I had always dreamed of being a Mom, and on July 18, 2015 my dream came true. Our first born, Avery Michelle Kelley, was brought into this world on that very special day. She was a happy baby that hardly ever cried unless she was hungry or overly tired. She had many nicknames given to her by family including Boogie Bear, Little Love, Princess, Birdie, Monkey Feet and Wiggle Worm. She hated peas and being startled unexpectedly but loved her bottle, Mommy’s good morning song, and babbling to Daddy all about her day. Our precious angel was the most perfect baby we could have ever asked for.
On the morning of December 14, 2015, I had no clue that would be the worst day of my entire life. I woke up to start my normal Monday routine. I got ready for work, woke up Avery, and sang her good morning song to her as I watched her smile and giggle back at me. I got her ready for daycare and fed her as usual before heading out the door. On my lunch break, I was at the gym when I got the horrific phone call that my daughter was not breathing during a nap and was being transported to a hospital. As I rushed to the hospital, it was too late when I got arrived. My perfect, healthy, amazing, beautiful baby was gone just shy of 5 months old. Her daycare provider, the EMTs, hospital nurses and doctors had already done everything they could to save her life.
Avery’s death was ruled SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). I had heard about SIDS happening to other babies, but it was nothing I thought would happen to me. I was the Mom that was constantly checking on my baby 24/7 to see if she was breathing. What makes SIDS so horrible is that it leaves parents with so many unanswered questions because it’s sudden and unexplained. They have tips for parents to follow to help “reduce the risk,” but nothing “prevents” SIDS from happening. Everything can be followed by the book and SIDS can still happen. Avery’s autopsy taught me absolutely nothing about her death. It basically said, “your daughter was completely healthy and we have no idea why she died”. I pray that someday there will be an answer to SIDS so that no parent must endure what we and so many other families have been through.
After losing our daughter, I struggled for a very long time and fell into a deep depression. After all, my whole world was turned upside down. Our children aren't supposed to go before us. It is not a natural part of life. It has been over three years since I lost Avery and not a single day goes by that I do not think of her, but what I can tell you is that my grief never goes away. It does get easier each day, but that's because I've learned to cope with the hole in my heart.
I will tell you that I did not do this on my own. I was not afraid to seek help and take the necessary steps to do so. I met with a therapist and started exercising again. I have met several other amazing mothers who have lost children, as well, who have lifted me up on my absolute worst days. They are the ones I call when I feel like I cannot breathe from the weight of my grief.
I have an amazing, supportive husband, and while suffering with the grief himself, he was so incredibly strong for me. We now have a crazy, perfect little boy (our rainbow baby), that keeps us on our toes and is constantly reminded of his big Sis in heaven.
If I had one piece of advice for a Mom enduring Pregnancy or Infant Loss, it would be to reach out to others and keep your sweet baby's memory alive. I highly recommend finding a support group of women enduring similar losses to have someone to relate to, doing random acts of kindness in memory of your baby, exercising (endorphins are AWESOME!), finding a hobby to do when you are feeling down, and not being afraid to talk about your baby.