Thank you for donating in memory of JP Stewart, born still on March 15, 2016. All donations will go to the Star Legacy Foundation, a
nonprofit organization dedicated to stillbirth awareness, research, education, prevention & family support.
Learn more about the Star Legacy Foundation here.
Joseph Peter “JP” Stewart was born March 15, 2016. 6lbs 1oz, 20″ long. He had curly dark hair, and his mother’s exceptionally large feet. He had chubby cheeks and his dad’s nose. He was beautiful.
I had the most uneventful pregnancy. I remember at times thinking this isn’t so bad! There were times I even felt bad complaining after hearing horror stories of things my friends had gone through. What had I even been worried about during the first trimester? What had I even been worrying about before getting pregnant? Ah, the naivety of a first-time mom. All my appointments were perfect. My worry began to lessen.
On Saturday, March 12, I put his swing together in our living room. I started sorting bottles and nesting, if you will. I was almost thirty-six weeks and knowing my mother had gone into labor early with both me and my brother, I was being cautious, getting things ready. All his onesies were washed and folded neatly in these adorable baskets I had found at Target. His crib was set up with plush blankets folded over the sides.
I sat down to relax considering I had been cleaning for a few hours and thought I had felt him move. Some days when I was active, he liked to sleep and I’d sit down at night and feel him kick and roll. That evening, my husband and I sat to watch a movie and I remember feeling off. The baby just wasn’t moving as much. I thought maybe his space was getting limited considering he was measuring 2 weeks bigger than he should.
That Sunday, a Sunday I wish I could erase, I found out my baby’s heart had stopped beating. I didn’t feel him move that morning. I barely even tried the drink something sugary and lay on your side approach- I just knew something was off. I told my husband we were going to get it checked out. I even joked on the way to Labor and Delivery “maybe we’ll take a baby home today.” Stillbirth never crossed my mind. The death of my perfectly healthy baby was something I had never thought about. Why would I? Babies don’t just die. No one tells you there’s a chance your baby might not leave with you. It’s not talked about! It’s scary, etc.! But the heartbreak that occurs after the death of your child is an even more terrifying place to be.
The first nurse couldn’t find his heartbeat on the Doppler. I even pointed to the spot on my belly where my OB had found it each time before. All you could hear was the nervous pounding of my own heart. She left to grab the ultrasound machine. When she left I just knew something wasn’t right. The girl who placed the wand on my belly, turned the screen from me and began asking me simple questions. “Is this your first?” “Do you know the sex?” I just couldn’t wrap my head around why she was asking these questions. Maybe it meant the baby was okay. Instead of telling me anything, she left to grab a Doctor. The lights were off in the room, they turned them on. The Dr. looked at me and all he said was “I’m sorry, we can’t find a heartbeat.” I have no idea if he said anything else, he just left the young resident in there with me to tell me my options. I don’t know if I said anything to anyone. I was in shock. I remember just staring at the wall while my husband held my hand. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t move.
My husband went through the pain of telling family members and it was decided we’d go to L&D that night and start inducing labor. The pain and tragedy of knowing or not knowing you’re going to give birth to a baby who isn’t living is the most devastating experience any person can live through. But JP was born, and his cord was wrapped tightly around his neck four times. After everything, that was determined as his cause of death.
JP was gorgeous. Perfect. An angel. It’s hard to explain how in that moment when you first hold your child, you fall instantly in love. Loving and having to leave JP behind was all too bittersweet because you get a taste of that love between a mother and child. Although that love is still prevalent, it’s different. We’re advocates for our babies who aren’t walking this earth with us. We hold this love internally that no one except for those who’ve gone through it, understand. JP has taught me and changed me. He’s slowed me down and made me take a step back and reevaluate myself as a person. He’s opened my eyes to other people and helped me realize that each and every person is living their own experience. And he’s helped me see just how much the people around my husband and I, love us. He’s made me grasp and hang on to the love that surrounds each and every one of us. And that part, I wouldn’t change for anything. He’s left his mark on me and for that, I’m eternally grateful.”
– Pat and Kelli Bowers Stewart
Thank you to our generous donors in JP’s memory.
Matt and Gia Rich
The Gage Family
Chris and Jenny Rich
Jack and Debbie Giordano
Hank and Mary Caruso
Erica, Zach, and Huck Skelly
Mary, Jocko, Gina and Jim Giordano