Friday, September 3, 2010

Indescribable Love

Photo by Shuffield Photography

There are no words for the feeling a parent has when they meet their child for the first time. I had heard that and believed it; I just couldn't feel it. Last Saturday we felt indescribably love. At 6:38pm Chet and I were filled with a love that I will never, ever be able to write about. All the books in the world cannot describe that love.

The journey that started a week ago has broken us, strengthened us, and brought us to a place we didn't even know existed. Our son has touched people we don't even know. I think that is the most amazing gift through all of this...knowing our Holden has touched people in a way that we never will be able to.

"Why?" Not a moment goes by that we haven't asked that. In our selfish way, we can't help but want our son back. Every single moment I want my son back in my arms. But we know our Lord and Saviour has His loving arms wrapped around our son. His ways are so much mightier and higher than our ways. He has an amazing and PERFECT plan. A friend told me the day we said goodbye to Holden [for the time being], "The first time Holden opened his eyes he saw JESUS!" We, as Christians, can only imagine that unfathomable moment when we see our King! Our precious son saw his Jesus the first time he opened his eyes!! What a peace that gives me. He has only known unspeakable JOY. He will NEVER endure the hardships this earth has to offer. Yet, I will still ask why. I may always ask why. We miss Holden more than I thought possible.

I have wanted to start writing people back and telling them how meaningful their messages, cards, phone calls and notes are to us. It just overwhelms me though, and I can't start writing, because I just cry and cry. You really just don't realize how much you need to lean on people until your life is completely crushed. I wish people could understand how much we want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts for praying for us and being there for us. We really need all of the prayers every single moment. I can't express the amount of gratitude we have for our loving friends and family. The outpouring is tremendous. Today I found out that our dear friends have almost sent in enough support to the Covenant Foundation-Children's Interment Fund in Holden's honor, to help another family just like ours!

This afternoon has been very hard on me (us). We are nearing one week from the day we met our precious son face to face; the day our world was changed forever. Last Friday, I felt Holden's little kicks and movements. We went to bed without a thought that everything we had planned on, loved and known would be utterly different.

I am just going to start writing about our story this evening. I hope it will help. This is a letter I wrote to our son just hours after he went to be with his Jesus. I wrote it on my iPhone, during the deepest emotional state I have ever been in, laying in that hospital bed:

Dear Holden Newell Erwin,
Our precious son.
Little did we know that our lives would never, ever be the same because of you. On December 30, 2009, we were given the best news in the entire world; sweet son, we found out the Lord was blessing us with the gift of life, you. Mommy had a dream about being pregnant with a little boy, so she took 13 tests. All told us we were carrying your life. We were very surprised and couldn't be happier. Instantly we started dreaming about our lives with you.

Every single day we obsessed about you. Were you a girl? A boy? What would you be like? Look like? But most importantly we just prayed you would be healthy.
We prayed for guidance as parents. Baby, we knew we would need all of the Lord's help in caring for you and giving you a Godly home!

God provided us with a wonderful Christian doctor for you and your care, Dr. P. The first time we saw your precious heartbeat, ours skipped. I haven't ever been so in love. This is a feeling that no person who hasn't been a parent can understand. Your strong, beautiful heartbeat was life!

As each day passed, we grew in such love for you, our son. I can't think of one minute you were not on our minds and hearts. Each ultrasound and doctor appointment was something we treasured! You were perfect in every single way on that black and white screen.

17 weeks along was when we found out you were our SON. It was a day I'll never forget. We both wanted a son so very much, and there are just no words to describe the closeness we already felt with you.  We named you Holden Newell. Newell is your grandpa's name. He is an amazing man, and you two will love each other when you meet one day!

Your movements started out as the sweetest little flutters. I cherished every one of them. Soon you started growing and I felt stronger and bigger movements. One thing I never felt throughout our treasured 38 weeks and 5 days with you was pain though. Other mommies complained of jabs causing discomfort. You never kicked me in a way that was painful. You always have been like your daddy, mellow and kind.

