Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gianna's Light

If you do anything today, go to http://giannaslight.org/ and support our babies. Even though they are stillborn, they were STILL born.

Audrey is my daughter in every sense of the word, in every way her big sister is. Even though I do not care for her in the ways I do Addison, I carried her in my stomach and under my heart for 5 beautiful months. I gave birth to her and I've loved her every minute of every day since the moment I knew I was pregnant with her. I may not get the joys of watching her grow but I do get the joy of knowing I have a guardian Angel protecting me for the rest of my life.

Please remember our babies!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Audrey's headstone



We got the artwork in the mail today for Audrey's stone.

We came home from Bob Evans and Adam saw it in the mail box. We waited a little bit before we opened it because I just needed a little bit of time to brace myself for it. It's not the actual stone, obviously, but just seeing what her stone will look like has put me in this place and I'm........ I can't describe what I am.

I am choosing to share this with all of you because you all have become like family to me and you all have been there for me during the best and worst times of my life.

As soon as I saw it, the tears started. The shock of this being my life now is hitting me hard today. VERY hard. I should be expecting her arrival within the next 6 weeks and now, I'm left empty. I'm left with papers to approve the artwork for her headstone.

THIS is not how it should've ended.

I've been looking at her footprints a lot lately too. I made the decision 2 months ago when we lost her not to share them with anyone but I think I am ready. I shared pictures of Addie and her birth and everything and I want to do the same for Audrey. She's my daughter too and those are all I have of her to hold onto.

They smudged her handprint and I was mad about that at first, but oh well. I can't change it now. They also printed the time she was born wrong. She wasn't born at 10pm. It was 10:40 pm.

I run my fingers over her tiny prints all the time. I just wish I would've held her at least once. I regret that every day and I hate myself so much for that.

I just hate myself and I just hate that this happened to HER. She didn't deserve this.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Audrey's Story

I am starting this in hopes that someone out there, someone going through the same pain and misery I am can find some comfort and peace and find someone who knows how they feel.

My name is Cassie. I am soon to be 23 years old. I live in Northeast Ohio. I have a wonderful husband and an amazing and beautiful almost 3 year old little girl. We have a cat and a dog. We just bought our first home.

Sounds pretty all American, doesn't it?

Only we aren't living the all American dream like we had planned.

On May 5th, 2009 our world was shattered forever. Our hearts broken into a million tiny pieces, and now we aren't sure if we can ever put those pieces back together. Our daughter, Our Audrey was stillborn during my 5th month of my pregnancy. I went in for a routine appointment. It was supposed to be our gender ultrasound. Only we discovered our baby was dead before we even know we were having a girl.

I wrote her story out for a book a support group of mine is putting together and I want to post it here. Maybe someone who comes along this may find some comfort in knowing they are not alone.

*****
On December 27th, 2008 the pregnancy tests I took showed two pink lines. Little did I know that those two pink lines would change my life forever.

My husband Adam and I met at a young age. I was 14 and he was 16. We were married at an even younger age, I was 16 and he was 18. We’ve been through a lot in our 8 years as a couple. We’ve been through a separation due to the War in Iraq that lasted 8 very long and lonely months. We’ve been through a cross-country move back to our home state and then the birth of our first daughter in August of 2006.

In late 2008 we decided to start trying to conceive again. My husband had just gotten a very good job as a corrections officer and I was making good money at my job. Life at that time couldn’t have been better.

Getting pregnant with Audrey took a lot quicker than it did with her big sister. It took us 3 months to conceive our oldest. I got pregnant with Audrey after just two cycles of being off birth control. On December 27th, 2008 I discovered I was pregnant. The next day was our sixth wedding anniversary. I thought the timing couldn’t have been better!

My first OB appointment confirmed a beating heart and a due date of September 9th, 2009 – 9/9/2009. I thought it was my lucky sign. The first trimester of the pregnancy was pretty uneventful. I felt amazing! My first pregnancy was nothing but nausea, vomiting, extreme fatigue, you name it – I felt it. This time was so much different. I had very minimal nausea, absolutely no vomiting and the fatigue was just about the same as it was when I wasn’t pregnant. I was on cloud nine!

On February 24th, 2009 I was getting out of my car when I came home from work and immediately felt this warm gush. I didn’t know what it was. I rushed into my house and discovered that I was bleeding, and it was bad. My underwear was covered and the pants I was wearing were soaked. The terror I felt was unimaginable. I thought for sure I was having a miscarriage.

