Owen's Story: Part One

I never thought I would be writing a blog post like this one. I never thought I would belong to the "heart mamas" club, and I NEVER thought I would belong to the "baby loss mamas" club. But here I am. Dealing with my worst nightmare. I need to tell Owen's story for my own sake, but also in hopes that it will help another mom who may be out there in my same situation. Heart broken, baby-less, angry, confused, but yet still full of hope. There are happy parts to Owen's story but also sad parts. It's his life, and I need to share his story. 

On June, 12, 2013, I found out I was pregnant. I took a test that morning and completely flipped out. Brian was at work, so I called my sister to tell her the news. I had to tell someone, and I wanted to tell Brian in person. It was such a crazy feeling! A human life was inside of me, and I was going to be his/her mom! I casually called Brian and asked if he wanted to grab lunch. So we did. After we got our food, I flat out told him I was pregnant. No build up or anything. I wanted a reaction from my non-emotional husband, and I sure got one! He was completely shocked. I'll never forget his face. We were anxious, excited, nervous, but most of all so so happy about starting our little family. On August 10, 2013, at my 18 week appointment, we found out we were having a BOY! A new wave of excitement came over us. We were having a son! I immediately began working on his beautiful nursery and started shopping for little boy clothes.

I had a healthy and relatively easy pregnancy. Other than being uncomfortable and exhausted most of the time, I can't complain. Every time I went to the doctor, they listened to the baby's heartbeat and told me "you have a very healthy baby." I wasn't overly stressed during my pregnancy at all, just the normal stress you have when you are going to become a mom for the first time. I would just sit in his room and hold his little outfits close, imagining what it would be like to have my baby boy in my arms. 

My due date was February 15. That day came and went. Still no baby. I was scheduled to be induced on Sunday February 23, but I really wanted to go into labor on my own. I did everything to try to induce labor. I drank pineapple smoothies, ate eggplant like it was my job, walked for 3-4 miles everyday after work, and even went jogging. No signs of labor. I got a prenatal massage by a Ukrainian woman named Alinna on Friday, February 21. She was known to put women into labor. The next morning, I started having contractions! We called our parents so they could start their drives up from Florida to be here when he was born. I was advised to labor at home as long as possible if I wanted to have a natural delivery. At 3:00 am the following morning (Sunday 2/23) my contractions became a lot more intense, so we headed to the hospital. Fifteen hours later, we welcomed Owen Thomas Parker to the world. He was the most beautiful baby we had ever seen. And I'm not one who thinks all babies are cute. Everyone told me you always think your own baby is cute, but I wasn't convinced. It's so true though. I fell in love with him immediately and thought he was the most beautiful baby in the world. He was perfect with his eyes wide open, taking it all in. 

Owen weighed 8 lbs, 7 oz, and was 21 inches long. He had a really big poop though and lost a whole ounce. I noticed after he was born that he had a weak cry. It took him a few seconds to cry immediately after being born, but they said that was normal for some babies. They also detected a heart murmur upon his initial exam in the delivery room, but told us that was also very common. He was pink, alert, and gorgeous. 
I had no worries. Brian and I were on cloud nine. I was so happy to NOT be pregnant anymore and have my beautiful baby boy in my arms!  
Later that night, our nurse, Laurel, taught Brian how to change Owen's diaper. It was hysterical to watch. I was so proud of Brian being such a good daddy!
Owen had a hard time latching on to nurse, and seemed to fall asleep quickly. I wasn't too worried - that's common for lots of babies. Later that night, Laurel noticed that Owen's head was bobbing with his breathing while Brian was holding him. She was slightly concerned, and decided to take him to the nursery to sleep that night so they could monitor him. Both Brian and I had had such little sleep, we were okay with that.
Over night, his glucose level was low, so they gave him two formula bottles, and it went back up again. No big deal. The next morning, we were woken up by the pediatrician who told us that Owen's heart murmur was pretty significant, and he was referring him to be seen by the pediatric cardiologist. Okay...?  What does that mean? A nurse came in moments later with Owen and told us not to worry- this happens to lots of babies. So we didn't. We spent the next hour just the three of us in our hospital room, looking at Owen and enjoying our time together before visitors. 
Brian's parents came to visit shortly after and then left to head back to Florida. My parents and my sister came a little later. About fifteen minutes after they arrived, Owen was taken back to the nursery to be seen by Dr. Raviele, the pediatric cardiologist.
 Dr. Raviele looked at his echo and listened to his heart.
This is the moment where my heart sunk into my stomach and I felt like I couldn't breathe. After examining Owen, Dr. Raviele came out of the nursery in a hurry and said, "Your baby has a very serious heart defect." It was an out of body experience. I felt so completely sick to my stomach. I completely lost it and started to break down sobbing, trying so hard to hold it together. We were in the middle of the hall outside of the nursery, so we walked down to our room. The next thing I knew, Dr. Raviele was drawing pictures of a normal heart and then pictures of Owen's heart. He told us that Owen has Shone's Complex, an extremely rare heart defect that consisted of three to four problems. He said there was nothing I did during my pregnancy to cause this. He told us that Owen was in the NICU being prepared to be transported to Egleston via helicopter.

