Derrick and I had been married for a little over 4 years, and the idea of starting a family started to weigh on our hearts. Both of us had always wanted children, but as time went on and our lives became so busy with work; we kept putting it off. Every year, we'd say "let's start a family next year." But every year went by much too fast, and we thought; waiting another year won't hurt.
In April of 2017, God sent us a very unexpected, but very welcomed surprise. I was pregnant! Derrick and I hadn't planned it, but we were immediately overwhelmed with excitement and joy. I vigorously started researching everything under the sun about how to have a healthy pregnancy. I wanted to make sure my baby had every single thing she needed to flourish in my womb. I did everything by the book. Ate healthier, worked out smarter, took my daily prenatals, slept 8+ hours a night, drank plenty of water, etc.
I felt so good & was never sick. I never had any issues with low energy or mood swings & loved being pregnant. It was such a miracle to me that my body was creating a human life. Although pregnancy was very easy at first, I had an unsettling feeling that I needed to go out on maternity leave early. I listened to that prompting and went out at 13 weeks, right after I hit my 'first trimester' milestone.
It wasn't until my 19 week checkup that we got some unsettling news. I was low on amniotic fluid, our Chloe had a 2 vessel cord instead of 3, and I had a partial previa (meaning my placenta was laying a little low, partially covering the cervix.) Our baby girl was measuring 2 weeks behind, and my blood work tested positive for AFP (spina bifida.) The doctor then told me not to worry too much, but that it's all cause for concern. She gave me no special instructions, told me there was nothing I could have done to change it, and that there is nothing I can do to make it better. But of course, I did not believe her. I doubted myself. What did I do wrong? Why did this happen? There has to be something I can do that will fix it. I want my daughter to be comfortable. I did some research, and decided to put myself on pelvic rest & on modified bed rest, and drank lots of water. Prayers for our daughter's safety became a part of our every day routine.
I was referred to a high risk specialist 2 weeks later, and there we got very good news. My amniotic fluid had went up to almost a normal range, the placenta had moved up to its proper position, the two vessel cord happens in perfectly healthy pregnancies, baby girl's spine looked great, so my AFP blood testing was a false positive; Chloe did not have spina bifida. Derrick and I sighed a breath of relief; our daughter was going to be okay. Her fluid was to a normal range; her lungs would be able to properly develop. That was our main concern. We were concerned about her size; as she was still measuring 2 weeks behind...but the doctor assured us it's a genetic thing; we are both small, so it's typical for the baby to be small. I took that to heart; Derrick was a very small baby and I felt in my heart that she had a lot of his qualities. I specifically asked the doctor if I needed to do anything special. Do I need to be put on bedrest? The doctor said no, bedrest was unnecessary. They were not concerned. 21 weeks pregnant, and everything looked fine. God had answered our prayers.
Only a few nights later, I woke up in the middle of the night to a huge gush of blood. I was so discouraged, so sad, so convinced I had lost my baby girl. To make matters worse, Derrick was out of town that night. So I was alone, besides the company of my sweet little dog. I made some phone calls; the doctor told me I needed to come to the hospital immediately. Most of my family lives 3 hours away, but thankfully my brother and sister in law only live about 30 minutes from my house. My brother, Shane, took off work so he could watch his kids, while my sister in Law, Tiffany immediately drove all the way to come pick me up and bring me to the hospital so that I wouldn't have to drive there by myself and be alone. (It was an hour round trip for her, and we were at the hospital for hours. This was her whole day.)
The good news was that Chloe's heart rate was still strong and steady. The bad news was; the doctors couldn't figure out why I was bleeding & sent me home after about 6 hours of testing, poking, and prodding. I went back to Shane and Tiffany's house, until Derrick got home and picked me up. That whole day, as scary as it was, I was never alone...thanks to the amazing people in my life.
I continued to bled for 8 days; and was put on bedrest at home. While on bedrest, so many people came around to help me. My mom, my sister (Milia), and her friends came and cleaned our whole house...(Mom probably did about 10 loads of laundry.) Tiffany came came and fixed us dinner and straightened the house pretty often. Some good friends of ours, Travis and Lex, also came by to fix us dinner and support us during this time. Derrick worked so many hours, then came home & helped with the housework too. He was amazing through all of this and really took care of me. After those 8 days were over, the bleeding stopped and I was taken off of bedrest. However, I still stayed in bed & did not do much as I was slowly starting to trust my instinct more than the doctor's professional opinion.
