I Am Strong – I Continued to Live

by January Harshe on October 19, 2015

I am strong because at 36 weeks, I gave birth to a baby who I knew would not be with me very long.

I am strong because at my 20 week ultrasound, there were a few “little things” that looked off and a possibility for Trisomy 21. Even though I am 31 years old and had less than a 1% chance of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome, I had to reimagine our lives together as a family of four. I pictured a life where our family might be different, and our daily lives would be challenging, but beautiful. I cried, yelled, and then began to embrace the beautiful boy who was coming to us.

I am strong because at 24 weeks we saw dilation in my son’s brain, and consented to a long needle into my stomach, to check the genetic material in my son’s amniotic fluid. I soon learned my son did not have an extra chromosome, but instead was missing very important genetic information on his first chromosome, and was carrying extra genetic material from his fourth. I learned that no one was documented to have both of those issues combined, but each on their own is quite severe. There was no guidebook for this.

I am strong because I began to transition to care with highly specialized doctors, and prepare for a birth at one of the top five hospital in the country for children like mine. I let go of my dreams of a water birth at home, even though I, a 31 year old, fully healthy prenatal yoga teacher was capable to birth without interventions. But my son needed much more, and I would lay down my life for him.

I am strong because I was poked, prodded, MRI-ed, and transferred many times from doctors and midwives who had not worked with cases like his. I was starting to feel untouchable. Like a liability no one wanted. How many doctors’ office ceilings did I stare at, tables did I lay on, machines did I get scanned by? I don’t know.

I am strong because after my 32 week ultrasound, the maternal fetal medicine doctor got up out of his chair, and suggested we “make plans in case he doesn’t make it.” And then he left the room, and transferred us on again.

I am strong because as the weeks went on, I watched my son’s life rapidly unravel around me.

I am strong because at 33 weeks I was taken into a conference room at Children’s Hospital of Colorado. I sat with my husband and my midwife, as my mouth became increasingly dry and eyes wet, and looked across the table into 16 eyes of specialists, who seemed surprised that things had taken such a turn for the worst. I saw images of my son’s brain, with no neurons growing, having never branched out as they should. They were shocked. So was I. I allowed it to wash over me. I listened without crying, saving my breakdown for the moment when I escaped from that awful room.

I am strong because I had to then, at 33 weeks, choose what to do next. Subject him to a short and miserable life kept alive by machines, and surgeries? Choose to interrupt the pregnancy so he would not have to suffer? Oh the irony of having moved to Denver, CO this year. 20 minutes from the best Children’s Hospital in the US, and 30 minutes from the only doctor in the country who will perform late term abortions for chromosomal abnormalities.

I am strong because at 34 weeks we decided to press on and let our sweet Jack decide when he would come on his own, and when he would pass… on his own. We were told, in that case, we would have about a week with him.

I am strong because at 36 weeks, I went into labor. I watched them bring the infant warmer into the room, and listened to it beep as my contractions, which were strong at home, began to stall in this sterile and scary environment. I was told that instead of days with Jack, I would have hours. Maybe.

I am strong because I went through an incredibly painful labor anyway, knowing I would not get the reward of a plump and healthy baby. I was hooked up to pitocin as the impatient OB on call rushed me along. He said I would be there for three days if I didn’t.

I would have been happy to have three more days with Jack. My body knew this, and held on tight to stall labor and to give us more time together.

I am strong because I labored on, without an epidural.

I am strong because I had to hold my son’s lifeless body, as he was born still on August 20, 4 weeks before his due date.

I am strong because as everyone cried and left the room, I did not cry. I needed to be a mother for my son. As my husband fell apart next to me, I spoke calmly to Jack as I held him, and told him how loved he was, how brave his was, and how proud we were of him. I thanked him for showing me how strong I could be in the midst of physical and emotional pain.

I am strong because I prayed for a miracle. And the miracle was not that Jack lived, it was that I continued to live, even when he passed away.

