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  • Writer's pictureJen Chappell

Share Your Story Tuesday- JesseJohn II “JJBoy”

On December 16, 2008, my day started early as I

was preparing for my daughter’s, Jesselyn (was 10yrs old) Jaeley-Rose (was 5yrs old) to return to Fort Lewis, Washington from being back home on Guam. I was back home for a family funeral and decided to stay and deliver, unfortunately due to medical care not being available for me I had to leave Guam earlier, my daughters were hoping to stay back with family until my Son was born, we tried to hang in there but it was a lot harder than we expected, we missed our girls too much and they too had missed us.  So we had planned for them to return back to WA in December.  They were in flight from Guam as the time zone for Guam is a day ahead of America and 7 hours behind.  I had wished them safe travels and promised to be at the airport before they arrived on December 16, 2008.  Jewel (our youngest, was 18months) better known as “JewJu” was all dressed and ready to go to the Child Development Center (CDC). I had a neo-non stress test appointment at 0800, my husband Jesse dropped me off at the Madigan Army Medical Center (MAMC) and would return after he dropped off our JewJu. It was approximately 0730 and I reported upstairs to my appointment to the OB ward.  I had done this testing (a week ago from the 15th and many times) in the past with my daughter’s and with this pregnancy (3 pregnancies) I had already done about 4wks of neo-non stress test, so I knew exactly where to go and what to do to get myself situated. My nurse came in to get me all set up. Making conversation as always, she shared her story about their holiday party they just had on Friday. We both were excited for Christmas; I shared how my daughters were arriving the next day. While she was setting up the belts on my belly, squirting the warm jelly, as she moved it around, I noticed right away that all I could hear was my heart beat, usually my baby’s heartbeat was the loudest over mine, so I asked if everything was okay and she said oh it’s the belt monitor, so she went to change it out. Seconds turned into minutes, and so I got up to find her. She was walking towards me and said she found another one and will try it out. She had also moved me to another seat, started with belt strap and fetal heart monitor again, this time she tried another area on my belly, again I could hear my heart beat louder than my baby, but this time she says “this monitor isn’t working either”.  “You know let’s try the bigger room, I’m going to walk you over and I’ll be right back with the doctor.” So calmly I gather my belongings and we walk across the hall, she proceeded to move me to another room.  I saw the look on her face and I had asked “is something wrong?” She say’s “I need to get the doctor and try another machine.” She gets me seated and says she’ll be right back and then again seconds turned into minutes and now I’m worried. I’m alone and nervous, the last look on her face wasn’t normal, nor right. Moments later, as I’m zoning out, a female walks in with a lab coat on, pumps the hand sanitizer on the wall and as she’s rubbing her hands together and in between her fingers, she says “So I hear we can’t find a heartbeat!” (her tone was almost as if she were about to deliver good news to me, it was so eerie, that tone of “oh hey love your dress” if that even makes sense) My heart sank; my body plopped up almost like I saw a ghost and was in shock!!! I said “WHAT!” She walks towards me to shake my hand and I stare at her like I’m in a dream and loudly say (let’s just say I don’t curse unless I’m being dramatic and a bit extra and this was one of those moments, complete and utter shock) “What the f**k did you just say!” That moment the look on her face was as white as the walls in the room, she looked like she had seen a ghost. I wasn’t sure if it were because I cursed at her, or that she figured out that I didn’t know anything about my son’s heartbeat not being found. So I repeated myself,“what the f**k did you say? What the hell do you mean you can’t find my son’s heartbeat, this is the first I heard about it (I knew something wasn’t right, but I can’t even say if I even thought this deeply, I believed, I wanted to believe it was a machine error) and you sure have a shitty way of telling someone, Me, a pregnant Mom that you can’t find my baby’s heartbeat like I’m supposed to be okay with that!” I go on to rant and more vulgar language was coming, because this doctor refused to be compassion about my situation, she didn’t even tell me who she was (unannounced, she did not introduce herself)when she entered until after she blurts out “So I hear we can’t find heartbeat.” As my mind is all over the place I told her to call my husband now! As she handed me the telephone she advised they would need to confirm with me, it was okay to let him know over the phone what has happened, that she needed my permission (I get it it’s PHI PII HIPAA, but I told her to call him) since I wasn’t advised properly (of being advised about my Son’s heartbeat not being found, in her words fetus death), now she wants to enforce policy and regulations.  I lost it. I was all kinds of emotions, and more vulgarity had come out of my mouth and there was no control over it. I was livid.  I was torn, I could barely breath. It was like a nightmare you can’t wake up from. She tried to close the door so others don’t hear, and I started yelling, telling her to leave it open so they know how jacked up this hospital is and that the motto about Care & Compassion is full of crap.  (I had heard many horror stories about the facility with lack of care and being a military spouse I had to give the benefit of doubt and trust in them.)

Taking it back to the week prior, it was Friday December 12, 2008, I was in the ER transferred to Mother Baby Unit at MAMC due to contractions and having the worse pain all over, as if I needed to poop but couldn’t and I couldn’t even lay down or sit up, it felt like my body was so tight I was going to explode, I was swollen severely as well.  The same resident provider that was with me on this date and discharged me with a telephone number to call before I need to return back to the hospital for the nurse advise line to be triaged via telephone, was the same resident provider the day I delivered my SONShine.  Between this date and Monday the 16th, things didn’t seem right; my SON was usually active during the late evenings into the early mornings.  What I thought at the time were him being lazy, were actual contractions, brax and hicks, I was advised even as a baby is stillborn you still get those symptoms.  I was sent home in so much pain and discomfort.  

