The 1 in 4: Love for J-Dub
It was the dawning of a new year, on the very last day of 2016 to be exact. My husband and I had been discussing our future a lot lately. We had hit a lot of milestones together like graduating college, getting married, finding good jobs, and buying our first home. Though there was still something missing -- one major milestone we were anxiously discussing -- a baby. The time finally felt right to start a family. We had just spent the summer remodeling our new home and had the perfect spare bedroom to fill with the joys of a little one. The enchantment that came with the idea of having a baby surrounded my every thought.
On the morning of March 25, 2017, we were blessed with a positive pregnancy test. Being that this was the
day after my birthday, we decided to spread the news with all of our closest friends and family at a crawfish boil we were hosting. The excitement was too much, we couldn’t hold on to the secret for long. Tears of joy were shed by the expectant grandparents and our friends were just as excited for the upcoming addition. Though rain clouds and thunderstorms loomed over our party, they didn’t stop us from celebrating the most special of occasions. Jokes of “daddy’s little hunting buddy” or maybe “mommy’s little princess” were made as we laughed and dreamt about the future.
The pregnancy was effortless. Minus the the occasional nausea during the early stages, this even subsided about halfway through. On a stormy summer day at 15 weeks gestation we discovered we would be having a bouncing baby boy! For the first time in our marriage, I saw tears in my husband’s eyes from his elation. The hunt for everything blue instantly began as I so quickly collected every precious baby boy onesie I could find. Despite more summer rain, our gender reveal party was full of excitement as well. Our little love would be the first grandchild for my parents, and the first boy on my in-laws; side. He was so loved already.
I felt the first of John Weston’s kicks at 19 weeks. Like little butterflies in my tummy, I remember laying on the bed for most of the day dreaming of what he would look like. I stayed home and messaged my husband and mother every time he would change positions out of pure amazement. The next week at our 20 week anatomy scan everything looked perfect. Our John Weston was measuring 2-3 weeks ahead on the growth chart, “Gonna be a big boy!” the doctor said. His daddy and I were beaming with pride.
As summer came to an end and fall began the excitement grew as our November due date inched closer. We scheduled a 3D/4D ultrasound in September to get an extra peek. What better gift on my 3-year wedding anniversary than to see my precious baby? We invited our families to join in the fun. As we drove through a terrible rain storm, I couldn’t help but wonder who my John Weston would look like. During the ultrasound we all laughed as he gave us a number of big yawns to show his enthusiasm on the matter. He had perfect chubby cheeks already and still had 10 weeks left to grow!
During the last week of October I noticed my sweet baby hadn’t been moving quite as much, just a faint turn here and there, no jabs or kicks. I had mentioned this to a number of family members, friends, and nurses. Everyone assured me being that he was so big, and running out of space, that this was normal as we approached his due date. Every time I heard his strong heart beat thumping through the doppler machine I was reassured. My OB explained that at my next appointment we would do our last ultrasound to see how baby was measuring. We would also be able to preregister with labor and delivery in preparation of our upcoming delivery. I was over the moon excited at the thought.
Upon entering the hospital that fall Friday morning for our 35 week appointment, Lance and I walked holding hands. I joked, “What if we walk in and they say he is ready now and we have to deliver today? Can you imagine?” Lance laughed and assured me even if that was the case, we would make it work. He would dash home to pack our bags and be just as content with an early arrival. We were both so ready to meet our little man.
As we sat in the ultrasound waiting area, Lance worked on some drawings for work. I was preoccupied with Weston and his lack of movement. I kept tapping the side of my tummy trying to get a reaction from him. I hummed and even talked louder than usual to see if my voice would wake him. I tickled the side of my tummy and pushed down from the side, nothing. I got a sting of worry in my mind -- what if he is gone? As afraid as I was to even render the thought, I felt as though there was no life growing inside of me anymore. I felt empty, cold. In fear of losing my mind in the waiting area, I assured myself this was just another one of my irrational fears and that everything was fine. Soon after they called us back, finally I could get some relief from my worries.
