Mom to Jonah Christopher

July 4, 2012 – July 17, 2012

Cincinnati, Ohio

A few weeks after my 17th birthday, I found out I was pregnant. I was a junior in high school and my peers were discussing where they would be applying to college, summer plans, and how amazing our senior year was going to be. I no longer had the same priorities as the people I had known since middle school. I was wary of telling people I was pregnant, mainly because of the social stigma that comes along with being a teenage mother.

Once I found out I was having a boy, I decided I was going to post pictures of my ultrasound and baby belly on Facebook. I had already sat down with my closest friends and told them I was pregnant. They didn’t know how to react at first but they were welcoming and congratulated me. I knew I was going to shock everyone but I didn’t care what people were going to think or say about me. It was inevitable that people were going to talk, but keeping my son was the only option I gave myself. I wouldn’t let anybody else sway my opinion. At the end of junior year, I was five months pregnant. It was now summer, so I began to work more, saving as much money as possible to prepare for a child.

As I was almost seven months pregnant, the unimaginable happened. I was laying in bed, ready to fall asleep and I felt wet. I thought maybe my bladder just couldn’t take the pressure from the baby anymore, so I went to the bathroom to check. The fluid was white and I knew it was amniotic fluid. I went to the nearest hospital, where I ended up being transported downtown in an ambulance. I was alone and I was terrified.

Upon arriving at the hospital, they attempted to stop my labor. Despite their efforts, my labor progressed and I knew I would be having my baby that night. I was stubborn and didn’t call my son’s father, Jordan, until I knew I was definitely in labor. It was the middle of the night and it took a few hours to get ahold of anyone. Shortly after [I got ahold of] Jordan, I was pushing and bringing our child into this world. He was born at 9:58 a.m. on July 4th, 2012. He weighed 2 pounds, 4.5 ounces and was 14 inches long. I was so excited to finally get to meet our son. He was 13 weeks early and I knew he was going to be staying in the NICU until he was healthy enough to go home. The nurses let me hold him after he was born and he just looked up at me with his big blue eyes. I can’t even explain how I felt in that moment.

Jonah was taken to the NICU and I was prepped to be admitted overnight. I had a fever during labor, so they wouldn’t allow me to enter the NICU. For 24 excruciating hours, I was unable to see my son. Luckily I was only on 24-hour observation and able to see him the next day. Jonah was absolutely perfect. I never wanted to leave his side. After two nights in the hospital, I was discharged and felt odd leaving the hospital without my baby. I knew he was in good hands though. Jordan and I went to the hospital early every morning to see Jonah. I was told that he was doing great, progressing as much as he should have been, and he was even breathing on his own.

About ten days after his birth, Jonah had a staph infection and needed a blood transfusion. I was ensured he would be okay. Thirteen days after Jonah’s birth, I received the daily phone call from a resident doctor. He had informed me that Jonah had sleep apnea the night before, it was a little more than normal, but that he was going to be fine and just needed to be back on the ventilator. I had a few things to do that morning before driving to the hospital, so I wasn’t there as early as I normally had been. I received another call from a different resident doctor and she told me I needed to get to the NICU as soon as possible because they were unsure what would happen in the next hour. I was taken off-guard because the second phone call was completely different than the first.

When I arrived at the hospital, there were a group of doctors and nurses around Jonah’s incubator. There were multiple machines set up and I was informed Jonah was put on the strongest ventilator the hospital owns. An attending doctor told me that Jonah had necrotizing enterocolitis and stated, “Jonah has a belly infection and unfortunately death is a possibility.” I told her I wanted to wait and see how things went. After being in the hospital for maybe an hour, a neonatologist approached me and said, “Your son is going to die, you should turn the ventilator off now.” I was in awe that someone actually said that to me. I knew the outcome was likely to not turn out well, but I didn’t need someone to speak to me in that manner and without any concern for my emotions. I disregarded what the neonatologist told me to do.

My mom, Jordan’s mom, Jordan, and I sat by Jonah’s bedside for twelve hours. But after twelve long, hard hours, my baby boy couldn’t do it anymore. His heart gave out and Jonah passed away in my arms. We were fortunate enough to have thirteen beautiful days with him. For some unknown reason, Jonah was needed more in heaven. He was a fighter, my 4th of July firecracker. And I am so lucky to have known him.

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