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Jeffrey. But I call them little Jeff.
He had reddish blonde hair.
Welcome to Still A Part of Us, a podcast where moms and dads share the story of their child who was stillborn or who died in infancy. I’m Winter Redd and on this episode, Bre is telling story of her son, little Jeff, who was diagnosed with bilateral renal agenesis.
As a word of caution to our listeners, the story contains emotional triggers of stillbirth and infant loss. Please keep yourself emotionally and mentally healthy and seek help if needed. Also be aware that these birth stories may differ from his or her partner’s, as these accounts are told from their own perspective through the lens of trauma, heartache and the passage of time. Please respect our moms moms and dads who are brave and gracious to share their children with us.
About Bre and her family:
So Bre, tell me a little bit about yourself and kind of what you do on a day-to-day basis. What are your hobbies? What you’re, what it looks like for you on a day-to-day basis.
So on a day-to-day basis, I’m a stay-at-home mom and I’m also a part-time reseller on eBay. I resell thrifted clothing just from thrift stores.
I think you play volleyball too. Is that right?
I only know this because we have, I know your mom and you guys play on the same team together and everything.
Yes. So I love volleyball. I play on a women’s team. And I also play on a coed team with my husband.
Oh, I didn’t know that. That’s awesome. So that, okay, so yeah, and I, we know you guys because yeah, you’re, we’re related.
Yes. distantly. Once removed.
Once removed. Yeah, I think that’s the case. So can you tell me about your family right now? Who’s in your family, before Jeff was, little Jeff was born.
So my family–it’s me, my husband, and then we have a two and a half year old Murphy. Our little girl.
She is. She’s so fun.
And so tell me a little bit about the pregnancy.
So the pregnancy, when at the beginning when I was pregnant, all was great, except for I would have more cramping than I did with Murphy. And so at the appointments, I would ask like, Oh, I’m having like extra cramping. I don’t know if that’s normal or, or what it is. And she’s like, sometimes with, after your first, other pregnancies, you, like your uterus just moves faster, so you’ll feel cramping. Yeah. And so I’m like, okay, so I just kind of, like brushed it off, like, Okay, I guess that’s normal.
And so going on, I still just had those cramping. I’m like, this is just so different compared to my first pregnancy. But I’m like, Oh, it’s my second. my uterus is just adjusting, I guess. I don’t know. And then we had, we wanted to find out the gender early. So we went to Fetal Fotos. Just to find out the gender early.
And that’s a place where you can basically do a–is it like an ultrasound type thing?
Yeah, they just do an ultrasound. They’re not doctors or anything. They’re just specifically looking for the gender or doing like a video so you can see your baby. We had done that with Murphy. We wanted to find out the gender early. So we were like, let’s do it again. So we went and she had a really hard time finding the gender. She was pushing and moving around. She’s like, I cannot. He is not moving. Or guess we didn’t we didn’t know it was a he. She’s like, The baby, I can’t see the baby’s gender yet. So it took quite a long time. And she finally was like, Okay, I am like, 90% sure. I know. Because we didn’t, we wanted it to be a surprise. So we were doing like a gender reveal. Yeah. So she’s like, Okay, I’m 90% sure that I know what it is. So we went with that. And in my mind, I thought it was a girl. 100% Yeah. Cuz it like my sickness felt similar. Minus the cramping. Yeah. I was like, it’s for sure a girl. But we did a gender reveal. And it was a boy. And I was super surprised.
Yeah, you’re like, Wait a second.
So wasn’t expecting that.
Little Jeff’s diagnosis:
How many weeks were you when you did that? Because usually the 20-week ultrasound is when they do, they can tell you the gender.
I was. It was between 14 and 16 weeks. It was right around there. I can’t remember exactly which week. Yeah. So super surprised that it was a boy. So went on. And then it came to be the 20 week checkup, and I was like, okay, since she was only 90% sure, this is where we’ll for sure know it’s a boy or, oh, it actually is a girl. So that was going into the 20-week appointment. That was my main, like, concern, well not concern, but like, now I’ll know the gender you know. Nothing else was even in my mind. All about anything. Besides the gender.
So then going into the appointment beforehand, you have to drink lots of water.
Yeah, loads and loads of water.
Drink all the water so bit your bladder fills up so you can see the baby better. So when she, the ultrasound tech started–
Were you there by yourself, by the way?
No, Jeff was with me. So it was just us two. And when she started, she was kind of quiet and just moving the–what is it sonogram thing? The wand–whatever it is, she was moving that thing around, and she wasn’t really saying much. And so I made a joke, like, Did I not drink enough water? Or–?
And you could see the screen too, right?
Yeah. And so she said, No, it’s just I’m not seeing any amniotic fluid. And so in my mind, I’m like, what does that mean? You know? And so I could feel my heart pounding like, okay, don’t freak out. Don’t freak out. Yeah, I’m sure it’s fine. There’s nothing. Nothing’s wrong. It’s fine. So I asked her, I asked her, I said, what, what does that mean? And she said, it could be one of two things. It could be that you’re water has broken, and you’re leaking amniotic fluid. Or there’s something wrong with the baby. And so, at that point, you know, we start obviously feeling it and crying. Because I’m like, Well, I’m only 20 weeks. What am I supposed to do if my water is broken. I mean, I’ve heard, you know, babies can be born that early and still be okay. But I mean, you never know. So I could feel my heart pounding. And she’s like, I’m just gonna go talk to your doctor. Anyway, she went, and she’s like, I’m gonna go grab your doctor. I’m going to go and talk to her. And then I’ll have her talk to you. And so once she left the room, we just both started crying and trying to just, like, comfort each other and be like, it’s, it’s okay. I’m sure it’s nothing. But, you know, in our minds, or in my heart, could feel but there really was something.
Yeah. That’s just an awful feeling, isn’t it?
