Stories from fellow loss Mom’s – Jen’s Story
Starting today, and every Thursday for awhile now, I’ll be sharing stories again from fellow loss Mom’s. Most of these Mother’s contacted me and I couldn’t be more honored to be able to share their stories as well as their sweet angels.
Name- Jen Francisco
Angel baby name- Kristina Jane, “Tini”
Type of loss- passed away following emergency delivery on Sept 24, 2016, at 27 weeks due to complications from Kell isoimmunization
Home state- Pennsylvania
Best advice you’ve received- The most helpful advice I received during this process was to allow myself whatever time and space I needed for my grief and my feelings. Something else other loss moms have told me is to hold onto hope that the grief gets easier to bear, and to never give up on having the family we want just because it’s going to be difficult.
Favorite place you’ve ever visited- Grand Cayman on a cruise with several friends a few years ago. Most beautiful beach, and the most relaxing day I can remember in a long time! My favorite vacation with my husband was to Myrtle Beach.
Biggest accomplishment- Honestly, mustering the strength to put one foot in front of the other following losing Kristina, and trying to find the courage to find a way to bring home a rainbow baby someday. Everything else just pales in comparison.
Ways you honor your angel/angels- We are in the process of creating a memorial garden in our backyard for her, I will be getting a tattoo for her on my wrist, and we continue to talk about her with our 4 year old son. We got a Molly Bear recently, and will be including it in family photos moving forward. My sister gave us a beautiful candle that we light on special occasions, or just when we want to feel like she is joining us at that moment.
Describe yourself in 4 words- Compassionate, Analytical, Inquisitive, Persistent
What food you’ve never tried and why- Tofu, flavored or not. I am definitely an omnivore, although I have a great deal of respect for those who choose not to eat meat for whatever reason they choose.
What inspires you- I am connected to a group of other moms affected by isoimmunization, and I am so inspired daily by the strength of the moms in that group to fight for their babies, and continue to try again despite losses and anxiety.
My name is Jen, and I am a mother of two beautiful children, Brian who is 4, and Kristina, our angel baby girl. Both of my children were delivered by c-section under general anesthesia for very different reasons, so I have not been awake for either of my children being born, and I wasn’t the first to see or meet either one. Our children’s birthdates are only 4 days apart from each other, when Kristina’s due date was in December.
We found out that I had anti-Kell antibodies when I was about 11 weeks pregnant with Kristina, and shortly afterwards we found out that my husband carries the Kell blood antigen, which is a specific blood type protein that only 9-10% of people have. Since my antibody level was SO high to begin with, we immediately were referred to MFM for weekly monitoring starting at 18 weeks. The danger of blood cell antibodies is that they can cross the placenta, and my anti-Kell antibodies will destroy any Kell-positive red blood cells of children I carry, causing severe anemia.
At 26 weeks, we discovered through monitoring that Kristina had become anemic and needed a transfusion. The first transfusion was a little complicated, but she tolerated the procedure well. One week later, through monitoring it became apparent that she needed another blood transfusion. Right after the procedure on a Friday early afternoon, her heart rate was too fast for a while and concerned the doctors, which prompted them to keep us overnight. There were several episodes of decelerations, and I never felt her move again after the procedure.
Unfortunately I don’t know exact times of all of this happening, since it was early in the morning. Around 5:00am Saturday morning, the nurses were concerned that her heart rate was too low (under 100 at this point). After making phone calls and checking a few more things while I am panicking the whole time, they took me back for an emergency c-section around 5:30-5:45am, under general anesthesia. I woke up some time later, to have my absolutely devastated husband tell me that despite everything, our precious baby girl didn’t survive. I was able to meet and hold her right after waking up, and our son was brought to the hospital by my parents, and he got to meet and hold her as well. One of my most precious photos is the photo of him holding his baby sister, even though it’s blurry. It was impossibly hard to let her go that day, and then to leave the hospital with just a box of mementos 2 days later.
We are now trying to figure out our new “normal,” while our house feels so empty without her there. Because blood types are inherited, we have a 50% chance of any future children becoming severely anemic well before they can safely be born. The only completely sure way of not dealing with the isoimmunization again is to proceed with IVF and PGD, only transferring embryos that are Kell-negative. We don’t have the emotional strength to handle the anxiety and trauma of another isoimmunization pregnancy, much less handle another loss.
We have had such a great deal of support from family, friends, and other parents who have dealt with their own losses, and for that we are eternally grateful. Any other difficulty or struggle we had before now just seems so much more insignificant after losing Kristina.
I like to think that my daughter is playing with all the other angel babies, and that she is being cared for and comforted by family members who were either waiting for her, or who have joined her since we lost her. We are going to keep telling her story, and keep holding onto hope that she will help us somehow bring home a little brother or sister for her. Losing a child is something that no parent should ever have to bear, especially not alone. Know that YOU are not alone in navigating your grief and the aching of your empty arms.
If you would like to donate to Jen & Doug you can do so here: https://www.filltheirarms.com/jen—doug.html
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