JEFFREY FOSTER SLATTERY
Original photos and graphics ©1995, '96, '97
Miriam A. Kilmer
(except as noted).
What Happened to the Baby?
Jeffrey Foster Slattery,
our baby son, had anencephaly, a fatal condition in which the brain fails to develop.
He was delivered by cesarean Monday, October 21st, 1996, at 25 weeks (an age at which
healthy babies have a good chance of survival). Because of previous surgery,
this pregnancy was risky for Jeffrey’s mom. The risk of carrying him to term
would have been well worth facing if our baby had had any chance of survival,
or even if he might have had a short but conscious life. But Jeffrey had
no concept of the passage of time. He had no mental functions except those
which control basic reflexes. Birth at any stage and by any method would
have resulted shortly in his death; indeed he might well have died before
birth. We dealt the very best way we could with a situation that allowed
for no comfortable solutions. As it was, we bore the risks of carrying
him to an age at which he would have been "viable," just so we
could kiss him good-bye.
Jeffrey was born at 8:22 AM, and died at 8:37 AM the same day. Those precious
15 minutes were worth all the pain and grief associated with his condition
(anencephaly) and his death. Despite his anomaly, he was a beautiful baby.
His skin was indescribably soft. He weighed just over one pound, and was
11½" long (just right for the doll's Christening outfit we
bought for him). My sister Noelie, his god-mother, baptized him shortly
after his death. Our nurses took photographs, hand-prints, and
A couple of hours later, Jeffrey's heart and tissue samples were donated
for medical research (they were not suitable for transplant). On October
26th, he was buried in the Garden of the Angels, in Fairfax Memorial Park.
In this time of deep sadness and wonder, the outpouring of support from
family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers, has amazed us. As always,
the support of the Sacred Harp Community has been particularly moving.
The memorial service for Jeffrey was held in a private home;
space was very limited. Several songs from the Sacred Harp were included in the service.
We would appreciate your remembering our son and asking prayers for us
at your own place of worship. Your desire to comfort us is in itself a comfort. We know there
is nothing you can say that will make this "okay." Sometimes acknowledging that fact
is the most helpful thing you can say.
We will always miss Jeffrey, but our love is greater than our grief.
Tim Slattery and Miriam Kilmer,
The photographs of Jeffrey were taken by his nurse Mandy
(for "first foto,"
which kindly granted permission to reproduce them).