We saw the most beautiful face in the world, the cutest, big hands like your daddy and seriously chunky cheeks like both of your parents during your ultrasounds.

You are already blessed with so many friends and family who love you so much! I know you had to have felt the love they poured out on you! Your baby shower was the most incredible shower we've ever seen, and that was just a small taste of the love people had for you, little Holden.

We were happier than anything that you grew each day, bigger and stronger. When we were 32 weeks along, I said many grateful prayers for bringing you as far as He did. Then you surprised us all and stayed in your womb home for another 7 weeks!

Everything we did in the past 9 months was for you and because of you; and we would do it all over again. Nothing was done in our hearts and lives without you in mind!

August 28, 2010 I felt your most amazing movements in the morning, the things I loved more than anything about my days. I also felt contractions, so your Daddy and I thought it would be good to go to the hospital in case we were to meet you face to face.

You know I cannot write about how much we love you honey, and how much we wanted to hear your strong heartbeat that day. But at 11am, we found out you had already gone to be with your Heavenly Father. You have a purpose in heaven right now; although that is something we will never understand.

The gift of your life in our lives, for 38 weeks and 5 days, changed us. We are always and forever, every single second of our lives going to be thankful for the precious moments we had to be your parents.

The Lord gave us the opportunity to love you, even if it wasn't as long as any of us dreamed.
At 6:38pm, you entered this world, the most perfect 7 lbs. 5 oz., 21 inches that ever was. We held you and loved you for 5 hours; the best and hardest hours of our lives. Your brave Daddy helped give you your first bath and dressed you, like a pro. You had many visitors who said prayers and poured their love on our family.

You have long, dark hair, your daddy's big hands and feet, your daddy's chin and cheeks, and your mommy's nose. Where did all your dark hair come from? Your know your Mommy and Daddy were bald when they were born?

You smelled so sweet. Your skin was so soft and flawless.

Even though we were given the privilege to be your parents on earth for such a short time, it was worth every second. Just to get to know you for 9 months is worth the pain of having to let you go so soon.

We know our goodbye to you was not a forever goodbye. We have the sacred promise to meet you again.

Holden Newell, you made our family. You'll always be our family. We love you with every part of our being.

One day we will get to be with you again. We will learn about your personality, your heart, and who you are. We will all be re-united as a family. Until then, we just have to pray for strength and joy as we need to realize you're in the very best Hands.

We love you!
~Daddy & Mommy

Chet wrote this letter to our son on Monday. He and I were given the opportunity to place these letters in his little casket and kiss his face once more on Monday:


I am writing you this letter so that Jesus may read it to you whenever you ask about your mother and I. We want you to know that we loved you more than we could have ever imagined we could love anyone or anything. We were so excited to see your face and hold you that Saturday afternoon. I know you never saw us, but we did get to hold you during the night. We smiled when we saw you got your mommy's nose and my cheeks, chin and hands. You also had your Uncle Joel's large feet. So big that when I dressed you for the first time, the Double T socks we brought almost didn't fit. The last nine months all we have done is imagine what you would be like, act like, and grow up to be. Fortunately for you, you will never have to suffer one ounce of pain or sad emotion here on earth like the rest of us. We cannot wait to get to Heaven and see you again, hold you, kiss you, maybe throw the ball around.
We send you to Heaven with the first outfit we ever bought you and a picture of all three of us the last time together and happy. We don't know why God decided to call you home so early, but we know that Heaven just got a little bit better. Now we just wait for our time to come see you again. Until then, please know that we love you and think about you every day.

