Maelee's Story.

The long story of the short life of our daughter, Maelee Linn Kasowski, who we said good-bye to before we got to say hello.

As a result of an ectopic pregnancy I had in April 2008, we called the doctor as soon as my pregnancy test in August 2009 was positive. On August 19 we had one of the best days of our married life: we learned baby was indeed in the right place (the uterus)! We went out for lunch to celebrate our dream coming true. On the 25th, we saw her little heartbeat. We were thrilled and blissfully excited, the timing was perfect!

I was a little sick in the first trimester but as long as I kept eating, I seemed to feel well. I remember craving: fruit smoothies, steak, chinese food, french fries and pizza hut breadsticks. Having a full belly = happy momma.

We heard her heartbeat for the first time on October 6. I recorded the sound for Greg at our November 5 appointment since he didn't come to that one. I emailed out the clip to our family; Grammy said it sounded like a little drummer! It was so fun for me to feel her move and I made Greg touch my belly every time I felt her movements. I couldn't wait to start "showing" and I did sometime in November (probably more from all the food than baby!).
On December 3, Greg and I went for our 20.5 week ultrasound and found out that baby grether was a GIRL! We were so excited. It took her a bit to show her stuff (the ultrasound tech said she was being modest). We watched her move her mouth and little arms. She measured 13ozs. We loved her already. I grew up with a sister and always assumed I'd have a girl, so we were ready for some pink.
We had a great time at Christmas with the Kasowski family and enjoying sharing in the excitement of our baby girl. We even had a little stocking for her. We were spoiled being with family - I gained 10 pounds in 5 weeks! In January, my parents came and did a marvelous job on the baby's room. It finally felt more "real" when her room was put together!
I started this grether blog sometime in February, anticipating baby's arrival and needing an outlet for all her photos. Naming our baby girl was a continual topic. We could never seem to make up our minds! I came to the conclusion that no name was good enough for her. We knew the middle name would be Linn because that's my middle name, and my mom's, sister's and niece's... but we just couldn't decide on a first name. We had two wonderful baby showers in March. One at Greg's work and the other at our church with a ton of our friends. We were very blessed and glad to have so many excited with us.

On March 16, I got a headache. I hadn't had one since week 20 so I called the doctor. They had me go to CVS down the road and check my blood pressure. It was high. They had me come in which led to me being admitted to the hospital. They were worried about preeclampsia. After two sleepless nights, I finally got to go home to be on bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy. They never diagnosed me with preeclampsia and couldn't quite figure out all my weird symptoms. They had me go see an oncologist each week to look at my blood and try figure out why I had low platelets.

We got weekly ultrasounds from that point on... which were fun. Towards the end of March, we had finally come up with a short list of names that would 'be good enough' for our daughter. Maelee was a name I had sort of come up with one day when I was thinking of our family names. Mae is my Grandma's middle name and I really liked it but I wanted the name to end with an "ee" sound to go well with Kasowski... so we added the "lee" to it. It was still a little too unique for us to tell anyone or to commit to it fully.

On Thursday, April 1 we had our scheduled ultrasound of the week. It was the last time we'd ever "see" Maelee alive. We had 3D ultrasounds, thankfully. She was sucking her thumb for us! And we got to see that she had quite a bit of hair which shocked us as we sort of assumed she'd be bald. Her little nose looked pretty big but we were told that is because they are usually smooshed. We didn't care what she looked like or who she looked like, we just wanted to see her. Once we hit April, we felt she could arrive any time as we figured she'd be big enough to be healthy and we were just so excited to meet her.

Then on Easter Sunday, April 4 we had Greg's co-worker over for Easter dinner. It was a lovely afternoon but I remember thinking "I haven't felt the baby move yet." That evening I was starting to get worried so I drank juice and different things you are supposed to do. I thought I was just overreacting and Greg thought so too. We decided we'd go to bed and wake up with her moving. I woke up in the middle of the night still upset that she hadn't moved, a sort of sinking feeling I didn't realize until later was forming. Finally morning came and we called to go into the doctor's office.

Monday morning, April 5, is the worst moment in time for us. I kept thinking there is just no way she died, everything was going to be fine, we were just overreacting. Even while we were walking to the ultrasound room, I still thought everything was going to be alright. It didn't take long for the tech to say to us "I don't know how to say this but there is no heartbeat." I'll never forget that moment of brutal devastation and utter shock. We were completely broken in every sense. 

