Brendan’s story


Potter’s syndrome

A poem for Brendan

I Am a Child of God
Original text by Naomi Ward Randall, modified by Nichole Brereton

I am a child of God, and He has called me home.
My earthly journey’s through, but still, I do not walk alone.
He leads me, guides me, walks beside me, helps me find the way.
He welcomes me with open arms–I live with Him today.

I am a child of God, and I have gone ahead.
My earthly life was brief, but oh, such peace and love I gave.
You loved me, held me, gave life to me, and though I can’t stay,
You know that I will always be only a thought away.

I am a child of God, and I will wait for you.
Celestial glory shall be ours if you can but endure.
I’ll lead you, guide you, walk beside you, help you find the way.
I’ll welcome you with open arms, one bright celestial day.


My pregnancy with Brendan

On May 31st, 1988, I miscarried at about 8 weeks.  We immediately began trying to get pregnant again.  Around the middle of August, 1988, I was pregnant again with a due date of March 22, 1989.  On November 22 (about 19 weeks) I went in and had an ultrasound.  I don’t know if they weren’t looking for Potter’s syndrome in those days, or if I had an incompetent technician, or if the difference between 19 and 20 weeks is that big, but everything seemed to be fine.

She said that she couldn’t see much because the baby was “rolled into a ball.”  So I went home oblivious to what was really going on, thinking that everything was going great.  I remember that the baby moved regularly, but it was always like he was vibrating or shaking, none of the pokes and jabs of my first baby.  His heartbeat was always strong and steady.

At about 37 weeks I noticed a hard lump right below my belly button.  I thought it was the baby’s bottom, but when I went to my OB that week he said it was the baby’s head.  He suggested I see a specialist for an attempt at a “version” procedure where they turn a breech baby in the womb.  I was a little nervous about it so I got my husband, Mark to go with me.

Brendan’s Birth

We arrived at the hospital for the version at 8 am on March 6, 1989.  I was nervous because I had heard that it might hurt.  Anyway, the specialist, a Dr. Wallace, did an ultrasound.  He just sat there looking and looking and looking and then he said, “I won’t be able to turn the baby because there is no amniotic fluid.”  Then me asked me if I had noticed any leaking and I said no. The doctor then said that there were two possible reasons that there could be no amniotic fluid.  The first was that the placenta was not working correctly.  The second was that the baby had no kidneys.  Then he quite calmly stated that both of these conditions were quite serious and that the baby was likely to die.

He said he was going to call our OB and arrange for a more thorough ultrasound.  Then he left the room.  Mark and I were both very shocked and frightened and we cried a lot during the interminable wait to get the second ultrasound.  Finally we had the second ultrasound done, several doctors came and looked at it and then they went into a little room and conferred.  Then they came out and said that they couldn’t be 100% sure what was going on but they all agreed that it would be for the best to go ahead and take the baby by caesarean section that day.  I was terribly upset.  I was at a strange hospital with a strange doctor.  I called my OB and he said that he felt that I should go ahead and have the baby at Monmouth, because they had all the best newborn intensive care there. The surgery was supposed to start at 1:30 PM, but didn’t actually start until 5:00 PM.  Mark and I were terribly worried and concerned and didn’t know what to think or do.  Finally, at 5:00 they took me to the delivery room and gave me an epidural.  I began shaking uncontrollably.  My husband had gone to scrub so he could be in the room when the baby was born, but the doctor came in and started without him.  I kept saying, “Where is my husband, Where is Mark?”  The nurse went to find him and brought him back.  He was so nervous that his legs were shaking.

The baby was born unbelievably fast.  The doctors said, “It’s a boy,” and I remember feeling very, very happy, especially for Mark because he really wanted to have a boy.  Mark stood up and looked over the drape to have a look at the baby and when he sat down again by me he said, “He looks very gray.”  Later he told me he thought the baby was dead.  I was still optimistic and told Mark that our little daughter Alison had looked pretty gray, too.The nurses had told me that when the baby was born he would be taken into another room and checked over and then they would bring him right back for us to see.

They never brought him back.  I started asking, “Where is my baby?,” and then I asked Mark to go check on him.  Mark, meanwhile, knew that something was wrong.  He said the nurse grabbed the baby in a sheet and rushed out of the room and she had a terrible look on her face.  He said that another nurse ran in and asked the doctors who were still working on me, “What is the case history on this?”  Mark could see into the next room where the people were working on the baby, trying to get him to breathe, and he could hear them calling over the intercom, “Get Rekedal, get Rekedal!”  Mark thought they meant some kind of drug, but actually Dr. Rekedal was the Head of Intensive Care Pediatrics.

Dr. Rekedal ran in and they all worked on the baby and got him stabilized.  Then Dr. Rekedal came over to where Mark was and told him that he needed to do a lot of tests, but he could tell already that the baby had multiple anomalies.  Meanwhile, I didn’t know any of this was happening because I was back in the delivery room becoming more and more hysterical.  Finally they wheeled me into a recovery room where I cried and cried and cried and Mark finally came in and tried to comfort me, but we were both very frightened and upset.

