Saturday, September 4, 2010

We love you, Jake...

Well, today marks the 7th Angelversary of our son, Jacob Tyler. It was at 12:54pm on Sept. 4th 2003 that we delivered our sweet baby boy, stillborn, at 21 1/2 weeks. I remember that day all too well -- as well as the week leading up to it...

Waking up to severe back pain -- dismissing it after my OB didn't seem concerned -- at 21 weeks, only to witness my water breaking a few minutes later...Not exactly the way I had expected to spend my morning on September 2nd 2003. In complete shock, we raced to the Army hospital knowing that this couldn't be good. They immediately took me into an exam room to see what the diagnosis was...

We had only had one other quick ultrasound before this, so while it was in the midst of a horrible situation, it was comforting seeing him on the screen with a strong heartbeat.

After completing the exam, they determined that there was a premature rupture of the membranes (PROM). The doctor basically said that there was nothing we could do but sit and wait to see if my body heals itself...So we were admitted and I stayed on bed rest waiting, hoping and praying for a good outcome. At the end of each hour, a nurse would come in to check Jake's heart rate. Starting out, it was very strong, but it began to slow down after time.

We knew this wasn't good, but we held strong. The nurses continued to check Jake's heart rate, and on the second day, we were all excited to see that it got a little better. The nurses were hopeful, we were hopeful...Unfortunately, it still wasn't high enough to be out of the danger zone...

We continued to wait. During this entire time, there was nothing to do but sit and stare at each other. There was no TV and we didn't come prepared with books or magazines, etc. so time just crawled by. Luckily, at some point during the second day, a nurse brought in a little TV cart with a VCR and a few random movies. They had to share this one TV between all of the patients in the maternity ward, but they finally just let us have it due to our circumstances. I was very thankful for that, as we kept hearing newborns crying and women screaming during their deliveries, etc. Any distraction was going to be a plus at this point! So we sat and watched the movies, and tried as hard as we could to keep our minds off of the nightmare that we were living in. To this day, those specific movies stand out to me because of that week in the hospital with Jake, and I can't help but watch them anytime they come on TV (Austin Powers and Independence Day).

While we were hanging out watching the movies, a new doctor came in -- one that we had not talked to before. He must not have gotten the memo as to how our doctor was approaching the situation, as he gave us a whole new plan of action -- one that completely threw us off. He came in (without any kind of bedside manner), and flat out told us, "Ok, so I assume Dr. Herman told you what we plan to do, right?" **I know...we had a Dr. Herman with Jake, too!! Weird, huh?** We looked confused, so he continued to explain. He basically told us in a matter of words that they were going to induce me immediately. He warned me that Jake would be born alive, but because his lungs were not developed, he would die in our arms a few minutes later. Wow. Way to be blunt! We told him that was far from what our doctor (Dr. Herman) had told us, and that his plan was to take the wait-and-see hopes that we would be among the 20% that heal from this situation and continue on to a normal delivery down the road. After talking, he went to verify that with our doctor. We never saw that guy again, but our doctor came in to apologize and reassure us that the induction was not going to happen like that -- that if there was any hope of survival, we were going to hang on a little longer.

So we continued to wait. Jake's heartbeat remained steady between 75-90bpm into that night, but it didn't stay like that for long. When the nurse woke me up the next morning (September 4th) to check Jake's heart rate, she couldn't find a heartbeat at all. She brought in another nurse to verify it, and it was then determined that at that point, Jake had passed away. At this point in time, there was no option but to induce and deliver him stillborn.

Once they got everything prepared, they started the induction. I had no plans of getting an epidural, because I foolishly thought that since I was only 21 1/2 weeks along, a quick shot of Demerol would do the trick. HA! Once those contractions started, we called the nurse immediately for that heavenly epidural. I mean, at this point, Jake was gone...there was no reason to have endure any more pain. As luck may have it, the anesthesiologist was severely backed up so it took awhile before she could get to me. However, once she did, I was living on a cloud. It was such a relief to get that set up!

While all of this was taking place, the nurses kept asking if we wanted the Chaplain to come and talk with us. We kept turning the offer down, because we didn't know what faith he was with, and we knew what we believed and were content being alone. Well, one of the nurses refused to leave it at that and just as we were nearly ready to deliver Jake, the Chaplain walked in. The nurses left to give us a minute with him, and let's just say that was an awkward five minutes! We didn't have anything to say. We knew what was happening, and we knew what we believed. He didn't have much to say so he just made small talk. I think he finally got the hint that we just wanted to be alone, so he dismissed himself soon after that.

By this point, I knew it was time. We called the midwife in, and we immediately delivered our son, Jacob Tyler, at 12:54pm. They cleaned him up and handed him over for us to hold. He was perfect. Absolutely perfect. There was not a thing wrong with him -- he just didn't stand a chance when all of the amniotic fluid was missing.

