Words don’t come too easy on a day when you lay to rest your tiny newborn son. Our little baby was nurtured in the womb and was named Peace from very early on, who joined us for a moment and then passed on. The irony of it all... How do you find peace in something that seems so tragic and void of peace?
This little baby was entrusted to us and when we found that baby had a bad heart we did everything possible to affect a favorable outcome. Trusting in God’s design and will for our lives, we were prepared to welcome this child into our family, to love and raise him as a child of God. Our faith in God tells us He had another plan for this little baby named Joseph Peace and this family named Dussault.
Peace- it’s hard to find these days as we hear and experience tragedy and war all around us. Sometimes even in our own lives peace seems so far off. In our families, with our friends, and in our communities. Is peace something too lofty, too difficult a reality to live by, something that is not attainable?
On the night of April 20th, 2015 at nearly 33 weeks gestation, the placenta gave up and started pulling away from the uterine wall. Labor came on quickly and our baby boy greeted us in this world, so tiny, so fragile and with a heart that was broken. Weighing only 2 lbs 8 ozs, the doctors said he was too small to operate on so we prepared to let baby go. We named him Joseph Peace, having him immediately baptized and then continuing to pray Psalms over him until he passed. We held baby near to comfort him, no needles, no poking, no cutting, no ventilator, nothing but God’s presence and peace. Everyone in the room was amazed at the calm and peacefulness of what was transpiring. Though he only lived two hours, his mission was accomplished out of sight and sound. This was our child and he came to bring peace.
Joseph Peace, he touched lives around the world even from within the womb. From Nepal, to New Zealand, Israel, Alaska, Chile, Italy, France, Hungry, and across the United States. Those who followed his story were always confronted with the word “peace” which played the central role in his little life. It caused us to have peace in our own family, peace for those who prayed for him, peace for the doctors and nurses that helped us along this journey, peace for those nearest us, and peace in this world that seems so broken and void of peace. This was his life, even if it was so short. This was Joseph Peace’s mission and in that we have peace. Our children will forever be more precious because of this loss and our family will be forever blessed by this little life. For now, we have someone in heaven praying for us and waiting to meet us when we are laid to rest.
This challenging chapter in our life will never be closed because of this precious life that lives on. God blessed us with the love of this pregnancy and we always trusted that His Will and Wisdom were far greater than ours. After five weeks of doctor appointments, travel and many tearful moments little Joseph Peace ended up accomplishing a great deal. So when life seems so broken and void of peace, maybe think of Joseph Peace, for perhaps his short journey was meant to help us all find a little more peace in life.
You all have been a part of it in one way or another, some from a distance, some very near. All of you have supported us so beautifully with your words of encouragement, fervent prayers, meals, gifts, money, love, kindness and help. Our family will forever be blessed by your generosity.
Joseph Peace. We love you. May your memory be eternal!
Joseph Peace Dussault
Born to Eternal Life 4-21-15
2 lbs 8oz (1130g)
On Earth Day, 2015, Baby Joseph Peace Dussault was laid to rest in beautiful hallowed ground ... an Angel destined to occupy space otherwise held for a mere mortal.
His short life and tiny body were consecrated to God in Baptism and Eucharistic Thanksgiving, the sorrow of loss consoled by the certain knowledge that Baby Peace's blessed arrival in Heaven portends our own journey to meet him again in God's Bliss and the certain understanding that he was knit in the womb by God's hands before the dawn of the world as part of His grand plan, beyond all understanding.
Tears streamed as dozens revered the body of Baby Peace in sweet repose before the holy altar of Queen of All Saints, guarded by Christ Jesus in the Tabernacle and the holy vessels offering His precious Body and Blood. After those gathered took that precious Host into themselves in the faith, belief, hope and intention of becoming one with Christ, they reached into the tiny coffin to offer Baby Peace a kiss, a cross drawn on his forehead, the gentle press of fingers upon his heart brought back to their own as a holy caress and blessing. The voice of his Grandmother and two friends filled the sanctuary with comfort and joy, joining the choir of Angels celebrating Baby's precious life and return home.
