Like all our children, our third child has been such a treasure in our life, a gift. In fact, her first name, Jesse, means gift or Jehovah exists. Her middle name, Anna, means gracious or one who gives. The Chinese part of her name, 美兰 (or 美蘭 in traditional characters), is pronounced Měi Lán and means beautiful orchid.
As we remember our precious daughter, we invite you to join us as we cherish her with a grateful heart to the Lord for giving us such a beautiful blessing. There will be song widgets throughout that you can play and listen or watch/listen to song videos.
Song: Heaven Song
Jesse Anna Meilan Leung
Born on November 5, 2012
Welcomed into heaven on November 26, 2012
We love her so much.
There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:26-27)
How do I begin to tell the most difficult story of our lives? I don’t know where to start. Most of you have probably received our newsletters from the past and knew that we were expecting our third baby so I’ll just briefly recap some of the news from this Spring and Summer.
We found out we were pregnant sometime in February and were overjoyed to be welcoming another member to our family of four. The pregnancy began with difficulty due to my (Elisabeth’s) morning sickness. For almost 3 months, I struggled through constant nausea and frequent vomiting. We made several trips to the hospital for IV hydration and endured the not-so-comfortable medical care typical in China. I was SO relieved when the nausea started to dissipate and I could finally get out of bed and be a mom and a wife again. Truman, who had carried the load of caring for me and the kids for all those months, was also very happy!
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (John 15:4)
The second and third trimesters of the pregnancy were uneventful. We had decided to stay in China to give birth and had found a nice private hospital with an English speaking doctor. We knew other foreigners who had given birth there and had good experiences. I had given birth to my first two babies on their due dates and predicted that it would be the same this time. My mother arrived a week before and helped us get ready for the big day! Despite Elisabeth having lost weight during the first part of the pregnancy, our baby girl grew to normal weight and stayed inside her Mama’s tummy all the way until her due date.
Here is Bebe at her last weigh-in at the doctor’s office before Jesse’s birth. In all the tests and ultrasounds we were assured that we had a wonderfully healthy baby.
Song: In Christ Alone
Elisabeth started having back pains at Monday morning on November 5th at 4am. Contractions began at around 6:30am. Then she finally called the doctor to send an ambulance (included in the package we bought). Tony and Monica came over quickly around 8am to watch our kids. Then shortly afterwards, Kristin came over (she planned to come with us to the hospital). By then Elisabeth was having frequent contractions. Crazy me threw together some chili in a crock pot because I had soaked beans the night before and I didn’t want whoever was in the house watching the kids not to have food in the house. I also mopped the floor because Eva made a mess on the floor with her breakfast. Elisabeth was concentrating on her breathing while sitting on a birthing ball with Kristin and Monica around her giving great support. Then the doctor knocked on our door. Such service! Who ever heard of your OB/GYN picking you up at your apartment!? We were in the ambulance by 8:30 in rush hour traffic. Thankfully the ride only took about 30 minutes but poor Elisabeth felt every bump; it was so painful for her. Kristin thought that the ambulance driver must have been a former taxi driver, judging from the way he drove! In the ambulance, I guessed that she would give birth by 11am. The doctor thought that perhaps by noon. After arriving at the hospital and getting into the delivery room, it wasn’t too long before Elisabeth wanted to push. The midwife checked her and found she was already fully dilated! Our baby girl was born a half hour later at 9:28am on Monday, November 5th the due date Elisabeth calculated herself based on her last period. Wow, all three children were born on their due date. On time arrival, every time. Should be an airline slogan.
Jesse was born 6 pounds 15 ounces and 19 inches long. Elisabeth is doing wonderfully. She only required 1 stitch as opposed to 6-7 with Eva. One thing we didn’t know before is that with every successive child a mom’s uterus contracts more painfully after childbirth. So after-birth pains were more painful for her this time. But she’s amazing and did this birth completely naturally. Even if she wanted an epidural there was no time!
