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You are, you are a Miracle

Our dear Fulton Joseph Hood was delivered on April 2, 2021 at 12:50 am.  Fulton’s eyes were closed.  He looked so perfect and peaceful.  

Open to the public: A funeral service will be held at St. Jude in Dunlap, Illinois on Saturday, April 10th at 11 am CST.  All wishing to attend are invited.  We will also have a livestream link for anyone unable to come.  Additional details to be posted later this week.

Friends,

Some of you may have just recently learned about Fulton while some have been following our story for months.   All of you have been joining with us in prayer.  This has truly been a journey of faith, hope and love.  We are so grateful to have shared this journey with each of you.

As many of you know, Fulton was due to be born on March 31, 2021.  However on March 31, with Elise not experiencing any changes associated with labor, an ultrasound was conducted.  It was determined from the ultrasound that Fulton’s heart was no longer beating.  After crying and praying we determined to go home to be together with all of our children.  Together as a family we cried, we prayed and we smiled thinking about all of the joy and blessings that Fulton has brought us.

On April 1, 2021, we would go to OSF for labor to be induced.  There were numerous delays on April 1.   Our plan was to go in at 9 am to get the process started early.  However it wasn’t until around 4 pm that a bed became available.  There were so many emotions on that day.  From moments of grief, to sadness to disbelieve. It was frustrating waiting and waiting.  But as we focused on the physical journey we also were mindful of the spiritual journey.  After all, this was Holy Week.  And we were so thankful to God for giving us every extra moment possible with Fulton.  During the entire pregnancy Elise and I were determined to make sure Fulton would be surrounded with as much love and joy as possible.  The end of his life would be different.  Respecting the dignity of the human person, God’s creation, requires love and joy.  Of course we grief but we do so mindfully and in thanksgiving of the time we cherished.

Once the labor began it was probably around 9 pm.  The Doctor and medical team suggested that delivery might begin anywhere from 6 to 24 hours.  It was suggested that we try to rest.  We prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet and said a number of other prayers.   Elise had a table setup next to her hospital bed with prayer cards and some really cool relics (a number of which had been sent to us by people who read about Fulton).

We each dozed off sometime around 11:30 pm.   Next around 12:30 am Elise woke me and said “Royce I think you need to call the nurse.”   I was half-asleep and started pressing the little button on her hospital bed (it turns out I was pressing some bed control button and not the button to call the nurse).  A moment later Elise said “Fulton was coming!”  I jumped up and hit the call button located on the wall.  Our nurse came right in.   It wasn’t a minute or two later when Fulton was delivered without any real pain or issue.  He just sort of arrived as if he had been carried forth with grace and by the hands of angels.

Fulton was delivered at 12:50 am on April 2.   Elise had prayed, that if it was God’s will, there might be some connection with Fulton’s delivery and Good Friday.  Prayers answered!   Fulton weighed just 2lbs-14.4 ounces.  He was 12.5 inches long.  Fulton had the cutest little nose and chubby little cheeks.  He was so precious.   The nurses swaddled his little body and laid him on Elise’s chest.  We held our little boy, cried and prayed.  We will share a few pictures of Fulton in the near future.

Shortly after Fulton was born Father Henehan, the pastor from our church, St. Jude Parish in Dunlap, Illinois, came to pray and speak with us.  It must have been around 1:30 am in the morning.  His words, his blessing and his compassion were exactly what Elise and I needed in that moment.  God has a plan.  Fulton’s life has already had such an incredible impact on countless people.  We pray his life and our story can lift up others and demonstrate the power of God’s love.  And I must add that we have been so blessed with such as wonderful faith-community.  After Father left Elise and I contemplated what would happen next.

It was clear by Fulton’s skin tone that he had been gone for a number of days.  A few medical professionals suggested that Fulton might have been passed away about a week earlier.  This is where my brain went into overdrive.  “A week!” I thought.  How could Fulton have been gone a week?   After all, it was almost exactly one-week earlier when we captured our only 3D ultrasound of Fulton (at 39 weeks).