A week later, in the middle of the night (at 24 weeks pregnant) I felt a gush of fluid with more bleeding. Derrick rushed me to the hospital. There, they told us I had a partial placental abruption which was causing the bleeding. They transferred me via ambulance to UAMS in Little Rock (which is 3.5 hours away from our home in Gentry, AR.) The doctors explained I was being transferred because I had signs of premature labor & UAMS had the best NICU for babies 24 weeks gestation & up. Derrick needed a car, so he followed right behind me in the ambulance the whole time. When we pulled into the hospital, I saw Derrick behind me, my mom's car behind him, and my brother's car behind her. They each had a 2-3.5 hour drive from different directions, but somehow we all arrived at the same time. I had a great support system with me already.
We made it to UAMS early in the morning & I was wheeled via stretcher to Labor & Delivery. There, I was surrounded by doctors & nurses. They took all sorts of tests and had me hooked up to all kinds of IVs & machines. After one test, I was informed that the gush of fluid I had felt in the middle of the night was indeed, my water breaking. The bleeding was coming from the placenta. They monitored me for hours. I was not allowed to eat, drink, or move all day. A very kind and professional nurse gave me a sponge bath; which was very hard for me to accept...because I did not know this woman and I did not want to feel totally helpless. It's a very humbling experience, and it gave me so much respect for nurses and their ability to be kind, loving, and helpful in so many different situations. Nurses are such a blessing to this world.
Finally, after at least 8 hours, the doctor came to the conclusion that I was not going into labor right away, and allowed me to disconnect from the machines & move to a more permanent room. He informed me that I would be staying at the hospital until I delivered my baby girl. He told me straight up, "best case scenario is that you remain pregnant up until 34 weeks. However, that is very unlikely and we expect you to go into labor within 1 to 3 weeks. There is hardly any chance you will make it past 27 weeks. We will have a neonatologist come speak to you and your family to discuss the prematurity repercussions at this stage." He then went on to explain, "If you do happen to make it to 34 weeks, we will have to deliver the baby."
34 weeks delivery is the typical practice for PPROM patients. (Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes.) The reason for this, is that when your waters break early you are at an increased risk of infection and it could be very dangerous to you and your baby. At 34 weeks, your risk of infection increases; and the risk of infection greatly outweighs the risk of premature birth at that stage. Babies at 34 weeks gestation have almost as good of a chance of survival as full term babies. It's the magic number, doctors explained. Infection is not the only cause for concern when you have no amniotic fluid. Another concern is cord compression. After 34 weeks, your risk for cord compression increases as well; as the baby is getting bigger.
Because the doctors believed I would go into labor within the week, neonatologists came to visit and told us the risk factors of having a baby at this gestational age. Because our baby was so premature and also measuring very small; the predicted outcome was not good at all.
I read and researched everything I could find about PPROM. I found lots of helpful information and did everything I could to make it to 34 weeks. Chloe also did her part, as she continued to produce amniotic fluid while I kept leaking it. Every time she rolled over onto her cord, she rolled right off within seconds. Nurses and doctors were very optimistic about her well being as time went on. She was smart, and she was strong. During my ultrasounds, the techs would be fascinated and say, "this little girl is completely unaffected by what is happening around her. She is still moving, still kicking, and seems to be doing amazing despite the circumstances." I was so proud of her.
I spent over 2 months on hospital bedrest-with wheelchair privileges twice a day (if someone was there to wheel me around.) Almost every day, I had bleeding and would leak amniotic fluid. The placental abruption never went away, and as much as I prayed for my amniotic sac to reseal, it never did. I kept losing fluid, but baby Chloe kept reproducing it. Every time I lost fluid, I felt like crying-I feared for my baby's life. I researched what I could have done to cause this, and frequently wondered why this had happened to us. I had never in my life put anything harmful into my body, and I felt as if I had done everything right my whole pregnancy.
During this time, I watched the news and saw all of the sadness, corruption, and destruction in the world. But I also sat in my hospital bed and witnessed first hand the light, kindness, and love that is also in the world. People who I barely knew came to visit. People thought of ways to help me. People brought me joy and helped me see there's more to life than what I can see with my tunnel vision. For the first time in a long time, I saw the love of Christ through other people. I realized that we can all be His angels here on Earth.
