Jesse Alexander Brand
Today is the nine year anniversary of the birth and death of our first born son Jesse Alexander Brand. To this day, itís filled with such bitter sweet memories I can smile thinking about him one moment and cry the next.
At the time of our pregnancy, my wife Amy and I had a close set of friends who were also pregnant. They were several months further along than us and had found out early in their pregnancy that their daughter was going to be born with serious birth defects. It had made the pregnancy a trying and miserable experience for them, so Amy and I decided that we would have no testing or sonograms. We thought that we could handle any mental or physical problems that our child may have. We never once dreamed we wouldnít have a child.
On November 29, one week before our December 6th due date, I accompanied Amy to her doctors appointment. We live in a small community, Wellington, KS, and were seeing her life long physician. Amyís mom has worked for this doctor for over 20 years. During the exam, our doctor expressed minor concern over the fact that the babyís head did not appear to be engaged for delivery. He asked that we consider a sonogram to be certain of the babyís positioning.
We next went to radiology for the sonogram. During the sonogram it was obvious there was a problem. The radiologist acknowledged there was a problem but told us she could not elaborate. She went on to show us everything that was right with our baby. In retrospect I really appreciated this.
After the sonogram we walked back to our doctorís office. Iíll never forget looking at his main nurse and seeing the tears in her eyes. I just said, ďitís not good is it.Ē She looked at me unable to hold back the tears anymore, and said ďno itís notĒ. It was even harder when we walked into our doctorís office and saw him unable to hold back his own tears. He told us that our baby was going to be born with a condition called anencephaly. He said that though our child may be born live, there was zero chance of our babyís survival. Iíll never forget that moment.
Amy and I then went on to a specialist. They did an additional sonogram to confirm the original diagnosis. At that time they asked if weíd like to know the sex of our baby. We decided that we did and found out we were going to be having a baby girl. Beings that we were just one week from our due date, the decision was made to go ahead and induce birth.
The labor moved rather slowly. It wasnít until the evening of November 30th when the baby was born. Itís strange, because although I knew it would be a tragic time, it was without a doubt the most beautiful moment in my life. When the baby was born, she was rapidly wrapped in a blanket placed on Momís chest, and baptized. The name weíd chosen for a girl was Victoria Beth. Victoria was born still. She was bruised, but still beautiful. She was perfect in every way except one.
The blanket she was wrapped in was lowered to cut the umbilical cord. My family was at the hospital as was Amyís. Both sets of grandparents as well as siblings were able to hold and love on little Victoria for several hours. Finally, the nurse came back in the room and said that she needed to clean the baby. It was a very emotionally draining time. Though there was so much beauty in the birth, there was so much pain, anger, sorrow, and hurt in the loss.
As the nurse unwrapped Victoria from the blanket, she looked over at us with a big smile on her face and said, ďI thought you said you were having a girlĒ. We all looked over to see our babyís manhood and Victoria Beth quickly became Jesse Alexander. It was a much needed moment of levity and seemed to be a way of him telling us Iíve got a sense of humor and though Iím not here with you, Iím alright.
In the dayís leading up to Jesseís burial, the emotions Amy and I went through are just too erratic and painful to express or try to write down. The thing that sticks out most to me is that I was so angry at the world, and God. Amy and I are both Catholic. We decided not to have a funeral mass, but did elect to have a rosary prior to the burial. Part of the reason we did not want a mass was that we did not care for our priest at the time. He seemed to be an old crotchety man who didnít relate well to our generation.
As our nun completed the rosary, our priest got up to speak. Iíll never forget the glance of disgust Amy and I gave each other upon seeing him move up to the podium. To our surprise and need Father said something so perfect, youíd have thought God was speaking himself. Maybe he wasÖ
ďI bet you are all wondering why this happened. Why was this life taken away before it began, seemingly meaningless? We never know what the big plan is. Many of you with successful children will brag, my sonís a lawyer, my sonís a doctor, my sonís a professional athlete. Well John and Amy can brag that there son is a saint! Godís plan for Jesse is so great that he could not allow him to be corrupted by one breath on earth. Jesse died without sin. That by definition makes him a saint and God has plans for saintsÖĒ
I donít know why Iím writing this after nine years. Iíve visited this or similar sites in the past, thought about writing, but never could do it. I guess I hope that itíll help someone who might be struggling.
If you have had this happen, donít be afraid to try again. Amy and I now have 3 beautiful healthy children, a boy and two girls.(Skylar-7, Kayma-5, and Olivia-1) I promise that though at the time itís the most crushing thing ever, it will make you stronger person, a better spouse, and youíll appreciate being a parent in a way few people can understand!
Though heís not here, I truly feel Jesse is with me every day.
Last updated 10 October 2007