In loving memory of my Baby Jacob, here is one of the last photos of him alive. Taken at our in-depth ultrasound at 12.5 weeks on October 21, 2010, you can see my little baby as we saw him. His head is on the right and he is looking up. If you go to the left along the top of the photo, you will see his eyes and nose and mouth. There you will see what they thought was a possible cleft lip or cleft palate. You can also see his right hand up by his face (in the dark space) and his left hand close to his body. You can see a dark spot by his tummy--that was something that wasn't supposed to be there--his small intestines were outside of his body but they were enclosed in a sack. I guess that meant that it wasn't super major and was fixable with surgery if he would have lived to have been born. You can then see Jacob' little feet up in the air on the far left and then it curves around to show his butt and his back as you head back to the right along the bottom of the photo. This is the first time I've every posted a photo of him at this stage. I hope you enjoy meeting my son. Readers, meet Baby Jacob.
I would have never guessed that I would be at a point like this in my life. Well, who does? It has been one year since we lost our precious baby Jacob that you see alive in the photo above. One year.
I went back and read through some of my posts from one year ago. Who was that person? Who was that poor, hurting woman? Sometimes I can't believe that that woman was me. That I was the one going through such a dark and hurting pain. I was the one who lost a child, not someone else--not someone that you read about. It was me. I had a miscarriage. I had a D&C.
The beginning of this journey was so unbelievably painful--full of uncertainty, confusion, panic, sadness and anger. When I read my feelings from back then, I remember how bad things were. And then I say a prayer of gratitude for how much better things are now. Thank you, Lord, for the healing that you have brought to my life throughout the past year.
This isn't to say that all days are wonderful or that I've "moved on" from the grief over losing my son. There are some days that are still bad, frustrating or confusing. Have I moved on? No, I don't think anyone in a place like this just moves on. Have I moved forward? Yes. Call it a word choice preference if you want but you'll find in the baby loss community that many moms don't use or like "moving forward". I think it implies that they simply leave their baby behind. We all carry our baby with us and just hope and pray that we move forward with thoughts of love for our baby, rather than constant thoughts of grief and sorrow.
So I have "moved forward" with my baby in my heart and I am a different person than I was one year ago. Am I a better person? Who knows, don't we all like to think that? That something like this happens to us and we are changed for the better? Sure, I guess. I'd like to think that I've grown from this in a lot of ways, especially regarding my faith and my relationship with God. However I have changed, I know that I will forever carry October 25, 2010 with me. I will forever carry Jacob with me. I am a new person. I have three sons, not just two. Two of my boys live here with me. The third lives in Heaven. It's as simple and as beautiful as that.
One year ago. Last year at this time I remember being in such a different place. Even after we received Jacob's diagnosis I still was so unsure of what the future held for us. Doctors could be wrong, right? Maybe Jacob would beat the odds and make it to full term to be born. Maybe he would live for months. I had so many scenarios running through my head and it was so difficult to process them all.
It had been a rough weekend. Jacob's ultrasound had been on Thursday, October 21 and we had gone out of town for my mom's birthday to celebrate with her that weekend. Everything changed of course. What was supposed to be a joyous time full of birthday surprises had become a stressed event with all of us trying to best figure out how to celebrate her and yet to be mindful of the pain that we were experiencing.
On that Friday, October 22, I remember calling my brother and asking if they would mind coming up after we left. I had planned everything out for mom's party and had reminded him of the event just earlier that week. My brother and his wife were expecting too. They had just announced their pregnancy. Under the circumstances I just couldn't figure out how we would all be there at the same time. I love my brother and despite how much I would have loved to have seen him, I wanted him to have their time with my mom and family. I wanted them to be free to share their joy and not to have to worry about saying the wrong thing around us. I just felt it would be so awkward and especially didn't want my mom to have to worry about that since it was her birthday that was to bring us all together. Plus, I had no idea even how I would celebrate during such a time of misery and uncertainty but I had to try for my mom and for my boys. They had really been looking forward to Grandma's party so even though I considered not going home at all that weekend, I knew home was where we needed to be.
On Sunday, October 24, right before we left, I had Alex take a picture of Mom and I so she could have at least one picture with her grandson. I have misplaced the picture but hope to find it to post sometime--it's not a great one of me but it shows the genuine emotion of the night. I didn't have any eye make-up on and my eyes were red from crying. Truth is, I looked pretty pitiful. My mom looked great and so happy. My mom gives me such strength. She is my best friend and I really needed her during this time. While I was so grateful to have been able to come and see her I was also crying because I wished she could have come with us. I hated leaving her and facing the uncertainty with Jacob. I needed her so much.
