Today, October 15, is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. We never thought that we would be personally affected by the significance of this day.
On July 6, 2011, we found out that our lives would be forever changed. We were going to have a baby! Since before marriage we had been looking forward to having children together and our first, much to our surprise, was going to be a girl.
Pregnancy was fairly easy for me, minus the general fatigue and backaches. I truly enjoyed being pregnant, but we could not wait to meet our little girl. We had started to get everything ready for her eventual arrival. The clothes and blankets were washed and folded in the laundry room, the crib and dresser had arrived, and we were getting more and more excited. However, on January 24, 2012, everything changed.
I had felt a lack of movement from the baby. I called the doctor who told us to come in for a quick check and monitor of the baby. Feeling a little relief, we headed to the hospital. Once we got back to the room, the nurse squirted the jelly on my 32½ week pregnant belly and then there was silence. She frantically moved the doppler all around, waiting for the sound of the baby’s heart. Nothing. Doctors and nurses came in with an ultrasound machine and confirmed what they already knew, our baby had died.
We chose to be admitted and induced labor immediately. Nineteen hours later, on January 25, 2012 at 7:24 p.m., Jane Berkley Wellstein was born still. She had her father’s facial features, blonde hair and my fingers and toes. She was beautiful.
Leaving the hospital with only memories of Jane was extremely difficult, but from that moment we knew that we wanted to do something to keep Jane’s memory alive. After researching different ideas, we decided to create the Jane B. Wellstein Memorial Fund. Giving back to Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital was extremely important to us due to the amazing care and support they provided during our stay. It would also provide us a platform to support other parents and families within our community who will unfortunately find themselves in a very similar situation.
Throughout labor and delivery, Bob, as well as our family members, were asked to go to the waiting room. The room was filled with happy and celebrating families, while they were in tears. When the idea was presented to us about creating a private space for grieving families on the labor and delivery floor, it was obvious — this was our calling. After months of meetings and collaboration with the hospital’s philanthropy director, the idea of Jane’s Room was created.
Our first Jane’s Room project at Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago was unveiled on January 25, 2013. We are currently working on the second Jane’s Room project at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. With continued support, we will be able to move the Jane’s Room idea to other hospitals in the Chicago area and potentially around the country.
While we continue to miss Jane every day, we feel her presence as we continue to help those who unfortunately will have to endure a similar tragedy. Though she’s not here in our arms, her short life has made an incredible impact on our family and others, and for that we feel truly blessed.
Written by Bob and Berkley Wellstein who lost their baby