Mama to Kamryn Avery, bornstill March 11, 2006
Oliver Cullen, bornstill January 17, 2012

Raleigh, North Carolina

My husband and I have 5 beautiful children, Lauren is 13, Hailey is 11, Kaleb is 8, Bodie is 3, & Lilah is 1.  After Kaleb, in 2005, we decided to try and conceive again and were so excited to find out very soon after starting that we were pregnant again.
At my 18 week appointment the ultrasound tech looked long and hard and then sent us back to see the Midwife, who informed us that our baby was a girl and she had a 1/24 chance of having Down’s Syndrome.  At this point we both immediately started crying, I guess it’s normal to go through the stages of grief similar to losing a child, but that’s exactly what we did.  We cried, we made calls, everyone cried with us, BUT we were going to LOVE her with all our hearts no matter what was wrong with her.  We were sent to a genetic counselor 2 days later who wanted to do an amnio and told us the risk of miscarriage if done, and because she was our baby and to be loved no matter what we decided NOT to have the amnio.  We came to accept that she may or may not have something wrong with her, but we loved her more than words and were going to protect her with our lives.  We picked her name soon after this, Kamryn Avery, and she would have the same initials as my husband, Kevin, as well as Kaleb, her big brother.
The rest of my pregnancy was crazy. I suffered from undiagnosed Celiac Disease and was sick constantly, in and out of the emergency department (actually L&D since I was more than 20 weeks), where they would tell me nothing was wrong and they didn’t understand why I was crying, in pain, and throwing up so much.  This happened about 14 times over the last 12 weeks of my pregnancy.  I even suggested to someone that I may have Celiac Disease but it was so unheard of in 2006 that no one believed me.  Finally at 37w4d I started contracting and went into L&D.  I was told it could be early labor but I wasn’t dilating, but that I needed to stay longer so baby would wake up because there were no decels or accels in her heart rate so she must be sleeping.  I pointed out that my stomach was going crazy with kicks and even the contraction monitor reflected the kicks so there was no possible way she was sleeping.  The nurse responded with, oh ok, you can go home then.  I felt uneasy leaving and told her I thought something was wrong with my baby and she said this happens all the time and to go home and come back when my contractions actually hurt.  That night and the next day I barely felt movement, she didn’t make any shifts and didn’t kick daddy in the back when I snuggled close to him like always.  Friday morning when I woke up with Kevin for work (he was Air Force) I felt one last movement, almost like she was giving up and couldn’t take the suffering anymore, and that was it, the very last time she moved.  I did my normal routine, made breakfast, took the big kids to school etc. and just before lunch my heart sank and I knew she was gone.  I grabbed the 2 kids that were home, and went to the school to get my older daughter, crying frantically, but no one seemed to be in a hurry even with my distressed look.  I arrived at L&D with my 3 kids in tow, I didn’t bother calling Kevin because he left work 2 days earlier for a false alarm and I was praying this was a false alarm as well.  At L&D not one person looked concerned even with my crying, maybe because I had been there so many times sick from Celiac Disease that they were just annoyed with me.  I was taken to a triage room, smaller than my closet with my 3 young children lined up against the wall while people came in and out, trying with dopplers, ultrasound machines, and more dopplers to find my daughter’s heart beat.  Time stood still, I could hear my cries but it seemed like I was watching it all happen from above me, this wasn’t real, it wasn’t me going through this, my daughter was alive not dead.  After what seemed like an eternity (probably only 10 minutes) they said they were sorry but she had died.  I let out a cry and scream at the same time, my poor babies standing there telling me not to cry and asking me what was wrong with me, “Mommy, it’s ok, don’t cry.”  Another person came in and asked where they could find my husband so he could be called and they offered to call a friend to come get my children before taking them to another room to watch TV while they waited.  During this time I was moved to an L&D room at the far end of the hallway and Kevin was called to come from Shriever AFB to Ft. Carson as quickly as possible.  He was at a fire on a call so they had to locate him and tell him to get to a phone as quick as he could and call the hospital but it sounded like something was wrong.  When he called they didn’t want to tell him what was wrong on the phone, but he demanded they tell him right then.  Your baby has passed away, the voice on the other end of the phone told him, you need to come to the hospital right now, your wife and kids are here.  Sickness, despair, anger, sadness, every single feeling or emotion you could possibly have fell over him.  He was told not to drive that someone else would take him to me, and that person drove as fast as he could to get Kevin to me, to us.  During the drive (it wasn’t a short one), Kevin was able to call him mom and tell her and some time called my parents to tell them.  When he finally made it to the hospital he ran to me and cried out, it’s not your fault, you didn’t do anything wrong and we both laid there crying on each other.  Someone finally came into the room with us and told us our options, go home and labor would start on it’s on within a few weeks, live in the hospital until labor started, or they could induce me right then.  I chose to be induced because I couldn’t bear the thought of going home with a dead baby inside my womb.  Nurse after Doctor came into the room telling us one thing after another, none of which I remember though, and a friend came to get my older children and keep them with her (thank you Christan!).  I asked for pain medicine and everything they could give me so I didn’t feel anything, I didn’t deserve to be in pain when she wasn’t even alive.  I didn’t even think about Kevin, sitting there in this room suffering and grieving while I laid there with all these drugs unaware of much of anything.  The night passed, then half of the next day.  We called a dear friend of mine named Anna, she holds a very special place in my heart, and she came to be with us.  