Heartstrings staffer Annie Vorys stumbled upon Kate Polley's Facebook page a few months ago and immediately fell in love with the story of Sam Polley. In sweet, beautiful books, Kate shares the story of her son's too-short life. Annie reached out, asking to share The Story of Sam Polley at Heartstrings Circle of Hope event. Kate generously agreed, and took it one step further, to share with us her story in her own words:
Until the moment of Sam’s death, I had led a ‘sheltered’, even enviable life.
I had grown up in a loving family, travelled the world, got married and brought two beautiful daughters into the world. Sure, life had thrown a few minor curveballs along the way, but on the whole it had been a rather seamless ride.
Even when the fetal specialist termed my twin pregnancy high risk (due to a shared placenta, common in identical twins), I never allowed the notion that something might go wrong to permeate my conscience. Bad things didn’t happen to me. I truly believed my boys would be born healthy, without complication, completing the picture perfect life I had created.
Sometimes now I look back and marvel at my past innocence, at the somewhat naive notion of life I enjoyed for almost 35 years. If only my inexperienced self, had known what I know now – that baby loss does not discriminate, that it can happen to anyone.
This is the truth I found myself living that dreadful Sunday morning, holding my lifeless baby boy, Sam, whilst his tiny twin brother, Finn lay alone in the NICU. The days which followed were a blur. I went home without my babies - no longer a proud mother expecting twins, but shrouded with a new and unwelcome identity - a bereaved parent, juggling the rawness of death with a premature baby, as well as two older children at home to care for. Finally, after a long and exhausting month, our darling Finn came home. It was a bittersweet moment.
Fifteen months after Sam and Finn were born; I sat down to record on paper, the thoughts which I had been rehearsing in my head for so long. Before I knew it, I had my boys’ story, right in front of me. Documenting Sam’s short, yet precious life in a story for Finn was a hugely cathartic experience for me. It made his existence ‘real’ and helped ease my very broken heart.
I had the story illustrated and chose to print a few copies, for each of my children and close family, which I placed as a surprise gift under the Christmas tree. A few months later, I posted an electronic version of the book on a private online twin loss forum I belonged to. I did so in the hope of providing comfort to other grieving families, who had provided me with so much understanding and support. The response was overwhelming.
When Sam died, I remember feeling so utterly alone - like I was the only person in the world that this could possibly have happened to. My connection with other baby loss parents from all over the world, made me realise, that this wasn’t true - that there were families in every corner of the globe trying to wade through the same murky waters of grief.
I reprinted a small quantity of my book and posted it to a few families with whom I have made a special connection. Each time I parted with a copy, my heart felt a tiny bit more at peace. By sharing my twin’s story and providing some comfort to bereaved families, Sam was making his imprint on the world. His life was both real and purposeful.
From there, the demand for the book spread and the requests for a non-twin specific version of the book, personalised with a family’s own child’s name was overwhelming. Resources for bereaved families like us are so limited. I remember in those early days, trawling the internet desperately looking for books to read, in fact anything I could get my hands on that would make me feel less alone.
Together with the encouragement and support from my UK based publishing company, Oodlebooks, my dream of providing a resource to all bereaved families, irrespective of their circumstances, was realised.
The personalised version of the book is now being published and distributed to families all over the world. It is my hope that every family whom receives a copy, will be provided with a tiny bit of comfort and a glimmer of hope.
I believe that Sam exists all around me – both within my heart and in the beauty of the world which surrounds us. I hope you feel the same way about your baby too.
ABOUT KATE POLLEY:
Kate (39) lives in Cape Town, South Africa, together with her husband, Peter and their four living children – Hannah (13), Erin (11), Finn (4) and Jude (3). She balances motherhood with her passion - sharing Sam’s story and providing hope for bereaved families. You can connect with Kate via the Sam and Finn Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/samandfinn and order any of the book versions from www.personalisedchildlossbook.com
If you would like view the books online or order a copy, please visit www.personalisedchildlossbook.com
Kate's publisher, Oodlebooks, has overwhelmed Heartstrings with a generous offer to give away one of Kate's beautiful books. To enter Oodlebooks' Heartstrings giveaway and have a chance at winning your own personalized child loss book, follow the Rafflecopter instructions below! You'll sign in, then complete one, two, or three tasks. More tasks means more chances to win!