My husband rushed me to the ER. They took forever to get me back to a room and the experience there was truly traumatic. No one seemed to care that I was hysterical and upset thinking I was losing my baby. I had an ultrasound and the tech refused to confirm if she saw the heart beating or not. She told me she’d have to send my results to the radiologist and they would inform the ER Doctor if the baby was alive or not. It took them several hours before I got the results that indeed my baby was ok. They suspected a blood clot had caused the bleeding. I went for a check-up with my OB just hours after I left the ER and he showed me my little baby on the ultrasound, her heart just beating away.

After that night, the pregnancy was kind of up and down. I had a few more episodes with spotting and then discovered I had a low-lying placenta. I was put on pelvic rest. That meant my husband and I could not be intimate and I was also restricted from heavy lifting and things of that nature.

Things between March and April went really smooth. I didn’t have any big things going on with the pregnancy and I was feeling great. On April 10th I went for an appointment and saw my beautiful girl’s face on the ultrasound. Her gender was still a mystery to me then but I got to see her gorgeous face. That would also be the last time I’d see her heart beating. The last time I’d see my baby alive.

I remember every moment of the day I found out I lost her. I remember every moment from beginning to end. I don’t think that is a day that I will ever get out of my mind. The day was May 5th. My appointment was scheduled for 9:40 a.m. The ride to the Doctor’s office is about 45 minutes from my home. I woke up extra early. I wanted to get ready, get cleaned up and I was making sure I drank orange juice that day because I wanted to know if we were going to welcome a little sister or little brother for our older daughter. I woke my husband up because he was coming with me that day. He was so excited to learn the gender of our second child. We spent the ride to the office laughing and giggling and discussing baby names. We were still undecided for a boy name. I was leaning towards Owen and he was thinking of either Gavin or Aiden. We already had our girl name picked. We knew from the moment we got pregnant that if we had another girl we’d name her Audrey Taylor.

I waited in the waiting room for a little bit. My husband played on his phone and I played on mind. A friend of my sister-in-law’s walked out of the exam room and we talked and chatted. She too was expecting a child. We exchanged a little bit of hellos and then I was called back. It took the Doctor a few minutes to come into the room. So, to pass the time my husband and I laughed and told jokes. Something we always do a lot of when we’re together. A little while later the Doctor came into the exam room and got me ready for the ultrasound. He asked a few routine questions about how I felt and it was then that my whole life changed.

He was moving the ultrasound wand over my stomach and I mentioned we were hoping to find out the gender of the baby that day. My first daughter sat with her legs crossed the first time we tried to get a peak at her so I was nervous thinking I’d have stubborn children that wouldn’t show us. The response I got from the Doctor immediately startled me. He said “uh huh” and it was in a tone that implied there was definitely something wrong. The words that came out of his mouth after that still gives me chills and makes my stomach turn into a ball of knots. He looked at me and told me he did not see my baby’s heart beating and he saw no fluid around her at all. I immediately started to breath heavily and I panicked. I looked at my husband and saw the flushed look of terror on his face. The Doctor passed me a box of tissues and I lost it. I was hysterical. The hours after that felt like such a blur. I went to the hospital I’d deliver at and had another ultrasound to confirm what he found. After the ultrasound I was told to go back to his office to “discuss my options.” At that time I knew there was only one option – I was going to have to deliver my dead child, my child whose gender still remained a mystery to me at that time. I knew she was dead before I even knew she was a girl.

The Doctor asked me if I wanted to go home and think about things or if I wanted to come back the next day and begin the induction. I knew right then and there that there was no way I could go home, watch my older daughter and play with her, knowing my other baby was dead inside of me. My husband and I made the very painful decision to go straight to the hospital and start the induction.

It was at that point that we began making phone calls to our family and I sent out texts to my co-workers because I knew telling them on the phone was going to be too hard. I called my Mom in hysterics and the first words I said were “Mom, I have bad news. We lost the baby.” I don’t remember a lot of what was said or happened after that. I remember making the walk to the Labor and Delivery ward and I just couldn’t believe I was back there again but under very different circumstances this time.

I was immediately put into a room. I noticed (after we were being discharged) that I was placed at a room that was further away from the other rooms. Now I know why – they didn’t want to me to have to hear the newborn babies crying. My delivery was not going to be a happy and joyous occasion like the others that day. I was delivering my dead baby.

Several Nurses came in and started my IV, drew blood, asked a ton of questions. The one that stood out the most was “Are you sure you’re ready to do this today?” I was so completely blown away every time that question was asked. Of course I’m not ready to deliver my dead child but what other choice did they think I had? After the hustle and bustle of all of that was over, the induction started. I was given Pitocin to start my contractions and a gel or something like that was inserted to start dilating my cervix. I couldn’t believe I was experiencing labor again and being forced to endure a delivery with no happy ending in sight.

