The Greatest Gift

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Told by: Sara

This is our story of the greatest gift that was given to us, but taken too soon.

We lost our baby boy, our first born, James Dean “J.D.” on December 31, 2012.
Here is a little bit about my life and my family leading up to J.D. My husband and I met in January 2005. He popped the question in 2009 and we were married on December 4, 2010. We bought a house together and spend our free time making home improvements, camping in our motor home, or visiting family. We have a wonderful marriage and are as much husband and wife as we are best friends. The only missing link was a little baby.
Our baby making journey began November 2011. We were trying for a few months and got pregnant. Seeing the plus sign on the pregnancy test was one of the most exciting moments of our lives. We told everyone Christmas morning and everyone could not be happier. New Years Eve I started bleeding and was concerned . We went in to the hospital to find out that I was having a miscarriage. I can still remember curling up in a ball in the waiting room and crying uncontrollably as my husband held me. We were only 6 weeks along, but the pain was devastating. At that time, I thought that would be the worst pain I would ever have in my life again. Yet I was wrong.
After waiting to have a few normal periods we started trying again in April 2012. By the end of the month we found out we were pregnant. I remember telling my husband and both of us having considerably less excitement than before with expectation that we might lose this one was well. By the end of May we had our first ultrasound and the sound of our baby’s heartbeat was astonishing. My husband’s face said it all, we were going to have this baby!
The following months were wonderful. I loved being pregnant. Close friends and coworkers said they never saw a happier pregnant woman. J.D. was so active. He kicked me all the time and loved it. My husband, Scott, loved feeling his kicks and would kiss my belly every morning and say goodbye to our little man on his way to work.
Our horror began Sunday, December 30, 2012. I had my 39 week appt on Friday and heard our baby’s strong heart beat. Our nurse practitioner said that everything looked good, but I was not dilated. Saturday included sleeping in and visiting a family member for his birthday. I felt my little guy kick a few times on Saturday. Sunday morning we woke up real late. Scott watched the Packers football game. We ate lunch. After eating is when J.D. was most active, yet I did not feel him move. I ate a few sour gummy bears and still nothing. I even remember saying to Scott to yell at my belly. I called Labor and Delivery and they said to come in to check with ultrasound machine. The drive to the hospital was silent. We both knew something was wrong. As I got checked in and laid down on the bed, I never thought that I would be hearing the next few words, “I’m so sorry we can’t find a heart beat, your baby is gone”. I could not see the ultrasound machine, just my husband’s face. The horror in his eyes is something that still haunts me. I just remember squeezing his hand and screaming, “no, no, no, no”. So many nurses and doctors came in, each trying a different machine or place on my stomach to find a heartbeat. But nothing was heard, but the racing sound of my own heartbeat. I wanted to immediately die.
I remember calling out for my own mom. I remember being moved to another room. I remember my mom, my sister, my mother in law and my husband being there. I remember sitting in a room for hours with silence between the five of us.  I remember a lot of drugs and pain. I remember throwing up and screaming that I could not do this. After over 24 hours of hell, I delivered our angel baby naturally on December 31, 2012 at 8:30 pm. He was perfect. 7lbs and 21 in of perfection. The cord was wrapped around his neck and was the cause of his death. We held him,  kissed him, took pictures of him. The nurses dressed him in a blue and white outfit and cap, took foot prints and took pictures too. A chaplain came in, prayed with us, and blessed J.D. We wished him a happy New Year as it turned 12 am, January 1, 2013. After my mom, sister and mother in law left, after being at the hospital for 30 hours, my husband and I were left alone with our son. His beautiful faced now changing colors with bruising appearing darker than before. We told him how much we loved him and how we would remember him forever. I said I was so sorry that this happened to him and that I would give anything to trade places with him. It was about 1:30 am and we called the nurse in. After about an hour as a family of three, the two of us handed our baby to her and she walked out the room. That was the last time I would ever be able to hold my baby in this world. I immediately wanted him back, but knew it was time to let him go. We held each other and cried.
