Blessings on you for visiting our page and celebrating the life of our son Rory Emmanuel. We always knew our children would be world changers, but we had no idea what kind of journey we would be on when we discovered we were pregnant December 2016.
All was well with our pregnancy, I was healthy, his heartbeat was strong, and he was growing. On April 11th, at 20 weeks, we had our first ultrasound. We excitedly waited in anticipation of finding out if we were having a little boy or little girl. If he was a boy, we’d nickname him Spinorki, if a girl, she would be Spinola.
The moment came when the ultrasound tech asked: “Would you like to know the sex?” Yes, yes we would. He was a boy! Jon was ecstatic, I was surprised. This excitement was soon followed by many long pauses from the ultrasound tech. The pauses were unnerving, to say the least. When our wonderful OB, entered the room and told us that we should have a follow-up appointment with the perinatal team, our hearts went from soaring high to crashing into the floor.
This was the start of several follow-up appointments with the perinatal team. Over the course of Spinorki’s time in my womb, he was analyzed by over 20 different doctors. The word arthrogryposis was pulled out as a potential diagnosis, meaning his joints were bent incorrectly. It’s not life threatening, but there were other compounded issues as well - most importantly that the doctors weren’t confident that he was breathing on his own or swallowing. Overall, there was a high level of uncertainty of what Spinorki’s life expectancy would be.
It was very important that we not let fear overwhelm our spirits. Spinorki could hear our words and we chose to speak life and joy over him, every day that he was with us. There were days that this was more difficult than others, especially the days following the doctor’s appointments. Throughout this whole journey we were covered in prayer by those around us. Those who stood alongside faithfully praying, kept Jon and I upright when we wanted to be laying on the floor in defeat. All of our appointments were peaceful in the midst of uncertainty.
We loved seeing him at every ultrasound. We spoke scripture over him in the morning, sang to him throughout the day and read books to him in the evening. We walked in faith to prepare his room for his homecoming. (Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen - Hebrews 11:1). At one point, Jon and I discussed whether we should just stop preparing our house and our lives for him, but we were in alignment that this would be the opposite of faith. We would be conceding to fear and that was not an option.
On Friday, July 14th, 34 weeks along, I had an overwhelming urgency to finish all the needed items to bring Spinorki home. Jon could tell that this obsession was more important than my typical desire to be over-prepared. So we went shopping for a car seat and I focused on packing our hospital bag. We were scheduled to do our birth plan on Monday, July 17th, so everything would be in place. Some of the doctors did not think he would be alive past 32 weeks, so each day we had with him was a miracle. I researched “what happens when your water breaks” just so I was informed of what that was all about.
Sunday, July 16th, 6:40am, (34 weeks and 2 days) I felt a rush of fluid as I laid in bed. I stood up and Niagra Falls hit the floor. Jon heard the noise and me saying "Jonny, Jonny, my water broke". The atmosphere in our house could have been one of chaos, but instead it was one of peace. We spoke calmly to each other, Jon texted our families to be praying and grabbed the hospital bag, the car seat, some snacks, and we headed off to the hospital.
On the drive (which is 8 minutes from our house), I texted my tribe to be praying for us and we also chose our son's name. We had settled on Rory months ago, Rory means King and we knew our little boy would reign in this life and the next. We had narrowed his middle name down to either Phoenix (one who rises from the ashes) or Emmanuel (God with us). I knew my preference, so I asked Jon: "What do you think his middle name should be?" He paused and said: "Emmanuel". Yes! We were in alignment. Happy Birthday Rory Emmanuel! King - God with us.
After checking in at the front desk, we were greeted by two amazing nurses, who were alongside us for our whole delivery. They took my vitals and found Rory's heartbeat, but with every contraction his heartbeat slowed as the uterus was cutting off the flow of the umbilical cord. With urgency, they found the doctor who checked his position in my womb. He was almost breech, his little head was up under my right rib and his little bum was pointed down. Due to his position, the only way to have the best success of a live birth was a C-section. We hadn't done our official birth plan, so they handed Jon a packet to work on while they prepped me for an emergency C-section. At the end of it, they wanted to know what our top 3 goals for the day were: 1. We want to spend as much time with Rory as possible. 2. Jon will be with his son every step of the way: in the operating room, the resuscitation room, and the NICU. 3. We would have as healthy and safe of a delivery as possible.
It all happened so smoothly, in just a few minutes and some pulling and tugging on my abs, Rory Emmanuel was born at 10:18am, weighing a teeny tiny 3 lbs and 4oz. He exited my womb, opened his eyes wide for the doctors and then was held before us prior to ushering him into the resuscitation room where the NICU docs were standing by to establish breathing. If they couldn't help him to breathe, we would not be moving to NICU. Jon turned on our labor playlist, and went to be with our son. I prayed and praised alongside Beyonce', Bethel Music, and Mika as the doctors stapled my womb closed.
At first the NICU docs, were not able to place the breathing tube. We continued praying. A few minutes later, the breathing tube was established and Rory and Jon were off to the NICU. After looking me over, we headed to the NICU to be reunited with Rory.
Jon, Rory and I shared a sweet hour and a half together as I held him close to my heart. His little face was so sweet, he definitely had Jon’s nose. Our playlist played on. Our Lord was the DJ that day, as the playlist was on shuffle the whole time. A bit of Heaven touched Earth in the Mother Baby Center - St. Paul that day. As the nurses cried, the doctors looked on with concerned, caring faces; we sang through the tears and watched our firstborn son’s heartbeat decline. Rory’s song has been No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music, from the month we knew he was in existence. As his heartbeat slowed, the song started and we knew this was his march into Heaven.
From my mother's womb - You have chosen me - Love has called my name - I've been born again into your family - Your blood flows through my veins - I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God - You split the sea so I could walk right through it, you drowned my fear in perfect love....You rescued me - And I will stand and sing - I am a child of God
At 1:30pm Rory Emmanuel entered the gates of Heaven, rejoicing in his complete body. He danced his way from our arms to the arms of our Heavenly Daddy. His tiny body was finished on this earth, but his spirit will live on forever. This is Rory’s victory.
We had him cremated and instead of a large memorial service, we believe every time we share his story with friends and family, this is honoring Rory. When people hear about him and choose kindness, to love others more deeply, or to believe in the impossible, this heaps honor on Rory. In his journey, our Heavenly Daddy taught us how to hope beyond our circumstances, and trust beyond what we can see. This is just part of his legacy.
There will be large expenses coming our way due to his live birth and appointments with specialists. Thank you in advance for your generosity and continued support as we grieve our dear little King.
As you bless us, blessing will return back to you.
One miracle at a time,
Jon, Chelsea, and Rory Emmanuel Swenson
For the full birth story, please visit: www.mschelsea.wordpress.com
- Joyce and Michael Finch
- Anne Ingman
- Laurel Anderson
- Kristen Bockhaus
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