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My life was forever changed on December 19, 2001…the day that I gave birth to and said good-bye to my third son, Jacob.

I found out that I was pregnant with my third child on September 19, 2001. At the time, my two older sons were nearly five and seven years old. We all went into the pregnancy with so much excitement-Sean (my oldest) hoping to finally have a little sister, and Brendan just glad to finally be a big brother after being the baby for so long. The pregnancy proceeded without complication. When I was 12 weeks along, I had a feeling like I was having small contractions, so away to the ER we went. After an hour of waiting, the doctor confirmed that everything was just fine, but sent us to ultrasound to have a look. We watched as our little one sucked his thumb and bounced around. We counted the fingers and toes and were in awe of how well developed he was. We went home feeling secure that everything was going to be just fine.

On the morning of Monday, December 17th , I woke up for work and the first thing that I noticed was that my belly seemed smaller than it had been. It wasn’t a tremendous difference, but I noticed it. I dismissed it as me just being paranoid. I went on to work and when my co-worker saw me, the first thing he said was that I looked like I had lost weight over the weekend. I immediately put that together with what I had seen and called my OB. He advised that I could come in later that afternoon to hear the heartbeat and confirm that everything was OK. I was set to be there at 1:00pm.

I arrived at my appointment and really wasn’t very anxious or concerned. I truly did believe that we would hear the heartbeat and I would be on my way back to work with a smile on my face. My OB placed the Doppler on my belly and we heard nothing. He dismissed it as just being a defective Doppler and got another. Once again, we heard nothing. He immediately took me to the ultrasound. As soon as he turned the machine on and we saw my baby, I knew what had happened. The heart chamber that had been beating at nearly 170 bpm at my previous ultrasound was not moving and I could still hear nothing. I just looked at my OB. I’ll never forget watching his mouth as he said, “I’m very sorry, but the baby has died.” Everything just stopped.

My OB had the ultrasound tech and another OB come in to confirm what he had told me. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion as I lay there. They began talking about the different options that I had and I remember hearing “D&C” and I just shook. It was decided that I would be induced two days later on Wednesday, December 19th-only six days before Christmas. I was 17½ weeks along. I had to go home and explain to Sean and Brendan that their little baby that they were so excited about had died and wouldn’t be coming home with us in May. I worried that it would ruin their Christmas. That night and the following day were filled with a lot of tears and a ton of questions. They both understood so well and were comforted only by the fact that their little brother was in Heaven.

I arrived at the hospital that Wednesday morning for the induction. After two doses of Cytotec and eight hours of the most intense labor I’ve ever had, Jacob was born at 4:08pm, still in the fully intact sac and weighing 4.8 oz. and measuring seven inches in length. I remember seeing his perfect little foot first. After he was removed from sac, he was immediately handed to me and I cut his cord. It was apparent at that time that he had been strangled by his cord as it was pulled tightly around his neck twice. I felt relieved to be freeing him from it. I held him for four hours. I talked to him, sang to him and cried to him. I apologized over and over for what had happened. He was absolutely perfect, down to the tiniest little fingernails and toenails I have ever seen. He had the most beautiful eyes and the cutest little mouth, tongue and ears. Everything about him was perfectly developed and I just couldn’t understand why this had happened. Sean and Brendan both held him and said their good-byes. Finally, after four hours, I lay him in his bassinet, kissed his little head and said my last good-bye. I remember wanting to run after the nurse as she wheeled him out of my room and down the hall. Leaving the hospital later that night was the emptiest feeling I had ever felt.

It was determined that Jacob had died sometime during the night on Sunday, December 16th due to the condition of his body at birth. I had also felt his regular movements during the day and evening on Sunday, so I know that he was still with us then. Jacob was cremated and we brought him home with us on the day after Christmas. His urn sits in a prominent place in our home next to a picture of him and a keepsake box that holds his clothing that he wore in the hospital, a picture of him and a card with his hand and footprints. We all speak to him and remember the hours that we had with him. Brendan still sings lullabies to him from time to time. We all have a large place in our hearts for Jacob and he will forever be a part of our family and my third child.

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Last Updated March 4, 2003 2:26 AM