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Mom to Audrina Marie

March 23, 2018

Rice, Minnesota

On November 24th, 2017, I found out my ultimate dream was coming true. In April, Aaron and I would welcome a daughter into our family. I can’t describe in words the joy I felt in that moment the ultrasound tech told me it was a girl. A thousand dreams flooded my mind…. little girl dresses, tea time and tiaras, tutu’s, pig tails, ponies, ballet slippers, mother daughter excursions like baking or going to the craft fair the list just goes on. The next day which happened to be Thanksgiving, I woke up feeling extra blessed. We were so excited to share the amazing news with our family on such a fitting day. The next week or so we spent living on cloud nine while imagining how our lives would soon change as we welcomed our daughter, Audrina Marie into the world.

Monday, December 4th, it all came crashing down on us. My level two ultrasound revealed a few markers for skeletal dysplasia. The ultrasound tech said, “it looks like a lethal type of dwarfism.” I jumped out of my skin and into shock. This can’t be real, I’m in a nightmare and I just need to wake up. I can’t even process the information. Doctors refer us to specialists at Abbott Northwest to get a second opinion. We stayed hopeful for two days and then our hearts dropped after meeting with specialists in the cities. Doctors seemed to confirm what St. Cloud had found and suggested we do an amniocentesis. We moved forward quickly hoping to get some answers.

The next month was an emotional roller-coaster from hell. We remained hopeful that Audrina would prove the Doctors wrong. We prayed, oh god did we ever pray. I tried to keep the faith and imagine her with us despite what the experts were saying. Our faith train fizzled out after receiving the most heartbreaking news with the genetic counselor at Abbott Northwest. The results from our amniocentesis came back positive identifying the FGFR3 genetic mutation code consistent with the diagnosis for Thanatophoric Dysplasia. Our worst nightmare.

The condition would mean our baby girl would likely die of respiratory failure at birth. Even now after months of processing and grieving, I still cry at the thought of meeting her and feeling so helpless knowing I have to let her go. I know the next few months are going to be tough, and even harder after we have to say goodbye. Right now, all I can do is enjoy her kicking inside me, and love her while she is here with me. Inside there, she is safe, loved and free of all harm. She is a blessing regardless of the situation I face. Even though it would be so easy to be angry with God, I can only thank him for giving me a daughter. Audrina Marie, my angel baby. My dream really did come true, just in a different way. We will still love her for a lifetime. Even though her time here on earth will be short, our love for her will be eternal.

Thanophoric Dysplasia – The Delivery

There are a few times in life where I have seriously questioned God’s purpose and plan. Losing Audrina made it to the top of the list. We will never understand why he chose us to become parents to a baby destined to die at birth. What I do know to be true is that out of each suffering endured; I’ve obtained a great deal of strength and become even closer God. Life certainly didn’t go according to our plans, but we are trusting God that everything happens for a reason and maybe our pain will serve a greater purpose.

In my experience, I feel that God usually communicates with us during the most trialing of times. Maybe because it’s when we need him the most, or maybe it’s because we reach out to him for his guidance. Nothing felt truer than when I checked into the hospital Wednesday night. That’s when we started cervical ripening in hopes of inducing labor. Somewhere in the middle of the night I fell asleep with my headphones on. I had my Pandora station tuned into my favorite channel… Brian Crain, a composer of classical music. During my sleep, I was suddenly woken up to the song “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”I remember feeling as if it came straight from God. It was comforting and almost reassuring during that stressful time.

The song had such an impact that I stayed up that night researching it on Google to find answers. I couldn’t remember the name of the artist and didn’t know the name of the song. I kept searching to find it so I could digest the words and figure out his message. I thought it was strange that the song played on my Brian Crain station. I listened to that station about a thousand times and never heard it play in the past. Since it was a hymn it almost felt out of place for a classical music station. I told Aaron about my angelic experience and he helped me find the song. This would be the first time of three that I heard it while staying at the hospital.

The next day we started a second round of cervical ripening. The plan was to get me to dilate enough to start Pitocin and hopefully induce labor. To kill time, I searched Netflix to find the movie Heaven is Real. I wanted to watch this because it felt comforting to know it was based on a true story and that the little boy met his sister up in heaven who had died before birth. I was determined to find it, but had many troubleshooting problems and couldn’t get it to work. We watched a couple other movies instead and had some family come to visit.

