Sisterhood of Angel Mama’s Magazine | Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Edition October 2021

Baby Jack

Written & Photo by Gena Dale

Growing up in a large family, I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. Sure, I was interested in all kinds of other stuff, but I just KNEW being a mom to a lot of children was in my future. I even had six kids names picked out!

Thanks to my medical issues that were out of my control, I was told as a teenager that children were highly unlikely, though there was that one in a million chance that I could bring a viable baby to term. Maybe. But don’t get your hopes up.

After years of trying, I pulled it off. I made a perfect baby boy, twenty years ago now. And despite how we both nearly died during the pregnancy and delivery, we made it here and I counted my blessings. I filled the next years loving him and being an aunt and godmother to other kids, eventually becoming a foster mom and having even more babies, toddlers, kids, and even more teenagers to love.

But deep inside, I always felt that pang for pregnancy and baby of my body again. It never went away. I wanted to feel what happy-pregnant felt like, not scared-pregnant. I wanted to nurse. I wanted to take silly pictures of my tummy. I wanted the full experience I was denied with my teenager’s pregnancy. But, I went on and just accepted that I would never be a woman who did pregnancy easy. Or I tried to go on, but the desire remained, silent and buried.

Then, a miracle happened. Despite being on birth control for all those years, despite the same medical issues I always had, despite it all – I became pregnant. I honestly thought maybe it was early menopause, at first. I couldn’t really be pregnant. I mean, I was 41. I was too old! I have issues, after all! But, I was wrong and I was really, truly, honest to God pregnant.

My husband, who was not the father of my teenage son, was over the moon at being able to bring a child into this world with me that carried both of our bloodlines. I could not believe my luck. My baby, who was a boy and we named him Jackson, was undoubtedly the most loved baby in the history of little unborn people. Nobody could ever have wanted a child as bad as we wanted him!!! My teenager was thrilled, our foster kids, my adopted kids – we were all thrilled. The whole house was so incredibly happy. We were all in full-on baby mania!

But my son died. Despite my careful attention to my health conditions and watching my blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, weight loss/gain, staying calm, staying on minimal activity, taking all the right vitamins and my daily, fervent, desperate prayers that I could bring my darling to birth, he died.

He had Trisomy 18. He lived to 27 weeks of gestation and died inside of me. He was beautiful and perfect and so incredibly wanted. He weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces and was 11 inches long. He had blonde eyebrows and big feet. He was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I love my son so much. I delivered him on February 23rd, 2018, with his closed eyes, broken skin, no heartbeat, and no life. The warmth that my body provided him left him so quickly, as I held him in my arms and felt him grow cold. I screamed in agony and rage.

If I were younger, maybe my eggs would be better. If I were healthier. If I were some other mom. Another womb might have kept him alive. Another body might have been stronger. Another mom might have done it better.

My job, co-workers, children, family and friends were so supportive. I know I am blessed, but my heart is so broken. So, so broken even three years later. I miss my son. I walk by his memorial shelf every day and look at his tiny little urn. I weep for him and for what he might have been.

Jack, I am so sorry you aren’t here. I love you so much, my baby. I hope there is no pain where you are. I hope you are whole and transformed and the perfect darling boy I know you should have been. God, I love you so much, baby.

I can’t tell anyone how much it still hurts after all this time has passed. I have to smile and pretend and watch the world move forward. I have responsibilities, they say. I have other kids, so I should be grateful, they say. It’s god’s will, they say. Some women have nothing, they say. Stand up and wipe your tears and move forward, they say. He’s not in pain, they say.

I am trying, but it’s so hard.

Sisterhood of Angel Mama’s Magazine