Song: Blessed Be Your Name
The hospital gave us the deluxe suite in exchange for only staying 2 nights instead of 3. It came with a large queen-sized bed, big enough to fit me. Plus there was a sitting room. Super fancy. It’s a way better setup than we ever had before in Hawaii when Noah and Eva were born. As the dad, I even got meals served to me along with Elisabeth. One weird thing here is that they do electro-shock therapy on the mom’s breasts and abdomen. It’s apparently based on Chinese medicine and designed to stimulate milk-production and perhaps womb recovery. Twice the nurses gave Jesse a fancy bath and infant massage. They even did this interesting “swimming” exercise where they put a mini life-preserver around her neck and let her float in a bucket of water. The nurse explained that giving her exercise like that will help her to sleep better!
Noah and Eva would often say, “Baby so cute!”
The nurses didn’t quite approve of me propping Jesse up on the chair but she didn’t seem to mind one bit. On the second day in the hospital after she was born, they gave Jesse her second bath. After toweling her off, the nurse put Jesse on all fours. Everyone in the room gave out a collective gasp when Jesse someone tried to crawl and ended up flipping herself on her back. What a strong kid for being only two days old!
Noah and Eva loved Jesse.
We are so glad that her grandmother was able to be there at her birth and hold her and take care of Jesse for the first two weeks of her life.
Jesse enjoyed getting warm baths in the sink using the inflatable pool that Elisabeth’s tutor Vivian had given her.
Our sweet little family was so happy. We were just getting used to having a family of 5.
Elisabeth’s mother returned home to Japan 2 weeks after Jesse was born and it was just just us again. Friends came to visit and we celebrated Thanksgiving at our friends’ house. Jesse slept most of the day because someone was always holding her. She loved to be held.
Song: When You Shepherd Me
That weekend, on Saturday, November 24th, the day began as usual. I breastfed Jesse and then went out that morning to run an errand with my Noah. Later that afternoon, I noticed that Jesse had spit up on her shirt. She felt sweaty and I thought she might have a fever. I breastfed her again and checked her temperature but it was below normal. She looked a little pale and felt cool to touch. I decided to bathe her and then wrapped her up in blankets and laid her down for another nap. My friend came by with baked goods and Truman and I had a nice visit with her. Talked about how people in the past really sacrificed their lives. They left their home countries, packing their belongings in a coffin, knowing that they would probably die within 3 years. My friend went home and we sat down to eat dinner. At around 7 pm, I got Jesse out of her crib and noticed that she had spit up again and looked even paler. I started to get worried and called my OB at the hospital where I gave birth. He told me to check her respirations which were 80 per minute and shallow. He told me to warm her up by getting under the bed covers and lying skin to skin. In the meantime, I called several other doctors and was waiting to hear back from them. It was the kids’ bedtime but instead of putting them to bed separately we all snuggled up under the covers in our big bed. Noah and Eva fell asleep next to me and Truman while I held Jesse. She was still cold and her breathing never got better. We heard back from some of the doctors who told us to go the ER right away. Another friend came over to stay with the kids and we rushed out the door with Jesse. It took awhile to catch a cab and we finally go to Huaxi Hospital. Praise God, we only lived a mile away from the most prestigious hospital in West China.
This was the view of the entrance to the NICU from the small elevator lobby where parents could wait. Parents were only allowed in once a week for 2 hours. Thankfully they let us in a total of five times to see Jesse over the two days because she was their most critical case. We spent many hours standing, praying, singing and crying in that elevator lobby.
Jesse was too sick to take Elisabeth’s milk so after pumping she would fertilize this potted plant by the window. Here’s a prayer request we sent out on Sunday morning:
Please pray for our daughter Jesse. Late yesterday afternoon Elisabeth found that Jesse was cold and breathing fast (over 80 breaths per minute) and very pale. We took her to the hospital where she was admitted to the NICU late last night in grave condition. They did a CT scan, chest x-ray, ultrasound and blood tests. They have diagnosed her with pneumonia, acidosis (very high 6.89 pH in her blood, anemia, high blood glucose, enlarged heart, brain hemorrhage and respiratory distress. She might have some kind of metabolic disease and perhaps some kind of genetic disorder. She’s in an incubator to try to get her body temperature up but it is still way below normal. They have intubated Jesse (put a tube down to her lungs) and is now breathing with ventilator, but still too rapidly. Her heart rate is still high and is being overworked. She’s been started with a blood transfusion. After that’s done they’ll do another blood test. Please pray for Jesse’s full recovery.