Yeah. I’m like, What am I supposed to do with this information? Yeah, no. And so I’m the doctor, she came and talked to us. And she said, so we see that there’s no fluid. And she stated the same things, like either you’re leaking fluid, or there’s something wrong with the baby. So she wanted to do a test to see if there was fluid coming out. And so she did the test. And we just waited while she did the test. It was a fast test. And she said, there’s no fluid coming out. So I wasn’t leaking fluid at that point. So she said, it’s not that so there’s, there’s got to be something else. So she, she said, I’m we’re going to send you up to the U, because they have bigger, better machines, you know. We want to send you up, they’re just to get a really good view and see what’s happening. So they called the U to schedule the appointment that day. But it wasn’t for like four hours. It wasn’t right away, which I would have rather just gone straight up there, you know
Talk about torture.
Yeah, wait four hours to get out more information. Yeah. So we left and just sat in the car and just cried. Just. Yeah. Sorry.
So Jeff, he had taken off work to come. So he’s like, I gotta go and just like, tell my work and grab my computer and stuff. So he’s like, I’m gonna head back to work, grab my stuff, and, and then we’ll go to the U. Well, we had time to kill, we mostly called family and said like, This is what’s going on. We don’t know specifics, but we’re going to the U to find out more.
And this is the University of Utah for anybody that is, it’s just a local major hospital here.
Yeah, the big hospital of Utah, I guess. So when we finally got to the U, we waited for a while it took them a while. So we were sitting in the waiting room for a long time, I’m like, Let’s wait more. So when they brought us back, and the technician just said, like, So what’s bringing you in here? What are what’s going on? In my head, I’m like, Shouldn’t you know? Didn’t they call you and tell you? So I’m like, so I go over it, like, I have no fluid. Trying to figure it out. So she does the ultrasound, and she is like, yeah, there is no fluid. I didn’t know what an ultrasound looked like. And apparently the fluid is black around the baby. And it was like, all white. Yeah, there was no fluid. And so I didn’t know that the first time when I looked at I was like, Oh, I didn’t realize that there was no fluid. So she’s like, yeah, there’s definitely no fluid, like at all. So. So then we were just hoping like, I don’t know that there’s a miracle somehow I can get? I don’t know. So this ultrasound was a really long, she took about, like, 45 minutes just going over everything, looking at every part of the baby. Just checking all sorts of things and measurements and that sort of stuff. We were quiet for most of it. I, I was just, I feel like in a state of shock, and I don’t know what to say or do. I was just kind of like laying there. When she was done. She said, I gotta print out all this stuff. Write down some numbers. And then I have to present it all to like a board of people. Like Doctors, stuff like that. So she’s like, once I get it to them, and everything. So I’ll be gone for like 15 to 20 minutes, printing it all out and showing the doctors and having them discuss what they see, I guess. And so, obviously, while we’re sitting in there is just like, more waiting, you know?
Yeah. Really quickly, just back on the ultrasound when they were–I just remember when I had my ultrasounds that they would like measure certain things, you know, measure the size of the head and like, type in head and all that stuff. So were you watching them do that?
Was she talking it out and telling you what she saw? Or was it just pretty quiet the entire time?
She, yeah, she did talk it out. And I asked her questions. And she had mentioned that usually, you know, if it’s not the water that’s broken. And that’s how I’m losing the fluid, that the baby is the one creating the amniotic fluid, which, I guess I should have realized that. But the baby pees, and that’s what the amniotic fluid is, and then breathes it in. And then pees. And then it’s creating it. I didn’t know that. And so she was like, the other reason why you wouldn’t have fluid is if the baby is having a problem creating the amniotic fluid. So yeah, when she was going through it, she’s like, okay, here’s this. Here’s the heart. Here’s the legs. They’re measuring, blah, blah, blah. And she said, I am not seeing any kidneys. At all.
She did say that?
Yeah, she’s like, but I need to take it to the doctors and let them look at it.
So did they mention anything at all about his kidneys at the first ultrasound?
Yes. So they, they did say there could be something wrong with his kidneys.
Okay, so they didn’t…they didn’t say anything conclusive or anything, but maybe just kind of mentioned.
Yeah. Yeah. So um…
So at the second ultrasound, then they they also did they mentioned anything about the kidneys, well, they said they couldn’t find the kidneys…
Okay. They said, she said, I’m having a hard time finding the baby’s kidney. So she didn’t say I can’t see them. She just said I’m having a hard time finding them. So when she said that, I’m just like, what does that mean? Can you like, Can a baby live without kidneys? I don’t. I don’t know anything about any of that. So I’m sure she, she just said, I’m going to take all this to them. And I’ll have one of the main doctors come in and talk to you about what they found. And, and what, like the future of the baby looks like. So they left, she left and we just, you know, cried some more. The whole day was full of crying.
Yeah, of course. It would be.
I don’t know. So after we waited, the doctor came in. And she just said, you know, we looked over all the scanned and everything. And what we have found is that your baby does not have any kidneys. And that he is not producing any fluid. Also, because there’s no fluid, they couldn’t even verify that it was a boy because they could not see.
Because there’s no amount of fluid to be able to do the ultrasound technically.
So what she said was, there’s no kidneys. Because there’s no kidneys, there’s no fluid. And because there’s no fluid, the lungs of the baby will not develop correctly or at all. And so she’s like, when your baby is born, he will not have you know, working lungs. And there’s no kidneys, which the kidneys, oh, this is what I didn’t know, kidneys are not,is not what is not sustainable for life. It’s the fact that the lungs will not develop correct. So after she told us that, I mean, honestly, in my head, I’m just like, I don’t even know what you’re saying to me. It seriously is like, I feel like I’m in a dream. Are you really saying this to me?
She then said, So moving forward, you can terminate the baby. You can induce labor from now until you have, full term. Or you can just go until you go into labor. And I didn’t, she didn’t really state whether I’m supposed to decide right then. I thought I felt like I had to decide like, she stopped and I’m like, Am I supposed to choose? That’s how I felt. And she, and then she finally was like, You don’t have to decide right now. But I seriously was like, Am I supposed to decide this right now? That’s how I felt. It was…yeah. She didn’t present it to us very well.I will say that. Um, but so she, she basically told us, You know, these are your options, go home. Think about it. And then, you know, talk to your doctor.
