November 12, 2009 by Audreys
Every time I read another mother’s account of her experience with having a stillborn baby, I find myself reliving the night we lost Katelyn Grace. I thank God every day for the true strength of mothers like Cassie who are willing to share their story in the hopes that they can offer some comfort to other parents who have also lost their babies. Since Cassie’s baby and I have the same name, her story was even more touching to me. Here is the story of her little baby girl named Audrey.
…On December 27th, 2008 the pregnancy test I took showed two pink lines. Little did I know that those two pink lines would change my life forever.
My husband Adam & I met at a young age. I was 14 & he was 16. We were married at an even younger age, I was 16 & 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 & lonely months. We’ve been through a cross-country move back to our home state & 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 & 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…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 & a due date of September 9th, 2009 – 9/9/2009. The first trimester of the pregnancy was pretty uneventful. I felt amazing! I was on cloud nine!
On February 24, 2009 I was getting out of my car when I came home from work & immediately felt something was wrong. 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 & the experience there was truly traumatic. No one seemed to care that I was hysterical & upset thinking I was losing my baby. I had an ultrasound & the tech refused to confirm if she saw the heart beating or not. She told me she’d send my results to the radiologist & 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. I went for a check-up with my OB just hours after I left the ER & he showed me my little baby on the ultrasound, her heart just beating away.
After that night, the pregnancy was kind of up & down…
Things between March & April went really smooth. I was feeling great. On April 10th I 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, 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. so I woke up extra early. I wanted to get ready, get cleaned up & made 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, giggling & discussing baby names. We were still undecided for a boy name. I was leaning towards Owen & he was thinking of either Gavin or Aiden. 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 & I played on mine. It took the Doctor a few minutes to come into the room. So, to pass the time my husband & I laughed & told jokes, something we always do a lot of when we’re together. A little while later the Doctor came into the exam room to perform the ultrasound. He asked a few routine questions about how I felt & it was then that my whole life changed.
He was moving the ultrasound wand over my stomach & I mentioned we were hoping to find out the gender of the baby that day. ..I was nervous thinking I’d have a stubborn child that wouldn’t show us. The response I got from the Doctor immediately startled me. He said “uh huh” in a tone that implied there was definitely something wrong. The words that came out of his mouth after that still give me chills & make my stomach turn into a ball of knots. He looked at me & told me he did not see my baby’s heart beating or any fluid around her at all. I immediately started to breathe heavily & panicked. I looked at my husband & saw the flushed look of terror on his face. The Doctor passed me a box of tissues & I lost it. I was hysterical. The hours after that felt like such a blur. I went to the hospital I’d deliver at & had another ultrasound to confirm what he found. Afterwards 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 & think about things or if I wanted to come back the next day.. I knew right then & there that there was no way I could go home, watch my older daughter & play with her, knowing my other baby was dead inside of me. My husband & I made the very painful decision to go straight to the hospital & start the induction.
It was at that point that we began making phone calls to our family & 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 & 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 walking to the Labor & Delivery ward & 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 & joyous occasion like the others that day. I was delivering my dead baby.
Several nurses came in & 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 was not ready to deliver my dead child but what other choice did they think I had? After the hustle & bustle of all of that was over, the induction started. .. I couldn’t believe I was experiencing labor again & 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 & getting some fresh air. I know he felt like the walls were closing in on him too & he just needed some fresh air. When my Dad walked into my room & saw me lying there, he came over & held me & we cried. We barely spoke but we knew what each other was thinking & feeling. He kept telling me how sorry he was & 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 home, there are no words to describe the torture & agony of how that feels.
Shortly after my Dad showed up, the medicine to knock me out started to kick in. I was so grateful for that. I just wanted my thoughts & the feeling of my heart breaking into a million pieces to stop for a while.
It was later in the evening when the labor started to progress & I was feeling a lot more pain & discomfort. The thoughts that kept running through my mind were of complete shock. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me, to us. My mother-in-law & grandfather-in-law came to the hospital later in the evening. I had asked my Mom to stay at home with my older daughter. I needed to know she was with someone I trusted & one less worry on my mind. When my mother-in-law walked into the room she immediately hugged me & 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 and 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 & she came into my room to introduce herself, she hugged me & told me how sorry she was. I was never greeted in that way by a nurse before & 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 started to pick up in the late evening hours. I was having terrible contractions & a lot of back labor. I got my epidural around 10:20 p.m. & 20 minutes later my angel was born. At 10:40 p.m. my world was shattered, broken & changed forever. I discovered after the birth that my husband & 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 & this was all a nightmare I’d wake up from.
Ally came in later to help me clean up. My legs were shaky & wobbly from the epidural & I was more exhausted than I’d ever been in my whole life. When she was helping me clean up she told me “You are so brave & 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 & disappear.