I love you so much! Love, Daddy

Holden's Story:
I want to say that our stay at the hospital was completely directed by God. The moment we arrived at the hospital, nurse Harriett met us. She became a special part of our family that day. I'm sure many nurses are caring and go "above and beyond", but the Lord brought Harriett into our lives on Holden's birthday, because she is the best. Dr. P is the most caring and compassionate doctor that exists. I cannot even tell you how much her presence in our lives over the past nine months, and especially this past weekend, has changed us. She is someone we respect more than words can tell. Dr. A (our specialist), is such a strong Christian man who showed us what Christ's love is, in action. We literally owe these three beautiful people so much gratitude.

Saturday morning we headed to the hospital, because I thought I was in labor. I had felt Holden's little movements all morning. But Harriett was unable to find our little boy's heartbeat on the doppler when we arrived at the hospital. She had Dr. P and Dr. A bring an ultrasound in to check. The moment we found out our most precious gift had already gone to his eternal home, Dr. A grabbed our hands. He instantly prayed the most beautiful prayer I have ever been blessed to be a part of. God's love just enveloped us at that moment. There will never be a time in our lives that we ever get more life-changing and devastating news, yet the circle of love during that prayer, amongst Dr. P, Harriett, Dr. A, Holden and the two of us was more powerful than I can even write about. I cannot describe the pain. No one can understand that kind of pain, unless you have experienced it yourself. Yet there was such a PEACE [that passes all understanding] at the same time.

We made phone calls to our families and special friends. Almost immediately we were covered in prayers and love from so many people. Their prayers and love are what carried us through Saturday...and still carries us through.
Our families (both related and related by Christ) were there to support us the whole day.

When we delivered our dear son, we felt indescribable love. That is what is on my heart this evening. That is why I started writing all of this.

Every test imaginable was run to help give us an answer as to why our son did not live. The only answer was that Holden had a short cord (only 7 inches!), and likely during a big contraction the cord was pulled too tight, twisted or bent. There was nothing anyone could have done; Jesus just had a reason for calling Holden home. I don't even like typing this out, but I know it's part of his story and so many are curious.

We arrived home to a flower bed of freshly planted flowers. Our church family planted them for us while we were in the hospital. They honestly took my breath away when we walked up to our home in the dark on Sunday evening. I was once again brought to a place of humility with such love given to us. Our friends and family have provided us food, love and care non-stop since we've been home. They have made sure we have not needed a single thing. For this we are forever grateful and humbled.

Holden's service on Tuesday, August 31st, was a day surrounded by the Lord and His love. Pastors Tommy Culwell and Reid Johnson gave a service that was filled with the Holy Spirit and touched every single person there. Our sister-in-law, Charity, sang two songs. During Amazing Grace, a light rain started falling. It was a day we will hold dear to our hearts forever.
Also on this day, Holden's cousin Asher started walking all over the place. He has been a little timid about walking, but I feel it was a God thing that Holden's sweet cousin found strength that day too. :)

September 1, 2010 was the day we had longed for and anticipated for nine months. It was the day we were supposed to meet our son for the first time. Instead we found ourselves on our knees. The profound and unspeakable amount of grace, mercy and love we have found in Him has changed us. Every single relationship we have is deeper and more meaningful. Chet and I love each other in a way we didn't think possible. So yes, September 1, 2010 still ended up being one of the most wonderful in our lives, thanks to the peace of God.

We were given the opportunity to be with my sister Charys and brother Joel (and Scott and Charity) this week. It was a blessing to get to know them deeper.

If you have read this and have prayed for us, or sent us a message, phone call, text, letter, etc. please know we appreciate you. I hope to respond to all of you one day. If not, just know we love you so much.

This is the beginning of a journey we will always be on. We love and miss our son every single moment, but we await that amazing day when we all will meet again. A dear friend mentioned that we are still parents, and that thought has really blessed us. We will always be Holden's parents.


  1. Chet and Sarah,
    Thank you for sharing your story. It makes me cry every time you write something else...and this was no exception! Your strength from the Lord is so evident in all you are doing and saying right now. Thank you for showing us all how to react to such a devastating situation - and turning it back to Jesus in such a beautiful way. We are in awe by your faith.

