Here is her inspiring and uplifting story...
My name is Danielle Jewkes and I am 22 years old. I'm married to Nate Jewkes who is currently attending SUU to get his bachelors in Math. We were blessed to bring a precious spirit into this world, even if it was for a short time.
Here is our story:
The decision to start a family was not an easy one. We prayed, asking God when He would like us to have a child. Our prayers were answered and we felt so strong that it would be as soon as I finished my current semester. This meant that I would have to tell my track and cross-country coach at SUU that I was quitting running early and that I would no longer travel each weekend with my husband (who is also on the team). I loved running, but I loved Heavenly Father more and wanted to be obedient. My desire to be a mother was becoming so strong.
We got pregnant right away and I was so excited to bring our baby into the world. The pregnancy was going great until we had our fist ultrasound around 18 weeks in December of 2013. We were told that there was a less than one percent chance that our baby would have trisomy 18. Babies who have trisomy 18 are most likely still born or if born alive, they don't live very long. We were quickly reassured that this was somewhat common with babies and since Leslie's body looked and was functioning properly that we didn't need to worry. So we didn't.. for a while.
On January 22, 2014 I began to worry about Leslie. I hadn't felt her move in a few days. I wondered what was going on. Was I just missing her movements while I was also moving? Was she sleeping? She was kicking around like crazy only a few days before. I didn't know if I was just being a paranoid mom or if I should be worried. Nate was good to comfort me, but the only thing that would really comfort me was feeling my baby. Many tears were shed that day as I sat or lied down trying to feel her move around. We decided that we were going to call Laurie Hansen the following morning and get checked out.
The next morning came too quickly and I dreaded calling Laurie. I looked at my phone for several minutes. I finally made myself call. They had me eat breakfast and come to the hospital as soon as I was done. Nate and I got there around nine in the morning. It felt so weird to walk down the hall to the labor and delivery wing of the hospital. Like a dream. We made it to the desk and I introduced myself. They knew who I was and brought me to a room to be checked. I laid there as the nurse searched for my babies heart beat. I just stared up at the ceiling tiles. I knew. She switched to the ultrasound to see if she could see the heart beating. Nothing.
I cried hard. So hard. I then looked up from Nate's hug to find tears flowing down his face. What now? I was filled with fear as I realized that I was going to have to deliver and bury my baby all in such a short time and I did NOT feel ready for all that was happening. I then remember looking out the window over Nate's shoulder. I saw the sun shining in and felt its warmth. It was Heavenly Fathers warmth. Instantly I felt whole. The pain I felt inside was matched by the love from my Heavenly Father. It was time for us to decide when we wanted to deliver our still child. We made the decision for me to start the induction process right away since it was going to take a while. Nate was missing a track meet in Idaho, but knew there was no way he could have been away during this time. Even if I waited to be induced a few days later.
The process was long. My body was far from being ready to deliver. They had to give me double the amount of pitocin to get things going. My body was not happy about this and quickly began shaking. I had a high fever most of the time. But again I was happy. I continued to feel a great sense of peace from Heavenly Father. He was carrying me through this. Not only was his love pouring in, but we received so many loving texts, cards, and flowers from our family and friends. Nate gave me a priesthood blessing and received one himself from my dad. We both felt so much sorrow but so much peace at the same time.
It was 24 hours later when I gave birth to our sweet, unbreathing child. She was beautiful. She was perfect. We felt her precious spirit surround us. I had mixed emotions. I wanted so much to hear her cry, to see her move, but was feeling gratitude to be a part of her short life. I was told that she most likely had passed away from a random genetic defect and that it wasn't my body that rejected her which was comforting to know. She was the perfect size according to her age. 12.5 inches and 1 pound 10 oz. She was healthy and well fed. We know this was Heavenly Father's way of saying that Leslie is a perfect spirit. She didn't need to be on this earth for very long. She just needed to receive her body.
Coming home empty handed was a painful experience. I was scared to leave the hospital because it was the place where I came to know my daughter. I felt safe in my delivery room and knew that once I left, reality would hit. I would have to go home and take down the crib that we so excitedly set up. I would realize there would be no baby crawling on the floor of our apartment. My baby belly was gone. My baby was gone. I was left with a chubby, saggy, swollen body.
To my surprise I was usually fine during the day when I was constantly distracted by family and friends. I was strong for them. I wanted to share my story with people. I shared it so many times that I had it memorized. I feel that telling it helped me in a way and I was so grateful that people were so willing to listen and understand my testimony of God's love during this time. That is until the night came, family would leave, my husband would be asleep and I felt alone. While I lay awake feeling the literal pain from birth. The swollen breasts, cramping uterus, and sore back were all constant reminders of my loss. When I felt this pain, images of my motionless daughter would flash in my mind. Was this part of my test? To see if I would still believe in God's love even when times were hard? Maybe. Probably. Definitely.
