This is a very brief account of events leading up to Colin's life and subsequent death only two months later. Please know that I could write volumes of details, but many of you already know many of the details, and those of you who do not...well, you can always ask if you are curious.
My wife and I found out that she was pregnant on Mother's day of 2010. We were both very excited and very scared at the same time. The thought of a second child did what I am sure it does to lots of people…makes you wonder about everything…how will my daughter react to a new baby…am I ready for this all over again…well, there goes my sleep…and the list goes on and on. None-the-less, we were still excited. Fast-forward about 4 or 5 months during one of the many, and I mean many, check-ups and sonograms…we find out that our baby may not have a kidney. So we go for more regular check-ups and sonograms and eventually find out that even if our child has only one kidney, he will be fine. Whew! (We later found out he had two healthy kidneys)
Fast-forward again to the day of his birth. It was January 2, 2011 at just past 7 p.m. My wife went into labor just 2 hours before, and hard labor lasted only about 45 minutes. It was a whirlwind. Colin Emanuel Stuart was born that day, a beautiful little boy. Now we had one of each and were very happy to see all the new things a boy would bring. It made a new baby even more fun since we had no idea how to raise a son. We were starting to get the hang of raising a daughter, but a boy would bring new challenges. Now…STOP…WAIT…they rushed Colin to NICU because, as we found out later, the placenta tore, the cord was around his neck, and his birth weight was very low…a mere 4 lbs, 13 oz. NICU was a tough experience to live with, but after only four days, little Colin came home.
At home, Colin was a great baby, and all the fears and trepidation left when the most important thing (at least to me) happened…his big sister loved him immediately. She was so gentle and sweet and always made sure to kiss his little head before naps and bedtime. Other than the normal sleep deprivation and occasionally getting peed on by the little guy, life was great. My wife nursed him and pumped when she had to so I could feed him now and again. After a few weeks, the little guy was over 5 pounds. A few more weeks and he was closer to 7, a month later, he was a healthy and chunky 8 pounds and some change. He started to get those chubby baby cheeks. We were in the clear, and Colin was going to be a normal, healthy boy.
This abbreviated version of the story then changes tone….quickly! My wife took Colin to the doctor the morning of March 1, 2011. He was just going for his check-up and vaccinations. It was routine at this point. They came home, my wife called, and he was grumpy and fussy from the shots. Finally Colin settled down and went to sleep. Not long after, I picked my daughter up from day care and we went home to be a family…just like every other family…just like every other day. Normal things happened, dinner, tubby time for the kids, reading stories to my daughter before bed, etc. Life was blissfully boring. When Colin wouldn't settle down for sleep, I took him downstairs so my wife could get some rest. It was my night for the early shift, and she would take over for the middle of the night feeding. The next night we would switch. Again, it was all normally routine stuff. Colin laid down on my chest that night and we snuggled up together for a few brief moments. He stopped moving, I got up and he fell limp and was no longer breathing. I screamed in a panic for my wife. She called 911, did the CPR, rode in the ambulance to the hospital as I talked to the police and held my daughter tightly. Then I get the call…it was 12:11 in the morning of March 2, 2011…Colin is dead.
In the hours, days, weeks, and now a few months that have followed, I (and my family) have been on an emotional roller coaster. It took 8 weeks for the medical examiner's office to give us an official cause of death. It was ruled SIDS. The news was bittersweet since we now knew that there was nothing we could have done or not have done to save his little life. We were not horrible parents. The fact that he died on my chest that horrible night made me feel like I contributed somehow to his death. Now I could breath again knowing I did not. Life, at least for me, took a turn toward "better" a little after that. There was some peace in knowing that it just happened, he did not suffer, and for all eternity, our Colin would be perfect. Today is May 10, 2011 and I am crying as I write this, but the world should know the all too short life of a truly perfect soul…Colin Emanuel Stuart.
I will end this story with a message of hope. Colin was physically alive for only two months, but if the number of people who attended his funeral mass is any indication, he will live forever in the hearts, minds, and souls of a great many people forever, especially his Daddy, Mommy, and Big Sister!
I love you and miss you, son.