We spent the night at the hospital and left in the morning after being counseled by a grief counselor. Being rolled out of the hospital with no baby in my arms was devastating. The hospital gave us a box with the clothes they dressed J.D. in, photos, foot prints, a teddy bear, a blanket, a card and a small bracelet J.D. held in his hands for a photo that said “Baby James”. We could not control ourselves from crying the whole way home. We got out of the car and went straight to his nursery where we cried and held each other. Our baby would never come home to this beautiful room. He would never see all the hardwork we put into his nursery or feel all the love we had saved up just for him.
The following days are a blur. We went to a funeral home, by our house, with a support system including my mom, sister and mother in law. We made the hardest purchase of our life, our son’s burial plot. We bought the plots next to him for ourselves. I don’t think any average 31 year olds ever thinks about buying their own burial plots or their child’s but we did.
Our baby’s funeral was on January 9, 2013. We got to see him one more time. His skin was glowing and as I touched his soft cheeks I felt how cold his skin was. We had given the funeral home the outfit we had in his hospital bag and a white blanket with stars to dress him in. I had written a letter to him and read it aloud with Scott by my side. We put a Packers teddy bear, the letter, a picture of us at our maternity photo shoot and my favorite piece of jewelry, a Tiffany heart necklace, in his little white casket. My sister added her own letter that I read to him and my mother in law added a little angel sculpture. Scott was able to carry my son’s casket from the funeral home and out of the hearse, across the grass to his plot. I never looked up or around, but I was told over 50 friends, family and coworkers were there to show their love. We played the Theme song of Twilight, “A Thousand Years” and had a minister do the ceremony. Many people came up and offered their condolences. I just held onto J.D.s teddy bear, stared at his picture above his small white casket and cried. Scott held one side of me while my mom was on the other. Once the ceremony was over and people began to leave we tossed flowers into the grave and I laid in the grass looking down. I never thought that this could happen. I was not prepared. It did not seem real, like a really horrible dream that I would wake up from crying.
I spent three weeks at home or with my husband at work. I needed to return to work as soon as possible instead of staring at J.D.s empty nursery and crying all day. I am a teacher, so my principal and I decided to send home a letter to my students’ parents explaining what happened so I would not get any questions about my baby. For the most part,  I have not had too many questions. A few students and parents have asked me about my baby and how do I like being a mom. I just say I’d rather not talk about it right now. Word of mouth had gotten around and no one talks about it anymore.
It’s weird, but life around me has returned back to normal. People try to treat us like they did before we were pregnant inviting us to birthday parties and vacations. The only difference is the giant sized hole we have in our hearts. I cry everyday. I visit my son’s grave everyday. It has been exactly 104 days since our baby left this world. We have found some hope in church and we try to go every other Sunday. Scott has immersed himself in work and projects around the house. I have become obsessed with baby loss websites on Facebook and baby remembrance items. I am going to buy a curio cabinet to put all my J.D. artifacts in a safe place. We plan on trying to get pregnant again this summer, but that really us. We want a baby so bad, and I feel like we are just unlucky. I honestly don’t think I will ever find true happiness again. I won’t really believe that we are going to be able to keep a baby until I leave the hospital with one in my arms.
To make this situation even worse, both of my husband’s brothers and their wives were pregnant the same time as us. One has a beautiful baby girl who is 7 months old and another one has a perfect baby boy who is 6 months old. J.D. would have been 3 1/2 months old and would be growing up with two cousins near in age. For the rest of our lives we will see these two kids grow up and know that J.D. should have been the third one running around with them.
In the past few weeks, I have finally been able to talk about all of this and try and reach out for more support. I am seeing a therapist once a month and going to a support group for baby loss mothers who meet once a month. My family support unit is amazing and my husband is truly God sent. Without his love and constant reassurance that our baby is safe in heaven and that we will be together again some day, I would not be where I am in my grief. I love him and he is my rock.
I hope you find some sense of comfort from my story.
{Below are photos of J.D.}
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