SILAS LEE JONES
When I saw my baby at 20 weeks, everything changed. What began as concern during previous appointments, quickly transformed into full-blown love for my son. I desperately wanted him. I wanted to show him unconditional love. I wanted to be a good mom to him. I wanted to give him life through my body. And now instead of wanting normalcy back, I felt so privileged to carry my baby boy. I wanted the next 20 weeks, his last 20 weeks alive, to be full of life!
My prayer for life also changed in regards to my son. Life was constantly on my mind. I had a list of names that I meditated on daily: friends that were pregnant, family members that had cancer, people that were emotionally and spiritually suffering. And then there was my son’s life. Up until this point, prayer for him had been challenging. From the beginning I had a peace about losing my baby. This peace about death seemed to contradict the prayer for life. And then I realized: nobody is guaranteed a specific number of days, weeks, years to live. Aren’t we all just “mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes”? So why was I treating his life differently than my daughter’s life or my own life? This is his life, and it was time to get to know him.
We named him Silas Lee. Daren and I had agreed on this “boy name” during Ruby’s pregnancy and were excited to use it on this little one. There was no real significance in the name Silas, other than it was a name somewhere on my mom’s side. Lee was also a family name, on both sides, that we liked. But other than that, we just liked the sound of it: Silas Lee Jones. It sounded strong and solid, famous even. I later looked up the meaning of Silas: of the forest.
Because of the way Silas was positioned, it took awhile for me to feel him moving at all. The first time I felt Silas, I actually saw him move. As my belly stretched out, I reached down and touched him for the first time. There you are little guy! I held my belly. I didn’t want to let go of him, to lose him. But luckily for me, this boy was ready to be known. I felt like he was constantly on the go, rolling around and kicking. I would play with Ruby and he would start moving. Daren would touch my belly; Silas would kick back. Ruby would wake up in the middle of the night and so would he. In the darkness, while Daren slept soundly, I would rock both of my babies back to sleep. Then I would lay down, cradling my belly and picture Silas with his arms next to his head. I often would cry myself to sleep, overwhelmed with both love and grief. Every day I would wake up with a sore wrist from holding my belly all night. Day in and day out, this was our life together. This was his life.
At 22 weeks, Daren and I met with a neonatologist at Harris Hospital Downtown. Because of the birth defect and our desire to donate organs, we would be delivering at this hospital with a whole different team of doctors and nurses. We tried to prepare for this meeting by writing down a couple questions. But honestly, I didn’t even know what a neonatologist was. Daren and I followed the nurse through a maze of hallways after leaving a quiet, empty waiting room. She led us into a cozy, intimate room, where we waited for the doctor. This was a room where parents had to start the scary conversations about delivery day and make hard decisions, a room that saw tears of heartbreak and loss. But as I sat there with Daren and Ruby, I felt peace again. This was also a room where parents were encouraged and their babies were appreciated, a room where little lives were respected and honored. This room was special.
This was also a room where parents were encouraged and their babies were appreciated, a room where little lives were respected and honored. This room was special.
A friendly doctor came in and introduced herself. She and the nurse listened as we told her about Silas, our prayer for life, and our desire to donate his organs. The doctor explained that we would meet with them several times before delivery day. They would introduce us to our new doctors and nurses, provide guidance about organ donation, help us make funeral arrangements, and just be an overall support system for us. She went into more detail about neonatal organ donation, explaining the process of removing the organs and the limitations. She told us that Silas would have to make it to 36 weeks and weigh 6 lbs to be able to donate. Of course he will make it to 36 weeks! My boy is strong. The doctor reassured us that it was ultimately our decision what organs we wanted to donate; there was absolutely no pressure to donate what we didn’t feel comfortable giving. I left feeling informed, encouraged and supported, but I also started to feel the weight of the unknown. Talking about the logistics of delivery day was fine, however, everything else about that day terrified me. I rested in the fact that I had 18 more weeks before I had to face my fears.