Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Morning I Will Never Forget

The evening of February 12, 2013 started out just like any other night at home with our little man.  It was our 4th night back home from the hospital this time around and we were finally starting to figure out the routine.  We were blessed to have had some people from the ward bring us a great dinner, I took the time to mix up enough formula and breast milk to get us through the night and the next morning, and we even got the entire kitchen sparkling clean (I was determined to stay on top of the chores this time).  We did have Joshua on his stat monitor and noticed him dropping into the low 70's more often then normal, but we had a cardiologist appointment the next day and planned on talking with him about that.

Around 11:00pm, Tim and I headed to bed.  It was my turn to sleep in our bed in the room and Tim was going to take the shift in the living room with Joshua.  We were splitting up the nights so we both could get longer stretches of sleep.  I planned to take over around 3am or so.  Joshua was bundled up tightly in his blanket and looked so sluggly and warm.  He was finally settled after a long evening.  We all fell asleep comfortably and anticipated a good cardiology appointment the next day and was hoping Joshua would pass his swallow study so we could start giving him a bottle.

A few minutes before 4am, nearly 5 hours after we had gone to bed, I was awoken suddenly by Tim, who burst into the room, turned on the lights and yelled, "Stephanie, call 911 NOW!  Joshua is not breathing!!"  I jumped out of bed as the training from the hospital kicked in for both of us.  I grabbed my phone and dialed the infamous numbers.  As I gave them our address and yelled the problem into the phone, I watched Tim as he gave CPR to our lifeless baby.  The adrenaline was causing my whole body to shake, my heart was pounding, and my voice kept cracking.  I couldn't help but think that we were probably too late and that Joshua had probably already been gone for a while now. But I didn't want to be the one to make that call and I just clung on to a tiny bit of hope that maybe we weren't too late.

Although it probably, in reality, only took a minute or two, it seemed like an eternity for the police men to arrive and another eternity for the ambulance to get there.  The officers took over CPR and once the ambulance arrived, Joshua was rushed from our sight and to the hospital.

It was then I realized we couldn't just leave Logan alone in the house. He had slept through the whole thing! I called a dear friend and neighbor who lived just a block away to come stay with him. The officers stayed in the house to wait for her while Tim and I got into our car to follow the ambulance.

The car ride to the hospital was quiet most of the way.  Neither of us wanted to admit it out loud, but we both knew that our baby was gone.  I remember telling Tim that the Lord had prepared us for this.  We had been getting impressions all of Joshua's little life that he wouldn't be around as long as we would want him to be.  We were prepared, but that didn't make it any easier at this moment.

Mountain View Medical Center in Payson, UT: where Joshua was taken that morning

We rushed into the ER.  I remember how quiet it was there...we were the only ones there with all the doctors and nurses.  We walked into trauma 2 room and I knew right away that they had already done as much as they thought they could do.  Most of the nurses stood around the table while one did compressions.  Another had a syringe of medication designed to jump the heart back into some sort of beat.  Apparently, they had already tried shocking him, since the electrodes were sitting next to him, and it had done nothing.  The ER doctor came over to us and explained that they had done all they could and even if they could get the heart beating again, most likely his brain had been without oxygen for long enough that it wouldn't make any difference.

Tim and I asked for a moment outside before they stopped compressions.  We gave each other a hug and each expressed our encouragement and support.  We walked back into the room and told them they could stop whenever they were ready.  Joshua was pronounced dead at 4:25am on February 13, 2013.  They took off as much of the medical equipment as they were allowed, wrapped him in a blanket, cleaned up around the bed a bit, and placed the lifeless body of my son into my arms. Tim and I sat there as the reality of what just happened finally began to sink in.  Our baby was gone.

Over the next hour, we took turns holding our little one.  We cried a lot and really didn't say much.  What can you say?  Once we had a little bit of composure, we decided it was time to call our parents....it was the first time we had to say the words out loud and somehow it made it more real.  We were blessed that they were willing to make the call to our siblings, so we didn't have to say it again.

