Ashley C’s Story

Our baby Decklan was a literal wedding night conceived baby, my husband and I were married on November 5, 2022 at a beautiful beachside wedding in Malibu.

Right after the wedding, I decided to go on a “Eat Pray Love” solo trip to an ashram in India. My husband was so sweet and supportive after telling him it was a bucket list trip for me to do in my life before we started a family. I missed my period before leaving for the trip. While there, I completed a two week meditation course and started to notice some minor early pregnancy symptoms. I decided I should take a pregnancy test and sure enough it came back with the two lines as “Positive.” 

I waited one whole week to tell my husband that I was pregnant when we finally reunited in Bali for our honeymoon. Our honeymoon turned into a babymoon real quick. We celebrated our extremely brief newlywed life and wrapped our minds around our future with our baby. I had just about the most well traveled unborn around. Decklan went to India, Bali, back to India for a wedding, Cabo, and St. Louis, my hometown, while he was in my belly.  

My father-in-law named Decklan, based on a dream he had about another baby coming along in the family. There were four new grandchildren arriving in 2023 on my husband’s side. We were considering Greystone for the first name but then decided on combining them as Decklan Greystone. Originally spelled ‘Declan’, the name’s Scottish origin means “full of goodness” or “man of prayer.” His middle name is a super unique one and pays tribute to a Christian girl’s summer camp I attended as an adolescent. 

My husband’s two sisters both birthed healthy babies in 2023. After the births of these beautiful new family members, I couldn’t help but think “What about us?”/ “Will everything go as smoothly for the birth of our baby?”/ “Will we be so lucky?” It’s interesting what your mind attempts to prepare you for. 

My pregnancy was an absolute breeze over all, I felt so great. I went on uphill walks in the sunshine by the beach almost every day. Everything was looking like a total “normal and healthy” pregnancy. I was so grateful and not afraid to tell people how wonderful and “easy” it felt to me. I was also beginning to plan a “natural” medication free birth plan and had started an online birth course centered around that. We started to add baby items to our small one bedroom apartment.

Our entire world flipped upside down in about 10 days. On April 18, 2023, I was admitted to the hospital at 25 weeks pregnant, after a routine OB appointment, where the doctor noticed I had a short cervix (which is consistent with early labor). I was checked further and was diagnosed with polyhydramnios (when there is too much amniotic fluid), this made my belly look way fuller and tighter than it should have been. I also was having contractions that I was not noticing and was dilated about 1.5 centimeters. 

The treatment plan I began was 48 hours of magnesium sulfate through an IV, which is used to slow or stop preterm labor, and to prevent injuries to a preterm baby’s brain. Unfortunately, after 48 hours, I was checked by my doctor, but my labor, including dilation and contractions had progressed. After this, they continued the magnesium and other medications and I was set up in a large labor and delivery suite where I continued to hold off labor and “stay pregnant” for another day, until April 22, 2023, when my water broke and labor, delivery and birth were imminent. Samuel, our family and close friends were my biggest supporters during this time at the hospital and I remained strong through the uncertainty. I was able to hold off delivery for 5 days and got our baby to 26 weeks successfully. 

Decklan Greystone was born Sunday, April 23, 2023 at 12:12 pm, vaginally, and came out looking really healthy, strong at 2 pounds, 4.9 ounces, and even gave us a little tiny cry and his mouth was open and relaxed. He was carefully and lovingly transferred to another hospital well-equipped for his approximate 14 week stay and care in the NICU. We had hoped to take him home this summer, around his due date of July 30, 2023. We celebrated him and becoming new parents on the night of his birth with a hospital provided meal and some sparkling apple cider. 

During his four first days of his life and adjusting to NICU care, he was doing really well and on track for his slow progression towards less interventions like using the respirator for oxygen. I took detailed notes on his daily progress and was pumping breast milk to bring to him at the hospital across town. I was doing everything I could to be a good first-time mother for him while in the aftermath of a traumatic birth and the unknown of having a baby in the NICU long term. 