After Anna arrived Kevin went home to shower.  While he was gone I felt pressure and I knew it was time, Anna rushed to call him to hurry back and just as he walked into the room it was time to push.  Kamryn Avery was born into this world, not breathing, on March 11, 2006 @ 1:37pm, weighing 7 lbs 3 ounces and 19 inches long, with blond hair all over her tiny little head.  She was wrapped and handed to him to hold.  While they took care of me Kevin and a nurse went to give her a bath and dress her in the perfect outfit we had to bring her home in, and the blanket I made to snuggle her in, only we weren’t going to bring her home with us.  We took lots of pictures of her, and us, kissing her, and loving her, and crying with her.  With the next 8 hours my mom, my dad, and Kevin’s parents flew across the country to be with us and meet their granddaughter that they would never get to see again.  I was released from the hospital after that and sent home.  The next few days are a blur, funeral arrangements had to be made in Colorado and in Ohio since we were burying her there.  It seemed like the best place for her to be since we weren’t permanent and we have lots of family in Cincinnati that will be there forever.  I had to commend my dear sweet husband for being so strong and taking care of all the details, of literally everything, I couldn’t function and he was amazing, still is.  We buried her on Saturday, March 18, 2006 in Spring Grove Cemetery, in Cincinnati OH.  We will never forget the beautiful little Angel that touched our lives, if ever so brief, so will forever be loved and missed.
After Kamryn was born still I suffered 3 early miscarriages in 2006-2007.
Fast forward to 2011, our desire for another child was still there, although our family was bigger than the average.  We didn’t care what others thought, still don’t, we love our children more than the world.  We had our first adults only vacation in early October 2011, as a matter of fact, I don’t remember the last time WE had such a great time.  When we came home all the symptoms of pregnancy were peaking, unplanned but not totally unexpected, I was pregnant again.  Baby number 7 was on his way, and we were so excited.  We told the kids right away because I was too sick to hide it from them, had several appointments to make sure all was well and saw him moving his tiny little limbs on ultrasound.  At 11w1d I went in for the NT scan and he looked perfect, we saw a great “nub” shot with a boy looking nub showing and I knew from that moment he was a he.  Kevin and I argued over names like usual, and he liked Oliver and I liked Cullen but we couldn’t agree on anything permanent.  We celebrated Thanksgiving and told family, and then celebrated Christmas in Cincinnati showing all our friends.  By this time I looked a little bit like I was pregnant and was 16+ weeks so we were confident telling our dear friends and extended family.  I had an appt on January 5th, and all was well, great heartbeat, everything was normal and perfect.  My next appointment was on Tuesday, January 17th with a Maternal Fetal Medicine Dr. because of my history I had to be transferred to them.  We were so excited because it was our “big” ultrasound and we could confirm he was a he and see all his tiny little parts.  On Monday night I dreamt that something was wrong, but didn’t tell Kevin, besides why would we have to endure this type of loss 2 times in our life time, it just seemed ridiculous and crazy.  Tuesday morning as I was dressing, I walked over to look at Kamryn’s picture and read the poem we have framed about her going to live with Jesus in Heaven and I cried, but silently so no one could hear or see me.  I was so afraid something was wrong with him.  The time came for us to go in, and my mom drove over (2 hours away) to keep our small children so we could go and meet the new Dr by ourselves.  We arrived a bit early but they were doing great with appointments and got us in just before our time.  The nurse came in and said she could do the heartbeat check for us before the Dr came in to meet us.  I breathed very deep and laid back, only to discover there was no heartbeat.  Again, this was happening to us AGAIN.  One machine, another machine, the Dr and another machine, all confirmed what I couldn’t bear to look at on the screen.  Our sweet boy passed away that morning, without warning, our son was gone.  After a few hours we were sent over to ultrasound so they could check for abnormalities that may have caused his death, but there were none.  They confirmed he was a he, and i knew his name was Oliver Cullen, Kevin agreed that we should name him that.  I had lots of blood work, and went back to see the Dr who gave us all our options, just like last time.  Only this time I couldn’t be induced because of my history, I had to have a D&E or C-section and the recovery from a D&E would be much easier on me physically than a C-section (I’d had 2 already plus a uterine rupture) so we decided at that moment without any details to do the D&E.  I was told only after the fact that seaweed sticks had to be inserted into my cervix to make it start dilating.  Once again, my poor sweet husband had to sit there and watch me suffer in pain, numbing medication shots, sticks inserted, everything that goes along with it while I cried hysterically.  I cried in pain, I cried for my sweet boy, Oliver Cullen, I cried because Kevin was suffering, I cried for my older kids who would be devastated.  They said I only had a 3% chance of going into labor from this and to come back Thursday morning for surgery.  Instead I started having contractions and we had to rush to the hospital Tuesday night, to the ER where they were waiting for us (the MFM gave me her home number and I called her first) and the D&E was performed at midnight Tuesday night.  Just like that, our baby was gone.  We didn’t get to hold him, or kiss his tiny little head, or tell him goodbye.  I just wanted one minute with him, to tell him how much we loved him, and how wanted he was.  And, in a few weeks we’ll have an Urn sitting here with our tiny little Oliver’s ashes in it.  Mommy and Daddy love you sweet boy.
You can contact Teneal at tenkeveal@yahoo.com.
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  1. I’m so very sorry for your losses. My baby girl was born still at 38 weeks because of a true cord knot. It was the most devastating thing I have ever been through and have had a very hard time ever since. My thoughts are with you and your precious family. ((hugs))