The hours after the delivery, after they had taken Audrey’s body away, I lay in bed & just stared at the clock, stared at the wall. I just stared with the blankest expression on my face. My husband had fallen asleep. 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 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 & 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 & was eager to go home & lay under my covers all night, but it just seemed all so fast. Just barely 12 hours after I delivered my daughter I went home. Before I left the hospital I had to fill out standard papers & another 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” & then she asked me “Do you want a funeral service for Audrey?” In between tears & hysterics, my husband & I said that we did want a burial for her. The nurse informed me that she’d give the information to the funeral home & they’d be calling me to arrange the details. The nurse also gave me some packets of information about stillbirth & a special gift from the hospital. It was a white silk pillow with a tiny card & 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 or 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, & I just couldn’t understand why God took my baby away. I wouldn’t wish this pain & 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 & picked my older daughter up. I hadn’t seen her since Monday & 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 & yelled “MOMMY!” I just grabbed her & hugged her tight. I cried. I couldn’t stop the tears. I needed her hugs & kiss more than anything in the world.
When I got home I just wanted to lie down & not do anything else. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any harder on Friday the funeral home called. When I answered the phone the funeral director told me how sorry she was & asked me “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 & then I asked my husband what he wanted. We agreed on a burial. We arranged the service for that Monday, the 11th of May at 11 a.m.
I spent the weekend just crying, nothing but a hysterical mess. I had massive panic attacks; my milk was coming in. When I noticed that, 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 & 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 & I just didn’t know what to do or where life was going to take me after this. When we got to the cemetery & I saw everything set up, I began shaking & 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 & held on for dear life. At that very moment, he was my life line. He was keeping me from crumbling to the ground. After the service was over, I sat down & stared at the little white box that contained my daughter’s body. Everyone said “take as much time as you need,” & 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 & walked towards the stand that held her casket. I examined every square inch of that box, placed my hand on it & ran my fingers all over the fabric & the flower arrangement on top. I wanted to feel where she was lying just once. I wanted her to know her Mommy was there & that I loved her with every beat of my broken heart. I hugged my husband & 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 made it to the car. I hugged everyone good bye before we left. 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 & 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 we left. I lay in bed all day & all night after that. I cried & cried & cried. Just when I thought I was all out of tears, they started all over again.
Two days after the service I had an OB appointment. 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 in February but my daughter was a fighter & she held on. He told me that my husband & I had his blessing to try again in a few months, if we wanted to. At that point, & to this day, I have so many mixed emotions about conceiving again. After my appointment I went to the hospital to pick up a certificate of Audrey’s foot prints & hand prints. 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 gave me & I reached in & 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 & touched the prints & the tears just flowed. My Mom had come with me for emotional support & she looked at the prints & said “Oh Cassie, I’m so sorry!” I read the certificate with her name printed on the top & it listed her parents’ names & the time she was born & then I saw the length & weight. My Angel was born weighing only four & half ounces & she was only seven & a half inches long. My mind still even now cannot fathom how tiny that is. I just remember staring at the prints & feeling this major panic & regret. I am not a person who had any regrets, until now. I wish I could go back & change the night she was born. I wish I could go back & 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 & now I never will.
I have struggled a lot with depression & 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 & you think you’re invincible. You think those kinds of things happen to everyone else but you. Then it does happen to you & it rocks your world in every way imaginable. I am seeing a counselor & slowly starting to put the pieces of my life back together. I have days where I barely cry & days where I can’t stop the tears no matter how hard I try. I have days where I feel liking blaming God & 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 & gut wrenching & 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 & I touch them & 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 & when we told her the baby was gone & 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 & those two pink lines & I had the giddiest expression & I was in total shock. Now, when I look at those same tests (I have saved them from both of my pregnancies) a feeling of total sadness & dread comes over me. I still have the rest of my life to get through and 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 & care for. I do know I will always have two amazing & beautiful daughters. I’ve told so many people that my oldest daughter is my Angel here on Earth & 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 & 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 & the way I feel about her loss will never change. I have a tremendous support system around me; amazing people who love & care for me & so many people on the online community who have reached out &offered their support. This experience has shown me that there really are good people in this world. As grateful as I am for them & their generosity, I wish I never had the endure this & hear their words of sympathy & 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 & then you’ll see or hear something that just throws your whole mind off & 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 & believe me, I still do sometimes. Take time to be with the ones you love & thank them for the support they’ve given to you. This experience will show you who your true friends & true family are. I know it has opened my eyes & 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 & be a better mother to the daughter I still have with me & 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 & know that they are always with you, in spirit & in your heart for all the days of your life.
In the most loving Memory of:
Audrey Taylor Davis
May 5th, 2009
Mommy, Daddy & 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!