Sam: a victim of homebirth


Those of you who follow Hurt by Homebirth will be familiar with the story of Sam’s brain injury and his mother’s near death.

Sam’s mother Tina experienced a life-threatening abruption at home and transferred to the hospital. According to Sam’s father Frank:

…The doctors decided to prep for the emergency c-section, as this was being done Tina had the opportunity to push and push she did just before they were going to begin moving her to the O.R. Samuel was born vaginally @ 4:00 AM. Blue and not breathing the nurses began working on him, massaging “bagging” him for his breathing. I never did hear him cry…

After the birth Tina’s blood would not clot, another term I heard was “DIC”, which has to do with the inability of the blood to clot. 4:30 AM the decision was made to take Tina to the OR- losing a lot of blood- possible hysterectomy. Called to lab for blood, none available. Tina lay bleeding on the operating table for the next 1 ½ to 2 hours, basically bleeding to death…

OK, so about 7:00am the doctors come out and tell me that Tina’s hemoglobin has risen to 6 – still dangerously low but rising … – Tina still alive. There is hope, doctors decided against hysterectomy after a lot of consult with other doctors at other hospitals. If in fact they had opened her up she would have bled out on the table. GOD granted the doctors and nurses the wisdom to not operate.

Tina made a complete recovery. Sam was not so fortunate.

According to his aunt Candice:

Sam began to seize early morning, May 19th. The NICU doctors told me that the baby was being transported to Memorial Hermann, downtown Houston Medical Center for an EEG and further evaluation.

To summarize my nephew’s status, the EEG, (electroencephalogram) taken within 24 hours revealed that his entire brain had been affected by the lack of oxygen due to the loss of blood that he had sustained. A MRI was completed and read one week after admission and clearly delineated that there was global brain damage which confirmed the results from the EEG.


We celebrated when his pupils constricted (even though they were sluggish), when exposed to light via an ophthalmoscope because that meant he was not brain dead. There was a response. We were happy to hear that the sedation medication, Phenobarbital and Ativan, were maintained at adequate levels in order to keep the brain from seizing. It was critical to have the brain rest so it could recover and heal to whatever extent he was capable of. We were so glad to have him taken off the respiratory equipment (CPAP) days after the incident because given time, he was able to take deep enough breaths to satisfy his blood oxygen levels. He could breathe on his own!

In conclusion, my nephew has been diagnosed with severe encephalopathy due to a hypoxic ischemic event or HIE.

Sam’s parents brought charges against the midwife in the Texas Board of Midwifery. The Board acknowledged that she had failed to immediately transfer Sam’s mother despite evidence of abruption. The punishment? Six months probated suspension.

Sam’s family, including two older sisters, took him home and loved him … and got lots of love in return.



I received an email from Tina the day before yesterday:

We lost Sam during his sleep 4/26/2013 due to aspiration.

The autopsy ruled that it was directly related to his labor/birth injuries.

We had a celebration of Sam’s life on 5/18/2013……..what would have been his 3rd birthday. Our family is heartbroken yet due to our Christian faith, we do rejoice for Sam. He is now free of all limitations……..fully restored as God had originally intended.

Sam never talked, sat up, crawled, stood, walked, used arms/hands purposefully. He was completely dependent on us for his care. He was orally fed but it was always a challenge and he never had enough caloric intake so most of his nutrition was by PediaSure/Boost…….Sam was still on a bottle.

He was our sweet, precious little boy. He seemed very aware and interested in his surroundings………..had a twinkle in his eyes and a huge smile…………wonderful laugh/giggle. He knew all of his family and those involved in his daily care/weekly therapy.

Tina shared Sam’s obituary:

Samuel Frank Comstive 2, of Richmond, TX ran through the gates of Heaven into the awaiting arms of Jesus Christ during the wee morning hours of Friday, 4/26/2013.

