Exactly one year ago today, my friend Laurie gave birth to her first son, Sebastian. There were complications during his birth and very sadly he died eight days later. Laurie is a true inspiration to me; throughout the last year I have been astounded by her determination to remember Sebastian in such positive ways, continuing to help others, and generally being a better person than I could ever hope to be.
On 6 July in Frankfurt, Germany, I will be taking part in my first Ironman event - a 3.8km (2.4 mile) swim, 180km (112 mile) bike and 42.2km (26.2 mile) run - to help raise money for a wonderful charity that provides emotional support to families like Laurie. I have been training for this event for many months, and througout all the difficult workouts, Sebastian has been on my mind and helped to keep my motivation on track. This will be the most challenging event I've attempted so far, so please dig deep and donate anything you can.
Thank you very much, Rachael
Below is Laurie's story:
Last year, at this time I was over 40 weeks pregnant. My google calendar tells me we had an (unremarkably normal) ultrasound on June 12. I know we acknowledged Fathers Day in some way, but honestly can't remember how. I think I joked about how I hadn't planned anything because I'd expected to have a baby to hand to my husband by then. The next day, a Monday, labor started. And long story short, on Tuesday night June 18, my second baby and first son, Sebastian, was born but he wasn't breathing. After several minutes, the doctors and nurses succeeded in resuscitating him and he was whisked away to another hospital with a higher level NICU. Eight days later, on June 26, he died after we removed the breathing tube to focus on his comfort, knowing the lack of oxygen had caused too much brain damage.
It's been the hardest year of my life, but in some ways, one filled with the most love. Our family has been unsurprisingly supportive. Friends from childhood with whom I'd lost touch, my closest friends, old neighbors, and new "mom friends" have done everything from make us food, to entertain our 2 year old daughter, to simply tell us they're thinking of Sebastian on the 18th or 26th each month. At Christmas time, I organized a little project to bring Starbucks gift cards to local NICU families and chocolate to the NICU staff and was blown away by donations that totaled over $2200, allowing me to give gift cards and chocolates to the NICU Sebastian had been at AND three others.
I think about Sebastian just about every day. His name is tattooed on my arm, but I don't often have an excuse to talk about him with others. So, as we approach his birthday and the anniversary of his death, I wanted to organize a litle fundraiser in his memory.
The Children's Room in Arlington, MA is an unbelievable little nonprofit organization that supports grieving children, teens and families. They provide family groups, parent education series, and family consultations. Their vision is "that every child, teen and family grieving a death deserves a safe, supportive and understanding environment."
When our daughter started mentioning Sebastian and asking questions about what she saw in the photos we have of him in the NICU, we were at a loss, so my husband and I met with the Education Director at the Children's Room for a consultation. Not only did we leave with examples of specific language to use with our daughter and an understanding of what's developmentally appropriate for her, but we experienced that supportive and understanding -- and I'd add compassionate -- environment.
If you can donate $10 - or even just share this page - for the Children's Room in Sebastian's memory, I'd be so grateful.
love, Sebastian's mama