Wordful Wednesday - Walking for Baby JW
You may have noticed the March for Babies widget in my side bar. You may have seen a few references here on my blog to why we raise money for the March for Babies, why we walk every year, and why we are so passionate about this cause.
But today I'm going to tell the whole story. My wonderful husband gave me permission to share this story with you all, and to 'interview' him for this post, because it is so painful that he never before shared all of the details with me. I knew the basics, and not much more. Ten years later, it is still so incredibly painful. But to help bring attention to this cause, and in honor of "Baby JW", I'm helping him tell his story here.
My husband has two sons. One of them I mention often, "Spiderman", my nine year old stepson. But he has another son, Baby JW. Baby JW would've been ten years old on October 18th of this year. But his life was cut very, very short.
The pregnancy was a 'surprise', but he was a very wanted and happily anticipated baby. It was an uneventful pregnancy. They were thrilled to find out they were having a boy. Then, at a routine ob/gyn visit on October 18th, 1998, they learned that C., the baby's mother, was in labor. She was dilated 6 centimeters. They rushed her to the hospital and tried to stop the labor, but they failed. She gave birth to a baby weighing just over one pound.
His prognosis was uncertain at the beginning. He had respiratory issues, as most preemies do, and was intubated.
They knew it could go either way. But of course, they hoped and prayed that Baby JW would survive.
J's family came in from all over the state to offer emotional support. C and J stayed at the hospital night and day, even after C was discharged. J didn't go to work and they rarely left the hospital. They spent as much time with Baby JW as they possibly could.
At one point, the doctor pulled J aside. He told him that he'd seen something with Baby JW that he'd never seen before. Baby JW never moved....except when J came through the door. The doctor said that even before he was completely through the door, Baby JW started kicking and moving around, and didn't stop until J left. The doctor felt that Baby JW sensed J's presence, and he thought it was amazing.
There were good days and bad days. One day things would look up, the next day he would take a downhill turn. All they had were hopes and prayers.
On November 9th, 1998, C and J were sleeping at the hospital. It had been a bad day. The baby was losing color, and his oxygen sats were dropping.
They were awoken by the doctor and several nurses, all of whom were crying. They told them that the end was very near, and asked if they wanted to come be with Baby JW. J was not able to do it, but C went in. That was the only time she got to hold him. About five minutes later, she came out. It was over; they had lost Baby JW.
J doesn't remember a whole lot about the next few days. His family planned the baby's funeral, a small graveside service. I asked him how did he cope with the pain, but he has no answers. Somehow, he just kept going. It never goes away. It's very hard for him to see pictures or video of preemie babies, it takes him right back to that NICU unit ten years ago. We visit the grave frequently, with flowers, balloons, toys, and prayers.
J thinks of baby JW every day, whether it's remembering his short life, or wondering what he'd be like today.
Every year, J and I walk to benefit the March for Babies. It will never ease the pain, but it is something positive to do in honor of Baby JW, and it helps to prevent other families from enduring this pain. That is J's motivation.
Our walk is coming up November 16th. We don't walk with a team, just the two of us, and last year my kids joined in. We set a small goal; we're not a huge organization. Just a daddy and his family, walking for his baby that never grew up. The stepson I'll never meet. The big brother that Spiderman will never get to play with. We will forever wonder who he'd be today.
We would greatly appreciate if you could help us this year. Every little bit helps. The March for Babies has done so much for this cause. Prematurity effects half a million babies & families every year. There are so many stories that are happier than Baby JW's, thanks to the March of Dimes. Can you help us, help other families have a happy ending?