Sam was born to Frank and Tina Comstive on May 18, 2010. He was welcomed into the family by his big sisters, Rose and Lily. Caring for a child with special needs was the hardest challenge our family had ever endured yet there was much joy and reward. Sam impacted so many lives in such a short period of time although due to his disabilities, never spoke a word. Sam brought together a group of ladies that have formed a support group for families of children with special needs….The Special Mom’s Group.

Sam loved people and they were all drawn to him. Sam had a smile that could brighten the darkest room and a light in his eyes that reflected the love of Jesus. Sam’s last day on this earth was spent with people that loved him the most. He was greeted in the morning by his Daddy and played with…”daddy-style”. Sam was smiling from ear to ear and giggling as they played. He then spent a few hours at the Fort Bend Shriners circus where he was the only person in the crowd to receive a clown nose from one of the clowns. Sam continued to enjoy the rest of the day surrounded by loved ones.

The autopsy report concluded that Sam’s passing was directly related to the injuries he sustained during labor/birth. Sam aspirated during his sleep. Aspiration was one of the many threats to Sam’s health due to his injuries. It appears that Sam never awoke. What a blessing!!! To spend the day with the ones you love, close your eyes and walk into the arms of your Heavenly Father…the one that loves us most.

Sam had a purpose. (Romans 8:28) Sam fulfilled his purpose and God took him home in order to spare him any further hardships due to his disabilities. Our family is positive that Sam was greeted with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. Our family is heartbroken yet we find comfort in knowing that Sam’s body has been fully restored as God had originally intended. Sam can now walk, run, dance, talk, sing, etc. Glory to God!

Left behind to treasure our time with Sam are his parents-Frank and Tina Comstive and sisters-Rose and Lily … paternal grandmother,.. paternal grandfather,.. maternal grandfather,.. and caregiver Adriana .. and her son Angel… Sam was also loved by his extended family members. One of many to greet Sam at Heaven’s gates was his maternal grandmother…

We will have a celebration of Sam’s life on what would have been his 3rd birthday, May 18. We will have birthday cake!… One of the best blessings in our life is Adriana … “Ms. A” has helped us love Sam for the past 2.5 years. She loved Sam as her own and he loved her. She is forever part of our family…

Rest in peace, sweet Sam.

92 Responses to “Sam: a victim of homebirth”

  1. disqus_nYzjhhuAWR
    June 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Prayers and love to the family. Rest in peace sweet little, Sam.

  2. moto_librarian
    June 10, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    I am so very sorry. Rest in peace, sweet Sam.

  3. Sue
    June 9, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    So sorry for this family’s loss of their beautiful child.

  4. June 9, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    A sad story, hopefully things will get better.

  5. SeattleMama
    June 8, 2013 at 1:41 am #

    Rest in peace, sweet sweet Sam

  6. Tamara
    June 7, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Wow! What an incredible smile! My heart is broken 🙁

  7. hurricanewarningdc
    June 7, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    I’m in tears. I hope that Tina and her family continue to find peace. Bless them, too, for sharing their sad story in hopes of saving other babies from the same fate.

  8. Lisa from NY
    June 7, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    This is so sad. There are so many ads for “Go Green” and “all natural” and I could understand how women can think HB is best for their child.

  9. Frequent Guest
    June 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    I couldn’t even read the entire letter/obituary from Tina, I was too choked up with tears. Tina, I am so incredibly sorry for your family’s loss. Rest in peace, sweet Sam.

  10. The Computer Ate My Nym
    June 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    I wish I had something comforting to say, but there just are no words for this sort of loss. Sam’s family, I’m sorry for your loss.

  11. Rachel Mills
    June 7, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Could have been me… could have been my baby…

    • prolifefeminist
      June 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

      Mine too. I keep looking at Sam’s big twinkling eyes and that joyful smile, and thinking of how easily the giggling preschooler snuggled up next to me could have shared the same fate. This hits so close to home. My heart hurts for this family.

  12. Staceyjw
    June 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Tragic. I am so sorry for their loss.

  13. Durango
    June 7, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Oh, no. So sorry to hear about that beautiful boy. Condolences to the family.

