The birth story of our son Jack and how we were inspired to make a difference with future Down syndrome births.
Jack's Birth Story
In early July 2012 we found out we were expecting baby #2 which happened to be exactly the same time of year that we got pregnant with Luke, our first son. At the first OB appointment we found out that this child's due date would be four days before Luke's 2nd birthday. The short summary is that I felt great through this pregnancy. I loved being active with running, swimming laps, and walking. At 20 weeks we got to see our little blessing and were told he is very healthy, has a healthy heart, blood flow, measuring good, and that it was a boy!! At about 32 weeks I was measuring smaller and only had gained about 20 pounds. My doctor ordered an ultrasound to check that he was doing good and again he got an 8/8 on the ultrasound. At 39 weeks he was again measuring about 37 weeks and I was told that I would probably just have a smaller baby. Honestly, I never thought of anything because I felt that if there was something, it would have shown up on the 4 ultrasounds I had regarding the heart, lungs, measurements, etc.
So...on to one of the hardest parts of this journey. On Monday, my Mom, Caitie and I went to get a pedicure and the contractions were coming consistently. I told everyone in the nail salon that I couldn't have this baby here...only to hear from the lady next to us that indeed, she was a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital we were planning to deliver at! Her name is Diane and she is very significant in our story in the days to come. Only God could construct this meeting...as you will read in a blog post called the Nurse and the Nail Salon. The afternoon was filled with pink toes, contractions, and Paninno's! I called Chris that afternoon and told him that he needed to come home as they were coming every 3 minutes apart.
(Before I go too much farther I will say that I love the hospital that we went to and will hopefully deliver more babies here...so please don't take the events to follow as something that I hold anyone responsible for or ill feelings about)
We got to the hospital around 4pm and I had progressed to an 8 and was so excited that soon we would be meeting our baby! My doctor was off that evening and her partner in the practice would be delivering our baby. She came in around 7pm and introduced herself. She said, "I came early, going to have my dinner, and then I will be back soon to deliver your baby!" I asked her, "Do you think we will deliver before midnight? Our oldest son has a birthday tomorrow, so I was curious if they would be born on the same day." Ten minutes of talking and she glanced over at the monitor and the baby's heart rate dropped from 130s to 70. They moved me from side to side, put a cord on his scalp and nothing changed. She then said, "I am so sorry to tell you this, but we have to do an emergency c-section." Chris was sitting on the nearby couch and canceling his classes for Tuesday as they were unhooking my cords and pushing me out the door. I looked back at him and all I could say, "Chris, please keep praying." I heard them say, "We will be back for you."
As I stared at the ceiling in the surgery room, tears streamed down my face. They put a mask on me and told me that when I wake my baby will be here. I asked them, "Can you please go get my husband?" They said, "I am sorry he can not be in here." I just cried with fear. I overheard them say the patient has a necklace on. I was wearing one of my most cherished gifts from Chris, my tear drop Cross necklace on my neck. God was with me.
I awoke to a woman calling my name. They said the baby is here and is downstairs with your husband. I asked if he could come to me. They said no and explained I needed to recover for at least another 30 to 45 minutes. I just laid there and cried. This is not what I had envisioned for my delivery, this is not what I had 'planned'.
While I was recovering these events were happening with Chris, Jack, and my Mom who was awaiting my return. I share this because my heart breaks for them as I can't imagine the feelings they were having. They never came back to get Chris for the delivery. They didn't tell him that he couldn't be with me. The doctor said she couldn't have him in there because Jack's heart rate was so low. I still have a hard time thinking of him being alone in the room. My mom was at our house and I had told her to come later as I probably would be laboring for awhile. She missed me by 10 minutes. She sat in the room when they brought Jack to Chris.
The nurse practitioner came in with Jack and asked him, "Are you aware of Trisomy 21?" He said, "I am not sure what you are saying?"
"Were you aware he could have Down syndrome? We believe he might have Trisomy 21 because of some of the characteristics he is showing. But we aren't sure until we take some tests. Low muscle tone, smaller weight, his swollen eyes, ears. As she left, "Well, just enjoy your baby."
They asked him to come to the nursery so they could check Jack over. He stayed with him for an hour and half, with this baby that an hour earlier was in my belly, and now told this child was his and has Down syndrome. He sat in the chair staring at the baby as the nurses near him talked in the background. He said he couldn't even hear what they were saying as the world had just become a blur. My mom watched Chris from outside the nursery as he stood over the baby crib. While she was asked by two student nurses if they could do anything for her. One of them had recognized Chris because he teaches at the university they are from. They sat next to my Mom, on each side, and prayed for Jack, Chris, and I.
Chris said that in 7 years of marriage and 4 years of dating this was the first time he just couldn't call me or have me around to go through this with. We were both alone and longed to be together. I can't express to you how much I love my husband. He is such a solid, hard working, disciplined, faith filled man that I respect with all that I am. To envision him peering over this crib in such confusion and patiently wait to see me brings tears to my eyes. I love him so much.
Around 9:45pm they brought me back to the room and when they rolled me in I saw Chris holding our baby. He brought him over to me. I looked at him and I can't tell you exactly what happened after that. I know that I heard Chris say that they "think" he has Down syndrome. My eyes filled with tears, and I just called out for him. I just balled as I held my new baby in my arms. My mom came in shortly after and I expressed my honest emotions at that point. "Mom, I hope they are wrong."
Chris and I immediately prayed over Jack and as we did with Luke when he was born. We prayed, giving our child back to God, knowing each of them were His to begin with and that each of them are a gift from God, specifically for us.
If you read my blog and click on Jack’s birth story you will read more of my initial feelings about the diagnosis, my feelings in the days to follow, the NICU visit, the nurse from the nail salon, the day I fell in love with my baby boy, picking his name, my doctor's call and the divine friendship that would unfold with my coworker, the amazing ways God reveals the purpose of choosing Chris and I to raise Jack, my slumber party with my sister and Jack, our family and friends responses and how that has lifted and encouraged us, big brother Luke, and so much more as we journey this road.
John 9:3 "but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him."