FAIRFIELD, Ohio — It’s been nearly two years since Chris and Danielle Jones held their infant son in their arms as he took in his final breaths.
“On that day, we had been prepared for God to work one of the greatest miracles known to man and let our little boy live, or for him to go peacefully and go live with Jesus,” Danielle Jones said.
Before their son, Chris Louis Jones, Jr., was born July 21, 2015, the Fairfield couple had received the news that every expecting parent fears: Their unborn child had multiple congenital abnormalities – likely due to a genetic defect. His chances of life after birth were near zero.
“Doctors have been wrong on so many occasions, I thought this was just one of them,” Chris Jones said.
But 10 days after Junior was born, doctors confirmed he would never breathe on his own.
“We didn’t want our child to suffer,” Danielle Jones said. “From our standpoint, it was either stay down here and be connected to a ventilator or go live with Jesus.”
A 7 p.m. that evening, the couple made the decision to turn off the ventilator that was keeping their son alive.
“He lived in my arms until 7:23,” Danielle Jones said. “It hurt me to my core. It was devastating. It was sad, but I was at peace with my baby in my arms.”
In the days and weeks following their loss, the couple began crafting a plan to ensure their son’s legacy lived on.
“Right after our son passed away, we knew we wanted his life to mean something,” Danielle Jones said. “We knew that we hadn’t gone through all of this for naught.”
In December 2016, the couple launched the Angel Baby Network – a program that works with birthing hospitals across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to offer peer-to-peer connections for families enduring high-risk pregnancies and infant loss.
Every other month, the Joneses organize an afternoon of food, sharing and education for a group that’s grown to more than 40 families. Over the last 18 months, the group has hosted grieving counselors, physicians, social workers and even a relaxation therapist to help families discover ways to cope with their loss and help each other.
“It’s all to help these families along in the process of grieving, as they walk through this tragedy,” Danielle Jones said. “For me, it’s connecting a community of families who are going through what is these most devastating thing in their lives and bringing them together and giving them hope and a reason to remember that their child’s life means so much.”
Their desire to help doesn’t stop there.
The couple has also co-authored a book: “As Sure As Tomorrow: One Couple’s Journey Through Loss and Love.” It documents the journey of losing Junior and other major challenges the couple has battled, including Chris Jones’ diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
On Tuesday, the Joneses will sign copies of the book — published by KiCam Projects and Bookmasters — at 7 p.m. at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Norwood.
“My hope is that those who read the book can see that you can through all this mess and still come out as one happy, cheerful couple,” Chris Jones said.