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In memory of Daniel Thomas Jempty

Today is my son's sixth birthday. Ever since I began blogging, I've taken this day to re-post Daniel's story. It's beneath the fold if you haven't read it before.

I went on a Catholic men's retreat this weekend.(I queued this post Friday morning) Later on today after I get home, Leonita and I will visit Daniel's grave. It is a little over three miles from our home.

Everyone have a pleasant weekend. I miss you Daniel.

My son was born January 25th 2003 at 4:54 p.m. in West Palm Beach Florida. He died at 7:23 a.m. the following day. Daniel's life was a short one but he will be forever remembered by me and my dear wife.

DW and I have been married 17 years. We tried hard for many years to conceive a child. In 1990 she got pregnant, but two days after receiving the news, DW miscarried.

By the late nineties DW and I had almost given up trying. The reasons for our inability to conceive a child were mutual. I have a low sperm count, dear wife has a bicorniate uterus. As the new millenium opened it appeared we'd never have a child.

In early August 2002 DW's period was late. Early in our marriage we had many episodes of this, DW tested at least a half dozen times at least in hope she would be pregnant. Every time but at the one time the results were negative. This time DW suspected something different.

Not wanting to take a HPT, my wife instead made an appointment with her GYN. It was August 13th of 2002. The nurse gave my wife a cup to pee in. She did this and the nurse said it would take like four minutes to get the result. In about two, the nurse looked and said. "You're guilty!"

The wife and I were overjoyed. Her due date was April 15, 2003. Little did we know what would happen in the month's ahead.

My wife went to one OB, but because of many issues, borderline diabetes, some bleeding, plus her bicorniate uterus, my wife began going to a perinatologist named Dr. Jones insted. A peri for short is a high risk ob. At nine weeks we got our first peek at Daniel at an appointment in Dr. Jones office.

Because of DW's high risk status, she saw Dr. Jones every two weeks. Normally an Ultrasound was done at every appointment. From week 9-16 all was well. Dear wife had little morning sickness and no other apparent problems. My wife's many friends kept telling us we would be having a girl. DW and I believed this. All was well and happy. Then things changed at an October 31st appointment.

DW saw the doctor that day, then had an u/s done afterwards. There was some confusion that day, was DW to have one. At first a nurse said no, then we were told yes. DW had her u/s and there we found out our child was a boy. Daniel's boy part dangling for all to see! We have that u/s photo, it can make us cry and laugh to this day. It was like Daniel was saying. "Mommy and Daddy I'm a boy!"

Other news came at the U/S. My wife's cervix was seriously short. Like 2 cm. DW was placed on immediate bedrest. A cerclage was scheduled for the following Tuesday November 5th(election day for you political buffs)

It was fortunate DW had that u/s at 16 weeks for when the cerclage(a stitch to close the cervix) was done it was discovered DW was already dilated to a cm. If not for this discovery, my wife would most likely have lost Daniel in early November 2002.

DW was sent home on total bedrest. She did this from home for 3 weeks till November 26th. That was 2 days before Thanksgiving. I remember going to the store that day to get last minute purchases for the holiday. My wife had an appt at Dr. Jones at 10 a.m. That morning I said to DW maybe we should prepare a hospital bag. DW's reply- She thought I was nuts.

I took DW to the appointment. She saw Dr. Jones, then had an u/s. After the u/s Dr. Jones saw us again. She said for me to take DW to St. Mary's hospital. My wife was to be admitted and put on hospital bedrest. Her cervix was again shortening despite the cerclage. My prophecy about my DW needing to pack a bag had come true.

A nine-week ordeal began for my wife. She didn't leave St. Mary's till Jan 28th. Spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, her mother's birthday and mine in the hospital. In a bed with her feet up, head down and desperately praying that she could bring our son to a safe delivery.

What was pregnancy bedrest like for DW? She had to stay in her hospital bed 24/7, the only exceptions were for twice a week showers and to use the commode to go poop.(A bedpan was used to pee always) Even the latter wasn't allowed when DW was first hospitalized. She had to do ALL her business in a bedpan. The bed was positioned in a way where DW's head was below her feet. That's to keep the weight of Daniel off his mother's cervix.

This isn't meant as a joke, but I've said in the last three years. "True love is a husband emptying his bedrest pregnant wife's bedpan."

Then there was being in the hospital cut off from friends, me only there 4-5 hours a day. Nothing to do but lay in bed, watch television and work on the church bulletin using a laptop.

