By: Kelsey Bell
“It’s a girl!” Those three words were music to our ears.
After having two perfectly healthy boys, we were more than ready to welcome a daughter into our family. I instantly began picturing what it would soon be like to have someone at home that I could relate to for once and do all of the fun girl things with. I couldn’t wait to dress her in all of the cute girly outfits I would normally just walk past in clothing stores, brush her hair at bedtime, and eventually listen to her cry over boys and best friends. Having a house with three boys around me all of the time was great, don’t get me wrong, but like every mother, I longed for that mother/daughter relationship that you always imagine having as you grow up.
Being a mother is a truly amazing experience. It’s natural to become so attached to the sweet baby, long before you even know what they will look or act like.
Even while I was pregnant, I knew that my little girl would be a daddy’s girl. She would move in my belly like crazy until he would get close and start talking to her. Then she would be still, as if she was so mesmerized by his voice that she had to stop what she was doing just to listen to what he had to tell her. Her brothers always loved to tickle and rub on her through my belly and get her to roll all around. I knew they would be best friends for life. I also thought how much she would love the water one day. Every night when I took a bath, she would stretch and move like she was swimming. “She would probably be a beach baby,” I thought, “and we would have to take her swimming all summer long.” No matter what type of personality she would end up having, I couldn’t wait to find out.
But the dreams I had of playing dress up with my sweet daughter and giving our sons a sister to protect and love were turned into unrealistic fantasies as I neared my 39th week of pregnancy.
I noticed that I hadn’t felt many kicks on the evening of May 19, so I drove myself to the hospital after putting my boys to bed that night. I told my husband it would be fine, but I just wanted some reassurance that everything was ok. He agreed to stay home and wait for me to call. As I arrived at Labor and Delivery, they tried finding the baby’s heartbeat with a Fetal Doppler, but could not find one. The doctor called for an ultrasound where he discovered our baby had passed away.
On May 20, 2015, around 9:30 in the morning, I gave birth to the most beautiful 7 pound, 21-inch little girl I have ever laid eyes on. It was the saddest, yet most peaceful, delivery we had ever experienced.
No nurses rushing into help, no loud monitors beeping, and no baby crying. It all felt like a bad dream. This happened to other people, but I could not fathom it ever happening to me. My kids are my life; losing one of them didn’t feel possible. It wasn’t fair. The doctor determined she had an umbilical cord accident. She had managed to move around so much in the womb that she had gotten her umbilical cord into what is called a “true knot.” It had also wrapped the cord around her neck causing it to kink and pinch off her oxygen and blood flow, eventually causing her death.
After delivering our precious baby we soaked in everything we could about her.
From her sweet-smelling skin and her perfect turned up nose, to her dark hair with waves going down the back of her neck. We kissed her pouty little lips, we rocked her, and we told her how much her big brothers loved her and how we were so very sorry that this happened to her. We stayed with her for about 8 hours. Leaving her behind when we left the hospital was one of the hardest things I will ever do in my life.
My mind raced with questions.
What if she got cold?
Would they put her into a car seat to take her to the funeral home?
Would someone hold her so she didn’t feel alone after mommy and daddy left her behind?
These are things a mother should never have to think about.
My husband and I came home from the hospital and were received by two little boys waiting on a baby.
They were just as heartbroken as we were. We had a nursery set up, which served as a constant reminder of the child we couldn’t bring home. We called our daughter Baby Girl because naming her at the time seemed like it made her death more real, and I guess I wasn’t ready to face that harsh reality. After about six months we finally decided to name her. We chose the name Autumn Rayne.
The first year was the worst.
I packed up the nursery and kept everything in the basement, so for all of those “first” holidays I would go downstairs and dig through tubs of little girl clothes so I could see what outfit I would have put her in. I cried myself to sleep every night and had dreams she was crying for me. I felt like I was losing my mind at times. I missed her so much it hurt.
Autumn celebrated her second birthday this past May. Her brothers still talk about her and we have pictures up all around the house of her. I got pregnant and had another boy after having Autumn. When we go to the store I nearly always hear comments on what it must be like having all boys and strangers are constantly asking if we are ever going to try for a girl.
I always smile and am polite because they have no idea that I already have the most beautiful little girl watching over me every single day.
About Kelsey Bell
Kelsey is from a small town in Missouri where she lives in the country with her husband of eight years, Andy, and their three beautiful sons: Beckett (7), Sawyer (4), and Adler (1). The Bells own a body shop where Andy fixes cars. Kelsey is currently a stay-at-home mom and have been home with her children off and on for over seven years. She enjoy gardening, playing with her kids, and spending time doing anything with her family. Kelsey truly feels like she was put on this Earth to be a mother.
kelsey, What a beautiful article. Of course, I cried for you,your daughter & family. Thank you and Andy for letting us be apart of your lives. Autumn will always be an angel watching over your family, especially those wonderful brothers.
Kelsey, this is an awesome story and I’m glad you were able to share it with others. I know it will help many families who have gone on this same journey. May God continue to bless your wonderful boys, Andy and you. Yes, I agree you were born to be a mommy!
Reading your story through the tears in my eyes and the pain in your heart… I share the pain with you… I send love and light your way… I was 37wks… they couldn’t find her heartbeat.. then the ultrasound room… where I fell to the floor when they confirmed there was no heartbeat… I saw it before they did… that precious little flicker… nothing… no moment… no light… just darkness… my little girl would have been 16 last month… her golden birthday… l love each mother out there … I love you all… we will hold them again… “those angels can’t take my place” -tori Amos
I can relate to all your daughter fantasies. I grew up the only girl with three brothers. My ex and I went through 7 years of infertility and one miscarriage – to finally become pregnant with triplets. Two girls and one boy. I was over the moon to have daughters for all the same reasons you were. But my babies came too soon – born at only 25 weeks. My daughters died at 2 days and 15 days of age. My son survived (he is now 20 years old). I did have a subsequent pregnancy – also another boy. Divorced and remarried now and have two grown step daughters which is something but not the same as getting the chance to raise my own daughters and it is something I still grieve. Huge hugs.
Autumn s Center and Camp Autumn are named in honor and memory of three-year-old Autumn Elgersma, of Orange City, Iowa, who died on October 31, 2013, two days after being hospitalized for injuries she received from her daycare provider. Since her passing, Autumn s light has continued to shine through her story and the impact it has made on northwest Iowa. Autumn s mother, Jennifer, along with her husband Phil, and children Faith and Jared, are dedicated to creating awareness on child abuse and serving as an ambassador to help protect our community s children.