Mother to Leia Grace

Delivered still on January 11, 2011

North Carolina

Our story begins just over three years ago. My husband and I had met two years prior and were married in April 2008. We were both very ready to start a family and build our lives together. We tried for almost one year on our own and then we both went to get checked out and make sure there was nothing wrong with us. Our doctor diagnosed us with “unexplained infertility.” They were not sure why we were not having success with conceiving on our own as there was nothing medically wrong with either one of us. We tried a round of clomid with no success and also two IUI procedures that were unsuccessful. It was at this point that we met with our fertility doctor and asked about the possibility of IVF. He suggested that it was probably the best route for us since we were not conceiving on our own. We learned this information in the fall of 2009. After much thought, discussion and talk about this option we decided to try IVF in the spring of 2010. We also changed offices and moved to a private office that specializes in IVF and infertility issues. We were both really happy with this office and had a recommendation from a friend as well as had checked out all the doctors that were associated with this office. We were very happy with their backgrounds and experience with infertility and IVF. So we began our round of IVF with the medication that helps grow your follicles. I took this medication for several days and had much success with this part of the procedure. I went for many vaginal ultrasounds that were very painful due to your ovaries being pumped with the medication. It was during this time that one of my doctors told me that I did have a mild case of endometriosis and that could have been the reason we were not conceiving on our own. They were able to extract several eggs that were then harvested with my husband’s sperm producing embryos that would be implanted into my uterus. I had the implantation done on May 11, 2010.  Thus began the two-week wait to find out if we had success with the implantation. We had two embryos implanted and were excited thinking about the possibilities of twins. During this time our office monitored my blood and was determining if I was indeed pregnant. From all the numbers and what they could tell I was pregnant. Ah, yes. Success finally! I was actually pregnant for the first time in my life and so excited. I remember the day of the implantation and saying to my husband how I wanted my body to work and take on the embryos. You have to remember that at this point I was not even sure I could become pregnant.

It was then one month later that we had our first ultrasound and the doctors showed me a picture of our baby that was growing. At this point they could only see one embryo growing. They told us that my body had absorbed the other embryo. At this point we knew our percentages of both embryos taking and we were happy that one embryo was still growing. We had talked about the possibility of twins but we also knew the chances of just having a singleton and we were just happy to have one embryo at this point and finally a pregnancy! I remember our doctor calling me to congratulate us and telling me that we more than likely had a singleton. We went back one more time to this office for another ultrasound on June 14 (flag day). We were both so excited to be experiencing this incredible miracle of a little baby that was growing inside of me. During this visit our doctor recommended me to a maternal specialist due to my advanced age. He wrote the name of the doctor on a piece of paper and told me to call this office and get scheduled for another appointment in a few weeks. I specifically remember attempting to get into this office and was told that I would see a regular OB/GYN doctor rather than the maternal specialist. I wonder now if I had seen that doctor if our outcome would have been different.

I went to every check-up and appointment with our new OB/GYN faithfully. We also saw a genetics counselor who gave us our odds of issues arising during the pregnancy due to our ages. We were also given the stats for the possibility of a baby with Down Syndrome. It is standard procedure in our state that you be counseled on genetics and possible outcomes. They had advised us that we should have a CVS or Amnio to determine if our baby had any genetic disorders. This was all optional and we were also concerned with risking the pregnancy. We knew that an Amnio could possibly bring on a miscarriage and we were not prepared to take that risk due to all that we had been through to get to this point. We decided that no matter what we would carry the baby and have him/her no matter what we learned about their genetics. We were also advised that at an 18 or 20 week ultrasound that they could determine and look at certain markers that would indicate or show if there were any concerns. We had an ultrasound done at 18 weeks. I remember the doctor that came in after reviewing the results. She seemed like she could be our mother and she had a very good bedside manner. We were very happy when she told us both that from everything she could see and tell, she thought our baby was fine. It was also during this time that we learned we were expecting a baby girl! I kind of thought that I was carrying a girl and while we had both said we would be happy with whatever the gender was our main focus was that we just wanted a healthy baby.  That day when we left the hospital I told my husband that I thought our baby girl was just fine and that there was nothing wrong with her.

Most of my pregnancy was uneventful from that point on. My Leia made it a very nice pregnancy for me. She was so good to me. I had some mild back pain but none that couldn’t be tolerated. I was tired quite a bit but always took a daily nap that helped get me through the day. I made every doctor appointment and everything was checking out normally. I faithfully took my prenatal vitamins and folic supplements. I ate very healthy while also trying to deal with mild heartburn and some cravings. I passed the blood sugar test with flying colors, my weight was on track and at every appointment my blood pressure was normal. My doctor was a little concerned with the placement of my placenta and had that monitored during the pregnancy with several ultrasounds. He had diagnosed it as mild placenta previa, which means the placenta is not where it should be for delivery. At an ultrasound in mid-December they determined that the placenta had moved enough that I would be able to deliver vaginally. I loved going to the appointments and hearing our little girls heartbeats. I remember telling the doctor how the sound of her heartbeat reminded me of a horse galloping. I rode horses in my childhood and couldn’t wait to get my little girl into riding one day.

