The Story of Max

How do I tell a story like Maxwell’s?

It was just a few weeks ago but it feels so far away already. It was a bittersweet and beautiful day, one I want to remember forever and I know by writing it down I will cement those sweet memories. This blog is the journal of our family, and I want to share Maxwell’s life with all the people that love and care for us.

just about to head out the door to the hospital

We were so excited to wake up on Thursday, April 24th. I took a long shower and got ready, spending a little extra time for our big day. We dropped Isabelle and Lincoln off at my parents’ house with some tight hugs and kisses and a promise to see them later in the day.

We parked at the hospital and left most of our overnight stuff in the car. At the last second, I made Jazz unlock the car so I could grab the little blue hat I bought especially for the baby’s birthday, just in case we wanted it sooner rather than later.

We checked in at ten. We were taken to the pre-op/ recovery room and I changed into my gown, got my IV, and had the baby hooked up to a monitor. Jazz put on his fancy disposable scrubs. We joked around and laughed and took pictures and thought about how our lives were about to change for the best. Everything was prepped and ready, a little before noon I kissed Jazz and walked myself into the OR. I kept saying “This is so weird! This is sooo weird!” This was our first scheduled c-section- it was so different having surgery after a good nights sleep, skipping hours and hours of exhausting labor and being wheeled into the OR in the middle of the night. We were so happy, cheerful even.

lets do this.

I sat on the edge of the table and hunched over for the spinal. Baby was sitting so high and wiggling so much I remember having a hard time curling over far enough so the anesthesiologist could poke around. See you soon baby! I thought to myself. Medicine took effect, they put up the drape and everyone came in. Jazz was right by my face, helping me stay calm- being numb from the chest down is slightly claustrophobic but after a few minutes I got used to it. It’s a weird feeling to be conscious during a surgery like this. Lots of pulling, lots of tugging and pressure, a little nausea. But I was so comfortable.

surgery begins.

Maxwell was sitting so high in my body that the assisting OB was literally pushing on me to get him to move down. My doctor was so sweet and kept chatting with me to keep me informed on the progress.

We have a special friend named Carol who is a nurse for my dad at his surgery center- she is also a NICU nurse. Sweetest lady in the world. She came in on her day off to be at our birth and help us have a good experience- we were hoping to have some skin to skin time right away, and she was the woman to make it happen. She took many of the beautiful pictures that we have of our precious moments with Maxwell. We owe so much to her.

Soon, Dr. Kang said, “Here comes baby!” And just to my left was my Max. Slimy and fresh from my body. He looked so long! And big! Much bigger than my other babies. He was taken over to the warmer to be cleaned and to help him breathe a little bit. And then we heard what every parent waits to hear- that squeaky cry of a newborn baby. Maxwell was here. And he was loud. He was measured and weighed- a whopping nine pounds even! Almost two whole pounds bigger than Isabelle and more than a week earlier. So chubby! And with dark hair! I was elated about the dark hair, I’ve always dreamed of dark haired baby and he was finally here.

He was wrapped up and brought over to me and laid on my chest. Tears streaming down my face, I held him close to me, whispered that I was his mama. I stroked his soft cheeks and his pink lips and told him how glad I was he was here, how we had prayed and waited for him, how he had this great family and two siblings that were so excited to meet him. He smelled so good, so fresh and new. Jazz helped me hold him and told me what I great job I was doing, and had done to get him here. I sang a soft verse of happy birthday to my boy- I stroked his face and he turned towards me and he was calm and for a few minutes, all was perfect.

Our first moment together

one last kiss before he was taken next door

Carol came over and said they wanted to take him back to my recovery room to warm him up a little bit and check his breathing. We turned the baby around for a few more pictures and to get a last kiss, and off he went. We were so happy. For those few minutes, everything was perfect.

Jazz went with Maxwell to my recovery room and stood by him in the warmer. He held his hand, and talked to him, and felt the impression to take some video on his iphone. Jazz recorded about two minutes of Max crying and making little grunting noises and looking around at the world. Two minutes of Max’s life that I can keep forever among my most prized possessions.

His neck rolls!

so much dark hair

I spent another 15 minutes in the operating room being put back together. I was so happy the hard part was over! Dr. Kang talked me through what she was doing, and I asked weird questions about my uterus and how my insides looked. I was drugged, what can I say.  

