Born on February 2, 2004 • Died on February 10, 2004
Tuesday February 10, 2004
I am writing to tell you about the life and death of our son Jesse Santiago Hartley.
Jesse was born last Monday, February 2 at 6:37 am. He was 4 1/2 weeks early and weighed 5 lbs 4 oz and was 18 1/2 inches long.
I began having contractions during the Super Bowl but didn’t realize what they were until after the game was over and the contractions were 3 1/2 minutes apart and over a minute long! I thought the pain was due to something that I ate. I think Jesse wanted to come out to help his daddy celebrate the Patriots’ win.
By the time we got to the hospital, I had already dilated to 6 cm. The labor was relatively short and easy, lasting about 6 1/2 hours. George was great throughout—encouraging, supportive, and patient. I wouldn’t let go of his hand! He was able to extract himself from my clutches long enough to deliver Jesse, however (with a little help from the doctor), and handed him to me.
Jesse was born in good health for his age and size. The doctors were a little worried about his body temperature being too low, but this was quickly remedied by skin-to-skin contact with mommy. Jesse also had his blood sugar monitored for the first 18 hours or so. This put a lot of pressure on mommy to make sure Jesse was eating enough, but he did well thanks to a very good sucking reflex. His breathing was also a little bit labored at first—he had what they called a premi grunt--but that went away more or less after about 6 hours. Mommy thinks Jesse just liked to hear himself talk and sing.
Jesse did so well that we were able to leave the hospital and go home by Tuesday evening. We would have arrived home sooner, but the car seat was much smarter than mommy or daddy and it took a long time to make sure that he was in it correctly.
He did great the first couple of days home—kept mommy and daddy on their toes. Jesse ate really well and slept really well. He was very curious and always knew when there were new sounds in the room. I think his favorite thing was hearing the sound of George’s voice. He always perked up and became very interested when daddy talked and absolutely loved being swaddled in daddy’s arms—the feeling was mutual. George was great with Jesse. He says that Jesse taught him that there could still be wonder and joy in the world in the midst of tragedy and sorrow.
You can see pictures of us with Jesse at George’s web site: www.groovdigit.com/jesse/
He was a beautiful baby.
We don’t know what is wrong with Jesse or what caused him to end up in the hospital. All I can tell you is that he is clinically brain dead. I was nursing him on Thursday night after he had awoken from a 2-hour nap and I looked down and he was gray/blue and his whole body was limp. George immediately began to perform cpr and I dialed 911. It took about 20 minutes for the ambulance to reach us and in that time Jesse’s heart stopped and his body turned all blue despite all of George’s efforts.
Jesse is very strong-willed and brave, however, and by some miracle he came back to us with a strong heartbeat despite having been down for over 45 minutes. We were transferred to Children’s Hospital in Columbus and we were there from early Friday morning to this morning. Tests performed throughout the weekend showed no brain activity and have yet to provide a clue as to what happened. His heart and love for us brought him back, but he couldn’t stay.
We think that he came back to us so that our last memories of him wouldn’t be of those nightmare moments at the house on Thursday night. He has given us a great gift and we have treasured the last few days.
We took Jesse off of life support early this morning. We had wanted to donate Jesse’s organs to others who might need them in the hopes that he might help the bodies of others, but after trying to find recipients all day and literally dialing hundreds of numbers, Lifeline of Ohio was not able to come up with a match. Jesse was just too small and too young. So he died peacefully the way he came to me—naked, on my bare chest—and was surrounded by lots of love from George, his sister Katy, her boyfriend Carlos, and my parents.
We are planning a memorial service for Saturday February 14 in the Athens area at the Millfield Christian Church. We know it is Valentine’s Day and we thought that was a fitting day because Jesse had such a strong heart. As you can imagine, we are in a state of shock and extreme grief, especially having this latest tragedy come so closely after the death of Dylan. We are wondering, as you might be, how this could happen.
Please send prayers and good thoughts Jesse’s way as you read this. He has been our joy and greatest gift. We treasure every single moment that he gave us, and we miss him terribly. We are comforted in the knowledge that he and Dylan are keeping each other company.
Jesse's First Day • More Photos • Memorial Service