This is the letter we wrote for Hannah's funeral.
Dear Friends and Family,
First of all, we want to thank you all for the great amount of support you’ve given us this last year. We know that some of you have not heard from us in awhile and some of you were never able to make to the hospital to visit, so we wanted to write this letter to everyone and tell Hannah’s story.
As all of you know we have two other children, Derek and Lindsay, Lindsay of which was born in June of 2007. In July of 2007 we received word that Ronnie would be deploying again and after much consideration we sold our trucking company and Ronnie took a job at the Jasper Armory in preparation for the deployment in February. I took a job at the Elementary school in August of 2007 and we moved back to Orleans in September, so that my family could help me take care of Derek and Lindsay while Ronnie was overseas. I soon realized that my clothes were fitting very tightly and I became very self-conscious of everything I ate. Soon after, I had trouble breastfeeding Lindsay, and once again just blew it off as being part of a working mom.
While spending one afternoon with my mother-in-law, I convinced myself that I was probably pregnant again and took a pregnancy test. Sure enough, I received a plus sign on the small white stick. I cried for about an hour to mother-in-law and then on the phone to my mother. After some time, they both convinced me that everything would work out. Ronnie was in the woods with his father hunting, so I sent him a small text message saying we were going to have another baby. Needless to say, he was not anymore thrilled than I had been. But with some days in deep thought and prayer, we realized God would not hand us something we could not handle. So within a week, I was becoming more excited about the idea of have two babies so close together.
The next hoop to jump was the doctor issue. In December we received a letter stating that our ob doctor, whom we had had with both Derek and Lindsay, was resigning the ob department of his practice. Once again, I cried in despair. We searched and searched for a new doctor, but no one would take us as a patient because of our high risk prenatal history. After 4 months of being sick everyday and so much stress from Ronnie’s upcoming deployment and not have an ob to turn to and the pain of having to leave my children every day, I decided to resign from my position at school. This was one of the toughest decisions ever, because I dearly loved the job.
In January, Ronnie left for Georgia for mobilization training. Uncle Jim and Aunt Sandi, quickly took over where Ronnie left off and came to my rescue daily. Uncle Jim would take off our trash, and Aunt Sandi would keep us company at night and then we would all go out with Grandma Deama and Uncle Barry on the weekends to Mr. Gatti’s.
In February, I finally found an ob doctor in Bloomington. The first appointment I had they had trouble finding the heart beat, but as soon as they did, they assured me that everything was fine. My second appointment, however, things did not go so smoothly. Aunt Susie and my mother-in-law, rode up with me for a routine ultrasound. We were on our way to find out the sex of the baby. As soon as it popped up on the screen I could tell it was a girl, however, the ultrasound tech was not making much conversation. I don’t remember much about what anybody told me that day, other than my baby had a heart condition, a cystic hygroma on the back of her neck and glassifications on her lungs. I was totally devastated. God had already taken one baby from us in between Derek and Lindsay, surely he would not do it again. Over the next several weeks, we went through several procedures and making very difficult decisions. Ronnie was placed back on guard duty and came back home to be with me and the kids. This was very difficult, because he knew he needed to be with me, but he felt like he was abandoning his fellow soldiers.
After being sent to Indianapolis to specialists and having an amniocentesis completed, we learned our little girl had Turner’s Syndrome. Turner’s is a genetic disorder that affects the sex chromosomes, in which prevents these girls from going through puberty normally. They also can have heart, kidney, and other problems. And this little baby I was carrying definitely had the heart issue. The doctors gave us the choice to terminate the pregnancy. They told us that the baby only had a 5 % chance of being born alive. They prepared me for what it would be like to deliver a stillborn baby. Ronnie and I went home to discuss what we should do and decided that since I had started feeling the baby kick, we should let God be in control. We would carry this baby as long as he would allow. For the next few months my ob doctors argued with my genetic specialists about who should be seeing me. I went several weeks at a time without seeing anyone. All the time, the baby growing wilder and wilder.