During my stay at the hospital, I received so much compassion and love from family, friends, and strangers alike. I learned that there are angels in this world...they are people. People who reach out to others in ways I would have never thought of before all of this.
10 weeks in the hospital...70 days. Do you know how many of those 70 days I had a visitor? Whether it was a friend, acquaintance, family member, or stranger...whether it was for hours, minutes, or overnight...67 days. 67 out of 70 days, someone took time out of their day to visit, to show me they cared. I can't express enough how much that meant to me.
Over the years, I had lost track of my spirituality and my purpose on this earth. Those 10 weeks in the hospital brought me so close to my Heavenly Father. I prayed, I read my scriptures, and I was totally convinced that He was the reason our daughter was healthy, alive, and thriving in my womb despite the terrible circumstances. I just knew he was near, helping us.
Despite the doctor's predictions that Chloe and I would not likely make it to 34 weeks, we did. The day finally came for us to meet our daughter. We were absolutely thrilled. We thanked God in prayer, and we prayed so hard for her safety. After a 12 hour labor, Chloe Marie was here. And she was absolutely stunning.
The doctors placed her on my chest for less than 3 seconds before they took her into another room to work on her. Those 3 seconds were the most incredible of my life. She was so perfect; and I could feel her sweet & soft soul radiating. Derrick cried tears of joy behind me as we admired this beautiful creation of *light and truth and love.* I felt this overwhelming sense of love for this tiny human. I had never known a feeling so strong.
As the doctors took her away into another room to hook her up to machines, Derrick went with them. I was not worried in the slightest at that moment. I knew God was with us and he was taking care of her. She looked so perfect, and healthy. Originally, before I was induced, the nurses and doctors had told me that because of prematurity they would immediately take her to another room to take care of her. So I had expected that.
A few minutes later, after I delivered the placenta, a nurse came into my room, "We are taking you to see your baby."
I lit up with excitement, "Already?! Yes take me in!"
They wheeled me out of the room on the bed. Before they opened the door that Chloe and Derrick were in, they stopped. The nurse grabbed my hand and said, "You are not walking into a good situation. Your daughter was unable to breathe and is not responding to any medical treatment. Her heart rate has dropped so low and it's not coming back up."
In that moment, I simply nodded my head. I thought, 'that's okay...because God is with us. He's been here this whole time, and there's no way he'd leave us now. Not now, when we need him the most."
That thought shortly vanished as they wheeled me into the room. I saw the doctors performing CPR on our daughter, I saw the machines with no signal, I saw my husband crying; he never cries. I knew she was gone...but I would not accept it. I could not believe it.
All I could do was cling to my husband and pray silently to God. "Please, help her. I know you can help her...so help her. God, please."
But nothing helped her, and before I knew it the attending turned to me and said there was nothing more they could do. I don't remember the other words she said before she asked; "Would you like to hold her?"
I asked..."What?...you mean...?"
"There's nothing more we can do...."
She continued on with more words I can't remember.....The world was growing dark. My ears were ringing.
"Would you like to hold her?"
As they swaddled her in a blanket and handed her over, I kept waiting for her to open her eyes and start crying. Oh, she was beautiful. She was perfect. She truly looked so peaceful. Our angel, our daughter, was gone.
In the weeks and months to come, I was angry. I wondered; why would God leave me when I needed Him the most? Why was He with us throughout those 10 weeks in the hospital, but then left us to suffer the death of our daughter? Why didn't he save her? I even started to second guess myself...was He ever there at all? Did he even care? Was He even real?
I have struggled immensely with my faith. But with struggle comes strength. My heart completely broke, and with a broken heart I have been able to feel and hear the truth. God does love us. He will never leave us alone. He will never leave us comfortless.
I have come to understand the most amazing, eternal sacrifice that Jesus made for us. God sent His only Son-so that we could return to live with Him again. He is CLOSE to us. He KNOWS us. He allows bad things to happen, but He has so much compassion for us as we suffer...and He wants us to lean on Him throughout our darkest days.
Chloe's Purpose was inspired by Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ. May we know them & continue to love them even throughout our most difficult trials.
We believe that Chloe is an angel working in the Lord's favor. She has touched our hearts in so many ways.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.