  14. HolyWowBatman
    June 7, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    What a beautiful, million dollar smile. I’m glad he had the experience of having such a lovely family. When this midwife is some day able to see with clear eyes what she has done, I can’t imagine that she will be able to deal with herself.

    I just can’t get over what a sparkly little fellow Sam was. I’m so terribly sorry this happened. Keep your faith, it’s a good, solid rock when everything else is shaking.

  15. OBPI Mama
    June 7, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    Praying for a peace that passes understanding and God’s comfort encompassing you and your family as you go through mourning. I know the Lord and a host of angels were rejoicing as Sam went through to his Heavenly Home. I can just envision our Shepherd throwing His arms around little Sam and embracing him as He was restoring him.

  16. LukesCook
    June 7, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Condolences to the family for the loss of their beautiful boy.

  17. Mel
    June 7, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    Sam, may angels lead you into paradise and perpetual light shine upon you. Say hi to David for me – he’ll keep an eye on you until we all meet again.

  18. Elle
    June 7, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    So so heartbreaking… poor family. I hope they find peace.

  19. June 7, 2013 at 5:09 am #

    Stories like this make me sick to my stomach. I wish nobody would deal with the tragedy that is losing a child. My thoughts are with this family. I am so so sorry for your loss.

    • Lizzie Dee
      June 7, 2013 at 6:18 am #

      I wish nobody would deal with the tragedy that is losing a child.

      Or with the avoidable tragedy that led directly to the death of this beautiful child. How can anyone look at this picture and say “I know the risks…the hospital is only ten minutes away”?

  20. theNormalDistribution
    June 7, 2013 at 4:52 am #

    OT: Another breastfeeding study that, judging from this article alone, likely doesn’t address confounders in any meaningful way. Hopefully my mother-in-law won’t see it.

  21. I don't have a creative name
    June 7, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Rest in peace, sweet boy.

  22. Sarah, PharmD
    June 7, 2013 at 12:23 am #

    Tears. I haven’t seen my children today because I worked a very long shift. I think I will go and sit in their rooms for a bit before I go to sleep.

    • Sarah, PharmD
      June 7, 2013 at 12:31 am #

      To the family – may his memory always be a blessing to you. I buried my only (at the time) child five years ago. When I was deep in mourning, a Buddhist monk told me “Nothing is permanent. You will see your daughter again.” The hope that this is true is what kept me going in the darkest of days. Peace to you, always.

  23. rh1985
    June 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    So sad for the family. Can’t believe that midwife got off with such a light punishment.

    • Stacey
      June 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

      Thats the TX Board for you. Gross negligence resulting in death is 6 month supervision for some MWs. As long as they like you, there will be no consequences. They have even laughed and snickered during these hearings, and winked at the MW thats suppose to be being reviewed!
      I listened to the recording of another MWs hearing and it was a joke, even though the signs something was wrong were painfully obvious for many hours, even by a layman. A baby dies, their family is ripped apart, and there are never any consequences. Except maybe a fundraiser for the MW.
      And TX is held up as a model for HB MWery…. Makes me sick. Wolves guarding the hen house.

      • prolifefeminist
        June 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

        So, what will it take politically for TX to get serious about how it investigates midwives? It’s an absolute joke that these midwives are being investigated by their buddies.

  24. the wingless one
    June 6, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    This post brought tears to my eyes, prayers for your family and your beautiful angel watching down on you. I sincerely hope that you are able to reach your goal of bringing change to the homebirth/midwifery system in Sam’s honor.

  25. Victoria
    June 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    I am so sorry. I remember Sam’s story from when I first read it. There is no doubt how much he was and is loved by his family and I send you all my deepest condolences.

  26. KumquatWriter
    June 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    What a tragedy. I’m far from religious, but that obituary moved me to tears.

  27. realityycheque
    June 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    Such a beautiful, happy smile on such a gorgeous boy. My thoughts are with his loved ones, I’m so sorry for your loss. Reading this post brought tears to my eyes and it’s heartbreaking that he is gone so soon, though he is at peace <3 my sincerest condolences.