Throughout Elise’s pregnancy, with low to no amniotic fluid, it was difficult to obtain high quality ultrasound imaging.  But the 39-week ultrasound was incredible and for some reason higher resolution than the prior ultrasounds.  This is also the ultrasound when we had captured the most astonishing image I have ever seen.  An image appears next to Fulton that to us clearly resembles Our Lady of Grace.  The image from the 39-week ultrasound also resembles the picture of Our Lady of Grace that is on Elise’s rosary.  The very same rosary Elise sleeps with every night and that she held over Fulton during the course of her pregnancy.

Reflecting on the promises of the Rosary I think it’s logical that the 39-week ultrasound screenshot was meant as a little grace.  We are confident Fulton had a special escort on his way to Heaven.

 

After Fulton was delivered we took turns holding him.  The staff at OSF was incredibly kind and helpful.  Elise and I had planned for Fulton to be born alive. We planned to baptize him.  We planned to dress him.  We had hoped for a miracle with his complete healing.  We also planned to make as many memories as possible while we comforted and held our little boy.   We didn’t end up with the miracle we wanted but we did get the miracle that we needed. Fulton went from the womb to the arms of the Lord.  The nurses helped us to make a little clay cast from his feet.   We also were able to obtain beautiful little footprints of our baby boy.

Our children and family came to meet Fulton around 8 am on April 2.  Elise and I debated wether we should allow our children to even come at all.  Fulton’s skin-tone continued to change minute after minute.  However, we made the decision to wrap Fulton’s body and expose only a small section of his face for our kids to see.  Our children, Fulton’s siblings have been with Elise and I every step of the way.  From learning at 20 weeks that their brother had challenges to learning just 2 days earlier that their brother had gone to Heaven.  We felt it was important, particularly for our oldest children, to have closure and to say hello and goodbye to their brother.

When the children arrived I spoke with the oldest ones in the hallway outside of Elise’s room.  I wanted to prepare them that this baby would look different than the other babies they have seen.  They handled it like pros.  We cried together, hugged and then the most incredible thing happened.  Ava (7), Gabriel (6) and Augustine (4) all smiled at their brother Fulton.  Leo (3) and Royce Aaron (1) were a bit too young to understand what it was all about.  But we managed to capture a few pictures (thanks to Elise’s sisters).  Elise’s parents and siblings were also able to join us.  It was truly a beautiful time to be together as a family.

After the visit with family ended it became more and more apparent that the time we had with Fulton was coming to an end.  Our photographer from the organization Lay Me Down to Sleep arrived and took a few pictures for us.  Afterwards Elise and I hugged, cried and decided it was time to let him go.  

Letting go of Fulton’s body was the hardest thing either one of us have never done.  Both of us were so exhausted from not sleeping more than few minutes over the past few days.  We also wanted to respect the dignity of Fulton’s body.   Still, letting go of Fulton was nearly impossible.  Relying on our love, each other and on our faith we called the nurse to say it was time to let him go.  

We are certain that Fulton is in good hands in his Heavenly home.  But there was something so unnatural about watching his little body being carted away.  However our pain is nothing compared to the pain our Lord suffered for all of us on the cross.  Further, we reflect on how Mary must have suffered watching her son die on the cross and how she did so in complete and humble submission to God’s will.  So to have Elise and I submitted to God’s will during this journey.  

The sorrow we felt during this Holy Week was in fact an opportunity for immense grace.  You see, we are confident in the greatest promise and greatest gift of all time which is the Resurrection.  While we mourn the loss of a son we give thanks for the time we had with Fulton.   He was a miracle. To be clear there are still moments when we are overwhelmed with grief, questions about “what-if” and sadness.  But love and joy conquer all negative feelings. For every moment that we struggle we find peace in our faith.  I cannot stress enough how much prayer, fasting, and love have helped us through this journey.  We thank you for your prayers.

Fulton Sheen pray for us.

Fulton Joseph pray for us.

Our Lady of Grace intercede for us.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

~ Royce