Mom to Adalynn Grace
November 15, 2013
Princeton, West Virginia
It was November 12, 2013…13 days before my due date. I laid in bed with Matthew watching Adalynn move around in my belly. She liked to kick me as hard as she could whenever I would talk to her, but little did I know, this would be the last time I would feel her move. She wasn’t moving the next morning, though I didn’t worry as this was normal for her, especially since she was getting so cramped in my tummy. So I went about my day, washing her clothes and organizing her things for her arrival. The day after, I was awakened by my alarm clock. So much excitement was in store for me as it was my last baby doctor appointment and my OB would be choosing a date for me to be induced. As I started driving down the road, Addie’s favorite song came on the radio (Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke). I began singing it to her and noticed how completely still it was inside me. I pushed hard on my stomach to get her to move but still, there was nothing. I felt panic in my mind but was quickly comforted at the thought of me being at the doctor soon to check up on her. I signed in, sat down, and anxiously updated my status on Facebook to inform my family of the big day. Minutes later, I was called back to have my blood pressure and weight taken. When I stepped on the scales, my weight was the same. I didn’t gain anything and that was very unusual for me, especially with it being the final two weeks of my pregnancy. The nurse told me to go to room one after I used the bathroom to give them a urine sample. I sat down waiting in the room when my doctor and his student came in. He told me to lay back while his student rubbed the jelly on my stomach and began searching for my daughter’s heartbeat. My doctor was looking at his calendar, telling me how he would most likely be inducing me the following week when his student said he was having trouble finding where she was. So my doctor took over and tried finding her heartbeat himself. At first there was nothing but static and then I heard something, but he quickly told me it was my own heartbeat. Finally my doctor said, “Well, let’s see what this kid’s doing” and he wheeled the ultrasound machine over to me. At this point, I knew something wasn’t right. My palms became sweaty and my heart almost jumped right out of my chest. On the screen, the first thing that came up was an image of her head and brain. Then once it showed her body, I knew. With it being my second pregnancy, I knew how ultrasounds worked and what everything looked like. I glanced at her heart and saw that nothing was moving, nothing was flickering. I closed my eyes tight and prayed, “Oh God, please, let her heart beat now. Please let my baby be okay.” I opened my eyes back up to the same haunting image, my daughter’s heart…Motionless. I finally looked at him and asked bluntly, “Is she dead?” I was hoping he would reassure me, that my mind was just playing a cruel trick on me, and that my daughter was okay. He looked at me with empty eyes and replied, “Unfortunately, yes.” At that moment, I sat up and yelled, “No! No, are you serious? You have to be kidding me!” I whipped out my phone and called Matthew, but he was asleep at home and didn’t answer. My doctor said, “Debbie, I know now isn’t the best time, but I really need to check you for dilation.” I didn’t even utter a word, I just spread my legs and frantically dialed Matthew’s mom’s number. No answer. Finally, I called Matthew’s dad and he picked up. In tears and sobbing, I screamed, “Kevin, the baby is dead! They can’t find her heartbeat. I need someone to come here right away.” In shock, he said, “Okay, I’m on my way” and hung up the phone. A nurse came in, helped wipe the jelly off me, and handed me my pants. I looked at her with mascara running down my cheeks and said, “I can’t believe this. She was fine just last week when I was here.” The nurse looked down at the floor with sadness and told me that she was sorry. My doctor took me to his office, handed me a box of tissues, and began discussing what we were going to do next. Matthew and his parents finally came in. I could tell Matthew was worried by the look he had on his face. “What’s going on with the baby?” I blew my nose into the tissue, looked at him directly in the eyes, and said, “She’s gone, Matt. We lost her.” He immediately ran for the trash can and threw up. After talking with the doctor, we decided we wanted to be induced right away. I couldn’t bear the thought of her being dead inside of me. I wanted her out and safe in my arms, since the rest of my body seemed to have failed her. We got to the hospital and went over to the registration desk. The