Our Special Family Day had been decided on for over a week. We had an ultrasound coming up and we wanted the kids to see Jacob on the ultrasound. Isaac had been asking about having a birthday party for Jacob on the day he was born. Knowing what we knew...we steered him away from having the birthday party on that particular day and planned one for the day of the ultrasound. By this time we had met some really amazing people at NowILayMeDownToSleep (professional photographers who donate their time and talent to take photographs of babies for their families) and Julie had asked if we wanted to do a maternity session before the babies birth. We agreed and set it up for the afternoon of the ultrasound day. So, we had the ultrasound in the morning, photos in the afternoon, then birthday party after dinner. The kids and us were very excited and we were looking forward for this day for over a week.
The kids were so excited about seeing their brother on the ultrasound. The Dr. came in and talked to the kids about what each of them wanted to see the most. Isaac wanted to see "the brain, heart, arms and legs." The other kids followed his lead and agreed. So, we started the ultrasound. We looked at his head first then onto his heart. The Dr. kept looking and moving the wand to get a better picture of the heart. But, anyway he kept looking we kept seeing the same thing. No heartbeat. My heart just sank and in an instant everything changed. Our whole world changed. The doctor leans over to me and asks "You know?" I nodded my head to indicate I knew. "Do you still want to do this for the kids?" I nod my head again, Yes. Reed leans around the doctor (he was taking pictures and video of the kids, capturing their excitement) and we lock eyes. Without saying anything we both knew and could read the hurt and disappointment in each other's faces. Our lives were forever changed.
So, the doctor puts on his happy face and shows the kids all the special parts about our baby. Talking with the kids and letting them ask questions and answering everything for us. He shows them all perfect fingers and toes and all the other things about this baby, that is their brother. He finishes the ultrasound and we ask if we could speak to him privately. The kids are ecstatic to get a stack of post-it-notes and new pens and sit with the nurses. The nurses even promises to take them to see the fish down the hall. We privately talk to the doctor about everything we never wanted to have to talk about and leave with a general idea of what we needed to do. We then go pick up the kids, who hadn't even had time to see the fish yet, because their pen and paper were so cool. We walk down the hall and see the fish. It is taking everything we have to keep it together. This day had been planned and looked forward to for so long that Reed and I didn't know if we should just cancel or continue the day because it would be our last time for precious memories as a family. We had been expecting a different outcome. We were expecting something similar after the birth...just not this soon.We decided to continue with the day. I don't know if everyone would have made the same decision but, we did...and it has been the most precious day filled with memories of our family. Jacob had been part of our lives for 8 month. If we hadn't made the decision like we did I would have lost some of the most tender and treasured moments of my life. Looking back, I am glad to say that through something extremely difficult we made a decision that was best for our family and I will never regret doing something hard to have something I will treasure forever.
The kids were so excited to have pictures taken with Jacob. The mood in that studio was of happiness and excitement. The kids talked about Jacob, gave angel kisses to my baby belly and talked about how much they loved him. At the end of the session, Julie asked if there were anything else we wanted a photo of. I said yes, just one more thing. I wanted a picture of Reed with his arms around me....just holding me. That is how I had felt during the entire day...that Reed was holding me up. Ensuring me that we could do this. He has been such a strength to me...and I needed him. This was the last photo we took. It truly captured the feeling of the day for us as a couple. After this shot...the photographer was crying too...the feeling in that room was something so strong that I can't even describe it. We knew that this was going to be the hardest thing we would ever do but we could do it together.
We finished off the day with the birthday party. We had homemade birthday cake and yummy icecream.
Then the last thing we did was to open the children's gifts from Jacob. We had gotten each of the children their own baby blanket. Each blanket different and special. All hand edged and beautiful.
This blanket was to be their keepsake after holding their brother in their arms. Something they could keep with them forever. A blanket to wrap Jacob in when they had their turn holding him at the hospital. Something tangible to hold onto after he was gone.