Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Felicity's Story

Labor began fast and furious at 41 weeks and 1 day gestation. We had our 2nd homebirth/water birth planned, to be attended by a licensed midwife. I woke up feeling crampy at about 4:40 am on October 6th, 2008 and went to the bathroom. I went back to bed where contractions immediately started and I quickly woke up Paul with my moaning. He began timing contractions and at my urging called our midwife at about 5:10 am and she left.

We moved downstairs where the birth tub, a bed, and our supplies were set up for the big event. The contractions were really hard and close together. By 5:45 I was feeling the urge to push. Paul was on the phone with our midwife and she instructed me to get down on the mattress in a head down butt up position to counteract gravity. I was also puffing out my breaths to keep from pushing, but it was really difficult. I wanted so badly to get into the tub, but couldn’t because our midwife wasn’t there yet. (She had been on the phone with Paul while she was in the car driving to our house.)

She arrived at about 6:25 and rushed to get all her stuff in. I got into the tub as soon as she said I could and she tried to get the baby’s heart rate with the Doppler. I felt my water break then and needed to push, so when she couldn’t find the heart rate, I was only briefly concerned. Due to a shoulder issue with my last baby, she wanted me in a running start position for pushing, so I didn’t really see what was going on as the baby crowned and came out at about 6:40 a.m.

After she (we didn’t know what we were having) came out, I turned around and the umbilical cord tore in half. I saw my baby in the midwife’s arms, all purple and with the cord around her neck. I was so weak and numb from the pain being over. I heard the midwife say, “Oh, God!” and immediately she started doing mouth to mouth. Paul was stunned at what was happening and she yelled to him to call 911. They took the baby over to the bed and our midwife continued infant CPR with Paul right there. He was crying out to God to help his daughter and that’s when I realized we had a baby girl! I hadn’t even touched her! I was still in the tub, numb from shock. I continued to sit in the birth tub sobbing and crying out to God to help my daughter.

Then the paramedics and police arrived. There were multiple people helping with Felicity (we had names already picked out) and others talking and attending to me. We were in such shock, we didn’t know whether anything they were doing was helping or not. They left with Felicity at about 7:10 to transport her to the hospital. I still hadn’t even touched her!

Paul stayed with me and once I had delivered the placenta, they transported me by ambulance to the hospital as well. The hospital is about 8 miles away and the whole ride there, Paul and I alternated between praying, singing, crying, and quoting scripture. The scripture that came to mind which I kept repeating was “and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The paramedics kept saying they didn’t know anything about Felicity and that we would find out when we got to the hospital. We arrived about about 8:30 a.m.

They took me up to the OB floor. A nurse came in and asked some questions and took my blood pressure. It was all a blur; I just wanted to see my baby. We were told my doctor was on the way and then they left us alone in the room. We had to wait about half an hour before my doctor came in to the room. (I had seen her twice during my pregnancy and she had given me the referral for the homebirth.)

It was after 9 at this point and I think I remember her introducing herself to Paul and greeting me. She made a couple of comments about what had happened during my labor and then she started to say, 'Rachel, I am so sorry to have to tell you this. . .' She didn't get any farther and I just felt my body erupt in pain and anguish. I started crying out, 'No, no, no!' and Paul was sobbing too! It is such an empty hollow feeling and I just can't even begin to describe what we were feeling.

The ER crew had worked on Felicity until about 7:50 a.m., but was never able to get her breathing. It was noted that she had a tight knot in her umbilical cord and the cord was stretched very thin on either side of the knot. When they tried to intubate her, they noted meconium in her system. The ER doctor in charge called her death at 7:50 a.m. Officially, it was recorded that she never breathed and died sometime before she was born. (In the case of a stillbirth, parents never receive a birth certificate, only a death certificate.)

They brought Felicity up to our room in a nursery bassinet, wrapped in hospital blankets and with a newborn hat on. She was very dark purple due to her heart having stopped before birth, but so beautiful, none the less. They picked her up with such care and put her in my arms and left us alone with her. We cried and cried. We were told we could spend as much time with her as we wanted and everyone in the hospital was so kind. We hadn't called home to let anyone know what had happened to Felicity and then my mom arrived. Paul was holding Felicity and had his back to the door when she came in and at first her mouth dropped open in shock and a light came into her eyes, but I started crying and had to say, 'Mom, she's gone!'

