Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The last post I made in January seems like a lifetime ago. Probably because during my absence from the blog world, my life has been changed forever. Since my post in January, I have experienced more love, heartache, joy, pain and sorrow than I knew was possible.

As many of you know, I was pregnant. Jon and I found out we were going to be parents right before Christmas. The night we found out, we got down on our knees to pray and give thanks for the beautiful miracle the Lord had blessed us with! At that moment, we fell in love and began to plan and pray for our baby, scheduled to arrive August 20. (We surprised our families on Christmas day with the big news!)

In March, we found out we were having a BOY! Smith Randle Bailey was our son and we couldn't wait to meet him. He had a closet full of clothes, crib and glider in his room and a changing table on the way. I couldn't wait to prepare a special room just for him. A room I knew we would spend endless hours together. A room where we would rock him, feed him, tell him bedtime stories and watch him sleep.

On April 20, 2010 time stood still.

I had been experiencing some unusual symptoms throughout the day, but nothing too alarming. I called the doctor and they said to monitor the situation and call back if anything changed. Around 9PM that night, things started to change and after calling the doctor on-call, Jon and I headed up to Presbyterian Plano so I could get checked out.

I was so nervous. My stomach was in knots. When I got changed into my gown and situated on the table, the first thing they did was check for a heartbeat. Smith's little heartbeat was music to my ears. I was instantly relieved. He sounded great. His heart was beating nice and strong. I figured they would just give me some medication, maybe put me on bed rest and send us on our way. Then, when the nurse started to give me an exam, things changed rapidly. She immediately said, "Okay, I'm going to call the doctor and have her come up and check on you." When Dr. Jaffee (my doctor, Dr. Webster, wasn't on-call that night) came in and preformed a quick sonogram, we were told I was dilated around 2-3 centimeters and our son was probably going to be born very soon. And at only 22 weeks and 4 days, he would not survive.

It all happened so fast. Earlier that afternoon I was sending my sister-in-law my baby shower guest list and hours later, Jon and I were told our first child was going to die. Smith needed more time. We needed more time.

For the next 9 days, I was put on bed rest at the hospital in a feet up, head down position. Over the course of those 9 days, I was moved back and forth from Labor and Delivery and Antipardum rooms due to false alarms. For 9 days I couldn't get out of bed...period. I was given all kinds of antibiotics and medications to keep me healthy and to increase Smith's chances for survival. We were told almost daily that Smith would not make it very long outside the womb and that if he did, which would be a miracle, he would have a mountain of physical and mental deficiencies. We cried and prayed. Cried and prayed. I would have done anything to keep him safe and warm inside me.

Jon, my husband, was incredible!!! He was with me every second and I couldn't have made it a minute without him. Our families stayed at the hospital for hours and hours everyday. They brought us food and movies, books and pictures from our house. They did anything and everything we asked. The same goes for our amazing friends. We prayed, our families and friends prayed, our church prayed. Acquaintances and strangers prayed. For 9 days, we felt the love and prayers of those pleading with the Lord to keep Smith safe and to keep Jon and I strong throughout the emotional roller coaster we couldn't seem to get off.

Then, on April 29th, I officially went into labor. I woke up in the middle of the night and immediately knew it was time. Smith was coming and there wasn't anything anyone could do about it. By the time they got me moved to a delivery room and Dr. Webster gave me a sonogram, Smith was on his way. It was such a blur. All of the sudden I was told, "It's time to push." After repeatedly and politely asking for some medicine, my doctor told me there wasn't time for any medicine and I needed to push. Three or four big pushes later, our sweet baby was introduced to the world.

Smith Randle Bailey
April 29, 2010
1 pound 8 ounces
12 1/2 inches long

I only got to see him for a split second and then they took him away to the NICU. Jon went with him and after much needed pain medication, I drifted away into LaLa Land.

The next 12 days seemed to fly by and stand still. Smith's tiny little body was struggling and fighting every minute to stay alive. A good report would change to a bad report within hours.

In the beginning, it was hard to conceptualize that I was looking at my son. It seemed so odd and surreal and often left me confused. My baby couldn't be lying in front of me, he was supposed to be tucked away in my tummy. Patting his sticky skin with the tip of my finger was hardly contact and I didn't want to get too close, because every second I feared someone would tell me he was gone.

After we left the hospital and I got to shower and sleep in my own bed for the first time in almost 2 weeks, I slowly came to the realization that Smith was here and he was fighting and I would fight with him. I would fight to the ends of the earth to bring him home. I would fight to juggle this new, abrupt reality that consisted of pumping every 2-3 hours, which felt cold and mechanical instead of warm and sweet like it should have been, bonding skin on skin with my baby, visiting Smith in between pumping at home and in the Lactation Room at the NICU, sleeping, showering, eating and praying. I started to accept that the road would be difficult beyond belief, but I could do it! Jon and I knew we could and would do anything to bring a plump, healthy little Smith home with us in August.

But God had a different plan.

