Our nurse, JoDee, quickly took Hope over to a warming table to wrap her up. She told me that her heartbeat was holding at 60bpm. I told JoDee very calmly to bring her to me and to not weigh or measure her yet. At that moment I knew with certainty that Hope’s life would be very short. I was not distraught. I felt a warm and peaceful spirit that would stay with me for the next several hours.
When JoDee handed Hope to me, she took a gasp and opened both of her beautiful eyes to look right up at me. That was the only time that we saw both of her eyes open and it was beautiful. Our digital camera has an obnoxious delay on the shutter, but through God’s “tender mercies”, Mike was able to get it on film.
I had read several accounts online of Trisomy babies and how their lives had played out. When I realized that Hope was periodically gasping for breath, I wasn’t afraid or concerned. I knew that apnea was something to expect. I am very grateful that I knew that in advance. During her life, I don’t know how many breaths she took, but over the 52 minutes of her recorded life, they spread out and became more spaced.
For the next several minutes we held and loved our beautiful baby. Sometime within 30 minutes we invited my family in the delivery room. Mike’s family was very close to arriving. My father asked Mike if he planned to give Hope a Priesthood blessing. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worthy male members of the Church can receive the Priesthood. Through this power they can administer to the sick and perform other ordinances. Mike has looked forward to the opportunity to bless our children and he has especially looked forward to the privilege of administering to Hope. My father and brother (also holders of the Priesthood) joined as Mike gave our sweet daughter a blessing. In the blessing he expressed gratitude for the privilege of seeing sweet Hope alive. He also acknowledged our willingness to accept the Lord’s will with regards to the length of her life.
At around 3:00 AM, Mike’s family arrived. What a blessing it was to have them there to meet Hope! At 3:10 AM, I told JoDee that she could now measure and weigh our baby. She weighed in at 3 lbs. 0 oz. and measured 15 inches long. Her legs were so long and skinny! Her death record shows her passing at 3:10 AM. Following her measurements, JoDee was not able to detect a heartbeat.
Tears started falling in the room, but I still felt a love and a peace that I couldn’t deny. JoDee didn’t tell me that her heartbeat was gone, but I do remember saying to Mike, “She doesn’t have a heartbeat anymore, does she?” He confirmed to me that she had, indeed, passed away. With a peace and calmness that I cannot explain—enough that I had a smile on my face—I asked JoDee to wrap her back up in her blanket and to give her back to me. I remember looking at everyone in the room and saying, “It is OK. Just give her back to me.” I was filled with a peace and love that I had never before experienced. After a bit, we asked our families to go out for a while so that Mike and I could be alone with our baby.
While Mike and I were alone with Hope, we felt her sweet presence with us. I know that she wasn’t far. Hope’s experience on earth was short, but I can say without any reservation that every one of those 52 minutes was filled with love. She was surrounded by people who will always love her so dearly. Just the same, she was able, in such a short time and with such a small body, to impart such a pure and simple love to those who would mourn her passing.
After a while, we invited our families back in to the room. We bathed Hope. We tried to clean all that beautiful dark hair. (My husband has a lot to live up to with our future children. My side of the family produces only bald babies!) The hospital was wonderful. They gave us a beautiful white gown to dress her in. They also gave us a box put together by a mother who lost an infant. In that box were other toys and outfits we could dress her in. Over the next little bit, we dressed our baby in 2 different outfits and took lots of pictures. She is so beautiful!
We spent most of our stay in the hospital with Hope. We left the afternoon on the same day as her birth. The time we spent with her at the hospital was very therapeutic. Mike and I have developed the tradition of daily family prayers and daily scripture study as a couple. We have always looked forward to including our children in these practices. During our time with Hope, we were able to pray and read scriptures with her. We also told her a couple stories and sang her a few songs. I know that she had already passed away, but these are memories that we desired to share with our beautiful baby—things we are sad we will miss out on.