Sweet Baby Jesse

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 33:26-27Open Link in New Window)

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 15:4Open Link in New Window)

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.

Song: Home

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 8:38-39Open Link in New Window)

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.
Habakkuk 3:18-19Open Link in New Window

Update #1:

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.

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  1. Thank you for sharing. I love seeing the beautiful pictures of Jesse! Praying and weeping and joyfully celebrating her life with you! Love you, Carole

  2. God is Faithful to sustain us, in times of trouble. It is beautiful to know that Jesse is in the arms of Jesus and we shall she her one day. Our prayers as a family are with you. God is great and greatly to be praised. Uncle Harold and Aunt Ernestine

  3. God is able to sustain us in times of sorrow. He never gives us more than we can bear. Jesse is entered into the arms of Jesus. Our prayers from our family are with you. God is great and greatly to be praised. We love you very much and will continue to uplift you in prayer. Uncle Harold and Aunt Ernestine

  4. Oh Truman and Elisabeth, God is faithful as we are grieving together for beautiful Jesse. Love you all.

  5. I am so so sorry to hear that your precious baby girl Jesse didn't make it through. My heart aches with yours. Yes, she is with our wonderful Lord, but it still hurts here on earth without her. You have carried her for 10 months and now there is an emptiness.
    Thank you, Jesus, that You are our Comforter. Please soften the hurt that Jesse's family is going through right now. You are so good and so faithful.
    Mary Tom

  6. Truman and Elisabeth, our hearts grieve with yours for the brevity of Jesse's precious life. We will continue to pray that our Healer, Comforter, and Sustainer will wrap His arms around you tightly, especially during the most difficult hours. Love you both, Julie (and family)

  7. Truman and Elisabeth: We are so sad to hear the sad news that your little baby girl, Jesse was passed away. Please take very good care of you and your family. May god bless you and your family.

  8. Truman, Elisabeth, Noah, & Eva, thank you for sharing your story with us. We're able to live your lives with you, as we follow your words, and feel so many emotions from struggling, to happiness, to acceptance. Jesse's story is powerful, and we are moved by the way you view her time in this world. The way you experience your life is a true reflection of who you are. Your family in Hawaii thinks of you often, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

  9. Truman and Elisabeth, My heart and love goes out to you both for your loss, such a beautiful baby, but God has her now and I know you will see her again, in that and the time you've had with her, you can rejoice! Love and Blessings, Alwyn

  10. We don't know what this feels like but we grieve with you even though we have the hope and faith that we'll see Jesse again! Death is such a final separation but Paul wrote, . . . to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. She's with our Lord, just waiting for us to join her some day so we have to be faithful to the very end. Sending our love and aloha.

  11. We love you and are heart-broken and grieving with you. We are blessed to know your beautiful babe through your love.
    I-man, Wes, Chloe, Bella

  12. We love you all so much and our hearts are aching for you. This was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful girl. We are holding you close in our hearts and prayers. Love you very much. Jonathan and Riann (and girls)

  13. Dearest Truman & Elizabeth,

    Thank you for sharing precious baby Jesse's story…what a beautiful tribute of songs and pictures. We all grieve with you and are praying for you and your family. Take comfort that Jesse is dancing with her BrideGroom.

    Feel His love as He shepherds you all through this time….Feel His Overwhelming Love….


  14. Hi Truman and Elisabeth, Your family is such a testimony to God's grace and loving kindness. I have just read the story about Jesse and feel the love that your family has given to her. Monica and Tony kept us up-to-date on her illness and so many people in Hawaii were praying for her. We continue to keep your family in prayer and know our Heavenly Father is good. God bless! Luv, Mike and Julie Ohara

  15. Thank you for sharing your story of beautiful Jesse and how she touched your life – and the lives of others – in such a brief time that she was on Earth. Though my heart is hurting so much because of the pain your family is going through, I also rejoice at how God is able to use you to show others the amount of faith and strength you have. Praying for God's continued presence and healing in your lives.

  16. Well, praise God for answered prayer–unfortunately not the way we wanted, but the way He deemed best. Our hearts go out to you Truman, Elisabeth and family. God bless you all in these difficult times. We love you and hope the best for all. Yes, Jesse is taken care of, sweet, innocent Jesse. Can she really have even sinned? I think not. Nonetheless, praise God for answered prayer that the two of you have not weakened in your faith, but rather have become even stronger, clinging to God, finding His strength in your weakness (as we all are very, very, weak and insignificant, unable to even save a helpless child). Sorry for rambling. God bless all!

  17. Elisabeth,

    I have been in touch with Riann a lot since I first heard that Jesse was sick. I am so, so sorry that you and your beautiful family have had to experience such a loss! This is such a beautiful tribute to an amazing little girl. You all are in my thoughts and prayers.


  18. Thank you for sharing Jesse's story with us. It is the story of love and faithfulness though it is heart broken. We pray God will give you new strength everyday and give you his peace in the middle of storm. "Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose heart are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs, the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. " psalm 84
    We love you guys!! Mike, Viv, Anna, Ilisha and Elana

  19. Truman, Elisabeth, Noah & Eva…my heart breaks for you and yet I am encouraged and inspired by the wonderful testimony to our Lord that you have allowed this to be. I am Riann Fowler's aunt in Virginia and have prayed for you all–first, Baby Jesse, and now your family. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful testimonial.

