Walk Team Highlight - Team Oliver

This Saturday is the 10th Annual Walk for Remembrance & Hope where we will come together to share our children and say their names out loud.  Today we recognize the Williams family and their team in remembrance of their baby Oliver.  Read their story and consider contributing towards their team or creating your own by registering today.  Online registration ends Friday, October 10 at 5pm.

Sarah & Nick Williams

Team Name:
Team Oliver

Child’s Name:
Oliver Lindy Williams

Child’s Birth Date/Age:
September 20, 2013 / 21 weeks

Number of Years You’ve Participated in the Walk:
Sarah’s second year; I participated in the Walk last year just three weeks after Oliver was born. This will be Nick’s first year.

How has Heartstrings impacted you?
I attended the Walk last year with my father, aunt, and a close friend three weeks after Ollie was born, and it was overwhelming to see all the families and friends who have been touched by the loss of a child or children; we suffered a six-week miscarriage in October 2011, and I really wish we had learned about Heartstrings when we were coping with that loss. Before our October 2011 miscarriage, neither of us had any idea how common pregnancy loss was, or how many of our family and friends have suffered similar losses.

Nick and I both participated in the Connections program after Ollie was born. As we were nearing Ollie’s first birthday, we learned of a grief writing workshop, Write From the Heart, that Heartstrings was offering on September 20, which happens to be Ollie’s birthday. We felt that attending the workshop would be a very fitting way to reflect, remember, and honor Ollie on his first birthday, and we were very grateful for the opportunity to tell other people about him and share what he means to us on such an important day. Heartstrings has been a supportive resource for us share and connect with others who have lost a child. It means everything to me to keep our memory and love of Ollie in the present—to be able to honor, remember, and share him with others—and Heartstrings allows us to do that.

Explain how the Walk is important to you?
The Walk is an opportunity for a very special community of parents, family, and friends to come together to remember their children—to see their babies a voice and see their names written and spoken out loud, to not be alone in their grief, to cry with others and hug each other, to be embraced by others who want to understand, and to show everyone that the lives of these sweet children matter and how deeply they are missed and loved every day. I want people to know that we are Ollie’s mama and daddy, and I want them to know his name.

Tell Us Your Story:
I miscarried at six weeks in October 2011. Nick and I were absolutely devastated at the loss and struggled to cope for a long time, and it was a long time before we tried to conceive again. Since it was such an early loss we have no way of knowing if it would’ve been a boy or a girl, but recently I’ve come to think of that baby as a little cherub—a genderless, beautiful, innocent child, already in its heavenly body.

When I was pregnant with Ollie, I knew in my heart that I was pregnant before I even took the test. The pregnancy was completely different than my first one in that I didn’t have any spotting or cramping, which put me a little more at ease. On September 10, 2013, two days before my and Nick’s fourth wedding anniversary, my mom accompanied us to my doctor’s office for our anatomy scan/ultrasound, and the three of us were thrilled by the rapid whomping of the baby’s heartbeat and the confirmation that he was a boy. We had already chosen names, and we got to call Oliver by his name for the first time. His middle name, Lindy, was taken from my paternal grandfather, Dwight Lindy Deal, who was named for Charles Lindbergh (“Lucky Lindy”).

Just a little over a week later, on Thursday, September 19, 2013, everything suddenly and very unexpectedly fell apart. I began bleeding without any warning or pain, and Nick rushed us to the hospital shortly before 6:00 that evening. After a couple of uncertain hours in a triage room on the L&D floor and a couple of ultrasounds, my doctor told us that he suspected that I had suffered a placental abruption. The ultrasound showed that my water had broken and that there was no fluid around Ollie any more, and I was continuing to bleed heavily. At 21 weeks Ollie was still two weeks away from being of a viable gestational age, and the placenta had become detached and could no longer nourish or protect him. Though I didn’t have any pain, I continued to bleed and my doctor was concerned about the risk of infection to both Ollie and me. Pathology eventually showed that there was an underlying infection that had caused the abruption, with no way to know what had caused the infection. In less than three hours, we went from expecting a baby in another five months to being told that I would deliver my son that night.

Oliver was born at 2:26 a.m. on Friday, September 20, 2013. He weighed 1 lbs 2 oz, and was 10 inches long. He slipped away before being born, and it was actually an incredible comfort to us that Ollie was with me his whole life—he was always protected and warm, and never had to linger or suffer. The nurses tended to him gently, dressing him in a little blue and white outfit (we called it his “stupid little outfit”) and wrapping him in a light blue crocheted blanket. We cradled him, swaddling him over and over in the blanket, kissed his little head, and cuddled him for hours. He was small and perfect, with all his perfect little fingers and toes, his second toe longer than his big toe just like his daddy’s, and a sweet little mouth and chin and tiny nose. His coloring was red, and his little nose was like a perfect, round ruby. I told Nick before leaving the hospital that day that I wanted a ruby pendant to wear for Oliver—my little ruby baby. I did get a round ruby pendant, and I wear it every day.

We contacted our pastor and asked him to come to the hospital to baptize Ollie that morning. Even though we knew he was brought into the world already with and belonging to God, we wanted to baptize him as a gesture of our faith and to dedicate him to God. Even before I was pregnant with Ollie, we knew that we wanted our child (or children) to be baptized, and it was one thing that we could do for him and with him for the short amount of time we got to hold him in our arms. I was discharged from the hospital around 2:00 on Friday afternoon, less than 12 hours after Ollie was born, and less than 24 hours since suffering the abruption. It was a terrible whirlwind of shock, and all happened so quickly that it hardly seemed real.

Ollie was always lovingly cared for while he was here, either cradled in the womb or in our arms the morning he was born; he was equally cared for by my loving aunt and uncle, who are funeral directors, and cared for him throughout his cremation. His urn is small and bronze, in the shape of a heart, which I keep next to our bed; I hold it and kiss it multiple times a day and frequently fall asleep holding his urn at night.

After Ollie was born, Nick and I decided to go forward with painting his room in grey and orange and decorating it with foxes, like we had planned. It isn’t the nursery we wanted it to be, but it’s a lovely serene room where we keep all the cards, tokens, and gifts we’ve received in remembrance of him, and it’s a comfort to us to have a physical space in our home for him. We’ve had his little inked footprints framed and placed on the mantle in our living room.

We feel the weight of our loss and the absence of Ollie every day. It’s so important to us to acknowledge and remember him and our other loss however we can, and I am grateful that Heartstrings gives us an opportunity to do that. Ollie and our other cherub are perfect little souls that will always be a part of us, nestled in our hearts. I want our love for them to shine through us and be evident to everyone around us; I want everyone to know that they were here and are somewhere better now, waiting for us.