My wife is a Filipina, born and raised in Leyte province Philippines and like most of countrymen, a very devout Catholic. DW has an incredible faith in God, her faith has sustained her through many things. It kept her strong through her two month hospital stay. With St. Mary's hospital nearly 20 miles from my home, plus my complicated health and the terrors of driving I-95 through the busiest part of the county, I only stayed with my wife 4-5 hours daily. Instead my MIL Nanay stayed almost every day and night with her daughter in the hospital.

DW made it to December, then to January. To 25 weeks and all looking good. She was having no pre-term labor and doing well. DW and I felt strongly she would get Daniel to the point where he could be born safely into the world.

Then at 27 weeks Daniel's water broke. It was January 14th. The struggle for my wife and son intensifying. DW was put on antibiotics to try to lessen the chance of infection. Dr. Jones delaying delivering Daniel as long as possible. This is risky because once a mother's water breaks, the chance of infection becomes high. Both for mother and child.

The following ten days was a period of waiting and watching. My wife showed no signs of infection or any PTL for the first nine, so our hopes began to rise again. DW could make it to February or even 30 weeks and our son's chances would improve with each day.

Something else I want to mention is how I used to feel Daniel kick inside his Mommy. DW first started feeling Daniel moving around at about 14-15 weeks, but I didn't till week 20. A mom will feel her child before the outside world does. My wife would talk to Daniel and say, "Daddy is here, give him a kick." Like he heard Mom's demand, Daniel would very often do just that.

I remember those first kicks I felt. My son was showing Daddy he was there. Those little taps would increase in the next eight weeks. One time I remember having my hand on my wife's stomach and I could feel pressure. It had to be Daniel's hand or foot. Then it went away for a second before I got this big kick or punch! It was so funny.

On January 24th things began to change. I left the hospital around 3 p.m. as I normally did to avoid rush hour traffic. Later on I talked to DW and she told me about pains she was having. Was DW beginning to go into labor?

The next day I went about my business in the morning like any other Saturday. I didn't plan on going to St. Mary's till around noon time. I went to the post office, got my hair cut. It was just any other day.

When I got home from the Post Office, there was a message from DW. She had seen the doctor and was told she was in labor. I called the hosp., talked to DW, talked to Dr. Jones. Leonita was being put on magnesium to slow labor. The doctor told me the baby could be born soon. Now it was down to days. I still didn't hurry that day.

By the time I arrived at St. Marys in 12:45 in the afternoon, my DW was in labor. No ifs, ands, or buts. I knew now was the day. My wife ate a little of her lunch but not much and I basically held her hand and tried to comfort her but we knew this was the day. By 3 p.m. we were told Dr. Jones would be doing a c-section. A little after 4 p.m. DW was wheeled down to the operating room.

The wife was led into the operating room and prepared for the c-section. I waited outside and got dressed into scrubs. Then I was called inside. Dear wife was laid out flat on her back her arms stretched out longwise. I sat at her left behind a screen that gave me nor DW a view of the operation going on.

At 4:54 p.m. Daniel was born, the doctors asked if I wanted to stand up and look but I was a coward(Probably would have fainted.) Born at 28.5 weeks our son was breathing and crying. DW and I cried on hearing our son's entry into the world.

A few minutes later Daniel was shown to DW and I. He looked so tiny and restful. Daniel had been born weighing 3 lbs 4 oz. His large weight due to the gestational diabetes DW had. He was hand carried from the operating room to the NICU.

Then some brief fun started. DW threw up the little bit of lunch she ate. Then the doctors almost forgot to take out her cerclage! I was shown out of the operating room shortly later. By about 5:45 DW was taken to recovery where I sat with her.

My wife works for our local catholic church. She has many priest friends. At 6 p.m. Fr. Tomasz Makowski arrived at St. Mary's. He said hello to DW(she was pretty much out of it because of the drugs she had been given for the c-section) and the priest and I went to visit Daniel. He was being cared for but doing well. He was still breathing on his own, miraulous for a 28 week born baby.(Someone asked if my wife's due date could have been wrong. No it couldn't have been for the simple reason we didn't have relations for quite sometime before July 2002.) Fr. Tomasz baptized Daniel around 6:30 that evening. I remember asking a nurse if I could touch Daniel. She said yes so I put one of my fingers in my son's tiny hand. I had a son.

I kept alternating between DW and the NICU.(The OR area and the NICU were adjacent to each other) Calling friends and family to tell them of Daniel's birth and how both and DW were doing. Around 7 p.m. Daniel had to be tubed. No one was concerned at this time about my son's condition.

Because of DW's nausea(and a nursing shift change) she was kept in recovery about two hours. Then she was wheeled to her room. On the way she was brought to see Daniel. Leonita talked to him and cried before being taken to her room.

