April Starkey
Lost our baby girl Annabelle Cherrea
June 6, 2011 at 20 weeks
Mansfield, OH


For all of my life, as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a mom. God blessed me with Isaac and let me become one on this earth and I will forever thank Him for that. However, another thing that some may even think I’m weird for, that I wanted to experience was being pregnant long enough to feel my baby move, to see their beautiful baby outline on the ultrasound machine and hear their precious heart beating.
To find out if they are a boy or a girl and to experience labor and birthing my baby. I researched and researched and wanted to have a natural delivery with a midwife at the hospital using a doula to help with relaxation techniques and other positions and massages to help get me through labor. I wanted to take no epidurals and feel all the pain of bringing my baby into this world. I know many think that is crazy, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Though, Annabelle is home now and not still with us, God blessed me with so many gifts while being pregnant with her and answering so many of my prayers that I cannot help but praise Him and write about it. So I am going to try my best and write it all out.
We found out on February 13th, 2011 that we were expecting. I woke up in the middle of the night and took a test and practically burst through the door to show Jim who was still just trying to wake up and figure out what I was doing. I then called my mom in the middle of the night/early morning to tell her the news too. At that time, we didn’t hope for much since we had miscarried 4 times before in the first trimester so we decided that even though the outcome might be bad and we will probably miscarry again that we would praise God and be excited for the time we had with our baby. Our first appointment was just two days later and they confirmed it. From that point on we went to normal appointments and everything was going wonderful. We got to see her at just 6 w, 3 d on ultrasound when she looked more like a little blob but oh so adorable and precious to us and her heart rate was in the 190’s. Around 10-12 weeks I started to spot a little so we would go in every few days for a heart beat check and even an ultrasound. What a blessing that was because for the first time we just didn’t get to see the heart beating but we heard it. It was one of the most precious things we’ve ever heard and we have a recording of it on our phone and a recording of the ultrasound they did when she was just 11 weeks old. She was bouncing around on the machine and waving at us and moving her legs. We had never gotten this far to actually see our baby look like a baby. It was an amazing joyous day for us. One we will never forget.
We were so excited when the bleeding had stopped. Around that time we were also telling everyone finally. It was the most amazing thing to us that we finally made it out of the first trimester and into the second one. We had never done that before. We were finally feeling like this might be it, we might actually get to keep this baby. We were so excited. I started to get some maternity clothes and we started thinking about all the things we would have to get done before her arrival. It was an exciting time. All things were looking wonderful through the first part of the second trimester. Every appointment we would laugh with the midwife and doctors as they would try and hear her heart beating but she would give them a hard time because she moved around so much that they would hear it a little and then she would move and they would have to move and then finally after about 5 minutes, she would show off and come up closer and we would hear it strong and loud. It was always higher, which made us think she was a girl, always between 160-170. Everything was going wonderful. We were so thrilled. I started showing and I LOVED that, I had NEVER gotten to experience that before. I loved watching my belly grow, knowing life was growing inside of it. Right before we left for Florida to visit family we had our gender ultrasound at 18 w, 5 d and she was so healthy and perfect on the ultrasound and was even measuring ahead at 19 w, 2 d. The doctor showed us that our baby had three lines and it was a girl, we were so excited. The thought of a girl, Isaac having a little sister and being able to buy so many cute girly things made me so happy. We had a wonderful time in Florida and I started to feel her move more and more, which is another thing I always wanted to experience but never had until her. We got some great pictures while we were there and there is a great family picture of us standing by a waterfall fountain type thing that I will also treasure because we are all four together, even though she was in my tummy, it doesn’t matter, she was alive and well and growing in my tummy and so I love that picture.
I really started popping out around week 19-20 and I just loved looking at my tummy and thinking about my baby girl growing in there. We ordered the crib and her beautiful green and pink bedding and we’re just about to do the nursery the week later. On Thursday the 2nd I started to spot/bleed some and it scared me so my midwife had us go to St. Ann’s to the labor and delivery to get checked out. They were amazing and did so many tests and that night everything was great, we got a chance to see our beautiful baby girl again on the screen and hear her heart beating again, which was just wonderful. My cervix was closed and they could not figure out why I was bleeding lightly so they sent me home with instructions to follow-up on Tuesday with my midwife/doctors office. We felt good knowing baby girl was fine and that hopefully it would just go away. We thought it was starting to but then it kind of changed and some other stuff started coming out too that kind of scared me and then on Sunday morning during church I started cramping so I left and went home to lay down. It was sporadic and not too painful but I was scared now knowing I was bleeding lightly and cramping. I finally called my midwife that night and said I think I need to go in and she agreed so we went back down to St. Ann’s.
All was going well, we heard her heart beating right away which made us very happy. So we were just sitting there talking with the doctor as she was doing a cervical check thinking everything was ok and then all of a sudden she looked up and her face completely changed and she said she had some membranes poking out when she inserted the speculum. She explained it was part of the amniotic sac and that I was also dilated 2 cm. She told me that they would admit me and I would lay in a trendelenburg position all night to help the amniotic sac try and go back up into the uterus and that I would be evaluated in the morning to see if they could do a cerclage or if I would have to deliver our baby and at the time they explained the baby would not be able to survive because she would need at least a few more weeks before they could even do anything to help her. There are no words to ever describe what went over me and how I was feeling at that moment. From that moment until after I gave birth to her, I put myself kind of into autopilot and shut off the tears because I knew I needed to keep my body as relaxed as possible and be strong for her and do what I needed to do.
I could not sleep the entire night even with sleep medicine. I finally cat napped around 5-6 am and started to have contractions around 7:00ish. I woke Jim up at that time and the day began. Just a little later the doctors and such started to come in and evaluate me and the contractions were getting worse. They checked me and thought at first I was fully dilated but later realized it was the amniotic sac coming down making them think I was when I was really only 3 cm. However, my body was naturally going into labor and there was nothing they could do with me being dilated and my sac coming down so we found out that we would have to deliver her. At that point I felt kind of numb and just went into this “I have to do this, so lets just do it” mode where I just focused on the task at hand and realized I had to go through it. I knew I wanted pictures so we called a friend who is a professional photographer and she took time out of her whole day to come and wait and then take pictures of our precious Annabelle for us. We also wanted to see Annabelle one more time while she was alive, well, kicking and moving and heart beating in my tummy and asked if they would do an ultrasound just for us. They did, they were amazing and they brought it right into the room and even our parents and my sister got to watch with Jim and I as we saw Annabelle alive for the last time and we got it recorded on our phone and her last recording of her heart beating on our phone, something I will always cherish.
