Friday, November 30th, 2012. I was 38 weeks pregnant with my third baby. The day started out like any other day. I dropped my daughter Ava off at preschool; she was 4 at the time. Oliver, who was 2, and I headed off to Target. I was scheduled to be induced Monday morning, December 3rd. Monday would be my doctors first day back to work after a 2-week vacation. While she was on vacation, she had me come in on both Wednesdays for a quick “non-stress” test with one of the other doctors. So, Oliver and I picked out diapers, wipes, onesies, blankies, and passies… everything we would need to bring home a new baby in a few short days. There were lots of last-minute errands to tie up that day. I didn’t sit down until around 6 pm that Friday evening. After sitting for maybe an hour I started noticing I wasn’t feeling much movement from the baby. I didn’t think much of it. My parents and my sister were on their way over to our house to have dinner for my sister’s birthday. I thought “I’ll eat something and see how I feel after that”. It was getting late, and still no movement. I snuck upstairs and called my hospital since my doctor was out of town, to explain what was going on. They encouraged me to wait since I had an appointment with my doctor first thing that Monday morning. I filled my husband in on what I was feeling or, not feeling. We decided to head to the hospital to get checked out. I grabbed my purse, told my dad we were just going to run and get checked, and be back within the hour if they could stay with the kids.
I laid down and waited for the nurse to grab an ultrasound machine to listen to the heartbeat. She got me all hooked up and….. silence….. I looked at my husband with knowing terror… I had had enough ultrasounds to know this was not good. The nurse brought in the Doctor on call to inform us that our baby no longer had a heartbeat, and that I was going to have to deliver him tonight. There are no words to describe the heart break… Brian had to call our parents to deliver the horrible news. They all came to visit at different times throughout that night. I called Ali to tell her the news, not realizing it was 2 in the morning by this time.
Levi Benjamin was born at 5:39AM, and again that silence was back… no sweet first scream or cries. Brian and I along with our parents were able to hold and kiss him. He was 8 pound and 2 ounces. He was perfect. After delivery we discovered that some time during the 48 hours between my non-stress test that Wednesday and that Friday night a knot in Levi’s cord had just gotten too tight. It was blood red on one side and completely white on the other. We. Were. Devastated.
As the sun came up and Ali got the news she was by my side as fast as she could (along with literally every single item from the McDonalds breakfast menu)!! I’m certain we were still in shock, but we also realized we had two little kids to get back to at home. So, we left that hospital empty handed, and life went on…
Those first days, weeks, months, years, anniversaries, holidays were HARD. The biggest thing that helped us through that dark, sad time was the promise we had faith in Him. Jesus said “I will go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am”. I knew where Levi was. He was being taken care of by his creator, and that I would be with him someday.
This promise helped me through some of the toughest times in my life, but boy did it hit home July 6, 2018. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law were rear-ended on a road trip from Michigan back home to Lafayette a week earlier. This terrible accident resulted in the loss of their 14-year-old son, Zach. Moments after his passing my sister in law (Susan) and I hugged… crying… and she said to me “we are going to see them again aren’t we”? And I said “yes, beyond a shadow of a doubt, yes”
In Hebrews Paul tells us to hold unwavering to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hopes we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
I cannot begin to thank Ali and Quinn for this incredibly generous gift. I know this will give families for years to come, the gift of time to spend with their babies gone too soon.
Ali. You have been by my side through thick and thin. I don’t know where I would be without you. You, Quinn, Ethan, Eli, Georgia, and Hunter mean the world to the Cook family.
I like to tease Ali… while most people I know quit watching Greys Anatomy like 10-12 years ago… she has remained a faithful watcher. So as Meredith says to Christina “This life. Bad things happen, Its hard. You find your people, you find your person and you lean on them”. Ali Shepherd…YOU are MY person. You will always be my person.
Last thing… July 24, 2014… God restored our JOY in our youngest, River Andrew. He came out screaming, crying, talking, and hasn’t stopped ever since! We love you buddy!