Jacob Michael is a precious angel we prayed for and loved even before we knew him. We learned of Jacob's existence on February 29th, 2000 - such a happy day in our lives. We excitedly prayed for his safe arrival into our world around November 2nd. On June 14th we went in for the 'routine' ultrasound at 20 weeks. We were nervous, as it was an ultrasound which told us Josh had a growth problem and would be born small. However, we had faith all was well with this little baby. One of the first things we were told was our baby's heart didn't look quite right. The rest of the ultrasound was silent and long ... but everything else on little Jacob looked perfect. The following 2 days were a whirlwind of appointments and emotions. It was on June 16th we were told Jacob's heart defect (Ebstein's anomaly) was severe, and the outcome was not promising. Jacob could die in the womb at any time, or he might die shortly after birth, or he could beat the odds and live, but face numerous heart surgeries in the first 2 years of life which had small percentages of success. It was at this point we named Jacob Michael ... Jacob is a name we both loved, and Michael for St. Michael, who we asked to protect our little angel.
We were determined to give life and love to Jacob for as long as God allowed. We rejoiced in feeling Jacob grow and move. Josh came to know Jacob as the 'baby' inside of Mommy and would give baby Jacob kisses. As we got closer to Jacob's due date, we made many plans, held out hope for a miracle, and tried to prepare for every outcome. We planned to have Jacob enter this world on October 26th, but Jacob needed to see us earlier. He arrived at 5:40 pm on October 10th and graced our lives immensely. With some medical assistance, Jacob was breathing and his heart was beating. He then opened his eyes and viewed the world with what seemed to be wonder and a bit of confusion. He looked around and found love and warmth in Daddy's eyes.
We were fortunate that Jacob waited long enough to enter this world to allow Father Seitz to drive from Dodge Center to Rochester to be available to baptize Jacob. After Jacob was stabilized, Father Seitz baptized him at Rochester Methodist Hospital, with Daddy and the medical staff present. Jacob's baptism was a very blessed event for all of us - he was now prepared for his journey to heaven, whenever that might be.
After Mommy was settled after surgery and Jacob was stabilized prior to transport to St. Mary's Hospital, Jacob and Mommy were reunited. Though the visit was brief, it was filled with love, touches and whispered words from Mommy to child. Jacob was then taken to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital while Mommy stayed at Rochester Methodist to recover. When Jacob was settled, Daddy joined him at St. Mary's. After further exams by the neonatologist and pediatric cardiologist, it became apparent that Jacob would not be in our world for long. Daddy touched and talked to Jacob. And Daddy had to hear the doctors say that Mommy should come over to see Jacob. After a quick ambulance ride between hospitals, our family was again reunited ... this was around 11:15 pm. It was very difficult to see Jacob with tubes and wires, knowing his time was brief. We touched and talked to Jacob; we prayed and grieved. Around 11:50 pm Jacob peacefully returned to God, despite our longing to hold on to him.
We were fortunate to have as much time with Jacob as we needed. The hospital staff gave us many special mementos of Jacob - a lock of his hair, castings of his hands and feet, and many pictures. We held and caressed and kissed Jacob for over 3 hours. And we thanked God for allowing us even this little time with our angel, who forever has touched our hearts and lives.
We are not sure exactly when Jacob came into existence, but we first knew of him on February 29th. Another special gift from God! The news of Jacob brought considerable joy and, as with any child, some worry.
All was normal until the afternoon of June 14th, when the world forever changed. During a routine 20 week ultrasound, an abnormality was found in Jacob's heart. One of the valves in his heart (tricuspid valve) was not working normally. This was causing blood flow to be hindered and, more dangerously, the size of his heart to begin increasingly dramatically. Further tests on the 14th and 15th showed everything else about Jacob to be normal; and informed us that he was a boy!
Days slowed down. Every few weeks more tests were performed to check on Jacob's progress and to monitor the heart's condition. The heart's size continued to increase much faster than the rest of his body. A new problem became evident; the lungs' growth were being considerably restricted because of the heart's size. The doctor's prognosis was sobering. There was a very high probability that Jacob would not survive until birth. And should he survive, the prognosis after birth was even more grim.
More doctor's appointments discussed what things could be done for Jacob. Nothing could be done while he was in the womb. Fetal surgery in general is new and the results so far are rarely positive. Besides, no fetal surgery yet exists that can tackle the problem Jacob had. It became obvious that human intervention was not meant to be. God had a plan and we were to watch His Will unfold.
As the days passed, we watched Jacob develop, and his heart grow. Plans were made for birth. The 26th of October was chosen so as to have the necessary medical teams in place. God and Jacob had other ideas. On Monday, October 9th pre-term labor started. A trip to the hospital and some bed rest stopped it. Early Tuesday morning, October 10th, the labor began again and by midday it became obvious this was different. Labor was progressing so quickly that by the time we got to Methodist Hospital it was unsure if there was time for a cesarean before normal delivery occurred. Some delay was necessary to get the proper equipment in place for Jacob. Equipment arrived and the cesarean took place, with Jacob being born at 5:40 P.M. As expected, he could not breath on his own and was immediately put on a high frequency ventilator. By the grace of God, Fr. Seitz was available and showed up to perform an emergency baptism. Jacob was awake and alert for the baptism which, under the circumstances, was miraculous!
Several IVs were inserted so that drugs could be given to Jacob. The drugs helped increase his heart efficiency, lung efficiency and blood flow and to ease his pain. His situation appeared stable and, after a time, Mom was wheeled in to see, touch and talk to him. Jacob was then transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at St. Mary's hospital and Mom was taken to her room.
During the transfer to the NICU, Jacob's condition began to deteriorate. After more tests at the NICU, the doctors determined that Jacob would not live through the night. Mom was immediately brought over. Mom and Dad were there with Jacob when, shortly before midnight, Jacob's heart slowed, then stopped. God had called Jacob home.
After the tubes were removed, Mom and Dad held Jacob for a long time. This time alone was heart wrenching but very special.
The time spent with Jacob was brief, and the grief intense. But through it we also see the joy of giving a soul back to God and knowing he is there with the other saints in Heaven. We will never forget him. He is our son and we want others to know and remember him too.
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-The support, information and encouragement provided by the PPFL parents is not meant to take the place of medical advice by a medical professional. Any specific questions about care should be directed to a health care professional familiar with the situation.