While spending time with our son, a nurse came in and asked if we wanted to take a picture of him. She said they only had a Polaroid camera, but that we might want a picture to remember him by. I immediately turned her down. All I could think about was my friend that lost her son at 6 months. She received only a Polaroid, and 6 months later it wasn't even visible -- it totally faded out. What a tease! Plus, we felt that at 21 1/2 weeks, we didn't want to remember him that way. Looking back, I totally regret that decision -- even if the Polaroid would have faded out to nothing. Now, I wish so badly that we had a picture of our sweet baby boy. Instead, all we have are these xerox'ed ultrasound pictures from my hospital records and a few pictures that were taken while I was pregnant...

Here's one of them -- taken a couple of weeks before we lost Jake, while two of our best friends were visiting us...

Unfortunately, we don't have much beyond those few pictures. The hospital didn't offer to take his hand or foot prints, nor did we think to ask for them. They just gave us a bereavement memory box and pamphlet, but nothing more -- not even a death certificate. We found out later on that after 20 weeks, you should receive one of those. We just didn't know that when we were there with Jake. We were in such shock, we didn't even think to do anything or ask for anything. We just sat there and held him, kissed him, and told him how much we loved him. We knew this was the last time we were going to see him. They told us that at his size, there is no funeral or burial done where we were stationed. Not knowing anything different, we just took their word for it and they took care of things. Looking back, things could have been so different had we been more knowledgeable on what our options were. Jake probably would be buried next to his sister, Olivia, had we been stateside and been given that option. It's insane to think about that kind of stuff though!

Since we chose not to get a Polaroid, we made a note of what he looked like. Jacob Tyler had my bone structure and muscle in thighs (he had massive thighs!), but everything else was definitely just like his daddy. He clearly had James' nose (there was no denying this characteristic!), collarbone and feet (incredibly high arches!). Jake looked very healthy and strong, and we knew from his ultrasounds that he was feisty. To this day, we laugh about the fact that Jake couldn't sit still in his little home -- just like his dad -- while Liv was incredibly calm and relaxed -- just like her mom. The hospital didn't record Jake's length, but if you put your hands together, he could fit in the cup of you hands -- from thumb to thumb. Our sweet little guy was only 400g. He was so tiny, but left the biggest imprint on our hearts.

With all that happened, we really hoped for some kind of answer as to why this happened. After many tests on both Jacob and myself, we never got an answer. There were no infections (supposedly the standard reason for PROM) and Jake was as healthy as could be. We could only hope that any future pregnancies would not end like this, and that extra monitoring would be in order...

Since we don't have our son with us today and we don't have that much to remember him by, we hold on to the few gifts that we received back in 2003. Among them were an embroidered pillow with his name and date, flowers received while we were in the hospital that I later dried, as well as a Tiffany & Co. star with his information engraved in it.
While in Poland, we also bought a handmade wooden box that we later had his name and date engraved in. This memory box holds all of the cards we received upon getting home from the hospital.
It's hard to believe that it has been 7 years now since we said goodbye. Labor Day weekend will never be the same again, as to us, it's Jake's weekend. It's nice that, assuming that James isn't deployed, we always have a long holiday weekend to spend together in remembrance of our son. This year, we plan to head up to Seattle and do dinner at Morton's. Then tomorrow, assuming the weather's nice, we'll be heading to the beach for the evening. I suppose I can't ask for a better way to spend time thinking about our sweet baby boy.

We love you and will never forget you, Jake...


  1. My heart goes out to you and your husband. I'm sorry that Jake is not here. But I'm sure that he knows he is loved and missed dearly by both of you. And I think he would like the plan you guys have to remember him by. What a great way to spend Jake's weekend by enjoying such a meaningful time together. Here's to remembering Jacob Tyler with you today. (((hugs)))

  2. Thinking about you, Priscilla. Hoping that you find some peace today and the days ahead as you remember Jacob.

  3. I've been thinking about you and your family all day. Even though I never got to meet Jake and didn't know you then, I know you are a wonderful mommy remembering your babies the way you do. Take care this weekend

  4. I am thinking about you and James and your little angel, Jake today. (And Olivia too!) I am so sorry that you have had these losses, I you are a wonderful, loving mommy. I hope that you had a nice weekend with your husband remembering and honoring your sweet boy.

  5. You and your family are in my heart. <3 The memorials you have for your son are absolutely beautiful. <3 Remembering Jacob <3

  6. Your well written story about your children touched my heart. The way you keep their memories alive is inspirational.
    Thank you for sharing that part of your lives with me as well as being with you in Bible study.