I’m assuming you decided to take some time to think about it as a family.
Yes. So we decided to, you know, just go home and process what we were told, because I couldn’t process it in the hospital, I was just a mess. So we wanted to go home and just be together, talk to our family. Tell them, you know, what we have found out and just try and figure out where to go from there. ‘Cause, I mean, in that moment, I think it’s strange to think back on it, but in that moment, I was like, I want this pain to be over. I want to have, I want to have him right then. That’s in my head. That’s what I wanted. But with time, I could not. I could not have him yet. I wasn’t ready. And I, I mean, thinking about it. It was hard. I, we both could see pros and cons to both having the baby early, then we could, you know, move on knowing that he was going to pass away anyway. Yeah. And we could move on and mourn and get on with our lives. But then the con is like, you’re…, like, he’s not with me as long as I could have him with me, you know? Like, I don’t know. It’s hard to explain.
No, I think–that totally makes sense to me. You want to be with him. You want him to be a part of your family.
Right. Yeah. The cons of like, carrying him is like, I’m going to get bigger. Yeah. People are gonna, like, people don’t know, and so they’re gonna be like, Oh, you’re so cute. You’re such a cute pregnant girl. And in my head, I’m just like, you have no idea like, you know. And that’s really nice. It’s super nice to hear like, Oh, are you so excited? It’s like, Yes, I am. I love him. But I don’t know. It was hard to get bigger. And people just asking how I am, how’s the pregnancy. And depending on who I was talking to, I would say something or not. Depending what I would want to go into. Sometimes they’ll just be like, yeah, I’m super excited. And I wouldn’t say anything. And some people like, obviously, all family new. And so it would just depend on who I was talking to. And what I felt, if I felt like I wanted to tell them or not. So it was really hard, getting bigger and bigger, and people asking questions.
So you guys felt it was right to…that you wanted to carry him as long as possible?
Yeah. So I had done, I was doing a lot of research, trying to figure out, you know, like, filter early, whatever, I joined a group. It’s called, so the condition is called bilateral renal agenesis. Just lack of both kidneys. I found a group that on Facebook that they had, you know, the same thing. And they talked about their stories. And I was trying to find a pattern of like, when the baby lived the longest, because I wanted to be able to, like spend the most time with, you know, and because with this condition, the baby can pass while while in the womb, or they can be born and live for a couple minutes, a couple hours, like a day or two. It’s just it’s very unknown. So I wanted to kind of see, what was the longest amount of time that I could spend with him, like when, I mean, everyone’s different. And it might, it might not like happen the way I want it to, but I just wanted to find the best time. So what I had found is around like 36 to 38 weeks, is when baby lived the longest outside of the womb. So we prayed about it and just decided that caring until 36 weeks was gonna be the best time to have him. Okay, get the most amount of time with him we could. So. So yeah, so I carried from 20 weeks to 36 weeks, and then was induced.
Yeah, I can imagine it was, for people that don’t, I mean, I know you, Bre, and Bre is very tiny, everybody. So for her to go from 20 weeks to 36 weeks. I mean, you will, you’re definitely showing like, and that would be…I can’t imagine that, that would be just so difficult, I think to field all the questions about your upcoming baby. And I’m sure that that probably was difficult.
Yeah, it was. It was, it was very difficult. And there were instances where I guess some family members didn’t know. And I would run into them. And they’re like, Hi, how are you? How’s your pregnancy? And I just, I thought they knew and I just fall apart. And I’d have to tell them, and then they fall apart. You know. It was rough, for sure. But I loved being pregnant with him. I loved filling his little kicks. And I actually was super surprised at how much he could move, thinking you know
Yeah. Yeah, I was gonna say, that was one of the things that I was so surprised that when we, we spent some time together and you mentioned, you’re like, he is like a little kicker.
I was like, really? He’s like, so active. That’s awesome.
So active. And I, in my mind, I’m like, there’s no kind of cushion like with the fluid for him to like, move around. But he was a mover, and I loved it. That is so great.
What a blessing to feel that.
So at this 20-week ultrasound you, they couldn’t even confirm that he was a boy at that time.
Did they ever figure out how…did they do anything else to maybe confirm that or…? No–
So you are basing it off of the original Fetal Foto thing way back when…
Yeah. And if I wouldn’t have gotten that, I never would have known the gender until the baby was born. ‘Cause at 20 weeks, they would have not been able to see, you know. That’s really crazy to think. But yeah, so they never were able to confirm that it was a boy. But we did feel, that it really was a boy for sure. Yeah.
After getting Little’s Jeff’s diagnosis:
Did you guys do anything, I’m actually curious, did you do anything between that 20 weeks to 36 weeks to give him…did you guys do anything as a family to like, we’re going to take a family trip together? Do you know, I’m saying? Like did you do anything special during that, that time together?
We, I don’t think we went on any trips, but we just tried to do as much as a family as possible, whether it was just like going to a movie together. Or, you know, we went to the Aquatic Center. We went to the zoo. Just lots of fun stuff. As a family. Including little Jeff. Yeah. So just tried to soak in all the time we had with him and filling him move, because I knew, you know, in the end, he’s gonna be gone. It’s, it’s a crazy thing.
Honestly. It’s–how do I explain it? In my mind, knowing that he will pass away once he’s born or he could pass away while I’m pregnant. But knowing that he was going to pass away, once I have him… It almost felt like, what I compare it to his like, if you had a family member that was on life support. That’s what it’s like, having him. It’s like, you know, cutting the cord. It’s like taking…it’s like taking someone off life support. It was hard knowing that, you know, we were gonna do that…I don’t know. That’s the only thing I can kind of compare it to. Because he’s alive until that point, and your family members alive on life support until you decide that’s time, you know. So that was hard. Just knowing that, you know.
