Doctors explained that amniotic fluid is critical for lungs to develop. The condition that the Harris’ son had is called Potter’s Syndrome. It is extremely rare and extremely serious.
“The doctor told us that the babies usually die of respiratory failure after they are born,” said Gina. The doctor explained that as long as the baby was inside Gina’s womb he’d be able to grow and thrive. Gina could provide everything her son needed. The question was: Could their son live on his own?
…”The doctor said that the majority of women with the diagnosis like this would terminate the pregnancy,” said Rob. “And as he started to say that Gina said, ‘No.’ She just stopped him.”
…Her husband added, “We decided we were going to enjoy our time with our son even if he is in Gina’s womb and we can’t see him yet, he’s still alive and he’s still kicking.” They named him David and cherished each moment as he grew. They focused on living in the present and not focusing on the uncertainty of the future.
I know something of what the Harris family went through. My wife was pregnant once and we got ultrasound results we weren’t expecting either. First read more of this family’s story,
David Paul Harris was delivered at 3:25 in the morning, but passed away.
Seeing their son and holding him, the Harrises say they felt peace about all they had gone through.
“We held him and like any mom and dad we examined his features,” said Rob. “We were amazed to see how dark and thick his hair was.”
“I remember how soft his skin felt,” said Gina. “He was perfectly formed. I remember how soft his skin felt, those little things that even a picture cannot ever capture, so I made sure I remembered those things.”
They had six hours with their son.
“I found some comfort in the fact that he went from safe in my womb to God’s arms,” said Gina.
The Harrises say their faith has given them the strength and perspective they have needed to get through this time.
“We have a choice. We can be bitter or we can choose to appreciate what were given,” Gina said. “To actually carry a baby and be a mother is the greatest gift that anyone could have. I am confident that one day we will see David again and we’ll get to know our son in heaven.”
God bless the Harris family.
As I said before, I know a little something about the Harrises had to go through. For five years ago my wife was preganant with our son Daniel. I wasn’t going to share this story till just before Christmas, but will do it now instead.(Note- I originally wrote this almost two years ago.) If me and Leonita could have just one thing for Christmas the rest of our lives and nothing else ever again, we would want our son, Daniel Thomas Jempty.
My son was born January 25th 2003 at 4:54 p.m. in West Palm Beach Florida. He died at 7:23 a.m. the following day. Daniel’s life was a short one but he will be forever remembered by me and my dear wife.
Leonita and I have been married 18 years. We tried hard for many years to conceive a child. In 1990 she got pregnant, but two days after receiving the news, Leonita miscarried.
By the late nineties Leonita and I had almost given up trying. The reasons for our inability to conceive a child were mutual. I have a low sperm count, dear wife has a bicorniate uterus. As the new millenium opened it appeared we’d never have a child.
In early August 2002 Leonita’s period was late. Early in our marriage we had many episodes of this, Leonita tested at least a half dozen times at least in hope she would be pregnant. Every time but at the one time the results were negative. This time Leonita suspected something different.
Not wanting to take a HPT, my wife instead made an appointment with her GYN. It was August 13th of 2002. The nurse gave my wife a cup to pee in. She did this and the nurse said it would take like four minutes to get the result. In about two, the nurse looked and said. “You’re guilty!”
The wife and I were overjoyed. Her due date was April 15, 2003. Little did we know what would happen in the month’s ahead.
My wife went to one OB, but because of many issues, borderline diabetes, some bleeding, plus her bicorniate uterus, my wife began going to a perinatologist named Dr. Jones insted. A peri for short is a high risk ob. At nine weeks we got our first peek at Daniel at an appointment in Dr. Jones office.
Because of Leonita’s high risk status, she saw Dr. Jones every two weeks. Normally an Ultrasound was done at every appointment. From week 9-16 all was well. Dear wife had little morning sickness and no other apparent problems. My wife’s many friends kept telling us we would be having a girl. Leonita and I believed this. All was well and happy. Then things changed at an October 31st appointment.
Leonita saw the doctor that day, then had an u/s done afterwards. There was some confusion that day, was Leonita to have one. At first a nurse said no, then we were told yes. Leonita had her u/s and there we found out our child was a boy. Daniel’s boy part dangling for all to see! We have that u/s photo, it can make us cry and laugh to this day. It was like Daniel was saying. “Mommy and Daddy I’m a boy!”