Originally I had been looking forward to my October 25 doctor appointment. This was obviously prior to the ultrasound. I had just found a new dance group, clogging to be exact, and was so excited to start dancing again. Remember, we had just moved from Texas to Ohio in early August and had left all of our friends and activities (including clogging) behind. It was so great to find a new group after looking for the past few months. Unfortunately because I had had some spotting (one spot to be exact) a month prior in September, my doctor advised me to wait for this appointment before she gave me the thumbs up to start jumping around again.
Clogging was the last thing on my mind on Monday, October 25, 2010, as I walked in to the OB's office that afternoon. The memories I have from that day are permanently etched in my brain. How they took me straight back to my doctor's office so we wouldn't have to sit in the waiting room with other pregnant patients. How long we sat in that office waiting to see her. That wait was pure agony. I still wish my doctor would have simply rescheduled me for her last appointment of the day rather than having us come in at our normal time, only to get everyone else out of the way before seeing me. Nice gesture, just didn't work very well.
I've included a bit from my post last year, October 25, 2010. Feel free to read the rest of the post from that day if you wish:
"So as we waited for an eternity--an hour in the doctor's office--those questions chased each other around my mind. The boys watched Dora's Pirate Adventure on the DVD player we brought in for them. Because he had only 6 hours of sleep last night, Alex dozed off and on in the chair.
I can't tell you how long and how agonizing that hour was. I wanted to tell Dora to zip it. She sang with such gusto it was making me sick, literally. I grew tired of looking around the office. The brown carpeting. The medical certificates elegantly framed on the wall. The statues of doctors holding babies. The family picture showing my doctor, her husband and 3 smiling children. The collage of baby pictures showing her twins. The stupid pyramid clock on the desk was annoying. It was sliced at angles and rotated by seconds, minutes, and hours. How could anyone tell the time on that clock?
Finally the doctor came down the hall and introduced herself to Alex. She said she wanted to get all of her other patients out of the way so she could spend as much time with us as we needed. That was nice, but I wish they could have just told us to come later. It was so hard sitting there for an hour with nothing but worry and Dora pummeling your head.
One of the first questions she asked us was about our preference. I told her that I just didn't think I could terminate. It might make all the sense in the world to do so, but it just didn't feel right to me. I knew I could never live with my decision if I did do that. I know many women make this decision and I respect them because it is such a difficult decision to make. But we all make our own decisions that fit who we are. For me, it just was not something I could do.
From there we talked in-depth about everything that could happen and when. What if the baby miscarried in the next few weeks. What if the baby went past 20 weeks, how he would 'come out.' What hospital I would go to for what procedure. I know poor Alex's head was spinning--go to this hospital before 20 weeks but go to that one after because they have a level 3 NICU. Go to Labor and Delivery at this hospital. Go to the ER at that one.
We discussed having a 3rd c-section if my baby made it to near full-term. How he could still pass away because the birth process is so traumatic. Would I hold him for a few hours or if the neo-natologist gave him a quick assessment that saving his life was not possible, or if it was, he would be rushed to Dayton Children's Hospital where they have surgeons standing by but I would not be if anything were to go wrong there.
We discussed his chances. We discussed all of the things wrong with him. There were four primarily: 1- thickness behind the neck which could signal different problems, but not necessarily mental difficulties like I first thought. In fact, at this time, they didn't see any specific brain or heart problems but it could have been to early to detect. 2- A protrusion in the abdominal wall--this is something like, "Omaphele" or something like that. It doesn't matter the exact word. I was happy to know that it was only the baby's small intestines which were outside but still enclosed in a sack, compared to other situations were some babies have all of their organs outside and no sack to protect them. I know it sounds strange, but sometimes you need even the tiniest of hope to hold on to. 3- Extra digits--not a problem. 4--A cleft lip and/or palate--again, something they could fix. I was happy that that was ALL they found. Again, you take what you can get and not seeing any obvious heart problems right away was something ever so tiny that I could hold on to.
At this point it was around 5:30 or so. We'd been at the doctor's office for almost 2 hours. Dora had finally been shut off. It was now time for my ultrasound to check on my baby. I told Alex that he could take the boys out since they wouldn't be able to handle much more.
The doctor came in while the technician was doing my ultrasound. I'm no expert but I'd like to say I've learned something from all of these ultrasounds. There wasn't a heartbeat. I knew it before they even told me. My baby was lying kind off all stretched out with one hand up by his face and the other down. His legs were stretched out. I kept hoping to see the little 'flicker' as I called it, I hoped to see the little heartbeat. They kept looking at different angles. The doctor came close to the screen. I asked, "We can't see the heartbeat, huh?" My doctor said, "No, Kim. I'm sorry."
