By: Karen Christopher
On February 19, 2002, our daughter Elizabeth Christena Swader came silently into the world. I was 36 1/2 weeks and this was our first baby. We learned of her demise about 36 hours before when we went to the doctor for a routine visit and there was no heartbeat. There are no words to describe those few moments. I felt like I was living a life that only happens to “other” people. Yet somehow this was happening to us.
I found that there were two Share groups in our area. We chose to go to the group in Downers Grove. I called the number and left a message. I really didn’t know when I would get a call back. So I was surprised when it was later that day.
Pat Vaci listened to my story, asked me questions about Elizabeth and my pregnancy. She asked about how my husband was doing. She spoke to me in such a comforting way and told me everything I was feeling was ok. She told me everything was so fresh and my emotions were so raw that I was just numb. Pat told me she would send me some information and invited us to come to the upcoming Share meeting held on the first Thursday of March. In the meantime, I had discovered the message board on the Share website. I became addicited to it. I spent hours reading stories and crying. I had my box of Kleenex next to the computer. With some skepticism, Tom and I went to that Share meeting. Everyone had told us to just give it a try. For some reason, that meeting was mostly new mommies and daddies, so it was rather quiet although we all told our stories. There were so many tears that night. I couldn’t believe all these things could go wrong in a pregnancy.
When I told my husband that I was glad 2002 was over because it was a year of tragedy, he reminded me that if it hadn’t been for losing Elizabeth we never would have met all the wonderful people in Share. And he’s right. Although I would gladly trade it all to have Elizabeth back, I am very grateful for Pat Vaci and the Share group at Good Samaritan Hospital. My husband thinks that Pat is a saint because she gives so much to the grief-stricken parents she sees and talks to. I am grateful for Share’s website because when I chatted on Mondays or read the message board, I remembered I am not alone. And together we all help each other through the difficult times and are there to share in the good times. So I thank you Share for providing me with the tools and people needed to get through the darkest days. And I thank all the mommies who were there with a shoulder when I’ve needed one. You are an amazing group of ladies and your babies are truly proud of you. God Bless you all and I continue to pray that we all find peace.
About Karen Christopher
Karen Christopher and Tom Swader are mommy and daddy to Elizabeth Christena Swader who can silently into the world on February 19, 2002 due to a cord accident.
Karen submitted her story to Sharing Magazine to honor Pat Vaci as an exceptional caregiver.