lady asked me what I was there for and I immediately broke down and said, “My baby died inside of me. I was sent here by my doctor to get an ultrasound to confirm it and to be induced.” Without hesitation, she pulled up a wheelchair and took me to the ultrasound room. I’ll never forget how numb I felt, how my mind was in complete shock, how I was having difficulty wrapping my head around everything that had just happened. The ultrasound tech, with a look of concern on her face, was frantically searching for answers but found nothing. I remember looking at the screen and seeing Adalynn’s precious face. I asked, “Is that her face?” The ultrasound tech looked at me with devastation and said, “Yes, I’m so sorry.” They wheeled me back upstairs while tears ran from my eyes, I laid on the bed and all I could feel was a numbness, disbelief, and hopelessness. The nurse and doctor spoke to me about inducing me, talking to counselors, how sorry they were, handed me grief hand-outs and books. All the while I could hardly grasp a word they were saying. I wanted to scream at them, at everyone. I just wanted to go home and pretend like none of this ever happened. I was terrified, it was a fear I couldn’t explain. How exactly was I supposed to go through labor and give birth to my dead daughter only to say goodbye? The hours passed by as the contractions began, I was surrounded by such wonderful people who tried their best to keep a smile on my face. There were tears, laughter, and screaming on my part, though the fear of what was coming never left me. It was in these hours that I saw how truly amazing Matthew was as he wiped my tears, held me, and swept my hair from my face…Never once leaving my side. The next morning, at 6:00 a.m., Adalynn Grace Browning was born weighing 7 pounds and measuring out to be 20 inches long. The silence was deafening, with Briannah I had heard her sweet cries but this time there was nothing. I held Matthew and cried heavily with him while they took her from the room to clean and dress her as I had requested. Before we knew it, they brought her in. I was strangely eager and excited to see her, after all I had been waiting 9 months to meet her. The nurse wheeled her in, she laid in a bassinet dressed in cheetah print and swaddled in the blanket I had brought for her. I cried into Matt as I mumbled how beautiful she was, an angel so perfect. Once the nurse placed Adalynn in my arms, my heart filled with so much love. My eyes wept, not from sadness, but of how beautiful she was. Even in eternal sleep, she was perfect. Matthew and I spent time looking at her, laughing at her chunky double chin, and talking to her. After the photographer, doctor, nurses, and our family went out of the room, we had time to spend alone with her where I spoke to her about how much we loved her. I told her how much I wanted her, how amazing her Daddy was, and that I wish she got to grow up to see that. I told her of her wonderful big sister and laughed while telling her she would have spent her life fighting over Barbies with her. I rocked her, kissed her, and examined her little hands and face so I wouldn’t ever forget. When it came time to say goodbye, I felt like I was being torn in half. How could I lay her down knowing I would never pick her up again? I had been with her since the day she was created and now I had to let her go. Matthew lightly encouraged me by telling me it was time for her to rest, so I kissed her one last time, told her how sorry I was, that I loved her so very much, then laid her down, and tucked her blanket around her. Having her wheeled out of that room felt like I was being stabbed in the heart. Walking past the rooms of happy new moms, past the mom going in to give birth…It was all too painful to bear. Leaving the hospital without your baby is something no parent should ever have to feel. All in one day, we had said hello and goodbye to our daughter and all of our memories with her that were built in just a few short hours. Now we have nothing left to do but to miss her, think of her, and try to heal. There were many more challenges in the next few days, like picking out her casket and songs to play at her funeral, but now it’s all over. Over, for people to slowly forget her and her name, for life to go on…While our lives stand still, while our hearts and lives lie shattered on the floor. Our daughter was born still, but she was still loved, still beautiful, and still a blessing. This is my story, this is her story. The story of a mother with empty arms, a broken father, a big sister left confused, and a little girl who never got to see the beauty of this world.
Debbie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and