Other news came at the U/S. My wife’s cervix was seriously short. Like 2 cm. Leonita was placed on immediate bedrest. A cerclage was scheduled for the following Tuesday November 5th(election day for you political buffs)
It was fortunate Leonita had that u/s at 16 weeks for when the cerclage(a stitch to close the cervix) was done it was discovered Leonita was already dilated to a cm. If not for this discovery, my wife would most likely have lost Daniel in early November 2002.
Leonita was sent home on total bedrest. She did this from home for 3 weeks till November 26th. That was 2 days before Thanksgiving. I remember going to the store that day to get last minute purchases for the holiday. My wife had an appt at Dr. Jones at 10 a.m. That morning I said to Leonita maybe we should prepare a hospital bag. Leonita’s reply- She thought I was nuts.
I took Leonita to the appointment. She saw Dr. Jones, then had an u/s. After the u/s Dr. Jones saw us again. She said for me to take Leonita to St. Mary’s hospital. My wife was to be admitted and put on hospital bedrest. Her cervix was again shortening despite the cerclage. My prophecy about my Leonita needing to pack a bag had come true.
A nine-week ordeal began for my wife. She didn’t leave St. Mary’s till Jan 28th. Spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, her mother’s birthday and mine in the hospital. In a bed with her feet up, head down and desperately praying that she could bring our son to a safe delivery.
What was pregnancy bedrest like for Leonita? She had to stay in her hospital bed 24/7, the only exceptions were for twice a week showers and to use the commode to go poop.(A bedpan was used to pee always) Even the latter wasn’t allowed when Leonita was first hospitalized. She had to do ALL her business in a bedpan. The bed was positioned in a way where Leonita’s head was below her feet. That’s to keep the weight of Daniel off his mother’s cervix.
This isn’t meant as a joke, but I’ve said in the last three years. “True love is a husband emptying his bedrest pregnant wife’s bedpan.”
Then there was being in the hospital cut off from friends, me only there 4-5 hours a day. Nothing to do but lay in bed, watch television and work on the church bulletin using a laptop.
My wife is a Filipina, born and raised in Leyte province Philippines and like most of countrymen, a very devout Catholic. Leonita has an incredible faith in God, her faith has sustained her through many things. It kept her strong through her two month hospital stay. With St. Mary’s hospital nearly 20 miles from my home, plus my complicated health and the terrors of driving I-95 through the busiest part of the county, I only stayed with my wife 4-5 hours daily. Instead my MIL Nanay stayed almost every day and night with her daughter in the hospital.
Leonita made it to December, then to January. To 25 weeks and all looking good. She was having no pre-term labor and doing well. Leonita and I felt strongly she would get Daniel to the point where he could be born safely into the world.
Then at 27 weeks Daniel’s water broke. It was January 14th. The struggle for my wife and son intensifying. Leonita was put on antibiotics to try to lessen the chance of infection. Dr. Jones delaying delivering Daniel as long as possible. This is risky because once a mother’s water breaks, the chance of infection becomes high. Both for mother and child.
The following ten days was a period of waiting and watching. My wife showed no signs of infection or any PTL for the first nine, so our hopes began to rise again. Leonita could make it to February or even 30 weeks and our son’s chances would improve with each day.
Something else I want to mention is how I used to feel Daniel kick inside his Mommy. Leonita first started feeling Daniel moving around at about 14-15 weeks, but I didn’t till week 20. A mom will feel her child before the outside world does. My wife would talk to Daniel and say, “Daddy is here, give him a kick.” Like he heard Mom’s demand, Daniel would very often do just that.
I remember those first kicks I felt. My son was showing Daddy he was there. Those little taps would increase in the next eight weeks. One time I remember having my hand on my wife’s stomach and I could feel pressure. It had to be Daniel’s hand or foot. Then it went away for a second before I got this big kick or punch! It was so funny.
On January 24th things began to change. I left the hospital around 3 p.m. as I normally did to avoid rush hour traffic. Later on I talked to Leonita and she told me about pains she was having. Was Leonita beginning to go into labor?
