Matthew: Big Brother And Guardian Angel To Our Baby, Susan

My wife Angela and I are expecting our fourth child in December.

This came as quite a shock to both of us when we found out in April. I was speaking at an event in Toronto and traveled down to our NY home to get the house ready for our summer retreat.

Angela sent me a text message with a photo of a (positive) pregnancy test with the caption “OMG! I’m pregnant.”
Hmm…
I thought to myself ‘Nobody in their right mind would just send a text message for such a huge announcement. This is a joke.’
So I replied to Angela and said the same.

I went on to tell her if it was true she would have called me, not sent a text message.
My cell phone rang.
She was dead serious.

Alrighty then…

We both were like: “Um….how old are you? How old am I?” What the h–l???
For the record, I’m 46 and Angela is 44 yrs old.

Then we laughed and came to the same conclusion:
The ONE thing we have a knack for is raising great kids.

Madeline (13) Laura (9) and Paige (8) are the kind of kids you send over to a friends house and never worry they are going to embarrass you. They always put others first and are mature well beyond their years.
Sure they fight, argue and….. don’t even get me started on the drama ….oh the drama of three girls.
But we always say: Better they act like drama queens inside the house and act like angels outside the house – then the other way around.

Second, Angela and I are not exactly from Brady Bunch type homes.
My mom raised eight kids by herself, me being the youngest.
I wasn’t around when my older siblings were kids but I know what it was like in the 1970’s.
Food stamps were how we paid for groceries and mom worked all day long, five days a week.

I won’t speak for Angela but rest assured you would not be envious of her childhood years.

So when we sit down for dinner each night, or go to Kings Island for the day, or even do something simple like take a drive for ice cream – Angela and I look at each other and know we are changing a generation of Crowley’s by how we are raising our kids.
Both parents involved and active in our kids’ lives.

Are we perfect?
Heck no.
As Tony Robbins says: “Show me a family that is not dysfunctional and I’ll show you a family that is lying.”

So when we found out a fourth child was on the way we said:”God wants us to bring another child into our growing family. So be it. We will love this child as much as the other kids and our three girls will love all over the baby.”
So what if we both have our AARP card before the kid reaches kindergarten?

Then the complications began.

Angela’s age automatically places her in a high risk category, so we had no delusions of grandeur that this would be a breeze of a pregnancy.

Without going into all of the personal details, here’s the high level view of what’s been happening.

In mid-June we traveled back to our summer home in Springville, NY as we have for the past few years.

Mom, dad, kids, two cats and two dogs.

On my birthday, June 29th Angela and I went to dinner, then back home to sit on the porch as we do each night during the summer. Angela was having complications and went to bed early.

The next day, the situation escalated and we went to the emergency room to have her checked out.
They performed a sonogram, along with a series of others tests to make sure mother and baby were doing fine.
And they were.
At that particular time.

It was also during this ER visit, we found out we are having ANOTHER girl.
Of course, the health of the baby is first and foremost but can we put that aside for just one second?
Four girls.
Can you believe that?

There aren’t enough bathrooms and mirrors in our home now!
What are we going to do with four girls?
Angela had a good laugh, along with the nurses – as they all felt sorry for me in unison.

We were discharged and sent home with a diagnosis of “We don’t know what’s wrong, or why this is happening but the baby is fine.”
The ER doctor said to call if we had further problems.
Four hours later we did.
And it was worse.

We called the ER and they said there was nothing further they can do with the limited resources they have, so they sent us to Mercy Hospital, which has a delivery room.
A delivery room?
That’s not where we want to be 18 weeks along in our pregnancy.

Dateline: April 2000

To fully understand our state of mind, you need a bit of the back story to our journey.

In April 2000, Angela was 19 weeks pregnant with our first child, a boy.

We were over-the-moon excited about our first child.
Then the same complications I’ve been describing were happening to Angela but they were relentless and involved the loss of amniotic fluid to the baby.

At 19 weeks, Angela was admitted to the hospital and a forced-delivery was implemented due to the loss of amniotic fluid. I remember the event like it happened yesterday. One minute we were seeing a sonogram to make sure the baby was doing fine. The next minute we are listening as the doctor tells us he is sorry but the baby will not make it full term.

We were crushed.

We waited.

