Monday, December 26, 2011

Tyler Andrew

I have some tragic news to share. I have gone back and forth with the best way to do this for days now. I am absolutely NOT one of those people who feels the need to share personal information about themselves with everyone online. I don't post my whole life on Facebook, and especially since I became a writer, I make sure to always keep my personal life separate from my professional. But I've also developed friendships and connections with so many of you that the line became blurred. Through emails and private conversations, many of you have come to know me. And I've come to know many of you. And many of you knew I was pregnant. So, I want to share my news with you now.

Tyler Andrew Hildenbrand was born December 15 at 10am. When they pulled him out he wasn't breathing. They managed to resuscitate him after several long minutes and hurried him off to the NICU while they finished with me. Once I was in recovery (a small area resembling an emergency room cubby where you sit and let the drugs wear off until you can feel your body again) the doctor came down and explained the results of the tests they'd already done as a result of his struggle to breathe and lack of response after they'd brought him back.

Tyler was in heart failure. His heart was enlarged on both sides and so were the walls around his heart. As a result, it also wasn't pumping or squeezing correctly and he was unable to provide enough blood flow or oxygen to the rest of his organs. There was nothing to do but wait and see if he somehow stregnthened on his own. If he stabilized we were told he might be a candidate for a transplant or maybe a bypass procedure farther down the road but for now there was nothing they could do.

The next morning Tyler was transferred to the Children's Hospital at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. The hospital here disharged me, and my husband and I drove up. For the next four days we stayed with Tyler.

Tests were done and the staff there was amazing and devoted and honestly made me feel as comforted as possible in a situation like this. I could tell they really cared about Tyler and about us. Some of them became friends for life for me during those few days. But despite everything Tyler worsened. His heart just couldn't keep up. His organs began to shut down because they couldn't get enough blood. I won't go into much detail because I know it's hard to hear for some. Monday night we got the results from an EEG and learned there was little or no brain activity anymore.

Tyler passed away on Tuesday, December 20th at 3:45am. Both me and my husband were with him and he felt no pain.

It was both the worst and the best five days of my entire life. I am so lucky we got that time. We are grateful for every single day we got to spend holding him and talking to him. And we know he's in Heaven now, and that we will see him again. And that when we do meet again, he will be himself. He will be able to talk to me and walk and run and show me his life there. And I find myself impatient for that day.

I still can't believe this happened. We had no idea anything was wrong. All of the ultrasounds and tests, etc always looked normal. He appeared to be an active, healthy baby for my entire pregnancy. He just couldn't seem to handle being out in the world.

I've posted a picture below because the mother in me still wants to show him off. I know seeing the breathing tube, etc is scary but I don't even see that anymore. I only see him and he's gorgeous.

Here's the chair we sat in with him. They would tape the tubes and lines to our arms and the pillow so they wouldn't pull or hang while we sat. I'm staring up at the monitor that read out his vitals.

Tyler Andrew. One day old.

One of the main reasons I posted this was to avoid or head off all the questions that are starting to come in about 'how I'm feeling' or 'how the baby's doing'. I have no problem talking about him, or our ordeal for those five days. In fact, it's all I want to do because it makes him more real or seem closer somehow, now that he's gone, but I don't like having to break the news over and over so this post seemed the best way to get it out there to everyone at once and not have to re-tell the story over and over. Or to have to say the words "My baby died" even one more time. It's hard even when it's only written.

Also, I want to say a few thank-you's publicly. To Angeline Kace and Jennifer Sommersby- the best, most supportive long-distance friends I'll ever have. Your support is so appreciated.

And to the NICU staff at UVA Children's Hospital: Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for the amount of caring and support you showed to me and my husband. You held our hand and treated us like family and we never felt alone because of you. Kara, Amelia, and Naomi - you three especially made us feel safe at a time when we should've felt terrified and lonely. Thank you for taking care of Tyler like he was your own. I will never, ever forget you. And Naomi, I am convinced it was Jesus himself who sent you to us for that night. We could not have done it without you. My  memories of Tyler will always include the three of you, along with so many others there. Thank you for everything. You are all amazing.


  1. I have no idea where to begin, Heather. I am so, so sorry to see this. No words. My thoughts are with your family in your time of grief.

  2. Nothing I say will express my thoughts or feelings right now. I am so sorry for your loss. I agree that Tyler is in Heaven and he's having a great time. One day, you WILL see him again...and he will be perfect.

    I understand what you mean about people asking you questions and having to repeat the same sad news over and over. I have been there, though nothing near what you endured. My baby's heart stopped beating long before he was to be born. It was hard, though, when everyone asked how the baby was growing, etc. I wound up quitting my job, just so I didn't have to tell the regular customers who came in. I think this post will help you tremendously...especially since most of your new-found friends are from FB.

    I pray that God comforts and strengthens you, your husband, and the rest of your family. I hope this experience draws you closer to Him, because He is the one who helped me through everything hard in my life. He is the one helping me get through Alyssa's recovery after being hit by a car. His love is amazing.

