|AVA GRACE'S STORY
Our daughter was born October 19th, 2006 with 10 fingers, 10 toes, and perfectly pouty lips. As a full term baby, she weighed 5 pounds, 14.5 ounces and 17.5 inches long. My husband Lance & I had the name Ava Grace picked out long before she was born. Ava, meaning "Like a Bird or to fly" and Grace meaning "Blessed".
Yes, that we were.
Blessed by her for an hour.
An hour that wasn't nearly long enough to tell her everything we wanted to say. But at the same time, we were able to tell her that we loved her with all of our being and that she was God's blessing to us.
We want to tell our story of our daughter Ava Grace hoping to help someone who feels as if they are going through the death of their own child completely alone.
You are not alone.
When we found out we were pregnant, it was by complete surprise. We have 3 boys already who keep our life as busy, as you can imagine! It was Valentine's Day 2006, and I wasn’t' even nervous about taking the pregnancy test. I was only a few days late, so I was just making sure. But within seconds after taking the test, a big plus sign showed up in the window. I was shocked and so was my husband, but being parents already, the anticipation of a new baby (maybe this time a girl!) was exciting!
Everything that pregnancy brings was normal to me.....falling asleep early, eating 10 times more than usual, hormones raging (especially at my husband!), etc, etc. Life was good and we were praying that this time maybe it would be a girl. We started to plan life for after the new baby, which also included putting our house on the market in hopes of getting more space for our 3 boys, dog, and new baby.
Fast forward to the day after Memorial Day when my 20th week ultrasound was planned. I was nervous-happy. Nervous to know if the baby was healthy and happy to see if we could finally complete our family with a little girl of our own. My husband and I went to our appointment and sat in the waiting room for what seemed like a lifetime. The ultrasound technician could see the happiness and excitement on our faces when we talked with her while she waved the ultrasound "wand' over my belly. She started to take some measurements of the legs, but the baby would not stay still long enough for her to do her job. She made a joke that our baby was an "active little one" and we just laughed knowing that the baby was already fitting in with our active boys. The technician then fell silent and nervously started to move to wand around the baby's head. "I can't see what I need to see....the baby just isn't allowing me to. Let me step out for a minute. Maybe you should stand up and move around a bit. Maybe the baby will change positions and then we'll look again when I return". She then got up and left the room quietly. My husband & I thought nothing of it, just laughed; I got up and moved around. She returned. Same thing happened.
I then met with my doctor while my husband waited in the waiting room. My doctor told me that the technician couldn't see what she wanted and I would have to go to the hospital for a Level 2 Ultrasound. I just looked at her. Back in 2000, I went for a level 2 ultrasound and found out that my baby, which was a girl, had a 25% chance to make it to my due date, in which she did not. She passed in the 22nd week of my pregnancy. Knowing that this was not good, I went home to dread the ultrasound even though family and friends reassured me that they would find nothing wrong. But the aching feeling of things to come was weighing heavy on my heart.
The Level 2 Ultrasound at the hospital went as expected. Anencephaly was the diagnosis and the baby was our girl that we prayed so very hard for. We hastily decided that it would be too hard to go on with the pregnancy knowing the outcome, so we wanted to end the pregnancy. We got a call from the hospital in the city a few days after our decision. A nurse was calling to let me know how the next few days were going to go and what to expect. My mind was suddenly changed by how the "demise" of my baby girl was going to happen. Funny how some words just make you hate life. That word "demise" will forever remind me of that phone conversation with that nurse. I called my husband at work to tell him and we both broke down knowing that our decision was made for us....we were going to continue the pregnancy.
For the next 20 weeks, life was hard, but at the same time, prepared us for what was to come. I woke every day to her kicking me. Not the normal kicking but this sudden fluttering, jerky movements that stopped as quickly as they started. But other than that, everything about the pregnancy was normal. From heartbeat checks at my doctor’s appts to major heartburn at everything I ate & drank.
My doctor thought it would be best to schedule my delivery so she could be there for us and to be part of our baby girl’s life. So after months of thinking and preparing mentally and emotionally, October 19th arrived. At 7a.m we checked in and by 9a.m. we had already met with our nurses and doctor. All day passed and at 5:04 pm our beautiful daughter Ava Grace was blessing us with her life. We decided to not see her head for we did not know what to expect. But I was later told God was good to her and he covered her "broken" head with a thin layer of blonde hair.
When they handed her to me, she was still alive, but without movement. No first cry. No opening or closing of her eyes (they were open only a slit). But the one thing I noticed about her was how warm she was. How soft her cheeks were. How much she resembled her brothers. Her fingernails were so long. I couldn't stop holding her hands. The Chaplin came in to baptize her. My doctor and the 2 nurses present were crying along with my husband as the Chaplin poured water over her head. I was not. I was enjoying every moment I had with my daughter while she was still with me. We took lots of pictures, footprint/handprint, and even got her dressed in her only outfit we ever will dress her in.
Soon after we were admiring her in her very pink outfit, she was gone. The nurses pronounced her passing a little after 6 p.m. We held her for 3 more short hours. Our final good bye was hard, but only today do I cry about that final goodbye. I wish we took more pictures. I wish we held her all night long. But I'm glad that we had an hour with her.
Ava Grace has blessed our lives. She blessed the staff at the hospital. She blessed our family and friends. She has blessed perfect strangers. And I hope she will bless anyone who is wondering what to do when they are told that their baby is going to be an angel.
|Ava Maria - Sung by Marie Wood, Ava's great grandmother|