Three days went by as Angela lay in a hospital bed, me sitting by her side.
Few words were spoken.
The room was dark, we felt so alone – almost like we were shut off to the outside world.

On April 19, 2000 Matthew Crowley was born.
Angela and I held him, talked to him and felt his heart beat through the thin sheet he was wrapped in.
A priest was on hand to baptize him and ……
give him his last rights.

Matthew could only hang on for a few hours.
His heart stopped beating and we had to give him back to the nurses.
Our baby boy’s death certificate says:
Matthew Crowley
April 19, 2000- April 20, 2000

The single hardest day of our life had just arrived. It felt like someone came into the room, punched us in the stomach. And left us there.
The nurse treated Angela and said we were free to go.

Free to go?
Go where?
Where do you go from here?

It was 2am and we were on our way back home.
The same road we took for our sonogram 72 hours earlier, was the same dark corridor we were on, except this time Angela was without baby.

We learned a valuable lesson that night and it was this:
The world keeps spinning.

Bill collectors keep calling.
People still cut you off in traffic.
The Joneses still care only about keeping up with themselves.

We got a few hours sleep and then – Boom! We were thrown right back into the world again. We were supposed to be normal and functioning people.
We were angry but resolute.
Dejected, yet empowered to move forward.
Determined to have a healthy baby.

In July, just a few months later – Angela was pregnant again.
We were happy.
We were scared.
We were anxious.

But our faith kept everything in tact for us.
God will see this baby through till the end. Matthew did not die in vain.

On March 18, 2001 Madeline Marie Crowley was born, right on her due date.
A healthy, bouncing baby girl!

Then came Laura in 2004 and Paige in 2005.
We were baby-making machines!

None of our three girls would be here today, if not for Matthew.
Angela and I hold onto the thought that Matthew is the guardian angel for our three girls. He gave his life so they could have theirs.

Sometimes you have to remove yourself many years from adversity to see why it happened and how it blesses you each and every day.

Fast forward to June 30, 2014.

After the ER visit, we were in Mercy Hospital. It was 11pm and Angela was sitting in the same type of dark delivery room we were in with Matthew.
Doctors were worried. We were worried.
Angela and I thought this was it.
We’re delivering another baby around the same 20 week time frame.

But…..this girl just isn’t ready.

Doctors checked Angela inside and out (and I do mean inside and out) for hours.
Still no diagnosis, or explanation as to what is happening and why.

But….and this is a big difference of what happened with Matthew…….amniotic fluid is still in tact and so is the baby.
Her heartbeat is 160 and robust.

We’ve since been to ANOTHER emergency room.
This visit was just two nights ago here in Cincinnati.
We had to cut our summer vacation short, so Angela could be close to her primary doctor.

Two nights ago the same “We think we’re losing our baby” feeling came over us.

I’m not sure what’s worse?
The physical pain, or the mental torture.

Angela can feel the baby doing flips and having the time of her life, inside. If she were to lose this baby, it would be all she can handle to recover mentally.
My wife is the most mentally tough person I’ve ever met.
But this would crush her because she feels this baby 24/7 and talks with her all the time.

Our girls are also emotionally invested in this pregnancy.
They are waiting patiently for the arrival of their baby sister in December.
How do we tell them she’s gone?
How do we explain their baby sister won’t be here?

It’s difficult enough keeping them calm each time we leave late at night for the emergency room.
It would take all we have to tell them the devastating news.

Two nights ago the doctors did another sonogram.

The baby is doing fine.
Her heartbeat is strong but something is causing all of this other ‘stuff’ and nobody can tell us why.
The doctor put Angela on indefinite bed rest and told me to suck it up and put my ‘Mr. Mom’ outfit on;)
Done deal.

So we wait.

We ask for your prayers that our unborn baby makes it far enough along to give her a fighting chance to be part of the Crowley’s of Ohio.
What a Christmas present it will be when she arrives!

A few months ago Angela and I were asking: What the heck are we going to do with a baby at our age?
Now we’re begging: Please God, get this baby to us and keep her healthy.

We’ve decided on a name.
Susan Catherine Crowley
Named after my two sisters.

Our girls speak to Susan every day, while they rub Angela’s stomach.

You know who else is speaking to Susan?
Watching over her, making sure she doesn’t decide to arrive before it’s time…..
Her older brother Matthew, that’s who.