In the beginning of labor, I told them since I was emotionally in so much pain I didn’t think I wanted to experience physical pain so they started to give me some IV meds, just enough to take the edge off and help me get some rest in between by closing my eyes and relaxing. However, towards the last few hours of birth they didn’t work. The only thing that would work at that time was an epidural but I didn’t want one so I just breathed through the contractions and rested in between. The doctor from the office had to deliver Annabelle since I was preterm but my wonderful midwife still stuck around and helped me through it. This is something I want to document and write about because I have always wanted to know what it felt like to go through labor and bring my baby into this world. God gave me that gift and I will always remember it. Jim told me afterwards that he could never have been prouder of me and that no one could take that moment of me birthing Annabelle, away from me. Jim was just amazing through it all, in all the pictures right after birth you can see his hand on some part of me in all of them. I could go on and on about him and how amazing he was and how he is the best father in the whole world, but it would take too many pages. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have had labored and birthed Annabelle because I know not everyone that gives birth to a baby gets to experience it because of complications that may arise resulting in c-sections or them having to have an epidural. The doctor was wanting to give me Pitocin to speed labor up to help get Annabelle out but my midwife asked if we could do some natural things first for stimulation of the uterus, so we did and it worked some but the doctor still wanted Pitocin so we started the Pitocin. At that point of labor, the contractions started getting much worse. The IV meds had worn off completely and I felt everything. I have heard so many times that even women that want a natural birth but who have to end up having Pitocin many times get an epidural just because the Pitocin increases the pain so much more than it naturally would be without Pitocin. I was worried but I kept making it through until the very end, it was so intense I asked for an epidural but they let me know I was very close and they thought I could do it. My midwife was amazing and coached me through it telling me I could do it and it really helped. I am SO thankful I never got the epidural and even with Pitocin intense contractions, I labored and birthed my baby girl. Again, this will be something I’ll never forget.
I wondered how I would do since we never got to take our Bradley natural method birthing classes and I didn’t have my doula there. Thankfully all the reading I did paid off. So many of the things I read about how it might feel, turned out true for me and it made me excited knowing I was getting to experience this. I started to get them so intense and then they started to go into my butt and I remember saying how bad my butt hurt, which is right before you need to push. I couldn’t wait any longer, they were rushing in and I was just waiting for them to say go, because I was completely ready. My body naturally let me know when it was ready to push her out. Something I’ll never forget. I remembered exactly how to push from reading. Afterwards they told me I pushed perfectly. I never felt tension or straining anywhere in my body but exactly where it needed to be, as if you were pushing out a big bowel movement. I focused on exactly the point in my body that needed to push and I just did it. It was the worse pain of my life but now looking back, I loved it because I was laboring for my Annabelle, I was birthing her and I will never forget that. I am so thankful I got to experience every single pain of bringing her into this world. I remember the exact moment she came into this world after around 3 or so pushes because I felt the immediate gush/release of her body and the immediate release of no more pain. From that moment on, I had no more pain. It amazed me how immediately it went away when she came out. We requested for her to be brought right up to me on my chest so as soon as the doctor cut the cord and clamped it she was brought up to my chest for Jim and I to see. I am so thankful my mom was there because she has a picture of Annabelle right after she came out still attached to her umbilical cord, which I love because a part of her was still connected to me then through her umbilical cord.  Annabelle Cherrea Starkey was born on June 6, 2011 at 4:42 pm weighing 13.3 precious ounces and was 10.2 inches long.
We were amazed at how tiny she was yet how perfectly formed she was. Right away the doctor and midwife commented how perfect she was. I thought at first they were just being nice but after getting her report back and reading how she had no anomalies and nothing wrong with her I realized they were actually meaning it. She was perfect and formed just exactly right, but just was too small to survive on her own. We were looking at her for a moment and I asked if she was still alive but we couldn’t see her heart beating through her chest or the cord pulsating so we decided she was already with Jesus. Since she was healthy and alive in my womb, I am guessing either the trauma of birthing her out or right after the cord was cut was when she went home.
We took our time as we cried tears of joy and sorrow. Jim and I were the proudest parents I think you’ll ever meet. I remember Jim just standing there in awe of her and crying and him and I were just touching and checking out each and every little part of her. Jim didn’t know she would be so formed, so it was such a blessing and gift to him to see every little knuckle bone and ankle bone and feel her ribs and see her little ears. I then noticed how she had his big gap between her big toe and the one beside it, just like him. Her feet shaped exactly like daddy’s. We then went on to realize she had my nose, lips and hands and Jims shape of eyes along with his feet and she had a little dent in her chin just like Jim and I have. We were amazed how she had soft hair already on her head and little eyebrows growing in. Her eyes were not opened yet so we were so thankful to know the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes was her Savior. We can only imagine what that must have been like for her.
We each held and cried over her and talked to her for what felt like forever. I sang to her and I cannot remember all the songs but I do remember singing “How can I keep from singing” by Chris Tomlin and “I will carry you” by Selah to her along with many more. We felt so thankful to have had this time with her. Our family came in and her grandparents got to see and hold her and her aunt Monica did too. We brought Isaac in and had some family pictures done with him and her and introduced him to his baby sister. It was a sweet time. After everyone left, Jim and I held her, said our last little bits and prayed with her holding each other thanking God for her and praying for strength to let her go. How awesome to know that as we were praying to Him and holding our baby girl, He was holding her too. She was home. That is when I let the flood gates open, from then on, they haven’t stopped because we love her so much and she will be missed and loved and a place missing in our hearts that will not be able to be filled until we see her again when we are all together with our Savior. We found out we were able to see her the next day and the hospital was so amazing and gave us so many beautiful keepsakes. We also found out we could even take her home with us to the funeral home. So on the hour drive home I got to hold her in my arms and sing to her and when we got there it was the hardest thing we had to do. We pulled in the parking lot and stopped the car and held each other and each had a hand on her and Jim and I both prayed. God carried us through and helped us give her to the funeral directors, knowing that would be the last time we saw her precious face while we are on this earth.
So we grieve, but we grieve with hope. We know we will see her again. We got to spend a “little while” with Annabelle, and we will have a “little while” where we will be apart, but the next time we see our precious Annabelle, we will be together forever with our Savior. I will cling to that! Thank you God for the “little while.”
I’ll finish with this quote that reminds us that even though her life was short, we are so blessed that God picked us to be her parents. For some reason that we wont know this side of heaven, He picked us to be Annabelle’s parents and He picked HER to leave this world early so that He could do a mighty work through her short life for His kingdom. He has a purpose for her life, He will bring good from it and I cannot wait until the day when all things are new and we see everything unfolded and we will be home together with Annabelle, our other children and with our Savior and we will worship Him forever.
“The amount of time on earth matters very little: a man can live in greed and pride 90 years and never find God, know Him or accomplish His Plan. A stillborn baby on the other hand, teaches people to love, brings people to the Lord, teaches us the tenuous nature of life and teaches us a faith that those who have not suffered loss can never know. A child not even breathing for an hour, can have an impact greater than a famous preacher. The purpose of a life is not ours to decide nor in our hands: it is brought about by God”

