After 12 months, Paul and Samantha Shoemaker were finally able to conceive. “We had been trying to get pregnant for a while,” said Paul. “It was just a sense of relief that everything finally had worked out.” But one morning that relief turned to worry when Samantha sensed something was wrong. She said, “I really can't put my finger on it, just I knew something was off.” She called her doctor, who sent her to triage. There, the medical staff couldn’t find the heartbeat on the doppler. On his way to the hospital, a triage nurse called Paul to let him know that Cy had passed. In the background, he could hear his wife cry.
At 26 weeks, Cy was stillborn. “Nothing can prepare you for the idea of heading into the hospital to deliver a baby that has already passed away,” said Paul. “We had an incredible nurse there that supported us,” remembers Samantha. The nurse guided them through the process that came next, such as getting his footprints and handprints and being weighed and measured—"All those things that you want to be able to do, especially as a first-time parent,” she said. “We got to spend time with him. We got to take pictures so we can remember what he looked like.”
To Cy’s parents, the grief was crippling. Samantha had thought the hardest part would be giving birth to him. “In reality, the hardest part was surviving afterwards for a very long time,” she said.
In September 2019, Paul and Samantha were expecting again. When Samantha was induced to give birth to Cal, they were excited, but nervous because it was the same week that Chicago went into lockdown due to COVID-19. Though their family wouldn’t be there to share the experience with them, Cal was born healthy. Today, he’s spunky, curious and happy. In other words, as dad Paul puts it, “He’s the best! He’s a joy to be around.”
The Shoemaker family created Cy’s Team for March for Babies, an event they feel strongly about. March for Babies helped them get a measure of closure. “It was exactly what we needed at that point in time,” said Paul.
They feel fortunate to have found March of Dimes and March for Babies as a great way for friends and family to support them while honoring Cy’s short life. Paul said, “March of Dimes was helpful to open up about loss. People just came out of every corner of our lives sharing similar stories.” They had no idea that moms need so much more support than they’re currently getting from preconception to postpartum. “Families deserve that,” said Samantha. “I want others to support March of Dimes to give every mom and every baby the absolute best chance that they can have.”