In Loving Memory

Matthew Thomas Baker 

b. 10/19/04  d. 10/20/04


Families Are Forever...


"The crown without the conflict"

On 10/19/04 at 18:18 our little Matthew was born (weighing in at 7lbs 14oz., 19" in size) but unlike with his previous 7 siblings, they did not bring him to my wife and me in the first few minutes of his life, to hold and hug and love and record photographically. Our little Matthew was born with several heart defects and though he looked perfectly normal on the outside, he was a very sick little boy on the inside. Below is a detailed account of his short visit here in mortality and describes the web site which I've put together.

We recommend watching the slide show (click here on this link: MATTHEW'S PICTURES) which starts out with Cathleen showing 8 fingers for "baby #8" just prior to engaging in serious labor where we begin to push... After that, we had one photo of the room full of doctors and nurses standing over Matthew.  They had quickly rushed  into the delivery room once they realized there was something not right with Matthew. This picture was not posted because it was blurry and mostly just captured people's backs. The next photo is of one of the nurses holding Matthew up for us while she briefly waited for the others to bring in the little portable incubator. They had him on an oxygen mask and I think she was trying to play down for our benefit the seriousness somewhat allowing me to take a photo, though at that point they really weren't sure what was wrong. When they returned with the portable incubator, they checked him again and started acting in earnest, bagging him at first with the little infant face-mask device and then out of desperation they intubated him with a little tiny infant device. We waited with great anticipation and concern as more folks entered the delivery room to attend to him. Finally, rather than bringing him to us, they rushed him to the NICU where heart specialists and a team of others worked with great diligence to help him.  We remained behind wondering what to make of this.

We called our friend and neighbor, Ken Quiner, to come assist me in giving Matthew a priesthood blessing. He arrived within 15 minutes and we then went to the NICU where he lay seemingly lifeless, hooked up to all sorts of monitors and equipment. Aside from a few weak cries in the delivery room in an effort to breathe for the first time on his own, this little special boy had been otherwise discouragingly quiet, with eyes closed and completely unresponsive. One of the hardest events to watch as parents was when one of the nurses taped the tubes to Matthew's face and then because it wasn't effective, ripped the tape from his precious little face and re-applied, repeating several times until she was able to secure it just right. The difficult part was knowing how any little discomfort would normally cause a baby to wail and yet he did not have the power to cry, that hurt a great deal as his parents who by their inherent stewardship are appointed to watch over and protect these little ones. You will see in later photos the marks that were left on his tender baby-skin face as a witness of the minimum of discomfort that he was experiencing. We gave him the priesthood blessing and we then left the NICU and regrouped in the recovery room to discuss tentative plans for me to fly with him by helicopter to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia which is what the Cardiologist felt strongly that they needed to do. However, they wanted him to be stable before attempting any such transport.

Then we received good news and some degree of miraculous hope, the Cardiologist came to Cathleen's room to tell us that Matthew had improved somewhat and invited us back to the NICU to see him. We went back and for the first time we had some sense of hope as we looked down on him and saw him staring back up at us with his little eyes. He gazed up at us almost as if he was trying to communicate, desiring to comfort us, to let us know that it was going to be all right. We held his little hand and spoke to him softly as he continued to look up at us, appearing almost as if he was smiling. Of course this brought us immense joy, hope and gratitude. For roughly 10 minutes we stayed with him, cherishing the moments. Sadly, his whole body labored and convulsed at a regular interval as he attempted to fight for control the breathing machine that was giving him life. The nurse said that we could have as much time as we liked but gently advised us that he was in a great deal of discomfort and that they were just waiting for us to finish our visit so that they could sedate him again. We knew that he must have been in great discomfort but that he was being strong for us. We wanted him to be able to cry, and we wanted to comfort him.  I later had a thought comparing this moment to the Savior who suffered and died that I might have joy, as did Matthew at this moment suffer that I might have the little bit of joy to be with him in consciousness. For the first time in my life, I found myself torn with feelings of guilt and selfishness for wanting to lengthen my time with one of my children.  This longing for more time with Matthew made me think of the account in 3 Nephi 17* where the Nephites in ancient America who, when the resurrected Christ appeared to them, desired that he not depart for they loved him so, and being filled with compassion, he did tarry with them a little longer and blessed their sick, their afflicted and their little children.

Matthew was transported during the night to Fairfax Hospital some 45 miles north as the Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg where he was born did not have adequate facilities for heart babies. They made us well aware of the risk and necessity of the move and did not paint a real hopeful picture.  I went home to rest, Cathleen of course stayed in her recovery room and we received calls through the night on his status.  In the morning, I got the 5 oldest kids all off to their schools and left the little boys with Grammy Taylor and my sister Sydney. On my way back to Mary Washington Hospital, I learned of Matthew's passing (at roughly 9:40 AM).  The plans prior to this moment were to pick Cathleen up upon being discharged and to drive up to Fairfax to see him as quickly as possible. The Cardiologist on the other end of the phone asked me if I wanted him to call Cathleen in her room and I was literally in the hospital parking lot so I spared him that unpleasant chore and said that I would notify her. It was a very difficult walk through those halls knowing the news that I carried to share with my dear wife would shatter her. She was talking with one of the nurses and had no idea, I could sense the hope in her voice as she chatted with the nurse. I asked the nurse if we could have a few moments alone and then I gave her the news. 

