Throughout each year I like to gift a certain number of sessions through my Pay It Forward program when I hear something that tugs at my heartstrings. I knew after hearing about baby Jack that his family certainly didn’t have a photo session on their mind. After talking with Ashley I just knew I was being pushed in the right direction.
I came to know of Jack’s story through Facebook posts my good friend Mandi (you’ve seen her identical triplet daughters’ newborn and milestone session on the blog) was sharing. After Jack was born, his mom Ashley kept friends and family updated on his condition through a series of social media posts.
During Jack’s delivery, Ashley’s placenta ruptured WITH NO WARNING SIGNS, something which only happens to less than 1% of pregnant women. Jack was left without oxygen, stillborn and immediately resuscitated. Doctors intubated him and rushed him to John Hopkins NICU with a questionable brain injury. Little Jack would need head cooling therapy for 72 hours followed by a rewarming phase.
From Ashley’s First Social Media Update: This is the most traumatic experience ever. I know Jack could not have better parents to be by his side. I am eager to hold my son, hear him cry, feed him and take him home to his brother and sister (that’s what we are hoping for!). He is stunningly handsome! I need everybody to pray, pray, pray. Jack needs a strong prayer chain and positive vibes.
Needless to say, Jack is a fighter. Just 10 days later, he was released from the NICU with a crystal clear MRI report and headed home. With Ashley’s permission, I am including each of her Facebook updates at the bottom of this post. Reading her updates is nothing short of tear jerking and cheer worthy all at the same time.
The day of Jack’s newborn session was extremely gloomy and rainy, but it was made so much brighter by getting to capture this handsome little boy. When I arrived, Ashley had calming music and lavender creating a relaxing environment for Jack. He had a Superman onesie all prepared that Dad Jason purchased the day before he was born. How fitting given what he’s been through!
Some of my favorite images from his session came from an unplanned intimate moment with his sweet momma. As I was taking detail shots of his adorable little features, he got a little fussy. Even after Ashley nursed him, he wasn’t settled. She laid him on the bed, cradled her arms around him, rested her head on his belly, and talked to him to sooth him. As soon as she did that, I saw the shot come to life. Capturing the moment from a few different angles, you can see their bond and just how thankful Ashley is to have Jack here.
Ashley + Jason, I was so moved hearing Jack’s story. He is such a fighter. I can’t wait to see all the other amazing things he will accomplish in his life. Thank you for inviting me into your home and allowing me to capture your sweet baby boy.
ashley’s social media updates on jack
7.11 – I have finally wrapped my head around this *I think.* My Jack was born 7/9 after spontaneous rupture of membranes. I never experienced that with Jude or Ana and I was thrilled to have that experience with Jack. Jason and I rushed to the hospital, enjoying the entire labor experience, up until the very end. He was stillborn, immediately resuscitated, intubated with questionable brain injury. The team suspected a placental abruption but no definitive diagnosis was made. Jack was rushed to Hopkins NICU for head cooling therapy for 72 hrs (ends tomorrow morning) followed by a rewarming phase. I have no idea what to expect or what will happen as far as long term complications. This is the most traumatic experience ever. I know Jack could not have better parents to be by his side. I am eager to hold my son, hear him cry, feed him and take him home to his brother and sister (thats what we are hoping for!). He is stunningly handsome! I need everybody to pray, pray, pray. Jack needs a strong prayer chain and positive vibes.
7.12 – Uneventful night. No seizures ??? God is working his magic. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me with encouraging words. ❤️ Jack is a fighter.