We had discussed early on in the pregnancy to name the baby Ashley Elizabeth if it was a girl, after my best friend Ashley Sisco. However, when the doctors told us she would not live we decided that if God did indeed give us this baby we would name her Hannah after Hannah in the bible and the promise she made to give her child back to him. Little did we know that we would have to give her back so soon.
In May, I began showing signs of low amniotic fluid. After a few stress tests, the doctors admitted me to the high risk ward of the St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. They watched me for one night and the next morning decided to take Hannah.
Hannah was born on May 23, 2008 at 11:52 in the morning. She weighed 3 lbs 11 oz and was 15 inches long. She cried right away, which was the biggest relief I think I’ve ever felt in my life.
The doctors performed an ultrasound on her heart right away and discovered she had a co-arctation of her aorta in her heart. The following Tuesday, they transported her to the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and where they repaired her heart problem. After about a week of recovery, Hannah headed back to the Women’s Hospital. Within days, she started to look much better. I even got to breastfeed her twice! She was wonderful! Words cannot explain how Hannah made me feel. I felt like our family was finally complete.
Even though our family was separated, we were still a family. When Hannah was 6 weeks old, the doctor and I disagreed on a feeding tube placement. Which in the end, almost took Hannah’s life. The feeding tube perforated her intestines and she became very, very sick. A pediatric surgeon was called in and he informed Ronnie and I that he would have to perform surgery right in her hospital room in order to save her life. Once again, she took about a week to recover. And once she did, she was plain old Hannah again and we made plans to bring her home. Soon we realized that she did have severe acid reflux and once more Hannah went in for another surgery, this time for a G-tube placement. From then on she would eat from a button they had placed on the outside of her stomach. Now everything finally seemed as if they were going to be alright. Hannah, however, was becoming a little spitfire. The littlest thing could make her mad. And she’d let you know when it did. One day, I walked in and Shannon, her primary nurse, told me to come look at her hair. Red hair, it explained everything. I kept joking that if we made it through all of this, she was definitely going to be a handful when she was a teenager.
One day about two weeks ago, she became extremely sick. She had to be placed back on the ventilator and a few days later up onto the oscillator. The x-rays of her lungs continued to look hazier and hazier. We sat down with the doctors two days before she passed away and discussed what we wanted them to do if she coded. We agreed on one round of code chemicals and if her heart did not react, then that was her way of saying she was tired of fighting.
On September 9, at 4:00 in the morning, the nurses called us to come over from the hotel. She informed us that her sats were dropping again and this time so was her heart rate. When we arrived her oxygen was 50 and her heart rate was 60. I began to sing to her as much as I could and for a little while she responded, but she slowly started dropping again. The doctor gave her the round of code chemicals and she did not respond. They ask us if we wanted to hold her and we said yes. They took her off of the oscillator and handed her to me. They bagged her until she stopped breathing and her heart stopped beating. A strange sense a peace overflowed my body, knowing that she didn’t hurt anymore and that she had died right there in my arms, while her daddy was stroking her hair.
We had many people ask us what we are going to do about the perforation and at first we were really upset and was ready to sue. However, Hannah died because of a totally different situation that could not have been prevented. In Turner girls, their blood vessels in their lungs are underdeveloped and Hannah’s were very underdeveloped and it just caught up with her body. Also, had God wanted Hannah to live longer, he would have let her. As much as it hurts us to live without her, we know she’s not in pain anymore. I have a hard time sleeping at night thinking that she’s never going to come home, but she really did come home, she just beat us to our eternal home. Ronnie and I feel like there is a major part of our family missing now, but he told me something the other night that has totally changed my perspective. He said with knowing where Hannah is now, it just makes him want to live his life even better now, to make sure he ends up by her side. I truly believe he’s right. I think that was her purpose here on earth, to come and show us a love we did not know and to open our eyes and our hearts and to bring our lives a little closer to God.