Opening Their Hearts To Life

/Opening Their Hearts To Life
Opening Their Hearts To Life2017-10-13T15:51:51+00:00

During Respect Life Month, we focus on how to build a culture of life, even in midst of seemingly overwhelming obstacles. The following is the story of how one Louisville couple: Terry and Kirsten Butler, opened their hearts to life as they welcomed and said good-bye to their son, Thomas Joseph.

Thomas Joseph Butler was diagnosed early in Kirsten’s pregnancy with a very severe encepholacele, a birth defect that can result in a baby’s death before birth and almost always after birth.  Though doctors had recommended a termination of the pregnancy, this faith-filled couple decided against this action.  Thomas Joseph Butler was not expected to live more than a few minutes after birth, but he  was baptized in the delivery room by the Butler’s pastor, Fr. Paul Beach, and was with his family for eighteen hours after birth. The following is the story of his birth day from Kirsten’s blog Sonlight Garden:

It was the most grace-filled day. We went to Mass together as a family. Good friends of ours who have twelve children took our eight back with them to their house after Mass, and Terry and I headed to the hospital. We met with the neonatologist and spoke to him about Thomas’s prognosis. He was concerned that we wouldn’t make it out of the operating room with him. We expressed our concern about making sure Thomas was baptized, and they graciously allowed us to have our priest in the OR, and Father graciously agreed to go in the OR with us. My OB came in, and we did an ultrasound to see which way Thomas was presenting. We all prayed together, and my OB asked God to direct her hands. All grace.

Kirsten with Thomas Joseph

Kirsten with Thomas Joseph

We went to the OR, and I was prepped. When Terry walked in he told me the children had made it to the hospital and were waiting in the room. I breathed a deep sigh of relief. Soon we would all be together. 

Soon after my OB had started the surgery she was saying “Well hello there Thomas! Hey buddy!” She walked around to my side of the curtain and showed me my beautiful boy. He had a ton of hair, just like all of our other babies. She then brought him over to the warmer, and he started to cry. It was the most beautiful sound in the world. They cleaned him off, and Father went over and baptized him. They weighed him, which was 4lb and 14 oz. Then they brought him over to me, and he looked me in the eye. He was so alert and sweet. I held him until they finished sewing me up. 

We went back to the room and all of the children were there. I will never forget that moment. They oohed and awed and cried. They knew every moment we had with him was going to be a gift. That sweet little baby was passed around to each of his siblings, and he was awake for all of it! Gosh, he was so strong.

Father then said the rest of the baptismal prayers, and Joseph and Julia were made his godparents. After the children had all gotten their fill of him, we put him on my chest, skin to skin, where he stayed. Once he settled on me, his heart rate and breathing increased, and his color improved. He was definitely happiest on my chest. He almost always had his hand up to his mouth, just like when he was in utero. In all of his ultrasound pictures, he had his hands on his face. Always. When he was around six hours old we decided to give him some food. We didn’t want him to be hungry, and we knew that some nutrition would help him. It did. His color further improved. He even made a dirty diaper!

The early morning feeding is when things started to change for him. His coloring wasn’t as good, and we stopped after one cc of formula. We put him back on my chest, and there he stayed until he passed away. Terry was rubbing his back, and we talked to him – our sweet little boy.

He was treated with such dignity and respect and care. The hospital staff was wonderful and kind. I am forever grateful for that.

The proudest moment of my life was when I gave birth to this little boy. He has touched numerous lives; more than we will ever see this side of heaven. He is such a sweet little soul. Our Lord must have big plans for him to want such a sweet, pure, spotless little soul. We were graced with his presence for a little while. We are forever changed. 

Please continue to pray for us as we try to go on without him. I can’t imagine this, but we must. We miss him so much.

St. Thomas Joseph pray for us!

By Kirsten Butler, Parishioner, St. Martin of Tours Parish, Louisville


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