During that time, were you making preparations?
That, that, I…I just, I can imagine being so excited for birth. Just so excited for your son, but then also knowing that you’re going to have to bury him as well. Or whatever preparations you were planning on doing…
Yeah. Um, yeah. So we, since we hadn’t moved, we were moving. And so I hadn’t bought anything for a baby, cuz I was like, I want to move into the new house to buy all the stuff. So I hadn’t bought anything, like, crib or anything. So I feel like, that was good for me to not have like, if I had had a room setup like that would have killed me. And had all that stuff. I mean, I’m it–you know. But, so buying things and preparing things, knowing that he was going to pass away and finding a burial site, that was hard. I actually asked my mom to go, which I’m so grateful that she did, because I just know, it would have killed me. I had her go and talk to the cemetery and the mortuary and just to find out all the information that I need to know. I just, I couldn’t go in. My mom was nice enough to do it. So she, she went in and took pictures of caskets and just, you know, showed us and there’s actually a cemetery, that’s a three minute walk from our house, which is amazing, that has a little baby area. So it’s designate just for a little bit babies. And we felt that that was the right place. And it was the closest side of the cemetery to our house. So it’s, like, just seemed so perfect. And so we had decided, you know, to bury him there when the time came. And we also, I wanted to find a little outfit for him to wear, you know, which that was hard looking for an outfit and I knew I had to find the smallest tiniest outfit. He was going to be little. But I just decided on just like an all white, cute little outfit with a beanie. But also preparing for when he came, we bought like a little outfit for him to wear in the hospital that we could keep for ourselves. And just some other stuff. We wanted, yeah, like a little outfit for him that we could keep. A blanket that we could keep. We had Murphy pick out a little toy that she wanted to give.
Oh, that’s so sweet.
So we asked her, you know, what do you want to give her and…or give him, sorry. What do you want to give him and said she wanted to give him a duck. So and she also had stated that his favorite color is blue. So we were on the hunt for a blue duck. So this was a day or two before being induced, that we got that. So we went and got the little duck, one for her and one for him, so they would have matching ducks.
Oh, that’s great. That’s so great.
Yeah. And she was super excited about it. We also had Jeff make some bracelets that we all could wear. So I had a bracelet and Murphy had a bracelet, Jeff and little Jeff. So we’d all have matching bracelets. I thought that would be fun.
Yay a family bracelet. That’s cool.
Yeah. We also, well, I really wanted to do was get some ink and really nice paper. I really wanted to do prints. And I knew the hospital would do prints. But I wanted to do some myself. So we bought ink and some paper. So then when we were in the hospital, we could do them ourselves, which I thought would be fun.
Yeah, that is–I never thought about doing that on my own, because yeah, you always think of the hospitals are going to do it–
We want to do them ourselves. Yeah. And I actually, that is one of my favorite things that I have is a little, I have a paper with his two little feet. And it’s like one of my favorites things of all the things that we have of his
Going to the hospital:
Obviously you guys had chosen a date to be induced.
Yes. So we had decided the 30th of January was gonna be the best day. I’m not sure why it came to be that day. But it just felt like the right day. Also our doctor, he had that day he could be there. And all those sort of things lined up, I guess.
Yeah. And I’m assuming family, you knew that family was going to be able to be around and…
Yeah, so you want to make sure people were in town and so that they could be around for sure.
Yeah. Good. And how did that day go? So you checked in early in the morning or–?
Okay. Yeah so the night before they called us and they said, We will call you tomorrow between 5 am and 10 am? We don’t know when–
Oh yeah. That’s the way it goes, right.
Is that will happened for you?
No, we actually were able to plan it. But yeah, sometimes scheduling and such so…
Because that’s not how my first was. My first was they just gave me a time. That’s when I came in. So this was different. They said, We will call you between five and 10 am. And that’s when you need to just come in, leave your house and come. And so we were kind of hoping for the earlier time just to start the day. And we did. We woke up. I woke up to my phone ringing at 5am. Yeah. Right at five am. So we jumped up, we got ready, grabbed our bags, and we headed to the hospital.
And Murphy was with family. I’m assuming…
we left Murphy with my parents to sleep over ,because we knew we weren’t gonna want to drop her off if it was five 5 am. So we left her with family. And just said, we’ll keep you posted to come meet us at the hospital. So we got there, and they put us in our room and the nurse came in and stuck me multiple times to get the IV in. Never, never is easy. It’s like three times. But got me all situated and settled in. And once she left, we fell apart. Because now it’s the time, it’s the time to have, have him and have him leave, which is hard to think about.
Once the nurse came in, she kind of, she talked to us about the heart, like finding the heartbeat and listening to the heartbeat. So she talked to us about, if we wanted to keep it on there. Because in having the baby, the baby can pass away. And so she’s like, do you want to know if he passes away on his way out? Or do you not want to know? Like, so that was kind of hard. Do I want to know, do I not want to know? Yeah, like sometimes it comforts the mom to know that there’s a heartbeat or like when it, what happens, you know. But they’re like it sometimes it stresses the mom out knowing, like if it does stop.
So we decided to not have it on. But to, every once in a while, while I was in labor, if I was like, Can we just check really quick just to see, they would put it on real quick just to check. So we checked just a couple times throughout. So…
And it was going strong, whenever you checked?
Yeah, yep. Yep. his heartbeat was strong. He was perfect. So once I was in labor, with Murphy, when I was induced, it took from the time I was induced to having her, was 12 hours. So I was expecting, you know, it’s going to take, like 12 hours. I was induced with Pitocin at, like 8 am, I think is when they finally started it. And I was going to have my mom come and take pictures as I had him, so I was like, all just I’ll call them when I am, like a seven or something. Because I was at a two and a half and I stayed at a two and a half from eight to like, 10.
