“As she takes on the wings of a dove and ascends into heaven.”
The words that will forever be imprinted in my brain and on my heart.
The date was May 7th, 2016.
Mother’s Day weekend.
I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl. She was born 10 weeks early, at 30 weeks. She weighed in at a whomping 3lbs 9oz, 16in long. She had the most beautiful head full of thick dark brown hair. She had long fingers, long toes, & we were absolutely certain she had her daddy’s feet. She was going to be tall- very tall. I had so many plans in store for her, but God seemed to have better ones.
Alexa Kennedy was born with wings.
They say you never know how much you can truly love until you give birth to your own child. I learned this to be extremely true. However, you will never know how absolutely, devastatingly broken you can be, if you ever have to give your child back to God.
I told myself I could write my story about Alexa without losing it, now that I have gained more strength and acceptance in the past 4 years, yet here I am, three paragraphs in, and I already feel like I’m dry swallowing a pill.
This may be a bit more difficult to get through than I expected, but I’m going to do it.
I found out that I was pregnant with Alexa Kennedy in November 2015. After a previous miscarriage that July. This news was such a blessing, yet so terrifying. The fear of having another miscarriage was embedded in my mind. It just never seemed to go away no matter how much I wanted it to.
Although I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs to the world that I was pregnant again, I felt obligated to wait until I passed that 12 week mark. I had the unpleasant fear inside me that if I spoke too soon, I would lose my baby.
That first ultrasound appointment, I was overwhelmed with so many contradicting emotions.
You want to talk about anxiety?
My heart was beating so hard you could see it through my shirt.
“Please have a heartbeat, please have a heartbeat...”
I repetitively said to myself.
The words “I’m not seeing a heartbeat” haunted me ever since my first ultrasound with my first pregnancy, so my nerves were high.
After the beautiful news that my little baby’s heart was beating away, my overwhelming feeling of relief took over my entire body and I bawled. Tears ran down my face, faster than they ever have.
Finally, it was my turn. I was going to have a baby!
The days turned into weeks.Then those weeks turned into months. My pregnancy was beyond perfect and Alexa was as healthy as could be!
What I loved most, was my belly. Her kicks were everything to me. The 3D ultrasound appointments when I got to see her beautiful face was, I mean, fun. There is no other way to describe it. I loved everything about pregnancy.
I was put on this earth to be a mother, and I wanted nothing more than just that.
Around 30 weeks into my pregnancy, my husband and I decided to take a trip to Michigan to see his family. At that time we lived in Indiana, this is where my doctor’s office was. I knew I had an appointment coming up, but it was only a quick, routine, 10 minute check up. All they planned to do was to use the doppler on my belly, take my blood pressure, then send me on your way. A check-up every pregnant woman goes through.
My original plan was to reschedule the appointment for 2 days later so that we could spend that weekend in Michigan. My pregnancy was literally perfect at this point. There were absolutely no complications up to this point, therefore, this wasn’t necessarily a big deal.
Little did I know, I was going to be driving back to Indiana for that initial appointment in fear.
A lot of fear.
As We were enjoying our time in Michigan, my husband and I decided to take the boat out on the lake to go fishing early in the morning. His aunt and uncle own a cottage on the lake, so they offered it to us to use while we were visiting. It was ideal, because we both love to fish.
That morning, as I woke up, I felt a little different than normal, before we left to go fishing. I couldn’t figure out why, but something felt off. Alexa wasn’t moving as much as she usually did.
I immediately unlocked my phone, hopped on my pregnancy app, and searched for reasons as to why she wasn’t as active. I read that around 30 weeks, babies start to run out of room in the womb because of the restricted area in the belly. Therefore, they may move less.
I felt a sense of relief.
That article helped me ease my concerns. I guess I convinced myself, after reading my phone that the limited space Alexa had was the reason she wasn’t as active that morning.
So then, I decided to wait it out.
When we finally got on the lake, I had zero desire to fish. I was tired, anxious, and just wanted to lay down and feel for Alexa. She was the only thing in this world that was on my mind at that time.
My husband brought me back to the cottage to rest. I told him he could continue fishing and I would call him if I needed him. The whole time I laid there, I was feeling for Alexa. I could feel what felt like hiccups. This helped ease my concern.
