Mom to Tremayne Lewis Randolph Parker, Jr. “TJ”
March 28, 2014 – May 1, 2014
On March 28, 2014, at 4:34PM, my husband and I became proud parents of a beautiful baby boy, Tremayne Lewis Randolph Parker, Jr affectionately known as TJ. TJ was born 26 weeks premature, through emergency c-section, weighing 1lb 2.69oz. He has delivered at Christiana Hospital and was a patient in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) until he passed away in my arms on the morning of May, 1, 2014.
I found out I was one month pregnant with TJ in October of 2013. My husband and I were so overjoyed. My husband and I had just gotten married in May of 2013, and the news of a baby was such a blessing. I was working as a nurse in a doctor’s office and one of my coworkers did a pregnancy test on me, and when I found out the test was positive, I was so excited. I called my mom and she yelled with excitement through the phone. I told her to only share with my aunt and uncle. After work I stopped and picked up a congratulations on a baby card and taped the pregnancy test in it for my husband. He came home from power washing a house and was extremely tired. I presented him with the card, he read it, and looked at me smiling repeating, “Really? Really?” He gave me a big hug and a kiss.
December 17, 2013 was our first appointment with a maternal fetal specialist because I was considered high risk for my age of 36. We immediately knew our son was special inside my womb. During the ultrasound we could see him throwing his hands up as if he was praising God. We would find out by blood test, a couple days before Christmas, he was a boy. My husband and I wanted a son, and I believed even prior to confirmation I was carrying a son.
During the first part of February, my maternal fetal specialist determined TJ was not growing in my womb, the amniotic fluid was low, and there was a concern with blood flow to the umbilical cord. My husband said, “I am not worried. I have faith.” I knew couldn’t worry because I didn’t want to cause any more harm to our son. We began praying. My visits were then increased to every 2 weeks with maternal fetal and every two weeks with my OB/GYN.
On the morning of March 10, 2014, I was instructed to go down the road to Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, during a visit with my maternal fetal specialist. TJ was only around 12oz in weight, the fluid in the amniotic sac was getting lower, and one side of the cord was not working and the other side of the cord was at risk. Also, I had about four uterine fibroids. At Kent General, I was started on Magnesium and Steroid injections; at this time, I was 24 weeks pregnant. My husband, mom, and I were given all this morbid information because baby was underweight and the amount of weeks gestational. We were given the option to be transferred to Christiana Hospital in Newark for monitoring and consultation with Neonatal specialists because Kent General was not equipped to deliver babies at 24 weeks under weight. They wanted TJ to be at least a pound and 26 to 28 weeks gestational.
I was transferred to Christiana Hospital about three hours later and would stay on the high risk maternal unit for three days. I was followed closely by their maternal fetal doctors during those three days. I was released from the hospital, but was told I had to commute from my house to Christiana every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for maternal fetal appointments to be closely monitored. My husband and I didn’t have a lot of money for traveling, we could barely make ends meet, but for our son’s safety we made a sacrifice. We traveled back and forth upstate 2 hours going and coming for 2 1/2 weeks. On March 28th, it was determined TJ could not stay in my womb any longer.
TJ was intubated and placed on a ventilator when he was born. He received nutrition through intravenous and after being able to tolerate feedings, he began feedings and medications through a feeding tube. He started gaining weight and his lung function was improving. My family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware to be near TJ. From day one, I did not have any fear in touching our son. The tubes did not bother me. I lived for changing his diapers, taking his temperature, cleaning his mouth out, cuddling, holding him, and giving him a bath. I sang “Jesus Loves Me” to him, prayed over him, and talked to him on regularly. We had a special bond.
My mother and her twin brother’s birthday was April 30th; my husband, mother, and I visited TJ from 4PM to around 6PM. TJ was doing well. We returned to Ronald McDonald house, and my husband got up around 11PM to go to work down state. I called around 12:30AM and checked on TJ and he was fine. Then the dreaded call came through around 6:45AM that I needed to get there right away because TJ’s heart had stopped and he was unable to be revived. The doctors and respiratory staff tried reviving him and continued until I got there. Because nothing else could be done, he was placed in my arms, all tubes were removed, and he passed in my arms. I had to call my husband at work in route to the hospital to tell him to come right away because TJ may not make it. This was completely unexpected.
We had TJ cremated and his memorial service was last Saturday [at time of writing] prior to Mother’s Day. My husband’s and my first year wedding anniversary is this Sunday, May 18th. May has not been a good month for us. We miss our TJ so much. He is my first child, but he’s my husband’s second child. Over the past month, we have lots of pictures and videos of TJ, such precious memories.
Rewinding a bit, a month after finding out I was pregnant with TJ, I lost my job. During the first week of March, we moved in with my uncle and aunt because we lost our home. We have been going through. Various family members and friends gave us money to help with traveling expenses over the time we were up state with TJ. We are in a lot of debt. We have a lot of financial worries. We need help! Friends have tried to reach out to the community and media for help for our family, but no success. I tried reaching out prior to us losing our home with no success. I am asking for someone to hear our cry and find it in their heart to help.
Our son did so much in the one month he was here. He gave many people faith, he restored faith, he created relationships, and repaired relationships. There were people in the community that didn’t even know us that saw pictures and heard of our son’s birth and challenges that started praying for our son and us. They even said our son’s fight gave them hope.
We are so grateful for the relationships created in the NICU, the generosity of Ronald McDonald House Delaware, and the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation for taking pictures of TJ, after he passed, to be a keepsake to us. We had no money to pay for a funeral and Watson Funeral Home of Millsboro got cremation services donated to us because of our circumstances. My brother is a pastor and he officiated and gave the eulogy at TJ’s memorial. My aunt was able to get her pastor to allow us to have the memorial and repast at her church because my brother’s church is under construction.
Katrina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org