Even though I knew this was possible, an onslaught of tears hit again. There was my precious little child lying dead in my womb. Never to be held by me. Never to be sung to Mommy. Never to feel Mommy's tears on his face as I told him over and over how much I loved him. Never to nurse at my breast. How could this be? How could he have died so quickly? And why on earth couldn't we have done the ultrasound first? Do you know that I actually apologized to the doctor for taking up so much of her time discussing options when it wasn't even necessary?
My baby had been so active last Thursday. His little ankles were crossed. He kicked his feet several times. He squirmed, wiggled and rolled. It was so beautiful to see. But today, he was limp. Lifeless. He looked like a child's doll just...lying there.
One thing touched me. My baby died sometime today. I hit 13 weeks today. My baby measured 13 weeks. That meant he was with me until sometime today. It gives me a small degree of comfort in knowing that. Maybe he died this morning. Maybe it was during our visit with the doctor. I'll never know but I am happy to know that he wasn't gone for long before we found out. I don't know why this brings me a small amount of peace but it does. Knowing when he died. I guess I feel closer to him somehow.
I asked one more time for pictures of my baby. They were so kind to give them to me. Again, they are not the best angle, nor as close up as I could like but they show my tiny little love in there all the same. I'll treasure those pictures forever.
I was the last to leave the doctor's office. Again, for the few nurses and staff who were left it was a hush as I exited. Glances and quiet that quite frankly I'm getting tired of walking through."
I don't know how it was for you just now, but that was so hard for me to re-read. I can't believe everything that I went through in a matter of days. I can't believe that I somehow endured Dora and all of the gazillion scenarios we discussed only to find out that Jacob had died. All of the scenarios and planning were totally worthless at that point.
I know at times I wonder what might have happened if we did the ultrasound first that day? Would Jacob have been alive? Would he then have passed away some time later? Would I have missed a miscarriage and suffered from some infection? Remember, I was already at 13 weeks and was warned repeatedly that a late miscarriage in the next 2-3 weeks could be bad for me.
Perhaps all of this timing was truly in God's plan. Wow. I never thought of it that way until just now. What if God planned all of that out to the last agonizing minute of us waiting for the doctor? The extended wait that drove me nuts. The lengthy discussion with the doctor that had my head spinning. The Dora nightmare. The annoying pyramid clock that I wanted to chunk into the trash. Everything. What if God did that so to give my little baby time to pass away into His arms. And to give us time to know that he had gone so the doctors could take care of his mommy sooner rather than to wait any later. Wow. I'm blown away by that thought. I can't believe it took me a year to even consider this! This whole time I had been agitated by my wait but my Lord knew what he was doing. Thank you, Lord, for taking care of me that day. For not letting an infection build that could take Sammy and Benny's mommy away. Thank you for making me wait if it meant that You sent Your angels at that time to carry my baby back to You.
I want to share another photo that I have not shared before. It is my sweet little Jacob on the day that he died. After the doctor confirmed that Jacob didn't have a heart beat and I heard those dreaded words, "I'm sorry," again for the second time in 5 days, she printed pictures for me while I cried.
I still love that Jacob made it to exactly 13 weeks. I had just turned 13 weeks that day and Jacob measured the same. I don't know why but one year later this still brings me a huge amount of comfort knowing that he died then. It's like he died with me. He waited for us to see him on October 21. He probably just wanted to show off! :) He waited to celebrate his grandma's birthday that weekend and for her to tell him that she loved him. He fought hard and made it much longer than he should have--apparently most Trisomy 13 babies pass away very early in pregnancy, like around 4-6 weeks. He waited to die on the very day that I turned 13 weeks and for it to register that way at the doctor's office. He died with his mommy loving him so much.
Here is my little baby. Lying on his side, I think his face is angled up with his arm near it. I remember what the doctor and ultrasound technician told me last year about his position but it's hard to make out on this photo. It's really the only photo out of all of his ultrasound photos that I have a hard time seeing him in. I know he was stretched out. Maybe he just went to sleep or was taking a nap. And then he woke up in the most glorious place ever--Heaven! I'm sorry about the white space below, the photo scanned that way and I can't figure out how to cut that part.
