Wednesday, November 9, 2011. It was Brandon's morning to feed Avery Kate so he woke up around 6:15 to feed her. I had already dressed her the night before in order to save time in the morning. I'm just not a morning person at all. I woke up around 6:40 and started getting ready for school. Hallie had made it into our bed earlier that morning and was sound asleep. Brandon put Avery Kate in her swing next to our bed and came into the bathroom to get ready too. Well Avery Kate was really noisy, so I would straighten a piece of my hair, then run in there to give her the pacifier and then back to my hair again. Then she got the hiccups. Not just any ordinary hiccups though, the kind that sound so painful. They were so loud, Brandon and I just smiled because even thought they sounded horrible, she was still so cute! Those hiccups reminded me of those last hiccups I felt from inside my belly the night before she was born. Once I was ready, I went to dress sleeping beauty lying in our bed. She had on some Christmas pajamas. I know it was only November, but she wanted to wear them. I dressed Hallie and let her go back to sleep. I put Avery Kate in her car seat in the kitchen and let her watch me fix my sandwich for lunch. Before I went to buckle her, I thought, I'm going to take a picture of her in this outfit. It was Hallie's FIRST outfit. When I found out I was pregnant for Hallie, Mrs. Christy bought us a boy outfit and a girl outfit from Pink & Blue Avenue. The outfit Avery Kate was wearing was the girl outfit. I thought she may spit up on it during the day so I better get my picture now. As I turned on my phone, I noticed Heather sent me a message asking if I wanted Starbucks. Yes, Please! Then, I snapped the picture, buckled her up, and grabbed her blanket out of the dryer. It was the blanket. Next, we were on our way to Honey and Pops. I dropped her off and headed to school.
Now for those of you who don't know me, school starts at 7:40; I get there about 7:39 each morning. Well when I walked in everyone is asking me why I am so early. Am I? I thought, well I didn't mean to be! I had no idea what happened. Heather had my pumpkin spice latte' waiting for me. Mrs. Fetter was in the hallway for duty. Since I was early I wanted to show her the video of Hallie doing our 2nd grade Turkey Named Bert dance that I videoed on my phone the night before. I dropped by bag right inside my classroom by the door. I normally keep it in the back corner of the classroom on my desk. When I turned on my phone a picture of Avery Kate popped up. She had on the same outfit that I had dressed her in. Wait a minute, is this Hallie? No, I guess I already dressed her in that outfit before. I thought I had taken that picture that morning for nothing. While Mrs. Fetter watched Hallie's videos on my phone, I got a text message. She showed it to me, and my heart sank. It was Honey. I slowly opened the message. She was just asking what time Avery Kate had eaten last. I remember telling Mrs. Fetter how my heart sank every time Hallie or Avery Kate's babysitter would text me. Whew! Nothing is wrong. We watched the cute little videos and I went in the classroom to change the date on the board. Then Brandon called me. He asked if we could eat supper at his mom's that night. Of course, I said. I thought how lucky I was to have had my phone nearby. I usually forget it in the car or have it tucked in my bag on silent all day. I hurried and put my phone on my laptop and let the kids come in the classroom. Normally I allow two kids at a time to go to the library. Well for some reason this morning I felt like everyone was asking to go. I told the kids we would all go as a class. We lined up, and headed to the library. I visited with the librarian. She asked about the girls and then asked if I was going to have any more children. "Absolutely not!" Was my answer to her. She said, "You didn't get anything permanently done right?" My response to her still gives me goose bumps. I said, "No, you just never know where life is going to take you." Then we left the library. We had a great morning. I finally felt like I had their behavior under control and I was feeling really good about our reading lesson that morning. I just felt so happy with everything in my life! At 10:15, I brought my class to art for enrichment. I came back to my classroom to clean up a few things and call a parent. I picked them up at 10:55 and brought them back to the classroom to pick up their art folders. Then we had to go to computer lab. Now, I never bring my phone with me to computer lab or to lunch, so it was still sitting on my laptop right near the door. I asked the class to line up for computer lab and they were just too noisy. "Let's try that again," I said and they went back to their seats and lined up again. Still too noisy, so they had to do it a third time. Finally they got it! Right as I motioned to my line leader to go I saw my phone blinking out the corner of my eye. It was Honey and Pop's house. I said, "Hang on y'all, let me answer this really quick." It was Pops. "Avery Kate's not breathing. The ambulance is on its way. Women and Children's Hospital. Hurry!" "I'm on my way!" I said. I reached down and grabbed and bag near the door and motioned for a teacher in the hallway to take care of my class. Mrs. Fetter was in the hall and I screamed to her that Avery Kate wasn't breathing. I ran down the hall as fast as I could. Our janitor, Mr. Mike kept shouting to teachers to go with me. I kept saying I was fine. When I close my eyes and think of that moment I was running in slow motion down the hallway and Mr. Mike was throwing teachers at me saying, "Goooooo!" I know it wasn't really like that, but that's how it seemed. Kate Valentine, a 3rd grade teacher ran after me and hopped in the car with me. I immediately called Brandon and told him to meet me at the hospital. We put on our seat belts and she said, "Let's pray." I couldn't remember any prayers at that moment. She said the Guardian Angel prayer. Honey and Pops live in the same neighborhood as my school so I was just about to turn down their street when I remembered Pops saying the name of the hospital. He wants me to go there, I thought. She must already be there. So I passed up their street and continued on to the hospital. Kate called Terri and my mom. My mom was at Mr. Roy's funeral in Franklin so she didn't answer. Terri said she was on her way, which at the time I thought she was over re-acting. I knew babies stopped breathing all the time. They just skip and breath and they're fine. That's what happened to Avery Kate right?
