What was your dream when you were a child? Some people dream about growing up to be a fireman or nurse but as we get older, those things begin to fade into the background. Every once in a while, however, they stick around for the long term.
When Mickey was only a very young boy, just barely able to speak, he knew exactly what he wanted to be. He wanted to be a big brother.
Mickey was born to Jessica and her future husband and she shared something on a popular Facebook page. She said that, since Mickey was a baby, he would ask or a baby brother.
Jessica, along with her husband Mike, started trying for a second baby when Mickey was three years old. They were not having much success.
Mickey would ask his mom and dad when he could have a baby brother. He was absolutely obsessed with the idea. The couple tried to conceive for a year and they even went to a fertility specialist. Jessica had surgery to help increase the odds of getting pregnant.
When she finally did become pregnant, it was Mickey’s fifth birthday. They told everybody and were thrilled with the news. Unfortunately, Jessica started experiencing complications about a month later. An ultrasound was taken at 11 weeks and they had lost a child.
The baby had trisomy 13, which would have ultimately proved to be fatal to the infant. The nurse also confirmed that it was a boy.
“It took my breath away. Mikey had gotten his baby brother, except now he was our angel baby.”
This small family tried to get back to life as best they could. They moved to a new home, found a good school for Mickey to attend and started cleaning things. They were throwing away a lot of the old baby things that they hold onto for the new child but every time they let go of them, it would increase their sadness.
After settling into the home, Jessica and her husband decided to remain a family of three.
“After that, every time Mikey asked for his baby brother, we would explain to him that there may be a chance that he may never get a baby brother. It broke our hearts to say these words to him, but we found a way to settle into a life just the three of us in our new home and enjoy our summer.”
When Mickey was going to his first day of kindergarten, Jessica was inconsolable. She was also very tired.
“I knew something was off, but I did not want to get too excited. I waited until the weekend and I had my husband pick up a pregnancy test. I took the test and waited in the bathroom alone for the result. My husband could hardly believe it and made me take two more tests just to be sure. We were excited but cautious.”
They were pregnant again. When Jessica would experience any complications, however, she would panic. A lot of time was spent researching miscarriage risks online. She would wait for the next doctor’s appointment to get the good news.
Testing was done and a low risk for trisomy 13 was determined. They also learned that they were having a boy.
It was during the 18-week checkup that they were again given bad news, as the baby was very small. At 23 weeks, they discovered that he wasn’t growing.
The couple decided that they were going to keep the child because it was their dream and the dream of their son, Mickey as well.
It was known that the baby would arrive early and Jessica was trying to make it to 28 weeks. Eventually, she was admitted to the hospital for observation.
“During my one month in antepartum, the baby gave us three scares that he was going to arrive, but we made it to 30 weeks and 6 days. I had a growth ultrasound that day and the baby had only gained two grams in two weeks. The doctor told us, ‘we are going to have a baby today,’ and explained that if we waited any longer we would risk a stillborn.”
They had a planned c-section but it quickly turned into an emergency procedure. The baby’s heart rate dropped because of the anesthesia. Before long, a 1 pound, 12 ounce baby boy, Jake Eric was born.
“Once I recovered a bit, I was wheeled on my stretcher to see him and his smallness took my breath away and my eyes filled with tears. That night my in-laws brought Mikey to see me and we told him he finally had his baby brother, Jake. The first time Mikey saw him, he beamed and said, ‘He has red hair just like me!’”
After Jessica stabilized, her husband went back to work Mickey went back to school. Jessica remained in the hospital. It was difficult but they managed.
“As a NICU mom, I feel like you go into autopilot and go through the motions without the emotion as much as possible because it is the only way to survive. Living the NICU life was the hardest thing we have ever gone through together. Jake was hooked up to so many wires and tubes and lived in an isolette. We had to leave him alone except for his care times every three hours when you would assist the nurse in diaper changing and taking the temperature. As a NICU mom you get used to all the beeping and alarms.”
Jake’s heart rate would sometimes drop and alarms would go off. A nurse would stimulate Jake to pull him through. Sometimes he would have as many as eight of these episodes every day.
“At three weeks, we had quite the scare and Jake was really struggling to breath and was just fighting a lot more than he had been. After a meeting with the nurse practitioner, we decided he would benefit from a blood transfusion to get red blood cells which would allow him to produce more oxygen. Jake was fed via a feeding tube until he was about seven weeks.”
One thing that allowed the family to get through is that they could snuggle with Jake skin to skin on occasion. Jessica sat in the chair next to the bassinet and her and the baby would calm down.
Mickey was also enjoying this time. He was able to touch his baby brother but he couldn’t get hold him. This was difficult for Mickey.
“He wanted more than anything to hold his baby brother. Mikey was filled with sadness that he could not hold his baby brother. During one of my daily rounds with Jake’s nurses and doctors on day 10, I asked if Mikey could do skin-to-skin with his baby brother, fully expecting them to say no. I was beyond thrilled when they agreed!”
In March, Mickey was finally able to hold his baby brother skin to skin. Jessica described it as being “amazing and emotional”
“I truly believe it became the foundation for their brotherly bond. Jake spent 62 days in the NICU and his homecoming was one of the happiest days of our lives. Mikey is an amazing big brother and having Jake has brought a calmness to Mikey’s life, and Mikey has a way of calming Jake when he is upset.”
Every morning, these two brothers snuggle together in their mom’s bed. She loves seeing their love and relationship growing right before her eyes.