It was a beautiful surgery. I felt comfortable, I felt awake and aware, I didn’t feel nauseous or sick– by far the best of my three cesareans. Pretty soon I was all stitched up, the drape was removed, and the staff did their closing counts on sponges and instruments. I was wheeled right next door where Jazz was waiting for me. He said they had just taken the baby to the NICU to help him breathe a little bit better, and that someone would keep us posted. I wasn’t worried at all, this is so common especially for c-section babies. I figured they would suction him and give him some oxygen and bring him over in a bassinet soon enough. Jazz texted our family members with Maxwell’s birth stats and a cute pictures of his brown fluffy hair and chubby little face.

All was well, until it wasn’t.

A nurse came in sort of panicked looking- I didn’t think anything of it at the time but looking back it was alarming. She grabbed my chart and took the non-stress test strip from earlier in the morning and studied it, wanted to see if there were any irregularities. She told us the baby was struggling to breathe and that they were going to possibly place an IV and that they were working on him. Still I didn’t panic.

About fifteen minutes later, my sweet OB came in with a pale face and shaking hands. She shook her head and with concern on her face told us the baby had been down for almost a half an hour, that they were doing all that they could, but that Jazz needed to quickly go with her to the NICU.

I wasn’t allowed to go, since I had to lay flat and be on monitors following such a major surgery. I stayed, in shock, the tears not coming. My nurse April came over and stayed with me and held my hand and offered a prayer for baby Max. I didn’t know what to think. I begged him to breathe and stay with us. I pleaded.

Less than five minutes passed, and I could hear Jazz coming down the hall, sobbing. I knew, it was finished. Maxwell was gone.

We held each other, gasping for air. This doesn’t happen, I said, it’s 2014, this just doesn’t happen. I live in America, I had great pre-natal care. We were full term. I took all my vitamins. I had all of my ultrasounds and appointments and shots. We were ready.

The doctor from the NICU came in, and all the nurses, and everyone stood around crying. He explained what they did, and all the measures they took to save Maxwell’s life. I sat, in shock, absorbing it all, and then the tears came. And we sobbed. Everyone cried with us. My OB held my hand. We cried. They asked us what we wanted to do.. And I didn’t know. What does anyone do? There’s no guidebook for this. I asked for a moment alone with Jazz. He held me and we sobbed. And then we had to call our parents. I’ll never forget those phone calls to our loved ones- to say something was wrong, not with mom but with baby. Devastating phone calls. My dad left the house right away to come and be with us. My mom called all of our siblings to let them know, and my sweet sister in law offered to come over and watch my kids so my mom could come down to the hospital. I could barely speak.

My dad came in to the room and I’m sure it broke his heart to see us in such tragic despair. The nicu nurses asked if we wanted to see and hold our precious  baby. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever be in this situation.  They had dressed him in a little onesie, booties and a hat and swaddled him in a big blue blanket I’m sure some elderly person had knit and donated for this purpose. I’ve never felt such overwhelming anguish and deep love at the same time. Our sweet baby looked so peaceful, so perfect, I just kept thinking his toes were going to wiggle and he was going to open his eyes and wake up and be hungry.

We held him, and looked at his ears and his perfect toes and his little fingers. I felt his soft skin and his fluffy brown hair. This perfect body I had worked so hard to grow and make for such a long time. Peacefully sleeping. His work was finished. Our hearts were so broken, we cried and cried together and passed him around. I asked Jazz to get out that special blue hat and put it on him, even if it was only for a few minutes. It was the only thing I ever really got to dress him in. In those short moments I tried to memorize his face and his eyebrows and his ears that didn’t quite match, just like Lincoln’s. His face was round like Isabelle’s- his nose like his mama’s, his toes like his father’s, and Lincoln’s little mouth and chin. Nine pounds of chubby arms and thighs and chins. My Maxwell.

After a few hours my parents left, and Jazz and I were left alone to grieve and mourn while we held our baby. I talked to him and told him how special he is and how lucky we are to be his parents.  I told him about his big sister and his big brother and how much he looked like them. I told him we would do everything that we could so we could see him again. I held him tightly in my arms and tried to make it last for a whole lifetime. We felt his spirit so near to us.

Later that night it was time for us to let go of our sweet baby. When we were ready, the nurses came to get him- that little body that had served a purpose and for a few minutes were full of breath and life. Handing him off was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. No mother should have to experience that.

I thought of my two children at home and what on earth was I going to tell them. Isabelle had been so excited for a new baby and had been practicing all of her mothering skills on her baby dolls and Olivia. I thought of the empty car seat waiting in my car. I kept saying, “I don’t know how to do this. What am I supposed to do.”