We pulled up at the hospital and Brandon was there outside in the grass waiting for me. I jumped out the car and Kate parked it. I continued to call my mom's phone. No answer. I texted her to call me 911. I also texted any family members that I thought may be there with her. We were still waiting for the ambulance. I called Honey and Pops' house. Pops answered and I asked if she was breathing. "Nooo, get over here." was his response. I fell to my knees and shook my head "no" to Brandon. He screamed. Then Pops told me the ambulance was pulling out the driveway. We waited. When the ambulance pulled up we ran up to it. Brandon kept saying, " I don't want to see her like this." I still thought everything was going to be OK so I talked some sense into him. I told him that she was going to be fine and we were going to go and hold her hand through this so she would know she wasn't alone. The paramedic kept trying to get us to go away. "Just tell me if she is breathing!" I asked. "We are breathing for her," was his response. Whew! I thought. She's OK. I guess I'm just a mother who would only assume that her child was going to be fine. Brandon hugged me and said, "No matter what happens...." I cut him off, "Stop! She is going to be fine. Come on." We clung to each other's hands and walked into the emergency room. They pulled the curtain close and escorted us to the triage room. I saw our school counselor and Kate sitting in the room and motioned for them to come in. Again, I still thought she was fine. They did not come in. Brandon and I sat in the room and talked. He said, "What if it's that SIDS thing?" "Brandon," I said, "Quit! She is going to be fine!" The doctor came in. "What happened?" he asked. "I don't know she was at the babysitter's house. Is she breathing?" I said. "Well, she's gone." was his response. I stood up and said "What!" I just couldn't believe the words that came out of his mouth. Brandon tried to hug me again when I told him that I just wanted to hold my baby while I still could. I let out a loud scream and ran to hold my sweet baby girl.
Her outfit was cut down the middle and she was still intubated lying on the table, lifeless. I just hugged her and kissed her and held her little hands. "Are you sure?" I kept asking. They were sure. Through all this, not one tear came to my eye. I was in shock. She looked fine. How could she be gone? They took the tube out of her mouth and wrapped her up for me to hold her. I squeezed her as tight as a I could. She was still beautiful as ever. Brandon's mom came into the room to be with us. Then his grandma came in. She didn't know and seemed relieved when she saw me holding Avery Kate. "She's gone mom," Mrs. Christy said. She dropped to her knees. "Nooooooo!" She screamed.
I just held my baby girl that entire day while we thought of people to notify. Father Keith came and talked to us. He was a big comfort to have with us. Our friends and family kept pouring in. Honey could not even stand up, so they wheeled her in. She just couldn't believe the outcome. Brandon calmed her down and told her how wonderful she was and that if we had another baby, that baby would go straight to her watch during the day. This was not her fault. Heather stayed by my side and helped me the entire afternoon. I didn't even want to be by myself in the restroom, so she was there. My dad, Terri, Eric, and Jessica were coming from Youngsville so they were on their way. My mom and family were coming from Franklin so they would be even longer. We had so much love and support there that day. The nurses were putting together a little gift bag with memories of Avery Kate. It said, "Threads of Love" on it. They took her footprint and cut a wisp of her hair. When they cut her hair, I lost it. That was when I realized that my baby was gone and this would be the last time I would ever get to hold her in my arms. Then I remembered the picture I had taken of her that morning. Then I knew exactly why God had me do that. It's my last picture of her. We held her all afternoon until all our family had come to see her for the last time. I remember asking the social worker there, "Where do we go from here?" "It's just one step at a time, honey. Just do what you think can do....blah blah blah" "No," I said. "Seriously, like from here, where do we go? I can't go home." That was probably the only time that day when I laughed. All of my parents finally arrived and got to hold her and kiss her. It was undoubtedly the hardest day of all our lives. But we still had out baby with us, for now.
Then the time came that I had been dreading all day. The time where I'd have to leave my baby...forever. Everyone said their last good-byes. Then it was time for Brandon and I to give her to the social worker. I know I felt millions of knives enter my heart. It was the worst moment of that entire day. I walked out of the hospital to a crowd of support, but still I broke down in tears. It was real, and I'd never have my baby back with me again.
We went to Mr. Keith's house because we just couldn't go home. Everyone came with us. Heather and Ellen went to our house to get a few things and also move some things that I knew Brandon and I couldn't bear to see. I knew there was a diaper on her changing table and a bottle on the counter. Seeing that would crush me. Food started to pour in but I had no appetite. We visited with everyone, then made the decision to go home to go to sleep. My dad, Terri, Eric, and Jessica went a minute ahead of us to put her bassinet, swing, bouncy seat, and bottles in her room. They knew those things would upset us. When we walked in the house, I went straight to her room and sat in the rocker. I just couldn't believe my baby wasn't with me. I couldn't believe that I'd never see her again. It was the longest and hardest day of my life. My mom and Corey slept at our house with us that night. I went to sleep that night crying and praying that when I woke up the next morning, I'd realize this was all a dream.