I vaguely remember meeting with the doctor and having to make the decision to do a C-section or not. I do remember the intense feeling that I wanted her out as soon as possible. We drove home and called our parents and having to hear Greg say "the baby didn't make it" will forever be etched in my memory. I remember telling my mom she didn't make it, but it will be I needed to reassure her even when I didn't even know that myself.

We had to go to the delivery wing, like we had learned about in birthing class, but no one can prepare you for having a stillbirth. They started me on drugs to induce labor that afternoon. They also gave me some narcotics. We had some decisions that we had to make that were hard, very hard to make. Greg did wonderful. They stopped the medication that night so we could rest (in retrospect, it just made the process longer) and started it again early Tuesday morning. I labored all Tuesday and was given an epidural around 2pm that day.

At some point, I said "I think we should name her Maelee." Greg agreed wholeheartedly. Her name was perfect. We love it still. For the post on her name I wrote shortly after her death, see Perfect Name.

Labor was hard, like it always is... I kept saying "I have no motivation." I just didn't care when I knew I wasn't going to get to hold her and bring her home. Greg was so helpful and encouraging... I couldn't have done it without him. Maelee was finally born around 8pm on Tuesday, April 6th. 4.6.10. 4+6=10. I had this thing with birthdates... quite silly when I think of it now. 

Greg sent out an email telling our friends and family and pointing them to our blog where he began posting. A few of our friends told us about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, an amazing program that brings local photographers to the hospital to take photos of infant loss. I am forever indebted to Becki Berry for coming and taking the only photos we will ever have of our daughter. Greg's parents arrived around the time I delivered and they were able to see and hold Maelee... which I will always treasure.  
Too few people saw and held our daughter on earth.

She was beautiful. It was hard to look at her at times and other times I couldn't get enough. It was obvious that she had been gone for awhile and labor was not good for her dehydrated state. Thankfully I had a little hat for her to wear. I didn't have a cute outfit for her, regrettably, but the nurses had one that was made (probably by some cute old lady). It was ugly but Maelee wore it well. We both just held her. I talked to her. Greg had his guitar and played for her. Oh how I wish I could go back to that time with her in my arms.

They took her away late that evening and we will not get to hold her again until heaven... of which I am awaiting. We had one especially sweet nurse that worked that day and even stayed after her shift ended to bathe Maelee and get her ready for us. I'll never forget her kindness. The next days were a blur as our family arrived and we got to go home. We came home Thursday. Greg and I walked straight into Maelee's room, fell on the floor and bawled. We were supposed to bring her home, in her car seat, into her pretty pink and brown crib. What crushing disappointment.

We had her funeral at Riverbend Community Church in Lexington, SC on Friday, April 9. It was a small, short, sweet, tearful service. The next weeks were a blur. I was a shell of my former self. Thankfully our family was here so we could stay in our little bubble and not leave the house. Our friends made us some meals. Greg started posting more on the blog and read everyone's comments over and over. This post I wrote most fittingly describes how I was doing at that point, see What I Am.

We didn't have the photos of her for months after, so I spent a lot of time looking at her hand print and foot print (thankfully done by our sweet nurse at the hospital) and admiring the little bit of her beautiful red hair we have. I had a deep, deep yearning to hold her - a feeling that I can't even describe. 

Greg's boss graciously allowed him to work from home but eventually he had to go back to work. It was hard for him to go back to the office, to see the world had indeed moved on, to be the walking awkward (see What To Say). It took me a lot longer to be okay with going out in public. Thankfully our moms "took shifts" with me for almost a full month so I could avoid going out, seeing babies, pregnant bellies, etc. I am so grateful I was able to ease back into reality versus having it slapped in my face.

There is no known cause for Maelee's death but some speculation. They found I have a genetic blood clotting disorder. That possibly could have been the cause but some don't think so. Other than that, there is no reason, no understanding, no answers.

We had her burial in Buffalo, ND on Saturday, May 29th. The day was called "Maelee's Day." It was a beautiful day and a completely fitting service. I am so glad we were able to honor our daughter with each aspect of the day. For the long post about that service, see Maelee's Day Recap.

A friend emailed me a photo of Maelee's name in flowers and that started the idea for her name book. This has been wonderful therapy for us - to see her name brings a smile. You can see many of the submissions by clicking here to our album.

We have been given the gift of grieving well. That has been completely God's grace to us. It has not been easy but we are grateful for her life and for all the Lord has given to us in her death.

We miss our daughter more than anything. We ache for her, for heaven, for being with her again. She is loved. Thank you for reading, for caring and for remembering with us.