On this day, January 21, 11 years ago, our son Jacob Charles Rasmussen passed away. He was 23 days old. The new doctor that came in that day sat us down and explained there was nothing else they could do. His kidneys had failed. “What about a kidney transplant?” I offered. Not an option for a 3 pound baby. “What about dialysis?” I questioned. They didn’t make equipment that small for dialysis. His kidneys had failed, his liver was next and all his other organs would follow. He never really recovered from the trauma of the NEC surgery. He had too many strikes against him. Too many things that needed to heal. It was time to let him go.
I went to the hospital chapel and got on my knees and pleaded with God. Pleaded with him to save my baby. This was it, I’m serious God! I know you can work miracles! This is his last chance! But I knew. I knew if God wanted to work a miracle to save Jacob he would have already done it. His plan was to take him to heaven.
Our family was there. We had our own private room. The first time I held baby Jacob was the last time I held him. We got to hold him and snuggle with him and take some photos. He no longer looked like himself due to his condition but as his mother he was beautiful to me. I counted his toes, and held his hand, marveled at his tiny fingernails. “How could it be time for you to go? How are my arms not the best place for you? How can this be?”
Walking out of that hospital empty armed, knowing we had no reason to return, was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. Leaving him behind knowing he wasn’t really there anymore was unbearable. A mother’s grief is unmeasurable.
Now, 11 years later, I am surprised that the tears still flow as I write. Life goes on, my arms have been filled with babies since, but that does not erase the grief of losing a baby. The grief is less. After I lost Jacob I never thought I would feel joy again, I never thought I would go a day without feeling the sorrow, but that has been untrue. I have felt joy like I never thought possible, over time my heart has healed, and I don’t think of my losses daily anymore. The grief will always be there but it is now a part of me but not what defines me.
I don’t know why God put us through that and allowed Jacob to die. I have come to terms that I probably will never know. But maybe I don’t need to know. What I do know is that I allowed myself to love a baby I knew I may never be able to keep and every moment of it was worth it. Every book I read to him, every song I sang, I was his mother and he was my son even though our time together was short. Someday we will be reunited in heaven and pick-up where we left off.