One of the NICU nurses was such an angel. She came up to me, hugged me, and told me that her daughter had heart issues too. She said it was a difficult road, but she's just fine now. She told me the best advice someone told her was to take it four hours at a time. That's all you can do. Four hours at a time. I can't tell you how thankful I am for that sweet woman and her advice. I had to remind myself of it over and over again...

Waiting for Owen to be prepped and ready for transport was excruciating. So many things were happening all at once. I had just delivered this baby less than 24 hours ago, and I was getting phone calls from Egleston about my insurance and Owen's insurance. I couldn't think clearly. I was also getting discharge instructions from the nurse. I am so glad I didn't have a c-section. If I had, I would not have been able to be discharged early. The fact that Brian and I couldn't ride in the helicopter with him already too much for me to handle. He had to go all by himself without his parents. He wasn't even a day old! Our little perfect innocent baby was sick and had to go to a new hospital. A strange place I didn't even know existed. Was this really happening? I couldn't stop crying.

Thank goodness both of our parents were there to help us with logistics. Owen was wheeled down by the transport team so we could say goodbye to him before leaving. I still feel sick to my stomach thinking about this moment. Owen's flight team members were the nicest people ever. He was in good hands.

Brian ran down to pay our hospital fees before we could leave, and the next thing I knew, I was being wheeled out of the hospital in a wheel chair, empty handed. I had no baby. Nothing can prepare you for this. I remember coming out of the elevator with tears streaming down my face, feeling sorry for the people who had to witness all of this in passing. This wasn't at all what I had pictured. I was supposed to be happy, holding my BABY. One of the happiest moments I had dreamed of having had now turned into a nightmare.

Continued in Part Two...


  1. allison, my heart aches and my tears flow for you and brian. there is an "owen road" in our new town and i think of you all every time i go drive on it. i'm thankful for this little reminder that the Lord put in a new place to keep you on my mind. honestly, i think of you daily even without that. being pregnant now and being a mama already i feel like i have emotions and pain for you differently than i would have in the past.. although i KNOW that i in no way can grasp even part of what you feel. i just want you to know that i'm so proud of and amazed by how you're walking through this. your statement from an earlier post about feeling like an open book now seems so apparent. your strength and even mentioning "hope" and "trust" whenever you talk about everything is incredible and such a testament to God's comfort and the nearness you feel to him. that nearness is something i've been praying for y'all.. that you would tangibly feel his care and peace in your darkest moments of missing owen. i so so wish there was more that we could do for you and brian as you walk through this.. i feel powerless, but my reliance on the Lord is strengthened in trusting that our fervent prayers are not in vain. i love you and brian.

  2. I'm so thankful that you're telling his story; it's a powerful story of joy, heartache, love, hope, and faith- a story that glorifies the Lord.

  3. Dear Allison and Brian, As I was telling my dear cousin Patty (Patrice Dove), I would love to be nearby when Jesus comes again and Owen's guardian angel puts your dear sweet baby boy in your arms. To think that you'll be able to raise Owen in a perfect world that Jesus is preparing for us all, even now, brings tears of joy to my eyes. There are many of us, myself included, that will have our babies guardian angels bringing us our babies to raise in a perfect world. If I don't get the chance to meet you all here on this earth well then we'll have all of eternity to have "play dates" with our perfect little babies. What a wonderful, glorious day that will be!
    Love and hugs to both of you, Allison and Brian. I'm so glad to have been part of your journey thanks to technology and my sweet cousin.
    Love & Hugs, Karen Sue xoxoxoxo

  4. Thank you for sharing Owen's story so beautifully, Allison.

  5. God is using you for His glory. I am so ashamed of myself for thinking my difficulties are too big for Him to handle. Your strength, vulnerability, and honesty speak so powerfully.