The soul never ends, so we will not let the story of their existence.
Article in Honor of The Birth Day of Wombsister Natalie Pattersons son Reid
"To be witnessed and honored, to be remembered & celebrated, this is how we live forever"
Motherhood doesn't end when a babies life does, we are here to see, feel and honor you through this realm of Mothering your angel babies, no matter what.
We are not afraid of you, we are not afraid of your grief, your pain, your sorrows, your disappointments and hellish reminders of the hardest times of your life, we are not afraid to stand beside you, to witness, reflect and honor, while we hold ritualistic space for all that which you have endured, experienced & prevailed through. We are not afraid to honor your children, to love your children, even the ones who do not have the honor to physically walk with us upon this earth- This is the way we will ALWAYS continue to walk with you, with their souls, with your truth. We LOVE you Sacred Wombsister of Loss.
Please take this moment to read, watch, witness and honor the sacred womb work and motherhood of Wombsister Natalie and her beautiful Son that we will eternally honor!
Reid's mom Natalie found at their 19 week sonogram that Reid's diaphragm was abnormal. It hadn't formed properly and he was diagnosed with a condition called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. We knew he would have poor odds, but the hospital was confident his case was more on the moderate side, not severe.
Natalie decided to induce when she reached full term as it was important for the entire team for her baby to be well monitored and well anticipated. It was a good choice for their family and her OBGYN was phenomenal. Her labor was ideal. Not overly long for a first time mom. They had a very slow approach. She reached full dilation within 24 hours.
She pushed for about two hours and Reid was not descending at all. Her OBGYN recommended csection at that time, because this is not the baby you want to WAIT until he's in distress to cut. So we peacefully sent Natalie to the OR with hopeful hearts.
When separated from her support team, Natalie panicked. Everything went downhill quickly from there. She was forcefully put under general anesthesia. Reid was born and immediately intubated and put in a medical coma. Natalie was in extreme pain in recovery and her one hour recovery in post op turned into four as they worked to get it under control. The hospital graciously let me come in when Natalie was able to finally meet Reid about five hours after birth. We even interrupted an ECHO test. They were very accommodating.
He received his first surgery about 24 hours of life. It was the first step in about a 12 - different - surgery process. Surgery went well. Recovery did not. He deteriorated quickly, developed seizures, a brain bleed and between day three and four of life was no longer showing brain activity. The choice was made at day four to remove him from life support as his suffering was too great and odds at life estimated at less than 1%. They were only at 10% prior to the first surgery.
So yes, today is Reid's birthday. Natalie planned a party for him, but here in IL we are restricted to groups less than ten again as of yesterday. She had a miscarraige earlier this year as well as prior to Reid's pregnancy.
“LIFE AS A BEREAVED MOTHER IS A DAILY BATTLE OF GUILT, FEAR, CONFUSION AND ANGER. IT'S WANTING TO USE THE PASSIONATE LOVE I HAVE FOR HIM TO KEEP HIS MEMORY ALIVE, TO FIGHT FOR A CURE OR PREVENTION RESEARCH TO MAKE SURE THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN TO OTHER CHILDREN, MOTHERS AND FATHERS. IT'S TRYING YOUR HARDEST TO SUPPORT THOSE GOING THROUGH THIS PAIN THAT YOU NOW KNOW ALL TOO WELL. YET, AT THE SAME TIME, IT'S THE WEIGHT OF YOUR EMPTY, CHILDLESS ARMS THAT CRASHES INTO YOU FORCING YOU BACK INTO YOUR HARSH REALITY. IT'S WANTING YOUR PAIN TO END AND WANTING TO BE WITH YOUR CHILD, WHEREVER THEY MAY BE.”
-Natalie Patterson, Reid’s Mother
Captured & Written by Photographer/Videographer Brittney Hogue
My first email from Natalie came through when she was about 19 weeks pregnant. She said she had never thought about a birth photographer, but after seeing the photos and watching the films on my website— she was beyond moved. She needed this. A week later, we learned of Reid’s diagnosis and throughout Natalie’s pregnancy, Reid’s chance at survival was debated. But we went into the birth optimistic and ready to meet this child.
I met Reid in a hallway. He was barely distinguishable under the tubes and tape and blankets. He was already sedated for his safety, intubated for his survival. The only clear feature I could really see in those 30 seconds given to us, was his perfectly formed little nose peeping out from under his eye mask. The neonatologist barely paused in the onslaught of informed consents. “We only have about 30 seconds to stop, dad.” Reid was quickly pushed through the hallways of the hospital, neonatologist and Ryan following behind. Ryan got to touch Reid’s hand. It was all you could touch.
