We had our sweet Ava Claire stillborn at 38 weeks 5 days on August 31st 2017. When she left behind the best big sister we could have asked for, Amelia Fae. Her heartbroken parents, Joel and Kasi Brashear. Along with 6 grandparents, 5 great-grandparents, aunt, uncle and numerous great-aunts, great-uncles and cousins.
We had the best hospital staff that let us spend 47 precious hours with our Ava Claire. Those of which also allowed family to travel from out of state to say hello's and goodbye's. (The rest sounds harsh but it's the sad truth of the matter.) The only thing that made this a bit difficult was how fast the body degrades. Being a grieving mother I never wanted to let her out of my sight but the only thing to prolong our stay was to put her in the cooler to aid in preserving her just a little. There was only one moment we were so exhausted and with more family going to be there in a few hours we let the nurses take her in hopes of a little sleep. When they brought her back to us I was glad we let her go as it had revived her enough to finish out the day before our final goodbye.
If we had the Cuddle Cot she would have been continuously cooled so she wouldn't of had to leave the room and therefore more time with loved ones, and not just hours but another day or more. We did not find out about the Cuddle Cot until afterwards from family friends who had previously been in our situation. We have now adopted their mission of getting them into their area hospitals and are trying to get them into ours. If this helps even one family in our shoes it will be worth it. Each Cuddle Cot is about $3,000 so we have started with a goal of getting 2, one for our hospital and one for another local hospital our friend is a nurse at. Though this is just a start and we will continue raising for other local hospitals. While looking on their website I discovered there are only 2 in the whole state of Tennessee and reside in Nashville. Which brings me to another fantastic part of this is, that if the hospital is willing they will loan the Cuddle Cot to parents in need at other hospitals.
Thank you for taking the time to read this far and we appreciate any donation to our cause.
Below I am posting her full story if you would like to know more about our 47 hours with our sweet Ava Claire. Pictures are below that.
Thursday, August 31 started out as what was supposed to be the 3rd best day of our lives, the arrival of Miss Ava Claire. Little did we know it would quickly become the worst day of our life.
The night before was just like any other. Joel rubbed my tired achy back just as he had done many nights before. Ava moved so much all the time that I didn’t always comment on her movements but I told Joel she had the hiccups that night, not knowing they would be my last memory of movement. Shortly after that we snuggled into bed as a family of 4 for the last time.
That morning around 6am contractions started to bother me but I just took them as the typical annoying ones they usually were. By 8am I was pretty sure this was the real deal as they didn’t usually make me cry. I started to time them to figure out when we need to leave. 1 minute each, 2 minutes apart was close enough for me and adrenaline quickly kicked in. Since I was induced with Amelia, a spontaneous labor was truly a first for me. We gathered the few odds and ends that weren’t already packed, got Amelia squared away with our friends and hit the road.
We made it to the hospital around 10:30am and quickly put into a triage room. While getting set up with monitors they couldn't find her heartbeat; got another monitor, another nurse yet still nothing. They grabbed the doctor from the hallway and did an ultrasound. We have seen enough of them with our sweet girl we knew the second we saw her, no heartbeat. After screaming at the top of my lungs and unable to catch my breath all I could think about was having to tell Amelia. I didn’t know how I was going to break her heart.
Once we dealt with the initial shock, called our parents, and continued laboring a couple more excruciating hours we decided to break my water to make progress. Since I have quick babies afterwards I knew this would help me out. I felt I was no longer mentally or physically strong enough to handle the pain of the heartbreak that was awaiting us and the impossible task of having to deliver her. And having a very sensitive 4-year-old about to learn a life lesson no child should have to learn we wanted to do so before family made it into town overwhelming her even more. We would soon find out that she is the strongest child that I have ever known and I’m proud to say she is ours.
Despite an unbearable outcome it really was an amazing, beautiful, and quick birth. They broke my water at 2:20pm and started to fill the tub to let me labor in the water like I have always dreamed. This kicked things into high gear but we made it to the tub just in time. 35 extremely intense minutes later our sweet girl was here. And we finally had the answer to this horrific accident. She had managed to get the cord wrapped around her right leg 3 times and her left leg twice. Her right foot is clubbed, which we knew beforehand but it’s not that uncommon therefore was not a major worry since she was healthy otherwise. Once we held her we found a connected issue, that was unknown to us prior, and left her unable to move her right knee from 90 degrees. We believe this is why she couldn’t kick the cord off or it slip off on its own and when it got around the left leg also it caused it to be pulled too tight cutting off circulation in the cord.
Once we got into the room the nurses got her bathed and dressed. She was so beautiful and looked just like her sister. The next 47 hours would unknowingly become the most therapeutic hours of our lives during the most tragic moment of our lives. We were able to have friends and family surrounding us the whole time. And being able to share her and love on her like things were normal for just a moment was so healing for all of us. Though it is a lot for her to understand I think Amelia was stronger than all of us combined. It took her a minute to come around but she soon fell into the big sister role and did most of things with Ava Claire she talked about for months. She loved to take her hat off and unwrap her blanket so she could kiss her forehead, fingers, and toes. She sang her lullabies, tickled her little toes, and brushed her hair like she had always talked about. And always made sure she had her teddy bear. Our sweet girl knew more love in her 47 hours here with us than some people get in a lifetime.
I do have to say none of this could have been possible without our awesome hospital staff and we are so blessed they didn’t just whisk her away. They handled our situation with grace and under the circumstances we couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Our head nurse even gave us a mold of Ava’s foot, hand/foot prints, a stunning funeral gown made from old wedding dresses and many other keepsakes.
I do want to let everyone know that we are at peace and have accepted the situation for what it is. Though it’s going to be a hard road and putting ourselves back together will take time; we know that being bitter and angry will not bring her back. Our sweet Ava Claire is dearly missed and we’re still not quite sure what to do without her here. It is a harsh reality but we are taking the day to day moments in stride and handling each situation as it arises. And although this is not the alternative I would have chosen, I find solace in knowing that her leg will not be causing her a lifetime of pain and discomfort.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story and know we truly appreciate all the love, support, and prayers.
- Courtney Albrecht
- Jen Morical
- Kristin and Jack McGee
- Ron & Kari Lagace
- Jordan Brashear
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