Matthew would’ve been 14 years old this September but he’s doing far more important work right now.
Keeping his little sister healthy.

 

27 comments
  1. What a touching and moving story. I had tears in my eyes, reading about the pain of having lost Matthew and the uncertainty you are going through right now about Susan. Definitely I will pray for Susan everyday. I know she will make it by the grace of God. God bless you, your wife, children and all your loved ones.

  2. Beautiful – thank you for sharing such a heartfelt moment in your lives. It made me remember the good in humanity, that thought tends fall by the wayside amidst all the day to day “living.”

  3. Everyday is saturday…….! This child too will be special in your lives,
    My prayers and energy are with you, your wife, children and your unborn child.
    Know that …..

  4. Sam,
    A beautiful story of love. When I saw Susan Catherine I knew exactly who this lovely child is being named for. Along with Matthew watching you have your awesome mom. I am sure they are there together watching all of you. Your mother and all she did simply amazes/amazed me. I will be praying for you and your family. I know for certain that Catherine Crowley of heaven is proud of the man and father you have become.

  5. Sam my prayers are with you and Angela and the baby. Susan will pull through. She has a huge team supporting her and she wants to part of your family! With much love, prayers and support. Hugs all around too – that I know helps alot 🙂

  6. Sam and Angela,
    I read this today with tears in my eyes. I too went through the lose of a child many years ago.
    My marriage was in shambles and I was put on bed rest for a few days. After about four days I asked if I could take a ride up to my folks and the doc said “ok, but no bumpy roads!” We went and later that afternoon came home. I went back to bed and around 7is got up to go to the bathroom. Right there I lost my baby. I had been praying to God to let this baby live but if he decided that he needed this child more than I did, just give me the strength to get through this.
    I did and two years later, now divorced, and apprehensive on getting married again, found out that I was pregnant. Now I am divorced raising my son alone, as his father was not very helpful, but had a good full-time job. Many people in position would probably had an abortion, but that was never in my mind. I had to put my “big girl” pants on and face whomever. Now I just prayed that is little miracle inside me would survive. It was another fragile pregnancy, I was sick all the time. My doctor finally put me on meds so I would not get dehydated and go into labor.
    I did make it full term and had a beautiful 8lb baby girl. Amanda is now 38 and has a daughter also that will be 19 in November. Rebecca started college last year and is going to be a music teacher.
    I can not imagine the world and my life without these two beautiful talented women if I had made the decision to abort or if Amanda had not been born!
    Keep your faith, as I know you both have!

  7. What a moving experience. Thank you for sharing. I will definitely keep your entire family in my prayers.
    Your experiences are a reminder of how loving God is – an how necessary it is for us to maintain a unconditional love for the gifts that God blesses us with. Thank you again for sharing your experiences.

  8. Adversity will strike all of our lives at some point, though it is rare (thank God) to learn about a more heart-rending example than yours. Your response, resilience and maintenance of a positive attitude are inspirational, bringing to mind one of Hollywood’s all-time best “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

    I have believed for a while now that you are a man cut from a different cloth than the majority of those who are involved with internet marketing; this post certainly confirms my previous estimation of your character.

    May the blessing and presence of the Lord and Savior always be with you and your family.

  9. Thank you Sam for sharing your story, all of your stories. I will be lifting your family in prayer. I too had my last child at 44. She is 6 now and a blessing-keeps you young.
    Just take each day as it comes and enjoy every minute of it- appreciate the special people God has surrounded you with . Take refuge in God’s care and remember he knows the big picture. Blessings for Angela because I know she is an amazing woman. Your awesome Sam and God has big plans for you!

  10. Totally in tears with your story. Sorry for your loss and know that Matthew is with you every moment. I am so glad to hear things are going well and wish you a happy and healthy birth.

  11. My wife and I had a miscarriage on April 15, 2000. We had a 16 week old boy and he would have been 14 y/old also. It is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    We will pray that God watches over you and your wife and strengthen her and the child.

    Be Blessed,
    Marwan

  12. Sam, you don’t know us, but my wife Shireen and I pray each day for children all over this world. From today, we will add all unborn children to our prayers, with a special prayer for Susan Catherine and for Angela and your whole family.
    Be strong in your faith for Jesus is King.

