Monday, May 2, 2011

One Year Ago Today, God Gave Us an Angel

I have decided that for the one year anniversary of some of the best and worst days of my life I would like to share Aubrey's story.  I'm doing this partly because I want to share her short little life (hey, she's still my daughter and I still love talking about her) and partly in a hope that in some way our story will help other couples who go through late term pregnancy or infant loss.  Our goal is to honor Aubrey as a defining member of our family without dwelling on her death.  We just want her to be remembered and to do good in her name. 

November 3, 2009
Sam and I completed our second round of intrauterine insemination (IUI).  I joked that if that round "took" we should either name our child Mac or Wendy because we ate breakfast at McDonald's and lunch at Wendy's that day.  Between our two appointments (one at 7 am and one at 11 am) Sam took me shopping for new ski gloves since we had already paid for a trip in January assuming that we wouldn't get pregnant.

November 17, 2009
Even though I was sure it would be negative, I took a home pregnancy test while Sam was in the shower.  When he came out of the bathroom I told him that we were pregnant.  He was, literally, jump up and down happy!!!  We couldn't believe it, so I took another test and were ecstatic to get the same result!  I not so patiently waited until 7 for my specialist's office to open so I could call and see what I needed to do next.  When I arrived at school that morning I immediately told Denise and Amanda (the other first grade teachers, aka Team One) my news because I'm horrible at keeping secrets and I needed them to cover for me while I went to the hospital to get some blood drawn both that day and 48 hours later (thank goodness I had a student teacher).  When I told the rest of Team One Amanda started crying because she knew that I would be quiting to stay home with my little bundle of love.

December 8, 2009 
 Sam and I drove to Oklahoma City to see our blessing for the first time.  Dr. Hanson did a very extensive ultrasound to make sure that there was only one baby since we had an increased chance of multiples due to our fertility treatments.

Week of January 3, 2010
After clearing it with the doctor, Sam and I went skiing with his brothers and some friends.  I was restricted to the greens, but was content with that in order to keep our little one safe.  Throughout the trip I jokingly referred to my ski gloves as my conception day gift.

March 8, 2010
We waited until 20 weeks for our gender revealing ultrasound because we wanted to make sure that the tech was right.  As we were setting in the waiting room we noticed a couple crying.  When we went into the room Sam asked the tech what the worst part of her job was, she said giving people bad news like that they had miscarried, but that our little one was perfect and healthy and growing appropriately so we didn't have anything to worry about.   She then looked around a little more and announced that she was ready to tell us the gender.  When she said, "It's a girl," Sam said, "Are you sure?!?!"  You see, Sam's family is very male dominate so we had just assumed that we would be having a boy (even though Sam secretly wanted a girl).  In fact, many members of his family told us to wait to cut the tags off her clothes until she was here to make sure it was a girl.  From this day on, she was referred to as Aubrey Marie.

April 22, 2010
My coworkers held a baby shower for us on Earth Day.  Amanda thought it would be funny to decorate with a combination of baby stuff and globes.  Team One had secretly had a onesie made for Aubrey that read, "Team One Junior Member."  

April 30, 2010
I remember feeling Aubrey move that morning when I got up, but not really during the day.  One of my "special friends" wasn't at school that day and I had sat down most of the day completing assessments so I just assumed that she was enjoying the break.  I didn't want to be one of those moms who worried about every little thing.  Besides, other moms who where as far along as I was or farther said that their babies moved much less than Aubrey.  That evening I told Sam that she was being really lazy, we decided to keep an eye on it.

May 1, 2010
By far the worst day of my life!  When I woke up on this Saturday morning I immediately noticed that Aubrey still wasn't moving which worried me because she was like her momma in that she was a morning person.  I started doing things to upset her like jumping, drinking juice, and pushing on my stomach so she would move and I would know she was OK.  I called my mom and asked if she ever remembered us not moving at this point in gestation, she suggested the things that I had already tried so I told her that I would call her back with an update (she later told me that she knew then that something was seriously wrong).  In a final attempt to get Aubrey to move I took a really, really warm shower.  During this shower the reality of our situation started to sink in,  I remember crying and praying while the warm water washed over me.  I prayed asking God to protect our baby.  I also told God that we aren't strong enough to do this on our own, that if He was going to put us in this situation, we were relying on Him to get us through.  After I got out of the shower Sam and I went to the emergency room because our doctor isn't open on Saturdays and we didn't know where else to go.

When we entered the emergency room they acted like we shouldn't be there and kept asking questions like, "Is this your first pregnancy?" and "Now how far along did you say you were?"  All we wanted was for them to use their fetal heartbeat monitor so we could know that our sweet girl was OK.  They decided not to mess with us in the er and sent us up to labor and delivery.

As we were walking into labor and delivery a doctor strolled past with an Ed Hardy type shirt on and a stethoscope around his neck as if he didn't have a care in the world.  Dr. Henry was out of town that weekend so a nurse named Jennifer took us into a side room with a fetal heartbeat monitor until the doctor covering Dr. Henry's patients could get there.  Jennifer was having a hard time finding Aubrey's heartbeat and kept saying how she wasn't very good at using those things, I kept telling her that Dr. Henry always finds it on my lower right side so she needed to try there more.  Jennifer decided to call in another nurse to help her find Aubrey's heartbeat (I have to say that they were both very positive and polite during our whole visit).  Jennifer said that while the other nurse was finding Aubrey's heartbeat she would go find the doctor so she could do an ultra sound.  As the door closed behind her, I heard Jennifer say, "Get in here now,"  at that moment I knew this was bad, but still had hope. 