I am strong because I had to go home to hug my three year old, and explain that Jack did not come home with us.

I am strong because when he asks me if I am sad, I say yes.

I am strong because I will tell his story. Our story. He will be known for the beautiful boy that he is, not a baby forgotten or never spoken about.

You are strong for opening your heart and reading this. You are strong for listening to a story about a baby who doesn’t make it, which is an unthinkable tragedy.

If you have had a high risk pregnancy, or a child whose genetic blueprints are different… you are a warrior. If you have had to consider a life for your child so different from what you imagined, you amaze me. If you have had to face your child’s death, you are an incredible force of maternal nature, and I see you. I see you and the incredible effort it is just to wake up. Brush teeth. Get dressed. Get out the door. Smile. Cry. Walk. Eat. Breathe. Live anyway. Your strength inspires me.

Logan Kinney, MA, RYT, RPYT

miraclemama.memiraclemama

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Meagan October 19, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story. You truly honor your son’s memory but sharing such a beautifully painful story. Love and light to you!

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Meg October 19, 2015 at 3:16 pm

You are amazing. In addition to honoring the very short life of my own son born sleeping, YOU and your son- and all mothers and babies like you- are why I am training to be a bereavement doula. Thank you for your strength and for sharing Jack’s story with us.

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Jessica October 19, 2015 at 3:22 pm

I think that picture has to be the most beautiful and heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen. Many prayers to you.

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JustHeather October 19, 2015 at 3:42 pm

My heart goes out to you and your family. *hugs*

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Jacklyn October 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Beautiful. <3 Much love mama

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Shally October 19, 2015 at 4:21 pm

There are no words but to agree that indeed you are strong. I have not experienced half of what you have but thank you for the strength to share Jack’s story. God bless you and your family x

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Melissa October 19, 2015 at 4:31 pm

You are strong. So very, very strong. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Jen@PlusSizeBirth October 19, 2015 at 6:33 pm

I am strong because of women like you Logan. Women who can face the worst fears of many and not only press on but do it with such dignity. Such grace. You inspire me to be a better person. You inspire me to love deeper and stronger. Jack lives on in our hearts and through your strength.

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Danielle October 19, 2015 at 7:24 pm

I found this increibly moving and I commend you for sharing your story. My fiancé lost a sibling in a similar way and mourning that loss and living anyways is the epitome of strength. God bless you and your family. Stay strong.

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Ashley October 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Such a heatbreaking and beautiful story.Said with such grace and love.Im sorry for you’r family’s loss.

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Andrea October 19, 2015 at 7:35 pm

Thank you for choosing life for your beautiful boy. Thank you for being so brave and strong. I am so sorry for the loss your baby. As a fellow mom, I respect you. Thank you so much for choosing life.

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Kaley October 19, 2015 at 7:37 pm

This is beautiful. I went through a very similar situation earlier this year with our daughter, Anabelle. We were blessed with 3 months with her but in the end her little body couldnt hold on. You are a strong momma telling Jack’s story. No parent should have to bury their baby. I will keep telling Anabelle’s story because her life mattered and so does Jack’s. Thank you for sharing his story.

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Andrea October 19, 2015 at 8:12 pm

Hugs, Mama. Thank you for sharing your story. My heart hurts for your loss.

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Lacey October 19, 2015 at 8:21 pm

I’m in tears. This story was beautifully recounted, and it really puts things in perspective. My story was featured on here, and I talked about my son’s birth, and the surprise Down syndrome diagnosis. Reading your story makes me even more thankful for my healthy, strong, thriving three year old, an extra chromosome and all. Thank you for being so brave and showing the world ehat it means to love. Xo, Lacey

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Shannon October 19, 2015 at 8:33 pm

So touching and heartbreaking.

