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May 23, 2019. Just a normal day for most people. For us, it was the day our second daughter, Adalyn, was born too early at 21 weeks and died. She was our second loss in a row, my third pregnancy. We had lost her brother, Wyatt, on August 15, 2018 while 9 weeks pregnant. We have one living child, Zoey, who will be 3 years old on the very last day of the year.
Scott, my husband, and I had gone to a follow up 20-week anatomy scan appointment on May 20. This appointment was not supposed to happen, but the Radiologist 3 weeks prior didn’t get good heart views and wanted us to do a follow up. When the ultrasound tech didn’t come back for a while, I began to get very anxious and filled with dread. Scott tried reassuring me that everything was fine, the Radiologist was probably just busy. The tech came back and gave us the news: my cervix was very short, our doctor had been called, and we were to go to Hoag Hospital where they were expecting us.
We met with my ob and a perinatologist at Hoag and were told our options. I tried being strong and not falling apart, but I did cry once the news sunk in. My cervix was shortening, we could lose Adalyn. I was kept there for observation and told the next day they would do a rescue cerclage, if possible, to try and save her. The cerclage was put in and everything was going well. We were discussing going home soon and what the rest of the pregnancy would look like.
As per usual for me while pregnant, I threw up. I felt a small gush and my heart sank. The nurse testing my fluids and at the last minute, the test turned positive for amniotic fluid. This meant that I was leaking amniotic fluid, but no one knew if my water had broken, was torn, or if it was a small leak that would fix itself. I started dilating and having contractions. We had to make the heartbreaking decision to remove the cerclage and see what happens next, to avoid damaging my cervix or an infection that could harm myself or the baby.
At 7:50 AM on May 23, Adalyn arrived into this world. She did not move, nor was she breathing. She was still, warm and light. She looked like her big sister’s twin. She took our breath away. The wonderful nurses and doctors cried with us throughout our 4-day hospital stay, they guided us through Adalyn’s birth and death with kind, gentle hearts and ensured we never felt alone.
Adalyn was cremated at Natural Grace Funerals and Cremations. They remembered us from when we had Wyatt cremated less than a year ago. They went above and beyond to help us and were so kind to us too. We cannot thank them enough for how they took care of us through this heartbreaking time.
Shortly after Adalyn died, I found The Cooper Project on Instagram. She is a loss mom from New York who makes necklaces for other loss moms. Her son, Cooper, died while she was pregnant with him at 39 weeks. She actually saw his heartbeat disappear on the monitor while at the doctor’s office. In honor of him, she has made necklaces for other loss moms and uses the money from necklaces sold on her Etsy shop to make more necklaces for free for loss moms. Not only does she do this, she also created the Pink and Blue Awareness project. She asked for volunteers to help make pink and blue friendship bracelets and send them to her, so she can send them out to people all over the U.S. to raise awareness during the month of October, which is Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness month. To say she is amazing is an understatement. This year, she collected over 30,000 bracelets.
Scott and I made 500 bracelets for this project and we wanted to continue to make more bracelets for Forever Footprints. We want to continue to honor the memory of our two children we have lost too soon. So please feel free to reach out and grab a bracelet for yourself or anyone else you know. We are hoping to continue to make bracelets year-round, not just for October. – Lisa Sato
Forever Footprints would like to thank the Sato Family for sharing their precious babies and their journey with our readers. With every bracelet made they are honoring and celebrating Adalyn and Wyatt. Sending our support and gratitude to the “The Cooper Project” for the advocacy they are bringing to the loss community.
You can stop into the Forever Footprints Office in Orange, Ca and pick up a Pregnancy and Infant Loss bracelet made lovingly by Lisa and Scott. Email email@example.com for more info or call (714) 509-0065. They have donated 500 to Forever Footprints and we are so grateful. You can follow Lisa on Instagram @mother_trucker13. You can follow “The Cooper Project” on Instagram @thecooperproject141
This is a season of new life. Spring is my favorite season of the year with freshly bloomed flowers spotting the green earth. Bees and butterflies dance and flutter in the breeze. I love the sound and smell of light showers falling from full clouds. Near my town, there are hills painted with bright poppies with the roadside littered with parked cars where people snap pictures of the beautiful scenery. I love this season because it reminds me of hope and a new beginning.
Over the past year, I have been slowly adapting to my new life as a bereaved mother. I’m getting used to the unfamiliar colors, sounds, and smells. Each day I embrace unique experiences. All the while, with my daughter in my heart and mind, a greater purpose for this season has risen. I never thought I could be like this. I thought my life was forever doomed for a bleak, lifeless existence.
