Haley Parke gave birth to her second son on Dec. 2 — giving him a quick kiss before he was taken away to meet his father who was two floors above the delivery room.
The newborn, John Beeson Parke — and affectionately nicknamed “Jb” — was taken to meet his dad, John Brinton Parke.
John Brinton was at the end of a one-year battle with a rare type of kidney cancer when a nurse placed his newborn son on his chest.
“Our labor and delivery nurse was the one who brought [baby Jb] up, and she told us later that all of his vitals improved,” Haley Parke, 28, told “Good Morning America.” “And from the time baby Jb was placed on my husband’s chest, we had about 35 to 40 minutes together.”
John Brinton, 33, died on Dec. 2, leaving behind an 18-month-old son, Brinton, as well as his wife and newborn son.
“He was a fighter,” Haley Parke said of her husband of three years. “He was he wasn’t really ever willing to give up. He wanted to keep fighting for his family.”
John Brinton was diagnosed with cancer in January 2021, when his oldest son was just 6-months-old.
“Since the diagnosis was terminal, we decided to make the choice to get pregnant 10 months postpartum from our first son,” said Haley Parke. “We wanted to make sure that our son had a sibling and that my husband would have, we were hoping, more time with our second son.”
Haley became pregnant in April using a frozen embryo the couple had stored after undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant.
“Haley was intending to have a home birth with a team of midwives and going from that plan to deciding to get medically induced to having a c-section in a matter of hours, it shows how amazing she is,” a registered nurse at the hospital shared. “At the drop of a hat, she was like we’re doing this and my son is going to meet his dad.”
And while he was born three weeks premature, baby Jb was born healthy and strong, weighing in at 7 pounds and 4 ounces.
“With the induction process, one of the doctors had to make clear that there could be some NICU time involved and that if the baby needed support of any kind, you’d have to go straight to the NICU and wouldn’t be able to be with my husband,” he said. “So it was kind of a pretty big risk and I had to put a lot of faith in God that he was going to pull us through and make sure my baby was healthy and able to get to his daddy in time.”
Two weeks later, Haley says life feels like a “blur.”
“It doesn’t really feel real yet,” she said, describing “complex emotions” that happen “sometimes within the same minute.”
“The grief comes and goes, but it’s also accompanied with the greatest joy of my new son and my oldest obviously too.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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