Her Story ...
November 2017 was the starting point of my major life transitions that totally transformed my life. These events were the death of my father, my great-aunt, family cat and stillborn daughter, Laekyn Fawn. Here's our story.
November 18, 2017, my sister and I were planning to go and see our father who was not feeling great when my sister got the call. Our Dad was gone. He had succumbed to a heart attack. He passed away in his home, peacefully (suspectedly)…and alone. That was not the way we had envisioned his passing. We had always had an intermittent relationship with our Dad but there was always the hope that we would really reconnect and have the relationship that we dreamed about with him. This will never happen now and moving forward from what could have/should have been, was/is challenging.
The next day, less than 24 hours later, I received a message that my Great-Aunt had passed away. Although she had been in the hospital and we were expecting the end of her journey, a person is never fully prepared for that realization.
Then, 2 days later, on Tuesday November 21, 2017, my husband, Jarod, and I were called into the doctors office to inform us that our Nuchal Translucency test led them to suspect our sweet baby had Down Syndrome. We were asked if we’d like to terminate the pregnancy at this point, and to let them know by the end of the week. Needless to say that we were shocked that an anomaly had been found, but even moreso that the idea of terminating this pregnancy seemed like the only option for us. During my research, I’ve discovered that 95% of people that receive the same diagnosis DO in fact terminate. This was a crazy realization! Our child was perfect in our eyes, and although we would need to learn how to care for a child with Down Syndrome, terminating the pregnancy was NOT a choice we were willing to make.
Since I had refused to do the amniocentesis due to fear of miscarriage, we were referred to a high-risk pregnancy centre for additional testing. So, on Thursday January 4, 2018 my mom and I arrived to have a fetal echocardiogram, which examines the heart for structural abnormalities, and an ultrasound. Most children born with Down Syndrome have some sort of heart abnormality, which is usually repairable within the first few months of birth, so this is what we expected. After the testing was all completed, we were called into a private room for the results. We were expecting a confirmation of Down Syndrome and had prepared ourselves for this result, which is why I didn’t see a need for Jarod to take time off work just to get a diagnosis. However, this was not the information we received. We were told our baby was very sick. Our sweet baby had several anomalies suspected, some of which included heart and brain imperfections, hydrops fetalis, and suspected kidney problems, or a complete lack of kidneys, which they believed could be causing low amniotic fluid.
The doctors were all surprised that we hadn't already miscarried naturally, but were told that with all these things combined, our baby wasn't “compatible with life”. I was in complete shock!!! They asked if we would like to terminate the pregnancy at this point, and they could even do it the same day! Again, I refused. I promised our baby that I would carry him or her for as long as he or she chose. If we were to lose our babe, it would not be our doing.
Hydrops fetalis is a condition in which fluid builds up within the babies body. This stresses all the organs. There is also a maternal risk called “Mirror Syndrome” in which a mother can begin developing the same organ stresses. Our choice not to terminate meant I was at high risk and would require weekly check ups, ultrasounds, and daily heart rate monitoring. We were sent home and told to come back for our first check the following Tuesday.
This time Jarod came with me. We were feeling pretty optimistic. I was feeling great, my blood pressure had remained stable and I had no swelling. We had spent the weekend researching each one of the suspected anomalies and we came prepared with a game plan for each one!! We were hopeful and believed in miracles!! This baby was such a blessing for us that there was no way we would lose him or her...or so we thought. We showed up and as the technician began the ultrasound, I knew immediately...there was no heartbeat. Our baby was gone. This was not at all how it was supposed to turn out! My soul was crushed. The Kirsten everyone knew, died with her child.
We were given the option for a D&E, which is when they surgically remove the baby and placenta, but sometimes the baby can be injured and we didn’t want that; our child had already been through enough. So they induced me, and after about 30 hours of labour, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Laekyn Fawn. Not hearing our baby cry was the most painful silence in the world.
Following the birth, we had to register Laekyn as stillborn, and make some of the most awful decisions a parent should not ever have to make; what do we do with the “body”? Our Laekyn was not just a body to us, she was and is our daughter. We decided to have a formal funeral service for her. At the hospital we were able to have her baptized in a beautiful ceremony, and she would be laid to rest in the cemetery across from our home, HER HOME. That is the closest we will ever be able to get her. Having the funeral meant other family members could choose to hold her, or give her special gifts of love. Our two other children both chose teddy bears for their sister. We got to choose a song to be played at her service and I was even able to deliver a eulogy.
All of these things were profoundly healing, for all involved. However, had we chosen, back in November to terminate our pregnancy, these beauty memories would not exist. We are so fortunate to have been able to experience all the joy, amidst the sadness. Our autopsy results confirmed that Laekyn did have Down Syndrome, hydrops and a heart condition. All the other suspected anomalies were not present. We believe that her little heart just could not hold on anymore with the stress of the hydrops.
Laekyn’s tiny footprints, which I’ve had tattooed on my arm, are a reminder of all the many blessings and things I have learned BECAUSE of her death. This little girl, who never even took a breath of air, transformed my life so dramatically and helped me to reconnect with the truth of my life, that people have always turned to me to aid in their healing. I have since received certifications as a Life and Grief Coach, and I promised myself (and Laekyn) that I would bring hope to those who could not see it.
Having survived the loneliness and desperation of my own deep dark places, I decided to dedicate the rest of my professional life to helping other people find THEIR light at the end of the tunnel, their power and true strength, through self-growth and empowerment.
Zenful Goddess Healing Through Empowerment Coaching Services was born.
There is no footprint so small that it does not leave an imprint on this world.
Kirsten will be on site at our Grief Support Open House on Friday, April 20th from 10am to 5pm to share more information about her services. She will also be speaking about the "3 Life Lessons from Death". Stay tuned for timing for her presentation.