    • Sarah Connell says:

      Im so sorry to hear this you sweet girl… I lost my little guy at 19 weeks and still cry that I didnt take pictures with him. I am just so sorry that it had to happen to you twice. Its just heartbreaking.. I have had my fair share of opinions about how many children I ‘should’ have as well so I understand that as well. My heart aches for your family…Thank you so much for sharing your story (big hugs)

    • Thank you Monica. This has definitely been one journey I wish none of us had to take. I think I’m doing a bit better than I was a few weeks ago, but that’s to be expected. After losing Kamryn I learned (we learned) that life moves forward and with each passing day things get a tiny bit easier. It never goes away, and you never get over it (no matter what anyone says) but it becomes part of who you are. I consider myself one of the lucky ones though, my husband might be one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met. He is always here to hold me up, even if he too needed holding, he puts me first. I’m sorry for the loss of your daughter, and I wish you peace in your journey forward. xoxo Teneal

  2. Teneal, I am so sorry for the loss of your babies. We lost our son on January 15, 2012. He was born still as well. My heart goes out to you and your family. I live in Colorado Springs, but besides that, our stories have striking similarities. Words aren’t enough, and sometimes inappropriate. Just know you’re not alone, and although we’re strangers, you will be in my prayers tonight.

  3. I’m very sorry for your loss. I’m new to the website and just read your story. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling it seems so unfair for someone to have to go through even one loss of a baby let alone 2. My 3rd child my first daughter was born at 32 wks she wad placed in the nicu with breathing problems we fig it was due to her being premature. We learned a few wks later that her brain never fully developed and would not be able to breath or eat on her own and many other things. She passed 17 days after she was born. I was completely devastated and still am. Shortly after I was blessed with another lil girl who is healthy. Like u I love having a big family I have 2 boys and one lil girl here with me and a lil angel to watch over us! My thoughts and prays are with u and it family and ur lil angels.

  4. I am so very sorry for you losses. I have said a prayer that you would feel God’s love and comfort and that you would hold your babies some day in heaven.

  5. Teneal,
    Your story is absolutely heart breaking. I can tell that you are a loving & strong woman. Thank you for sharing your story. Your precious babies were too perfect for this world..I pray for comfort and peace for you.

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