nurse that he was just hiding. She smiled and said we were going to try seeing him on the ultrasound. I was honestly excited to see him again! Looking back, I can’t believe I hadn’t put things together by then.

At this late stage of pregnancy, you are just so sure everything is going well and you will soon be bringing home a baby.

After she began the ultrasound, the technician went silent. At that point I blurted out, “Something’s wrong, isn’t it? He’s not moving.” It felt like an out of body experience. With tears in her eyes she said, “No Meghan, I’m so sorry. There’s no heartbeat.” My doctor rushed in and asked if someone was with me. Although I had anticipated going to this appointment alone, my husband, Chris, happened to have arrived home early from a work trip and had been there to drive me. 

When my husband arrived by my side, the doctor told us these things happen sometimes. They didn’t know why, and it wasn’t my fault. I hated that answer. I needed an explanation, but the only thing I was offered was a hug and some water before we were walked out the back door.

I was scheduled for an induction the next morning, but I went into labor naturally just hours after we left the doctor’s office. With our first son, Patrick, I had a scheduled c-section and I had spent this second pregnancy hopeful to experience labor and try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Not in a million years did I think this was how that would happen.

As the contractions were growing stronger and closer together, I put Patrick to bed at my in-laws and quickly packed a hospital bag. On our drive to the hospital, Chris squeezed my hand and said “Charlie. That’s his name." Charlie was the name at the top of our list, and we couldn’t imagine not using it for him. I felt so much comfort in that moment knowing we were on the same page, and that we were in this together.

On September 11, 2020 at 5:30AM, Charlie Hamilton Stevenot was born. He was 2 pounds, 10 ounces and 16 and a half inches long. He was perfect. He had thick dark red hair. He looked like an exact copy of his big brother, but with Chris’ feet instead of mine. We took turns holding him all day, studying his features and talking about what life would have been like with our two boys. I told him how sorry I was over and over again. Just 24 hours after receiving our painful news, we were released from the hospital with empty arms and some bereaved parent gifts. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. Why us? Why our baby?

Not having an answer has been such a hard part of this grief journey. The doctor that delivered Charlie speculated it was a cord accident but we still are not sure. I go back and forth between telling myself that everything happens for a reason, and wondering if this was a preventable accident. I have had to rely heavily on my faith and the desire to honor our son’s short life any way we can.

Shortly after Charlie died, my best friend said to me, “He was warm, safe, in the most loved place in the world.” I’m not sure if she knew the magnitude of that, but it has helped me immensely. As a mother, I thought my job was to protect my children. When your child dies, especially like this, you feel like you failed at your only job. I know now that a mother’s job is to love her children, and for the entire time my son’s heart was beating, he only knew love.

Thank you for taking the time to read! Xoxo, Charlie's Mom

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