Forever in our hearts, we love you so much Annabelle, more than you’ll ever know and God, my beautiful Annabelle, loves you even more than that!

Love, daddy & mommy


April blogs at www.starkeyfamilythree.blogspot.com

She can be contacted at aprilcstarkey@gmail.com

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  1. Christa says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. But your story is a great story of faith and acceptance. I have faith but sometimes struggle with the acceptance of my loss at 13 weeks. Your story brought me to tears. I wish you the best and absolutely pray everything works out well for you and your family.

  2. I first have to tell you how sorry I am to hear about all your losses. And how awful and awesome at the same time it must have been to deliver her, you show amazing strength. I also wanted to tell you that we were sent to St. Ann’s for extra testing and ultrasounds as well, our news was not good right away. I am close to you if you ever want to meet one another for dinner or anything like that. If you need any support at all please contact me. I live in the Columbus area, but I am from Bucyrus so I am familiar with the Mansfield area. I am so sorry this has happened to you and your family. My story was recently posted on here and it was a great sense of comfort and relief to be able to tell my story and have so many people relate to it.

    I admire you strength and wish you luck on your journey towards a family.

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss, April. Your strength is remarkable. I wish you all the best, and I will keep you in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your story.

  4. April I am so sorry for your family’s loss and you wrote your story beautifully. The faith, love and strength your family has is amazing and so touching. My prayers are with you during this hard time. God bless.

  5. God bless you!! you are absolutely right, the Lord had a purpose for beautiful Annabelle & hopefully thru your testimony you will be able to bring many many lives to Him. I pray for God to give you strength during this difficult time.

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