  28. Burgundy
    June 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    RIP Little Sam.
    I am so sorry for their loss.

  29. EB152
    June 6, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    That smile is pure sunshine. My thoughts are with Sam’s family.

  30. Prolifefeminist
    June 6, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    What a beautiful little boy. That smile could light up a whole room. I’m so, so sorry for this family’s loss.

  31. FormerPhysicist
    June 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    My condolences.

  32. Meredith Watson
    June 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Requiescat in pace.

  33. Charlotte
    June 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  34. areawomanpdx
    June 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    I wonder how many Sams are out there. There was a little boy in Washinton state who died at the age of five due to injuries suffered at birth. Iirc, his midwives received a slightly stiffer and more timely punishment. But we only know about these because the families have spoken out. I wonder how many families are out there, feeling too guilty or busy or still brainwashed to say anything.

    • Stacey
      June 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      I wonder. I think there was another one here, too. They don’t show up in the stats (when stats even exist), and by the time they die, their birth isn’t even a consideration.
      I wish all the care these kids need would show up in the stats somewhere because they would prove that one negligent injury would wipe out any cost savings, and put them into the “expensive” pile.
      It is horribly sad that these kids are invisible to the HB community.

    • Bambi Chapman
      June 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

      Two here (that I am aware of) under Brenda’s belt, but only one mother spoke out.

  35. June 6, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    This is so sad. I am sorry for their loss.

    I will leave my burning rage at the religious claptrap aside for the moment.

    • Lizzie Dee
      June 6, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      I too am so sorry for their loss and their pain. And if their religious beliefs help them bare it and make sense of it it serves a good purpose. I am also glad that they are celebrating the life of this child – the joy the love and the care they shared.

    • auntbea
      June 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

      I’m not a believer myself, but I am profoundly grateful that they are, since their faith provides them with comfort in the face of terrible loss. I don’t know and don’t particularly care why that enrages you, but I do intend to call you out on your disingenuous statement that you are “leaving it aside.”

    • Prolifefeminist
      June 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

      “Burning rage”? Really? What a judgemental, bigoted, disingenuous, screwed up comment to make.

      You really should have actually kept your bigoted opinion to yourself. What you did was like saying, “I’ll suppress my disgust at your weight problem for the moment.” Too late – you just said it.

      Do everyone a favor and take your ignorant and hurtful comments with you when you go. Preferably as soon as possible.

      • Bomb
        June 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

        I agree with all of the responses, but especially this one.

        I dont even understand the comment, it’s like a backhanded compliment but in response to the loss of a fucking child.

        “I am so self important I feel you need to know that your Christianity fills me with rage, but uh, I’m totally sorry for your loss and stuff.”

    • HappyPappy
      June 6, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

      The death of this poor child is an unmitigated tragedy. While I believe Sam is at peace in death (not in Heaven or anywhere else) I’m happy that his parents have something they can hold onto which gives them comfort at such an awful time.

      Immediately after the death of a beloved child, when his parents make it clear that their faith is the only thing carrying them through, is not the time to sneer at them and denounce said faith as “religious claptrap.” I’m an out-and-proud atheist and I still find your comment tasteless and disrespectful.

      RIP, poor Samuel. You were too good for this world.

    • realityycheque
      June 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

      I’m an atheist, but at no point would I have felt it was appropriate to come onto a post regarding grieving parents who have just lost their beloved son and make snide comments about a set of beliefs that are clearly helping them during this incredibly difficult time just because it’s something I don’t follow myself. Shame on you.

    • LovleAnjel
      June 6, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

      What on earth is wrong with you? I am an atheist and I am disgusted by your comment.

      • Lizzie Dee
        June 7, 2013 at 7:18 am #

        I am an atheist too but was not disgusted by this comment. I can agree perhaps that it was bad form and inappropriate in this context but there is a difference between respecting people’s beliefs and silencing your own. Religious people are surely not unaware that not everyone sees things the way they do? The venom being directed at this poster doesn’t seem all that different from the outrage that NCBers direct our way when we fail to adopt their strongly held beliefs.

