The woman induced her labor two weeks before her due date so her husband could meet their son.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 24, 2021. It has since been updated.
John Brinton Parke, 33, was a former all-star baseball player who worked for an aviation company. He met his wife Haley Parke, 28, through work in 2016, and the two got married soon after. In 2020, the couple welcomed their first child, Brinton, and all was well in their small bubble, but in January 2021, Parke, who was also known as JB, was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer.
The same month, JB underwent surgery to remove his left kidney, which was the size of a softball, according to Haley Parke, says Good Morning America.
Four months after the surgery, while JB was still going through chemotherapy and radiation, the couple decided to have their second child. "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 2021 using IVF. But JB's tumor wasn't shrinking, despite the aggressive treatment. "Pretty much every scan showed continued growth and continued spread throughout his entire body, so nothing was really touching the cancer," she said, adding that she and Jb tried to stay positive and hopeful that doctors could extend his life further than expected. "We just tried to stay positive and keep our heads up and keep looking forward."
But, on December 1, the Parkes were told that instead of the 6 months that JB was given to live, he only had days. At the time, Haley Parke was 37 weeks pregnant, and her first question to the doctor was if she could have her child earlier than her due date.
"I looked at the doctors and said, 'Is it crazy to ask for an induction?' and I looked at my husband and I said, 'Is that something we should do?' and he looked at me and he nodded," recalled Haley Parke. "And one of the doctors responded, 'I was thinking the exact same thing.'"
The next day, on December 2, Haley was all prepared to give birth to her son. But, just before she left her husband's bedside to be induced, Haley Parke told him she wanted to give their son the same name as his dad. "I whispered to him, 'OK, I'm gonna go get induced and go have our baby and I'm going to name him John Beeson, Jb,'" said Haley Parke. "And he kind of gave me a little moan and nodded his head, as like reassurance that he kind of like agreed and was in favor of that name choice."
Despite being born three weeks premature, baby Jb was born healthy and strong, weighing 7 pounds, 4 ounces, according to Haley Parke, who said she put her faith in God that her son would be born safely and able to meet his dad.
Haley skipped the usual postpartum process and was taken to her husband's ICU room so they could spend some time together as a family. "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 said. "And from the time baby Jb was placed on my husband's chest, we had about 35 to 40 minutes together."
Shortly after, JB died, leaving behind his family of three, including his newborn son. "He was a fighter," Haley said. "He was he wasn't really ever willing to give up. He wanted to keep fighting for his family."
Though it's been a couple of weeks since her husband's demise, Haley is still trying to get things together. "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." Haley Park said her newborn, baby Jb, is easygoing and calm, "just like his dad," whom she hopes is remembered as "the most selfless person."
"My favorite part about him was he deeply respected our relationship and he loved me and our kids on a whole other level that most people don't experience in a lifetime," she said. "He was so pure with all of his intentions and was just a very respectful and an honorable husband."
A GoFundMe has been set up to raise funds for Haley and her sons.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe | JB Parke Family Fund