The grief we feel is like nothing I can describe. We spent most of the day with Felicity, holding her, kissing her, crying over her, and examining all her features in detail. She had a head full of dark, dark hair, basically black and little ears. Her fingernails and toenails were so long! She had my long skinny toes and chubby thighs. She looked so much like Elijah did with a perfect little rosebud mouth and chubby cheeks. She had light colored eyebrows and despite her coloring, she was absolutely perfect in every way! I could tell she was heavy. They weighed her and measured her and took her back to the nursery to do her footprints and take more photographs. They dressed her in the sweetest pink sleeper with a hand-knit sweater and hat.

We debated a little bit about whether the boys should see her. I am so glad that Paul thought it was important for them, as I was unsure. He went home to tell the boys and bring them and my Dad and Aunt Cathy back to the hospital. My mom called home and told Dad and Cathy that Felicity went to be with Jesus, but to wait to tell the boys. When Paul got home, Ethan greeted him at the door and said, 'Daddy, can we go and see my sister?' Then he saw Paul's sad expression and he started to cry. Paul sat down with the boys and told them what happened. He and Ethan cried together.

I was holding Felicity when they came into the room. Ethan had a very sad, closed off look when he came in, but Elijah in all his 2 year old enthusiasm came right over to the bed, said, 'Hi Mama.' and asked to get on the bed. He said hi to Felicity and immediately started touching her and kissing her. He had no reservations about the dark color of her skin or how still she was. Ethan had to be encouraged to come and look at her and touch her. He finally climbed up on the end of the bed with me and looked more closely. He touched her and I commented to him about how soft her skin was. He agreed. The nurses took more pictures of her with the boys. They both held her.

My parents and Cathy took the boys home around 1 or 1:30. Time is fuzzy and I can't quite keep it all straight. So much time was spent in tears and prayer. We had to meet with the coroner and talk about what happened and why. He determined by looking and examining her that the result of death was the 'true' knot in her cord. In doing some research online I found that only 5% of pregnancies have a knot form in the cord, usually in the first trimester and they are not detectable by ultrasound. But of that 5% only 1% end in death/stillbirth. Felicity died while still inside me, sometime in the night or during labor.

My doctor wanted me to stay the standard 24 hours, but of course I wanted to go home. I wanted to be with the boys, to be surrounded by my family, and feel their love. We spent the rest of the afternoon, holding and loving our daughter, while trying to make some plans - whether anything in her body could be donated (it couldn't due to an unknown time of death.) We also had to decide on whether we wanted an autopsy or testing done to determine any genetic problems which might have led to her death. We decided against both. An autopsy wouldn't be able to tell us when she died and based on how she looked and that she was full term, it was fairly certain that there was nothing wrong with her internally. The genetic testing didn’t make sense considering the knot in her cord.

A professional photographer from a ministry called 'Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep' and took photographs. It was amazing how many things they do for families who lose a baby. The hospital sent us home with the outfit she wore, mementos, a lock of hair, and her footprints.

We had to start the process of planning a service and contacting a funeral home before we could go home. A man from the funeral home came and picked up her body around 4 p.m. He came with what looked like a large black tool box case. I couldn't watch him put her body into it, so Paul held me while he did it. And then . . . she was gone!

I often find myself reliving that day in bits and pieces in my mind. I wonder when a day will go by that I won't think about her and the place she would have had in our family. I will always wonder how different our lives would be if she were here with us. We will always feel an emptiness in our lives because she is not with us. We are so thankful though that she is in Jesus' arms, perfectly complete and content. Felicity Faith means "joyful faith." Her life was short, but we pray we can live out her legacy by having a joyful faith.

After doing more research on true knots, I came across information saying that knots ARE detectable in an ultrasound. There are still many factors that contribute to whether or not a knot can be seen, but they can be detected. There are no guarantees that a C-section will produce a live baby if a knot is detected. I had an ultrasound at 38 weeks 5 days to confirm Felicity was not breech. I am assuming that the technician checked other things during the scan as it lasted for about 10 minutes or so. No concerns were noted at that time. I believe God is sovereign and that we live in a fallen world because of sin. I blame no one for my daughter's death.


Billi said...

Thanks the tears of sorrow, healing, peace and hope threaten to spill out of my eyes all I can say is thanks.

Anonymous said...

We don't know eachother, but I somehow came across your blog from another. I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious daughter. There are no words to make things feel any better. Just know that a "stranger" is thinking of you and your family and praying for you. My 3rd son was also born with 2 knots in his cord. I had a scheduled c section at 37 weeks. Luckily all turned out fine with him. It was scary to know this after and to think of what could have happened. May God bless your famiy and help you with your healing.

