I found out that I was to be blessed with our third child, a daughter, in March of 2000. John and I already had two precious daughters and were rejoiced to be expecting another child into our family.
I had had fertility problems with my first, but had such high hopes for a baby. I received her, Kailey Hope, in August of 1992. Her little sister came as a surprise 19 months later in March of 1994. Since I had suffered no fertility problems with that pregnancy, I was made well aware of God’s grace and named her Olivia Grace. I knew that our third child, if a daughter, would receive the middle name of Faith.
I was 35 at the time of my pregnancy with Makenna Faith and began to worry about my risks of having a baby with birth defects. The doctor told me about the alpha-fetoprotein test and after much worry, John said, “Go ahead and take it…things will be fine and you can quit worrying.” We should have never taken the test. No matter what the results were, our baby was our baby, so the test was really of no value to us, except to cause us worry.
My test results revealed that I had a higher than normal risk for having a baby with a nearly always fatal genetic disorder called Trisomy 18. I learned that most of the babies with this condition pass away very early in life and most do not make it to their first birthday. I was petrified. I prayed and prayed and felt that God gave me the peace that our baby would be okay. I had to undergo several ultrasounds at a perinatologist’s office and none of them showed any of the usually very evident signs of Trisomy 18, so I believed that God gave me the peace that our baby would be okay. Now I look back and realize that our baby WOULD be okay, just not as we had thought.
Then, on October 1, 2000, about 6 weeks before my due date, my mother suddenly passed away. Oh, how I wanted her to see this soon-to-arrive baby, but she was a severe diabetic suffering with many problems, including heart conditions, and God called her home. It was about a week after losing her that my blood pressure shot up. From that point, I was on bedrest until October 27.
On October 27, while I was at my weekly doctor’s appointment undergoing a nonstress test, the baby was not reacting the way they wanted her to, so I was sent to the hospital for more extensive monitoring with an ultrasound to follow the next day. Unfortunately, the baby’s heart rate was decelerating and that necessitated an emergency ultrasound. My perinatologist acted concerned while looking at the ultrasound screen and then stepped out of the room. He soon returned and advised me that at 37 weeks I needed to have a C-section immediately. He himself wheeled me upstairs to the labor/delivery floor. Thankfully, John had returned to the hospital from picking Kailey and Olivia up from school and was able to be with me during my surgery.
When Makenna Faith arrived, everyone in the delivery room was shocked to discover that she did indeed suffer from Trisomy 18. The doctor had actually finally seen evidence of it on the ultrasound performed right before delivery and was waiting for John to talk with him outside the delivery room. I was in total shock. I knew from my reading that her prognosis was not good. John and I both decided that we did not want any harsh measures taken on her little body to further her life here on Earth. We wanted her to go home and be with Jesus when He was ready for her. She had an enlarged heart and, apparently, many of the signs and problems evident with Trisomy 18.
But to everyone who saw her, especially us, she was an absolutely beautiful baby. I got to hold her as much as possible and one nurse made it possible for me to hold her against me and attempt to breastfeed her, which is a memory I cling to and will never forget.
Due to my blood pressure problems, I had been closely monitored. I now count my blood pressure problems as God’s blessing. When Makenna was born, they told us that she would never have made it through labor and delivery and would have most likely have been born still. As it was, I got to love and hold her for a few short days here on Earth.
Jesus was ready for Makenna Faith when she was only four days old. At that point, I’d had Kailey Hope with me for eight years and Olivia Grace with me for six years. I had Makenna with me for four short days. That doesn’t make her any less important. We had been making plans to take Makenna Faith home with us to be with her for whatever time we had. John wanted to bring her home so badly and I was so afraid…petrified that I would make a mistake in her medicine or her care.
However, bringing her home with us was not to be. God showed us one of His many mercies by taking her straight from my arms and into His. I consider that such a gift to me. I had been released from the hospital, but we had not left yet. I was absolutely miserable at the thought of leaving the hospital without Makenna. Right when John, Kailey, Olivia and I were going in to see Makenna before my discharge, her nurse was on her way to find us because Makenna was in distress. We got to hold her for about 45 minutes, part of which she was looking straight into my eyes, and then she died peacefully in my arms.
As John put it, we saw Jesus so many times during our pregnancy, birth and then loss of Makenna Faith. I cannot even begin to tell how much we were blessed by the caring doctors and nurses who cared for Makenna Faith and us. Donations were made in Makenna’s name to our church building fund and to the NICU that so lovingly cared for her. It gives us such comfort to know that her memory will live on through the generosity of others.
One touching donation came from Kailey’s second grade class. I received an envelope via her school backpack containing dollar bills and coins amounting to around $11. The children themselves had donated this money in Kailey’s little sister’s honor. We gave the money to the NICU where Makenna Faith spent her short life and we were told that it would be used to purchase literature for other bereaved parents.
