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Jackie

Jackie

Besnik’s and my son, Jackie Solin, was born June 23rd, 2024 at 9:57 am, 8 pounds 6 ounces, at my home in Maspeth. He never took a breath on his own. The medical professionals don’t agree on what happened. Until the day he was born, we were both in perfect health. They know he was deprived of oxygen for 15 minutes before he was born, likely because he flipped to breech sometime during or directly before labor, but they don’t know why. If you’re reading this because you’re pregnant or considering a home birth and want to know more specific details, you can read more here.

For the most part, healthy babies don’t just die. There are many people to point the finger at: my midwives, who did not recommend a hospital transfer; the paramedics who arrived at the scene with no infant CPR training; the doctors at Wyckoff Hospital who first received him, who were less than expert and gave him the wrong medication; me for choosing a home birth. But at the end of the day, for reasons no living person will ever understand, Jackie just didn’t want to breathe. He crawled up near my heart and wanted to stay there; he was born almost two weeks late, after a long labor. He never truly made impact with earth.

After the hot and violent day of his birth, Jackie lived for three peaceful days on a ventilator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Long Island Jewish Hospital. I am forever grateful for the way we were treated there. Though he never woke up, everyone treated him with the kindness and respect they’d show any baby. Because of their kindness, I got to do cruel little pantomimes of all the things I’d wanted: comb his hair, fall asleep with him on my chest, change his diaper, talk to him. They never made me leave the hospital. He passed away in my arms at 3:34 pm on June 26th, surrounded by his family.

What did I know about him in the months we had together? He was stubborn. He gave the midwives and doctors plenty of trouble, even during my pregnancy. He did not like to be bothered by the doppler they used to check his heartbeat, never mind the ultrasound machine. He would not move when they needed him to move. He kicked most when I was closest to sleep. He would not kick when other people put their hands on my belly (though he made the rare exception for my mom, his grandma). He refused to be born when they said, the way they said he should be. He was significantly larger than I or the doctors thought he’d be. He had lighter hair than both his parents. He had a bit of a sweet tooth. He had big hands, feet, and ears for a baby. He was absolutely determined to be free.

Besnik and I are both proud of him (allow us, it’s the only chance we’ll get). Talk about never apologizing. His death may be the result of bad choices made by living people, but he could have chosen to breathe – most babies born the way he was do. While I was pregnant I wrote to Bes that I felt I was harboring something ancient and true and I think I was right about that. Losing an infant was simply part of the human experience until just two generations ago in this country, and remains a part of human experience in many places throughout the world. For almost a year, I carried Jackie, who carried his own inevitability. Without him, I feel utterly directionless, lost in a way I have never been lost – but that is me, not him. He is not lost. He knew more than we do. As Bes says, he took his ball and went home.

Jackie