Grief Resources, Personal Journey

Sawyer’s Story

My husband and I were married in 2012. We knew we wanted kids soon, we just weren’t sure *how* soon. Well, four months in to our marriage I discovered I was pregnant! I felt all the normal emotions when seeing those two pink lines for the first time – nervous, excited, anxious, worried, thrilled, happy, etc. We excitedly told our parents and then friends. We wanted to wait until our first doctors appointment to announce publicly, but news was spreading fast! We decided to use pumpkins to announce since it was the middle of October. 

The pregnancy started off with a tremendous amount of nausea. I was also super tired and would fall asleep on the couch at about 6 PM every night! Everything else was pretty normal, we just counted down the days until our gender reveal appointment at the beginning of December! I just knew it was a girl because of the morning sickness. Much to my surprise… 

We spent the rest of December relishing in the thoughts of a baby boy joining our family and I also stocked up on lots of cute little boy things! January rolled around and we had out appointment with my OB/GYN for the anatomy scan. This is the appointment where they extensively measure and check out the baby just to make sure everything looks alright. Our scan took what felt like forever and I kept having all kinds of bad thoughts running through my head. After waiting forever to see the doctor after the scan, my fears came full circle. According to the doctor, our baby boy had some issues with his heart and we were being referred to a specialist. I felt like I had been punched in the throat. He asked if I had any questions but I just couldn’t speak. I sobbed in the parking lot while my mind swirled with the what-ifs.

I called the specialist and the soonest appointment was TWO WEEKS AWAY. I freaked. They said I could call every day for a cancellation and I did just that. I got in just 5 days later. They did another extensive scan but said the heart issues/defect was actually pretty severe and they wanted to send me to a pediatric cardiologist THAT DAY. They also did an amnio – where they draw out amniotic fluid to test for other genetic issues. (Luckily this was not genetic). I went to lunch with my mom and then headed to the pediatric cardiologist.

They determined the baby had a congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot with Absent Pulmonary Valve Syndrome. The doctor drew a pretty detailed picture that helped us understand that there were essentially 5 different issues all going on at the same time. I left defeated. I didn’t know why this was happening to us or to our baby. During the scan, the technician was able to catch this adorable ultrasound picture!

What had been a seemingly normal pregnancy had quickly turned to panic and heart ache. We were told he would need surgery pretty soon after birth and started seeing the specialist every other week. At an appointment in early February some issues popped up with his lungs. This caused the doctors to be very concerned and they wanted us to go to the Childrens Hospital in Cincinnati, OH as soon as possible because there was a high chance that the baby would need in utero surgery. SAY WHAT? Again, I lost it. But our family and friends rallied around us. We left two days later and spent our first married Valentines Day in a hotel room with my parents… Fun, right? All tests pointed to that not being the case and we were able to come back home.

Through the whole pregnancy and diagnosis, my husbands support was unwavering. He took every chance he could to make sure I was feeling okay and to encourage me. I cannot say enough about how invaluable his support has been through everything.

Soon enough it was time to have “Baby Murphy” as we were affectionately calling him. We did not want to release the name because we had been SO public with the journey of his diagnosis that we wanted something private that only *we* knew. I was induced at 38 weeks because with the CHD there was a higher risk of still birth and my doctors were trying to give him as much of a fighting chance as possible. May 9, 2013 – Sawyer was born via c-section. I was not able to hold him because he needed immediate attention. The pediatric cardiologist came in to do an ultrasound of his heart and determined that his case was indeed on the terrible side of things. They transported him to Egleston later that day. I was release May 10 so I could go and be with him, on strict orders to use a wheelchair to get around.

Over the course of the next 18 days we experienced many ups and downs, but a lot more downs than ups. Sawyer required surgery and as much as they tried to help him avoid it to get bigger and stronger they just could not any more. On May 22 Sawyer had his first open heart surgery at just 13 days old. Both my husband and I were able to hold him after BEGGING before they took him for surgery.


Surgery was unfortunately unsuccessful. We got the after-surgery report that he had struggled to come off bypass and it would be a while before we could see him. We decided to grab a bite to eat because it had been a long day. We barely pulled in the parking lot when the hospital called us back. Sawyer had coded for 4 minutes and they had to put him on the ECMO machine. My heart broke in to a million pieces because I knew exactly what this meant. You see, when we first arrived at the hospital Sawyer was in a bed next to a baby girl on ECMO. She passed away the next day. They tried to assure me that ECMO was not the end, but my momma heart knew it was. The next 5 days were spent with our baby on life support and several more open heart surgeries to control bleeding and other issues.

Ultimately on May 27, 2013 my husband and I had to make the terrible decision to take our baby off of life support. The 18 days we had with Sawyer were not enough and I will always want more time. I miss him every day but I am thankful for the time we shared with him – both the 9 months I carried him and the 18 days by his side here on Earth. He is continually remembered by our family and we do a lot of things in his honor to keep his memory alive. My husband and I were forever changed by losing our first baby boy, but many of those ways are positive. We live to find the good in every day and choose to cherish the little things. We do a lot of things to honor his memory and I am excited to share the ways we choose to remember him



Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous; the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go.”

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  1. Katie Castro


  2. Angela ewers

    I’m so sorry for the pain and heartache you all have been through. But I know that Sawyer’s story has touched many people and will continue to do so. Hugs sweet friend!

  3. Debby Tingle

    Sawyer will always have a place in my heart. The faith ypu and Josh continue to live out is an honor to his life and a witness to the great God we serve. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Sawyer will forever be in my memory sweet Ashlyn … that is, until I unite with him forever in eternity!!❤

  5. Oh, Momma! Thank you for sharing your story! One thing that I hold on to is that our babies only know love! Both the love that you and his Daddy gave him over pregnancy and his all-too-short life, and now in Heaven. I’m so sorry you’re in this “club,” but I’m thankful we’ve connected. Much love!

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