On October 6, 2014 our son, Jack Monroe Siegrist, was born sleeping in the arms of our Heavenly Father.
The morning of Monday, October 6th started just like any other day. Little did we know, it would be a day that would change our lives forever. Up until this point, it had been an extremely healthy and normal pregnancy. At 29 weeks pregnant, I became concerned when I noticed I was not feeling Jack move around inside my large, pregnant belly. I called my doctor, and we were instructed to go to labor and delivery to be placed on a monitor so we could all have some peace of mind that our son was alive and well. On the drive to the hospital, I remember saying to my husband "I know everything is going to be fine. I am going to feel stupid when they tell me he is healthy and nothing is wrong." (Looking back now, I would have given my own life to have heard those words.) The entire drive, I had a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach; one that I tried to push out of my mind. I didn't think it was possible that there was something wrong with our healthy son.
We were met at the door by a nurse and taken back to be put on a monitor. After several unsuccessful attempts to locate Jack's heartbeat, a sonogram was ordered. I will never forget hearing the words the sonographer whispered to the doctor, "There is no heartbeat." At that time I knew I heard those devastating words, but I didn't believe it. The sonographer finished with the sonogram, and we waited for the doctor to come in and talk to us about the results.
It felt like hours before the doctor walked in the door and delivered the news that no parent should ever have to hear, "We were not able to find a heartbeat, your baby has died."
Shock. Hopelessness. Disbelief. Sadness. Failure. Heartbroken. Helpless.
These were all feelings and emotions that I felt in a matter of seconds after hearing our son was no longer living. How could this be happening? Our entire world had been turned upside down, and there was nothing we could do to make it better. To make the pain go away. To bring back our son.
The doctor then talked to us about what would take place over the next several hours. When we were ready, we would be taken to a delivery room and labor would be induced. I would have to go through labor and deliver a baby that I would not take home. A time that was supposed to be filled with such anticipation, excitement, and pure joy was instead a time of despair, darkness, and complete sadness.
Up until that point, I held on to hope. Hope that they had made a mistake. Hope that he would be born, take a deep breathe, and let out a loud cry. Hope that our baby that I carried for seven months would be born alive. Instead, there was silence. There was no movement. There was no hope. My worst fear had become reality and Jack was indeed gone from this earth. At 11:28 pm, Jack Monroe was born still. He weighed 2 pounds 5 ounces and was 15 ½ inches long. He was perfect!
We loved on our son all night long and into the early morning. We held him, kissed him, and we cried. We cried that we would never get to know Jack on this earth. He would never get to meet his amazing sister. He would never get to start preschool, graduate college, or marry the love of his life. Jack was already in Heaven. The next morning we said goodbye to our son. Goodbye for now; until we meet again one day in Paradise (Heaven).
We celebrated Jack at a beautiful graveside service. The priest from our church shared some hopeful words and we prayed for Jack. Over one hundred people came to help us honor and celebrate him. It was truly humbling to see so many people care about our family and the life of our son; whom they never had the privilege to meet.
Since losing Jack, there have been several instances in our lives where we have felt his presence as if he is reaching out to us. We have taken these as signs from our son, letting us know that he is happy and healthy in Heaven. The first one we received came only a couple of days after giving birth to Jack. The following was written by my husband, Jake Siegrist:
“Monday, October 6th, 2014 was the day we got the news that our 7 month old son, Jack, was no longer living, and that he would be stillborn. Our priest came up to the hospital and spent some time helping us figure out the next steps and he prayed for us. One of the things he prayed that I have never prayed for and never really thought much about was consolation. I kept thinking that meant a “sign.” Again, not something I’ve really ever thought much about up to that point in my life.
When we got home from the hospital on Tuesday, we had been up all night and were in a fog. We went to sleep pretty early, and on Wednesday morning when we awoke there was a beautiful single purple Iris in our front yard. We’ve had Iris for several years, but never have they bloomed in October. We took that as a sign from God that Jack was okay and in Heaven.”
Another sign we received from our son came on December 31st, just six days after Jack’s due date. I had gone to the grocery store and happened to wonder around the home décor aisles of the store (which I don’t do very often.) I was looking at a vase on one side of the aisle, and I turned around and my eye caught some large decorative letters. I was so surprised to look up and see a row that had the letters J-A-C-K spelled out. And there wasn’t just one of each letter, there were several of each letter used to spell J-A-C-K. I can’t think of a clearer way for Jack to be sending us a message.
The last four and a half months have been the hardest days, weeks, and months of our lives. We have walked through each day of this journey together as a family (and with amazing support from family and friends). We have relied on our beliefs that Jack is spending eternity with Jesus in Heaven and we will live our lives in such a way that will make Jack proud and ensure we will be reunited with him and spend the rest of eternity together again.