Jennifer Mikenas
  • Jennifer Mikenas
  • Florida Ambassador

Hello, my name is Jennifer Mikenas and I live in Indialantic, Florida with my husband, Vitas, and our best furry friend, Otis. On Jan. 5, 2021 I delivered our beautiful son, Jonah Anthony Mikenas, stillborn at 30 weeks gestation: 2 pounds 10 ounces of pure perfection. He was the spitting image of his Daddy with golden blonde hair and long limbs. 

After seven hopeful years of medical procedures, fertility treatments and a previous miscarriage, we were thrilled to learn that our most recent embryo transfer was successful. While the rest of the world was coping with the worry of a pandemic, we were living in our quarantine bubble of joy! Our precious baby boy was the answer to all we have longed for. 

I had a very high-risk pregnancy with frequent monitoring, which eventually eased us of the anxiety that accompanies pregnancy after loss. During the day I educated teenagers as a high school math teacher. At night I spent hours researching how best to prepare for a baby with Down Syndrome who would need surgery immediately after birth for an intestinal blockage. Educating myself was how I overcame the constant fear of being unprepared after his arrival. 

I should have spent those hours researching how to prevent stillbirth. 

Jonah’s death was documented as “unexplained,” but we have since learned there were clots in his umbilical cord and evidence of cord compression, both of which can sometimes be indicated by changes in fetal movement. After 29 weeks of feeling very little due to polyhydramnios, his movement gradually increased for a week and 48 hours prior to delivery, there was what I would now describe as frantic kicking. We were thrilled to finally feel him saying hello … we had no idea something was wrong until it was too late and there was no movement at all. 

There I was again, sitting in a silent room staring at an ultrasound screen that looked more like a photograph: our baby boy curled up, not moving, with no visible heartbeat. Not one of the five medical providers who cared for me made any attempt to educate us on tracking fetal patterns. What I had read about kick counting in books and websites was incomplete and inaccurate. I did not know that an increase in movement can also be a sign of fetal distress. My son’s death may have been preventable.

I hope to bring my 20 years of experience as an educator to a different audience as a Florida Ambassador for Count the Kicks. Every expectant parent deserves to know how to properly track fetal movement in order to monitor their baby’s health in between appointments. In honor of our son, I will do everything possible to prevent other families from experiencing the heartache that we feel each and every day since losing our sweet Jonah. 

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