  2. Wow Sarah. Love is written all over Holden's story. Your faith has truly shined throughout everything that has happened. You're strength has touched me as well as many lives that surround you. I truly admire you and Chet for you love and passion that has been shown. Thank you so much.

  3. Truly beautiful. I have no words. I love you three more than I could write.

  4. Sarah & Chet,
    I have never read a more touching testimony. In rearing my own children, I have come to believe that God gives us children to perfect our own faith and draw us closer to Him. Holden's little face is forever etched in my mind. May God continue to carry you both in His river of peace.

  5. Sarah & Chet,

    You don't know us, but we know friends of yours (the Kings), and have walked a very similar road of grief and pain, as we too, said hello and goodbye to our son in a way we never dreamed. I feel every word you have written and can already see the beautiful story God is writing in your family, even amidst the sorrow. We have been on our knees for your sweet family since we heard the news, and I have loved reading every word of your sweet story of Holden's life. You are so right. This is just the beginning of his life. God will change lives and make absolute beauty from your ashes. I will not stop praying for it to be so.

    But, I also know the pain you are in at the exact same time. The deep desire you have on every level to be a mommy to your baby boy is still so strong. I will pray for that as well.

    Please let me know if need anything. I have some books and resources I would love to share if/when you are ready and LOTS of scripture and encouragement that certainly helped me. Email me at or visit my blog at: We'll be in touch!

    You are an amazing testament of faith and strength, Sarah, and of leaning on the Lord to give you everything you need for each moment! He is SO faithful in that. I pray that you feel His comfort so strongly in the coming days and weeks.

    God bless you all.

  6. Sarah,

    I just stumbled upon your blog from your makeover done by Jamie. I cannot even begin to desribe the strength and faith that exudes from your writing. I am so terribly sorry for your loss, and know that those words don't make a difference, or change things, but its the only words I can find right now.

    The photo of Holden is just precious, and I'm sure you will forever treasure the time you got to spend with him during your pregnancy.

    I will definitely be following along with your blog and wish you nothing but the best.

    Take care!


  7. Sarah, God brought me to your page this morning because of your mention of "Hannah's Hope" in a recent post. I have spent the past half hour reading Holden's story and praying for you and Chet as you continue leaning, moment-by-moment, on the Lord through this grief journey. Praying especially that He will make Himself so near and real to you through the season of "firsts" ahead as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a new year unfold before you. Thank you for sharing your sweet son's life with me today. {{{hug}}}

    jenni saake
    author, Hannah's Hope

  8. Sarah,
    My thoughts and prayers are with all of you during the holiday season. You are a beautiful woman and sharing your story will give many the strength they need to get through trials in their lives. Your faith is evident!

    Linda Anderson
    Union City, California

  9. Hi, I am a complete stranger to you but just found your blog through Shanty2Chic. Your story is heartbreaking and yet so full of faith and hope. You and your husband are amazing. Thank-you for your example of love and faith and trust in God. I also know you will be with your little son again, and I hope you will also be blessed with more children. You are wonderful parents. I am 18 weeks pregnant with my 4th right now, and you have reminded me again of how I need to cherish every moment...every little movement and not be weighed down by the difficulties of pregnancy. Thank-you, and may God bless you.

  10. I also found your story through Shanty2Chic. I'm heartbroken for you. I'm also amazed and lifted up by your strength and faith in God. What beautiful words you have spoken!
    Thank you for sharing your story and your beautiful son with the world. Thank you for your work you are doing to preserve his life here on earth till you meet him again!!

