Jess and I were 24 weeks and 1 day along when we heard the two words that no parent should ever have to hear, "No heartbeat." I called the doctor's office that morning, Monday, November 30th, because Luke was always a very active baby in the middle of the night and early in the morning. I hadn't felt him that night and when I woke up I tried all my tricks that would get him to wiggle and nothing was working. By the time I called the doctor's office that morning, I was panicking. The doctor sent us to St. Luke's labor and delivery floor, and once we arrived there we were sitting in the room that will be forever engraved in our minds. They weren't able to find Luke's heartbeat with the Doppler and right away the tiny bit of hope that we were still holding onto, vanished. We knew. When they brought in the ultrasound machine to take a closer look, we both looked up at the screen in the spot where Luke's heart was and nothing, no flicker, no movement, our life stood still in that moment.
The doctor told us that we were going to have to deliver Luke and that he was sorry, but it was going to be a long couple of days. We walked down the hallway to the room where Luke would soon be born. I got into gown, and Jess and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes with the same look that said, "Is this really happening?" But in that moment, we both knew it wasn't about Jess or I anymore, it was about Luke and we were going to do this for him. He deserved that.
We couldn't believe that it was happening. I continued to tell Jess that we were going to wake up and it was all going to be a horrible dream...but it wasn't. How could the little boy that we created and that had been growing inside of me, that I felt just the day before all of a sudden be gone? We didn't understand. I labored all day on Monday and through the night and even into Tuesday morning. On Tuesday late morning my water broke and after that I dilated very quickly, on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 12:45pm, at 24 weeks and 1 day gestation, Luke Vincent Bogle was born sleeping. He was 1 lb 2 oz, and 11.25 inches long of perfection. Neither one of us had ever seen anything so beautiful before. He was perfect and he was ours. We were so proud of this life we created. In that moment, our hearts were so full of love for this tiny human that we had been blessed with, a love so deep that we are incapable of putting into words. We were now a family of three and we were so grateful. He was beautiful and perfect in every way. He had my pouty lips and Jess's little nose. The next 24 hours were the best and worst 24 hours of our lives. We kissed, and held and stared at this amazing baby in front of us. Luke was able to meet and be held by my parents, all my sisters and my brother as well as Jess's parents and we are very grateful for that. Even though, we, in that room, would be the only ones to ever meet him here on earth, it was a beautiful thing.
Soon, one of the nurses brought in a cooling machine that would enable Luke to spend the time we needed with him in our room. This machine is called a Cuddle Cot. It is a cooling machine that has a bassinet attached, which keeps the baby cool to allow as much time with your baby as possible. Jess nor I had ever heard of such a thing but we have never been more grateful for anything in our lives. This Cuddle Cot gave us the gift of time. Time with Luke. With the use of the Cuddle Cot, Luke was able to stay in our room during our entire hospital stay. It gave us the opportunity to feel like a "normal" family during those hours in the hospital. Mom, Dad and our baby sleeping in his bassinet right beside his mom's bed. We would later learn that without the use of the Cuddle Cot, your time with your baby is very limited. We felt so blessed that God lead us in the direction of St. Luke's and feel so thankful for our doctor, nurses and especially the bereavement staff there. They treated us with compassion and more importantly treated Luke as their own.