Of course, everyone wants to know “what happened.” What happened is that Maxwell was not meant to stay on this earth. He needed to come and get a body. To live for a few minutes. To change our lives and join our family, and then he was finished. A perfect soul. A perfect baby. His mission was complete.

In the short time they took Max from the recovery room literally across the hallway to the NICU, his heart stopped beating. And nothing that they did- no resuscitation or medicine or anything brought any sort of heart beat back. The nicu team did everything that they could but once he was gone, he was gone. He lived maybe 45 minutes, only five of those minutes in his mama’s arms. Five short minutes.

Scientifically, there is supposed to be a reason for his demise, as they call it. There has been talk of small heart defect, possibly a pulmonary artery problem, or something else entirely. We aren’t sure. We may never know. The neonatologist at the hospital said he has never seen anything like it in the twenty years he has worked in the NICU. He was here and healthy, and then he wasn’t. So quickly. A special neonatal pathologist came up from Oakland to perform an autopsy on our sweet baby. That is hard for me to even type. We won’t know the results for several weeks, even if they found anything at all.

We do know that there are so many things that were put into perfect position to help us have this experience with Maxwell. Tender mercies, we call them, and they are countless. We wrote some things down a few days after we got home from the hospital, and it was pages long. Someday I will share them, they are special and I’m so grateful that so many things were prepared for us.

I never got to change his diaper, I didn’t get to feed him or bathe him. There are so many things that I wasn’t able to do for him- but I kept him safe and grew him a big beautiful body so that he could come to earth for just a few short minutes.  Those nine months were so, so worth it.

We love and miss our baby Max. My body aches for him. We mourn and cry and sometimes I feel like I physically can’t breathe without him, but I know that Heavenly Father is aware of my pain and agony. He has a plan for me and for my family, and I feel privileged to be the mother of this special child.

“Endings are not our destiny… They are merely interruptions– temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.” — President Uchtdorf, April 2014 Conference

25 thoughts on “The Story of Max

  1. You are an incredible mom filled with strength and love. You inspire so many around you with your faith and perspective. Maxwell's time on this earth was short but he has touched so many of us with his perfect spirit. This beautiful post you have written celebrates the time you did have with him and the love his family will always feel for him. We love you and know how great the day will be when you are reunited with Maxwell.

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  2. Beautiful. Thank you.

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  3. I am so sorry to hear about Max. :(. I started reading your blog awhile back and have always been touched with what you write! I went to high school with your brothers Sean and Scott and came across your blog through a friend. I have felt so bad for all you have been through. As a mom of three small children it pains me to know what you must be going through. You and your husband are an inspiration! Despite everything you are going through, you have so much courage. Thank you for sharing. You will be in my prayers! Be assured that God knows your pain and your sorrow and is always there for you.

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  4. My dear precious sister Micci; Thank You for sharing your story with us. Our hearts ache for you and Jazz and your family. We know what a perfect child that Maxwell is. That he is so special and favored of the Lord that he needn't go through this earth life at this time. How comforting are the words of President Uchtdorf. What a blessing the restored gospel is. Know that we love you and grieve with you. I leave you with my Testimony of this church. Love John and Birdie Brander..

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  5. I'm a good friend of Britta's from our college years. I don't even know you, but after reading your sweet, but heartbreaking blog, I know what a wonderful, kind, faithful, and humble mother and person you are. I'm so sorry for your heartache……being a mother of 3 I cannot imagine that kind of loss. I'm so glad that you got to be with him and share those special moments that only a mom can have with her baby. Thank you for Sharing your experience. You are such a strong and faithful mom and will be with Max again someday. Hang in there!

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  6. so beautifull, you are such an inspirationto us all.

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  7. You are absolutely amazing. I never met you but I know you are the strongest woman in the world for choosing to see Max as a gift and for cherishing the short time you had with him. Although life brings trials, trust in God; He will eventually lead you to greater things and help your heart heal. Max has the greatest, strongest parents in the world. Never forget that. I will pray for you and your family so know that you are not alone and that someone IS praying for you. Pray to God when you feel like nobody understands, because He does. Think of Max as a teacher who taught you how to cherish every second of life, how to love one unconditionally, how to trust in God no matter what because once your life on Earth is over you can find Max in heaven and share the rest of eternity with him. When life gets hard and you miss him so much and you don't know what to do, just remember that on April 24th heaven gained an angel and his name is Maxwell.

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  8. Thank you for opening your heart to us and allowing us to know and love Maxwell too. God be with your family until you all meet again.