Baby Joseph Peace Dussault was carried with love and hope to his final resting spot, where the earth is too beautiful to fathom, Elk pass nearby with their own babies, birds sing songs to heaven, deer browse in wild freedom, sagebrush and wildflowers grow in profusion, and grand mountains will ever protect his earthly rest ... all reflecting the wonder and awe of God's creation.
Praise and Thanks be to God Almighty: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ... One God, forever and ever.
Thank you Barbara for capturing the day in words and Croix for capturing the day in pictures.
Dear Friends and Family,
Yesterday, I went to my scheduled ultrasound and heart echo for baby Peace at Children’s hospital in Aurora. As it was, Sharbel and his bother Croix had a WeatherPort job down here in Denver, so Sharbel joined me for my appointments while Croix performed the tent work. Both doctors we met with during the ultrasound and heart echo were fairly positive that baby Peace was active and stable, nothing had really improved or declined. The true measurement for baby’s weight which everything greatly hinged on wouldn’t take place until Thursday, so we left hopeful that baby was trending for the better and was doing okay. After a brief late lunch together, Sharbel and Croix heading for home while I stayed here in Denver to bedrest and go to my next appointments on Thursday. It was a tear filled departure as our cars went separate ways off the interstate.
Everything was okay until I got back to my temporary home and started feeling more and more serious contractions. I called Sharbel and asked him to pull over to give me a few minutes to time them. He was already 45 minutes out and heading into the mountains. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the contractions were increasing with regularity and severity. Sharbel and Croix turned around and actually beat me at the hospital!
Once I arrived and got situated on the maternal fetal medicine floor, things were progressing far too quickly to attempt stopping the labor. I was then moved to an actual delivery room instead of a bed in the triage room. For whatever reason labor came to a complete standstill and allowed us the time to be very present and prayerful together. We asked our priest to come in and pray with us. During this I was loosing a lot of blood and my blood pressure dropped significantly. All of a sudden things got pretty intense! I was started on pitocin to help the contractions return. Shortly after that, labor kicked in again and baby was born soon after presenting frank breech. I was given a two bag blood transfusions and stabilized quickly.
We named our littlest son Joseph Peace Dussault. He immediately received an emergency Byzantine baptism. Because of baby’s small size and prematurity, along with the very severe nature of his heart condition, there was not much the doctors could do. As hard as it was to feel like we couldn’t do anything, we were at peace with just holding baby and comforting him and commending him back to God. He passed away in absolute peace just over 2 hours after birth in the arms of his father with the psalms being prayed over him. It was only by God’s providence that the timing of all of this took place with Sharbel still within reach and not 5 hours away in Crested Butte.
God blessed us with the love of this pregnancy and we always trusted that his Will and Wisdom is far greater than ours. After five weeks of doctor appointments, travel and many tearful moments little Joseph ended up accomplishing a great deal in the womb and outside. He has brought even greater unity and love to so many people who are forever changed by his struggle and journey home to God.
We will lay baby Joseph Peace to rest in Crested Butte tomorrow after we celebrate his life with Mass starting at 11:00 am at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church in Crested Butte.
We can’t fathom the depth that each of you have carried us through this difficult and beautiful time.
Rebecca and Sharbel
Joseph Peace Dussault
I'm somewhere in between excited and anxious for another ultrasound tomorrow. I do hope it gives us more indication of where we're headed in this. Meanwhile, this little person is giving a regular circus performance each day, always connecting me back to that life force within. I feel so grateful for each moment I have as mother to Baby Peace. I would not be telling the truth if I made this journey seem easy for a second. It has tried me to my every fiber.
I do praise the Lord everyday for the ability to FaceTime my precious kids and spouse back home regularly. It seems the kid's fight these days for whose face gets to fill the screen as we talk, and as great and necessary as that technology is, it simply cannot replace the reassurance of hugging and kissing each other. #longesttwoweeksofmylife
I have been the recipient of so much support! The ways in which you have all contributed to making this time as tolerable as it can be is just smashingly great! From the GoFundMe campaign, which is helping to see us through this trial, to the last bowl of hot soup in the pot at home brought over by loving hands, I just want to say an enormous thank you! THANK YOU!
As ever, I ask you to remain vigilant in prayer with us, for healing for Baby Peace and family unity come what may.
