Jasmine was my 4th baby. I found out I was pregnant with her 2 weeks after my 35th birthday. However, my pregnancy with her was completely different than my 3 previous pregnancies. I had constant nausea and vomiting, migraines, and then my blood pressure became elevated at 17 weeks. At that time I was diagnosed with chronic hypertension. The hypertension led to my doctors prescribing me several blood pressure medications and putting me on bedrest. I was hospitalized at 20 weeks, but despite those efforts my blood pressure was not under control.
On October 29, 2014 during a routine 24 week visit with my Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, I was told that the blood flow through Jasmine’s umbilical cord was decreased, and I would be hospitalized until I delivered. I dreaded the thought of being stuck in the hospital for another 16 weeks, but I was determined to do whatever it took to help Jasmine. I had another ultrasound on October 31, 2014 to recheck the blood flow through Jasmine’s umbilical cord. We were told that it was even lower than it was 2 days before. I was told I would have a cesarean section that evening because Jasmine had a better chance of survival in the NICU than inside my uterus.
On October 31, 2014 at 5:19 p.m. my baby girl Jasmine Janay Martinez was born via classical cesarean section at 24 weeks and 3 days into my pregnancy. She was my first cesarean so I didn’t know quite what to expect (despite being an OB nurse for 11 years), but I knew that the completely silent operating room after she was born was not a good sign. I knew something was terribly wrong.
I was still on the operating room table waiting for my surgery to end when after what seemed like an eternity, the neonatologist came over to speak with us. She told us that she was so sorry, but they tried to resuscitate Jasmine for 16 minutes and they just couldn’t save her. Her lungs were just too underdeveloped for her to survive.. Jasmine only weighed 10.6 ounces and was 10 inches long when she was born. I remember being on the operating room table waiting for my doctors to finish. I knew that moment would change our lives forever.
The first night was a blur. I remember being wheeled to the recovery room and seeing Jasmine for the first time. I vaguely remember being in my hospital room with my family, the chaplain, my nurses, and one of my very good friends. I definitely remember my 11 year old daughter holding Jasmine and asking when her baby sister was going to wake up. I definitely remember telling her that Jasmine was not going to wake up because she passed away. I definitely remember the look on my 11 year old’s face and the tears that streamed down from her beautiful big brown eyes.
The next day was when it all hit me like a ton of bricks….My beautiful baby girl was dead. She was perfect, though. She was absolutely perfect from her fuzzy little head to her teeny tiny toes. She looked like a tiny, sleeping doll. She was too small to fit a diaper or into any of the clothes the hospital had for her. Jasmine had my head, my nose, my legs, and my feet, and she was a much smaller version of her siblings….but she was cold, freezing cold.
We held her, took pictures of her, examined her from her head to her toes. We cried, we smiled, we even laughed at her for being so difficult during my pregnancy. However, that second day was the day her nose started bleeding. I wasn’t expecting that to happen, but I got a box of tissues and wiped the blood away as often as possible. Jasmine’s body was starting to get stiff. I tried to ignore it, but I knew what was happening. Her facial features were changing too.
At some point after I fell asleep, my nurse took Jasmine for the night. When I woke up the next morning I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t even know why I was crying. My nurse came in and asked what she could do to help and all I could manage to say was, “Please bring me my baby.” Once I held Jasmine again I noticed that she didn’t look the way she did the night before.She was changing faster than I expected.
I knew that since I had a cesarean my insurance would cover a 4 day hospital stay, but Jasmine had been born barely 36 hours and looked drastically different. I thought to myself, “How will she look if we stay for 2 more days?” I decided that I would go home that afternoon. I wanted to remember Jasmine as my perfectly beautiful baby girl, and I was afraid that if we stayed in the hospital that she wouldn’t look that way. I didn’t want to remember her that way.
Before we left, I changed Jasmine’s clothes. Her little body was stiff and cold. Her full pink lips were now thin and blue. Her nose was much darker than it was when she was born and it was still bleeding. I knew it was time to say goodbye.
No amount of time with Jasmine would have been enough. I would give anything to hold her again and to have her here with me. The time we had with her can never be replaced. It can never be redone. It was the only time we will ever have with her. I just wish we didn’t feel forced to leave because Jasmine was decomposing so quickly.
After losing Jasmine, I learned about the CuddleCot. The hospital I delivered at didn’t have a CuddleCot and didn’t have a way to keep Jasmine cool so she could remain with us in our room. For those not familiar with the unit, a CuddleCot is an in-room cooling unit that is the size of a small humidifier disguised inside of a bassinet or Moses basket. Having a unit available to parents who have lost a child while they are still in the hospital encourages families to spend time with their baby before they start “changing”. This gift of time allows precious hours for bonding, pictures, plaster molds to be taken and other family members to come and meet the baby before the natural changes that occur in death become more apparent. In addition the baby can stay in the room with the family the entire hospital stay if the family so desires.
Having a CuddleCot would have slowed down the decomposition process and allowed us to spend more time with Jasmine. I don’t have a picture of all 4 of my children together. I’ll never have that picture. I don’t have a picture of Jasmine with her parents and her siblings–a regular family portrait that most families have. Jasmine never had a bath, she never wore a diaper; just some of the things I wish I would’ve thought of doing when we were with her. Some of the things I wish my nurses would’ve suggested I do for Jasmine and for myself.
I am raising money to purchase a CuddleCot to donate to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, IL in memory of my daughter Jasmine. As the parent of an angel baby I can attest to the fact that the gift of time is the most precious thing we have with our beautiful angel babies. For most of us, those fews days in the hospital is the only time we’ll ever get to spend with them. I would love for Jasmine’s untimely death to benefit other families facing the tragic loss of their babies.
My immediate goal is to place a CuddleCot in Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital (I’m a nurse on the Labor and Delivery unit there). My short-term goal is to place a CuddleCot in all of the AMITA/Adventist hospitals in our local network. My long-term goal is to place a CuddleCot in every hospital in the state of Illinois, and my ultimate goal is to place a CuddleCot in every hospital in the United States in Jasmine’s memory.
Please click here for more information on the CuddleCot. The CuddleCot which has been internationally recognized across the world as significantly helping parents who suffer the loss of a baby. Dealing with the death of a baby is clearly an incredibly difficult event and bereaved parents should be given the option of having more time. Providing families time through the use of the CuddleCot is internationally encouraged by midwives, bereavement practitioners, stillbirth/neonatal charities, and academics. Time allows the family to form an important bond with their baby and helps them deal with their loss.