        As the mother of a child who suffered as Sam did, though thankfully not as severely, I am not infrequently offered consolation through the religious beliefs of others. It doesn’t often fill me with rage, though it is always very cold comfort and I do wonder who is being consoled.

        • LovleAnjel
          June 7, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

          They are consoling themselves. They are not telling other bereaved parents.

          • LukesCook
            June 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

            I think that a disingenuous argument when applied to published text. Where is the chorus of commenters triumphantly pointing out that you’re fair game once you put yourself out on the Internet? There is a double standard being applied when a thoughtless but not intentionally cruel statement generates all this moral outrage which is nowhere in evidence when the writings of grieving mothers on “the other side” are mercilessly lampooned.

    • KumquatWriter
      June 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

      Bad form. I’m an atheist and don’t generally care for religious sentiments, but there is no reason whatsoever to piss on their faith when its carrying them through.

    • Charlotte
      June 6, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

      Good job reinforcing the angry, spiteful atheist stereotype right there. Real helpful.

      • Lizzie Dee
        June 7, 2013 at 6:41 am #

        Maybe it wasn’t all that appropriate to say honestly what one’s reaction was – but assuming that those of us who do not find comfort in religious platitudes are angry and spiteful is a bit much – akin to saying that those of us not entirely convinced by the NCB ideology are jealous and mean.

        • Charlotte
          June 7, 2013 at 9:16 am #

          I did not say that she was, only that the crass way she expressed it fed directly into the stereotype. Most people here probably agree with her to some degree, and some have even expressed similar things, but chose not to smack down a grieving family quite so forcefully. I stand by my comment. It is exactly the sort of thing that gives atheists a bad name.

    • theNormalDistribution
      June 7, 2013 at 3:13 am #

      I’m really surprised at the number of angry responses to this comment. Am I the only other person who was revolted by the religious references?

      This beautiful child suffered a senseless, tragic, and unnecessary death. I don’t care how much comfort it brings the family – how is calling this boy’s suffering ‘god’s purpose’ any less callous and horrifying than claiming that “some babies were meant to die”?
      I see no difference.

      • Dr Kitty
        June 7, 2013 at 3:49 am #

        This family have already suffered so much.

        Their faith sustains them.

        They will need any comfort they can get in the days ahead. Calling the family out like that is possibly the rudest, most hurtful and most inappropriate thing I have ever seen on this site. Feminerd, you should be ashamed.

        Saying that Sam’s life had a purpose is NOT the same as saying that his terrible disabilities were part of G-d’s plan. They are saying that his life had MEANING, horribly circumscribed though it was by the damage he suffered.

        That he will leave an indelible mark on the world and that they feel honoured to have raised him.How can anyone possibly argue with that?

        theNormalDistribution- I don’t think that this family believe in any way that G-d wanted or planned for Sam’s life to be so short or so difficult, and I don’t read that at all from the lovely obituary.

        • theNormalDistribution
          June 7, 2013 at 4:22 am #

          I am very sad for their loss and wouldn’t begrudge them their faith or object to their taking comfort in it. But this:

          Sam had a purpose. (Romans 8:28) Sam fulfilled his purpose and God took him home in order to spare him any further hardships due to his disabilities. Our family is positive that Sam was greeted with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

          to me, just doesn’t translate to the beautiful sentiment that you expressed.

          • Lizzie Dee
            June 7, 2013 at 6:34 am #

            The local community, including a local church, used to get involved with my daughter’s special school. This was often a good thing, and I appreciated the Christian impulse behind it. But cognitive dissonance was sometimes a bit of a problem. For some reason, the Harvest Festival each year was particularly jarring for me. Religion in the UK is much more low key and apologetic, but a sermon on God’s generosity used to take some swallowing in a room full of severely disabled children.

            It is the human spirit that shone out of this child’s eyes.

          • LukesCook
            June 7, 2013 at 8:41 am #

            I agree.