DW was still out of it due to her meds. Nanay had been there all day. Seeing my wife asleep and not able to stay awake, and after checking with the NICU I went home for the night around 9:15.(Before leaving I told a nurse to write down Daniel's name. A sign above his NICU isolette said. "I'm a boy." The nurse wrote on it Daniel Thomas.) No one was concerned at the time otherwise I would have never left. I was just emotionally spent and felt a need to rest and be back the next morning. Daniel would be in the NICU for some time and best I get rest while I could.

I came home and emailed friends, posted to a couple of message boards and then went to sleep around midnight. DW called around 2 a.m. the doctors were saying Daniel wasn't doing well. He was having trouble breathing. What did I do? I went back to sleep not seeing the urgency of the situation. I've hated myself for doing this ever since. My son was dying and I was home in bed.

At 6 a.m. the phone rang again. DW told me Daniel was in critical condition, the NICU doctor came on the phone. He said my son had septsis(An infection of the blood. Premature babies are highly susceptible to this. The risk of infection after DW's water broke had happened.) and I better get to the hospital. I raced out of the house only feeding the cats before leaving. I stopped at our church quickly to tell the priests and then raced to St. Mary's getting there around 7 a.m.

I remember the scene in the NICU. Some people were seated in chairs near where Daniel was. Later on I'd think of this as a death watch. Fr. Tomasz was there and had just annointed Daniel. I touched my dying son and then went to check on DW. Leonita was in her room composed and strong. She told me to go back to Daniel and I did.

In the NICU I stood with Fr. Tomasz watching Daniel's life signs dwindle to nothing on the monitor. At 7:23 a doctor put a stethoscope to m y son's chest and then said "Your son's heart had stopped." After 14.5 hours of life my son had died of septsis.

Later that day DW and I got to hold Daniel in my wife's hospital room. Friends and family came, I had called these people again after what happened this morning. I asked DW if she wanted me to buy a cheap throwaway camera to take some photos. She said no. We both regret not having done this.

Other than the moment the doctor said Daniel's heart stopped, the moment I remember most was right after the nurse took Daniel from my wife and I so the funeral home could get him. DW broke out crying louder and heavier than any time I've seen her in the 17 years we been married. She is such a wonderful and loving person, who does many kind things for other people. Leonita wanted and deserved a child so much, and all she went through to just have Daniel taken from her. Why God, why?

Dear wife physical recovery from Daniel's birth went smooth. She regained her strength quickly and returned to work 7 weeks after the operation. PPD? DW took zoloft for a short time but stopped it. She put her faith in God and believes strongly to this day that Daniel is an angel in heaven.

Daniel was buried on January 31st in Boynton Beach Florida. The cemetary is about three miles from our house and DW and I visit it two times a week at least.

The funeral mass had over 100 people in attendance, only a few of whom were family. My DW worked at our church for 10 years at that time and almost 13 years by now. She is well liked and even loved by many parishoners for her kindness and cheerfulness. Five priests including the two from our parrish, the past and present pastor, plus Fr. Tomasz, and two other priests were there for the mass.

DW for understandable reasons doesn't want to try having a child again. She was through an ordeal with Daniel only to lose him and she don't want to do this again. Her brother and sister-in-law make a incredible offer to let us adopt their then unborn daughter Mary Belle.(She was born in the Philippines in May 2003) Because of the huge adoption expenses this would entail, DW and I were not able to do this however much we would have loved to do so.

Daniel's life was short but for me and DW he touched us so deeply. I still hurt tremendously from what happened. The last two months between the holidays, my birthday and Jan 25th and 26th have had me greatly depressed. I break out easily crying many times. Why did my son die?

I have anger issues too. At myself for leaving the hospital and not returning till almost the moment Daniel died. For not insisting with the doctor that DW have Daniel as soon as her water broke. Friends of ours don't understand why Dr. Jones delayed considering the risk.

Alot of my anger is directed at Leonita's boss then, our church pastor(A cowardly small minded man) plus the diocese of Palm Beach. I'm not going to document it here, but I'll say this. If the Catholic Church has the choice between its money and helping a mother and her unborn child, they'll pick the former!

My wife Leonita is stronger. She believes our son was not meant for this world. We did counselling for a while but DW chose to stop. I often wish we kept going. DW and I are godparents to a boy named AJ who was born 5-1-03. If Daniel had lived, he and AJ would have been similiar in age etc. My wife takes great delight in AJ(His parents are both Filipino) but for me the boy is a very strong reminder of Daniel and who he could have been.

I've still have so much hurt over what happened to Daniel and few outlets for dealing with it. There's a fictionalized version of my, DW' and Daniel's story on the internet, one I dedicated to Daniel. Its however on a Sci-fi fiction site where I've authored other stories. I'm a little ashamed to point it out, for there are some adult tales on that same site. I don't write such stories, but some authors do. If a blogging friend would like to read it, leave me a comment and I'll email you the story or send you the link.