You see, another valuable lesson has erupted from the ashes. There is a time to mourn, but there is also a time to rejoice. “But, Kaitlin, how can you rejoice after losing your daughter?!” Seems crazy, I know, but I do rejoice in my new life. I belong to a close community, yet at the same time Wendy gave me a perspective of life like I’ve never known. I have started to think for myself and take care of myself more deliberately. I have gained a better appreciation for my friends, family, and especially my husband. Yes, I see the world in different colors, and they are more vibrant than I could have imagined.
All because of Wendy. I rejoice in that.
I rejoice in new experiences every day, because I believe that suffering such incredible loss has developed me into a better version of myself. I have grown in many ways I wouldn’t have otherwise. However, rejoicing doesn’t take away the deep yearning I feel for my daughter every day. I wish she lived. I wish I could watch her grow up. I wish I knew the true color of her eyes.
It has taken me over a year to get to this place. The ability to stand amidst the charm of lovely, flowering elegance cost me crawling desperately through the dark, mournful mud. I know how hard life can be after losing a child. I know that you may feel like life will never be happy again. I know the feeling of immense loss, but it will not last forever. I promise you. It is a season, and a new season awaits. Spring will come.
Kaitlin McLaughlin is currently a grad student at Grand Canyon University, obtaining her Master’s in Education in hopes of becoming a single subject high school teacher. She’s also an Intake Specialist at a local non-profit which specializes in helping at-risk youth finish their high school education and get connected with paid work experience. After Kaitlin and her husband Ryan experienced their daughter being still born due to a neural tube defect, Kaitlin has developed a passion to help her new community of bereaved parents. They reside in Southern California with their one your old Golden Retriever. Also, they spend their time going to the beach, hanging out with friends, and exploring new eateries around their neighborhood.
I had no idea what to do. I was a first-time mom and a first-time grieving mom at the same time. I was confused, overwhelmed, and devastated. Honestly, the list can go on about everything I was feeling, but this blog would go on forever like my last one, lol. I knew every emotion possible and felt so incredibly numb at the same time, like I was separated from my being and experienced everything from a distance. Every day seemed like an eternity. The energy it took to wake up, eat, work, and make dinner was thoroughly exhausting. For the longest time I was depleted, empty, and drug myself through the motions of life.
My grieving didn’t stop there. Everything I experienced was affected by my situation. Being pregnant with a terminally diagnosed baby compelled me to avoid countless things. I didn’t look at new moms holding their babies because it made me extremely jealous. I didn’t laugh as much. I didn’t smile like I used to. I couldn’t go to family events, but when I forced myself to go, I broke down weeping in the car.
Why am I telling you this? I let myself feel it all. I didn’t push my grief aside, avoid it, or deny it. I was present and faced my reality and embraced it. As painful as it was, I’m glad I was present in my circumstance. I’m glad I shed tears, wept, and mourned. It has helped me live with my pain, rather than just pushing through it and “getting over it,” because I know a measure of my grief will never end.
I am learning to live with pain. I am adjusting myself to my new life and the new me. But this takes time. Grief is not linear. There is no “start” or “stop.” Grieving for my child is an experience that changed every fiber in my body, soul, and mind. Some things became less important and other things became more important. I gained perspective, and from there, hope was born. It took a while, but now I am excited about the future. Whatever it may be. Even if there aren’t baby’s in my future…yes even then, I am content with where this journey took me. I regret nothing.
I hope that you feel your grief, that you allow those bottled up tears to flow. It’s painful, overwhelming, lonely, and frightening. But it’s where you are right now. Take care of your grief; take care of yourself first. Because from your grief, you will gain a perspective and a hope like never before.
Kaitlin McLaughlin lives in Southern California with her husband Ryan. They welcomed their daughter Wendy into the world on November 12, 2017 but was born still due to her fatal condition. When Kaitlin was 15 weeks pregnant, doctors diagnosed Wendy with Anencephaly, a rare neural tube defect. From then on, they lived with the grief, pain, and joy of becoming parents to an angel. Since then, Kaitlin grew a passion for reaching out to others who have experienced newborn loss. She is the creator and writer for www.wendyforever.com hoping to provide support to other bereaved parents. She also works at a non-profit that provides an education and job training program for young adults. Ryan and Kaitlin love doing everything together, including spending time with their one year old Golden Retriever Leona.