Written by Rachel, proud parent of Jacob
Hanging inside my bedroom closet next to my dresses, blazers and blouses, you will find one of my greatest treasures, a tiny baby tee shirt. It is pure white with baby blue trim around the collar. In the center there are two blue stars and the words, “Mommy’s Little Star”. It is sized 3-6 months. You may think I am pregnant and eagerly preparing for my new arrival. I am not. That tiny tee shirt has been hanging there among my clothes since the summer of 2001 – some 16 years. I look at it every single day. This simple tee shirt brings me back to my saddest days. The unbelievably odd thing is that without that same tiny tee, the happy life I am living today just wouldn’t be…
My firstborn, Andrew, was two at the time I purchased that tee shirt. I thought it was just perfect for my second son, Jacob, who I was waiting to meet within the next few months. Every single thing that could have gone wrong with Andrew’s birth and his first two years of life did. I was just getting the hang of caring for Andrew who had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He couldn’t sit, crawl or walk. He couldn’t talk. And along with all of those challenges, I was also now trying to stop the daily seizures that were stealing the smiles and personality from my sweet son.
I thought in some ways a new baby would jumpstart Andrew’s development, bring him a companion and even heal my grieving heart as a new mom who was raising a child with several severe diagnosis. In the fall of 2001, I was 6 months pregnant and developed severe pre-eclampsia. Jacob was born and then died three days later. Without explanation he was too small and too sick to survive. I never even got a chance to hold him. I had so much grief… Returning home from the hospital without him and seeing his tee shirt hanging on a hanger instead of being worn by him was an even stronger blow. Distraught from this, I could barely make it through my day to day life, much less think about bringing more children into my grieving family.
After many doctor visits, counseling and prayers, in May 2004, a healthy daughter came into my life. Amelia was born in the far away remote hills of Guatemala, and we found each other. We needed each other. Her sweet face and demeanor would bring me a joy I had never experienced – raising and caring for a healthy baby. Two years later, another daughter blessed my life. Ava, the most expressive baby I had ever met, was also born in Guatemala and helped even more to heal my broken heart. Jacob’s death had now brought me two precious girls that I needed even more than they needed me. Adoption had been the answer for our family.
I was a grateful busy mom of three! To my surprise, I learned I was pregnant in August of 2008. This time with extra-ordinary care, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Jenna has graced my life even more. Jenna’s birth was a dream that had finally come true. That perfect tee shirt hanging in my closet purchased so long ago reminds me of the son I never got to know. Oh how I wish I could have seen him grow up! However, Jacob’s life has taught me to appreciate growing a healthy family so much more, something that should ever be taken for granted. I know in my heart that Jacob is my guiding star, and he is watching over all of us.