Lance and I entered the dim ultrasound room hurriedly. We were both eager to see the baby. The ultrasound tech cheerfully asked if we knew the gender of the baby, we both proudly said, “Boy!” Lance joked with the tech, asking if she had ever ruined that surprise for someone before, she told us she had and we laughed over the thought of her embarrassment. As she put the warm gel on my belly my eyes were fixed on the screen waiting to see him. As she scrolled her tool over my belly I was having a hard time finding anything familiar on the screen. To fill the silence I explained I was worried about the baby because the last few days he hadn’t been moving as usual. The tech then asked, “When was the last time you felt him move?” I knew as soon as she asked my worst fear was true. I told her it had been a couple of days. She then said, “When was your last appointment with your doctor?” By this time the fear in my eyes, and hers, triggered Lance to start asking questions. “We saw my OB last Friday, we are on weekly appointments now,” I explained. Lance chimed in, “What did you just measure, his head?” We could see on the screen she was measuring an outline of something large and round. She kept repeating to herself, “there is the femur...” and scrolling her tool back and forth from his head to his femur, nothing. She promptly turned the machine off and pulled the paper drape off of my belly, “I’m so sorry,” she exclaimed with tear filled eyes. I knew he was gone. Lance didn’t understand, “What?” “What’s wrong?” I turned to him with tears falling from my eyes and said, “he’s gone.”
Our world would never be the same.
On a stormy October night I gave birth to a perfect 5Ib 3oz 19 inch little boy. I remember, even through the
silence following delivery, I could hear rain falling outside our hospital window. For some reason, the rain soothed me. To break the somber mood right after his birth I asked the room, “So, who does he look like?” My husband smiled and said, “He is you!” My doctor came close to me and whispered with a grin, “No doubt, this baby is you made over!” Tears flowed as the nurse handed me my precious little boy for the first time. My John Weston was perfect. He had 10 long fingers and 10 long toes. I will never forget how delicate and soft his skin was, smooth like satin -- unlike anything I had ever touched before. His long legs bunched up under the swaddle blanket, almost too long to even fit underneath. He had wavy blonde hair just like his mama. Perfect chubby cheeks and sweet tiny lips, he looked just like I would envision an angel.
With a number of friends and family lining the hallway for the entire labor, we welcomed anyone who wanted to come and meet our precious baby with open arms. The staff was phenomenal at gathering keepsakes for us as we spent much of the night with our little one. We said the things we needed to say, we held him, we kissed him, we laughed at his floppy ears given by his daddy, we cried. We let our hearts break. By far the hardest moment of my entire life was letting go of my baby as the nurse took him from me for the last time.
When an event like this happens in one’s life, I feel as though time stands still. My husband and I agree there is who we were before Weston, and who we are after. We are forever changed. The innocence and bliss that we once knew has been taken from us. True heartache and sorrow has become a part of our everyday lives. Once at home, in the days following delivery, we painstakingly reviewed details about our baby’s funeral arrangements, an idea every parent shudders at the thought of. There is something about coming home to a quiet, dark nursery that haunts you. Still when I sit in his nursery, quiet.
I remember getting the call from a relative explaining she had spoken to a representative from Anna’s Grace foundation. When she told of how the foundation wanted to help us with burial expenses after hearing our story, I immediately burst into tears. To think that someone that had never met me, understood this hurt and wanted to ease this burden, overwhelmed me with emotion. I can only describe it as someone lending out a caring hand to pull me from my life’s darkest moments. Thanks to Anna’s Grace, our precious baby was peacefully laid to rest on November 1, 2017. A number of friends and family mentioned how the “heavens cried” that day as the rain fell to the ground for the entire ceremony. And wouldn’t you know, not a drop of rain fell again until November 30th -- his due date. I now call it my “Weston Rain.” Looking back, on every major event throughout John Weston’s life there was always one common factor, the rain. He is my perfect storm.
He has taught me so much about life and how truly precious every moment is. I am comforted by the impact he left on this world. Even down to the tiny cross you can see on his foot from his hospital picture. This precious life has spoken to the hearts of many, and forever will be a testament of God’s perfect and unfailing love.
Through our tragedy, we are so thankful for the opportunity to give back to such a valuable foundation in our community. Please join us at Anna’s Grace Quarter Marathon to honor John Weston and the countless others lost far before our hearts were ready. We’ll be the team wearing blue, for our “Weston Rain!”
Danielle is the captain of the "Love for J-Dub" team for Anna's Grace Quarter Marathon -- representing the 1 in 4 pregnancies that ends in loss. You can visit her team page or make a donation here: http://annasgrace.itsyourrace.com/donate/team/LoveforJDub.
About Anna’s Grace Foundation Anna’s Grace Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting families in the Greater Baton Rouge Area who experience miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. Each and every day one of our neighbors, friends, coworkers, or family members will experience the devastating loss of a baby, and Anna’s Grace is there to provide emotional and financial support so that families can focus on healing. The Anna’s Grace Quarter Marathon is on March 25, 2018. For more information or to register, visit http://www.annasgrace.org/registration.