Parents: Jessica & Anthony Mangiameli
Hometown: Penfield, New York
Grayson James’ Story
I had the honor of carrying Grayson James for 21 amazing weeks. I remember when I found out that I was pregnant, Anthony and I were trying to have a baby for about six months. When I woke up, I rolled out of bed and told Anthony that I was going to take a pregnancy test. This was quite the norm after trying for six months. A minute or so later, I gasped loudly. I will never forget Anthony saying, “What? Is it positive? Tell me it’s positive!” I remember climbing back in bed and my heart was racing! We just hugged each other for the longest time, smiling and dreaming about you! We were ecstatic to be having a baby!
I am one of those mama’s that loves being pregnant despite the morning sickness, heartburn, and all the consumption rules! I just love it! It’s such a surreal feeling to know that your body is creating a life and helping it grow each day. It is by far one of the most incredible things. I wanted to show the world my baby bump from the moment I had one. I wanted everyone to know that I was his mama and he was my growing baby.
I would wake up every morning and couldn’t wait to read “My Pregnancy Journal.” It was a book that told me a little news about Grayson’s growth each day. Every Monday, he officially became a new week older. I was always so amazed by how much change could happen in just seven days! Each week, Anthony and I made a sign with that week’s comparison to a fruit or vegetable. Then, after work, we would take a picture of me and Grayson next to the sign, flashing all of his growth and hard work that week!! Then, it was Anthony’s turn! One of us would always hold Zia in the picture too. She was equally excited for her little brother!
When we found out about Grayson’s fatal diagnosis, we were destroyed. We were held up by threads on the arms of our family and friends. There were days that I didn’t think we were going to survive this. There were (and still are) countless times where we broke down, sobbing. There were days where everything reminded me of him. Sometimes, I felt like I was unraveling.
We heard news that no parent should ever hear. News that an expecting parent can never erase from their mind and news that will change you forever. “Your son had a chromosomal abnormality, it’s fatal and incompatible with life.” Anthony and I lost something that no one should ever have to lose. When we heard this news, our hearts broke and we were overcome with inconsolable emotions. It was gut wrenching and soul breaking. Our family and friends were there for us through it all. You all are truly amazing and I would never be able to thank you for being there for us. You stood by us and never left our side. We will forever be grateful to you all. Thank you so much!
Losing a child, no matter what age they are, changes you. It makes you think differently. It makes you cherish love, life, and the opportunities life presents to you. It makes you treasure time that you get to spend with your loved ones. It makes laughing with a great friend, feel like a gift. It makes all the times you would have taken for granted in the past, mean so much more. It makes you, seriously, not “sweat the small stuff” because it truly is just small stuff. It makes you realize that life can be too short and when you want to do something, go for it. I wanted this “story” to be different. Sure, I could have told you moment by moment of our sad story and all the details about how we delivered our unborn son. I wanted Grayson’s story to be much more than that. I wanted it to show the impact that this little man made on our lives and on all the lives he touched. I want him to know how proud Anthony and I are to call him our son!
Grayson, I learn from you each and every day. You inspire me. You taught me how to love someone unconditionally. You showed me the love a parent has for their child and made me understand how strong and unbreakable that bond is. You showed me that there is no end to what I would have done to help you, to save you. You have also shown your Father and I how strong our love is, not only for one another but, for our growing family; the family that we fought for and will continue to fight for. Grayson James, I want you to know that I love you with all of my heart and I always will. You will forever be a huge part of this family. We talk about you so much, celebrate your birthday, carry on traditions that we started with you, and we will make sure that your sister knows all about her big brother!
For a while now, I have wanted to run a race in Grayson’s honor and to raise money for the Trisomy 18 Foundation. It literally has been a dream of mine. I finally found the perfect race. It’s called Love Run in Philadelphia! We don’t have a huge crew running but we are determined to run our hearts out for you, Grayson. It breaks my heart that you can’t be here with us but I promise you, I will carry you with me always! You will forever be loved and cherished, my sweet boy.
Below is a poem that I adapted from an anonymous author. I read it at Grayson’s memorial when some very close friends helped us plant a birch tree in our front yard in his memory. We love you so much, Grayson. Until we meet again, rest in peace sweet angel. xoxo
Our precious little Grayson;
You now rest upon the stars.
When we gaze upon you,
We know one star is ours.
Your light shines oh so bright;
Like you once did my dear.
You are Mom & Dad’s true light;
We’ll hold you so close and near.
We will miss you every minute;
But for now, we pray for this.
Grayson, do one small thing;
And catch this great big kiss!