On December 20, 2014 our worlds shattered at the core as we were told that the daughter I was carrying had what they suspected was a fatal heart defect. It was our 21 week ultrasound appointment, Molly was with us and, moments earlier in my OB office, we had selected May 7th as her c-section delivery date. Taking great care to make sure it was far enough apart from Molly’s May 1 birthday so we could mitigate any sibling rivalry. Nothing could have ever prepared us for the moments, hours, days that would come.
Due to the fact that the holidays were in full swing, we had a hard time getting an appointment with the Pediatric cardiac specialists. I called my OB everyday, 3 times a day, asking for updates. Imagine what it’s like to be told that a 2 ton truck is coming to run you over, you see it, but there is nothing you can seem to do get it to change its course. That’s what the days between Dec. 20 – Jan. 5 were like. Finally, we were told about that a specialist was available to see us – January 5, 11 am.
I prayed that morning. To be honest, I had been praying since December 20th. Praying to my Dad, to God, to anyone who would listen. But on the morning of January 5, I prayed in a different way. I prayed for guidance, I prayed for strength and I prayed for me to be able to survive.
After the echocardiogram was done, the specialist walked us into a separate consultation room, similar to the room they took us into on Dec. 20. (Side note: If anyone every asks me to ‘please step into the consultation room’ again, you will simply see the dust of me running as fast as possible in the opposite direction. Nothing good happens in those rooms.) In that room we were told that there was no hope. That our little girl had a serious, heart defect – the words, “non-compatible with life” came up several times. We knew as we left that appointment that we would soon be delivering our angel. The days that followed were filled with numbness, anger, utter and complete heart break.
January 8, I was admitted into the hospital. I was assigned nurses that I can only describe as angels on earth and I was surrounded by compassion, love, and understanding. My OB, who I adore in so many ways, was on call that evening, providing some sense of familiarity in what was the most unfamiliar environment. My husband, who I love more than I could ever imagine possible, held my hand at every step and together we walked down the path of grief as we prepared to meet, and say goodbye to, our daughter.
There were many horrific moments but none that shocked me more than the delivery. I delivered my daughter, naturally, on Friday, January 9, 2015 and it was peaceful, spiritual. A fellow Mom who suffered a loss said in one of my group sessions, “I gave birth to death”. It’s true, I did, and it will be something I hold dear and treasure for the rest of my life. We were able to hold her, to kiss her, to dress her and read her stories. We were able to tell her how much she meant to us.
Our daughter, Olive Harper Allinson, was stillborn January 9, 2015. We have tremendous joy that she is a part of our lives, and our family, and she mattered to us.
We have two daughters. One here on earth and one in heaven. I’m a Mom of an angel, the greatest tragedy and the greatest honour. Molly is a big sister, except she is gifted with a little sister who is her guardian angel.
We have chosen to share our story because Olive mattered. Through Olive’s story, and in her name, we can make a difference.
The Olive Harper Foundation is our newly founded non-profit charity that will raise funds for a variety of pediatric causes through ongoing gift donations and an annual fundraising gala. This year, the charities are Emily’s House, Gabriel’s Gift and Sick Kids Cardiac Research.
Allowing Olive’s name to live on is what means the most to us and we are forever grateful for any and all donations.
Amber, Ashley & Molly
Ashley Allinson wants nothing more than to live in a world filled with innovative businesses, progressive parents, and successful Toronto sports teams.
A sales professional with more than 10 years’ of experience in the Canadian media space, Ashley has worked for/with some of the country’s top broadcasters, publishers, organizations and agencies. He also sits on various boards focusing on early-childhood education, autism, literacy and physical education.
When he’s not trying to beat his eldest daughter at “Hungry-Hungry-Hippos”, Ashley can be found manning the family BBQ, trying to break 100 on the golf course, and missing his youngest daughter Olive.
Amber Richardson is a daughter, a sister, a wife and a working mom.
Her mission in life is to live with love, with purpose and with joy. She will turn negative into positive and smile, even when her heart is hurting.