And so that’s our story. She was our precious baby, our much-anticipated little sister, our little visitor from Heaven and we miss her dreadfully. She may have only been four short days in our arms, but she will be forever in our hearts. Thank you for reading my story about Makenna Faith. I have found that it helps so much to share her little life with others. One friend told me that our little baby probably bore more fruit in her four days here on Earth than some people do in a lifetime. That brings me comfort.
We owe such heartfelt thanks to our families for being there to support us during our loss of Makenna and for never failing to acknowledge the “realness” of her life.
We’ve given many heartfelt thanks to those who were with us during this most difficult time in our lives and for all the visits and telephone calls. Not only did the visits and calls minister to us by giving us company, but also they saw us through some very difficult times. We’ve also given heartfelt thanks to those allowing us to shed tears on them and for shedding tears right along with us.
We are so thankful that many people special to us were also able to visit with us as we held Makenna in our arms. God allowed us to show you how precious our child was and always will be in our hearts and memories. We’ve given heartfelt thanks for all of the beautiful cards of sympathy we received. Many of them made us cry, but the love we felt expressed through them has been enormous. Those cards are now treasured keepsakes. We have offered heartfelt thanks to those who donated money in Makenna’s memory, either to the Central Baptist NICU or to the Vision 2000 Building Fund at our church. We have been overwhelmed with emotion to know that Makenna’s memory will live on through the generosity of others. We’ve given heartfelt thanks for all of the wonderful food brought to us in the days after losing Makenna. It not only served to nourish our bodies, but it also nourished our spirits by the love of God it showed.
We’ve offered thanks for the gestures of physical sympathy, whether it be a hug, a kiss, or simply the expression of condolence evident in another’s eyes as they have loved us during this very painful time.
Three months after we lost Makenna Faith, we found that we were expecting again. God knew that I was becoming more and more fearful and blessed us with another pregnancy before I could prevent that from happening. I will admit that it was nine months of anguish. I was so afraid of losing this child that I almost went out of my mind. And then we found out the baby was to be a boy! What a surprise! We turned down all prenatal testing, other than those we absolutely had to undergo, and prayed for a healthy baby. Makenna Faith’s birthday was October 27, 2000, and this baby was due to arrive on October 26, 2001. Oh, so many exact dates to go through…
However, since I had undergone an emergency C-section with Makenna Faith, I was not allowed to go into labor on my own. On October 2, 2001, I underwent an amniocentesis, which within a few hours caused me to begin to have mild contractions. I was kept in the hospital overnight and the C-section was scheduled as planned for the next morning. Early the next morning, our little guy, John Wayne (named after his Daddy and maternal Grandfather) arrived via C-section.
Suddenly, we were transported back to one year before. The baby was having trouble breathing and would need to go to the NICU. However, the hospital’s NICU was full and we were advised Baby John would have to be transported to the University of Kentucky Hospital. Since I was still recovering from the C-section, I was not allowed to be transported with him, but John did go to UK and spent as much time as he could with John Wayne. He had improved so much by that early evening that plans were already underway to transport him back to the hospital where I still was. His breathing problems, apparently, were due to the fact that he was a C-section baby and were resolved quickly.
We then had one more hurdle to cross. John Wayne had a condition which required him to undergo surgery at six days of age. I felt as if I had climbed aboard that same roller coaster of potential loss again. When John Wayne was only six days old, we handed him from our arms into the arms of the nurses and doctors at the University of Kentucky to undergo his surgery. It was one of the scariest times of my life. Thankfully, we had the most wonderful anesthesiologists, doctors and nurses who promised us they would take care of our son for us. The surgery went well and except for one terrifying episode of bleeding from the incision site, we were able to take John Wayne home that afternoon.
At his six-week post-op appointment, his surgeon told us to take our son home and enjoy life, which is exactly what we’ve done. John Wayne is a delight and is doted upon by his entire family as you can imagine. Although I still pine for our daughter, Makenna Faith, her little life led the way for us to have John Wayne. How I wish that I could have both of them here on Earth with me, but God had different plans. The addition of John Wayne to our family has been nothing short of a miracle to me.
And he has the most amazing fingers! His pinkie fingers are curved ever so slightly and remind me of Makenna’s tiny fingers. I’ve told him of Makenna’s short life with us and I think while he surely knows how much I love him, he also knows how much I love that God has given me a special reminder of his sister through his fingers.
Makenna Faith was one of the greatest gifts of love and is very much missed by all of us. We all have little spots in our hearts kept for those we love. I imagine my heart as one of those big old-fashioned Valentine’s Day hearts with places reserved for all of my loved ones. Makenna Faith’s place is a beautiful little pink heart that will linger within me forever.