            Moreover this – “Our family is heartbroken yet due to our Christian faith, we do rejoice for Sam. He is now free of all limitations……..fully restored as God had originally intended.”

            Not everybody considers the death of a child cause for celebration. Not every grieving parent is comforted by the platitude of the big playground in the sky. These sugary sentiments are often expressed TO grieving parents. For a bereaved parent who doesn’t share a corresponding belief, it can be devastating to be told over and over again that the loss of a beloved child is in fact a blessing, and to know that they are alone with the horror of the finality of the loss.

            Whether this is the time or place to make these criticisms is another question. Criticism of newly bereaved parents is hardly a novelty on this site. While there may be justification for some of the criticisms made (as one could equally argue for justification in this case), plenty of spiteful remarks pass without any outrage. Is it different because in this case the parents are known to some of the commenters? Or because they happen to share the same beliefs?

          • auntbea
            June 7, 2013 at 9:53 am #

            Because they aren’t telling other parents how to feel or grieve. Or telling people to homebirth. Or generally spreading factually incorrect information. Or even proselytizing. It’s obnoxious to take a potshot at someone for deeply-held personal beliefs that they are not imposing on anyone else.

            BTW, saying they are rejoicing that Sam is healed is not the same as saying they are celebrating his death. It’s like chastising someone who, while mourning the death of her mother, expresses happiness/joy/relief that she is no longer suffering from the pain of a terminal illness.

          • Dr Kitty
            June 7, 2013 at 10:10 am #

            I personally don’t share the same religious beliefs as Sam’s parents, and I think the remarks were unnecessarily rude because of the context.

            If the HBH families cannot get support here, when so often they are already feeling isolated by the HB community, fewer will choose to share their stories and experiences with us.

            If Feminerd wanted to take issue with Sam’s family’s beliefs (or how they expressed them) on an Atheist board, or to her friends, fine. Here, apropos of nothing, to put THAT statement out there. Uncalled for.

            You don’t have to agree with their beliefs, or even respect the beliefs they hold, but they are sincerely held and providing comfort to the family- this is neither the time nor the place to air your disapproval of organised religion.

            If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all and all that (especially when it comes to bereavement and grief).

          • auntbea
            June 7, 2013 at 9:43 am #

            Right. You are interpreting this to mean that his disability was part of his purpose. Another reasonable interpretation is that he had a purpose unrelated to his disability — such as to bring his parents joy — that was fulfilled *in spite of* his disability. I can see how your interpretation would make one upset, but since it’s not the only interpretation, revulsion seems preemptive.

          • prolifefeminist
            June 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

            “he had a purpose unrelated to his disability — such as to bring his parents joy — that was fulfilled *in spite of* his disability.”

            That’s exactly how I interpreted it too. And I’m fairly certain that’s what most people mean when they say that someone’s life had a purpose – that it had meaning and purpose in spite of their short life/disability/etc, not because of it.

            That’s quite different from making an unsafe choice that results in death or disability, and then washing your hands of all responsibility by claiming that it was all just part of God’s plan. I think it’s awfully arrogant for anyone to assume that Sam’s family is saying that. Clearly, they are not.

            How awful to pick apart a family’s obituary for their beloved child. If they are reading here, I sure hope they can look beyond the hurtful, judgmental comments that have been made. They are brave for sharing their story, and the love they showered on that little boy was just a beautiful thing to see.

            (BTW, I previously posted here as Guestmama)

          • theNormalDistribution
            June 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

            I didn’t mean to imply that my interpretation was that his disability was his purpose and that that was what I find objectionable. It’s the idea that he was born with a purpose at all, and that he could possibly have fulfilled his purpose in the short life that he had, that I find offensive. It’s dehumanizing. And you suggested that part of his purpose was to bring joy to his parents, as if somehow that is better. It’s not. If someone had suggested something like that to me after I lost a child (hypothetically speaking, of course), I would be outraged.

          • auntbea
            June 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

            Fair enough. I am not sure I agree that a purpose is dehumanizing, but I have to think more about it. But that’s not really the point.

