“There are some moments in your life that just stick with you forever. For me, finding out we were pregnant with our first child is one of them. It was the moment where my world grew, and life as I knew it would change forever, but not in ways I had expected.
My husband and I were high school sweethearts and had just gotten married a year prior. We weren’t planning on starting a family at the time, but when we found out we were pregnant, we were ecstatic. Within a few weeks, we had decided to move out of our condo near the city and buy a house near our hometown. We had a big gender reveal with all of our family and friends, and found out we were expecting a baby girl. We named her, Adalyn Rose, and called her, ‘Addie.’ It is a special name to us, because my husband’s name is Adam, and he was called ‘Addie’ as a kid. We were so excited for a baby girl to be joining our family.
One day in mid-September, I wasn’t feeling well and called my doctor. She sent me for tests and said everything looked fine. They had no idea what was wrong. They said it was probably a little virus and I was just tired from being pregnant. But things didn’t get better. I kept getting weaker and had a pretty high fever. Finally, we’d had enough and went to the ER. They checked my vitals and then checked Addie’s heartbeat, which was beating strong. We had a moment of relief, knowing she was okay. While we were in the emergency room, a few of my tests came back and seemed off, but they still didn’t have any idea what could be wrong. They decided to admit me so they could continue testing, monitor me, and find the cause of my symptoms. That day in the ER was the last time we would ever hear our little girl’s heart beat.
No one had checked Addie’s heart beat since we were in the emergency room. I had requested we get her checked out. After some push back from the staff, the nurse finally brought in the fetal doppler. Adam and I both noticed a concerned look on the nurse’s face. After a few seconds of silence, she said she would be right back and rushed out of the room. Immediately, we both started hysterically crying. The doctor came in, and she also couldn’t find a heartbeat. An ultrasound confirmed our daughter had died.
Child Loss Grief
I don’t think anybody can really put into words the way they feel after losing a child. After the doctors had left, our families rushed to be by our sides, not knowing what to do or how to comfort us. We all just cried together. Everything settled down and our families went home. Adam and I held each other in my hospital bed for hours, just crying and not knowing what to do next. We were so extremely exhausted we finally fell asleep. We couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. They were swollen from crying so much, and heavy from days without sleep.
There are aspects about losing a pregnancy most people don’t understand unless they, or someone they know, has gone through it. I was going to have to give birth to our lifeless baby girl. We couldn’t really understand or pay attention to what the doctors were saying, but through the fog of devastation and tears, we heard at some point after I was healthy again, they would induce a long and emotional labor. This was something I didn’t know if I could do. How can a mother give birth, but not give life? How do you move forward from that? It is something I still don’t think there is an answer to. Unfortunately, so many of us just don’t have any other choice.
Our little girl had different plans though. Only a few hours after falling asleep on that emotional night, I went into labor naturally. As scary and as painful as it was, the wait and decision making was lifted from us. On September 21st at 4:35 in the morning, our beautiful daughter was born. On the labor and delivery floor, surrounded by happy parents and crying babies, we met our silent and still little girl. She was so peaceful, wrapped up in a soft blanket and wearing a tiny pink hat. We held her and kissed her and cherished our time as a family for the little bit of time that we had.
Later that morning, our infectious disease doctor came into the hospital room and shared my test results had come back. He informed us I had a bacterial infection, called Listeria, which was what caused Addie and I to become so sick. I was devastated and had no idea where it came from. I was extremely cautious (family and friends would laugh at how cautious I was) about what I ate throughout my entire pregnancy, and felt a tremendous amount of guilt that I still deal with today. At one point, I remember looking at Adam and saying, ‘I am so sorry I did this, I am so sorry.’ He took me in his arms and said, ‘Chloe, YOU did not do this. This is NOT your fault.’
