June 16th 2017 our lives were forever changed. I was at work while my wife was at home getting us all packed up for a week away at the beach. Chloe called me early in the morning and told me she had a vivid dream that she was pregnant. I told her that she was crazy, no way was she pregnant. It honestly wasn’t even on our horizon. Little did I know, she had done about a dozen pregnancy tests just to be sure and they were all positive. Me, being oblivious, got done at work, went to the store, washed my truck and took my merry time getting home. She was waiting for me when I got home and rushed me in the house to show me all of the positive pregnancy tests laying in a trophy that said #1 Dad. That was one of the happiest moments of our lives. We cried and hugged and talked about our future all the way to the beach.
The next few months were crazy. Our lives were hectic and so exciting as we were rushing to get ready for a baby. We bought a house near family and friends and were moving back home to Reading. We had a gender reveal party and found out we were having a baby girl. The crazy thing about having a girl, for me, was that I never knew I wanted a daughter until I was having one. At that moment I never wanted anything more in my whole life. We chose the perfect name for her while sitting at a little coffee shop in Cape May. Adalyn Rose Ciferri. We were going to call her Addie. It was really special to us, because that is what my parents called me when I was little. I was so proud. We had so many thoughts, emotions and dreams. This little girl was going to be our everything and we were going to give her the world.
One day in mid-September, Chloe wasn’t feeling well and went to the doctors. They sent her for tests and said everything looked fine. They had no idea what was wrong with her. They said it was probably a little virus and that she was tired from being pregnant. Things didn’t get better. She kept getting weaker and had a pretty high fever. Finally, we had enough and we went to the ER. They checked her vitals and then checked Addie’s heartbeat which was beating strong. We had a moment of relief, knowing she was OK. While we were in the emergency room, a few of Chloe’s tests came back and were off, but they still didn’t have any idea what could be wrong. They decided to admit her so that they could continue testing, monitor her and Adalyn and find the cause of her symptoms. That day in the ER was the last time we would ever hear our little girl’s heartbeat. On September 20th 2017, 104 days after we found out we were going to be bringing a sweet baby into our world, it shattered.
No one had checked Addie’s heart beat since we were in the emergency room. Chloe had requested we get her checked out. After some push back from the staff, the nurse finally brought in the fetal doppler to check her heartbeat. We both noticed a concerned look on the nurses face. After a few seconds of silence, she said that she would be right back and rushed out of the room. Immediately, we both started hysterically crying. Scared doesn’t even begin to describe how we were feeling. The doctor came in, and she also couldn’t find a heartbeat. An ultrasound confirmed that our daughter had died. Her heart had stopped beating, and her body laid still, peaceful and asleep. I don’t think anybody can really put into words the way they feel after losing a child. After the doctors had left, our families rushed to be by our sides, not knowing what to do or how to comfort us. We all just cried together. Everything settled down and our families went home. Chloe and I held each other in her hospital bed for hours, just crying and not knowing what to do next. We were so extremely exhausted that we crashed. We couldn’t even keep our eyes open. They were swollen from crying so much, and heavy from days without sleep.
There are aspects about losing a pregnancy that most people don’t understand unless they or someone they know has gone through it. Chloe was going to have to give birth to our little girl. We couldn’t really understand or pay attention to what the doctors were saying, but through the fog of devastation and tears, we heard that at some point after Chloe was healthy again, they would give her a cocktail of drugs to induce a long and emotional labor. This was something we didn’t know if we could do. Our little girl had different plans though. Only a few hours after falling asleep on that emotional night, Chloe went into labor naturally. As scary and as painful as it was, the wait and decision making was lifted from us. On September 21st at 4:35 in the morning, we became parents for the first time, to a little girl that would never get to take a breath in this world. On the labor and delivery floor, surrounded by happiness and babies crying, we were handed our silent and still little girl. She was so peaceful, wrapped up in a soft blanket and wearing a tiny pink hat. We held her and kissed her and cherished our time as a family for the little bit of time that we had.
Later that morning, our infectious disease doctor came into the hospital room and shared that Chloe’s test results had come back. He informed us that Chloe had a bacterial infection, called Listeria, which was what caused her and Addie to become so sick. Chloe was devastated because she had no idea where it came from. She was extremely cautious (family and friends would laugh at how cautious she was) about what she ate throughout her pregnancy, and felt a tremendous amount of guilt that she still deals with today. All I could do was continuously remind her that it was not her fault.
Another aspect of child loss that many don’t think about is the decision families have to make of whether to cremate or bury their baby. I remember pulling into the parking lot of the funeral home and thinking, no parent should ever have to do this. I shouldn’t have to be here. It felt so wrong, like our lives were in a place they were never supposed to be. We were quickly reminded that life really doesn’t have guidelines, and things happen that you never imagine.
We can honestly say that our little girl had a lasting impact on our lives and made us better. Better partners, better people. We often thank her for humbling us and for giving us so many beautiful gifts. Her little brother Enzo and baby sister, Elle, being the best so far. We strive to honor her every day, and make her proud. We will never be able to throw her fun birthday parties or surprise her on Christmas morning, but we can work to make the world a better place in her honor.