As the weeks went by I felt that I was becoming stronger. I felt that I didn't need to let myself cry anymore. Wrong Idea. (To anyone going through grief, let yourself cry). It must have been bottled up because one day at church, in our young married ward, I saw multiple pregnant sisters. I saw the joy on their faces. I felt a tinge of jealousy and hurt. I looked at Nate and asked him if he felt that it was ok if I was still crying over our loss. He was so cute and told me that I could cry whenever I wanted and that he would always be there to hold me. That was it. Tears filled my eyes and it was all I could do to hold in my cry until I made it out of sacrament meeting. Once the door shut behind me a loud sob came from my throat. Members were still walking in and I felt embarrassed for them to see me this way. I made it out the door walking as quick as my high heals would let me. By this time my sweet husband had caught up to me and opened the car door for me to get in. I let it out. I cried hard. Again. I missed my daughter so much. I wanted her in my belly still. Minutes went by and I still cried. I know that it is important to partake of the sacrament weekly, but I couldn't go back inside. Nate asked if I would like to go home and I agreed. As he went back into the church to grab our stuff, I had a quick urge to run. Before Nate got back, I took off my heels and began running home with my bare feet, church dress and tears falling down my face. Im sure I was an odd sight to see. Nate soon drove up next to me and I got into the car. Feeling so numb, I asked if we could go to a park and so we went. We got to a park and Nate guided me over to a bench. He sat down while I laid there with my head on his lap. I closed my eyes and felt the warm sun on my body. I remembered the warm sun that shone into the hospital window that day we found out our daughter was dead. I remembered the peace and love that we felt that day. I felt it again. My heart was turned to God once more. I knew He loved me.
One might ask why me? I made a sacrifice to take a heavy semester load at school and to quit competitive running so that we could bring a child into the world and obey the Lord. It was so hard. The question might come up that why would so much sacrifice be required of me, so much pain already felt just for me to be hit with a second wave? Wasn't the trial already felt?
No. I know why and need not to ask the question. I know the Lord is seeking for obedient and faithful children. I know that this was my time to prove to the the Lord that I will say "Thy will be done." I think of Abraham who was commanded to sacrifice his son. The son that took many years to come to him. The son who was promised to bring Abraham's posterity numbering to as many as the sands of the sea. Abraham did not say, "but Lord, didn't I already have my trial? Didn't I already feel pain as I waited many years for my son to come to this world?" No. He faithfully brought his son up to the mountain to be sacrificed, like a lamb to the slaughterer. He had to prove to the Lord that even in the most desperate times, he would be obedient.
I love my Heavenly Father and know that he loves me. I know that I have been strengthened, loved, and carried by the Lord through this trial. This beautiful trial. My love for God and His son Jesus Christ has been intensified as my understanding of love has grown. As a result, my capacity to love my husband has increased. My capacity to love others has increased. I have been blessed with the ability to mourn with those who mourn because I have mourned myself. Because I have felt great sadness and been lifted up by others, I know the power that it holds; and I want to share that with as many people as I can. I have learned so many sacred things that I will not share, but I will testify that if we, as sons and daughters of Heavenly Father will be obedient to his commandments, we WILL be blessed. I will continue to obey his commandments through thick and thin. I just want to say that I am not perfect, and He will have to have patience with me as I continue to strive to do his will, but his will is what I will do.
I just want to say thanks to Brenna for being brave to ask about my story. Many people are afraid of offending me and do not ask. But what they don't know is that I long to talk about my daughter. She is still mine and I cherish her. I miss her every day.
I want to tell Danielle how grateful I am that she was so willing and excited to share her story with me and with many others. When our bishop announced in our ward what had happened to sweet baby Leslie I immediately began crying. I had hardly talked to Danielle at this point but I felt her pain and longing as the bishop continued telling their story. I wanted to tell Danielle that I loved her...that I was so sorry for what she was going through. After giving birth to Emry I have become very emotional when it comes to children and the pain that comes from bearing children. I just can't imagine the feeling that comes when you lose your child. The ache, confusion, and emptiness. But, watching Danielle bear her testimony in church each fast sunday, and reading her story, she has taught me of the happiness that she feels along with the loss. She doesn't look at her situation as sad, she came to know her sweet Leslie and thanks the Lord for sending her to this earth to receive her body. Danielle may not have ever heard her baby cry but she felt her move inside of her. She knew Leslie. She knew what time of the day she slept, played, and rested. She was and is connected to Leslie.
I am so grateful for the atonement and for eternal families. I, like Danielle, accept the path that Heavenly Father has chosen for me and will take each moment as they come.
Danielle & Leslie Jewkes...
I tried to use the sun as much as a could in these photos. I'd like to think it is sweet Leslie shining through:)