Other aspects of child loss many don’t think about are the decisions families have to make on whether to cremate or bury their baby. Whether they want to have a funeral service or not. Which urn or casket to purchase. All of those decisions you never expect to make for your child, you are instantly in charge of making. We pulled into the parking lot of the funeral home and sat in the car for a few minutes. I remember talking to Adam about wanting to help other families like us. I kept thinking, no parent should ever have to do this. We shouldn’t have to be here. It felt so wrong, like our lives were in a place they were never supposed to be. We were quickly reminded life really doesn’t have guidelines, and things happen that you never imagine.
We can honestly say our little girl had a lasting impact on our lives and made us better. Better partners, better parents, better people. We often thank her for humbling us and for giving us so many beautiful gifts.
One of the gifts being, the push to finally do something we had always talked about doing. Just two months after Addie died, we started the process to become foster parents. As excited as we were, it quickly got put on hold because we found out we were pregnant with our son, Enzo. We had decided to pause our application and promised ourselves we would finish when we were ready.
Joy And Healing
We spent the next few months focused on simultaneously enjoying this pregnancy, and also just getting through it day by day. Although I had a very healthy pregnancy with him, it was filled with so much fear and anxiety. I truly couldn’t imagine taking a living baby home. It didn’t feel real. Until it was. And we were. He was born on September 1st, 2018. I remember walking out of the hospital with him, the same exact hospital we left broken hearted the September before, and letting out the biggest sigh of relief. Which then quickly turned into panic because I couldn’t believe we were parents to a living baby and fully responsible for such a perfect little boy.
The next eight months were filled with so much joy and healing. Enzo was such a light in our lives, and honestly took care of us as much as we did him. Aside from the sleepless nights, he gave us energy. He put life and passion and purpose into us. Right before his first birthday, we started focusing on the dreams we had for our lives and for our family.
We launched a nonprofit, the Adalyn Rose Foundation. Through this nonprofit, we support families who have lost a baby during pregnancy or infancy. We pay for funeral and cremation costs, send care packages, and host support groups and special events for loss families. We have created a beautiful community filled with the most incredible people, and have been able to do such needed work in honor of Adalyn. We also officially became approved foster parents. You didn’t think we forgot about that promise, did you? We welcomed our first foster placement in June of 2019.
I was getting Enzo into his car seat, ready to head to our local library story time, and got a phone call asking if we would be able to do a brief emergency placement for a one-year-old boy. I got a few more details and then called Adam who didn’t even have a moment of hesitation, and called the social worker back. ‘Yes, we would love to have him come stay with us for as long as he needs.’ A few hours later, the doorbell rang and I saw the sweetest little one year old face looking up at me.
It turns out, that little one-year-old face looking up at me, turned into a two-year-old face, then a three-year-old face, and a four-year-old. The ‘brief placement’ turned into something much longer. It was extremely hectic raising two little boys during a pandemic. It was exhausting and emotionally draining, but we formed such a close family bond during that time. We also found out we were expecting a baby girl. We were all so excited, but the very familiar pregnancy after loss anxiety set in again and it was even harder than my pregnancy with Enzo.
I leaned on Adam a lot during that time and we were so relieved to welcome a healthy baby girl, earth side, on October 21st, 2020. Going from no living children to three living children in three years was… a LOT. And although TJ felt like our son, the weight of foster care was still so heavy for all of us.
There were a lot of different changes that had happened in his case during his time with us, but in the spring of 2021 we were asked if we would be open to adopting him. Through lots of tears, we said it would be our honor.
Writing the last five years out on paper makes me take a step back. Wow, how does so much happen in such a short amount of time? These last few years have been far from simple. They have been filled with so many ups and downs; so much love, happiness, anxiety, and heartache. But they have taught me so much. They have truly changed me to the core. My heart has grown, and I see life in a very different way.
My life has evolved a lot, and is totally different than I had imagined it would be five years ago, when I got that first positive pregnancy test. But I am so grateful for where I am today.
I am grateful for Addie’s gifts. The courage, drive, and perspective she has given us. I am excited to see where life is going to take this crew of ours, but I have no doubt it’s going to be special.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Chloe Ciferri of Reading, PA. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook, and support her foundation on Instagram and their website. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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