Dear Friends,

When I first came home from the hospital, on May 11th, 2010, I sat down and wrote out what happened with our sweet baby boy Jack. That writing is located under the tab above called “Jack’s Story”. Since writing that account, I often times look back and think about how much I left out about after Jack died and how I didn’t write about  the days afterwards.  Today is my first attempt to revisit these memories, because I feel like to appreciate Jack’s life, you have to know his story in its entirety. You know about his birth and delivery and the events that led up to that point. Now I present you with how grief swept into our hearts, and how Jack inspired us to be the best people we can possibly be.

With Love,
EH

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It was 4:20 in the morning when the knock at the door came. I was sleeping, sitting up in my hospital bed, leaning to the right, trying to keep pressure off of my incision from my classical Cesarian the night before. The TV was on, the sound low enough to drum out the weird hospital noises that you never get used to hearing.

The doctor opened the door, flooding the room with light, flipped a light switch and said “Mrs. Hughes?” in a tone of voice meant to wake me up. He didn’t know that I had been dozing on and off throughout the night and that his knock woke me up immediately. When he sat down next to my bed, I saw a young man, in blue/green scrubs who would not look me in the eye.

He said “Ms. Hughes, I have some bad news for you. During the night, your son was trying to release gas from his body, and we were trying to help him but during the process of trying to help him, his heart stopped and we could not get it going again. Your baby died. I am sorry”.

Thinking back on this moment I don’t know how to describe it. It was a surreal feeling of disbelief. I could not believe what he was saying to me. My baby was literally right around the corner from my room, I could see his window from mine, and he was trying to tell me that he died. The only kind of response I could mutter was “oh …no”.

The doctor then proceeded to go through what I’m sure every medical professional dreads doing, he began asking questions. “Do you want an autopsy? ” “Do you know what you want done with his body?” All of this he asked me, before I had even had 10 minutes to digest what he just told me. I hadn’t even gotten to call my family. At that point, no one else knew- just me.
As calmly as I could, I told this man in the blue/green scrubs that I didn’t know any of the answers he needed and that I wanted to call my husband first, before I decided anything. To that he responded “Oh, well we need a decision very soon”. (Sometimes, I think he was very lucky I was so shocked because I should have just punched him right then, I often dream about it socking him to this day).

Needless to say, the doctor who wouldn’t and never did look me in the eye, left me to my phone calls. I’m not sure how I worked the phone at that point, I don’t remember dialing, all I remember is hearing Dustin answer the phone. He sounded like he was jolted out of sleep, and really, he was. It was the first night he had been home since Jack was born because he spent the night previous with me at the hospital sleeping in a chair.

I told him, with the most steady voice I could muster that Jack had died. And I relayed in some form to Dustin, what the doctor had just told me. I decided then that I didn’t want an autopsy done, that he had been through so much already, we knew he was just too small. Dustin agreed with me and said he would be there soon.

I’m not sure if I called my mom, or if someone else did. I think I did, I seem to remember leaving a message on their machine. And I’m honestly not sure if I called anyone else. After setting the phone down though, I decided that I needed to see him, I needed to see him before anyone else.

So, I got myself out of the bed which, if you have ever had a c-section, you know how fun that is to do alone. I got up and put on some extra robes, and began my journey to the NICU. I walked out of that room knowing that I was on my way to see my baby, potentially for one of the last times. When I got to the point of the nurses station, the on duty nurse came around and helped me walk the rest of the way. I don’t remember her face, or name, but thank you to her for getting me there, whoever you were- thank you.

When I got to the doorway of the NICU, I didn’t bother scrubbing my arms like you’re supposed to do. At that point, I knew it didn’t matter anymore. I could see his isolette from the door way. They had placed a green privacy curtain around him but not all of the way. I could still see him from the distance. He looked like a baby bird, perched inside of a white nest.

As I got closer, I could see that they had dressed him in a white gown, placed a little blue hat on him and laid blankets all around him. The NICU nurse who was his caregiver took me from the other nurse and led me to him. It was weird to see him not hooked up to anything, there were no more tubes or bags or beeps going off. It was just Jack.

The nurse sat me down in a rocking chair next to the isolette and she asked me if I wanted to hold him. I told her yes, it was what I had wanted since the moment we found out we were pregnant. It was the moment that I had dreamed about since I was a little girl. Holding my baby for the very first time. I didn’t know it would be like this, no one ever plans to hold their dead child in their arms– but– once I had him, I never wanted to let him go.

He was warm and soft in my arms and oh so tiny. He was only a little bit bigger than my hand and very light. His mouth was open and I could see his little tongue which I remember thinking was really cute. He had some bruising on his face from the tubes that had on him but at that point, it wasn’t too bad. I got to hold his little hand, feeling his skin. And I rocked with him in that chair and I cried. I cried and told him how sorry I was, how sorry I was for not being able to keep him inside of me. How much I wish he hadn’t died. I told him that we loved him and that his daddy would be there soon.

None of the NICU nurses said anything to me during that time, aside from bringing me tissues, none of them spoke. A few stood to the side and watched me, I think looking back on it now… they may have been crying. I know that when the doctor came in and saw me, he immediately asked me again about the autopsy and when I told him no, he asked if I was sure. I told him yes. He grunted and walked away.

I’m not sure when I decided I had to go back to my room, I think I knew that Dustin would be there soon and I wanted to see him, to prepare him. So, with great reluctance, I handed Jack to the nurse and told her I would be back very soon with my husband. Another nurse brought me a wheel chair then and took me back to my room. On the way down the hall a few of the nurses who had worked on us during the week stopped to hug me and offer their condolences. They were very sad for us. I will never forget the way some of them cried.

Once I was back in my room, I laid back down and I don’t honestly remember what happened next. I was still on a lot of heavy pain medication so I think my memories are blurred from that. I do remember when Dustin got there because his mom had driven him. She came in with him and decided to wait for my parents while I took Dustin back to the NICU. Dustin wheeled me down that now familiar corridor, back to our baby perched in his nest…..

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I’m sorry, that’s all I can write for now.

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