Rachael Dawn Brown
Since Mommy and I were attached for 9 months everything she experienced I experienced too. I experienced so many things in Mom's tummy since she always felt so good with me in there that we want to share it with you.
Before my parents knew I was coming in June and July I went traveling to San Diego for Comic-Con with Auntie Cyndi. I felt Mom's excitement in this new experience of train rides, fantasy and Sci-Fi events. Then we got to love a bunch of kids from broken homes with Heather at Royal Family Kids Camp. We missed Daddy something awful on that trip, but it felt right to be there for those kids. Then we got to see Auntie Leanna dance at the salsa festival. Later that day Mom and Dad went to their favorite store, Target, and found out I had made their biggest dream come true.
A week later, in August, Mommy confirmed I was coming with an OB. Mom and Dad immediately started calling me their little jellybean. Mom and Dad wanted to keep it a secret until Grandma Janet's birthday, but we got to tell my Uncle Keith and Alex. We got to see more fun dancing with pretty Bri and cute Ava, my cousins, at La Cumbre Mall for Santa Barbara Fiesta before they got whisked away to another performance downtown. After another disappointing trip to the doctors, we decided we needed a more personal touch and found the midwives gave us exactly that. We were amazed at how Anna, Alice, Nikole and Laurel brought such a diverse and well rounded set of skills and knowledge to the birth experience that it just felt right.
Mom and I got to be DD for many wine tasting adventures throughout my pregnancy. This clued in Auntie Leanna and Auntie Cyndi, who were then sworn to secrecy. Heather and Mackenzie saw my photos by accident when we went for one of our walks, and were sworn to secrecy too. We decided to tell cousin Katie before she left for adventures in Peru. Right before she left, I got my first article of clothing, the sweater that appeared on the announcement cards.
In September Auntie Jess outright guessed it at girls’ night; and since Mom can't lie, again more were sworn to secrecy (Auntie Tristan, Heather, and Val). Memorial Day weekend was spent with a good meal and laughs with the cul-de-sac gang (Heather, Margie, Betty, Carol, Ute, Paul, Terry, Kevin, and Julia). Then we went to play at the Willoughby World pool, goofing off with Kayli. Later that week we got to travel on a plane to see Daddy in Las Vegas for the Photoshop conference. We had lots of fun with Dad and Uncle Raymond taking pictures at red rock and at the end of the week got to experience the Gospel brunch.
So Grandma Janet's Birthday couldn't come soon enough in October. Daddy distracted himself by already starting to do research on all the things I would need and getting the baby registry started. Mommy dug into her work until she had a bad head cold for 2 weeks. Mommy and Daddy had to bite their tongues during another baby shower at our home for cousin Eli. It was a joy to spend the day with James, Joseph, Mike, Kim, Tony, Bri, Ava and the rest of the family. We started to tell people officially the third week in October, starting with Grandma Debi and Grandpa Steve over Thai Food which we were craving a lot this month. Mommy and I made dinner for Janet's birthday where Grandpa Don, Auntie Sheri, Steve and Judy Gard got to rejoice with us. Before our weekly dinner that same week with the great grandparents, we let Aunt Judy know. Then at Great Grandpa Jim's birthday dinner we shared our exciting news. Great Grandma Shirley jumped out of her chair with excitement and Great Grandpa Jim was beaming from ear to ear. Then the floodgates were open and the excitement was overflowing at church, work and everywhere we went. It made us wonder why we waited! Mom and Dad couldn't have held it in too much longer because the pirate costume Mom wore for Halloween had me sticking way out. We got to show off at Disney Halloween with Aunt Tricia, Uncle Paul, godbrother Phoenix, godsister Armelia, Aunt Tina, Kyla, and Matt. We took a mission trip to hollywood to experience how others serve friends without homes or that are less fortunate than us. On Halloween night we revealed that I was indeed a girl with a pirate cake that was pink inside. My friends got to enjoy foam pirate swords and a bounce house that night.
In November we celebrated Great Grandma and Grandpa's anniversary and saw some of our extended family. Then later that day cousin Meg got to spend the night and try to get Mommy into Dr. Who - there are some episodes Mommy will admit she likes. Mommy and Daddy's season passes to Disneyland were expiring, so we went a couple of times. I had fun on the Cars ride with my godsister Kayli, Uncle Aaron and Aunt Karen. Even if Kayli made me wait three hours to ride it! On another trip we got to see our friends Elizabeth and Evan and really enjoyed ourselves on the Jungle Cruise. We got to celebrate Daddy's birthday by making it a surprise. He had no idea some of his closest friends were at CPK. It sure frazzled Mommy trying to keep it a secret and she had to make a second fake party just to keep the secret going so as to not hurt Daddy's feelings. We loved Thanksgiving Day, full of good food, family and friends.