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Alexandra R October 19, 2015 at 8:45 pm

This story ripped my heart in pieces, but it also did and always does a very important thing. When I read these stories I look at my little girl and I remember you when I’m up at night tired and stressed. Trust me, I think of every story I’ve read and of the mama’s I have known who lost their babies and I put a smile on my face. I know that you anticipated these night time feedings and never got to have them, or some who spent days even months at the hospital waiting to take their baby home and get to have them crying late at night. I cherish every moment in the midst of frustration because I can’t fully imagine what you went through but it hurts my heart to even think that there was a 1 in 4 chance it could have been me too. I hope you find some healing though there will always be a piece of you missing. Jack will be remembered and I breathe deeply for him.

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Britt October 19, 2015 at 9:23 pm

Thank you SO much for sharing your story. As an angel mama and a birth photographer who works with our local newborn palliative care program… I am so honored and inspired to see mommas demonstrate their immense strength and beauty in the face of tragedy. You are such a beautiful example of God’s faithfulness amidst the greatest storms!

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Chera October 19, 2015 at 9:46 pm

This was beautiful. Thank you.

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Tamara October 20, 2015 at 12:05 am

So beautiful Logan. Takes me back to 19 years ago when I gave birth to my first child, a daughter who would only be with me for 1 hour, as she struggled against all odds to meet me (and her dad). She too had a debilitating chromosome defect. Peace to you from Canada <3 Indeed, you are not alone!

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amoreena October 20, 2015 at 1:19 am

Logan, It’s an honor to know you. Please let me know if a bodywork session would be something you would like…or your hubby. Either way, much love to you. ♡♡♡♡~Amoreena

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Valencia October 20, 2015 at 10:09 am

I’m so sorry for your loss! Such a beautiful story and beautiful image! Monet did such an amazing job of capturing such a beautiful and tragic event <3

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Marne October 20, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Logan,
I am so sorry for your loss. Please keep talking about him, remembering him, grieving him. I too lost a baby to a brain abnormality, though we chose to terminate the pregnancy at 14 weeks given the grim prognosis our sweet girl had. It is a horrible choice to face and a loss than I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My son was also 3 at the time and we had to explain to him that his sister was sick and continue on with normal life for him as best we could while also grieving our horrible loss. Your story brings tears to my eyes remembering my loss and the losses of all the other women I know who have faced such a challenge. Hang in there. Be kind to yourself. Do what you need to survive.
Sending love your way…

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Attiyya October 20, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Powerfully beautiful! On August 5, 2015 I delivered my daughter knowing that she may not have long to live. She passed peacefully in my husband’s arms 10 hours after her birth. On this day, carrying her, giving birth and her passing, birthed a new me. I am strong!

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Meagan Bryant October 20, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Oh momma <3 I had 8 days with a baby who did not open his eyes to see my love but he felt it, no ears to hear my loving words but he felt them and I felt it in return from him. We got used to the idea of hard daily life and special needs and then the floor dropped away. I thank God for the miracle of life and continuing to live despite having my heart ripped to shreds.

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Melanie October 20, 2015 at 6:59 pm

Took my breathe away. Love and light to you beautiful mummy.

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Susan Singer October 20, 2015 at 8:14 pm

What a gorgeous, inspiring, sad, poignant, beautiful story. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing it with such power and compassion for your precious son.

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Jenn October 20, 2015 at 9:30 pm

God bless you!! I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet angel Jack!! Your story is amazing, you are amazing!! Feel a great big hug???

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Naomi October 20, 2015 at 10:15 pm

Beautifully written! I am so sorry for your loss. This is what natural birth does to you…when my still born daughter was born, I did not cry either. Thank you for sharing this, it needs to be… You are indeed very strong xx

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Megan October 21, 2015 at 1:06 am

I myself had this almost same story I lost my baby girl at 7 days went through the with the labor to allow God to write her story. She to lives eternally and is an inspiration to me daily. This story is so beautiful and I will keep you in my prayers as this journey never ends but you chose to do something positive to touch many others. God bless you

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Ryan October 21, 2015 at 8:54 am

You are an incredible woman & Jack is lucky to have you as his mother. Thank you for sharing your story and bless you and your family.