Anonymous said...

Rachel, I just sent you an email with my notes. They may be helpful and add some pieces. M

Anonymous said...

Rachel-We continue to pray and think of you, Paul and the boys everyday. Know that we are also feeling sadness for you all.
Love, Amanda

Kimberly said...


Thank you for sharing your story. We don't know each other, but I happen to run across your blog today. I know that you will see your beautiful Felicity again. What an amazing reunion that will be for you. I pray that you will have comfort and feel Heavenly Father's arms around you. Know that God can't always stop the bad things from happening to us, but He is always there to pick us up and hold us while we cry.

Thank you again for sharing your story. You are amazing!


Sharleen said...

I was in tears reading Felicity's birth story. You and your family continue to be in my prayers. I know Felicity and Joy are friends in heaven just having the best time ever!

Love Sharleen

Rachel said...

It is very courageous of you to go back and re-live all of the details of that sad sad day...your story will bless many and God will use your Felicity Faith in mighty ways...may God bless you and your family and may you feel His peace day by day.

Debbie said...

I came across your blog and what to tell you how sorry I am about the loss of your beautiful daughter. I will continue to pray for you and your family has you journey down this path. We, too, had the opportunity to have NILMDTS photographer come and take pictures of our son. We treasure those pictures and continue to relive those days. Praying for peace and comfort.

The Sloterbeeks said...

My name is Dawn, I found you through "Choose Joy". I just want to encourage you to continue to share your experience. You are very courageous to share your story, I wish I had shared ours sooner. God Bless and keep you as you trust in Him.

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing that story with us. It's really beautiful and really heartbreaking at the same time.

Amber said...


Thank you for connecting with me and leaving a comment on AJ's page. Our stories are so similar and I am glad that AJ and Felicity are now friends in heaven. 20 months later, there is still not a day in my life that I don't ache inside and miss my baby. Please feel free to keep in touch with me or comment on the blog.

My prayers are with you as you and your family. You may visit and sign up to receive the has great stories and sharing. They have been our lifeline.

Many blessings!

Jennifer said...

I came across your memorial site for your daughter after I had made one for my son Isaiah. I lost him on August 3, 2008. I was supposed to be having him on the 16th. of December. I am having a hard time coping with the loss. I have three other boys, and everyday I watch my boys play and laugh together, and you realize how precious life is and what you lost. I have to continually go to the Lord with all of my grief, lay it down and his feet, and trust. I had tears streaming down my face as I read your story. Your daughter is beautiful! If you ever would like to e-mail, mine is

God Bless

Sarah said...

I am here by way of the King's Missus. I saw your comment there and wanted to read your story. I grieve with you in your loss of Felicity. I am so glad you were able to have time with her and that you got pictures. May God comfort you and your family as you go about your daily life, always remembering your sweet baby girl. I can only imagine how difficult it is to be in your shoes. Please know that you are in my prayers. The hurt is fresh and fierce, I am certain.
In Christ,

Energy Bugs said...

Sweet Rachel--I'm so sorry for your loss. I cried through your whole story. I have such a mix of emotions... deep grief for your loss, as I can't imagine going through that as I have children myself, and a sovereign peace that we know exactly where Felicity is. As lovingly as mother's hold their babies, I'm sure we can't compare to the sweet embrace of Jesus. ((Hugs))

Rebecca said...

I was doing okay until I read about your boys coming in and your husband. I'm crying WITH you. I am SO sorry. Our arms should not be empty. We WILL not only get to see our little ones again but to rear, raise and nurse them!

Tina said...

Dearest Rachel, I was crying my eyes out as I read your story and looked at the pictures. I found you through Molly Piper's blog. Words seem so inadequate, but just know that my heart is truly aching for you and I am so so sorry you lost your beautiful daughter. She truly is beautiful and perfect!
You and your family will be in my prayers.

christa jean said...

I haven't cried that hard in a while. Sometimes my heart feels like it would burst with all the sorrow people have to experience in this world. No one should ever have to go through labor only to birth a baby who is not alive.

The night of my sons birth, in the midst of such joy, still my mind wandered to the women I know who have given birth to stillborns. Yes, I have experienced loss, but I feel that it can't even compare to what you must have experienced. Somehow the pain will be woven into the pattern of our destiny.

