Mom to Kara Chase

March 26, 2016

Glen Burnie, Maryland

March 26, 2016 was supposed to be a normal day. My four year old daughter, Kayleigh, had her first t-ball practice and my husband and I were excited to watch her. The very next day was Easter and I would officially be 28 weeks pregnant. I was happy that I would finally be in my third trimester with our second daughter, Kara. We were looking forward to welcoming her into our family in June. Kayleigh was excited to have a little sister. We were so happy. Little did we know that our entire world would come crashing down on us and it would turn into the worst day of our lives.

I woke up that morning feeling some tightening in my stomach. I brushed it off as Braxton Hicks. I was only 28 weeks pregnant so I couldn’t be having contractions. Besides, when I went into labor with Kayleigh, the contractions felt like cramps in my lower back from the very beginning. I even looked up Braxton Hicks because I didn’t remember having them with Kayleigh. I read that it is very common for women to feel them more in second pregnancies and they feel like a tightening in the stomach. So that was definitely what was happening in my mind. There was nothing to worry about.

At Kayleigh’s practice, the feeling in my stomach was still there. I began to get a little more worried. Braxton Hicks are supposed to go away after a little bit but these were not going away. By the end of the practice it felt like they were radiating to my back. I called the hospital. I was told to take some Tylenol, drink a lot of water and lay down. We came home and I did that. However, something just didn’t feel right. I told my husband I needed to go to the hospital. Without thinking, we just went, bringing Kayleigh with us. When we arrived we were told that Kayleigh was not allowed in labor and delivery so my husband had to wait with her in the lobby while I went up.

The whole time thoughts were spinning in my head. How could this be happening? It had to be a false alarm!There had been nothing wrong with my pregnancy so far. I had no risk factors for preterm labor, the baby was healthy according to all of our doctor appointments and Kayleigh was born at exactly 40 weeks. I just knew that they were going to stop the contractions and possibly put me on bed rest.

I would soon find out that I was extremely wrong. After being hooked up to monitors and given a pelvic exam, I was told that I was indeed in active labor and I was already 6 centimeters dilated. They were going to try to stop the labor but they could not guarantee that it would work. There was a strong possibility that I would be having my baby very soon. In shock, I called my husband. I told him to find someone to take Kayleigh because most likely Kara would be coming soon. He was stunned. He called multiple family members before finding someone who was close by and able to meet him to get her.

Meanwhile I was given magnesium and a bunch of other things but the contractions were just getting closer and stronger. I knew she was coming. I managed to get ahold of my parents and told them to come to the hospital. The doctors assured me that babies born at 28 weeks have a great chance of living and that Kara would be in the best hands.The doctors began to prep me for a c-section. I was supposed to have a planned c-section because Kayleigh was born via emergency c-section. While I was being prepped, my water broke. Everything was happening so fast. One doctor said that Kara was in the birth canal and I needed to push even though she was breech.Two big pushes was all it took and she was out. My husband ran into the room immediately after she was born.

Kara was taken to the NICU shortly after she was born. I was wheeled into a recovery room. It was the same room that I met my first precious daughter in 4 years ago after my emergency c-section. I had to be put under general anaesthesia and was not able to meet her until 2 hours after she was born. My husband and I waited anxiously to hear some news on our Kara. The whole time we were in shock. Why did I give birth so early?

The NICU doctor came in and delivered the worst news any parent can receive. There was nothing they could do for Kara. Her lungs were just not developed enough, even though most baby’s lungs are strong enough at 28 weeks. How was this happening? Right after that my parents came in and I had to deliver the awful news to them. Kara was brought in for us to hold her. She was still alive but a nurse was manually pumping oxygen into her. We had her baptized by the hospital chaplain. At some point my husband’s parents came in. We all passed her around and cried and then we decided to let the nurse take out her tube. There was no sense in prolonging it. I arrived at the hospital around 2:00 p.m., Kara Chase was born by 4:00 and she died by 5:30. All it took was 3.5 hours to change our lives forever in the worst way possible.

Later on, the NICU doctor told us everything that was wrong with Kara. She had a severe cleft palate, low-set ears, a small jaw, and skin tags on her face. There were some obvious internal problems as well but it would take an autopsy to figure out everything that was wrong. You would have thought that with all of her abnormalities that we would have known something was wrong. All of our ultrasounds and blood tests had come back normal. We had absolutely no clue that our baby was not healthy. How does this happen in 2016? How do you go to all of your appointments, get all the recommended blood tests and ultrasounds and have nothing detected? For 28 weeks we thought that we had a healthy baby and come to find out she was never healthy. She was not developing correctly from the very beginning. We were completely devastated. We decided to request an autopsy.

Kara stayed in the room with us for the night. The next day a wonderful photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep came to take pictures of her. My husband and I said our final goodbyes.Then we went home to tell Kayleigh that her little sister was not coming home. All I wanted was to hold my precious living child but how was I supposed to tell her that the little sister that she wanted to so badly had died?

When Kayleigh came home, we got it over with and told her immediately. We talked about how both my husband’s grandmother and my grandmother had recently gone to heaven. We told Kayleigh that we didn’t understand why but Kara had to go to heaven too and that she wouldn’t be coming home. Kayleigh said “But I want her.” It was completely heartbreaking. It was also Easter Sunday and we had to go through all the normal motions. Kayleigh found her Easter basket, we had an Easter egg hunt, and my parents brought over Easter dinner. All of this one day after our baby died. How is Easter ever going to be the same?

