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Baby Jacob

by Mark, Tracy, Meg, Justine, and Molly Rivera

Jacob was born at home. We are so glad we were able to be at home with him the whole time. He was born and died surrounded by his family. We held him, loved him, sang to him. The following was written on the announcement we sent out:

Some people only dream of angels,
We held one in our arms.

It is with a mixture of great happiness and deep sorrow
that we announce the birth and death of our precious baby,
Jacob Philip Rivera.

Jacob was born March 8, 1996 at 10:06 am at home.
He weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20 inches long. He was beautiful.
Although our time together was far too short, the 28 hours we had with
Jacob were filled with more love and joy than words could ever describe.

Jacob died March 9, 1996 in the arms of his mother and father surrounded by
his three sisters. We will hold him in our hearts and memories forever.

Our joys will be greater,
Our love will be deeper,
Our lives will be fuller because of Jacob.

I would like to share more of our story. When Mark and I found out we were expecting a baby, we started researching various birthing plans, and, after speaking to a doctor and a midwife and after months of reading and research, opted for a home birth. Yelena, our midwife, is a very caring and supportive woman with a wonderful spirit. On November 22, 1995, the day before Thanksgiving, Mark and I went to get what we thought was going to be a routine ultrasound; I was 6 months pregnant. The ultrasound was anything but routine. The technician strongly urged us to see a specialist for a second opinion. Well, after seeing MANY specialist, including a pediatric cardiologist and a geneticist, (all of them doing ultrasounds), we had to face the news that our son was not going to live long after birth. We were told our baby had Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome and most likely Trisomy 13, a lethal chromosomal abnormality. The next few months went by in a bit of a fog for us. We were desperate to spend as much uninterrupted time as possible with our Jacob. We wanted the chance to hold him, talk to him, sing to him, to change his diaper, take pictures, and basically make as many memories with him as possible. We wanted to KNOW that he was a part of our family. We wanted our three daughters to see, touch, smell him, and know they had a little brother. We prayed for time with him.

Our friends were very supportive. They even had a baby shower for us. It was a special one. The gifts were things we could use to help make those special memories: Picture frames, scrapbooks, a handmade baby quilt, hand-crocheted booties, and a porcelain family with a Mommy, Daddy, three daughters, and a little baby boy among other things.

We had already begun a form of grieving. We were grieving for the future we had planned with Jacob. His first birthday, his first steps, first bicycle, even the grandchildren he would have given us.

On March 8 at 7:40 a.m., two and a half weeks past our due date, I went into labor. Less than two and a half hours later, at 10:06 a.m., our wonderful Jacob came out into the world. Jacob beat many odds to survive the time we had him. When his head emerged, Yelena, our mid-wife, saw the cord was tightly wrapped twice around his neck. Before Jacob's shoulders were clear of the birth canal, Yelena reached in, clamped and cut the cord. We are so thankful for her skill and expertise. Then Jacob was not breathing. Yelena gave him oxygen, and after a moment, he finally took his first breath. We called our other children to come see him, and we spent that first day just holding, cuddling, and getting to know our new baby. His heart sounded strong, and the pediatric cardiologist who came to see him said he would probably be able to live through the weekend. That day we took lots of pictures and hand & footprints. One of the assistants there made a little bracelet for us with Jacob's name on it. Our daughters Meg, 11; Justine, 8; and Molly, 2 fell in love with him. We had to all fight over who would hold him next!

That night, Mark and I stayed downstairs with Baby Jacob, and didn't sleep more than 3 or 4 hours off and on all night. We just didn't want to waste a single precious moment with him. By the next morning, we noticed his respiration was a little faster. When Yelena's assistant came for a home visit that day around noon, she also noticed his temp was a little low despite the fact we had him wrapped in blankets. We started putting blankets in the dryer to warm them for him. We took more pictures and more pictures. At 1:30, I was on the phone with my mother. Mark came and sat on the loveseat and called me over saying that he thought something was happening. I just told my mother I had to go and hung up. Jacob appeared to have stopped breathing, but then he took a little gasp of air. After about 10 seconds or so, he took another little gasp. We knew that he had begun his dying. This continued for about 25 more minutes. We had called our other children to us and Mark and I sat on the couch, both holding Jacob, while his three sisters sat around us. We just hugged and touched him, cried and told him over and over how much we love him. I was so scared; I wasn't ready for him to go. I thought we would have the whole weekend with him. Finally, I told him, "It's okay, you can go now, we love you." After another minute or so, he took his last gasp and died.