In sincerity of heart,
After spending part of the morning at Eucharistic Adoration at Queen of Peace Catholic Church (yes baby Peace that was intentional) we stepped back into the hospital for what we believed would be one more fateful look at our circumstance. Even before the ultrasound began we were visited by our cardiologist in the waiting room, so dedicated to our cause that she came by the hospital in her street clothes on her day off. She explained that she and the surgeon talked over the weekend and have given us the possibility of trying a Valvuloplasty, same as what would have been done in utero in Boston but outside the womb. From there they would hope to relieve the Left Ventricle and see if we can minimize the backward flow of blood through baby's Mitral Valve, which actually has correct structure, but a sickened function.
From here they would consider a "hybrid surgery" where in they would band off the Pulmonary Arteries and create a new stint leaving baby's Ductus Arteriosus (open in womb during pregnancy) permanently open. This is similar, yet different from what would have been baby's originally Stage 1 of open heart surgery. This brings some measure of hope provided baby can grow to meet the new surgical threshold of 1500 grams (3lbs. 3oz.) Baby is currently around 1100 grams (2lbs. 10oz.).
After our talk with the cardiologist, we went in for another ultrasound to have a look at baby. To our suprise and even the doctors surprise, the flow through the Umbilical Artery had returned to being "absent" or "stop and go" as opposed to "reverse" and flowing wrongly back toward the heart. This was good news! It means that baby may still have a chance to grow inside the womb and gain the necessary weight for the heart surgery after birth.
I tell you...you just never know! Obviously, having all of you in prayer with us is doing something!
The next few days I will be bed resting in Denver until my next ultrasound on Thursday while Sharbel runs home for a few days to relieve our awesome relatives, namely his saintly mother who is taking the brunt of our tribe.
Hoping you are all willing to stay tuned in as this ride is not over yet!
Rebecca and Sharbel
Words can't express our gratitude for your outpouring of prayers, acts of kindness and generosity during this difficult time. We are back in Denver at Children's hospital in Aurora.
After a very nerve racking Thurs. night in Boston with little sleep for fear of pre-term labor following the many contractions that momma was having, we jumped on a 5hr flight back to Denver. We had some other indicators saying it was most likely okay to rush back...This was a risk, but one worth taking. It was a sigh of relief to land and get to the hospital near our home soil.
After another battery of imagining, the findings at Boston were confirmed here in Colorado. Mainly, that the placenta has begun to give up and there is now reverse flow from it to the baby. Baby Peace is struggling to gain weight as more and more complications arrise. It's a delicate situation with baby too small to survive outside the womb given its heart condition, and yet, not being nourished enough inside the womb to grow anymore. In addition to what we are looking at, the heart surgeons are telling us that baby is too small to be operable as they have never performed these complicated surgeries on a baby the size of Baby Peace.
We will remain here at Children’s hospital until all options are considered and questions answered. It is becoming more clear that baby Peace needs to be born sooner than later. At that point, we will see if and what doctors can do to help baby. More and more it feels that we are running out of options and that is difficult to accept.
Our firm hope and trust is in the Lord and we continue to pray for a miracle and for God's will to be done.
Thank you for being apart of our lives. We are overcome with astonishment as we experience such love and care for baby Peace who hasn’t even been born yet. It’s amazing to see how many people baby Peace’s life has already touched across the world.
Rebecca and Sharbel
Without further ado:
This has been quite the day! We can confidently say that we didn’t gain the traction we had hoped to through testing en route to tomorrow’s heart surgery on baby Peace. Even though the day started with a positive fetal eco at Boston Children's showing no further deterioration of Baby Peace’s heart condition, the next study and doctor meet up proved another thing altogether.
Next we went to at Brigham Women’s hospital for a complete sonogram/ultrasound work up of the baby. What was observed was not good news. The first alarm was that that the estimated weight of baby Peace was 2 lbs. 10 oz. which is in the 0 percentile for being 31 weeks pregnant. Second, was that my cervix had shortened which is an indicator that the minor contractions I have been feeling are getting me ready for labor. The last and most concerning finding was that the umbilical cord is showing an absence of blood flow from the placenta to baby. With all of this news piling up, we all of sudden found ourselves in the labor and delivery room with a whole new set of doctors wondering if I was about to give birth or if they should do a c-section and get baby out right away.
