Mom to Carter Jay

March 27th, 2009 – May 30th, 2010

I always knew that I wanted to be a mommy, and when I was younger I would dream about what my life would be like. For some reason, I always had my heart set on having three beautiful children. That seemed like the perfect number to me.

My husband and I were married in June of 2000. We took our time in starting our little family, and enjoyed a couple of years together alone. When we finally decided that the time was right for us, we got pregnant almost immediately. Unfortunately that pregnancy was the first in a string of miscarriages. After a lot of holding our breath and crossing our fingers, our first son was finally born in August of 2003. When we decided to expand our family once again, we lost a couple more little ones to early miscarriage before we were finally blessed with our daughter in February of 2006. After our daughter, we felt the tug one more time to try and get pregnant. We found out in 2008 that we were expecting another baby boy.

We went in for our twenty week ultrasound, and I could tell that the tech was having a hard time getting the pictures that she wanted. She told us several times that the baby was in an awkward position, but gave us no hint otherwise that something might be “different” and continued on through the exam. After we left the appointment, I felt fine. We drove a few miles down the road when I felt a strong feeling that something just wasn’t right. I called my doctor, and he told me that the ultrasound showed that I had some debris in the amniotic fluid, but that he wasn’t too concerned about it. He was going to refer me to a perinatologist just to be on the safe side. We waited six weeks to get into the specialist, and when we completed that ultrasound, the doctor told us that everything looked great to him. The debris in the fluid was gone, and he suspected that a little of the placenta had torn which had caused the debris, but it had healed itself by now. We were ecstatic. We were going to give birth to a healthy baby boy, and we were going to name him Carter Jay.

On March 27, 2009, it came time to deliver our sweet angel. His tiny head started to enter the world and I remember my husband saying “He’s really little”. I could tell by the look on his face that the doctor was a little surprised by how tiny Carter was. Then a few moments later he looked up at me over the top of his glasses and said “I’m sorry, your baby has a cleft lip”. I remember feeling completely stunned. Why would this happen to our baby? We were supposed to have perfect children? I had no idea that Carter really was the perfect one. The doctor yelled for the nurses to call the NICU, and they started working on our sweet little guy. He was having a hard time breathing on his own, so the concern of the cleft lip quickly faded. My husband came over to me to let me know that Carter was also missing one of his ears. None of that mattered at the moment because Carter was fighting for his life.

Little Carter spent five days in the local hospital NICU before he was transferred to the children’s hospital which was one hour away. He contracted an infection that turned into Meningitis and Endocarditis before he was even a week old. We were told to expect the worst. During that time he was also diagnosed with a Chromosomal Disorder which they had never seen before. Carter had to write his own book. He finally battled off the infection, and after the placement of a G-Tube to help him eat he was able to come home at 10 weeks old. Carter came home with Oxygen and monitors. He had been diagnosed with abnormalities in his heart, kidneys, and airway but everyone was confident that in time he would grow stronger.

Carter got to spend almost 10 months at home with us with only two PICU stays in between. Both of those were for surgeries or procedures and lasted 7-10 days. He was progressing along amazingly well. He had learned how to roll, eat from a bottle, and grab things with his hands. He was also very close to sitting on his own unassisted. All of his doctors were amazed at how far he had come. At the end of May 2010 we took him in for another surgery to repair his soft palate. Carter had a very hard time coming off of the ventilator, so they did a scope of his airway and found that a blood vessel had wrapped itself around his airway which had caused it to collapse. It was so bad that even a tracheotomy would not help him. We had to make the incredibly hard decision to let him go. Carter grew his wings on May 30, 2010 at 14 months old.

Although my life is not exactly how I thought it would be, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I wouldn’t change a thing about Carter….except to maybe give him a stronger airway. I loved him for who he was, and I am incredibly proud to say that I’m Carter’s mommy. I have no doubts that he is in Heaven where he can do things that his body had prevented him from doing while on Earth. Soon after Carter was born, we started to refer to all of his supporters as “Team Carter”.  Several members of Team Carter have participated in charity events and 5K runs in his name.  To date we have helped to raise a large amount of money for Operation Smile and our local children’s hospital. We are hopeful that we can share Carter’s story and help other people who have gone through something similar, and that in this way he still lives on.

Heather blogs at www.teamcarterjay.com

You can contact her at teamcarterjay@gmail.com

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  1. Christa says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I think you are incredibly strong and admirable. I can’t even imagine the stress and heartache you have endured before, during and after the loss of Carter.

  2. Carter Jay has left a mark on all of our lives!! He has and is spreading joy and love. We love you guys!

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