When I was in labor, there was like the pediatric people that came in and wanted to talk to me about, you know, how the process was going to go. They told me, you know, he might struggle a little bit for air because his lungs aren’t going to be developed. And, you know, I asked them, like, my main concern was pain, like, I don’t want him to be in pain, or like, suffer at all. So I just asked, like, what can we do to make it so it’s like the most comfortable for him? And they had said, you know, you could give him a little bit of morphine, just to, if there is any pain, then it will just help.
Little Jeff’s birth:
And so I was like, okay, we’re still at two and a half. It was, it was 10am. I’m like, I’m still at two and a half. So you don’t need to come yet. Still got a while. But then, all of the sudden, I was feeling so much pressure, like so much pressure just coming down. And I’m like, what is what is happening–and a lot of pain. And I was on, I had an epidural, and I could feel like it was really painful. And so I’m like, we got to get the nurse in here. There’s something something’s happening.
And the nurse came in, and she checked me and she’s like, your a 10. Just like that in two hours. And I’m like, What do you mean, I’m a 10? It’s been like no time. I was just a two and a half, like, half an hour ago. It was, yeah, it was insane. So they’re like, do not push, he will come out. Do not do anything. The doctor is not here. And I’m just like, So I’m just crying. I’m not ready. I don’t feel like I’m ready. I thought I was going to have like 10 hours…
…to kind of process this and…yeah…
Yeah. So I’m like, I’m not ready. And so they call the doctor. He’s like, 45 minutes away. Oh, there’s no way he’s gonna make it. So they’re like, you just, you gotta have him. You gotta have him. I’m like–ugh!
Are you making phone calls to family like right now to, frantically?
Yeah, I’m like yelling at Jeff, Call everyone tell him I’m I’m about to have him. And I’m like, my mom is not gonna make it here in time to take pictures. So I’m, I’m begging the nurse. I’m like, Is there someone please, someone take pictures. I need, I need these pictures.Because I’m like, I don’t want to miss any of it. You know, because it’s such a short window, that I have him. So I’m like, please, please, please. And a nurse was able to come in and it ended up being one of my old neighbors. Oh, I had no idea that worked there. That was like, Oh my gosh, amazing.
That’s a little tender mercy right there…
Yeah, there to see someone that I know, I’m comfortable with taking pictures, you know. So that was amazing. When every, all the nurses were in there, and they had a on call doctor come in, since my doctor wasn’t. So everyone was in there, and they said, okay, whenever you’re ready, and you feel like the next contraction, just go ahead and push. And I just like, look at Jeff. I’m like, are like, I guess it’s time…I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like it’s time. But I guess like– So I push. And he doesn’t come out. And I push one more, just one more time, two pushes and he comes out. And when he comes out, he does not cry. He doesn’t, he doesn’t make a noise, which then I’m like, I don’t know, if he’s alive. I don’t know. I don’t know anything. But once they kind of turn his face towards me, I can see he’s like, he’s making a face. So he’s obviously like, alive. He’s kinda like, Oh, I’m here! I don’t know. It was cute.
But so they immediately put him on me because that’s what I wanted. I wanted skin to skin right away. So they put him on me and, and I just, it was the best feeling like, I just felt so, so much love for this little one. And I just felt how perfect he was. He literally was perfect…minus his kidneys not being there. He was just perfect. But there was just so much love.
The nurses and Doctor were sweet. And they just stepped back. And they were just quiet. They just they didn’t say anything. They let, they let me and Jeff just kind of have a moment. And just soak in, you know, just the little time right then to just hold him and, and spend time with him not knowing how long he’s gonna live. So they were sweet and stepping back and giving us that time.
After a minute, then they came back and they kind of cleaned me up. And then once they were done, they left. We had Jeff, you know, call all the family and be like, he’s here. Please like come so we really wanted people to come, so that we could give the baby a blessing while he was alive. So it was like panic, like everyone get here right away. I don’t know if like how long he’s gonna live. So we’re like, everyone get here.
And they all got there pretty quick. It was, I mean, I don’t know what the time was. It seemed like it was pretty fast. So once everyone was in there, we were able to give him a blessing while he was alive, which was awesome. Some people didn’t make it, but I couldn’t, ou know, I couldn’t wait. I wish if I had known in hindsight how long he would have lived, then we would have waited longer, you know. During the blessing, he did let out a little cry, which was like amazing. It was like, Oh, I’m here. Hello, everybody. You know, cuz he hadn’t really made a noise. So when he did make that little like, squeal, it was like, Oh, so precious. So cute. It was just good to hear him, you know?
So you guys named him. Jeffrey. Is that right?
So why did you choose that name?
So we chose Jeffrey, because his dad’s name is Jeffrey. And we honestly had gone through a million names, and just nothing. Nothing was sticking. And we hadn’t had a name set before the 20 weeks. So we didn’t have anything in mind. But we were like, trying to think of all these names. And Jeff actually was like, you know, I would love for him to have my name. It just is the only thing that seems right. Since he’s my little Jeff. I don’t know. It just seemed. It seemed perfect.
So how big did he end up being? Because you said that he could be he would likely be a lot smaller because of his, this condition.
Yeah. Yeah. So he was two pounds, 15 ounces. Super super little. He was super little.
Oh, but super cuddleable. I mean that’s like…
Yeah. Yeah. So little, but such a huge impact on like our lives, that little two pounder, almost three pounds. Yeah.
So we did the blessing, which was was awesome. And everyone after, kind of, just came up and gave him a little kiss and said, Hi. Because I had told family ahead of time, I want you all to meet him and say hi. But then I want the alone time with him. So I would love for you to say hi and love on him for a minute. But then the rest of the time I need, I NEED it with him. And so everyone came, gave him a kiss and said hi. And then they all left.
And then it was, I wanted Murphy to stay with me, so she, she was able to make it there. And so we wanted Murphy, me, Jeff, and little Jeff to just–just us–just be together. So everyone left. And we’re able to spend that time and just kind of just hang out like as a family. I don’t know. It was nice.
