My first pregnancy was pretty easy. Every doctor’s visit ended with positive test results and signs of a healthy baby boy showing on a sonogram. On my due date, I was scheduled for a doctor appointment, and my OB told me that my cervix was not dilating and that I had low amniotic fluid levels. He admitted me to the hospital that night to start the induction process.
On Thursday May 29, 2014 at 12:58 p.m., Jordan Alexander was born. Six pounds, five ounces, and 19 inches long. He was perfect. I don’t remember a whole lot after the birth, but I do remember holding him and being the first to call him by his name. My husband, Andy, cut the umbilical cord while I was holding him. At some point, they took him away from me and did everything they needed to do. Soon, I got my baby back and we were able to go home.
Within 36 hours of his discharge from the hospital, Jordan developed a fever of 100.4. We called our pediatrician, who told us to come in. Jordan wasn’t really diagnosed with anything at that point, but the conclusion was that he’d gotten sick from me. His bris was two days after getting discharged from the hospital the second time around.
Shortly after my six week checkup, Andy and I celebrated our six year anniversary. We’d planned to go out to dinner for it, but because of what time we’d finish, we asked my parents if we could spend the night at their house since finding parking in our Queens, New York neighborhood on a Sunday night would be difficult.
The very next day, Andy and my mother had left for work and my father had left to go take care of some errands. I was feeding Jordan when I noticed that he’d stopped sucking. I went to burp him, but noticed not only no response, but some dried blood under his nose. I immediately called my father, who raced home to administer CPR and proceeded to call 911. The paramedics arrived almost immediately. We raced to the hospital, where they were still trying to revive my son. Every time the door opened to the room where my father and I were waiting, my heart jumped, thinking that we were going to receive the news that I dreaded the most.
After a little while, we were told that Jordan was breathing on his own again with the help of life support and was eventually stable enough to go up to the PICU. CPS came to the hospital to interview us. For two days straight, I barely saw my son. In all honesty, I was scared of what he looked like. The ventilators made his breathing look so unnatural. On the third day in the hosptial, Jordan was placed on a more natural-like ventilator, and I was able to spend more time with him.
We were told that Jordan would be going for an MRI the next day, but unfortunately due to the instability of his little body, he wasn’t able to tolerate it until two days later. Never in my life will I forget how the Chief of Pediatrics sat on a chair with my family all in the same room as Jordan, as we were told what no parent, no person, ever wants to hear.
I don’t remember his words, but I will always remember the deeply saddened look of regret on his face. There was no clear diagnosis that he could give at the time. He told us that Andy and I had to make a choice: letting our little boy live (albeit barely) with all sorts of medical intervention, including a tracheotomy and a feeding tube, and essentially being a 7-week-old until his time came—or we could cut off life support and let Jordan’s body do what it needed to do.
I have never in my life been so conflicted or cried so much over something that meant so much to me. Thankfully, Jordan decided that he would take the burden off of his parents because when his glucose levels were tested that night, his numbers made the decision for us. We decided to not proceed further until my brother, who was out of town for work, came home and got to see his nephew one last time.
Around 5 p.m. on a Saturday, we were told that it could be minutes or hours. The family each took our turns holding Jordan for the last time. I was the second to last to hold him. I spoke to him and told him how much I loved him and sang, through many tears, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
The night was long and our little boy held onto life with all of his strength, but at 4:42 a.m., nearly 12 hours after taking him off of life support, Jordan took his final breath, surrounded by his parents, paternal grandparents, and maternal grandfather. My mother and brother had gone home as they knew that they would not be able to bear the pain of watching him go. Despite having similar feelings, I knew I couldn’t leave his side until the very end.
Around 6 a.m. Sunday morning, we left the hospital for the last time to the smell of the ocean in the air. The rest of the day was a blur of funeral and shiva arrangements, people coming in and out of my parents’ house, and baby items being taken out of the house. I don’t know how I slept that night; it must have been from the exhaustion of barely sleeping for the previous nights. On Monday, exactly one week after Jordan lost consciousness, we held a gravesite funeral. I was later told that we had over 100 people for shiva minyan that night.
In the months that followed Jordan’s passing, Andy and I have learned to be better people and not take things for granted. Our healing process is far from over, but we are in a much better place than we were a year ago. We went for genetic testing and started for our second child after we got the results. In December, we got Jordan’s official autopsy results—not saying much more than we’d already known.
In early January of this year, I had my second positive pregnancy test. Our second child is very healthy and can’t wait to be born. Though technically this baby, nicknamed AJ, could be born any day, I will be induced in a week and a half. Andy and I are very excited and very scared to meet this child, who we are about as ready as possible for.
He will know about his brother when the time is right and hopefully honor Jordan in the same way that we do. I don’t know what AJ’s birth* and first few weeks of life will hold for us, but I do know it’s because of him that I’ve been able to grieve Jordan in a healthy and positive way.
*Author’s Note: Since writing this piece, AJ, or as we call him, Joshua Adam, was born September 7, 2015 at 10:40 a.m. He weighed 7lbs., 5oz. and was 20” long.