Parents: Jennifer and Daniel
Born to heaven at 22 weeks
Dakota Dee’s Story
Pregnant with her first child, Jennifer was in the hospital for a kidney infection. During a routine u/s they found something of greater concern than her kidneys: her baby had an omphalocele. That’s when she heard the first talk about “markers” and “Trisomy 18;” her aunt was with her and confirmed that the nightmare was real. She immediately called her mom then had the amnio. The wait was excruciating: they told their friends about the suspected diagnosis, and they all waited together.
When the results were in the doctor called and told her she should return to the hospital right away. When she arrived, alone, they told her that her precious baby did, indeed, have Trisomy 18. She was 22 weeks pregnant. They were told that babies with T18 rarely survive birth and have so many problems that it would be more humane to end the pregnancy. Jenn recalls, “I’ll never forget calling my hubby from the hospital (he had to work that day) and telling him to come as soon as he could because we ‘couldn’t keep the baby’. I don’t know why I worded it this way. It’s just what came out. And I had to explain to him when he got there all that was wrong.”
That day they admitted her to deliver Dakota early. “We didn’t have time to decide anything before hand; I wish now more than anything that we had! My family came to the hospital to wait with me as well as my husband’s family. They gave me some kind of narcotic that made me lose it. I would have refused it if I had known what it would do. I screamed at the top of my lungs through the whole labor process until they stopped the drug. Because of that drug, I wasn’t coherent enough to think things through when Dakota got here and didn’t have anyone take many pictures. We lost the only two pictures we had of him when our home was robbed years later. He came into this world silently on November 21st: born into the hands of God, weighing 1 pound 7 oz and 10 1/4 inches long.
“I remember he had my brownish hair. The main thing I remember is that he had these huge ears on his teeny little head! His daddy has large ears as well so that was really special for us. I am thankful for the small amount of time we had holding our little boy. I don’t remember very much because of the drugs, but I remember how loved he was in those moments.”
Dakota’s song is Tell me that you didn’t say goodbye by Travis Tritt because “I can clearly remember after everything was over, waking up in the hospital room from the drugs they gave me and realizing it was all over and he was gone. The first verse of that song says When I woke up this morning, wiped the sleep from my eyes, I found a new day dawning, and suddenly I realized … you’re gone. It described my feelings at that time perfectly, and the rest of the song describes also the sadness and questions that still remain.”
Jenn also wrote a poem for Dakota:
On November 21st an angel came to me
One I loved with all my heart but wasn’t meant to be
He was such a little thing so small and pure and nice
With his mama’s hair and his daddy’s ears, he never opened his eyes
For he had other things to do in heaven up above, to fly the world on
Golden wings and fill all hearts with love
She states, “I have learned a lot more about T18 since, but feel as though I would still make the same decision if faced with this situation again.”
They had him cremated, and keep his urn on a shelf in their room. Jenn gives him small toys and things every anniversary of his birth.
“We were blessed with a gift on October 31st 02: my daughter Rio was born, healthy and screaming. I never knew how wonderful a baby’s screams could sound!!! She will be a year old this week as I write this, and the other day I asked her where her big brother was and the child looked up as if she was looking at someone standing right beside her, then looked back at me as if to say he’s right here silly!!!
Jenn writes, “I have learned that no matter how much you don’t think it will, or don’t want it to, life does go on. Its a completely different life than you had before. You are suddenly not the same person. You are now a person who has unfortunately suffered a loss, and people will treat you as such for a while, but as you entered into this new world, you also enter into a wonderfully large community who understands your feelings and where you’re coming from. I have learned it’s ok to want to yell, scream, cry, and laugh at the same time. And you should as often as you need to! I have learned that no matter how much time goes by, it never goes all the way away. And I have learned most importantly that it does get better eventually, and though you may feel hopeless and hate God, these feelings are normal, and I think he understands!”