On November 2, 2003, my husband and I discovered that we were expecting our second child. After having struggled for a year and half with infertility, we were thrilled to know that we would soon be parents again! Our then five-year-old son was elated. For months, we made preparations and renovations. We were so delighted to know that we would be blessed with a new addition to our family who was due to arrive on July 7, 2004. The months passed with bothersome morning sickness, but no “real” complaints. On February 24, 2004, my husband’s birthday, we watched in awe as our bundle of joy moved innocently about on the ultrasound monitor. We learned that we were having a daughter and life could not have been much sweeter. My family was complete and we knew we now had our “Alexis MacKenzie."
On June 22, 2004, our wedding anniversary, I began to have painful contractions. My husband and I bolted to the car and made our way to the doctor’s office. Unfortunately, I was told that the contractions only signaled early labor and was sent home, disappointed, but thrilled with the knowledge that little Alexis would soon be making her much-anticipated debut.
Over the next few weeks, the contractions came and went, and I noticed that Alexis had become less active than usual. I knew that something was amiss, but the doctors always dismissed my concerns with the apathetic response that she “sounded fine and measured well” and that “babies tend to become more quiet as labor progresses”. Had I just been more aggressive in requesting further testing to ensure her well-being, I might very well have Alexis here with me today.
Unfortunately, such is not the case. On July 6, 2004, just one day shy of my due date, I awoke with a feeling of dread. I knew something was terribly wrong, but I just could not pinpoint the source. After showering and eating a light breakfast, I realized that I had not felt Alexis move since late in the night. I called the doctor’s office in a panic and, after some bickering, they agreed, albeit begrudgingly, to see me.
Upon our arrival at the doctor’s office, a check for fetal heart-tones and an ultrasound confirmed our worst fears. Our precious, long-awaited daughter was gone. I was induced that afternoon and after a lengthy and exhaustive labor, Alexis MacKenzie Louden was born still, as scheduled on July 7, 2004. She was just as perfect as we had envisioned her. She was 7 pounds, 4.2 ounces of flawlessness. Her perfect, lifeless body was marred only with the bruising of having no circulation during delivery. As a mother, I craved just to breathe life into her. Unfortunately, Just hours later, I left the hospital with empty arms and a shattered heart.
Our beloved daughter never drew one breath of air. There were no cord accidents and pathology reports confirmed that the placenta was perfect in every way. No infection of any kind was ever noted. As with the majority of stillbirths, the cause of Alexis’s death remains a mystery. Some theorize that stillbirth is a derision of SIDS. Others believe that there is an as-yet undetected bacterium causing the death of these precious children. Personally, I have come to no conclusions. I only know that my first daughter, my darling Alexis MacKenzie is no longer with me, and a huge piece of my heart died right along with her that day. She rests eternally in a beautiful grave, next to her Great Grandmother. I never dreamed that the only way I would visit my child would be at her grave. I had so many times envisioned myself walking her to the door on her first day of Kindergarten. Looking on with pride at her graduation. Tearing up as her father walked her down the aisle. Never will these dreams come to fruition.
As the mother of an angel, I have vowed that Alexis's memory will never be forgotten. I have determined that she will leave a legacy. Thus, the inception of this foundation - the Missing Alexis Foundation. Every year on Alexis's birthday, my family and I would make some sort of donation to a local hospital in her memory. While we found great comfort in doing this, we wanted her legacy to have a larger impact. This is how the Aching for Angels Memorial Box project came to be. For the past couple of years, we have provided a great number of memorial boxes to local hospitals to be given to parents having experienced the loss of an infant during late-term pregnancy, or a newborn infant.
"Thus says the Lord: Cease your cries of mourning. Wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward. There is hope for your future." -Jeremiah 31:15-17