Brianna’s Story

My husband Khye and I met in 2014 in Hawaii where he was stationed in the United States Army. We quickly got married 6 months later after moving to his next duty station in Colorado. We didn’t always talk about having kids at first but I knew for me personally it was because I didn’t want to have children while he was still in the military.

Fast forward to 2018 he was officially out of the army and we were getting ready to move to Missouri, to be near his family, when we got a positive test after our first try. Nine months later we welcomed our first son Bryson into the world. From there on out we always knew we wanted 2 kids close in age so they could do everything together.

In November 2019 we got another positive test when I was only 3 weeks pregnant, this is where the story of our angel Gavin Laine begins. Everything seemed to come early with Gav, his first flutters were somewhere around 11 weeks whereas I didn’t feel his big brother until 18 weeks. We found out he was a boy and we were so overjoyed to know our boys would be best friends for life. We never could’ve imagined that we wouldn’t get to take him home in July. My pregnancy was uneventful and healthy until the end.

I had my last Drs appointment at thirty-six weeks exactly where I heard his strong heart beat on July 2, 2020 and where I mentioned his kicks felt different but I was assured by the nurse practitioner that that was normal towards the end as they get so big in their small space. Two days later on the 4th of July I posted a photo of our family and captioned it “last holiday as a family of three” not realizing that the next day I would receive the worst news of my life.

July 5th I woke up to what I look back on now and consider Gavin’s final “dance party” he was kicking up a storm and I thought that was a good thing. I went on to finish painting his nursery wall that day and then laid down on the couch. I noticed as I was laying there he hadn’t been kicking so I started drinking and eating sugary things trying to make him move. We went for a ride to the gas station where I could’ve sworn I felt something that seemed like a kick. We got home and I asked my husband to call his mom, I needed her to watch our son because my anxiety was getting the best of me.

I wanted to go to the hospital just for some reassurance that I wasn’t crazy. Instead after joking with the hospital staff and my friends that I was just being nervous, after multiple tries to find his heartbeat, my greatest fears were confirmed, I heard “I’m sorry there is no heartbeat”, Gavin was dead. I just remember screaming and nurses trying to comfort me. I called my mom who immediately put a plan in place to drive the 17 hours to be with me and I called one of my best friends, thankfully I didn’t have to tell anyone else from that moment because they made all of the phone calls to inform everyone about this tragedy in our lives and I’m forever grateful for that.

We made a plan to go home, I wanted to squeeze Bryson, I wanted comfort and to feel a safety. Khye and I spent the entire night not sleeping and instead talking about everything and I immediately joined support groups to attempt to understand what I was about to go through. My C-section was planned for 4pm the next day.

Gavin came into this world silently on July 6, 2020 at 5:16pm. The hospital contacted On Angels’ wings who came to the hospital to take photos for us that I will cherish forever. The nurses also broke every COVID protocol and allowed our entire family in to meet Gavin and say goodbye all at once. We spent about 20 hours in the hospital and with Gavin on the cuddle cot making any memory we could and memorizing his every feature and capturing them in photos before we made the decision to leave and go home, we were given a box full of mementos to take home instead of our baby.

We found out Gavin had flipped breech sometime between my last appointment and the few days later when he passed and during that incident is when we assume his cord accident happened. Our healthy growing boy was taken from us through what my doctors call a freak accident.

Honoring Gavin’s life will always be my life goal and motivation, I wish families didn’t have to continue to experience pregnancy and infant loss but I unfortunately know that it’s inevitable as well.

We still wanted to have a second living child on earth and we knew we wanted a close age gap so we began trying as soon as the doctor approved even though mentally I don’t think we ever could’ve been prepared to go through another pregnancy. 9 months of what ifs. I found out in May that I was pregnant, first time I ever cried looking at a pregnancy positive, I was scared but hopeful. I chose not to tell my husband or anyone right away and just ordered a special onesie with hope to announce it to him.

It read “handpicked for earth by my brother Gavin in Heaven” and I wanted so badly to believe it. Once it arrived I told my husband right away and it happened to be on my mom’s birthday so we told her too. We were ecstatic but the nerves kept me from wanting to tell anyone, it seemed like getting people excited made my anxiety worse and it was nice to just have a secret. We found out it was a girl in July just after Gavin’s first (heavenly) birthday which was exciting but also brought on a whole other layer of emotions, we chose to keep her gender a secret for almost 2 months from the few people that did know we were pregnant.

We really didn’t make much of a big deal about the pregnancy at all until our planned trip home to my family the first week of September, I was 20 weeks and visibly pregnant so we knew we couldn’t make it through this trip with our secret intact, we chose to make the announcement at a huge family get together and also let everyone know that she was a girl. As exciting as it was for everyone to be able to celebrate with us we also know that just because everything seems good doesn’t mean the end result always will be. I choose to live each day even while anxious under the mantra of “today I am pregnant, today we are healthy, today we are grateful and hopeful.”

When I found Journey for Jasmine I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of this movement and wear this skirt for our rainbow maternity photos. These are also going to be taken by On Angels’ wings again and I’m so happy groups like this exist for loss moms that I never had to know about before becoming one myself.

RAINBOW; Halyn Raine (named for her big brother Gavin Laine but changed a little as our RAINeBOW baby) joined us earthside about 18 months after we lost her big brother. January 18, 2022 a healing day but also a reminder of everything we’ve missed over the last 18 months. We’re so grateful to Gavin for keeping her safe for us until she made her debut.

Brianna is wearing a yellow dress.  The rainbow skirt is flowing around her.  There are trees in the background.
Brianna is wearing a yellow dress.  The rainbow skirt is flowing around behind her like angel wings.  There are trees in the background.
Brianna is wearing a yellow dress and the rainbow skirt.  Her husband is standing beside her and their son is sitting on the ground next to them, holding a teddy bear with the name Gavin on it.
Brianna is wearing a yellow dress and the rainbow skirt.  She is holding her pregnant belly.

Photos taken by Beth Green-McDonald with On Angels’ Wings.

On Angels’ Wings is a Missouri non-profit organization that seeks to improve the mental health and wellness of families with medically fragile children (regardless of race, ethnicity, class status or orientation) through therapeutic photography and grief recovery services.

Find out more about Project Finding Your Rainbow.

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