Texas family's email exchanges highlight hope in Christ after infant daughter's death
Last week marked four years since the birth of our daughter, Kate Austyn, on June 5, 2010. Kate was our fourth child, our third daughter.
Looking back, it is startling how unaware we were of what awaited us when we drove calmly to the hospital in College Station, Texas, that Saturday afternoon. What we thought would be our fourth routine delivery became the beginning of a journey that would teach us to hang on to hope through the heartache of losing a child.
Rather than trying to retell our experiences from memory, what follows are excerpts from emails we sent to our family and friends describing our experiences in real time. These notes reveal some of the emotions we felt. There was fear and sadness, but we also felt strength and hope from our faith in Jesus Christ and from the words of love and encouragement from family and friends who supported us through it all.
Today, our conviction that families can be together forever through the ordinances and promises of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is stronger than ever. With great anticipation, we look forward to reuniting with Kate again one day. It is our hope that Kate’s story will be a blessing to all who read it; in that way, her influence for good will live on.
Sunday, June 6, 6:30 a.m. (approximately seven hours after Kate’s birth)
Email to Bishop David Garlick
I wanted to fill you in a little bit. We've had a very hard night. The baby's birth has been nothing like our other three. It would be hard to go into all the details now, but when we have time to visit, I can share more.
The first obvious sign of problems was that the baby was very small when she was born. Holly carried her for 39 weeks, but she weighed only 4 pounds 6 ounces, which is obviously a huge contrast with our other three kids who were all over 8 pounds.
Everyone in the room seemed worried and rushed when the baby was born. We hardly even got a photograph before they rushed her away to the NICU.
The cord was short, so there's a possibility that her small size is simply due to malnourishment in the womb. But there is also a chance that she has some type of genetic abnormality, which obviously frightens Holly and me a lot. Let's just say we didn't sleep much last night.
We got to go see her in the NICU for about an hour at 2 a.m., and she is so small and precious. Holly hasn't been able to nurse her or anything yet. So it will probably be hard for a few days while things get sorted out. We certainly need all of your faith and prayers. I am not sure what to do with our kids. Do you think our kids could go to church with your family? I guess you could tell the ward we had a baby girl and Holly is fine and the baby is ??? sort of fine, but I'm not sure the best way to say that. I'll leave it up to you.
Sunday, June 6, 9:50 a.m.
Email to friend Don Adamson
I've been thinking a lot about you and your family the last 12 hours. Holly delivered our baby girl last night — one week early. She carried the baby 39 weeks, but the baby weighed only 4 pounds 6 ounces. The doctors had never picked up on her being so small in any of the ultrasounds, so it was a huge shock and surprise to us.
The neonatologist came to see us last night and said she is almost positive it's not Down syndrome, but it is almost certainly some other type of genetic disorder that could potentially be very serious. We have felt really frightened about the possibilities, but we know things are in the Lord's hands, and it won't do any good to worry until we find out exactly what's wrong.
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