That’s so wonderful.
Yeah, just talk and Murphy was able to give him his little duck. She was super excited about that. Because she had hers in there. She talked to him like oh, they’re playing. It was really cute. So it was really nice to just be as a family spending that time together.
So he was born at 11:20 am. And we spent, I think with Murphy, we spent about an hour together and then she kind of was getting, you know, she’s a toddler. She was kind of like, okay, I would need to go play or something. So we had my Mom, come grab her and they left and then, me and Jeff and little Jeff are able to just spend time together.
After Murphy had left, he did start to get kind of, like he seemed almost agitated, like he would make kind of like a scrunchy face. He was a little bit bothered, so you know. I called over the nurse and was like, he seems a little like upset. Can we get the morphine? And once he got the morphine, he just seemed so much better. He seemed he just calmer. Yeah. Just calm down and wasn’t making such a sad face. Like, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know what he was feeling. But I just hope that the morphine would help anything that was there, you know.
So you just spent the rest of the time with him?
Yeah. So we just spent the rest of the time with him. Just talking to him telling him how much we love him and…and that we’re grateful that he’s ours forever, you know, just hung out and talked and sang and read books.
Yeah. Just did all the things that we would do with a newborn that we knew we were keeping. Yeah.
Little Jeff’s passing:
There was a point where he kind of almost like hiccuped, and then he was quiet the whole time. I he was on my chest. I could hear a little squeak of him breathing. And so I knew he was alive. But he did have a hiccup. And then he was quiet. And at that moment, I thought he had passed away. So we called the nurse and she, she came in, she’s like, No, no, he is not. He, his heart is good. His breathing has shallowed. And it’s like, it’s lessened.
And this was, this was marking, like the four hour mark. He had been alive for four hours. And so I was like, Oh, my gosh, he’s still alive. I thought at that point that he had passed, like, He was so quiet. But he was still alive. So we were like, Yay, he’s still alive. We still got this time. So we just soaked in all that time that we had with him knowing he was still alive. It was– After that it was hard to tell. So we had to keep calling the nurse and just to keep checking. We just, we mostly just talked to him and hung out. And it was really just like a special time. And I just, I could just kiss and squeeze those cheeks forever. They’re the softest, yummiest cheeks.
Oh! And he had kind of some reddish hair.
Yes. Which was a surprise. It was kind of like a red blonde hair. It’s so great. Murphy had jet black hair. Oh, it was totally opposite. But it was kind of a surprise, but it was adorable.
Oh, that’s wonderful. That’s wonderful.
We had spent that time with him, and it was over about two hours, when we had the nurse come in again, to check. And at that point, she was taking a lot longer to find his heartbeat. Because the other times that she had come in and checked, she was like, Oh, no, the heart beat is still there. But this time, she was taking a lot longer. And at that point, I think we kind of realized what was happening, that he had passed. And that, I want to say that he passed in Jeff’s arms, which is just kind of special. You know, little Jeff with his dad.
But once she told us that, she said, I’m gonna go get the pediatrician. And he’s going to come in and just, you know, check over and make sure that’s correct. So he came in, and he checked for a while. And he just told us he was sorry. But it’s true that he had passed away. And that was hard to hear that he was finally gone. But we were lucky to get six hours with him alive.
Six hours that’s, that’s so–what a blessing!
Yeah, I before having him. I thought maybe two hours. I was like, I feel like we’ll get maybe two hours. But six hours that was like, That’s amazing. I’m so happy for it. So after he had told us that, he left and we just cried and held them. And we told him like we missed them, that we loved him. All the things…
–you want to tell your son–
–yeah, wanted to tell him. And then we obviously we spent some time just alone with him. And then we decided, you know, to tell our family, what was going on that he had passed, and if anyone wanted to hold him or come see him. Because like I said, I didn’t really want to share him while he was alive. I was not going to share while he was alive. So once he had passed, we said you know if anyone wants to come up and hold him, so all our siblings had left but our parents were able to come up. And Murphy, she actually did come back. So they were all, all able to hold him which was really special. That they gotta hold their grandson. Yeah, it was really nice.
We had a photographer come after he had passed away. We had a photographer come and take some pictures of him. It’s called Now I Lay Thee Down to Sleep.
Yes. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.
Yeah. So we had a photographer come because I really wanted some, like professional pictures taken of him. So she came and took the most adorable pictures. It was fun. We we had to move my bed around to different angles to get the perfect lighting. It was kind of…
You know, that is a really amazing service that, it’s like a volunteer group of people that go in and take really nice quality photographs of your baby. It has either been, you know, stillborn or has passed away in infancy. And so, like, what a cool, like, if you ever want to do some really good work and volunteer that, they’re always looking for people. Just to let you know.
And the lady that did it was so sweet and so soft and caring. Like, I just definitely recommend, if anyone is in this situation, to hire them. They are great. And it’s free. Which is like amazing. So we had those pictures taken.
So after you had your family come over and hold him and spend some time with him, id you invite others over to come in and meet him as well?
Yeah. So after our family spent the time that they felt like they wanted to spend with him, they went home and they just said, you know, keep us posted. We’re here for you for anything. So after they left, we had had a couple friends that had said they really want to come see us and that we’re close with and who wanted to come see us. So we had we had a couple friends come and it was emotional. But then we had you guys come. And it was so nice to see you guys. Honestly, just because I know, you guys know the feelings. Our other friends that were there. They don’t know the feelings, but they’re so supportive and so awesome to have him come see us.
Yeah, yeah. It was a pleasure to meet little Jeff. So, so cute!
Yeah, he’s a little cutie.
Yeah, he’s really cute.
He looks just like Murphy as a baby. Yeah. Like their face. Their little chin and nose are identical. Yeah. Oh, that’s super adorable. Yeah. Yeah, we are super grateful that you guys came and visited us. It meant a lot. And I know it was probably super hard. I mean, it wasn’t that much time after. So…
But it was, it was a pleasure for us to come and meet him, because we know how important that is. That time…
Well, you guys are sweet. After you guys left, we, we were exhausted.
