This will break your heart: Shana Greatman Swers happily announced the birth of her first son on Facebook. Tragically, just 39 days later she was dead, and the weeks before her death were all chronicled on the social media site.
Get out the tissues, HollyMoms. This is by far the saddest story I’ve ever reported on for HollyBaby.com. Shana Greatman Swers, 35, kept her friends and family involved in all of the aspects of her pregnancy and labor via Facebook status updates, according to the Washington Post. From her March 10 post that announced she and husband Jeff Swers were going to become parents, to the August mentions of cravings (Rita’s Italian Ice and chocolate malts) and pre-baby dates, Shana’s loved ones hung on her every word.
Being a mother had always been Shana’s dream, says her friend Jean Carstensen. “After she and Jeff got married, I knew they were trying to get pregnant. And she was worried she wasn’t going to be able to have kids. She was so excited about Isaac because adoption was so scary to her,” Carstensen told the Washington Post. “Shana always wanted to be a mom and a wife,” agrees her former classmate at George Washington University, Rachel Talbert.
On September 22, between contractions, Shana made sure to update her status before heading to the hospital! The next day her Facebook page announced: “Isaac Lawrence Swers was born on Wednesday. He is 8 lbs 4oz and 20.5 inches long. He has a full head of dark hair. he is, of course, perfect. Thanks for all the good thoughts you’ve sent our way for the past nine months. We feel truly blessed.”
It’s no surprise that those closest to the new mom became alarmed when her status didn’t change over the next four days. When Shana finally did log back on, her news wasn’t nearly as joyful. She was diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy, which is the onset of heart failure. It can develop during the last month of pregnancy up to five months after giving birth . “I have turned a corner and will be fine,” she wrote, adding that baby Isaac was doing fine and was home with his daddy, Jeff.
Over the next month the new mom was constantly in and out of the hospital, but that didn’t put a damper on her joy over finally having a family. “Happiness is watching your husband stare lovingly at your son,” she posted the evening of October 6.
But on October 20, she admitted “feels like I’m under attack and losing…I’m back in the ICU at Virginia Hospital Center.”
By October 24, Shana’s heart condition was worsening so it was only natural that Jeff would take to Facebook asking her friends and family to help cheer up his wife by sharing their favorite memories and stories about Shana. Two days later Shauna was set to go home when another setback stopped her in her tracks. “Everything was going great and then today random, horrible stabbing pain in my belly. This stinks,” she wrote.
Just four days later, Shana’s Facebook status revealed that she has passed away shortly before noon on the morning of October 31 “surrounded by her loving family and friends.” Which is exactly what she would have wanted. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and heartbreak that her family felt. And poor Isaac will grow up never knowing his mother — a woman who was deeply loved and appreciated by so many.
Her funeral was held on November 3. Jeff sat in the front row, clutching the corner of her casket, while their newborn son cried from his stroller. That morning Jeff sent his wife one final message. “I love you wifey wife, I love you, I love you, a million times over I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” he posted on her page.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you about needing those tissues, HollyMoms. I’m going to go home and give my family an extra-tight squeeze tonight and I suggest you do the same.