We had already received the devastating news that Smith had extensive bleeding on his brain. Four days later, on May 10, the day after Mother's Day, we got a call from one of the doctors around 4:30 or 5:00AM. We were told Smith was not responding to the new ventilator they tried switching him to in the night and that we should probably head to the hospital as soon as possible. Jon and I held hands in silence as we took our familiar root to the hospital. It was still dark outside. While most of the city slept, Jon and I were on our way to watch our son slip away from us. It felt like a long drive.

I cried, like I had so many times before when I saw Smith's tiny body struggling that morning. After talking to the doctors, we knew there was nothing else they could do for him. The nurses situated two chairs near the machines, opened the top of his incubator, wrapped him up, and with the tubes still coming out of his mouth that were keeping him alive, they placed my baby in my arms for the first time. The first time since he was born, I got to hold and kiss my son. He was so beautiful. He was so small. For the next 2 hours, Jon and I just stared at him. We examined every inch of him, trying to take in as much of him as we could. He might have been teeny tiny, but he was perfect. His little nose and ears, his eyelashes and dark hair were perfect. His baby feet were my favorite! We kissed him and treasured every second of touching his baby soft skin. Our family got to come back and give him a kiss goodbye and then I held him a little while longer. A few times he opened his eyes and looked right at me. I told him I was his mommy and I loved him more than he would ever know. Before I handed him to Jon, I sang to him our special song, "You are My Sunshine."

You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine, You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away.

Jon held him for a little while and we did more kissing and talking about our precious boy. Then it was time to take him off the ventilator. Jon held him as we prayed for him, told him how much we loved him and how thankful we were to have him as our son. We sang "Jesus Loves You" and cried as Jon held Smith in his arms knowing soon he would be gone. After checking several times over half an hour to 45 minutes, the doctor called time of death at 10:10AM.

Smith Randle Bailey, our son, our treasure was with Jesus.

For the next several hours, we spent more time saying goodbye. We helped the nurses give him a bath and rubbed Johnson's pink baby lotion all over his tiny body. I changed his diaper and the nurse wrapped him up in a blanket. In those moments, we finally felt like parents. We were finally able to do something for our son...in those sacred moments, we took care of him. We carried him, all bundled up, into a special room at the NICU where a photographer from an amazing organization, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, took the most beautiful, peaceful pictures of him. Our families got to hold him, we held him some more and although I don't think we would have ever actually been ready to give him away, we finally handed him to one of the nurses who was with us all morning and she took him. She carried him away.

May 10th was the first and last time we held our son. It was the first and last time we kissed our sweet baby boy. It was the first and last time we got to look at him face to face, without plastic separating us. May 10th changed our life forever.

Amidst the devastation, heartache and overwhelming sorrow, we find comfort in knowing Smith is no longer experiencing the sufferings of this world. We find comfort in knowing that our Lord, Jesus Christ is now caring for our son.

I don't understand why this happened to us and I probably never will. What I do understand and know to be true is that God is good and His will is perfect. All we can do is put our trust in Him and allow Him to give us grace and strength during this incredibly difficult time.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Romans 8:18


  1. Kori, I saw a link to your blog on Christine's.
    I just wanted to tell you that I have been praying for you and Jon. I have no idea how you must have felt/still feel, but I am so sorry. You expressed everything in such a beautiful way and I'm sure your story has touched so many people, probably more than you know. Your faith is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. God Bless, Jocelyn Boyer

  2. What a beautiful post, my sweet friend. To catch a glimpse of your love for precious Smith and your final moments together is both heartbreaking and hopeful. I am completely confident in God's promise that He will "finish the work He has started in you" and I have already seen His mercy redeem your suffering and pain. I love you and thank you for sharing in such an intimate and vulnerable way.

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  4. What a beautiful post. You and your family have been in our hearts and prayers. Your faith and strength have touched more people than you will ever know.

  5. Kori, as i have said before and will always say, you are an amazing mother, a strong woman of God and i thank you for sharing your son with all of us. may you always feel the love your family and friends and strangers even, have for you and for Smith.

  6. Kori- I sit here with tears...so many tears for so many things. The words you wrote, the tender words you wrote speak of the way you were with your son. The emotions that you felt and still feel are so raw and real, Kori. I can just tell that you have been changed forever by this precious gift that God gave to you on Earth for 12 days. What a wonderful mother and father you and Jon are. What an amazing set of parents God trusted him to. I admire your strength, your wisdom you have gained and your knowledge that His plan is far greater and far more perfect than ours. Sending you tons of love and continuing to storm Heaven with prayer...I have thought of you all often.

  7. I found your blog from the Poe Fam. I don't have words to describe how my heart breaks for you, but I feel like we have something in common and I just feel compelled to write you. I was at Plano presby on May 10th and I gave birth to a little boy. I know it's not a coincidence I found your blog, but He who sent me here. The words you wrote in this post brought me to tears. Imagining what you went through that day while I was rejoicing in the birth of my own first son. Maybe there is a little bit of Smith living in my little Blake. I'm sorry if this is weird coming from a stranger. And I normally am not one to post on a random persons blog but I just felt like I was brought here for a reason. Please know I'm praying for you.