The next day I went about my business in the morning like any other Saturday. I didn’t plan on going to St. Mary’s till around noon time. I went to the post office, got my hair cut. It was just any other day.
When I got home from the Post Office, there was a message from Leonita. She had seen the doctor and was told she was in labor. I called the hosp., talked to Leonita, talked to Dr. Jones. Leonita was being put on magnesium to slow labor. The doctor told me the baby could be born soon. Now it was down to days. I still didn’t hurry that day.
By the time I arrived at St. Marys in 12:45 in the afternoon, my Leonita was in labor. No ifs, ands, or buts. I knew now was the day. My wife ate a little of her lunch but not much and I basically held her hand and tried to comfort her but we knew this was the day. By 3 p.m. we were told Dr. Jones would be doing a c-section. A little after 4 p.m. Leonita was wheeled down to the operating room.
The wife was led into the operating room and prepared for the c-section. I waited outside and got dressed into scrubs. Then I was called inside. Dear wife was laid out flat on her back her arms stretched out longwise. I sat at her left behind a screen that gave me nor Leonita a view of the operation going on.
At 4:54 p.m. Daniel was born, the doctors asked if I wanted to stand up and look but I was a coward(Probably would have fainted.) Born at 28.5 weeks our son was breathing and crying. Leonita and I cried on hearing our son’s entry into the world.
A few minutes later Daniel was shown to Leonita and I. He looked so tiny and restful. Daniel had been born weighing 3 lbs 4 oz. His large weight due to the gestational diabetes Leonita had. He was hand carried from the operating room to the NICU.
Then some brief fun started. Leonita threw up the little bit of lunch she ate. Then the doctors almost forgot to take out her cerclage! I was shown out of the operating room shortly later. By about 5:45 Leonita was taken to recovery where I sat with her.
My wife works for our local catholic church. She has many priest friends. At 6 p.m. Fr. Tomasz Makowski arrived at St. Mary’s. He said hello to Leonita(she was pretty much out of it because of the drugs she had been given for the c-section) and the priest and I went to visit Daniel. He was being cared for but doing well. He was still breathing on his own, miraulous for a 28 week born baby.(Someone asked if my wife’s due date could have been wrong. No it couldn’t have been for the simple reason we didn’t have relations for quite sometime before July 2002.) Fr. Tomasz baptized Daniel around 6:30 that evening. I remember asking a nurse if I could touch Daniel. She said yes so I put one of my fingers in my son’s tiny hand. I had a son.
I kept alternating between Leonita and the NICU.(The OR area and the NICU were adjacent to each other) Calling friends and family to tell them of Daniel’s birth and how both and Leonita were doing. Around 7 p.m. Daniel had to be tubed. No one was concerned at this time about my son’s condition.
Because of Leonita’s nausea(and a nursing shift change) she was kept in recovery about two hours. Then she was wheeled to her room. On the way she was brought to see Daniel. Leonita talked to him and cried before being taken to her room.
Leonita was still out of it due to her meds. Nanay had been there all day. Seeing my wife asleep and not able to stay awake, and after checking with the NICU I went home for the night around 9:15.(Before leaving I told a nurse to write down Daniel’s name. A sign above his NICU isolette said. “I’m a boy.” The nurse wrote on it Daniel Thomas.) No one was concerned at the time otherwise I would have never left. I was just emotionally spent and felt a need to rest and be back the next morning. Daniel would be in the NICU for some time and best I get rest while I could.
I came home and emailed friends, posted to a couple of message boards and then went to sleep around midnight. Leonita called around 2 a.m. the doctors were saying Daniel wasn’t doing well. He was having trouble breathing. What did I do? I went back to sleep not seeing the urgency of the situation. I’ve hated myself for doing this ever since. My son was dying and I was home in bed.
At 6 a.m. the phone rang again. Leonita told me Daniel was in critical condition, the NICU doctor came on the phone. He said my son had septsis(An infection of the blood. Premature babies are highly susceptible to this. The risk of infection after Leonita’s water broke had happened.) and I better get to the hospital. I raced out of the house only feeding the cats before leaving. I stopped at our church quickly to tell the priests and then raced to St. Mary’s getting there around 7 a.m.