My Dad rushed to the hospital as soon as he got the call about what had happened. My Husband was out talking with family and getting some fresh air. I know he felt like the walls were closing in on him too and he just needed some fresh air. When my Dad walked into my room and saw me lying there, he came over and held me and we cried. We barely spoke but we knew what each other was thinking and feeling. He kept telling me how sorry he was and all I could say was this was the cruelest thing in the world. To make a woman give birth to a child she can’t ever take homr, there are no words to describe the torture and agony of how that feels.

Shortly after my Dad showed up, the medicine the Nurses had given me that would knock me out for a little while had started to kick in. I was so grateful for that. I just wanted my thoughts to stop for a little while and I just wanted the feeling of my heart breaking into a million pieces to stop.

It was later on in the evening when the labor really started to progress and I was feeling a lot more pain and discomfort. The thoughts that kept running through my mind during all of that were one of complete shock. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me, to us. My Mother-in-Law and Grandfather-in-Law came up the hospital in the later evening hours. I had asked my Mom to stay at home and be with my older daughter. I needed to know she was with someone I trusted and I needed one less worry on my mind. When my Mother-in-Law walked into the room she immediately hugged me and held me tight. She too had experienced the same loss. She had lost twin girls in August of 1986. They were stillborn due to a cord accident. She knew the pain I was feeling. She knew just how to comfort me.

I also had another special person with me that night, my night nurse, Ally. She was a truly remarkable person. She told me she had also been through the same experience. When the shift changed and she came into my room to introduce herself, she hugged me and told me how sorry she was. I was never greeted in that way by a Nurse before and it still blows me away when I think about how she was that night. She was a true comfort to me that night. I can’t express just how deeply she touched me.

Things with my Labor really started to pick up in the late evening hours. I was having terrible contractions. I was also experiencing a lot of back labor. That was a strange experience for me because I did not have back labor with my first pregnancy. I got my epidural around 10:20 p.m. and it was just 20 minutes later when my Angel was born. At 10:40 p.m. my world was shattered and broken and changed forever. I discovered after the birth that my husband and I had lost a little girl. We had lost our second daughter. I made the decision that night not to see her or hold her. My reasons why at the time were so clouded by the complete shock that this was actually happening. I felt like if I didn’t see her or hold her than this wasn’t real, that she wasn’t really gone and this was all a nightmare I’d wake up from.

Ally came in later in the evening to help me clean up and help me to the restroom. My legs were still shaky and wobbly from the epidural and I was more exhausted than I’d ever been in my whole life. She helped me into the restroom and when she was helping me clean up she told me “You are so brave and strong. I know you don’t feel that way now but you really are.” I remember thinking to myself “Yeah right.” I couldn’t even say anything to her. I didn’t have any words to say at that time. I just wanted to sink into a black hole and disappear.

The hours after the delivery, after they had taken Audrey’s body away, I lay in bed and just stared at the clock, stared at the wall. I just stared with the blankest expression on my face. My husband had fallen asleep on the fold out chair. I knew he was just as exhausted as I was. He tried to be so strong during the whole experience. He cried a few times, the hardest being when the Doctor had told us we lost our girl. He was standing at the head of my bed during the delivery, holding my hand, with his head buried towards the floor. We never once looked into each other’s eyes during the delivery but we had an iron clad grip on each other’s hands and when it was announced our baby was a girl, the grip got tighter as we sobbed together.

The next morning I was discharged. I knew it made no sense to keep me there and believe me when I say I was more than eager to go home and lay under my covers all night, but it just seemed all so fast. Just barely 12 hours after I delivered my daughter, I was going home. Before I left the hospital I had to fill out the standard papers and then the other set of papers no parent ever wants to fill out – papers arranging the burial of my daughter. When the Nurse asked me her name I said “Audrey Taylor Davis” and then she asked me “Do you want a funeral service for Audrey?” I knew I did but it took me a few minutes to answer her. In between tears and hysterics, my husband and I said that we did want a burial for her. The Nurse informed me that she’d give the necessary information to the funeral home and they’d be calling me arranging the details. The Nurse also gave me some packets of information about stillbirth and a special gift from the hospital. It was a white silk pillow with a tiny card and a tiny gold ring inside of a pouch. She told me she wanted us to know that the hospital recognized the birth of my baby like any other.

