Friday, May 1, 2015

Dean's story

My emotions have been all over the map these past couple of days.  But I wanted to get my thoughts written down sooner than later.

What a journey our family has been on!  I feel like we have been stretched and pulled, and broken, and torn into a million pieces.  But through it all, I think both my husband and I can agree, our blessings definitely outweigh the trials.  We truly feel so loved and supported beyond anything we could ever imagine.  Thank you to all our family and friends who have been with us through thick and thin.  We love you.

Last night (April 30, 2015), I gave birth to my fifth child: Gary Dean Martin.  Named after his two grandpas--Papa Gary and Papa John Dean.  His body was delivered into this world at only 24 weeks gestation.  He weighed a whopping 11 ounces and was 8 inches tall.

We had learned earlier that morning that there was no heartbeat during the scheduled ultrasound--ugh, I don't wish that experience on any parent.  We don't know exactly when our little bean had passed away, but we had heard his heart beating strongly just one week earlier.  I had been going to weekly heartbeat checks because of his diagnosis of Down Syndrome and the likelihood a severe heart defect.  And just a couple of weeks earlier, the doctor discovered fluid building around Dean's heart, head, and abdomen.  This is commonly known as hydrops fetalis--or basically heart failure.  So we knew that death in utero was a strong possibility...we were just hoping for a miracle.

I delivered him at the Yakima Memorial hospital at 10:19 pm. It was a peaceful and calm experience.  The staff was outstanding.  They were sensitive to every one of our needs.  I feel so blessed.  We took lots of pictures and spent hours holding and loving our little guy.  I am completely amazed at how careful and loving my husband was with Dean.  He wouldn't let Dean be by himself.  He held him pretty much the whole time until the funeral director came to pick him up.

Dean didn't resemble what we were anticipating a 24 week baby to look like.  He had a lot of fluid built up and some of his features were hard to distinguish.  I think that was the hardest part about all of this; it broke my heart that his physical body was so sick.  They tell us that he didn't suffer any pain.  And I really want to believe that.  I hope it's true.

We tried to take pictures that we and the kids could forever remember him by.  My dear friend Brittany sacrificed her time to come to Yakima leaving behind a 4 month old nursing baby to spend those precious hours taking pictures and capturing the candid moments.  I think it was close to 2 am before she left.  Thank you, Brittany.  This was truly a beautiful gift.

We decided it was important for our family records to give Dean's body a name and a blessing.  So, the papas (whom Dean is named after) and Brent gathered together and gave him a powerful blessing.  The room was so filled with love and had such a strong spirit.  I am grateful to my husband for offering a beautiful blessing with words I believe were were guided by Heavenly Father.  Brent asked Heavenly Father to watch over his body until he was able to be reunited with it again.  Oh man...that was a tear jerker. I am blessed to be married to this great man who honors his priesthood.

The funeral director came in after a few hours to come take Dean.  It was hard to leave him.  Just with those few hours of holding him, we grew to love every single part of him and his tiny features.  His little smooshed nose and upturned eyes that are so distinct in babies with Down Syndrome...we just kept imagining what he would have been like if he were a healthy full term baby.  We could see a little bit of Lilly in him, and that comforted us.

The funeral director was great. He gently wrapped Dean up in a blanket handmade by Nana Katie with his name embroidered on the edge, and he tucked him carefully into a white cradle basket and drove him safely to the funeral home.  Everybody has been so thoughtful and careful with our precious little angel.  I am truly grateful.

Dean is tucked in there safely.  We wanted to keep him warm.
Dean's big brother Tanner made the sweet card all by himself, and also insisted that Nana Katie make a pillow for Dean.  Katie also knitted the tiniest little hat for him.  So many beautiful things to put in the casket with Dean, so he can feel comfortable until we are reunited.
We have decided to have a small grave side service tomorrow (Saturday, May 2, 2015) at the Lower Valley Memorial Gardens in Sunnyside. 7800 Vanbelle Road.  He will be buried between his great grandparents so he won't be alone.

My little sweat angel baby!!!  I will miss him!  I can't wait to snuggle him one day, and kiss him, and meet the chosen spirit that he obviously was to have occupied that little body so briefly.  The feeling of loss is tremendous.  I feel like a part of my heart is gone.  But I know we are being watched over by him...and for that I am so grateful.

I will never take my family for granted ever.  I will always cherish the moments we have with each other here on earth.  Hug your families tight today and always!  Life is so precious.

Hugs!  Erin


  1. What a beautiful post. We are so sorry for you and your family, Erin. You must be a pretty choice mother, though, to be blessed with such a perfect soul to have as one of your own. We pray for you, sweet friend!

  2. Beautiful words Erin. My heart is hurting for you and your family. I pray that you find peace and comfort through all of this.

  3. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post Erin. I can hardly even begin to imagine what you must be feeling. You are such an amazing example to me of strength and grace through trials. Sending love and hugs to you and your family during this difficult time. Love you!!


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