Life comes at you fast.
I never expected to face some of life’s most challenging moments — all in the course of three years:
- Being diagnosed with breast-health issues
- Watching my husband, Chris, get diagnosed with multiple sclerosis
- Facing unemployment and later surviving a serious car accident
- My grandfather passing away
Amidst all this chaos, however, came a ray of hope: My husband and I learned we were pregnant with our first child.
We were excited and joyful about becoming parents, but when I was 20 weeks and six days pregnant, we learned that the little boy we were expecting would be born with severe medical issues.
The doctors told us the outcome for our child would be grim.
It seemed like all at once, those vows that we’d made just a few years prior — to stick together for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health — were being put to the test.
On July 21, 2015, at 36 weeks into my pregnancy, our precious baby, Christopher Louis Jones Jr., was born. He came into the world blue, not breathing.
Doctors resuscitated him and inserted a breathing tube before transferring him to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. After multiple tests, doctors told us Junior would need to be connected to a ventilator, a feeding tube and a suction machine for the rest of his life.
The doctors also made it clear that even though he would be connected to these machines, Junior could still die.
Chris and I loved our son unconditionally — he was our pride and joy! But we believed his quality of life would be poor.
After carefully considering the options, we made the most difficult decision of our lives, deciding it was in our son’s best interest to remove the ventilator and let him go peacefully to live with Jesus.
On July 31, at 7 p.m., the doctors placed our son in my arms and took out his breathing tube, and he peacefully passed away.
After our son passed away, we wanted to create a legacy for him.
His life was short, but it surely was meaningful, and we will always be proud to be his parents.
We donated his brain, brain stem, heart and part of his lungs to research. I also donated all of my breast milk to the Mothers Milk Bank of Ohio. I pumped milk for eight weeks, providing enough milk for more than 3,200 feedings for babies in seven different NICUs across three different states.
Chris and I also started the Angel Baby Network, a support organization that connects families to each other and to community resources as those families walk through the loss of a child. We became family advisory members for Cradle Cincinnati, which focuses on reducing infant mortality.
I joined the board for the Starshine Hospice, the only hospice in Southwest Ohio dedicated to helping terminally ill children and their families.
In September, 2016, I testified in front of the Health and Human Services Committee at the Ohio Statehouse on behalf of a bill that will reduce infant mortality. Black babies in the state of Ohio die at a rate that is three times as great as the majority population, so the law, which went into effect in April, will make a long-lasting impact.
Chris and I will celebrate six years of marriage later this month, and we continue to look ahead to what God has in store for us.
As my husband says, “Everyone has to go through the rain at some point, and we’ve decided to walk through the rain with faith.”
We’ve chosen to stand together and to stand with God, and that simple choice has made all the difference.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you respond to it.”
Our response has been to bounce back stronger every time life has tried to knock us down.
Danielle and Christopher Jones are a fun-loving couple who make sure to laugh every day. They have weathered a variety of storms throughout their lives, all while holding on to their faith in God and their love for each other. Founders of the Angel Baby Network, Chris and Danielle are passionate about supporting families who have endured child loss, and they seek to inspire others with their story, As Sure As Tomorrow Comes: One Couple’s Journey through Loss and Love (KiCam Projects, 2017).