The drive home was quiet. I didn’t talk. I didn’t do anything. I just stared out the window. I knew my Sister-in-Law was just hours away from delivering her second child, also a girl, and I just couldn’t understand why God took my baby away. I wouldn’t wish this pain and agony on anyone but it really makes a person question “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” When we arrived in town, we went and picked my older daughter up. I hadn’t seen her since Monday and it was now Wednesday. I was going crazy missing her. When she saw me walk up the stairs into the living room she made a flying leap into my arms and yelled “MOMMY!” I just grabbed her and hugged her tight. Of course I cried. I couldn’t stop the tears. I needed her hugs and kiss more than anything in the world.


When I got home I just wanted to lie down. I didn’t want to do anything else. I was still hurting pretty bad physically from the epidural. My lower back was in excruciating pain and I couldn’t take it any longer.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any harder it was that Friday just after losing her when the funeral home called. When I answered the phone the funeral director told me how sorry she was. Then she asked me the questions that I just couldn’t believe I was hearing. “Do you want a burial or cremation?” I didn’t know how to respond. I sat silent on the phone for what felt like an eternity and then I asked my husband what he wanted. We agreed on a burial. She put together some arrangements and we arranged the service for that Monday, the 11th of May at 11 a.m.

I spent the days of that weekend just crying, nothing but a hysterical mess. I had massive panic attacks and I also had to go through my breast milk coming in. When I noticed that, I cried. I cried huge, hard, head pounding tears. I know my body didn’t realize my baby had died. It only realized I’d gone into labor and delivered a child. It was doing what it was supposed to do but at the time it just felt like one more stab to my heart, one more painful reminder of what I didn’t have, of what was taken away from me.

The morning of the service was something I had been dreading. I knew she deserved a proper good bye. I just didn’t know how to do that. It wasn’t something I had ever thought would happen to me and I just didn’t know what to do or where life was going to take me after this. When we got to the cemetery and I saw where the funeral director had everything set up, I began shaking and my hands began to sweat. My heart was pounding a million miles a minute. I didn’t know how I was going to bury my sweet baby, a baby I never even held.

The service was very beautiful. My Father-in-Law is a preacher so he did the service for us. From the moment he began to speak, the tears were flowing. I grabbed onto my husband, wrapped my hands around his waist and held on for dear life. At that very moment, he was my life line. He was what was keeping me from crumbling to the ground. After the service was over, I sat down in the chairs behind me and I stared at the little white box that contained my daughter’s body. Everyone said “take as much time as you need,” and I never said a word. I wanted to tell them “if I take as much time as I need, we’ll never leave. I can’t leave her behind. I just can’t leave my little girl here without her Mommy.”

I got up after what felt like forever and I walked towards the stand that had her casket on it. I examined every square inch of that box and I placed my hand on it and ran my fingers all over the fabric and the flower arrangement on top. I wanted to feel where she was lying just once. I wanted her to know her Mommy was there and that I loved her with every beat of my broken heart. I hugged my husband and begged to stay just a little while longer. I cried out “I can’t leave her. I just can’t leave our baby girl. I don’t want to leave her here. I feel like we’re leaving her behind. I can’t. I can’t.”

I eventually did make it to the car. I hugged everyone good bye before we made the drive home. Something my Mother-in-Law said to me while we hugged is something I firmly believe with every fiber of my being. Time does not heal all wounds. It only puts a scab on them and every once in awhile they bleed. I know she spent much of that day reliving her own horror of losing her twins. We embraced for a long time before I eventually got in thecar and we made the long drive home. I lay in bed all day and all night after that. I cried and cried and cried. Just when I thought I was all out of tears, they started all over again.

The Wednesday just after the service I had an appointment scheduled with my OB. He told me he suspected this to most likely be genetic but nothing was confirmed 100%. He did also tell me he believed I should have had a miscarriage when I had the bleeding episode in February but my daughter was a fighter and she held on. He told me that my husband and I had his blessing to try again in a few months, if we wanted to. At that point, and to this day, I have so many mixed emotions about conceiving again. After my appointment at his office I went to the hospital to pick up the papers they had for me. They had a certificate of Audrey’s foot prints and hand prints for me. I was never going to get a birth certificate but I could at least have something of hers to hold onto. I opened the envelope they had everything in and I reached in and pulled out the paper with her prints on them. I was blown away. The wind felt like it was knocked out of me. I stared at the paper and touched the prints and the tears just flowed. My Mom had come with me for emotional support and she looked at the prints and said “Oh Cassie, I’m so sorry!” I read the certificate with her name printed on the top and it listed her parents’ names and the time she was born and then I saw the length and weight. My Angel was born weighing only four and half ounces and she was only seven and a half inches long. My mind still even now cannot fathom how tiny that is. I just remember staring at the prints and feeling this major panic and regret. I am not a person who had any regrets, until now. I wish I could go back and change the night she was born. I wish I could go back and hold her, even if it was only one time. I know she knows I love her but I wish I could have some closure with that and now I never will.