 Our Bishop, Richard Connolly, came in just at that time and just as he did, three pediatricians came into our room to talk to me.  They said that they were very sorry, but that the baby just didn’t have enough lung tissue to make it and they didn’t expect him to live through the night.  They said he also had a narrowed aorta, and many other problems, but that the problem with his lungs was the most serious.  Mark and I were devastated.  It was so unreal.  That morning we had thought everything was fine and now our baby lay in the hospital dying.

 After the doctors left, Mark and Bishop Connolly went down to see our little son and they gave him a name and a blessing–Brendan Mark Tyler. Mark got to see Brendan in the ICU Nursery but I never did.  Mark says it was probably a good thing because it would have broken my heart.  I couldn’t go to where Brendan was unless I was in a wheelchair and when I tried to get in one I passed out and then the nurses said I had better not try as I was to wiped out from the surgery.  Mark said Brendan didn’t move and he didn’t open his eyes, but if Mark would touch his little hands and feet, he would draw them up close.  So he must have been a little bit ticklish like his daddy.  Mark said that when he looked at Brendan he was reminded of the little character on Sesame Street, “teeny little super guy.”  Brendan was our teeny little super guy.

Brendan proved all the doctors wrong as he did live through the night.  The nurse came at 10 AM and got Mark because they knew that Brendan would die soon.  I tried to go with Mark but was still unable to physically get into a wheelchair yet so he had to go alone. While Mark was gone I kept wondering why Heavenly Father would let this happen to us and to Brendan.  I kept remembering a question from one of Mark’s seminary tests I had graded the night before the trip to the hospital.   The question was, “How can we be sure our prayers will be answered the way we want?”  The kids had answered, “Our prayers must be in harmony with the will of God.”  Mark and I and little Alison had been praying for nine months that our baby would be strong and healthy.  But I realized that that had not been Heavenly Father’s will.  Heavenly Father had wanted Brendan to come to Earth just long enough to get a body, and then return to Him.  I decided that what had happened was the will of Heavenly Father, and that meant that everything would be all right.

After about 10 minutes Mark came back to my room.  He was holding little Brendan.  Brendan looked so sweet and peaceful.  His little spirit had left his body but I believe he was still in that room with us to comfort his mommy and daddy and let them know that he was fine.  I got to hold Brendan for the first time and I told him that I loved him very much and that I had wanted very much for him to come and be a part of our earthly family, but that I knew that he would always be a part of our eternal family, so I would let him go back to Heavenly Father.  Mark and I both held and loved and checked out little Brendan for about an hour.  Mark even held him up to the window so he could get a view of outside. Brendan was a very cute little boy.  He was 5 lbs and 11 ozs. and he was 17 inches long.  He was wearing a cute little blue hat and he was all wrapped up in a little ABC Blanket.  The hospital gave us all those things to take home with us, including his little hand and foot prints.  He had blond hair and blue eyes.  He looked a lot like the Tyler side of the family.  He just seemed to be peacefully sleeping like any other baby.

While Brendan was with us Mark regave him a name and a blessing so I could be a part of it.  Our Bishop came by again while we had Brendan with us, and we got calls from my Grandma and Grandpa, my Mom and Dad and my others brothers and sisters.  It was hard to have to tell them that Brendan had passed away, but their love and prayers were with us even 1000 miles away. Finally we let the nurses take Brendan away and then we had to call our friends who were watching our little daughter and tell them that Brendan had died.  They brought Alison down to see us later that day and she came in like a little ray of sunshine peeping through a great fog.  She was running around asking all kinds of questions and being her two year old self.  It was wonderful to see her.

Brendan’s Funeral

Mark and my mom picked out a beautiful little white suit for Brendan to be buried in, and we arranged to have him wrapped up in the little blue bunny quilt I had made for the new baby.  The nice thing about it was that we had made that quilt at my parent’s house at Christmas, and so every one in my family had got to put a few stitches into it.  The day that Brendan was born had been rainy and snowy and it had been rainy ever since, but on the morning of the funeral it dawned bright and clear.  Mark and I both felt that Brendan’s funeral service was the most beautiful we had ever been to.  Both of his Grandpas talked and gave very beautiful talks.  A sweet friend sang two of my favorite Primary songs, “Families Can Be Together Forever,” and “Love One Another.”  At the gravesite Mark dedicated the grave with a beautiful prayer.  After much thought and prayer we designed a beautiful headstone for Brendan.  The inscription reads. “The Crown Without the Conflict.”


We didn’t know that Brendan had died of Potter’s Syndrome until about 3 weeks after his death.  The ICU pediatrician, Dr. Rekedal had us come in and he told us that Brendan had died of Potter’s Syndrome.  He told us that it means that the baby has no kidney’s or kidney function.  It causes many other problems and babies born with this syndrome are unable to live outside the womb.  He said that it was not genetic in our case, but that it does occasionally run in families anyway.  Mark and I were brave enough to go on to have three other beautiful children but I was a nervous wreck each time.  We will never forget our little angel son and look forward to seeing him again, someday.

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