So, with a full team gathered around me of pediatrics cardiologist, neo-natalogists, nurses and the like, we were presented with the reality that if baby were born imminently that the prognosis for survival is extremely slim, given his or her size and sickness of heart. Even if the doctors were to do everything possible for baby Peace at this time the situation is looking grim. That said, sometimes they get surprised by a little one which stays in the womb way longer than thought and actually comes out with a fighting chance. We really don't know where we are on that spectrum yet.. A highly educated guess though has me going into labor sooner than later.
It is hard to understand how quickly and drastically this keeps changing. We start thinking in one direction and charting a course and then hit another intersection of discernment and decisions. I spent the day hooked up to monitors with the prospect of "being in early labor and having a possible C-section" to now being cleared to fly home on a flight first thing in the morning providing there are no obvious changes overnight. Our intent throughout the day has been to have a safe mommy and baby, but ideally in Children’s in Aurora, CO.
Please stay vigilant in prayer with us and know that we cannot do this without you. God be glorified in all we do and say and think and feel. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us! Mighty angels protect us!
Thank you dear ones,
Rebecca and Sharbel
Bless the Lord my soul! You have ALL lightened the burden of this heavy time. Thank you and again, THANK YOU!
I wanted to give you a little update because things are always changing, being revealed and discerned. Yesterday, I went to Grand Junction for weekly monitoring with my Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor, who is also just a few weeks less pregnant than I. She is very compassionate and has sat on our side of the seats in a MFM office when her first was born with a Spina Bifida. She is a wonderful advocate and caregiver. She oversaw the appointment, which I am going to proclaim carried good news. Though nothing has changed with the baby's heart condition, baby performed 8/8 things well during its bio physical profile. Baby shows wonderful breathing and all other system to be healthy. There has been a decrease in the Poly Hydramnios or over abundance of amniotic fluid. This is great and I hope it continues to trend in the correct direction, thus limiting intervention or unnecessary early contractions.
Last week we elected for a maternal blood draw and paternal cheek swab to see if we would also be facing a genetic disorder or micro deletion disease. We got the clean bill of health from that, so God willing, there's no additional special care to anticipate. Of course, that very complete sheet of blood work also revealed the gender, so I declined to take the handoff. We are assured of one incredible surprise when we meet this Baby Peace to learn if we have a son or daughter!
I just want to praise Our Lord who keeps all my sufferings in check as I muddle through this experience! On Good Friday, I cannot but feel that my sufferings are only but a drop in the bucket. Today, I invite you to immerse yourself in contemplation of the greatest gift ever, the life of the Son of God, given for us. I will rest in Him...
Once again we wake to see the GoFundMe account more than double since yesterday morning! We can't believe it! Our extreme gratitude goes out to all of you for your generous donations, prayers and words of encouragement.
All of this comes into play. These funds are going to be put to use right away. Yesterday, we got a call from the leading pediatric heart surgeon at Children's hospital in Boston. He shared a little bit of good news. After reviewing the images from last weeks ultrasound, he believes Rebecca and baby Peace are very good candidates for a special intra uterine surgery. He wants Rebecca out there as soon as possible because time is against us. They will be going into the baby's heart and trying to open up the Aortic valve via catheter balloon. If it is successful, it will hopefully restore some function to the left side of the heart. This will not cure everything though and baby Peace will still have to undergo multiple surgeries after birth to complete the whole process. Because of your generosity we are able to book last minute flights to Boston for Rebecca and I without stressing out about the finances.
Wow, can you believe what they can do these days? To think that very skilled doctors can go into the heart of a baby inside the womb, find the problem and hopefully fix it is almost unbelievable! They have only performed inly 200 of these surgeries in the past 15 years, but they've had a 90% success rate and there is little harm to the mother.
Stay tuned as we will continue to update you as all this unfolds.
Even though our situation seems dire, we can't imagine the pain and suffering of so many people around the world, so many babies born who have no hope of medical help. Together with all of you let's join in, as best we can, and lift them up in prayer and also show our support for those living in the worst conditions in the world.
Sharbel and Rebecca
P.S. This is an article from
NPR that sheds some light on the procedure that they will try to perform on baby Peace in Boston. The very doctor that is featured in this article is the one who called us yesterday.