However, on the fifth day of his life, I walked into the NICU to concerned nurses and doctors working as hard as they could to intervene on extremely low blood pressure and the possibility of infection. It was very scary to witness and I knew in my heart things were not well. I immediately updated our family and asked for urgent prayers on social media. I’ve never prayed so hard on any given day of my entire life. 

He was given antibiotics, steroids, and a blood transfusion that day but unfortunately his blood pressure remained too low for several hours of the day and did not come up. Doctors said even if his blood pressure increased and remained higher, they were not sure what damage had been done to the rest of his precious, tiny organs and body. 

My husband’s family that lives nearby came to us and his bedside as quickly as they could. I was able to hold Decklan in my arms for the first time, while he was still hooked up to everything for a little while. The doctor came in and said it was time to unhook him from everything, if it was our wish, so we did, and he passed away silently in my husband’s arms on Friday, April 28, 2023 in the evening, around 9-10pm. This was the first and only time we held our baby. 

We gathered our closest family and friends for a Memorial for Decklan in the summer. The same day that we had reserved for his baby shower. My husband played an instrument called the dulcimer, a new hobby he picked up right after Decklan’s death. I read a letter I wrote to him and some family members had poems to share. A star was dedicated in honor of his name and a baptism certificate was given to us.

We have a special top shelf of a bookcase in the center of our home that includes his remains in a bamboo box and other tangible items we’re lucky to have from him. Recently, we came up with the idea to celebrate the holidays with him. We have a small table-top Christmas tree on his shelf and I decorate it with items to represent all the holidays throughout the year. We light the tree when we’re thinking of him. 

It has been quite the healing journey since birthing and losing Decklan last year. He most certainly made me a Mama and my husband and I miss him everyday. Looking back, I kept quite busy and participated in many healing modalities. I saw a therapist weekly through Rula Mental Health. I benefited from two separate virtual loss groups facilitated by Return to Zero: H.O.P.E. I participated in a “Grieve and Breathe” grief circle hosted by Light & Space, a yoga center in Ojai, CA. I had the pleasure of joining the first mini retreat for Loss Moms hosted by Hey Loss Mama Foundation in Scottsdale, AZ. Additionally, I recorded this story and the resources mentioned here on a podcast titled “Time for Forgiveness.” 

This story is not complete without introducing our beautiful Rainbow baby girl, Isla Rose, who was born on March 22, 2024. My pregnancy was filled with fear and anxiety but also hope and trust that everything would unfold how it’s meant to. I attribute a lot of this positive mindset to the work I put in with therapy during my pregnancy. What I prayed for most, is that she would arrive at the optimal time for her health and safety and we would experience a “normal” birth and homecoming and that is what we had with her. One of the most special moments with her so far was the car ride home from the hospital. Just being able to take her home was a major moment for us. 

If you’ve made it to the end of my story, I sincerely appreciate you learning and thinking about my two sweet babies, Decklan Greystone and Isla Rose. The loss parent and loss mama community is full of so many amazing and kind individuals, it’s definitely the worst and best group to be a part of. 

Ashley wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. She holds a rainbow that says "Hello Isla Rose"

Ashley wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. She holds a rainbow in her hand. Her husband stands behind her.

Ashley wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. She sits next to her husband and they hold a framed print of a baby.

Ashley wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. The skirt flows out all around her.

Ashley wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. She stands next to her husband with her hand on his cheek. There is water in the background.

Ashley wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. The sun sets against the water in the background.

Ashley and her husband stands next to each other on a beach with the sun setting. She wears the rainbow skirt that flows out in front of her.

Ashley wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. The skirts billows out in front of her as the sun shines through.

Ashley wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt. She stands on the sand of a beach.

Photos taken by Vedang Bhatt at Toes Beach in Playa del Rey, CA. 

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