My Sweet Everly Ann
By Martha McGeehon, Everly’s Mom
Everyone tells you how hard second babies are, that going from one baby to two is the hardest transition of parenthood; but for me that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
My husband Nick and I are planners. We don’t like the unexpected and feel our best when we are in control of the situation. After having our first daughter, Campbell, in August of 2015 we knew we wanted our babies to be close together, but not too close so we planned our life accordingly around having our second child after Campbell turned two.
We got pregnant with Everly relatively easily right around Campbell’s second birthday (I told you we are planners). This felt like perfect timing. I am not one of those woman who love being pregnant. I think the process of creating a human life is beautiful, but for me and my body it is anything but blissful. This pregnancy was harder than my first. I had more morning sickness, more insomnia and around 26 weeks developed terrible sciatica that made it difficult to stand or walk for the rest of the pregnancy. So I was ready! Everly was not. Her due date was April 14, 2018 and I had naively thought that since I went into labor with our first on my due date we would follow a similar pattern the second time around. She had other plans and decided to wait to make her appearance 9 days later on April 23.
As much as we plan most of our lives as meticulously as we can the one thing we had decided we didn’t need to know was the gender of our babies. That said, I had been convinced that we were going to have a boy because my pregnancy was so different than the first. So when our second little girl made her appearance I was a bit surprised, but very quickly got used to the idea of raising two little girls- sisters!
As difficult as my pregnancy was Everly was an angel baby. She fit so seamlessly into our lives it was almost as if she had always been with us. Motherhood the second time around was an easy transition and nothing like what we had been warned of. This even seemed to be the case for our oldest who quickly and easily took on her role of big sister with very little difficulty or jealousy. Everly was happy and easy going, and she filled all our lives with such joy.
In late June I went back to work full time and we decided to send Everly to the same in home sitter we had been using for our oldest. With this transition we established a new routine as a family and it felt like everything was as it should be. Then on August 14, 2018 we woke up with no idea that in mere hours our lives would be changed forever.
I dropped Everly, now 16 weeks old, off at the sitters around 8 am just like every other morning. I chatted with the sitter for a few minutes and snuggled one last time with her before heading home to get to work. The morning and early afternoon were unremarkable, then around 2:30 my phone rang it was the sitter. I thought “well this is odd she never calls me even when the kids are sick she usually just texts me” so I quickly answered the phone. All I heard over and over was “Martha, I am so sorry something has happened to the baby. She isn’t waking up! Martha, I am so sorry.” I quickly ran upstairs to the bedroom where Nick was and couldn’t speak. I just handed him the phone. Over the course of the next few minutes we learned she was on her way to the ER. We grabbed our things, ran out the door and drove down the highway faster than we want to admit. We pulled up in front, Nick threw his keys at the valet and I ran to the desk inside. We had arrived before the ambulance and were escorted to a small room off the waiting room and left alone with no information. I kept repeating over and over in my head “she is going to be fine, the paramedics surely have gotten her to wake up.” At this point– time became a blur and we really have no idea how long anything took– but after an initial conversation with a chaplain and a doctor who simply told us “your daughter is very sick” we were taken back to see her. As we walked down the hall the first thing I remember seeing was a police officer in tears and my heart began to sink. We turned the corner into her room. All I could see were the doctors and nurses working on her and the top of her head but my heart knew right then she was gone. Within moments of us arriving they made one last attempt to shock her heart before ending CPR and calling it. The doctors and nurses unhooked her from all the machines, wrapped her up and handed her to us and one by one left the room. We were once again alone, but this time there were no hopeful thoughts our baby girl was gone. Over the course of the next few days we learned that the sitter had put Everly down for her afternoon nap and she just never woke up. We walked out of the hospital shattered and broken. We had no idea how to navigate this journey of bereaved parents.
The days that followed were a blur with only bits and pieces of memories but slowly we began to piece together our new reality. We have found ways to honor our sweet Everly. Her pictures still hang on our walls, we created a butterfly garden in her memory in our yard and we talk about her often. On our first Thanksgiving without her we took breakfast to the first responders that were with her that day. On Christmas we asked our friends and family to do an act of kindness in her name and send us notes and pictures. We filled her stocking with the letters and then opened them together over Christmas dinner. On her birthday we have cake and light a candle just for her. We started Just Enduring to help other parents find the resources and support we so desperately needed and couldn’t find. None of these things will ever replace her or make us the people we were before she died but they do bring us great peace and comfort. Our hope is that these stories help you know that you are not alone and there are parents like you here to help.