When I wrote earlier that Jacob beat many odds to stay with us for those 28 hours, I was talking about more than just the cord and the fact that he was not breathing at first. Although the cord around his neck was very serious because it had obviously been that way for quite some time. He could have died in utero. It seems that Jacob also had something rare that the geneticist have never seen before. We were told that he had a never before recorded version of Trisomy 9. The Dr. said Trisomy 9 is very rare anyway, but Jacob seemed to have a newly discovered type. This is what caused his death so soon rather than the Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome. We were told most babies with these disorders don't gain much weight and many die before birth. Of course Jacob was 7 pounds, 10 ounces when he was born.

We had prayed continuously for a miracle and some time to spend with Jacob. I think Heavenly Father truly did answer our prayers. Of course it just didn't seem like enough time. We didn't even get to take all the pictures we wanted. But the truth is, we really are grateful for the time we had. I also would not have changed a thing about his birth if I had it to do over again. Having him outside of a hospital was the most wonderful experience. Our mid-wife is truly a remarkable woman that we all greatly admire. She and her assistants took such tremendous care of us, staying six hours beyond his birth, fixing us lunch, taking pictures, foot and handprints. Aside from the very quick and painful birth, I think it was all so very wonderful, and we were all very happy that day. There are many things we will always remember about our time with Jacob. Like how he had such a strong cry, even louder than Molly's healthy newborn cry. And how he would stop crying when I held him close to my face and talked softly to him.

I would like to share some poems we read and displayed at Jacob's memorial service. The first one Mark, my husband, read during the service, the other two we had up on a photo collage we had made to honor Jacob's short life.

O precious, tiny, sweet little one
You will always be to me
So perfect, pure, and innocent
Just as you were meant to be.

We dreamed of you and of your life
And all that it would be.
We waited and longed for you to come
And join our Family.

We never had the chance to play
To laugh, to rock, to wiggle.
We long to hold you, touch you now
And listen to you giggle.

I'll always be your father,
She'll always be your mom.
You will always be our child
The child we had.

But now your gone . . . but yet your here.
We'll sense you everywhere.
You are our sorrow and our joy.
There's love in every tear.

Just know our love goes deep and strong.
We'll forget you never--
The child we had,
And will have forever.

This was on the collage:

My darling Jacob's gifts are many
Although his days were few.
If you open up your heart and soul
I'll share those gifts with you.

Trust in our Lord to make things right
even through you darkest days
There's nothing like a friendly face
to guide you through life's maze.

Allow the love of friends and family
to penetrate your broken heart.
Their words won't take away your pain
But you need someplace to start.

Forgive those who have hurt you
and left you standing all alone.
You'll find a burden lifted
and an inner peace has grown.

Never take your special ones for granted.
You must love them with all your heart.
For only God our father knows
when life's train will depart.

Use your newfound gifts of wisdom,
compassion, and strength coming from within
to help and guide a hurting friend.
Find a new place to begin.

Jacob's short life touched me deeply.
He has made me strong and wise.
And I've learned that through life's darkest clouds,
With God's help the sun will rise.

Thank you Jacob for your gifts and for being there for me.
I will miss you always but you've shown me
what my life was meant to be.
With the grace of God and your watchful eyes
I will make it through these days.
Until our souls in Heaven meet,
Please warm me with your ways.

Under his name on the collage:

The mention of my child's name may bring tears to my eyes but it never
fails to bring music to my ears. If you are really my friend, let me hear
the beautiful music of my child's name. It soothes my broken heart and
sings to my soul.

Well, thanks for letting me share.


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