I was gonna say when we left, it was probably closer to like nine or 10, if I’m not mistaken. And you’d been up since five that morning.
Right, so. Actually, they called us at 4:30, to be there at five. I had that wrong. They called us at 4:30, because the first appointment was at five. Anyways…
So it’s been a long day.
Yeah. So we were exhausted. But after all our friends and family had left. We had the hospital do, or we called them and we said we want you to do the molds and the prints. So the hospital does free hand prints, feet prints, and then molds of the hands and the feet.. So that you can take home, which is awesome. So we just told him, you know, we’re, we’re ready for you guys to do that. And I think they were super busy. So they weren’t able to do it right then. So they’re like, just, you know, relax, and we will, we’ll come tell you when we’re able to. We’re like, okay. So we were really, really tired. So we decided to lay down for a little bit. And just sleep for a couple of hours. And Jeff slept on the couch. And then I just put little Jeff in my bed with me, just right next to me, which is actually really sweet. Because, you know, with Murphy as a baby, she sometimes would end up sleeping next to me, and I just felt like it was kind of special just to have him sleep next to me.
That would, that’s the way you would parent him.
Yeah. So it was, I mean, yes, he had passed away, but I was still just, you know, cuddling him. Loving on him. Yeah. So we we fell asleep for a couple of hours. And then they came in, it was probably around 2am that they came in. And they said that they were ready. So we gave him to them, which was kind of hard to, cuz I had been with him solidly. So it was kind of hard to give him to them. But I knew they were going to bring him back, so I gave him to them. And we, they were like, it’s going to be an hour or two, you know, just, you can relax, you can sleep, whatever you need to do. So we ended up going back to sleep for a little bit. And I kept waking up like, are they gonna bring him back? I know, I’m like, bring him back. I want to see him. So it was kind of hard for me to sleep after that. So I’d wake up and go back to sleep.
But they brought him back in. I was super excited to have him back. And they showed, they went through the little box that they gave us and they showed us, you know, the prints and the molds and they took a couple pictures. And it was, it was really cute and nice that they did that because we get to keep that forever now. So we we loved that. After that. I think we ended up sleeping for like, maybe an hour or two longer, just a little bit longer.
Then when we woke up, we spent time with him. We–I decided I wanted to do some hand and footprints, like we had bought the thing. So we did that, which was actually a lot harder than we expected. It is really hard. But it was also really cool to do just me, Jeff and little Jeff. I don’t know it was really special. Yeah. Yeah. So we got his hand and his feet prints. And I will just cherish those forever. Because I feel like it was just a special time, us three, you know?
When he was with you guys, did you, you held him for part of it, but did you also have him in the bassinet? Was there any kind of situation to keep him cool?
Yeah. So after he had passed away, and after our family had come in, they brought in a thing called the Cuddle Cot, which just kept him cool. Just so the body stays preserved a little bit better. So we put him on that. And it was nice, it was able to come out, so you could kind of hold them in your arms still with the Cuddle Cotor put it just in the bassinet thing.
We had that with our son as well and that was, I really appreciated it because we got to spend a significant amount of time with him without having to worry, you know?
Yeah, yeah, it definitely was nice. In the morning, we spent that time we did the prints. We had decided on a time when we wanted to call them. We had decided we were going to call him at the time that he was born. So he was born at 11:20 the day before, so we decided at 1120, we would call them–
And when you mean call them, it’s… so there’s a lot of hospital policies that allow you to keep your baby basically for I think, for 24 hours, at least the hospital that I was at. So some people do it shorter. Some people will do it all the way up until 24 hours. So…
Yeah, we had just decided, you know, that was a good time to, you know, we wanted to give him instead of them come and say, We need to take him. Kinda like have you guys had said. So we had called them at 11:20. We said, You know what? We’ve had him from when he was born till here, it’s been 24 hours. I mean, he was alive six of those hours, right. But we decided that was a good time. And they came in. They talked about, you know, do you want him to go in these clothes? Do you want him to be wrapped in a blanket? When they go, when they take him, and they were like, do you want these clothes back? So you know, I said I want the clothes. I want to keep the clothes, if we could just wrap him in, like a blanket or something. So we took the clothes off and I was able to keep those, which I really wanted.
Yeah. Because it has his smell.
Yeah. And I, it was really hard to hear when, when the nurse was in there, she got on the phone. And she called someone and she asked for a body bag, which, I don’t know, that’s really hard to hear. I don’t want to hear that. They’re gonna put him in a body bag, like that’s just– Can’t I just take him? I don’t know. So yeah. That was really hard to hear. But I mean, I know legally that’s kind of just how it has to go. So that was really hard. And it actually took a long time for them to finally take him It was probably another two hours. Oh, which I’m like, oh, we’ll spend the time. So we just kind of spent the time and talked to him. And when they did finally come, it was–that was hard. I just cried and hugged and kissed him a million times and gave him to them. And it was, yeah, it was hard for them to take him. Once they had left me and Jeff just cried like, like they’re taking my baby, I want to take him, you know.
So, after they had left, we were ready to just get out of the hospital. I was just like, I’m ready.
Were you feeling good? Are you feeling okay?
Yeah, I was feeling pretty good. Like physically, mentally? Not great.
Right. Totally different story.
Yeah. But physically, I felt pretty good. I was ready to just get out of the hospital and just be with like, family at home. It took a while to discharge. But when we left, that also was really hard because you’re leaving with a little box of the momentos. And not a box, or you’re not leaving with your baby.
And he’s at the hospital still.
Leaving the hospital:
Yeah. When we did leave, I called my mom just to ask to call the mortuary. And to tell them, to tell us when they get him, just because I want to know, that they got him, you know…
Because there’s a lot of paperwork that’s involved also. They make arrangements before you guys leave. And, and all that jazz. It’s not anything you want to be doing in the hospital. And they give you a big packet. But like they make arrangements ahead of time.