The next thing we had to do was tell the hospital we were ready to move forward.  They called the mortuary and they said they would come pick up Joshua in about an hour.  They also called our pediatrician, who lived close to the hospital.  We decided to wait for the mortuary to come and our pediatrician said he would stop by as well to sign the death certificate information.

Our pediatrician, Dr. Knochel, was so kind to come in a talk to us for a while.  He has been such a dear friend through this whole process and had some very sweet words to say.  He talked to us about dealing with the grief with each other, how to talk to Logan about everything, and just gave some sweet condolences.

Around 6:30am, the mortuary came by.  I have never met such wonderful people than the men working at the mortuary.  After they explained some basic information, the brought out a cute quilt to wrap our sweet Joshua up.  We bundled him up good and he carried him out the door with so much gentleness.  I knew we would be in good hands with these men.

We got home and Logan was still asleep.  We thanked our neighbor who had come over and we found ourselves alone in the house. I think we were both in shock.  I decided to take a shower, since we had hours before either of our parents would arrive.  It was still too early to call anyone, since most people would just be getting up for the day. We slowly got ready for the day.

My saving grace during those first few hours at home was my precious Logan boy.  He woke up that morning so happy and ready to play.  Tim and I sat in his room for a while and we all played with his toys.  Anytime he saw us crying, he would come up and give us a big hug.  He really has been the best thing a mother's grieving heart could ask for.

The rest of the day was just a big blur.  Another dear friend and neighbor of mine came over and we cried and laughed together.  My sisters and brother came over after that.  Soon, our parents arrived.  We had a ton of neighbors and friends stop by to give us a big hug.  We even decided to meet with the mortuary that afternoon and get started on the funeral arrangements.

Another friend came over and delivered the family pictures she took less than 72 hours before.  She gave us a miracle gift, which will be for another post.  The ward also brought dinner for 10.  We chatted and cried with family until it was time for bed.  Honestly, it felt like 2 weeks had passed once the day was over.

The next big hurdle for both of us would be sleeping....it just didn't happen that first night.  We didn't go to bed until 11 or 12pm...but I was awake again at 2am.  It was at this time that I typed up my letter to Joshua that I would read at the funeral.   I really didn't make that many changes to it from what I wrote that night.

I was so grateful to have people around in my house.  The idea of being alone was so terrifying...if there was too much quiet it gave me way too much time to think.  Just having other people sleeping in the room was comforting.  I am so grateful for all my family and friends that were around that first day. What a blessing you all are to me and I will never forget it. 


  1. Oh, Steph! This post has me bawling! For you and your family as well as for the memories of being at the ER when Ty died. You are such a strong and faithful woman. I'll be honest...it doesn't necessarily ever get easy. It just becomes a different normal. Hang in there, sweetie! You have a strong and brave little one watching over you. He is that awesome that he didn't have to endure this life for long. Love you!!

  2. Oh Stephanie, this post had me sobbing by myself in the living room. My heart is just aching for you and your sweet family. I'm sorry I've been such a terrible friend - in staying in touch with you. Thank you for sharing about the life of sweet baby Joshua. What a comfort it must be to know you will get to see him again. I'm sure when that day comes he will be there anxiously awaiting your arrival with arms outstretched :) Your strength truly inspires me. Please know that I am thinking about you and praying for you. Big hugs sent your way (I wish I could be there to do it myself!). Much love, Jessica

  3. Oh Stephanie, I am crying with this post. My heart aches for all of you. It has to be a comfort to know that you will be able to see your baby again. That families are for ever. In my thoughts and prayers. Just remember that Joshua is watching over you.

  4. I am a heart mom, and I just came across your little mand story. I'm sitting here crying feeling your pain. I can feel your love for your baby boy in your kind words. I love that you're so strong throughout it and hold strong for Logan. Sending hugs....

    1. Kaylynn-Thank you for your kind words and thank you for visiting. All of the heart moms have been absolutely wonderful through everything and I am so grateful for your support and love.


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Joshua Kent Ipson was born December 1, 2012 with a very complicated combination of congenital heart defects. After 2 1/2 months of fighting for his life, he passed away on February 13, 2013. We invite you to share our experiences as we grieve his loss, rejoice in God's plan, & keep Joshua's message of hope alive.
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