    *The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again*

  11. Thank you all. You have brought us comfort. We appreciate all of you!

  12. Lori Mills/KentuckyDecember 21, 2010 at 9:05 PM

    Hi Sarah! I found your blog and story through Shanty2Chic. How sad my heart feels for you, as I too have walked the exact same road. In 1997 our daughter, Cassidy Anne, went to be with Jesus when at 38 weeks 5 days. My circumstances were very similar...I felt one very huge movement from her just before lunch on a Sunday but didn't feel anymore movement at all. Of course, at the time I didn't realize it since I already had 3 children and was distracted/busy, etc. The next morning was my check up and it was then that no heartbeat was found and I realized that no, I had not felt any movement for many hours. We delivered her the next day and they found that her cord had been tightly wrapped around her neck--they think she'd gotten tangled in it early on and as she grew, it continued to grow as well. Other than that, she was perfect in every way---19 inches and 5 lbs 14 oz. Like you, my family and I also had a precious church family and friends who saw to it that our every need was met. And God gave us amazing peace that absolutely cannot be explained. Cassi has spent 13 years with Jesus now and while we never forget her, the hurt that we felt then has lessened over the years. My greatest sadness is that Cassi never knew her older brothers and sister and they never knew her. But we have the promise of eternity together and that hope is sweet. I will pray for God's peace and comfort to cover you and Chet during the difficult days. I found that the 6 month mark was more difficult for me than even marking one year. May God bless you both in the coming weeks.

  13. Hello Sarah. I have recently started following your story and I am amazed by your amazing strength. Your writing is so positive. Even when I read it and know your heart is aching, I can still sense your incredibly positive outlook and beliefs. How you live your liofe and get through each day gives me so much peace. On November 11th, my beautiful baby Jack went to heaven. I spent 39 weeks and 5 days with him and I treasure each and every moment. I know how difficult each day is and I just want you to know that you and your beautiful baby are in my prayers. On Christmas Eve, I lit a candle for both of our families and our beautiful babies. Thank you for all the inspiration you give through your writings and your thoughts. Please be good to yourself.....

  14. Dear Sarah, I did not know you until recently through my sister Renee. She had spoken such amazing words about you and Chet, and told me about your amazing baby shower. I was blown away! I was never able to become pregnant, and reading your story, has broken my heart for you. Your video and your words have brought me closer to God, and our faith in him.

    What a beautiful angel he is, and he will be remembered forever through your work in Uganda. FOREVER. God had a purpose for you and Holden. Holden has changed and saved so many lives, just by God placing him with you. I will never forget this sweet baby angel boy.

  15. Dear Sarah, I recently got my hair cut from Mika and as I was telling her about my recent mission trip to Uganda and her pregnancy, she told me about "Holden Uganda". We were both in tears as she began to tell your story. As I got home, I pulled up your blog and began reading. I can't tell you how much your story touched my soul at it's core. As I was reading, I was crying out to the Lord...WHY?...I can't even imagine how you and your husband felt. Your faithfulness and hope are so encouraging. I know it must be very painful to write out your feelings and tell your story over and over again as it brings the pain to the surface again and again. It just tells me what a self-less person you are. When we share our hearts, the Lord will always carry them so tenderly to so many people. Little Holden was absolutely precious and it brings me to tears for the hundredth time as I think of his little face. He was so perfect. He, you and your husband are making a difference in people's lives. I have a special place in my heart for the people of Uganda. They have such a joy that radiates from them. I am encouraged each year as I see what joy and love they have and have nothing! Thanks again for sharing your heart. You and your Holden Uganda ministry will be in my prayers. May the Lord bless you and keep you. Love in Christ, Jamie

  16. Here I am, more than a year later, reading your blog about your sweet Holden. Oh how I understood every word you wrote. I wish so badly we didn't have to connect this way, but so thankful we have. I look forward to one day getting together to visit. I think we could talk for hours. Thank you for blessing me, and for blessing others, with Holden's story. What a precious baby boy. And what a sweet, sweet, mommy and daddy he has. Praying for yall and Holden's brother or sister to come soon. I have no doubt you have times of fear and worry about this current pregnancy, but I will continue to pray for that as well. Thanks again for being a blessing to so many. Loving you from afar, and praying for you always.