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  • Writer's pictureJen Chappell

Share Your Story Tuesday

My Laelynn Faith was born and died at 24 weeks 2 days on July 13, 2019. This is her story.

My name is Krista and I'm a 36 year old mother of 5. My 4th pregnancy was a rollercoaster of terror that often I wish I never would have been on, but then remember the life lessons learned and I appreciate that I was Laelynn's mother.

I'm a pediatric nurse practitioner by trade and like many medical providers, I like to think while I don't and never will know it all, I have a good bit of knowledge in ethics and humanity and humility in many subjects. I never had a clue of the emotions that would become of this whirlwind...

I found out a week after my 36th birthday we were pregnant. This was actually our first planned pregnancy (other 3 just happened) and we were terrified, but excited. My first trimester was very stressful however. I was constantly ill... nauseous, food aversions, no energy, and just hopping through life was no fun. This was unlike my previous pregnancies, but figured it was because it had been 6 years ago when I was last pregnant. I had a ferocious GI bug for a solid week and was quite miserable until almost 20 weeks. There were a lot of bumps in the road- scares with hyperthyroidism and gestational diabetes, but both eventually turned up negative. I just couldn't shake horribly negative feelings and often not feeling pregnant. I wasn't gaining much weight as I really wasn't hungry.

At my 20 week anatomy ultrasound, I actually was happy to see my daughter (who I'd finally gotten over was my 4th daughter!) Moving around because I actually rarely felt her move. Everything looked good and all previous evaluations were normal, other than the huge concern with growth.

She measured 16 days behind. My midwife was concerned and sent me to Maternal Fetal Medicine for a more through ultrasound and evaluation, but we were both hoping this was just due to a miserable first half of pregnancy.

First visit with MFM was disheartening. My daughter was still 16 days behind and had a concern found on her heart. It was suspected with these two concerns there was a 50/50 chance this was due to a genetic/chromosomal anomaly vs normal baby. I did an amniocentesis and saw pediatric cardiology for fetal echocardiogram.

Cardiology was reassuring and we actually caught a breath of relief. There were mild concerns, but those would just be monitored. At 23 weeks, I returned to MFM for follow up ultrasound. 2.5 hours later and 3 different providers (1 tech and 2 physicians later), the results came in. All providers felt our daughter was highly unlikely to survive to birth. She was now 3 weeks behind in growth, unable to survive due to her size, had minimal flow to her bowels, fluid around her heart and poor flow to her from the umbilical cord. They told us we could choose to continue this pregancy or terminate out state as we'd reached our state's maximum gestation to terminate unless the mother's life was in danger. They thought my daughter would eventually die in utero, but we had to first wait for this to happen- whether 2 days or 2 months. They could not terminate in Virginia until her heart stopped beating.

We left completely dazed. We felt tunnel vision and blindly walked through life for another 8 hours. Then my living girls were in bed and I sobbed, prayed and quite honestly broke down. I mentally collapsed and hysterically sobbed for hours. My husband was quiet and finally fell asleep, but I couldn't function. I prayed for miracles, guidance and relief from this misery. I couldn't sleep until I finally prayed that God not make us make such a difficult decision. I prayed if we weren't to have this baby that something be abnormal on her amniocentesis results and we'd know she was never meant to survive. I fell into a restless sleep.

At 8am the next morning, our genetic counselor phoned. Our daughter had Mosaic Trisomy 22. Coupled with her recent ultrasound findings, she was certain if she lived to birth, it wouldn't be for long. We immediately knew the answers we had prayed for were answered and that our daughter Laelynn Faith would never suffer.

We paid $8k out of pocket and drove to Washington DC for a 3 day surgical procedure of D & E-we were told we had no other options. Our daughter was stillborn without suffering or pain as every sedation medication given to me went right through the placenta and she was fully sedated with pain medications when her cord was cut.

The thought of waiting until she died in utero was absolutely unacceptable to me and my husband, particularly after I've seen children suffer after 14 years as a pediatric nurse.

Driving home, we were both shells of our original selves and suffering so terribly. We had agreed that we loved our daughter so much that we suffered, so she did not, but the raw, oozing pain was almost more than I could bear.

24 painstaking hours later, I remember finally bobbing up from my raw status to feel grateful my breastmilk hadn't come in, but then I thought... what if it does? I prayed I wouldn't have to make that choice. Another 24 hours later, I thought, if my milk does come in, this will be your will that I donate to others. 4 hours later, I became engorged and felt FINALLY I had a choice. In the memory of my very loved and wanted daughter and our heartbreaking tragedy, there would be SOME GOOD. I was being called to provide milk to others.

The first pumping sessions, I cried tears of sadness, longing and pain. I cried for myself, my husband, my living daughters and my angel. It was such a huge labor of love as without a living baby, one has to rely on the very disliked mechanical pump.

For a solid month I pumped 3 to 5 times a day. I donated half of my milk to a local premature baby and the other half to The Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters millbank. Each ounce helped up to 4 babies and I donated 130 ounces. It was the hardest and painful, but also most beneficial piece in losing my daughter. I sobbed when I pumped and I sobbed when I stopped.

Healing will never be linear, but it's not as raw and fresh. Being a medical provider, my blood tells me to help others and heal others. Turns out helping others helped me heal.

Thank you for reading with an open heart and mind.

In honor of Laelynn Faith. Until I hold you in heaven my sweet love.

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