Later that night, I started to dilate more. I started getting really excited to finally meet my sweet Audrina. By 3:00am I was dilated to 9  and getting ready to push. At some point my epidural wore off and I started feeling all my contractions. I was now breathing hard through each one and my natural endorphins took over to combat the pain. As my dilation peaked to 9, the doctor insisted I start trying to push. After almost 20 unsuccessful pushes I turned to one side and felt an excruciating pain. It was different than contractions. I think this might have been when my uterus tore. Doctors would later find this during an emergency C-section. Contractions had came to a complete stop and I became too weak to push. At some point Aaron handed me my headphones to play music. That’s when the song came on, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” It was there, in my weakest moment that I heard him speak to me. Honestly, my first thought was Aaron had purposefully played the song to me. I asked him about it later and he told me he didn’t. This really confirmed my feeling that the message came from God. The chances of it playing twice in the same session were slim and the song was completely out of place for the station.

Without having contractions, I was unable to successfully push so we were forced to move to plan B….C-Section. I don’t know why but I felt uneasy about the operation and anxiety built as each minute passed. I remember feeling on edge and even yelling at the doctors to get moving so I could get to C-section. Each one came in one by one telling me legal information about the operation and explained procedures. It felt too slow for me and I sensed some doom and gloom the entire time as they prepped. I cried, “Something is seriously wrong, you need to get me into surgery”.

As I was laying there on the surgical table I felt terrified because I knew deep in my heart something had gone wrong. They took one cut and I could tell from their voices that I was indeed right. I heard them mention blood transfusion and a hysterectomy cart.  The sound of suctioning blood and feeling of doctors tugging forcefully from every angle with speed had me in a panic. Doctors flooded the room and worked with urgency. My mind started to race a million times per second. I thought, “This is really it” … .  . “This might really be the ending of my story”. I felt powerless and the only thing I could do was TRUST GOD. I looked at Aaron and told him I loved him. He tried distracting me by telling me I was about to meet my daughter. I couldn’t even focus on anything because my brain was foggy and filled with fear. They handed her over to me and I kissed her sweet forehead about 5 times before they placed the gas mask on me. My last thought before being put under was, “have faith and trust God”.

I woke up in another room profusely shaking. I kept thinking, “stay alive, focus, you are awake now so there must be more”. The anesthesiologist reassured me that everything would be ok and slowly over time the shaking would stop. Once things had settled down I felt more certain I would survive but my whole body was in shock from the experience. They wheeled my precious baby into the room. There she was, silent and still. My heart was broken. I was thankful to be alive but just devastated that she had gone. I never got to see her open her eyes, nor hear one beautiful sigh or cry. The entire experience left me asking why. . . . . .

I couldn’t understand why. . . . .  after all I endured . . . would God have place even more burden on my heart. Isn’t it enough that I had to lose her? Then to add all this other life altering madness to the equation. I spent the rest of the night trying to analyze it and try to make little sense of what happened. I started researching uterus tear and found out the chances of it actually happening are really slim. Even more rare for me to experience it because I’ve had no prior C-sections or surgeries that would place me at risk for it. I felt as though I had literally been struck by lightning twice.

The next morning, I woke up wanting to feel comfort and closer to Audrina. So I asked my mom to pick up the movie Heaven is Real. I would finally once and for all watch the movie that I had been longing for all weekend. I put the movie in and the next thing I heard gave me goosebumps. There was that song. “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”  It played nearly 5 times throughout the entire movie and confirmed my feelings that the message was from God each time.

I’m not really sure if I will ever understand why I lost Audrina or how I almost lost my own life. I’m still trying to make some sense of the chaos but trying to trust God at the same time. Trust him that there’s a plan. Trust him that better days lay ahead. Trusting myself that God is with me during my weakest moments. This life experience has been truly devastating, but I’ve been through too much in my life to give up now. I’m still kicking, and I’m stronger. Staying thankful for what I do have and grateful for my second chance at life.

Audrina was born to eternity and I’ll carry her in my heart until the day I die. Living life without her has shown me a pain I never knew existed. But then again, just the mere thought of her existence can only leave me grateful. And if you asked me if I would do it all over again just so she would exist, I would reply . . . “In a heartbeat”.

You can visit Trista here or email her here.

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  1. I am very sorry for your loss. Ameli

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