It was so hard to see Jesse with so many tubes in her. But the doctors and nurses did a valiant job trying to keep Jesse alive, bringing her back 3 or 4 times after her heart stopped.
Song: I Belong by Kathryn Scott
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
We are so grateful for many people around the world who prayed for Jesse and for us, many of whom we don’t even know. If you are one of them, thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts.
We are devastated and yet we are amazed at seeing the most beautiful examples of love as many friends around us did everything they could think of to come around us to love us, come along side to advocate for us, watch Noah and Eva tirelessly and heroically, make us food, help us with medical issues, visit our parents who were in another country, organize and mobilize help and prayer for us, stay with us all day and all night so we were never alone, open their homes to host our visiting family members, help us plan our memorial service, and so many more things I can’t recount or even know about because so much love, communication, prayers and effort went on behind the scenes on our behalf that I don’t know about. We are forever grateful to you our family, either by blood or by love. How beautiful is the body of Christ! How beautiful to be loved by His hands and feet here on earth.
For those in China, you can listen to Twila Paris’ “How Beautiful” via this link.
What a beautiful view of the blue sky day we had from the NICU 5th floor of the hospital on the day Jesse passed into eternity. The typical Chengdu cloud cover parted for the day and the heavens openedup to receive our daughter.
Song: Show Me by Audrey Assad
Our Jesse passed away. She will be cremated today. Tonight is the memorial. It’s hard to say goodbye. Sometimes I don’t know how to go on. But one foot in front of another, I walk. Occasionally I lift up head and close my eyes. I look to my Savior. It’s okay to cry with Him. It’s okay to keep on singing. It’s okay to be quiet. Slowly for a while strength returns and a gentle peace creeps in like a loved one who slowly comes behind you and places their arms around you. I know the Lord, my Savior, is with me and has never once left me alone.
When you lose a loved one, small talk seems so meaningless. At the moment, I’m tired of social situations, eating out, smiling for the comfort of others. I want to hold my baby girl once again, crying or sleeping, breathing against me. I want to think of her in heaven dancing joyfully with her Maker. I want to see her grown to the age of seven with long hair all fanned out as she twirls around with Jesus laughing and picking wild flowers.
We were given a wonderful gift … Jesse Anna Meilan … for a short time. What a treasure she is to us. Because of her, I will never be the same. The Giver of that gift, our precious child, is our Father God. Blessed be the name of the Lord. He gives and takes away. He is good. He is faithful. I’m thankful that I have the comfort of knowing that our baby girl is safe in the arms of Jesus.
Song: Carry Me by Audrey Assad
Would you join arms with us in spirit, singing with us and together turn our eyes to the Savior?
For those in China, you can listen to Matt Redman’s “Never Once” via this link.
For those in China, you can listen to “Forever Reign” via this link.
If you have any photos that you wish to share with us … perhaps any memories of Jesse or other photos … you can upload them here.
Love, Truman and Elisabeth
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
Here is the slideshow video which Elisabeth’s brother Peter made for us.
The wake which we held at the funeral parlor was a blessing. There was a sweet fellowship with God as we prayed and worshiped. We laid single cut orchid stems on her casket in accordance with her Chinese name which means beautiful orchid.
After we finished the viewing, the cloudy sky started parting like a scroll revealing blue sky.
At the cremation chamber, we sang the Hawaiian farewell song “Aloha Oe” as well as a chorus of Hallelujah. Then the workers lowered a shade and we couldn’t see her body anymore. As we exited the building, we were surprised to see very clearly the strong afternoon sun low in the sky shining right at us with almost the entire sky blue. Truly it was as if heaven had opened up to receive our daughter, Jesse, now a Sky Baby, a child of heaven.