            The point is: why does it matter that you would be outraged if they said it to you? They’re not saying it to you. They’re saying it to themselves, and *they* find it helpful.

            Fifteen years ago, my dad’s cousin, whom I adored, dropped dead at 60 years old. Her pancreas just stopped working. A few days later, my brother committed suicide after battling mental illness for a decade. Was is a coincidence? Yes. Did my cousin die on purpose? Of course not. Do I believe in heaven or even an afterlife? No, not really. But at the time, it gave me and my family great comfort to believe that my cousin, who was the soul of generosity, had gone first because she knew someone would need to be on the other side to welcome my brother. If someone had come along and told me that was claptrap, I might have acknowledged their point, but I also would have thought that person was an asshole. We don’t all always have to be right all the time.

          • theNormalDistribution
            June 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

            The point is: why does it matter that you would be outraged if they said it to you? They’re not saying it to you. They’re saying it to themselves, and *they* find it helpful.

            But they are saying it to me, aren’t they? And to everyone else who may read the obituary. And I was simply expressing my disagreement with the idea. That’s the difference between your example of an asshole walking up and criticizing the ideas that you use to comfort yourself, and someone publicly disagreeing with something that you put out for everyone to hear. I just don’t think the outrage at Feminerd’s comment was really warranted, that’s all I was trying to say.

      • auntbea
        June 7, 2013 at 3:56 am #

        What Dr Kitty said. Plus, saying “babies are meant to die” is a way of excusing poor decisions, by insisting those bad decisions don’t have consequences, and has the effect of encouraging future risk-taking. This family is painfully aware of their poor decision to homebirth, and, as far as I can tell, does not blame God for that decision. It is hard to see to how anyone is harmed by the fact that they take comfort in their faith after the fact, and therefore, how it is anyone else’s place to care.

      • realityycheque
        June 7, 2013 at 8:29 am #

        The only time I ever find another person’s religious beliefs problematic is if or when they attempt to impinge on my rights, or the rights of others. Sam’s parents didn’t deny him proper care for his condition believing that it was part of “God’s plan”; yes, they made the tragic and misguided choice to have a homebirth, but following the devastating turn of events, they utilised medical technlogy to try and assist him to lead as much of a functional, comfortable and happy life as possible, as well as publicly coming out to admit their mistake to try and help others learn from their tragedy, which is incredibly noble in my opinion.

        Regardless of whether you think it is in poor taste, if it brings them comfort in this time to believe that their son’s death was part of a plan and that his difficult life wasn’t for nothing, and if those beliefs aren’t or weren’t ever used as an excuse to deny him proper medical care, then honestly I can’t see the problem.

        These are parents who have just lost their son and taking a dig at their religious beliefs during this time, particularly when those beliefs are not affecting anyone’s health or rights – merely your beliefs regarding what is and is not “tasteful” is the one thing in this situation that is in poor taste, in my opinion.

      • realityycheque
        June 7, 2013 at 8:32 am #

        And also, the ‘some babies weren’t meant to live’ rhetoric is so revolting specifically because it is either pre-emptively used to excuse the risks of homebirth, treating the child as a disposable commodity in the search for ‘the perfect birth’ or used to excuse instances in which medical care wasn’t utilised.

        Sam’s parents made full use of the medical system to try and help their son and they were open and honest about their regrets to homebirth and how it affected their son. The people who typically use that line use it to absolve themselves of any responsibility, which Sam’s parents are not trying to do.

        • LukesCook
          June 7, 2013 at 8:57 am #

          “The people who typically use that line use it to absolve themselves of any responsibility”

          Or to absolve themselves of responsibility for sharing the depths of another’s grief.