The day went on as usual. We hung out with the family throughout the day, but as night hit, my concerns were raised again. Yes, I randomly felt those same hiccups, but Alexa just wasn’t moving as extravagantly as she used to. I didn’t like it, but this was my first viable pregnancy and I really had no knowledge on what I was feeling or what was normal/abnormal.
Later that night we were in bed. I kept poking my belly trying to get Alexa to move. I finally felt a big movement from her. It actually hurt a little, that’s how powerful it was, but it was reassuring.
My initial appointment was set for that next morning because of my previous concerns I decided to not cancel it. I woke up at the crack of dawn to drive back to Indiana. I was originally just going to drive to the appointment in Indiana. Then make it back to Michigan by myself, but something in me told me to make my husband come with.
So he did.
We stopped at our house first. We checked the mail and there were some bills that had to be paid, so I told my husband he could stay at the house and deal with them while I went to my appointment. The doctor’s office wasn’t far so I figured it was no big deal.
When I got to my appointment, I waited anxiously in the room. The medical assistant came in with the doppler and asked me to pull my shirt up so she could use the doppler on my belly.
I instantly had a gut wrenching feeling.
I looked at the nurse with complete fear in my eyes. I said “before you use that, I want you to know I’m really nervous... Alexa hasn’t been moving as much recently.” She proceeded to say it was okay and that she would check for her heartbeat and we can go from there.
After searching my big, 30-week belly for a heartbeat, she couldn’t find it. She called the doctor in at this point and he began searching for it as well. He then told me “maybe she positioned herself in an odd spot. So we will do a quick ultrasound.”
Again, I found myself laying next to the ultrasound machine with complete and utter fear. “Please have a heartbeat, please have a heartbeat...” I repetitively said to myself, yet again.
Then he said it...
Those haunting words came back and shattered my heart into a million pieces.
I’m not seeing a heartbeat...I’m so sorry.
At first I blankly stared at him. It was like nothing had processed through my head at that moment. I was completely numb. Nothing came out of my mouth. He then said he would give me some time to call my husband, as he walked out of the room to call the hospital to make arrangements for me.
That’s when I lost it.
I’ve never let my emotions out like that. Before, especially not in a public setting, but how could I have not let them at that point? I completely lost it. I called my husband and the second he answered the phone all he heard was me whimpering. I couldn’t speak literal words. He knew he just had to get to me.
The second I hung up with him, my mom randomly called me. I tried to answer her call but again, I could barely speak, all I was able to get out was,
My mom immediately said “I’m on my way!” and hung up. She lives in Chicago, so she had a three hour drive ahead of her.
Within minutes my husband came bursting through the office doors, he frantically looked for me, as the nurses pointed to the room with the loud cries. I know that the entire building knew what had just happened.
He rushed into my room and just held me. We cried together for a while. After a few minutes, we were then instructed to head to the hospital for another ultrasound to basically confirm what we already knew.
When we got to the hospital, we were greeted by the most genuine, caring, loving nurses. They brought us to our labor and delivery room and wheeled in the ultrasound cart as I got into my hospital gown. I was a walking zombie at this point. I was drained, my face was flushed, I felt numb, and I had zero willpower to do anything.
I laid in my hospital bed as they prepared the ultrasound machine. They squirted the gel onto my stomach and began examining Alexa. They asked me if I wanted to watch or not. I told them I wanted to see her. There was no way I wasn’t going too.
I don’t know why I was so foolish, to have the smallest hope in my heart that maybe, just maybe the ultrasound would reveal some kind of blood still pumping through her little body and that they could somehow save her.
Then reality presented itself, as I sat there, staring at a lifeless black and gray screen.
It was confirmed, Alexa was gone.
They continued examining everything on that ultrasound. They looked for any problems they could find, any indication that there was something wrong. They found nothing. It was literally a perfectly healthy looking pregnancy.
I was induced shortly after that. While we waited for our beautiful angel’s arrival, the nurses were in and out of our room collecting tubes on tubes of blood to run as many tests as they could to find out what happened.
I gave birth that next afternoon at 1:24pm.
The nurses had warned me that Alexa may not look as I expected. They told me that her skin might be blue/purple and a bit bruised looking. After all, nobody knew how long ago she had passed. But Alexa’s skin didn’t look that way, in fact, she looked like a normal, little sleeping baby. That was when I knew, her passing wasn’t long before I went to that appointment.
She was so beautiful. My goodness, was that baby perfect.