Thank you for your comment on my blog. I pray the peace that passes all understanding would guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus in the year 2009.
Bless you,

Susan said...

I just came upon your blog, and I wanted to take the time to tell you that Felicity was an absolutely beautiful baby girl. You will be in my prayers...I can not imagine the pain, but what grace and understanding you display. God bless you and your family.

Angie said...

I found your story through Facebook's Stillbirth group. I lost my daughter Lucia on Dec. 22nd. I am so very sorry for your loss. I feel your pain too. Thank you for sharing your story. Your daughter is beautiful. I will think of Felicity often, and you. Our shared grief will help strength us.

Hey Mama where's my... said...

You are in my prayers, she was so beautiful, I know you must be heartbroken.

vinadity98 said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I am a labor and delivery nurse and unfortunately I've seen your story one too many times. It always makes me hurt so much. Your daughter was beautiful, but that was just a mere shell. Her spirit IS beautiful and lives on. Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. May God bless you!

Vanessa and John said...

wow, i don't know what to say. Our stories are very similar except they got my daughter back, with very severe results.

Ebe said...

Felicity is a precious little baby girl. So beautiful.

I am so so sorry she is not in your arms today.

I wish there was more that I could say...

I am praying for you and your family.

Em said...

Felicity was just beautiful.
I am so very sorry she is not with you, in your arms, today - although you will hold her forever in your heart.
I know it's just not the same.
Wishing you comfort and support on your grief-journey.
Love, another stillbirth Mama who is just a little further down that same road.

e&e said...

Came across your blog via Melissa's. Felicity is certainly so beautiful. I am crying for your loss right now. I am so sorry.


Heather said...

I came across your blog from another... I read your story about your daughter and am praying for you ~ May the Lord grant you strength during this difficult time. Your daughter is precious and beautiful!!!!

Angie said...

Your daughter is just beautiful!!!

Anonymous said...

Your daughter is so perfect, i found your blog on still born babies forever in our hearts i am very sorry for your loss, you have made a wonderful page to remember her by, we were not able to take pics of our angel she was taken right away after she was born. You are in our prays

Susan B. at warmchocmilk said...

I'm so, so sorry for your loss. I had a misscariage which I know is no the same, but I felt a loss too. If you get a chance, read my post today called Dophins at the Zoo. It's about this kind of loss.


Sonja said...

Oh Rachel, it's been so many years since I really "knew" you, but I so vividly remember your deep rooted faith and foundation. I've always deeply respected you. Reading your blog site my heart just aches for you, but I am also enormously proud of the amazing person of faith you continue to be, and of your godly example. It renews MY faith to read this.. I am so inspired by you.

Many Blessings,

Sonja Ebling (Birkeland)

Anonymous said...


I was your doula for the birth of your first son. I saw your post today on my blog and wanted to come and see snippets of your life. I am truly sorry for the loss of your daughter. I cannot begin to imagine the sorrow your family has been through.

I am very grateful you have had God through this.


Nicole said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I found you via the Facebook Stillbirth group. I just wanted to let you know that Felicity is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my baby girl, Caroline, on October 20th of this year. We miss her so badly.
I've started a blog to tell our story, it's

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry about your loss. I wonder where you were able to find your beautiful plaque? I would love to get one for my friend, who has also experienced a homebirth loss. Please let me know when and if you can. Thanks so much.

Rachel said...

Dear Anonymous,
THe wooden plaques (with all our family names in a row) are from Character First 952-888-1451, a Mpls based company that only does phone orders. The other "plaque" in the silver frame with pink matting was made by my midwife. I wasn't sure which one you meant. Thanks for reading Felicity's story - Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel,
I am sorry, it has been a rough month. Thank you for the information on the plaque. I meant the wooden one with her name and the scripture from John 16:22. Thank you so much.

Tesha said...

Hi Rachel I has visited and read your story before, I am visiting from Kelly's link up now. I am so very sorry you had to say goodbye to your darling daughter. I know some time has gone bye but I also no amount of time will heal all of the pain, thank the lord for Jesus. I am saying a prayer for you now. Hugs

Felicity Elsaesser said...

i found this post and your blog looking for my own name written in sand. Then i read this and i realize its not my own name but Felicity Faith's and it means much more than i ever thought. This, not story, but life is just a blessing and i am great full you found the lord as your comfort though out all of this. Felicity and your family are in my prayer.
- Felicity Anne Marie Elizabeth