  13. Prayers for you and your family Sam Crowley! You are one cool guy. So glad a got the chance to meet and talk with you! This is a beautifully written post. -Aimee

  14. Totally crying Sam. What an amazing man, dad and husband you are to share this and to be there to support your wife. So glad you made the choices you did that give you the freedom you have to be there Angela and taking care of your sweet girls.

  15. Sam, when I met you years ago, you opened a space for us to tell our story. I have a picture of my sister telling her story–a life changing event for her. You have shared this story so beautifully, vulnerably, and still uplifting to us all. Each day is a gift to be lived fully, as you demonstrate so well. I’m so glad you decided to make it Saturday and be with your family.

    Sam, I come from a family of 6 girls, the youngest died at 4, 60 years ago when I was 8; the oldest died 26 years ago. My mother had 12 pregnancies–6 miscarriages. She took her own life 4 years after my baby sister died in a car accident. These events are part of who I am, yet I make my life anew moment to moment. My 3 remaining older sisters are precious to me and my motivation for creating an extraordinary life.

    I am so grateful to you for sharing your story, for the gift of spending time with you briefly. Your family sounds wonderful and uses everything for growth and healing. I am seeing Susan healthy and beautiful, feisty, outspoken, uplifting lives, no matter what. God bless you, Angela and the girls.

  16. Peace Be With YOU!
    Susan Catherine… You are the most beloved lil girl..ALREADY!! I know you are working double time to increase your parents faith, knowing AND believing.. 🙂 You are already teaching them the most valuable tools and helping them to become stronger, more faith-filled people, that can bring real MAGIC, Beauty and LIGHT into this world.
    The LORD has taught us that it is done unto Us as we believe and how GRATEFUL are your Mommy & Daddy for YOU helping them to become stronger and more understanding of this as you make your way.
    We ALL know you are well and on your way, the baby of the family always has a lil more drama and requires a bit more attention FOREVER.. your Dad is proof of that (LOL) and I for ONE am so tickled that you are already sooo much like him, giving us the “Good News” and re-minding us how Magical and Special this world is… Just by being YOU!
    I will send you lots of good energy and thank GOD for your tenacity and determination… you’ll definitely need it with 4 sisters!!
    All My LOVE dearest Angel Baby Girl!! You’re doing a GREAT job and I AM PROUD of YOU!! 🙂

    Tell your Big Brother Matthew to hug my son Amadeus and re-mind him he is still a blessing!!
    Hh

  17. Prayers for keeping your youngest in healthy conditions inside and out 😉 You are not alone, Sam. Thanks for sharing your story – maybe you and Angela need to come to terms with the passing of your eldest child… the recurring symptoms and events suggest that. Have you and Angela let go yet? A visualisation exercise to help with this would be to see your baby in your arms, giving him all your love and then seeing him lift up into the air, joyful and smiling (as all angels do 🙂 disappearing into heavens, with an open heart, being thankful that you got to experience his presence in your lives even for 1 day (+ the 19 weeks before that). If you and Angela can do this – and I am sure you both know Matthew is fine where he is – then you will have settled this matter for good. The lesson would be to be able to let go as nothing is ours to keep… I encourage you to do this exercise so that you close this chapter in your life. But in order to be able to do it, you need to come to terms with it first. Letting him go does not mean forgetting about him or betraying his memory. On the contrary. You would be able to finally look at his presence in your lives (be it as short as it was) with love and acceptance for who he is and cherish his memory from a place of self-acceptance and self-worth (and not from a place of lack, regret or self-condemnation). I do wish you all as a family to be able to go through this so that you can all enjoy the presence of lovely Susan and the wonderful events that you as a family have/will have 🙂 Namaste <3

  18. Sam,
    I truly believe Susan will be the most awesome of Christmas presents! That baby will have every one of you wrapped around her tiny fingers in no time at all! You are awesome parents and she’ll be so lucky to be part of your family and FYI – enjoy your hair now 🙂 4 girls, gray or gone, just saying mine would be and I only had 2! Prayers and love for all of you.

  19. Wow, Sam. I never knew about your first son, Matthew.

    You’re an incredible pillar of strength for me. As a husband, father, business person, and friend.

    And, occasionally in taste of music! Ha ha!

    I appreciate you and your incredible family!

    What a year 2014 is becoming for the Crowley family!

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