07.13 update: My Jack is off both cardiac drips ? rewarming phase complete with no known seizures during the process (total seizure count = 4, which occurred during the first 24-36h of life). Jack was extubated yesterday and had plans on being placed on high flow nasal cannula but did not tolerate that well so he is on a SiPAP (pediatric version of a BiPAP). All his electrolytes have been stabilized ?? Praying he doesn’t need anymore blood products. Tonight, they will continue to monitor his EEG with a plan to remove the leads tomorrow (I will finally be able to see his hair) followed by an ultrasound of his head then MRI. Also, FOR THE FIRST TIME, he will receive my colostrum tonight through his OG tube and that in itself has healing powers. ?? Today, I was finally able to hear him cry *MUSIC TO MY EARS *! Hopefully, tomorrow, I will be able to hold him for the first time. ? My Jack is a real fighter and is dying to be in his fathers and my arms, as evident by his miraculous strides in recovery. I am head over heels in love with the amount of love and support for Jack. If I have not responded back to you personally, I apologize, but I have simply been overwhelmed. God is good!
07.14 Update: EUPHORIA! Anyone ever experience it!? Well today was my day – a smile from ear to ear all day long! My Jack is a working miracle from God. Today was a BIG day. Where to start …. Jack continues to remain free from pressors, pain medicine, electrolyte imbalances. UAC (umbilical artery catheter), foley, EEG leads/monitoring, and SiPAP followed by CPAP trial discontinued. Jack passed with flying colors. He is now on high flow nasal cannula and is doing fabulous. He has had two bowel movements today from all the breastmilk he has received through his OG tube. So basically his little tummy has “woken up.” All his blood work continues to remain unremarkable. He did have to receive more platelets early morning so Hematology consulted but they are pretty sure there is no reason for concern – most likely d/t cooling process. Awaiting smear results. And the biggest news of all => I was finally able to hold my Jack ❤️ Right before I was allowed, he was highly alert so I read and sang to him while he stared at me with his sweet, puffy face. As soon as the nurse placed Jack in my arms, he closed his eyes and went right to sleep. JACK KNEW I WAS HIS MOM! It was the most amazing, indescribable experience. Especially since my mind shifted from making funeral arrangements on Monday and Tuesday to holding my son in my arms on Friday. Life is fragile. Someone can tell you that until you are blue in the face but until you walk alongside death, you might not truly understand. My Jack IS a living miracle and I will thank God, Hopkins NICU and FMH every day for this true blessing. I now know what the future holds for me, eventually bringing my son home to his brother and sister.
07.17 Update: Jack. Jack. Jack. Jack has made leaps and bounds in his recovery the past several days. Clearly, Jack wants to bail out of the NICU on his own time = rapid speed. Jude and Ana were able to meet their brother for the first time yesterday. Jude is going to be a great big brother and teach Jack how to love his mommy like crazy. Ana will teach Jack not to be afraid of anything and be super independent. Medically, Jack’s OGT was changed out to an NGT yesterday and *today* he decided he did not need that anymore and ripped it out. Smart little man, right!? That goes without saying he is breastfeeding like a champ. He received Lasix (diuretic) today to diurese all the extra fluid he packed on. Two days ago, my poor Jack could not even open his eyes due to the swelling but today he is bright eyed and bushy tailed. ‘Take me home, take me home’ he cries out. Hearing him cry and whimper takes my breath away. Reading and singing to Jack brings me peace and pure joy. Best news of all, final MRI results = unremarkable. BEST news ever. What more could Jason and I ask for? I was terrified to obtain the final results of this scan d/t his seizures early on and severe hypoglycemic events, but he proved his little body can handle ANYTHING. For those of you fortunate enough to meet my Jack, know that you will be looking in the eyes of our Lord. Without God wrapping him in his arms, providing him strength to pull through, without acute medical intervention being lead by an amazing team of doctors and nurses, without the million prayer requests, my Jack would not be here. We have been blessed. As they say, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger! Hoping and praying life will be back to normal very soon.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
07.19 Update: JACK IS HOME! We were discharged late last night. ?Leaving the NICU was bittersweet. I sure will miss the amazing Hopkins NICU team but am eternally grateful to bring Jack home. That was my goal from Day 1.
Now my body needs to catch up. Overwhelmingly mentally and physically exhausted. Maybe Jack has tips ? I know one thing, I couldn’t have made it through this horrific experience without all the love and support. My family has been nothing short of amazing, especially my rock star husband, Jason. He amazes me every day and I would be lost without him.