February 5th, 1996. Hubby and I were on our way to Asheville to stay in a hotel near the hospital. There were several inches of snow on the ground and to no one's surprise an accident occurred. Luckily it wasn't us but we did stop so he could offer his help. Not long after we were on our way again. We had dinner at Shoney's with my parents and then went to bed. I awoke at 6 AM the next morning so I could curl my hair. I knew there would be a lot of pictures taken and it was important to me that I look as well as I could.
We got to the hospital a little while later and our doctor turned Jacob since he was breach. Immediately afterward they broke my water to prevent him from doing a summersault. Excess amniotic fluid is common with a trisomy pregnancy and despite their best efforts, the nurses couldn't avoid my socks getting wet. Good thing I brought another pair!
I was given pitocin through an IV and it was a waiting game for the next several hours. My in-laws brought Kelly to visit and being a typical two year old, she stole one of my Popsicles (the only thing I was allowed to eat). Finally it was time to push. I remember bits and pieces like, our doctor's reaction as she pulled my tiny Angel from his protective home. I remember the look on her face. I remember asking, "How does he look?" afraid of severe deformation. Her reply was, "He looks good, but he won't be with us for long."
Our amazing geneticist was right there ready to take pictures of my precious baby boy. I have always and will always cherish those pictures. The staff allowed us several minutes alone being respectful of us which we very much appreciated. After we spent some time with Jacob, Kelly was allowed in to see and hold her tiny 4 lb 1 oz 17 inch long baby brother (in comparison she was 9 lb 2 oz 21 inches long).
My in-laws, parents, our best friends, and my sister-in-law took turns holding Jacob. One by one our loved ones filtered out. Eventually it was just me, Hubby, and our precious dying baby boy. If you read Trisomy 18, you saw the statistics. Jacob beat two of those odds – 90% are girls and 90% have heart defects. My strong little peanut was a boy and had no heart deformations. He had an extra cord in the umbilical cord, one of his kidneys was smaller than the other, and his lungs were underdeveloped but his tiny little heart beat strong.
I begged the nurses to let me feed him but they kept putting me off. I later discovered this was because he would have needed a tube in order to be fed. I remember around 9 PM our nurse came in to check on him and found he'd made a messy diaper. She changed him and handed him back to me. Less than an hour later, she held the stethoscope to his small chest and told us his lungs had stopped working. A minute later his strong heart had to give up.
We pulled off all of the warming blankets the nurses had placed on him to try and get his temperature up. We wanted to see his tiny feet, his little legs and hands. We held him and cried. Hubby called our parents so they could come and say their good-byes. My mom was so strong for me. Although it had been over 30 years before, I knew that memories of her holding her own son as he died were brought to the surface. Daddy held my hand. Hubby's parents arrived a little later and held their grandson one last time. Once again Hubby and I were left alone with Jacob who had now gone to be with God.
Our doctor came in to check on us and see if we were ready. She took the preemie outfit we'd bought for Jacob to be buried in and scooped our Angel into her arms. With tears streaming down her face, she walked out the door.
We spent the night crying and holding each other. The next morning one of our other doctors came to see us. "How's life?" he asked, sympathetically. "Life sucks," I replied.
I was allowed to go home later that day. With Kelly on my lap I was wheeled out of the hospital leaving my only son behind. There are no words to describe the pain and anguish I felt. From that moment on I firmly believed that there is no greater loss than that of a child. I know in my heart that I will see him again. Until then, I carry him in my heart.