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  9. Maxwell knows your love. I can see that wonderful smile of contentment in that first photo of the two of you together.Thank you for being so brave and sharing Max's story. He had a story to be told, and are his amazing voice. He's so lucky to have such a wonderful family. Truly a beautiful angel.

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  10. Micci and Jazz, My heart just aches for you both. This was so beautifully written. Thank you so much for sharing these sacred moments with us and for sharing the short and perfect life of Maxwell with us as well. I loved what you said about “what happened”. How true it is. No matter what you did, Maxwell received his body and did what he was meant to do and nothing could've changed it. You are an example to us all. I'm so glad you were able to spend those 5 minutes together and you have the most beautiful pictures capturing that time together. Sending love and prayers!

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  11. *YOU are his amazing voice

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  12. What a brave mother you are. Thank you for your beautiful words and testimony of the Plan.He loves you and your sweet family. I pray for Lincoln and Isabelle's understanding. Really everyones understanding is tough to come up with, but in this post I feel you get it better than most. Bless you!

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  13. Kerri Schuette May 14, 2014 — 6:24 pm

    My heart just aches for all of you. You made him a beautiful, perfect body, and what a treasure your photos and videos will be, forever. He was a very blessed baby boy to be part of your family. I can't begin to express how very, very sorry I am for your loss.

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  14. I used to work with you sister Sabrina at the dental office and love reading your blog. Your family has been in our constant prayers and hope you feel peace at this trying time, how grateful for the knowledge of the plan of salvation. Wish I could give you a great bug hug. 🙂

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  15. So sorry for the pain that goes with this kind of loss. It's been 30 years, but the pain still comes back from time to time, particularly as each year I remember the different birth dates of the four I buried under similar circumstances as yours. I can surely testify to you that the joy we receive when we worthily are able to finish raising those children will far outweigh the sorrow we had at their loss. Can you even imagine!? I try to remember this, to make it my goal to be worthy to be there at their graves so I can raise them in the Millennium. You sound as if you have the same goals so I'm sure you'll always Remember. My heart goes out to you. With love, from a stranger.

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  16. I am so very sorry for your loss. I am 26 weeks pregnant with baby #4 which has been a high risk pregnancy since day 1 (pregnancy #6 – two of which were lost during pregnancy). I cannot imagine what you all had to go through. I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers … God has a plan for us all and maybe one day that will all make sense. Bless your heart …

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  17. God be with your family is faith and comfort. Maxwell is so handsome. How lucky he was so meet his mother and father, and how blessed he will be to be with you forever. Much love to you at this time

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  18. Hi my name is Courtney. April 26, 2014 we welcomed our beautiful son Maverick into the world. 41weeks, 38 1/2 hours of labor 4 hours of pushing and then finally a c-section. My healthy baby boy was born with no heart beat. 20 minutes of CPR and a helicopter ride to Riley Children's Hospital the doctors did everything they could but he went to Heaven on May 1. Maverick lived on life support for the short 5 days he was with us.

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  19. just read your blog. My name is Dave and I am an employee (volunteer)@ S.R.M.C. Didn't know your loss till today while @ the hospital working and saw what someone @ the hospital put in my mailbox. U 2have to be strong in your faith now and forever. I 2 loss a loved one last year who was on life support for a mo. last year when the family came to the very hard decison to take him off. My story pales in comparison to yours but thank you for sharing yours. God will shower the 4 of you with his love.Sincerely C. D.D. from S.R.M.C.

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  20. God Bless you, I can't imagine the pain of suffering the loss of a newborn, I have 3 adult children and miss them terribly as one has passed and the other 2 are miles away.

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  21. Theresa Cardoza May 20, 2014 — 12:00 am

    My Heart goes out to You and Jazz. I cried when I read this story. You don't know me but I work with Jazz and from the moment I meet him I knew what a kind and special man he is. You must be an angel. I don't even know what to say as my prayer's and thought's are with you and your family. What an amazing woman you must be. God is watching over you all during this time and I will be praying for all of you to make sense of this and find peace. God needed your Maxwell and know he is in wonderful hands.

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  22. 1 Peter2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.Shared via Bible KJV http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gyc.ace.kjv

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  23. Thank you for sharing your story…My daughter is 8 months old and has had 3 open heart surgeries to keep her alive..She was born with double inlet left ventricle with transposition of the great arteries….I live everyday with a miracle baby and am thankful every morning…My heart aches for you…

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  24. Do you guys have a donation page

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