I could write more but just writing this proved emotionally draining for me. Thanks for reading it.

The photo above is only one of six photos DW and I have of Daniel. Events moved so fast in the short time of our son's life that I was never able to get a photo of my son while he was alive.

Daniel, Mommy and Daddy love and miss you so much. We'll never forget you.


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Comments (14)

Prayers and condolences.</p... (Below threshold)

Prayers and condolences.

God bless you, your wife, a... (Below threshold)

God bless you, your wife, and your son.

Hey, old Bullwinkle buddy, ... (Below threshold)
Maggie Mama:

Hey, old Bullwinkle buddy, each time I have read this over the years I cannot begin to image your pain.

How anyone could ever support abortion after reading this is beyond me.

No parent should ever suffer the loss of a child.

You and your wife are in my... (Below threshold)

You and your wife are in my prayers. May God grant you continued strength and hope, you will be reunited with Daniel again, and what a day of joy that will be.

Daniel's waiting for you bo... (Below threshold)

Daniel's waiting for you both up there. My prayers for all three of you.

To Maggie Mama,Alway... (Below threshold)

To Maggie Mama,
Always try to remember,although this story is very moving, there is ALWAYS another story to be told, where abortion is as appropriate to that story as it is NOT appropriate to this one.. Everyone has their own story to live and tell.

Bill, This is my f... (Below threshold)


This is my first time ever reading about this. I'm so very sorry for this having happened to you and your wife. Daniel looks to have been a beautiful child.

He is now forever your own angel in heaven.

Please accept my humble prayers.

Shawn Mallow

I know you will never forge... (Below threshold)

I know you will never forget, but I hope you find peace. Bless all three of you. I can not imagine the pain you have endured.

this post reminds me to be ... (Below threshold)

this post reminds me to be more thankful.

i can't imagine your family's loss.

Try and find comfort knowin... (Below threshold)

Try and find comfort knowing that we will eventually someday understand why God allows what happens to us in our lives whether it is good or bad. Just continue to lean on the Lord and He will bring you through it. That is His promise! Be strong for you and your beautiful wife. May God be with you.

Peace for you both, Bill.</... (Below threshold)

Peace for you both, Bill.

We had the death of a newly... (Below threshold)

We had the death of a newly born infant in our family a few years back. We were told by the priest (and I believe) that when a baby/child dies he/she automatically becomes a angel. That the mass we had for the child, was not for the child since he was an angel, but for us mere mortals who were left behind.

You and your wife have a your own special angel looking over you and protecting you. You will see your child again, be sure of that.

I've lost a sister, mother,... (Below threshold)

I've lost a sister, mother, father, wife and more than a few friends. I can't imagine what enduring the death of a child would be like. God bless you all and give you the peace and strength to endure. There are people out there that you don't even know who care about you.

Dear Bill,I was se... (Below threshold)
Connie Freund:

Dear Bill,

I was searching the net for information about Plantation candidates and I came across your site. I read your words about your son Daniel and I was compelled to write you a note. It was the loving words that kept me reading. To be given the greatest gift and then to have that gift taken away without having opportunities to bestow upon your beautiful son all the love you have for him is absolutely heartbreaking. You felt this strong connection for your child before you could feel or see him. You loved him from the first. You love has never ended, its strong and passionate. Because your son is not where you can hold him has never stopped you from continuing to love him so deeply that you share the story of his journey with those who meet you.

Love is such a powerful force that amazing things can happen because of the power of love. There are extremely powerful forces that shape our universe such as gravity and magnetism. Love is the most powerful. It can motivate people to do things that are awe inspiring. Why is that? I believe because while we cannot understand all the aspects and effects of this great power, our creator has given us this gift, this power, that continues to have effects long after the temporary bodies we are given leave the lives of people we love. This powerful force of love can continue to have the ability to reach the one we love.

If we can understand and believe that these other powerful forces can reach great distances, it makes sense that Love, this most powerful of forces, can do likewise. Though you cannot see or hold your son, he lives on. Your love continues to reach him. You loved him before you could see or hold him and that has never changed. He felt and responded to your love and voice with kicks and he can feel and respond to the strong love you continue to have for him. Your love for your son motivates you write about him and share his brief journey here on earth. Your love shows everyone who reads your story that love is so powerful that it can last forever without the ability to see or hold the one you love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says "Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love." You are living proof of those words. While you may at times doubt that you have the other two powers, you most certainly have the greatest power. Your story of love is inspirational. To have such capacity to love so strongly is a gift. Thank you for sharing your gift.

Connie Freund






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