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sarah October 21, 2015 at 8:33 pm

Thank you. Thank you for your bravery in your experience and in sharing your story. This was exactly what I needed to read today. I feel less alone.

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Kori October 22, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Incredible. I feel so blessed to have had the privilege to read your story. Thank you.

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Tealah October 28, 2015 at 8:11 am

You are strong!!! Many have shared this post with me as I’m 2 weeks into my grieving process of holding our daughter aurora as she passed after birth. Similar story with chromosome abnormality. We refused to give up we couldn’t and aurora was a miracle it’s just not the one I saw God giving us. You can rad my blog at
Babylovett.blogspot.Com. just go to aurora butterfly miracle

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Jannette November 2, 2015 at 7:51 am

Wow! Such a powerful story about a mother’s love and dedication. Of course, there is incredibly sadness here, but also reminder of how strong we are, as women. Most important, it’s a reminder that God will allow some of us to experience life-altering hardships to be an example for others—others who mistakenly believe that they are not capable of surviving such loss. Your story is an inspiration for me, and a genuine reminder to love, no matter what, and be strong for my child even when the world may see no “value” in that.

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Carrie November 3, 2015 at 10:26 pm

There are no words to thank you for sharing this.

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Kia November 7, 2015 at 12:31 am

Sweet baby, Jack is loved by many. So are you. Love and light.

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Aimee November 19, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Thank you for sharing. Your words are comforting and strengthening. You are strong, and I see you..

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Anna November 19, 2015 at 10:05 pm

You are so brave and powerful and amazing. To be honest about your brokenness is a heartwrenchingly beautiful gift. Jack is so very beautiful and precious. What a wonderful picture of you together… Your love for him is tangible. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Kathryn November 19, 2015 at 11:27 pm

I am so sorry.

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JW November 19, 2015 at 11:28 pm

You amaze me too. Thank you for sharing. Our stories are very similar but I couldn’t have written it as well or maybe it is because I can’t write it at all…just yet.

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Toni November 23, 2015 at 8:27 pm

Logan and Steve

I don’t know how I stumbled upon this page but I know I needed to leave you both a note! You are awesome individuals, a loving couple and a wonderful family. Miss you all! Keep smiling XO 😉

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Natalie November 25, 2015 at 8:38 am

Thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story of loss. It was beautifully written. Thinking of you and your family today.

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Mia November 27, 2015 at 3:23 am

You’re amazingly strong! Thanks for your story, I think it makes everyone who reads it a little stronger too…

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A Labor of Love Doula Services December 16, 2015 at 11:18 am

Thank you… Your story is one of beautiful triumph through many tears. What encouragement you are! This is a story…a life I will not forget.
I know a woman who several years ago, walked a similar path and chose the same ending.

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Heather December 16, 2015 at 11:36 am

Thank you for sharing your story. I have been through similar events during 3 of my pregnancies. My sons were born with Potters Syndrome. 2 were born living but died very shortly after. Our last born in May. His chord was compressed and he passed minutes before birth. We found out with all 3 they wouldn’t survive. I chose to carry as long as I could. Made it 36, 35 and 38 weeks. I did what I had to for my babies and would have given my life for them. They are my sons and I want to talk about them. Because of people like you bringing awareness, moms like me don’t feel like I should have to keep quiet so I don’t hurt or disgust someone.

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Sandi Gunderman December 17, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Thank you.

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Jessica December 17, 2015 at 8:38 pm

You are strong. You are amazing. As well as jack. Thank you for opening your heart for the world to see, and learn from. Continued prayers and light sending your way!!!

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Jiangnan December 28, 2015 at 1:42 am

Thank you very much for sharing your story. I think pregnant women who reads this post become a little stronger too.This story is so beautiful and I will keep you in my prayers.

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Stephanie February 8, 2016 at 2:53 pm

You are beyond strong! Thank you for sharing your story. 🙂

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yocheved March 29, 2016 at 1:53 pm

You are beyond, thank you for sharing this.

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