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!
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.
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 okay...like 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.
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.