  20. Dear Elisabeth and Truman–
    What a moving, loving tribute to your daughter. Thank you for sharing it with us. My mom called me about Jesse and about her being ill, and I was so sad to hear that she passed. I'm so sorry for your loss. May the Comforter hold you up and hold you close.


  21. My momma-heart rejoiced with you when I heard the news of your new little one, and it grieves with you now at her home-going. You have been often on my mind and heart since Lucy shared prayer requests. God is faithful. As mysterious as his ways are, I know her life and death are not in vain. I pray the Holy Spirit comforts you, and brings you times of joy and laughter in the midst of sorrow.
    Much love, Julie

  22. What a sweet, sweet little one we will see one day when we are all together with Him. Thank you for sharing with us the tender moments you had together. She is beautiful. Elisabeth I am thinking of you every day and praying for your strength to just 'do the next thing'. I know you heart is breaking but I also know He loves you and your precious family more than we can even imagine. And He is with you.

  23. We have also been praying for you all every day. God is faithful! That is a truth we can cling to, and also knowing He is clinging to us. My parents also lost a little baby boy on Dec. 2, 1948, when he was only three days old, and his funeral was on Dec. 4. Every year since then we have remember his short life. He was two years younger than I. My mother mentioned this to me as I was telling her about little Jesse. I am praying for much fruit. As a seed falls into the ground and dies, it brings forth much fruit. We love you and are so sad with you, but may you be comforted by our Savior.

  24. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 116:15Open Link in New Window) NLT

    Truman & Elisabeth, Our hearts leapt with joy (we didn't know about the birth of Jesse) at the beginning of your email. Then our hearts filled with grief at the end of that same email.

    I'm sure God is weeping with us as He holds Jesse in His loving arms. May your faith console you. May your family and friends give you strength. May your fond memories of Jesse comfort you during this time of loss. Hugs, Victor & Alli

  25. Thank you Tru and Elizabeth for sharing your deep love for your baby Jesse and to God our Father, with us. I cried along with everyone else that read your posts. You are such inspirations to all of us as parents, going through such a painful lost, but at the same time, as faithful children of God. Even through your painful lost, you are doing God's work by touching and inspiring all of us. May He continue to bless your family.

  26. Dearest Truman and Elisabeth, I am truly blessed by your faith and trust in such a time as this. Jesse is truly beautiful and such a wonderful gift. Thank you for sharing your moments with her and entrusting her now into God's hands. I have and will continue to keep you in my prayers. I grieve with you and pray that all things will work together for your good just as he has promised. My love to you all.

  27. Elisabeth and Truman,

    Our prayers have been, and will continue to be, with you both, while Jesse twirls and spins with Jesus! Thank you for opening the window of hurt and allowing us to view your deepest thoughts.

    Continuing to pray,

    Mike & Gloria Ward

  28. Elisabeth and Truman, and sweet little Noah and Eva — Our hearts and love go out to you during this time of great sadness. Jesse is a beautiful child, very much a combination of both her lovely parents. Surely she is with Jesus now, being held in his arms with His infinite care and tenderness. She is an angel. How deep your suffering must have been through her illness, we cannot even imagine. Thank you for sharing this account of Jessie's brief but hugely significant and meaningful life with us. Your faith in the Lord even in the face of this terrible trial is an inspiration not only to us, but too all who read about it here. Elisabeth, you have always been known in our family to be a wonderful person — we have no doubt in our minds that Jesse felt great comfort in the love of her wonderful mother and father. You are very much in our hearts and thoughts and we are praying for you during this difficult time. How appropriate that Jesse's name means gift or Jehovah exists. You chose her name well, as she was a rare and precious gift from god. We would also like to send our love and condolences at this time to Jesse's grandmother, our Aunt Ruthie, and Jesse's grandfather, our Uncle Ben. Please know that we love you all very much and our prayers are with you in this time of sorry. With love, hugs and kisses to sweet Jesse in heaven — and to all of you — Love, your cousins Jacqueline and Grace in New York.

  29. Dear Truman and Lizzie,
    Uncle D and I are sitting here crying for you as we've watched this beautiful tribute to little Jesse Anna. What a privilege to have been there!!!! We love you kids and know the days ahead will be difficult. Our love and prayers will remain constant as you walk out His grace every day of your lives. Love to Noah and Eva…….so honored to have been in your home and seen His marvelous provision of grace on your lives!!! Love, Uncle D and Aunt Sucie

  30. Truman and Elisabeth, I dont know really what to say , But our prayers are with yah. When I heard that Jesse pass away i cried. I know she is up there with her great grandpa (Fowler). Yah are strong parents and the lord will be with you and your family . I love and miss you . Your family has been in my prayers from day one and will contiune .

  31. I am so sorry to hear about your lovely litte girl. Please take good care of yourselves! God Bless your family!

  32. Truman, thanks for pointing me to your blog. I'm looking forward to getting to know and your wife over the next few months.

  33. My Heart & Prayers are with you! Grieving in your lost with you…Charmaine in Hawaii

  34. Without baby, our family is not completed. Your Jess is too cute and very jolly. I need her more pictures. God bless her. Thank you for sharing this happiest post with us.

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