At the end of my pregnancy in early January I was moved to weekly appointments. At the January 3 appointment I told my doctor that I was experiencing what I thought were Braxton Hicks. My belly would get very hard at times but then would go away. They were never very painful. He told me this was normal and that my body was beginning to prepare for labor. It was at this appointment that he told me if I did go into labor that my baby girl would be fine and that she would not have to go to the NICU. I remember thinking to myself that I would not be happy until she was in my arms and he told me she was healthy. I wondered why he would say something so definitive or make that kind of statement. I should have been hopeful and thinking the same however as a mother I just wanted my baby girl healthy and wanted to hear her being born and crying. This is also the one appointment that my husband did not go to. We had talked that morning and I told him if he wanted to skip this one that I would understand since he would be missing work later in the month due to our little girl arriving. I am so sorry to this day that he did not go to that appointment and I know he is as well though he has never said anything about it to me. It was after this appointment when something went wrong. During the next few days I felt less movement of our baby girl but didn’t really think much of it. I had called the nurse line and they explained to me what I needed to do. I was counting kick counts and then I did read in the WTE book that you would feel less movement due to the pregnancy progressing and their being less room for the baby. My next appointment would be on the 10 of January. We woke up that morning to an ice storm that was being predicted for our area. I called my doctor office, as I wanted to get in that morning rather than wait till later in the day. I think we ended up getting an earlier appointment but never saw our doctor till our usual time as he was running late. I remember when he walked into the exam room he asked me if I had been crying and I told him no but that we were concerned about Leia and her movement. He quickly got out his monitor to check her heartbeat and when he grabbed my wrist to check my pulse I knew right then that something was not right. He stepped out of the room to get another machine and I told my husband that I was afraid something was wrong. I had him come up next to me on the examining table and hold my hand. When our doctor returned he had another doctor who was a woman and they checked the ultrasound and found then that our little girl’s heartbeat could not be found. At that moment my life and heart were shattering, hearing the news that your baby girl has died. She died inside of me. I had failed her. I somehow had lost my baby girl in the pregnancy. We were devastated and next thing we know our doctor is explaining to us that I would have to be induced and admitted to the hospital. We were sobbing, crying, trying to understand what had happened, that she could be gone. Just in one week everything had changed and gone from so good to so bad, to hell. Our doctor wanted to admit me right then to the hospital however we asked if we could first go home and then come back in a few hours. We went home to call our immediate family, gather some things and make arrangement for our pets. We then made the somber drive back to the hospital and admitted ourselves to the Labor and Delivery floor. We arrived around 6pm that night and saw our first doctor a couple of hours later. They gave me some medication internally that would induce labor. They gave me ambian to try and help me rest but with all that had happened I was not sleeping. I was devastated and so upset that I was in the hospital to deliver our baby girl and thinking that I would never hear her sounds or crying. The next day on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 our daughter Leia Grace was born still at 8:45pm. She weighted 4 pounds and 8 ounces and was 19 inches long. She was so beautiful and had dark brown hair and the daintiest features. She looked like a little china doll and was so precious to us. When she was delivered the doctor put her on my belly immediately after she came out. I will never forget feeling her on my body and that moment. She was then taken by a nurse and cleaned up and we were able to spend some time with her. They also took pictures of her and we also took some but not nearly enough. I wish now we had taken more but we were doing the best we could and I think we were both in a state of shock. My sister-in-law and niece were also in the hospital when Leia was delivered and they both held her and spent some time with her.  The rest of our family who are all out of state would arrive later in the week. After this point we also had some more alone time with Leia and just held and loved her as much as we could in the short time that we had with her. I remember shaking uncontrollably and just thinking how much I wanted my Leia with me and alive. We learned many weeks later that Leia Grace had Down syndrome.

I miss my Leia Grace everyday and I am just trying to move forward the best way possible. There is no timeline for grief and it is heartbreaking to have everything you were hoping and planning for ripped away. I continue to keep Leia Grace in my heart, love her and try to find ways each day to remember and honor her.


Shelly can be contacted at

She blogs at

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  1. Laura Rosendale says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. My heart and prayers go out to you. I had a miscarriage due to a triploidy birth defect. She was a female too. I am 35. I was wondering if your blood tests/ultrasounds for downs came back positive and how old you were?

  2. Shelly, so sorry for the loss of your beautiful daughter. My daughter, Evelyn, was stillborn on January 17th at 33 weeks. Evelyn was really close in size to Leia, 4 lbs 3 oz and 19 inches long. The hospital staff was not able to find a cause for her death. Leia is such a beautiful name. May God grant you peace as you grieve.

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