Our families all came in from Illinois, Michigan, and Tennessee to see her. She was held by everyone and she was SO loved. I got to spend all day and all night with her. I got to comb her hair and wipe her little face. I gave her all of my kisses and examined every inch of her little body.
She was perfect.
The hospital asked me if I had a religious background and if I would like to have a pastor come and baptize her. I proceeded to ask for a catholic priest to go through with her baptism. That next morning (Mother’s Day morning), Father Anthony came and baptized Alexa. Over her, in prayer, he said “...as she takes on the wings of a dove and ascends into heaven.”
The second he spoke those words my stomach dropped. My husband and I looked at each other wide eyed because we both immediately had the same thought.
The day that I was admitted to my labor and delivery room, there was a dove that sat on my window ledge. It never left, it just sat there all day and all night. That dove literally never left the ledge of our window until after I had to give Alexa away. We all knew in our hearts that that dove was in fact our first sign from Alexa.
A sign that she was with us.
After the baptism, the nurses let me know that I could either keep Alexa another day or give her to them in order for them to bring her to the funeral home. They also added that the longer I kept Alexa, her body would start to look different, so it was imperative that I made a decision soon.
Never in a million years would I have imagined that on a random Mothers Day, I’d have to hand my daughter, who in fact, made me a mother, over to a mortician.
My husband and I talked about what we wanted to do. After a lot of thought and consideration, we decided it was best to say our goodbyes that day. We didn’t want to lose the image of Alexa that we had.
We took so many pictures with her and I am so grateful for those.
Giving her back felt like I had to dig into my own chest, rip my heart out, and give it away. Knowing I will never get it back.
I left the hospital that day with a box. A box full of memories of Alexa. What was in that box, that I will cherish for the rest of my life was, the comb I combed her hair with (that actually still had one of her little hairs in it), her hand/footprints, little mementos the nurses made me in her memory, and a cut out white lace heart that was pinned to the beautiful gown that I had put her in. I kept that heart for myself, so that a piece of the clothing she was laid to rest in was always with me.
The days following were extremely hard. It took a LONG time for me to go into Alexa’s nursery and begin to take it down. I lost my faith in God for a short amount of time. To be completely honest, there were many moments in which I didn’t want to be on this earth.
I wanted to be with my daughter.
It felt so wrong that I was allowed to live when she didn’t even get a chance to take her first breath.
As time grew, so did my strength. I eventually found God again and I began to recover. I wouldn’t say time healed me, in this case, because I will forever have an open wound in my heart for her, but I did grow stronger. I accepted that God needed her for a reason. One I may never understand, but a reason, nonetheless.
I may never have the answer for that reason, but the answer for why she is not here from the doctor, at least gives knowledge of what happened.
Alexa Kennedy passed away due to a nuchal cord. This means that the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck at some point. This eventually caused her passing. All of the blood work they did came back healthy. It was very difficult knowing and accepting that this was all a freak incident.
As a part of me died the day that I had to give Alexa, another part of me found a whole new meaning to life.
It has been four years since Alexa joined God. She sends us signs OFTEN. There have also been a handful of times, in which, I truly feel that I’ve connected with her time and time again.
Today, I feel like one of the biggest issues that I’ve had since she’s passed is the fear of people forgetting her. Her name, not being said.
Alexa is my daughter. I spent 30 weeks growing her, getting to know her, building a relationship with her, birthing her, holding her, introducing her to her grandparents, aunts, uncles, & cousins.
She may not be here on the physical earth anymore, but that doesn’t mean she was never here.
Nothing touches my heart more than when I hear my family speak about her, acknowledging her existence. She is still their granddaughter, their niece, their cousin, too.
Yes, Alexa Kennedy was born still, but she was STILL born.
Since Alexa passed, she sent her daddy and I, her little sister, Gracie, who is now almost 3 years old. And more recently, she sent us her little brother, who we are expecting in September.
Alexa Kennedy has taught me more about myself and life than I have ever known before. She is my first daughter, my very own angel, and the light that I turn to in times of darkness.
Because of her, I’ve had an elastic awakening to life and I will never again lose my hope.
“Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength. No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” -Dalai Lama
**Danni has started a baby & children's clothing line in honor of her daughter Alexa Kennedy. If you would like to check it out. Click the link below.**
**Danni's husband, Shayne has also written for The Fatherhhod Blog about their past ordeal with Alexa. If you would like to read his story, click the link below.**
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