After losing our daughter, we ended up having an awful experience trying to get information from the hospital. I won’t go into all of those details here but what I will say is that we called the hospital several times to inquire about when the autopsy results would be in. We were told on two separate times by two different people that a doctor from the hospital would call us when the results were in. This did not happen. We received the autopsy results in the mail! I also had to call my OB/Gyn office to tell them what happened. When I called they did not know that I had given birth to my daughter and she had died! We found all of this unbelievable and it led me to find a new OB/Gyn. We do not feel that we were treated fairly after we had to go through the trauma of losing our daughter.

When the autopsy report did arrive we found that in addition to the anomalies that were seen at birth, Kara’s heart was small for her gestational age, had an enlarged right ventricle and was displaced on the wrong side of her chest. Her right lung was also small for gestational age and both lungs were dense and filled with fluid. She also had brain microcalcifications that were most likely caused by not getting enough oxygen to the brain. This was probably due to the heart and lung both being underdeveloped. Her official cause of death was respiratory distress syndrome which was worsened by her underdeveloped lung and heart. There was no diagnosis of her anomalies. Her facial anomalies are all indicative of a syndrome but they were unable to diagnose the syndrome. The genetic testing they did during the autopsy all came back normal. We have been told that this was most likely a random occurrence with little chance of happening again.

After Kara died I spent a lot of time obsessing over what could have happened to her. I spent many hours on Google trying to diagnose her. I question every day how the anatomy ultrasound that we had was unable to detect that she had so many abnormalities. We are probably never going to get the answer to that question and it’s one of the hardest parts. I feel that we were cheated out of knowing. No matter how many people say that an early diagnosis would not have changed the outcome I will still be upset that her anomalies went undiagnosed. I know that it still would have been upsetting for us but an early diagnosis would have given us time to prepare for what was coming. My family and friends would not have planned me a shower. We would not have spent so long getting our older daughter ready to be a big sister. We would not have been in total and complete shock when our world came crashing down that day. We would have been ready for it.

It has only been four months since we lost our sweet Kara. I cannot say that life has returned to normal. It may look like it has from outsiders. We have gone about our usual activities. We have laughed and we have even been seen having a good time. We have focused on our living daughter and tried to make this summer the best ever. We are not the same people though. We have had to make a new normal. Every day I pass Kara’s urn and remember what happened to her. Every day I think about her and what life is supposed to be like right now. We are supposed to be taking care of an infant right now but we are not.  Everyday I fight an internal battle that involves a deep desire to have another child and a fear that something awful like this could happen again. I do hope to overcome this fear so that I can one day have my rainbow baby. Even then, Kara will be on my mind every day. She will not go away. Our family loves her and will honor her forever.

You can email Melissa at Meliss0211@verizon.net

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  1. I am so sorry for your loss.

  2. I am very sorry for your loss! xoXO Ameli

  3. Shanecia says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. You are one strong mama! Hugs and kisses and prayers to your family!

  4. Words cannot describe how sorry I am to read about the loss of your sweet baby girl. Hugs to you.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Dear Melissa,
    I am so sorry for your loss. The only thing worse than not having your baby – is not having your baby AND not having answers as to why you don’t have them. I lost my daughter back in October (I was 6 months pregnant) when we found out she wasn’t growing correctly. I got very sick with her bc essentially the placenta stopped working (severe preeclampsia) It was determined it was a placenta issue (her genetic testing came back normal) so we waited and waited for the placenta pathology report. I would call and call- knowing it would be any day we got those test results back because we had gotten the cytogenetics report back….to make a long story short the doctor who performed my surgery never made a placenta requisition so the placenta was thrown out like medical waste…..even though this was the plan all along, even though we signed paperwork giving permission, etc, etc. In 2916, how can something as simple as paperwork not happen- my husband and I traveled to Yale and Boston to see specialists- still no definite answers! I’ve had SO many blood tests done and other procedures done and everything has come back normal- so it’s extremely frustrating to know that our answer most likely could have been found with the placenta and we will never know.

    I feel your pain and frustration- know there are people out there who are grieving with you and who share your sorrow and angst.

    Take good care,
    xoxox Liz

  6. So sorry for your loss!
    I can understand some what how you feel.
    We have been trying for 4 years to have a baby, but it is just not working for us. I just had my 4th miscarriage last week & I am so heart broken! I just can’t pretend that everything is ok. Unless you go through it yourself you can not understand what others are experiencing.
    I am now 47 & my husband wants to give up trying. He feels we are too old.
    thank you for having the strength to share your story.

    Big hugs to you

  7. Thanks everyone! It is definitely hard not having answers. I try to believe that it was random and won’t happen again but it’s so hard. I am so scared to try again but I think we will regret it if we don’t.

  8. Hello and so very sorry for the loss of your precious baby.I hope that you are taking your time and feeling better.Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to anyone.I also had an experience with my son who passed at 8 months from an undiagnosed brain abnormality and wonder how they didn’t know.I was constantly going to the doctor with him and it was all just heartbreaking and frustrating at the same time.I hope that you get all of the answers you need and please do take care of yourself!

  9. I am sorry for your family and for your daughter. You are a loving and kind Mom. You and I share the pain and the joy and the confusion. We may never truly understand, but it is part of who we are and who are we becoming. I got pregnant again after my loss and, although it wasnt by any chance a happy and relieved pregnancy, it brought my rainbow and my older’s happy ending. I would hug you if I could. For many, many hours.

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