Rachael’s Story

We decided to start a family in August of 2020. We found the name Emsley before we even got pregnant with her. In January of 2021, we found out that she chose us to be her parents. My husband immediately gave her the nickname “Emmy Lou”. We were so excited and told everyone right away! I had a very healthy pregnancy and was considered low risk. Every appointment and ultrasound went perfectly. She was very active and I was so happy every time I felt a kick; I felt the first one on our babymoon! I absolutely loved being pregnant. 

At 33 weeks, I noticed that she stopped moving. On August 9, 2021, we went into the Emergency Room. We always had a feeling that Emmy was going to arrive early but little did we know, this was going to be her birthday. 

I failed the Non-Stress Test and the on-call OB rushed to the hospital. The Biophysical Profile scored only a 2 out of 10 and confirmed that she wasn’t moving. “A log in the water”, I vividly remember the ultrasound tech saying. Maternal Fetal Medicine advised immediate delivery to give her the best possible chance at life. I had an emergency C-Section and cried when they didn’t hold her up. Something was very wrong. There were so many doctors and nurses in the room and none of them knew what had happened. It was clear that there were neurological complications. She was breathing and her heart was beating, but that was it. She was otherwise completely still. The midwife kneeled down next to us and told us that flight for life was on its way.

We spent several days in the NICU hoping that she would miraculously start moving. My milk came in and I pumped, slowly accepting the fact that I may not be able to breastfeed. Our nurse Brooke was a God-send and we became instant friends. She told us that she was getting married and hoped to have a marriage like ours. The entire medical staff admired our strength and told us how much they cared. We felt so much love in our darkest days. 

On August 11, one of the top neurologists in Colorado confirmed our worst nightmare. Our daughter wasn’t going to make it. She had suffered a lack of oxygen which caused significant brain damage. Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy. There would never be a quality of life for Emsley. We made the gut wrenching decision to remove life support. Family gathered around and we mourned the greatest loss we would ever know. 

It was just the three of us in the last few hours of her life. We gave her a bath and wrapped her in the swaddle that I had picked out weeks before. We held her tight and memorized the feeling to remember forever. We read to her and listened to music, hoping she could feel the immense amount of love we had. This was our family now. Mom, dad, and an angel baby. Shortly after 2:00 in the morning on August 12, she took her last breath. We will never forget the moment that we saw her cross over to Heaven.

I donated 250 ounces of breastmilk to Mother’s Milk Bank. It brought me comfort knowing that we were helping other NICU babies across the country. We got tattoos for her and we wear her tiny fingerprint on necklaces. We do everything we can to honor her. Sharing her story has become our purpose. 

We were hopeful that we could get pregnant again quickly but were deeply humbled by the experience of secondary infertility. It took a year of trying before we decided to be seen by a fertility specialist. We opted to try an IUI the week of my 30th birthday. We were overjoyed to find out that it was successful. Our rainbow baby, another girl, will be here in July 2023 and we find so much peace in knowing that Emsley hand-picked a sibling for us in what hindsight has shown to be perfect timing.

Rachael wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt.  Her husband stands behind her and they rest their hands on her pregnant belly.

Rachael wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt.  She kisses her husband as the skirt flows around the tops of the head.

Rachael wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt.   She walks on the beach alongside her husband.  The ocean is in the background.

Rachael wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt.    Her husband stands next to her.  The ocean is in the background.

Rachael wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt.  She wraps her hands around her pregnant belly.

Rachael wears a pink dress and the rainbow skirt.   The skirt flows out behind her.  She stands in front of the ocean.

Photos taken by Angie Kaye.

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