A year ago today, our lives were changed forever. On February 21st, just a few days after a routine anatomy scan, we gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, Evelyn “Evie” Gray at just 21 weeks gestation. Over the years, we’ve read and seen so much about the “yes, and”, holding the bitter and the sweet, the joy and the pain together, in both hands, but we had no idea to what extent this theory would penetrate our hearts and impact us as we continue to navigate the unknown. Evie is our first-born, our baby girl that made us parents, and opened our hearts to love in ways we didn’t know existed. Today, on what would be here first birthday, this is her story.
When we got married in 2009, we had no idea where life would lead us. Shortly after we were married, we moved to Nashville and started school. We went through undergrad together, then graduate school, and then started our careers, all within the first 6 years of our marriage. Soon after we began our careers in education in 2016, we were both ready to take the next step and start a family. After years of trying on our own with no luck, we made the decision to seek medical help. After a year, we were then referred to a fertility specialist. On October 21, 2021, we found out we were pregnant. After five years of struggling and battling infertility, we were finally pregnant. From there, the pregnancy was completely by the book. At 6 weeks, we had our first ultrasound, heard the heartbeat, and were released from our fertility specialist. At 8 weeks, we had our first appointment with Ashlynn’s OB. Everything was right on track. Shortly thereafter, we found out that we were having a beautiful baby girl. We were both over the moon. At 16 weeks, we had another great appointment. Next up was our 20 week anatomy scan.
The week of our anatomy scan, family came to visit to shop for Evie. Little did we know everything would change in just a matter of days. At our anatomy scan, we settled in and were excited to see Evie so up close and personal for the first time. As we sat down, we immediately knew that something was wrong. They weren’t able to locate Ashlynn’s cervix on the ultrasound. We were completely unaware, but the maternal fetal medicine physician was notified immediately and was watching from his office. From there, things went from bad to worse. After the anatomy scan, Ashlynn’s OB stunned us when she walked in the room. She sat down, exhaled deeply, and said, “We have a problem. Your cervix is dilated, and the amniotic sac is already in the birth canal. You’re going to deliver your baby soon”. At that time, we were at 21 weeks gestation. In hopes of a miracle, our doctor rushed us to Vanderbilt Medical Center in hopes of being able to save the baby and make it to 22 weeks. At 22 weeks, there is a chance the baby can survive, so that became our goal. At Vanderbilt Medical, we met with a wide variety of physicians, including the NICU team on what to expect after delivery. It was completely and utterly surreal.
At that moment, we immediately went into survival mode. Our family surrounded us, and early in the morning on February 21st, Ashlynn felt what we thought might be a contraction. We immediately went to the hospital and were admitted. Still, our goal and medical plan was to make it to 22 weeks. From there, it went from waiting to whirlwind. And it all happened so fast.
That afternoon, Evie was born into the world. We held her tightly in our arms, amazed at how beautiful she was and how much she looked like us. We loved on her as long as we could, and that evening, she passed away. That night, we stayed with her in the hospital. The next morning, we walked out of Vanderbilt Medical Center with a box of pictures, what she wore after birth, and a mold of her footprints. Our hearts were shattered.
From there, it was a complete blur, but today, on Evie’s birthday, I don’t want to share how difficult it was—and believe me, it was and is difficult, and that’s putting it lightly. Today, I want to talk about the good that Evie brought all of us and still does. Our family and friends surrounded us in ways I didn’t know were possible. People we didn’t even know personally reached out. We have never felt more loved than we did in the hours, days, and weeks following Evie’s birth. Our family dropped everything and rushed to our side. Thinking back on it, I still can’t believe it.
Evie split my heart wide open. I look at the world differently these days, and it’s all because of her. Because of Evie, I love Ashlynn more than I ever have and in different ways that I didn’t know I was missing. She was the closest thing to Jesus I think I’ll ever see on earth—perfect, flawless, and pure. She taught me that tragedy is just that—tragic, but the twists and turns and the beauty that comes forth over time have the power to impact people in such a monumental way. She taught me the power of stepping forward without the answers I want. She taught me that hope changes everything, not the knowledge of knowing why, but pure hope that propels us forward slowly, one step at a time. Who I was on February 20th and who I became on February 21st are similar people, but with very different perspectives.
There’s still one thing I’m trying to figure out though. We found out we were expecting on the 21st of October. She was born on 21st of February at 21 weeks. I see the number 21 over and over with Evie, and I don’t understand the significance, but one day, when I see her again, maybe I will. Until then, I owe her everything. I was supposed to teach her everything I knew, but she ended up teaching me the only thing she knew—how to love unconditionally.
3 thoughts on “Evie’s Story.”
Praying for you both! I love ALL 3 of you!!! You two are so special to me !!!!! I didn’t know Evie but I know one special thing she was made by the two of the most beautiful people I know. So Evie will always be special to me ! Evie will always be loved and remembered by all!
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Sweetest story and although heart breaking, unfortunately this kinda of love we have experienced first hand with Sophia Love. Thank you so much for opening up your heart and sharing her story with us. Love you and Ashlynn ❤️💕
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This is so incredibly beautiful. Just as she is so incredibly beautiful. 💗
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