Yes. So I just wanted to make sure you know, he got where he was supposed to. The mortuary actually did call us when they did get him which was really sweet. They called us and they were like, you know, we’re taking really good care of little Jeff. They were really sweet. So it was nice to hear like that they were taking care of him, you know. That was a hard part for me. Like, I want to be taken care of. But it was nice to know that they were…
…there are others that will do the same. Yeah.
So we left on the Thursday. And we, I really wanted to have his burial and everything on Saturday. I didn’t want to wait over the weekend. I don’t know. I just, I didn’t want him to be sitting, you know, at the mortuary. Like, I just I want to bury him. I want to know where he is. I want to be able to go visit him. So I was like, I want it to be Saturday. So we got it all scheduled. We were able to pick out which plot we wanted. And they were able to do it. They said it was short notice, but they they were able to make it work.
The days that we were at home between being home from the hospital and the funeral were really hard. I just I feel like I laid in bed and cried a lot. I missed him. I missed him a lot. We did go into the mortuary to just go over, you know, some plans and figure some things out and how the day would go.
How did that go?
It was hard. Yeah. I it was hard. Just walking in the door. I don’t know. Just being in a mortuary. I’m like, I’m here for my son, that’s when I had to tell the receptionist, it’s just yeah, killed me.
Yeah, you’re like, I’m too young to be in here. I shouldn’t be here.
I shouldn’t be here. But the mortuary, they were really nice. And, you know, they just asked us the questions on how we wanted the day to go. If we wanted to dress them, and how much time ahead of time before the actual like, viewing. How much time we wanted with him. So I said at least an hour, you know. So we scheduled all that out. Also that day, we went and went to a flower shop to get just like a cute little arrangement that we could put on the casket. I mean, that was kind of hard to describe. Like, I need it to be like really small. And I think might have been difficult for them to hear. You know. Yeah, and then just talked with our family and the ward.
So you talked with your family and the church, like your church family?
Yeah, we talked with them just to get everything prepared so that the day went smooth, and everything was just ready. When the day came, I was really excited to go to the mortuary to see him, because I hadn’t seen him since thh Thursday. So I was like, I was super excited. Just hold him again, so I was really excited about that. And, I mean, I was a little nervous, because I hadn’t seen him for minute. Like, I didn’t know if he was gonna change at all. But he looked the exact same really was so happy to see him and cuddle him and kiss him. That was really nice. We gotta dress him and spend that time. We had Murphy come in. We spent some time together as a family, before everyone else came. And we, we did have a viewing just with immediate family, which was nice. It was just kind of small. And I don’t know, I liked it.
No, that should be I–you want those people around. And yeah.
So it was really nice to kind of show him off and how cutie is. After all, that, we spent some time together as a family and we did like a big family prayer. They then closed the casket, which was hard to deal with. Because I then–I don’t–I’m not gonna see him, you know. And Jeff, it was nice, because Jeff was able to do that with the worker there. So it was kind of a special thing for him to do that. And Jeff carried him. He carried the casket alone. And I, I held his arm and we walked to the limo. And we all just headed to the cemetery, which was just down the street a little bit. When we got there, I got out. And, Jeff, we were waiting for a couple family members. They weren’t quite there yet, so Jeff didn’t want to get out yet. But once everyone was there, I could tell he was struggling a little bit to get out of the car. And that was hard, because it’s his son. I could tell he was having a hard time, you know, getting out of the car. So I jumped back in and I just, you know, gave him a hug. Told him I loved him. We love our son and it’s okay. It’s okay to take your time. I’m like, just whenever, whenever you’re ready, you can get out. There’s no rush. So that was really hard to see him like that. But he’s just, he loves him, you know? He’s just know he loves them.
The burial service was really nice. We had some good speakers and it was a really windy day. It was cold. But it was it was really nice. We also had some balloons we let go, which was special. They did all go into a tree, instead of up to the sky. They eventually worked their way up.
They did. They did.
And it was time to, you know, put some flowers on. And I just cried and held on to the casket and said my goodbyes, but see you later, you know. Just knowing that, it was nice to know that this is where he would be, so I could just visit him whenever I wanted. After that, we went to the church house and just had a like a lunch with all of our family. It was nice to talk to everyone. We were overwhelmed with how many family members we had. There were, there were a lot and it was so nice to feel like all that love. So, it was a really special day. We really loved it. Yeah.
Good. Yeah. I’m glad it turned out how you wanted it to and…we were there, and we thought it was beautiful. It was, it was beautiful. And it’s it’s no easy feat to go through that kind of a day. Right?
Right. Definitely not. Yeah.
You did a good job. I guess it was a good way to put it. Good job. As good as we could hold it together
As much as we could.
So is there anything else you wanted us to know about Little Jeff before we close this up?
I’m just that he’s the sweetest, perfect little boy. That’s all there is to him. He was just, he was just too perfect for this earth. Yeah.
Yeah. Well, I’m so glad that we got to hear his story.
Thanks for sharing. How hard…I was glad that I got to hear the full story.
Yeah. It’s very therapeutic to talk about it. Yeah. I love talking about it. I love him. Yeah, I talk about Murphy. I love to talk about little Jeff’s. Yeah.
Awesome. Well, thanks a lot, Bre.
Yes, you are welcome.
Many thanks to Bre for being vulnerable and sharing your story of little Jeff with us.
Head over to our website, www.stillapartofus.com, where you can find the show notes, including a full transcript of this interview and any resources that were mentioned, where you can sign up for our short and helpful email newsletter, where you can learn how you can become a patron and support the work it takes to produce the show for just a few dollars a month. And lastly, where you can find out how to get in touch with us if you want to share your child’s story on the show.
The show was produced and edited by Winter and Lee Redd. Thanks to Josh Woodward for letting us use his song “Flickering Flame”. You can find him at www.JoshWoodward.com.
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