The Cuddle Cot which Luke used, was in memory of Simon and Thomas Balentine. Jess and I held Simon and Thomas very close to our hearts during Luke's time with us and continue to do so now. How lucky Luke was to have two little buddies to meet him at the gates. We'd like to think they are three best friends connected in ways that only they understand. Little did Jess and I know, that God would again connect our family with the Balentine's and that I would soon meet Simon and Thomas' mom, Amy in the weeks to come. How I met Simon and Thomas’ mom was another part of God’s plan that I am beyond thankful for. The week after losing Luke, I was searching for support groups around our area and came across a support group called, You Made Me Mom. I went to the website and clicked on the contact information to see how I could contact the founder and what my next step would be. What I came across was God’s way of leading me where I was meant to go. Under the contact tab of the You Made Me Mom website, I saw Amy Balentine was the founder and leader of the Kansas City Chapter. I scrolled down to read her story, as I was reading about Simon and then Thomas I connected the dots. Not only had God led me to click on the You Made Me Mom support group link but he then spoke to me through bringing the mom of Simon and Thomas front and center. I was not only able to thank Amy and her family for the donation of the Cuddle Cot in memory of Simon and Thomas but I am also blessed to now call her a friend and get to see her monthly at our You Made Me Mom support group meetings. I am beyond words grateful that God brought us together in that way. It’s been so special getting to share Luke with Amy and all of the amazing and supportive moms within the group. I feel so blessed by our meeting of this beautiful person and family that is now and will always be a special part of Jess, Luke and I's lives. We cannot thank them enough for their donation of the Cuddle Cot to St. Luke's Kansas City. It changed our lives and allowed us TIME to grieve, what an amazing gift.
After the cuddle cot was brought in, the nurse then brought us a box full of mementos that we got to keep to remind us of Luke. They made hospital bracelets for him, gave us his footprints, a hand knitted blanket that we would wrap Luke in, and many other beautiful pieces that will remind us of him which will always be close to our hearts. Also in that box was a blue, beautifully knitted together Bridget’s Cradle. A cradle that Luke would take his first and only pictures in. This cradle held Luke so delicately and was the most perfect size for his little body. He looked like such a big boy lying in Bridget’s Cradle that looked as though it was perfectly knitted together just for him. The pictures of Luke in Bridget’s Cradle are not only our favorite pictures of him but those pictures captured Luke exactly how we remembered him. A beautifully God knitted baby wrapped in a beautifully human knitted cradle. We will cherish those pictures of our first baby forever.
After losing Luke, Jess and I decided to put our grief towards something that could help families, like ours, going through the unimaginable. Since our gratitude for the Balentine family is so great for their donation of Simon and Thomas’ Cuddle Cot, we decided to raise money in hopes that we would be able to donate a Cuddle Cot in Luke’s memory to an area hospital and give more families time. Time with their babies. Jess and I put together Luke’s Cuddle Cot campaign and because of the remarkable generosity of our family and friends, two more Kansas City area hospitals will be gifted with a Cuddle Cot in memory of Luke Vincent Bogle very soon. We are honored and feel unbelievably blessed for the support of our family and friends. Because of them, Luke’s memory will live on through the use of the Cuddle Cots and will hopefully bring a little joy during a time of complete sorrow.
Luke now sits up in our bedroom with a Willow Tree "Guardian", a mold of his tiny footprints and his choo choo train urn. We will keep him in our room until God blesses us with a little brother or sister for him and when that time comes, we will then move his urn to the nursery where he can look over and protect his little brother or sister that will one day know all about the big brother they were never able to meet. We will never know why God stopped knitting that day but we trust that he needed Luke more than we did. Luke suffered from a cord accident and even though I still wish we had a concrete answer, cord accidents happen and there isn't usually a justification. I know deep down that it wasn't anything I did but that definitely doesn't make the guilt go away. The one job I had was to protect my sweet baby and my body failed me. It has taken a lot out of me to trust my body again but I have redirected that trust to God. No matter my body’s capabilities, his plan will lead us in the direction of a healthy baby one day. We have chosen to be thankful for the time we had with Luke and to God for giving us our first baby. To focus on the positive things that Luke has brought to our lives and to understand that we will someday see him again. We ache for him every day but we know that will eventually get better and where the pain currently is, happy memories of our first laying eyes on his beautiful body will soon replace. We live our life through Luke’s eyes now and that is an incredible gift.
We love you sweet baby and there won’t be a day that goes by you won’t know that to be true.
Written by Samantha Bogle, Luke's Mommy