We rounded the corner to the secured doors of the NICU and despite being told for hours I would be able to accompany Ryan even into the NICU at time of birth, the neonatalogist took that from us. Reid was most important, there wasn’t time to question the decision. I met Ryan’s eyes for the briefest of moments as the secured doors powered opened with a click and swoosh of hydrolic pressure. He was tired. He was terrified. He seemed in that moment… like a shadow of a person.
I waited in the NICU waiting room for two hours. Natalie’s sister joined me at some point and we together waited for updates on Natalie’s condition. She was in recovery for much, much longer than other moms. Her adrenaline was so strong, she kept blowing through every pain medication they pushed into her. She hadn’t seen her husband. She hadn’t seen her baby. And due to being under general anesthesia, she wasn’t allowed to have anyone in recovery with her but her nurse. We waited.
Natalie came down a hallway in a hospital bed. I don’t remember it for sure, but I feel like we ran to meet her. This was the first moment Natalie and Ryan had spoken or seen each other in hours. Several hours. And none of us— Natalie, Ryan, Alli, myself— had anything to say. We all felt the same things in those moments.
Ryan, Natalie, the nurse and I proceeded through the doors of NICU. We walked past a neighborhood and turned into Airplane. How can these teal walls feel cheery and sterile at the same time? It’s quiet in NICU. Drop a dime on the floor and it echos quiet. There’s just beeps and whirls of medical equipment, the sound of a chair rolling. Babies don’t cry here. They are too weak or too small to do so.
We rounded a tight corner into room 314. It was L shaped and not exactly ideal for a hospital bed to fit in. A team of people was present performing an ECHO. I tried not to look at Reid before Natalie could. It just felt so wrong that a dozen people got to see him first. Family, nurses, neonatologists, radiologists, a housekeeper in the hallway shouting, “Praise Jesus, heal this child!” as we wheeled past her. Natalie deserved this small gift, to in the tiniest of ways, be the first to see him.
Natalie came alive in this moment. You have to understand where she was physically at this point. After 24+ hours of no sleep, being forced under general anesthesia, being isolated from any one she knew for hours as her body continuously broke through every pain medication. She screamed in agony for a fundal massage. She was hazy. She was so full of analgesics, I’m not sure how she formed any memories of this beyond a completely soul crushing need to meet her son.
I watched Natalie’s biologically driven need to touch her child emanate from her. Though she was just a couple of hours post-op from an abdominal surgery, she grabbed onto the rails of her bed and pushed herself up, hurling over the side to get to him. It was swift and urgent. I was surprised at how quickly she moved. If she had to walk in that moment to see him, I think she could have.
THE ROOM WAS QUIET. THE ONLY SOUNDS WERE THAT OF REID’S MACHINES PUSHING AIR INTO HIM, MEDICATION INTO HIM, FLUID INTO HIM… AND THE SOUNDS OF NATALIE’S SOBS FIGHTING THEIR WAY OUT OF HER EXHAUSTED BODY.
I cannot imagine this moment for them. This grief, this hope, this joy, this hardship. The first minutes of finally being together. Ten minutes time in a life that only lasted four days.
In this moment, we did not understand, any of us, how frail Reid really was. My heart was just bursting with every human emotion I have ever experienced all at once. It wasn’t my story. Not even in the slightest. But being a part of this changes something in you. You’re not the same person once you have walked this intimately in a family’s journey with them.
Before Natalie was ready to, she was required to leave. A fundal massage was needed and due to her uncontrolled pain, it couldn’t happen in NICU. She would overstimulate her baby and others in the neighborhood. I thought my heart had broken already, but when I saw a mother separated from her child with no sure guarantee of ever seeing him alive again… well, it broke even more.
She left her hand on his head as the nurse started to pull her away. It felt like in that moment she was able to break through the level of anesthesia and medications pumped into her… long enough to understand the full magnitude and gravity of the last hours of her life.
A day before she was laboring with smiles and laughter and happiness and excitement and positivity. Her son was safe in her womb, at least much safer than in this moment. I cannot imagine what the full weight of the world could feel like. But I know in this minute of time, of all of the people in the entire universe, Natalie felt every ounce of it.
This is the Son of our Wombsister Natalie.
SAY HIS NAME: Reid Patterson | May they be in our hearts, souls and minds always
Written and Captured by Brittney Hogue
We took these portraits to commemorate how Reid has touched her life and left the mark of his own soul on her body to carry with her.
And newborn photos "like other moms have"
And family photos over the summer at about six months.❤️