The Story of Christian, Christopher and Nathaniel Wall
From an article by Lee Herrold, Goshen News Staff Writer
Published Wednesday, October 18, 2000
“Goshen Couple Shares Loss and Hope”
Faith and companionship saw Tim and Zoann Wall through the loss of three baby sons in a matter of a year. The Goshen couple lost twin sons Christian E. and Christopher D., who were born prematurely Christmas Day 1996. Zoann delivered them at just 20 weeks into her pregnancy. The twins were still alive when the Walls got to the hospital, but died before delivery. On January 6, 1998 Zoann gave birth to Nathaniel Patrick, at 21 weeks along. Nathaniel weighed 1 pound, 3.6 ounces, and lived for two hours after birth.
The twins were born in Hutchinson, Kansas, where Tim and Zoann were visiting Tim’s parents for the holidays. Christian weighed 12.4 ounces and Christopher 15.1 ounces. They were delivered one hour apart. “Their eyes were still sealed, but they had fingernails and eyebrows and even a little hair,” Zoann recalled. The labor could not be stopped with Nathaniel, Zoann said, explaining that doctors discovered that her cervix opened prematurely. The Walls had support of family and their church, Silverwood Mennonite Church. The couple said they were in a state of shock when the twins were born. But they chose to see their sons, hold them and take pictures. “I think it would have been a lot harder if we hadn’t seen the babies or held them,” Zoann said. “It definitely helps you deal with the grief.” “It was kind of a hollow feeling,” Tim said. “He was just crushed,” Zoann said. “I just stared out at this car in the parking lot all night,” Tim added. It was difficult to call Zoann’s parents and tell them the news, the couple explained, and the congregation of Silverwood Mennonite was stunned. The church has a prayer chain and the couple knew of at least eight churches across the country that were praying for them. “The church went through the loss with us.” Zoann said.
The loss of Nathaniel was a different experience, Tim explained. “With Nathaniel, what I felt was, ‘we know how to do this,’” he said. “It was a different kind of experience. We had a feeling of what would happen, but we had hope.” All three sons are buried in Violett Cemetery, Babyland section, in Goshen.
Today the Walls are happily enjoying the result of two successful pregnancies. The birth of a daughter, Chloe, on January 27, 1999 and a son, Benjamin on March 21, 2001. Chloe was born healthy at 11 pounds and Benjamin at 9 pounds 12.2 ounces. With both pregnancies, Zoann said, doctors put in a cerclage, in which the cervix is stitched shut at the end of the first trimester so it cannot open prematurely. About three to four weeks before delivery doctors remove the cerclage.
“A tough question is when people ask how many kids we have,” Tim said. “We consider that our family includes these other babies (Christian, Christopher and Nathaniel). “The thing that helped me was putting together the scrapbook,” Zoann said. “Everything we’ve read says to take pictures.” The Walls said Goshen General Hospital takes pictures of lost babies, regardless of whether or not the parents choose to, and keep them on file for family members to see at any time. (You are welcome to view the pictures we took of our sons, by clicking on the links below)
A support group called Parents Sharing Hope was born out of the Walls experience with perinatal bereavement. “We knew that not everybody would have the support we had,” Zoann said. Parents Sharing Hope has been meeting for nearly three years. The group meets at the Goshen General Hospital chapel the fourth Monday of each month at 7 p.m.
Christian E. Wall and Christopher D. Wall
Still born at 20 weeks
Nathaniel Patrick Wall
Born 21 Weeks, Lived 1 hour, 45 minutes
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