My husband arrives back to MAMC.  He took over with communications I barely recall any further conversations.  I just stared out the window.  I do remember wanting this to all be a dream.  I remember wondering about my daughters, what and how would they feel, react.  My family, my friends, my husbandhow was he dealing with the loss of our only Son.  I was so lost.  The lady in the lab coat discusses a few options.  Her first was “We can send you home and with some medication so you can go into natural labor” I stopped her and said: “Wait you are telling me my Son is gone? And that I can go home with my Son being dead in me? Isn’t that like toxic or something, or wait, you want me to go home sit in my mess and want to kill myself for this?”  She again looked like she saw a ghost.  She says “Sorry Ma’am, I really am” and continues with options “Or we can do an emergency C-Section, but I’ve seen you’ve never had one with your previous pregnancies” I said well I’m not going home without him and I’m not going to get cut with a scar that will likely haunt me for life. So No, can’t I just give birth to him naturally and try this route first, she said “yes that would be the next option” I couldn’t hold it in anymore… I finally cried, hard and with a whole lot of emotions.  “I yelled, well that’s what you should have offered first!”

She talks more with my husband and excuses herself.  We wait again for what felt forever.  A nurse comes in and speaks to my husband about the details where, what, when, how.  I remember them telling me they are moving me to the Labor & Delivery ward and I’ll be in the Lavender room.  At this point it is a new set of nurses since they have had a shift change.  The new nurses and staff come in and start the process for inducement of labor so that we can have our Angel with us.  

I experienced further challenges with the medical resident provider.  I’d like to refrain from further details of what occurred as it brings back heartache.  However, once I got situated I had the best Nursing team that was my advocates and my guardian angels on earth.  The nurses ensured with the process of delivery and time spent was given to us just as it would have been for other births.  Labor and delivery team did above amazing and they did everything as they normally would.  They treated my JJBoy with dignity and respect with all the bells and whistles that I was not aware of.  They had my husband pick out some treasures from the Lavender Room that has baby necessities for the clover rooms (bereaved rooms) of the hospital.  This room has handmade and special items provided by Veterans and their spouses.  My husband picked out a teddy bear and a woven button up top and baby beanie (shown in our photos).  After I delivered my JJBoy, just like any of my babies, they laid him on my chest and called out his time and weight, they bathe him and cleaned him up so that we could hold him close to our hearts and keep him in our arms. It may seem so small, but they put a diaper on him, and the smell of Johnson & Johnson Shampoo brought me to heavy tears.  They combed his feathery hair, inked his hand and feet, they measured his head.  As they took his photos my husband shared, it looks as if he was just sleeping.  Although we were still in a state of confusion and shock, we were given the opportunity to be a family as a whole for a couple of hours.  As we held him tightly in our arms, tears ran down our faces and treasured every minute that we had with him.  There was one specific nurse that went above and beyond to ensure that every effort was made to cherish every moment that we had with our JJBoy, for this we are forever grateful as it was her actions that brought calm in this storm. Our nurses even between shifts went above and beyond.  At this time the start of the day became a blur.  The nurses gave us back something that evening, through the next day.  They gave me back hope and the faith in the medical system.  I had an unfortunate situation that God turned around for me, for my family. I look back and realize God’s grace showed up when I really needed it most.  And that was the time to just embrace my SONShine and just be in that moment.  He used the nurses to bring me back downfrom the hurt and anger and into peace and comfort.  And not just myself but my husband will forever be grateful for them.  They treated our Angel with true Care and Compassion and this with every detail, I will forever treasure.

I was so exhausted mentally and emotionally.  My husband and I didn’t get many words in.  We just held each other’s hands,and cried.  

Then the time had come that no one person ever wants to hear when you lose a loved one, “its time, we need to take your son”. They allowed me to lay him down and tucked in his blanky just as if he were sleeping. They respected us so much that they closed the curtains before they pulled the sheet over my JJBoy.  My throat was swollen I’m sure I couldn’t swallow.  I was so numb.  I felt like throwing up.  This was hard to do because now we knew that we would be leaving the hospital without our son, but with an Angel.  

I’ve come so far in my journey and God has saved me from all that pain that hurt the blaming, that even as I write this I am filled with those same emotions of that day.  I have come out of it and into what joy has come from my loss, with being blessed with an Angel.  I can’t change what had happened to me, but I can live for my Angel and my family.

I share my story, my heart, and my journey because truth istold even in my culture it's like taboo to speak of such loss. I am here to “Break the Silence”. To put it out there... I support and encourage Moms and families whom have had a Pregnancy & Infant Loss, Your Loss Matters. Your Story matters. Together let us build a bridge and close the gap, let us share awareness that Miscarriages and Stillbirths exist and we can heal together. I am 1 of 4 and that is a lot. Let us all together be open-minded with our hearts ready to listen compassionately and purposefully. Even if you don't know what to say. Sometimes it’s enough to just LISTEN.

As I stare at our family photos I smile with joy as tears roll down my face. There is this saying "You Never Know How STRONG You are...Until Being Strong Is The ONLY Choice you Have..."

With Love & Prayers from my family to yours, we truly appreciate this opportunity.  Grief does not get easier, it has no time, and we all have a story.  Thank you for taking time to read ours.  

7JS Cruz

JesseJohn, Jocelyn, Jesselyn, Jaeley-Rose, Jewel & +Justeen (JewJu’s vanishing twin)+, & JesseJohn II “JJBoy”

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