The Stephen Jason Morsch Memorial Nursing Scholarship was created by our family following the passing of our newborn son Stephen just eight days and one hour following his birth at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. No one could have predicted Stephen’s issues given that my pregnancy was normal. I had no problems other than the typical issues any woman might have during those nine months of carrying a child in your body.
However, Stephen’s usual gymnastics during my last trimester slowed on October 26th, 2005. I called my doctor who suggested that I should go to the hospital and prepare for Stephen’s delivery. Other than any new mother’s jitters, I could not have anticipated what would follow.
Within minutes of my arrival at Good Samaritan Hospital I was rushed into the delivery room for an emergency C Section. Stephen was born no more than 10 minutes later. However, instead of the healthy cry that accompanies most births, he was silent. Nurses rushed to start his breathing – which followed as only shallow breaths. Stephen was motionless, but breathing. Jason and I were devastated – not knowing what to do other than pray.
The attending doctor told us that he was “cautiously optimistic” and that occasionally newborns respond favorably over time. We continued to have hope as the nurses at Good Samaritan’s NICU unit cared for Stephen 24 hours a day – while still others attended to the needs of Jason and I and our parents and siblings.
As time passed it became clear that Stephen would not live much longer. However, we held and loved him as if he would live forever. On the eighth day of Stephen’s life, we knew we would soon need to let him join our Lord in heaven. It was the most difficult decision of our lives. Prior to becoming a mother and father — the most difficult decisions we made together might have been selecting a date for our wedding; a place to honeymoon; or accepting or rejecting a job offer. No education could have prepared us for this. No young married couple should have to face this alone.
The reality is that we didn’t face this alone. We were surrounded by our loving family. Moreover, we had been cared for physically, spiritually and emotionally by the kind, caring and compassionate nursing staff at Good Samaritan Hospital. Without them by our side, this journey would have been almost unbearable.
The last hour of Stephen’s life was in the comfort of my arms We sat quietly on the floor of his private NICU room surrounded by our family and a few of Stephen’s nurses. For eight days he was motionless – other than his shallow breathing which became weaker by the minute. However a miracle of sort occurred during his last breath.
We of course had been praying for a miracle since his birth. Perhaps life would spring forth during his baptism, or when my Dad rested his communion pix on Stephen’s head and blessed him. None of that happened. However, if he were to pass on to be with our Lord, I prayed that God would send some sign that Stephen was OK and with him in heaven.
As we sat on the floor with our little angel in our arms, we got our wish. Stephen took his last breath – and after having never moved in eight days and one hour God graced us with the most beautiful of gifts: Stephen smiled… and then joined our Lord in heaven.
I burst into tears which were both tears of joy and sadness. Yet, we knew Stephen was at peace in heaven with our grandparents and other family members that had gone before us. There was a sense of peace in our hearts.
One never is totally healed when a child is lost. But through the incredible support of our family and the angels of Mercy at Good Samaritan Hospital, we were lifted up. Those eight days and one hour opened a window on a world we would have otherwise not seen. A world where selfless professionals quietly go about their vocation of serving others. Without the tragedy of Stephen’s short life we would not have been witness to such unyielding love and compassion.
Soon after we returned home our family decided to start a scholarship for student nurses attending the Good Samaritan School of Nursing. We wanted to be certain that we could give back to the vocation that had given so much to our family during our time of need. In August of 2006, less than a year following the passing of our precious child Stephen, we awarded our first scholarship to ______________________ . Since then we have awarded a total of 8 scholarship to wonderful, selfless people who have the goal of helping others.
A few years ago we partnered with Amy Scalia of Cincy Chic to hold NIGHT IN WHITE, a yearly benefit for Stephen’s scholarship. Through the generosity of great sponsors such as Heather & Lee Krombholz and many others, we have raised thousands thousands of dollars to fund the Stephen Jason Morsch – Eight Days & One Hour Endowment at The Good Samaritan Foundation.
We now have been blessed with two additional children over the past seven years. They both have been raised with a loving awareness of their big brother Stephen – and have been involved with most of our fund-raising over the years. With the help of others in our community, we plan on continuing Stephen’s legacy well into the future.
As we have said now for the past many years, “If you have ever been born, thank a nurse.”
May God bless you and your family.