I remember the scene in the NICU. Some people were seated in chairs near where Daniel was. Later on I’d think of this as a death watch. Fr. Tomasz was there and had just annointed Daniel. I touched my dying son and then went to check on Leonita. Leonita was in her room composed and strong. She told me to go back to Daniel and I did.
In the NICU I stood with Fr. Tomasz watching Daniel’s life signs dwindle to nothing on the monitor. At 7:23 a doctor put a stethoscope to m y son’s chest and then said “Your son’s heart had stopped.” After 14.5 hours of life my son had died of septsis.
Later that day Leonita and I got to hold Daniel in my wife’s hospital room. Friends and family came, I had called these people again after what happened this morning. I asked Leonita if she wanted me to buy a cheap throwaway camera to take some photos. She said no. We both regret not having done this.
Other than the moment the doctor said Daniel’s heart stopped, the moment I remember most was right after the nurse took Daniel from my wife and I so the funeral home could get him. Leonita broke out crying louder and heavier than any time I’ve seen her in the 17 years we been married. She is such a wonderful and loving person, who does many kind things for other people. Leonita wanted and deserved a child so much, and all she went through to just have Daniel taken from her. Why God, why?
Dear wife physical recovery from Daniel’s birth went smooth. She regained her strength quickly and returned to work 7 weeks after the operation. PPD? Leonita took zoloft for a short time but stopped it. She put her faith in God and believes strongly to this day that Daniel is an angel in heaven.
Daniel was buried on January 31st in Boynton Beach Florida. The cemetary is about three miles from our house and Leonita and I visit it two times a week at least.
The funeral mass had over 100 people in attendance, only a few of whom were family. My Leonita worked at our church for 10 years at that time and almost 13 years by now. She is well liked and even loved by many parishoners for her kindness and cheerfulness. Five priests including the two from our parrish, the past and present pastor, plus Fr. Tomasz, and two other priests were there for the mass.
Leonita for understandable reasons doesn’t want to try having a child again. She was through an ordeal with Daniel only to lose him and she don’t want to do this again. Her brother and sister-in-law make a incredible offer to let us adopt their then unborn daughter Mary Belle.(She was born in the Philippines in May 2003) Because of the huge adoption expenses this would entail, Leonita and I were not able to do this however much we would have loved to do so.
Daniel’s life was short but for me and Leonita he touched us so deeply. I still hurt tremendously from what happened. The last two months between the holidays, my birthday and Jan 25th and 26th have had me greatly depressed. I break out easily crying many times. Why did my son die?
I have anger issues too. At myself for leaving the hospital and not returning till almost the moment Daniel died. For not insisting with the doctor that Leonita have Daniel as soon as her water broke. Friends of ours don’t understand why Dr. Jones delayed considering the risk.
Alot of my anger is directed at Leonita’s boss then, our church pastor(A cowardly small minded man) plus the diocese of Palm Beach. I’m not going to document it here, but I’ll say this. If the Catholic Church has the choice between its money and helping a mother and her unborn child, they’ll pick the former!
My wife Leonita is stronger. She believes our son was not meant for this world. We did counselling for a while but Leonita chose to stop. I often wish we kept going. Leonita and I are godparents to a boy named AJ who was born 5-1-03. If Daniel had lived, he and AJ would have been similiar in age etc. My wife takes great delight in AJ(His parents are both Filipino) but for me the boy is a very strong reminder of Daniel and who he could have been.
I’ve still have so much hurt over what happened to Daniel and few outlets for dealing with it. There’s a fictionalized version of my, Leonita’ and Daniel’s story on the internet, one I dedicated to Daniel. Its however on a Sci-fi fiction site where I’ve authored other stories. I’m a little ashamed to point it out, for there are some adult tales on that same site. I don’t write such stories, but some authors do. If a blogging friend would like to read it, leave me a comment and I’ll email you the story or send you the link.
I could write more but just writing this proved emotionally draining for me. Thanks for reading it.
The photo above is only one of six photos Leonita and I have of Daniel. Events moved so fast in the short time of our son’s life that I was never able to get a photo of my son while he was alive.
Daniel, Mommy and Daddy love and miss you so much. We’ll never forget you.