    If there is anything I can ever do for you, please let me know.

  3. Heather, I can only say simply "I'm sorry."

  4. Heather,
    May God be with you and your family. Tyler is smiling down on you and your husband waiting for the day when the three of you will be reunited.

    May God continue to heal you and your husband in this time of grieving. No words can ever express what you are going through but lean on your family and friends they are a great support for you.

    God be with you Heather and if you need anyone I am always here.

  5. I'm so sorry for your loss, Heather… Tyler is and will always be a gorgeous baby boy. My thoughts go to you and your family.

  6. I am so sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  7. Heather,
    I'm so very sorry. You and your husband are in my thoughts & prayers. Words seem empty so just know I am thinking of you. If you need anything I am here.

    ~Tiffany King

  8. Thanks everyone. Your support means a lot. Normally I am the type to hermit myself away until a tough situation passes. I don't normally like to show my emotions or share them but this situation has been different. I am happy to lean on a supporting arm and it has been most helpful to hear words of encouragement from friends. And even though we've never met in person, I consider all of you a friend. Thank you for being here.

  9. I am so very sorry..thoughts and prayers with you all...

  10. Oh Heather, I am so so sorry. My prayers are with you. Hugs

  11. From one mother to another, I want to tell you how heart broken I am for you. God bless you during this unspeakably difficult time... I will be praying for God given peace over you and your husband.

  12. Heather, I am so sorry for your immense loss. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  13. Heather you and all your family will be in my prayers. Hold to God, and know your son is safe and embraced in his loving arms right now and you all will see each other again. Know that you are not alone. God Bless!

  14. So I've been sitting here for the past 5 minutes figuring out how to type what I'm feeling for you, your husband, and your family.
    I feel honored that you would share this with all of us, though I am now crying at work & people are staring, lol. (sorry, had to throw some humor in there, it's what I do). You are such an amazingly strong woman to be able to go thru something like this & be able to have the mind set that you do. I'm so completely sorry for your loss, and I hope that with time whatever pain you are feeling will ease. Rememerb, that as corny as it sounds, everything happens in life for a reason. Might now agree or understand, but it does.
    <3, Jess

  15. We've never spoken but I'm friends with Jess (comment above) and Angeline Kace. I hijacked a conversation on Twitter where they were admiring your strength of heart.

    I wanted to take a moment to say that while my heart hurts for you and your family, I absolutely see why Jess and Angeline respect you so much!! I am truly sorry for your loss and I also believe things happen for a reason - even if we don't always understand what those reasons are.

    May your little angel rest in peace!
    Warmest regards,
    Isalys / Book ♥ Soulmates

  16. Jess and Isalys - and everyone else -
    thank you so much for the comments left. Your support and encouragement mean a lot. My husband and I read every comment left here and we are comforted by your words. We know we'll see Tyler again in heaven, and we won't have to ever worry about being separated again. It's still unbearably sad to have to live this lifetime without him but we are glad we have hope for a future with him. And I'm lucky to have some amazing blogger and reader friends to support me. Thank you!

  17. Heather,
    I, like everyone else here, am so truly sorry.
    And dang it if that doesn't sound lame and trite.
    What I can tell you is that your son was gorgeous.
    You will all be in my thoughts and prayers.

  18. I am so sorry for your loss. I had a little boy who passed away. He was 2 1/2 months old and in the hospital the whole time. If you need anyone to talk to, feel free to e-mail me:

    I'm thinking of you and praying for you and your family.

  19. There are no words that can truly comfort a grieving heart, but I do know that a strong community of friends, old and new, can help ease the long-term sting of loss.

    Heather, we have only conversed through email before, but I want you to know that you have people everywhere thinking of you and your family in this time of loss. My prayers will be with you and your family. God bless you, your family, and your son.

    -Amy Eye

  20. Oh my gosh, I'm so late to reading this. And I posted the other day about how excited I was for you. I am so deeply sorry for that. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for sharing your beautiful little boy with us. Know that he is indeed one of Heaven's angels. Sending lots of love your way!!

    -- Nealy

  21. I am so, so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family for healing and comfort.

  22. there will never be enough words in the world in any language for these things to be expressed, so I can only say Dear sweet baby Jesus, I am so sorry, and I will continually keep you in my prayers, and he is a beautiful baby boy!! I am so proud for you to be able to meet him and hold him & share all your love! I am deeply, heart-felt, completely so sorry for you to lose him.

  23. I am really not very good with words but I wanted to tell you that I am so sorry for your loss. I admire the strength it took to post about this. I think you are amazing!

  24. Heather, I know we haven't met yet,but I just wanted to extend my condolences. I can't imagine what you must be going through. I know my words are a drop in the bucket, but just know that I am thinking of you.

  25. (Heather linked to this in her current newsletter since her new book, 'Whisper' pertains to it)

    So sorry for your loss, Heather - I hope time has eased your pain...