Colm Gehlen’s Family

Colm Gehlen 1

Parents: Pam and Corey
Hometown: Burnsville, Minnesota
Born to heaven at 26 weeks

Colm’s Story

When their triple screen came back with a 1:10 ratio for Trisomy 18 at 15 weeks, Pam and Corey decided to have a level II ultrasound. When several of the markers for Trisomy 18 were indeed found during ultrasound, they opted for an amnio at 17 weeks. The results confirmed that their precious son Colm had Trisomy 18.

They knew that they would carry to term immediately. “It was never an issue for us to carry to term or not; we always knew that we could not terminate a pregnancy under any circumstances.”

In choosing to share the news with others, Pam and Corey told their family and friends right away. They were surrounded with prayers and support. Pam’s brother-in-law is a doctor, and they began to utilize him for information from the start. They did not share the news with their older children until the diagnosis was confirmed with the results from the amnio. Pam talks about the day Colm was born. “We found out on Colm Gehlen 3March 12 that Colm had already passed away, and I delivered 4 days later. It was a heartbreaking day as we walked into the maternity ward, seeing all of those living healthy babies in the nursery, knowing that our son was already gone. The nurse who welcomed us immediately enveloped me with a hug, as they had been awaiting my arrival. She walked me down to our room, and got me settled in. The staff was incredibly compassionate to us all day; my nurse for the majority of the day had also delivered a stillborn baby, so she seemed to completely understand how I was feeling. After a few hours, when the contractions started to become a little stronger, they brought in the anesthesiologist to give me an epidural (which seemed so strange to get one, with my other two children I didn’t have or need one!), and then we waited. At about 8:25 that night, my water broke, and the nurse came rushing in. They couldn’t reach the doctor, so she was holding my legs together, almost willing Colm to not be born yet. I could feel him slipping down through the birth canal. I was fine all day long, after the initial breakdown when I entered the maternity ward, until my water broke. Because I knew, it was happening. My son would no longer be a part of me, up until that moment, even though he had already died, he was still with me, and that gave me some comfort. I started sobbing, because I didn’t want this to be happening, and despite my pleas with God to have this all be a horrible nightmare, it was happening.

The doctor came in, spread apart my knees, and Colm was born. I didn’t get to see him for a few minutes,Colm Gehlen 2 as they were cleaning him, wrapping him, etc. but Corey took our digital camera over to take a picture of him for me to see. When they brought him to me, I started sobbing again, because I was finally holding my baby boy in my arms, but not at all the way I had imagined or prayed for.” In preparing for his birth, Pam consulting many birth stories on this website. After also talking with a woman in the Twin Cities area, they developed their own birth plan that would have given Colm comfort care. “We wanted to be able to bring him home and be a family at home. That was important to all of us.” Pam shares how their faith factored into their decisions. “Faith played a huge part. Our faith is a major part of our life, and it was our faith that sustained us through this entire ordeal.”

Pam shares her most vivid memories with Colm, “Two important ones stick out. Every time I would sit at the computer, it must have been the position or the fact that it was usually after breakfast, but Colm would squirm around, and I still remember that feeling when I am working at the computer. The other distinct memory for me is his last ultrasound, which was 3D. We had found out at that ultrasound that his heart did not have any major defects, and we also got some amazing up close looks at his face, body it was incredible. It was also the last time we saw him alive, and moving.” “A Visitor from Heaven and Glory Baby are two songs that are very special to me and seem to speak directly about Colm. There is also a special poem that friend gave us, that we read at his funeral. It was written by her cousin when his daughter was stillborn. I also found the book Waiting With Gabriel to be especially meaningful.”

Colm Gehlen 1“My only regret is that he is not with us here on earth. I am also especially thankful for the friends we have who sustained us in our darkest, saddest moments, and who continue to. God has truly blessed us with this experience, as strange as that may sound. It has also made me even more thankful for my living children, and what gifts they are.”

”Before our pregnancy with Colm, we had also suffered two miscarriages within the previous year. This made the loss of Colm even more painful, as my daughter said “Is God just trying to annoy me by having all our babies die?” That sums up how both of my children, and my husband and I have felt and we continue to work through that with our faith.” “I have learned to cherish how precious his pregnancy was. My goal now is to share with other parents of babies with a fatal condition just how beautiful the experience can be. For others getting started in this journey, I would advise not making any rash decisions for a while; give yourself time to accept the news, read all that you can about it before deciding to terminate or not. We can make decisions we might regret in the heat of emotion right after a diagnosis.”

Colm Gehlen 4“Despite the tragic ending, I am very thankful for this experience. I do not regret my pregnancy or any decisions we made for Colm.”





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