When we think back to our childhood, we may begin to remember some of the many different things that we thought we would be when we get older. For some, we started out thinking that we would be some type of hero, such as a policeman or a fireman. Other people may have wanted to be a famous sports star or they may have dreamed about singing on the stage in front of others. It’s nice to dream of those things but when they become a reality, it is something truly inspirational.
Sometimes, a little boy realizes what he wants to be from the time he is very young and he will stick with that dream for the rest of his life. It seems as if Mickey is one of those children. Ever since she was a little baby, he has had a single wish for his life. What he wanted was to become a big brother and that is perhaps one of the most special things that we could achieve in our lifetime.
Mickey was born during the engagement of his mother and father. Since he could talk, he would ask his parents for a baby brother.
His mother and father continued to try for another baby when Mickey was three years old but they continued to be disappointed, month after month.
Mickey would ask his parents when they would finally have the baby brother and it seemed to be all that was on his mind. Although his parents tried to conceive for a year, they were unable to do so so they went to a fertility specialist. Jessica even went through surgery to help increase the odds of getting pregnant.
Finally, on Mickey’s fifth birthday, they were able to tell him the good news that he was going to be a big brother. It was only one month later, however, that they lost the baby at 11 weeks.
According to the test, the baby had a condition known as trisomy 13. The nurse also told the parents that the baby was a boy.
“It took my breath away. Mikey had gotten his baby brother, except now he was our angel baby.”
After picking up the pieces, they kept moving on with life. They moved into a home and found a school nearby for Mickey.
When they cleaned out the garage, they were throwing out Mickey’s baby things that they had hung onto for the unborn child. After settling into the home, Jessica and her husband decided that they were happy being the 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 went to kindergarten for the first time, his mother cried but she was also exhausted.
“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.”
As it turns out, they were pregnant again but when complications began happening, Jessica paniced. She would research miscarriage risk every week and hold out hope during the doctors appointment that she would hear a strong heartbeat.
According to the testing, the baby had a low risk for trisomy 13. It seemed as if Mickey’s dream was finally coming true and it was a boy.
It was during the 18 week checkup that the baby measured small and at 23 weeks, the baby was not growing. The couple decided that they were keeping the baby because it was their dream child and the dream of their son as well.
They knew the baby was going to arrive early so they were admitted to the hospital.
“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.”
A cesarean section was planned and it suddenly became an emergency procedure because the baby’s heart rate dropped due to anesthesia. Before long, maybe Jake Eric arrived and he weighed 1 lb. 12 oz. and was only 12 inches long.
“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!’”
Jessica’s husband was able to return to work after things stabilized. Mickey also went back to school but Jessica stayed by the baby sign.
“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 drop and the alarm would sound. The nurse would have to come in to stimulate Jake. He would have up to eight of these ordeals daily.
“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.”
From time to time, the family would be able to snuggle with Jake, skin to skin. This would give them the strength they needed to push through. Mickey also thought that it was a beautiful time because he could touch his baby brother, although he couldn’t hold him yet.
“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!”
Finally, Mickey was able to hold the baby. It was an experience that Jessica described as “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, the brothers get their snuggle time in mom’s bed. She loved being able to witness the relationship they have growing at such a young age.