After Thanksgiving Great Grandma and Great Grandpa both fell, but even at the start of their long recovery, I was amazed at their faith in God, love for family and their continual excitement for me! We cherished spending every day in the hospital with Great Grandma and being able to make lots and lots of meals for her and Great Grandpa in December. We got to see JoJo's birthday at our home where they got to whack the piñata between the raindrops. We also got to have an awesome pirate birthday party for godsister Kayli the following weekend. We had so much fun with the rest of Christmas time; Seeing godsister Kayli dance in the Nutcracker Grinch, and My little friend Chrissy playing baby Jesus at the Christmas eve service. When we were holding her later that night, she tried to drink from Mommy, which made us all giggle.
We started the new year reconnecting with old friends (Krystal, Paul, Kole, Klint, & Kaida along with Tricia, Paul, Armelia, & Phoenix) and making new ones at our prenatal classes (Sarah & Ben, Sarah & Oliver, and Rachel & Jamie). We also took a trip with Raymond to visit Henry, Stacey and Dylan, which was fun and informative on soap nuts, cloth diapers and Hypnobirthing (relaxing techniques). After that trip we stayed closer to home. We had a blast finally starting to decorate the nursery for me with Tristin, Raymond, Heather, Keith, Alex, and Kayli. Uncle Keith also planted daffodils, my birthday flower, in the front yard of our home just for me. We also got to learn how to graft apple trees this same month. Later that month we enjoyed helping our friend Chuck by working at the registration table for the annual Mission Conference. It was very rewarding, and Mommy always receives a powerful message that touches her heart each year. We also started weekly chiropractic sessions with Dr. York and weekly massages with Karen, that continued until I was born, which really helped Mommy keep going at work.
February was all business mixed with fun. Mom & Dad finally found a pediatrician that they liked. We spent lots of hours with Ale and Julie getting Mom's office in order for when I was to make my appearance and we couldn't make it in to work. Silly Mom had lots of commitments at church she had made in June for this month - meetings and helping with flowers - so it was a good things I didn't come early. I also got three baby showers in one weekend! Mom, Dad, and I felt showered with love and excitement in anticipation for my arrival. We also had so much fun with the cul-de-sac crew celebrating Ute, Betty and Margie's birthdays.
In March finally less planned events were here. We got to make another new friend, Saralynn, whom we knew would be a great doula for us. We had a “Non-Beach Day" (it was too cold) with the Wilson & Guevara family. We decided to do a mellow St Patrick’s Day party potluck with the cul-de-sack and game night crew celebrating the 3 years that have passed since escrow closed for Mom and Dad on our home. My due date of March 19th came and went. The anticipation was making Mom and Dad start to worry about post term labor concerns. Mom and I even got to experience acupuncture for the first time, making sure nothing was inhibiting Mom's body from having me. Mom and Dad, after weeks of attempts with fire department, got an special appointment with the Goleta CHP to inspect my car seats the day before I was born. That night Heather, Dad, Mom and I went for a walk to get fresh fruit at the store and walk around Michael's. We watched episodes of Castle, while Heather painted Mommy's nails, and went to bed with Daddy thinking I was likely coming tomorrow, which I was.
These were just some of the adventures and life experiences Mom and Dad shared with me. It can't even begin to express the weekly excitement people created at church, work and home, all the laughs and love shared at the weekly dinners with the great grandparents and daily lunch bunch with Mel, Auntie Cyndi, and Auntie Leana. At church we got to sing so many songs, listen to God's word, chat with Esther Bennett and Cheryl Long as we prepared monthly communion, deliver flowers to those not able to attend church, enjoy life group meetings with Esther Hurr, and cherish many holiday traditions. We had a couple of game nights during the year with many laughs and sharing of food that also included our dear friends Megan & Nutella (Dave). Best of all, I got to sense how Mom and Dad love life, in all its ups and downs.