We sat holding each other in tears, feeling empty inside and not really knowing what to do. We decided it would be best if we pulled the kids from school and drove up to Fairfax Hospital so that the kids could in some small way know their little brother. The Fairfax hospital was very supportive that we were desirous to do this and said they had a practice for siblings where they could help handprint and fingerprint Matthew for memory sake. We felt it would be healthy for the kids to allow them to bond with Matthew, to hold his little body, to love him and to deal with this loss each in their own way, and to accept it. Each of the 4 oldest broke down in tears as I gave them the news upon pulling them out of classes. The drive up to Fairfax was quiet, even the younger ones somehow seemed to sense the reverence of the situation. The picture in the slide show of Matthew's little handprints and footprints on the "in memory of" page delineates the living Matthew with the Matthew who had already passed through the veil, leaving only his precious little body behind. The younger ones obviously did not understand as he seemed not much different than a sleeping baby, but the 4 older ones did and were quite emotional upon seeing his little body. My mom and sister Sydney happened to be coincidentally in town visiting (from California) and were conveniently able to watch over the kids while Cathleen was in labor and delivering.  They also came up to Fairfax for this special little bonding farewell. 

Many people came to our side and supported us including a great number of you all reading this now. I wanted you all to know that this is not anything that we have ever had to do before and therefore we were very ill-prepared in every respect. The several ultra-sounds and various check-ups prior to his birth revealed nothing but a normal looking heart with properly sized chambers accompanied by an excellent heart rate, indicating there were no suspected problems. Nevertheless, in this lack of preparation and with minds wandering and searching for answers, we had not planned on flower arrangements at the funeral home, meals for extended family who had flown in for the funeral services or any other such details. You will never know the warmth that we felt when we witnessed all of the good people who came together to support us with beautiful flower arrangements, meals for an army, cards, emails, phone calls and shoulder rubs. The folks that I work with pulled together and through collections contributed beautiful flower arrangements and in addition a monetary gift. Good people from our ward brought meals, flowers, cards, compassion and comfort. Others sent flowers, cards, gifts, emails, etc. My wife and I were both emotional at these kind gestures. Many attended the funeral services despite it being scheduled on a Monday. We honestly believe that it helped a great deal to get through that day, to provide much needed comfort and help with the healing process, knowing that so many people were behind us. It is difficult to describe the amount of love and goodness that we've felt as a result of this bittersweet experience and we express our deepest gratitude to you all.

For those not of the LDS faith, I would like to assure you that we are a family of strong faith and a firm knowledge of our Heavenly Father's plan. Most everyone is required to come here to mortality to obtain a body and to be tested to see whether we will be obedient to God's will. It is our belief that we all lived as spirit children of our Heavenly Father before we were born and that we chose to leave that home and come here and receive a mortal body as a step in our eternal progression (similar to one who chooses to leave home and go away to college to further their progression here in mortality). Some of the very valiant in the pre-existence have already proven themselves and do not need to be tested here to progress, though they do still need to obtain a mortal body. Matthew was one of those valiant spirits and it is my testimony that if I live my life in such a way that pleases my Father in heaven, that as His greatest gift, I too and the rest of my family can live with Matthew again, together as a family. Families can be together forever, I am certain of this, and this knowledge has brought me great comfort in this difficult time. Now I encourage everyone who reads this to hold your loved ones tightly and be as grateful as I am for the gift of life and for these little ones with whom we have been entrusted, to be stewards over, to help lead and guide righteously through this sojourn called life.

This is all I have to offer, this testimony, my prayers and heartfelt thanks for the genuine love and kindness of the many who helped us through this time in our lives.  Please take a few moments to sign our guest book (login:matthew, password:thomas) to express your thoughts and feelings.  Certainly, events like this provoke some introspection and we'd love for you to share.


The following is a paragraph quoted from a book entitled "Angel Children - Those Who Die Before Accountability" by Mary V. Hill. It best articulates why I felt strongly that I should put this website together. I know that I have benefitted in my search for answers and thought others could benefit in a similar manner.

Why are our little children whom we love so tenderly, taken from us? One reason is to impel us to ask this very question; to fill us with a yearning to know; to draw out our very souls in a search for an explanation. Such a search leads us out of this world into a higher one, and discloses to us truths and principles which we must learn if ever we are saved in the kingdom of God. When one of our little ones is taken from us we are made to realize our helplessness, and that there is One in whose hand is held the power of life and death; and we begin to believe in God more than we did before. Faith in God, the principle by which we are saved, is strengthened.

I'll now let you watch the slide show. If you have speakers, please turn the sound up enough so that you can enjoy the music. Two of the songs were sung at the funeral (A Child's Prayer, Families Can Be Together Forever). The other (I Heard Him Come), is a favorite of mine and Cathleen's. 


The Baker Family
Greg, Cathleen, Gregory, Tory, Christopher, Aleks, Gwen, Jonathan, Nathaniel and our little Matthew

*3 Nephi 17

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