Jennifer walked back into the room with the Ed Hardy doctor (who turned out to be Dr. Evans, a really, really nice guy who attends our church).  He prepared me for an ultrasound while the nurses got the machine ready.  The doctor started the ultrasound and stopped on a non-moving black circle.  I kept asking, "Is that her heart?" over and over.  Neither of the nurses nor the doctor said anything, then Sam said, "It is, isn't it?"  While the nurses turned off the ultrasound machine, Dr. Evans wiped off my stomach and said, "I'm sorry."  I sat there in shock while my husband cried like I've never heard him cry.  The doctor and nurses left the room to give Sam and I some time alone.  A few minutes later, Dr. Evans and Jennifer entered the room to talk with us about our options.  Soon after they entered, the doctor covering Dr. Henry's patients entered so Dr. Evans left.  The new doctor told us that we had three choices, we could wait until my body figured it out and went into labor on its own (this could take up to two weeks), induce that day, or induce the next day with Dr. Henry.  We decided to wait until the next day so that we could spend that day mentally preparing for what was about to happen and we could have our doctor at the delivery.  Sam and I went home and called our family.  Dr. Henry called us from his family outing to discuss what would happen the next day.

May 2, 2010
Sam and I had to be at the hospital at 7am on May 2.  We arrived and Jennifer met us and showed us to our room, she said that she had requested to be our nurse.  Not too long after we arrived, they hooked me up to an IV and Dr. Henry came into the room.  He did another ultrasound during which he noticed that my fluid level was a little low, but not enough that he would be concerned about it under different circumstances.  Sometime that early morning they started the drugs to induce labor.  Throughout the day, Jennifer consistently came in to check my progress, they gave me more labor inducing drugs every four hours.  Mom and Mindy spent a lot of the day looking for a cute preemie outfit (not an easy task in Stillwater on a Sunday).  Many family and friends stopped by to show their support that day.  At 6pm we met our night nurse, Brandi.  We stayed on the same labor inducing drug schedule and I slept every other two hours throughout the night thanks to the drugs they gave me.  It turns out Sam's parents, my mom and Shirley, and Blake and Mindy all slept in their vehicles in the parking lot because they were afraid Miss Aubrey would arrive and they would miss it (we thought they went to our house when they left the hospital sometime after 10pm).

May 3, 2010
At 6am we met our new day nurse, Denise.  My response to our first meeting was, "Keep that lady out of my room."  She turned out to be a great nurse, she just must not be a morning person.  The day progressed much like the previous day with lots of sitting around waiting.  Dr. Henry finally broke my water late afternoon, early evening.  Around 5:30, Dr. Henry went home to eat dinner with his family saying he would be right back.  A little bit before 6 things finally started happening.  They had ordered my epidural shortly after they broke my water, but it hadn't arrived yet.  Denise said that we could wait for the epidural to get there or I could go ahead and deliver her.  We chose option B.  Denise called Dr. Henry while Brandi (our same night nurse as the previous night) prepared us for delivery.  With the help of Denise and Brandi, I delivered our perfect angel at 6:42pm.  She weighed 2 pounds 6.6 ounces, was 15 inches long and had wavy brown hair.

Dr. Henry arrived right after Aubrey was born.  Before we could see her, Denise and Brandi took Aubrey to clean and dress her as well as take samples and pictures for her autopsy (It was determined that she suffered a cord accident.  In the words of the medical examiner, "She's too perfect for it to be anything else.").  They returned shortly with our angel.  Sam and I spent some time alone with her, then invited any family and friends that wanted to come see her.  I'm actually thankful that my epidural didn't arrive in time because I have vivid memories of the time we got to spend with our little girl.  Sam, Mindy and I took her hand and footprints with paint for my friend, Julia, to embellish (they turned out amazing).  We took turns holding Aubrey, memorizing her face and body, smelling her little newborn head, kissing her sweet cheeks, taking pictures.  Sometime later, Brandi came and got Aubrey from us.  Our family went home or to our house and Sam and I began preparing to go home (we learned that since I didn't get an epidural we only had to stay for 3 hours post delivery).  At 10pm, on our way out, Sam and I stopped by the desk and asked to see Aubrey one last time (we had been advised that they don't embalm newborns, so we couldn't see her after she left the hospital).  We left the hospital that night broken hearted and empty handed.


  1. Oh Courtney, happy birthday to your precious angel. You are an amazing woman and I am glad to know you.

  2. Hello Courtney,

    you don't know me, I have found your blog by chance and just wanted to let you know how moved I am by your story. I am 36 weeks pregnant with my first baby, and your story had me in tears. While it of course scared my a little I think you are so brave for sharing and that reading that will help other parents go through it. I wish you all the best for your future family, and hope your adoption(s) will happen really soon. You seem to be great people and I wish you all the best. Happy birthday to angel Aubrey and greetings from Germany,