      • fiftyfifty1
        June 7, 2013 at 8:44 am #

        I’m an atheist, but was raised in a very religious and also homebirthing family. I, too, am sad how Christianity has gotten co-opted into the NCB movement. The family talks about, on Hurt by Homebirth, how their religious faith played a part in their mistake to choose a homebirth. They see that mistake for what it was now, I think. And talking about God’s purpose in this context is very different than saying “some babies are meant to die”. In the obit they also say “Sam’s body has been fully restored as God had originally intended”. Which means that Sam was not “meant to die”, but rather that in their view God had meant him to be healthy. But that their choice to homebirth thwarted God’s original plan. The Bible is full of examples where humans sin and God’s original plan gets ruined…but then God has mercy on the sinners and uses the outcome of their mistakes as building blocks to create something that is still meaningful. An example from the old testament is David’s sin resulting in Solomon. An example from the new testament is the life of Paul. So I think that’s what this family is talking about. I no longer believe this for myself. But that message still feels very powerful for me. When I read those parts I cried.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD
        June 7, 2013 at 10:04 am #

        “I’m really surprised at the number of angry responses to this comment.
        Am I the only other person who was revolted by the religious references?”

        Here’s the part I don’t understand. Why did it need to be expressed in this venue? Is there some educational value to announcing the you are revolted or that their beliefs are religious claptrap? Will it prevent any injuries or deaths? Will it have any positive effect at all?

        In my view, such criticism is like announcing that a grieving mother is ugly. It might be true; I might even agree with the assessment. But it is in exceedingly poor taste to mention it in the context of the death of a child.

        • stacey
          June 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm #


          Although, to be fair, this blog is not a safe space, free from such criticisms. Had it been written on HBH, I would have been enraged, but here I just think it is in poor taste.

        • prolifefeminist
          June 7, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

          This. There’s a time and a place for everything, and here and now wasn’t it.

      • Hazel
        June 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

        Not just you, I felt similarly nauseated. Still, I also agree with Amy, it didn’t need to be expressed in this particular arena. But then, I also wonder where else it could have been expressed. Put that obituary in a specifically atheist forum and it would be like throwing it to the wolves, it could get very nasty.

    • Playing Possum
      June 7, 2013 at 7:31 am #

      Unnecessary, crass and cruel comment.

      I really hope the family have not read it.

    • BeatlesFan
      June 7, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      This family just lost a beloved child. Their faith brings them comfort, and helps console them as they deal with the absolute worst thing parents ever have to go through. I’m an atheist, and in some cases an anti-theist, but it is terribly bad form to begrudge grieving parents something which alleviates some of their pain. I hope mocking a grieving family for their religious beliefs makes you feel good about yourself.

  36. Amazed
    June 6, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    I remember reading Sam’s story at Hurt by Homebirth but somehow I never thought he would die. I figured the worst damage had already being done.

    Such a lovely little boy.

    I am so sorry for the family’s loss.

  37. Minerva
    June 6, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    Being “only ten minutes” from the hospital is 11 minutes too far in an emergency. Sam is proof.

  38. Monica
    June 6, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    What a sweet baby boy. So sorry for the family’s loss.

  39. Jessica
    June 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    What a beautiful, beautiful little boy. Reading the story of his life and death broke my heart.

  40. Jenna
    June 6, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    The insanity of the NCB usually makes me angry in an intellectual, hypothetical way. Seeing this actual child and his loving family brings home the reality of the issue and leaves me heartbroken.

    • guest
      June 7, 2013 at 12:39 am #

      Yes. Heartbroken. For such a sweet child from such a loving family.

  41. Box of Salt
    June 6, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    To Sam’s family: I am sorry for your loss.

  42. yentavegan
    June 6, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    so sad. may the family find comfort and May G-d heal their pain.

  43. Dr Kitty
    June 6, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    I’m so sorry for their loss.
    What a lovely tribute to him.

    I’m glad they felt able to share his story with us.

  44. desiree
    June 6, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    Tina, Frank, Rose, and Lily- I’m so sorry for your loss. Sam’s pictures are just too cute, and my heart breaks for you.

  45. Bomb
    June 6, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    I am so sorry for their loss.

  46. June 6, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    So heart wrenching – may he live forever in the hearts of his family and in knowing who he was and why he suffered may he prevent other families from enduring the same suffering.

  47. Claire
    June 6, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    No words

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.