3/23/13 6:00am I decided to wake up Mommy and let her know today was the day I would come out. At 7am I made her wake up Daddy to finish making us breakfast. At 8am uncle Keith arrived and only a few minutes later Mommy had a contraction, so she went to give Daddy a hug. She was lifting up her arms when her water broke. By 8:30am Saralynn was at our house and I was preparing my grand entrance with stronger contractions. Heat, massage, soothing music and Daddy doing relaxing breathes made labor bearable for Mommy. Daddy called the midwives and by about 10:30 am we were at the birth center and Mommy was 7cm dilated. The midwives got the room ready while Saralynn, Uncle Keith and Daddy were all continuing to help Mom with her back pain. After a few good pushes the midwives did not like the sound of my heartbeat, so we packed up everything and rushed to the hospital.
Jenna, one of the midwives helped me and Mommy a lot keeping things moving along while Daddy did verbal paperwork. The nurses were monitoring my heart and all seemed OK, but Mommy's blood pressure went high as soon as we entered that hospital. At 2pm my head was just about out when the doctor ran in to finish delivering me. At 2:28pm I entered the world, but something unexplainable to everyone in that hospital room happend, my heart had stopped beating. The medical staff worked as fast as they could to get me back. But it took 10-15 minutes, which caused a lot of damage. During that time Mommy was crying because she could not see or reach me and just wanted to hold me. Daddy almost passed out from the sight of me not breathing. He was so worried I was already gone.
The nurses from NICU got me stable and in a transport unit. Daddy called it my rocket ship. When Daddy saw me breathing and being rushed out the door, he kissed Mommy and ran after me. After 10 long minutes in the waiting room, Daddy could come in and scrub up for the first time. He was scared, I think I was scared too, but his touch comforted both of us. The doctor explained what was going on, but I needed a CT scan and an EEG to get more information. While I did this, Daddy went back to see Mommy.
My Five Days
Due to hospital procedure they wouldn't let Mommy see me for almost almost 7 hours. Mommy made sure Daddy stayed with me while Uncle Keith comforted Mommy. Mommy and Daddy couldn't believe how beautiful I was, with such a rosy complexion and full head of hair. Even my Aunt Judy and cousin Meg called me Sleeping Beauty.
One of the nurses realized that they never got my foot prints for Mom and Dad. So Dad got to watch as they rubbed black ink all over my feet to try to get my prints on the tiny cards at the NICU. They don't often get babies my size there and my toes went up into the border of the card. So the nurse got a pink piece of paper and used that instead. From then on, Dad lovingly called me the giant of the NICU.
My test results weren't encouraging to the doctor. While there was some brain activity there was not a lot. Some brain activity gave Mom and Dad hope and the chance for the doctors to try to help me heal inside by placing me on a cooling blanket for 72 hours. The Cooling cap they would usually use had a recall on it and never would have fit me. This blanket literally arrived two days before I did at the hospital and they had just read the manual the day before.
I had lots of visitors and constant company in the NICU. I know there was lots more that wanted to see me as well. Even when Mom and Dad could not be there, the love of the doctors and nurses in the NICU was amazing. Over the next couple days my goal, with the help of the doctors, was to pee and make sure my kidneys were working. I was retaining a lot of fluid and getting puffy and swollen. The evening that I was being warmed up Uncle Keith and Mommy were with me. While Daddy was just down the street at his class since, if everything went well, it would be an uneventful evening. I started making the doctor nervous with an irregular heartbeat, so Daddy raced over. Then things settled down and I was stabilized. Right as the doctor was leaving for the night, he dropped his bag and made one more attempt at getting my kidneys going. I actually produced some pee which was very encouraging. We got our own private room at the NICU and we rested together. Early in the morning, however, Mom woke and seconds later my heart rate was jumping all over, so Mom called Keith and the four of us were together with calming music soothing us until the end.
My sporadic heart rate, lack of kidney function and many other signs pointed towards the fact that my body would not pull through this. There were now only two options: pull the oxygen or leave it in. Mom and Dad chose to leave it in and hold me as much as they could knowing I wasn't going to be in pain. Krystal, Aunt Judy, and Pastor Peter showed up during the day to help where they could. All day I switched between Mommy and Daddy's arms every couple of hours, being showered with kisses and hugs which kept me going. We all thought I would make it until grandpa Steve got there but my little heart gave out at 7:36pm that night. Mommy and Daddy couldn't have been more proud of me for the five days my body fought to heal. No reason in the world will ever make this right, but it won't ever stop making them love me.
Rachael is buried next to her Aunt Ginger, at Santa Barbara Cemetery.