I have struggled a lot with depression and anxiety since Audrey’s death. I always knew what stillbirth was. I knew it existed but I never imagined it would ever happen to me. You always hear about bad things happening to other people and you think you’re invincible. You think those kinds of things happen to everyone else but you. Then it does happen to you and it rocks your world in every way imaginable. I am seeing a counselor and slowly starting to put the pieces of my life back together. It’s been six weeks now and I have good days and bad days. I have days where I barely cry and days where I can’t stop the tears no matter how hard I try. I have days where I curse God and days where I am thankful he gave me an Angel to watch over me during my time here on Earth. There are no words I can write to truly convey how it feels to lose a child. Words like excruciating and gut wrenching and heart shattering come to mind but even those words don’t scratch the surface of how it feels to bury something that once had a beating heart inside of your body. I stare at her prints often and I touch them and hold them close to my chest. I tell her I love her every day. I tell her how much I miss her every day. My oldest daughter was so looking forward to her little sister’s arrival and when we told her the baby was gone and we weren’t bringing a baby home like we planned she told me “It’s okay, Mommy, it’s not your fault.” I still get tears in my eyes when I think about that. I know nothing I did or didn’t do could have prevented this but it never changes the aching I feel in my heart for her. I have done so much reflecting since this nightmare began. I remember looking at that pregnancy test and those two pink lines and I had the giddiest expression and I was in total shock. Now, when I look at those same tests (I have saved the tests from both of my pregnancies) a feeling of total sadness and the feeling of dread comes over me. I still have her due date to get through and the rest of my life, really. I have the rest of my life to play the “what if’” game.

I don’t know if I’ll get pregnant again. I don’t know if I’ll ever have another baby to hold and care for. I do know I will always have two amazing and beautiful daughters. I’ve told so many people that my oldest daughter is my Angel here on Earth and Audrey is my Angel in Heaven. I will spend the rest of my days looking forward to the day when I can be with her again. She’s on my mind every minute of every day and I know that will never change. The years may make the pain hurt less but it will always be there. The way I feel about her and the way I feel about her loss will never change. I have a tremendous support system around me. I have amazing people who love me and care for me and so many people on the online community have reached out to me and offered their support. This experience has shown me that there really are good people in this world. As grateful as I am for them and as grateful as I am for their generosity, I wish I never had the endure this and hear their words of sympathy and caring. I appreciate it, no doubt, but of course the wish that I had never gone through this to hear that never goes away.

If you find yourself reading this story because you have been through the same experience, I am so very sorry. There are no words I can say that will make the pain you feel go away. There will be days where you think you’re doing okay and then you’ll see or hear something that just throws your whole mind off and you can’t get your focus back because all you think about is your child, the child you loved inside of your body but never got to love the way you wanted to outside of your body. The feelings you’re feeling are all natural. I thought I was crazy and believe me, I still do sometimes. Take time to be with the ones you love and thank them for the support they’ve given to you. This experience will show you who your true friends and true family are. I know it has opened my eyes and changed my perspective on a lot of my relationships with people. Audrey may not have served the purpose I expected her to but she is serving a purpose. She’s my guiding light. She’s the light that pushes me to carry on and be a better Mother to the daughter I still have with me and to be a better wife to my husband. They’re all I have. She’s shown me what is important in my life. Take the time to thank your Angel for that and know that they are always with you, in spirit and in your heart for all the days of your life.

In the most loving Memory of:

Audrey Taylor Davis

May 5th, 2009

10:40 p.m.

Mommy, Daddy and your Big Sister miss you so much Angel. You’re my every heart beat, my every breath, my every move. I will see you again one day my Angel. I love you so much!

To the Child in My Heart

O precious, tiny, sweet little one
You will always be to me
So perfect, pure, and innocent
Just as you were meant to be.

We dreamed of you and of your life
And all that it would be
We waited and longed for you to come
And join our family.

We never had the chance to play,
To laugh, to rock, to wiggle.
We long to hold you, touch you now
And listen to you giggle.

I'll always be your mother.
He'll always be your dad.
You will always be our child,
The child that we had.

But now you're gone...but yet you're here.
We'll sense you everywhere.
You are our sorrow and our joy.
There's love in every tear.

Just know our love goes deep and strong.
We'll forget you never-
The child we had, but never had,
And yet we'll have forever.