2020 Team 14 - Team Grace Audrey

 I became pregnant for the first time in January 2016. My husband and I were thrilled and felt fortunate that it happened so quickly for us. Still, I held my breath until that first ultrasound, with miscarriage statistics in the back of my mind.  Seeing that black and white image for the first time made things real and the excitement built with each passing week.  At the halfway mark, we found out we were having a girl! I felt great and my midwife said baby and I were perfectly healthy.  

Near the sixth month of pregnancy, I was outside with my 5th grade students, enjoying the beautiful weather.  To this day, I can’t even explain what I felt, but something was off.  I had some discomfort in my ribs and was quite lightheaded and fatigued.  I went inside, put my feet up and drank some water.  After that, I felt normal again. Still, I had an uneasy feeling that whole afternoon, which prompted me to pull out my home Doppler to listen to baby’s heartbeat. I found it easily at 140 beats/minute. I went to bed reassured.

I rarely used the Doppler, but for some reason, decided to check again the next morning.  Nothing.  I tried not to panic as I knew this could be normal, but the feeling of fear and dread had already set in.  Had I even felt baby move that morning? I couldn’t say. Being my first pregnancy, having an anterior placenta, and barely 24 weeks along, movements had never been strong and consistent.  I tried all the tricks to get baby to move and I tried the Doppler several more times before calling my midwife. Long story short, we had the worst confirmed at the hospital that day.  Our precious girl had suffered a massive fetomaternal hemorrhage, a rare occurrence that can target healthy pregnancies and that my doctor had not seen himself since 1997. Essentially, the barrier that kept her blood from flowing into mine was broken.  She lost her blood to me and her heart stopped beating. She was gone. 

On June 27th, 2016 at 6:39a.m., Grace Audrey Turner was born silent. During those twenty hours of being induced, my husband and I questioned if we would even be able to look at her. We were warned that her appearance might not be good.  As it turns out, she was more beautiful than we could have imagined.  Holding her and kissing her was the greatest gift we could have asked for.  It was undoubtedly the most beautiful and heartbreaking moment of our lives.  Bittersweet is the best word we could think of to describe it.

Having had two more children since Grace, I can confidently say that while the feelings for,  and parenting of, a living child and a dead child are obviously different, one thing that is the same is the love.  Holding her in our arms, that outrageous, overwhelming, unconditional love - it’s the same. Grace is a part of us in a way that we cannot fully understand or explain.  We don’t expect others to comprehend it unless having experienced something similar themselves.  She’s not a sad thing that happened to us. She’s our firstborn and an integral part of our family.  It is not the family we had planned, but then again, when does life ever go as planned? Instead of registering Grace for Kindergarten right now, we are sharing her story to help a wonderful family raise money for a worthy cause.  We get to celebrate another beautiful Grace and learn about nineteen other amazing children. Not what we envisioned, but there are many gifts to be taken from how it all played out.  Through our daughter’s short existence, we have learned so much about compassion and gratitude.  I believe we also love our other children so much more deeply because of the sister who came before them.  Grace is not with us in the way we had wanted, but she’s with us all the same. 

So no, Grace is not a tragic thing that happened to us. She is our daughter who has opened our eyes to so much and who continues to shine her light onto our lives.  We love her and are proud to have her represented in this event along with all of these other special children. 

 
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