Nine years ago, my son Jonathan’s heart mysteriously stopped in utero — two hours prior to a scheduled c-section that would have brought him out after 33 weeks. Next came hours of induced labor so that my wife could produce a lifeless child. I cannot describe the anxiety, emotional pain, and physical horror.
And then there was the question: what about the corpse? Fortunately for us, our hospital’s nurses were trained to deal with infant death. They washed the baby, wrapped him in a blanket and put a little cotton cap on his head, just as they would have done if he had been born alive. They then recommended that we spend as much time with him as we wanted.
My wife held Jonathan for a long while. I hesitated to do so. At the urging of the nurses and my wife, I summoned the courage to cradle Jonathan’s body, long enough to get a good look at his face and to muse how much he looked like his brother — then say goodbye. I am glad that my love for him overcame my fear of the dead.
We, like the Santorums, took a photograph of the baby — lying, as if asleep, in my wife’s arms. We have a framed copy in our bedroom. It’s beautiful.