Why did Jacob make it so long? Why did he make it 13 weeks? I have no idea. I still wonder about that alot. If you're wondering what type of anger or frustration I've had in the last year I guess you could throw that in there. I don't know that I've been angry really. I don't think that's the right word. I think confused fits better.
If I could ask God one question, that might be at the top of the list. If I was too old to conceive again, why didn't He just let things be? We'd been trying for awhile. Number three was taking longer. If it wasn't meant to be, why didn't we just not ever conceive and chalk it up to age in the end? But we did. God granted us another baby to love, just not here on earth. That's what I try to remember when I find myself wondering about that question. That's what I have to remember. Life is more than just what's here on earth. There is so much more awaiting all of us in Heaven. And my son is experiencing those things as I write this!
Would I have changed things? If God said, "Okay, Kim. Let's chat about this. Would you have rather I not let you get pregnant at all or let Jacob come see me sooner?" I'd probably sheepishly reply, "Uh, no." Because you see I am thankful that I did get pregnant. We did it all on our own--no pills, no shots, no ultrasounds. We beat the odds in some respects, huh?
And regarding God taking Jacob earlier? Oh no. Then I would have never seen my little one. I cherish that so much because I know that there are several moms who never see even an ultrasound photo. My heart breaks for them because I know how much every single photo means to me. And seeing him that last day alive? Technology is pretty cool. Despite my little baby being so tiny, I was able to see so much of him! And I LOVED every second of it!
I still wonder about it all though. God must have had a reason for everything that happened. For us getting pregnant right after we moved. For me to have made it through a third of my pregnancy carrying little Jacob. For Jacob dying so quickly after only 5 days from learning of his condition. I can guess all I want but what's most important is that I continue to trust God through all of this.
What happens next? Well, I am looking forward to our little private family celebration at 6:00 PM Tuesday, October 25, 2011. We will be remembering our precious Jacob--Alex, me, Sammy and Benny. I will write about that in the next few days and even will share photos too.
I made it one year. Wow. I still can't believe that one year has already gone by since I was last pregnant and anticipating joy at being a mommy again. Since I just felt that we were having another little boy to add to our mix. Since I found myself dropped into a dark well with storm clouds raging all around me and what appeared to be no way out of the chaos.
I did find a way out and every step has been a journey to make it out. I've learned that I was so naieve when I asked my nurse during my D&C how long the emotional pain would last. That's got to be one of the dumbest things I think I've ever asked but hey, maybe I can blame it on the drugs they had me on during my surgery? :) I learned that this is a pain that is a part of you but what it does to you depends on how you react to it...how much control you let it have. Sure, there have been plenty of days full of tears throughout the past year. But there have also been plenty of days full of joy at simply remembering my son. Those are the ones that I aim for because those are the ones that I feel bring me closer to him. I feel him more when I am joyous then when I am sad. Actually, I feel God's love more. I know that I am letting Him in to work His healing in me. And I'll take it. I'll take it because it's what got me out of that dark well that I was in one year ago today.
My dearest Jacob,
How Mommy loves you! How much I miss you!! You would be a sweet six months old right now, do you know that? We would have just gone to Grandma's this past weekend to sing happy birthday to her. Your party hat would have fallen off, no doubt! I don't know that I would have let you eat cake since you'd still be a bit young for that, but you probably might have checked it out with your little hands. Maybe you would have had six fingers, that's okay. I'd lick the icing off of a thousand little baby fingers if they were yours! And your brothers would have laughed at you for making a mess. And you would have laughed back. :) Your laughter would melt my heart, I know.
And this week, Jacob, we'd be getting your little Halloween costume ready. I always wanted to do the baby pumpkin thing and I'm sorry to say that you'd probably get stuck in such a silly little costume. But I know you'd humor Mommy, right? :)
Sweetheart, please know while this past year has been difficult and even now continues to be difficult as we approach all of the holidays which would have been your "firsts", I am okay. It's my love for you, for our family and for God which has gotten me through losing you.
Do you remember when I 'felt' you several months ago? It was only once but I know it was you. I think you dropped in on me to let mommy know you were okay. Jacob, if you can, would you come see Mommy tomorrow? I will be missing you so much. It's the day one year ago when I learned that you left me and it was so hard. I would love to feel you tomorrow!
Please know Jacob that you are loved! You were here for 13 wonderful weeks and so many people know your name now! They know that despite losing you so early, that despite never holding you in our arms, we love you so deeply and always will. You were here, my little one. Thank you for leaving your little footprints on my heart...the mark they left is permanent and I am so grateful.
With all of my love Jacob! Mommy remembers you today...Mommy loves you today, and always. "Hearts" to my baby...