After our 13th week visit, our doctor sent us to a Maternal Fetal Specialist because of something he saw on our ultrasound. After the visit to the Specialist, we received the news that there was a strong possibility of a chromosomal abnormality. The specialist informed us that a few of the more rare abnormalities were considered “incompatible with life” and because of that, we decided to have further testing to get an absolute diagnosis to prepare us for what our future held.
On September 26th, at 18 weeks gestation, our lives were flipped upside down when we found out that our baby girl was 1 in 10,000 and the diagnosis was Trisomy 13. McKinley had an extra chromosome #13 and this would affect the development of her entire body. We were informed the devastating news that if she survived to full term, our time would be limited to hours, maybe days. The doctor gave us the option of termination in which we were surprised to find out was the decision most couples make. This was never an option for us, period. Our minds were put at ease when we were told that she was in absolutely no pain. She is our precious daughter and as parents we wanted her to live the longest life possible. We prayed that we would see the day when we would be able to hold her in our arms and have her beautiful eyes look up at us.
We were relieved to find out that the process in which she received the extra chromosome was not hereditary; therefore there was no need for genetic testing before trying to conceive again. This was a very random occurrence that happened at conception. We were told that there is less than a 1% chance this would happen to us again.
In the weeks to follow, we were thrilled to see that our little girl was a fighter and had a strong heartbeat. At one of the ultrasounds, we got to see her “dancing,” in the words of the technician. Six weeks after the diagnosis, we still had our “bad” days but we could finally say, “We’re okay.” God chose us to be McKinley’s parents and we would love her unconditionally.
On Monday, October 31, 2011, at our 6 month checkup, we found out that our angel had gone to heaven. We arrived at the hospital on Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. to be induced, and delivered McKinley on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 6:34 a.m. She was 9.5 inches long and 8 oz.
She was baptized in a sweet ceremony in our room with family and we were able to spend the day with her, holding and cherishing every moment. We are so thankful for the kindness of the doctors and nurses at the hospital. Along with the hospital staff, the thoughtful mothers who have struggled with the loss of a baby themselves, who take the time to make the very small dresses and hats and donate them to the hospital for parents in this situation.
On Wednesday afternoon, we visited a beautiful cemetery and picked out the most perfect spot for her under a tree. We will forever be grateful to the staff at the funeral home who took such special care of our sweet angel. They did an amazing job dressing her and wrapping her in the white blanket given to us by the hospital. On November 3rd, we had a private Graveside Memorial Service for her with our family. At her grave site, we’ve placed a shepherd’s hook from our wedding with flowers and we plan to hang a wind chime so she can listen to her lullabies.
Through this process, our love for each other has grown stronger and stronger. We will always be McKinley’s parents and we will always love her and never forget her. Our families have been an amazing support system for us as well as our close friends. They’ve loved McKinley from the time we told them the wonderful news that we were pregnant.
We will miss McKinley dearly but will forever be grateful that God sent her into our lives even for such a short amount of time. She has taught us so many things and our lives will be changed forever because of her sweet face.
Our beautiful angel, McKinley Grace Howard, was born into heaven on November 2, 2011. Mommy and Daddy love you more than you know. Not a day will go by without you in our thoughts. Our comfort is knowing that God is holding you in His loving arms and one day we will see you again.
Kalee and Matt
Chosen by Matt and I for McKinley's Memorial Service.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
... you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.