Written by Addison's Dad, Jake Englehorn
This is the second or third time I’ve tried to put everything down on paper. Three years later, the loss of my first daughter is still just as painful and emotional as day one. The pain and emotion have changed and evolved, but it is ever present, and I hope it never leaves.
We always wanted children. Admittedly, at first, my wife more than me. When we were married, my dream was to be a business owner, and her dream was to have kids. She fervently supported me as I started my business, and we both started saving our pennies for our future family. She worked as a NICU nurse at St Luke’s Boise, and she was surrounded by beautiful newborn babies. I don’t think that helped with the birth control. She was able to see the good and the bad, the sick and healthy. Slowly, her dream of having kids became our dream, and we decided the time was right to expand our family. Little did we know how hard it would actually be...
For the next 5 years we became acquainted with infertility and the depression that follows. We tried everything, and had zero success. Was our dream to remain a dream? We realized it would be a difficult road. A difficult road filled with more setbacks, sadness and misguided dreams, but we were determined. We spent hundreds of hours researching fertility and pregnancy, saw 3 different Fertility Doctors in 2 different States, took hundreds of medications and supplements, tried natural medicine, and finally had 2 separate IUIs and 3 IVF treatments.
In the summer of 2015, we had our first IVF embryo transfer. I couldn’t believe it had come down to IVF, but for some reason, after our first IVF transfer, I knew Jenny was pregnant. I knew it. I could just sense it, and she could probably feel it. When we got the phone call from the Doctor to confirm our belief, we were elated, and we were ready to make our dream come true.
We soon found out it was a girl. A daughter. My baby girl. We decided on the name Addison Capri. Jenny was the best pregnant Mom in the world. Haha. I don’t say that lightly! We spent an exuberant amount of money on recommended supplements and healthy, appropriate food for her. She wouldn’t eat certain ‘normal’ food, and I think a handful of restaurants and family members secretly hated us when we came over to eat. But we really didn’t care. We had a dream, and we were here to make this dream a (healthy) reality.
As a NICU nurse, Jenny has seen the good and the bad, the sick and the healthy. We had fought so dang hard for this pregnancy, and we were determined to do everything on our end to make it successful. We fought and worked on it every single day. It was a massive priority for us. Until it was all stripped away.
The morning of April 13, 2016 was just a normal day. The previous weekend was spent painting Addison’s nursery and preparing the house for an ‘any-day-now’ pregnancy. I had just sold my business and was getting ready to end the lease on my office building. Jenny was headed over to her sister’s house who lived nearby. Around 1030am my leasing agent left my office, and I happened to look down at my phone. I saw 11 new messages and 6 missed calls, all within a 10 minute time span. My heart dropped. I saw the first message from Jenny, and it said,
‘….get to the hospital… please.’
I quickly called her, and through the sobs I heard her exclaim…
’…they can’t find her heartbeat, she’s gone. She’s gone.’
I stammered for a minute in complete disbelief, promising her everything would be ok, and that they couldn’t be right. I sped the 13 minutes to the hospital, not even waiting for the elevator once I entered the hospital. I ran in, onto the wrong floor, and just collapsed onto the nursing station on the third floor. Somehow the Hospital Chaplain was there, and he quickly took me aside and escorted me to the correct floor to see Jenny. I only remember sinking into Jenny’s arms and sobbing together.
How could this be? A perfectly healthy Mom & Baby? More than 32 weeks along? Nothing bad is ever supposed to happen this far along. How could they not see this on the millions of ultrasounds? Why aren’t they doing something? Maybe everything will still be okay…..Maybe.
The next couple days were spent drenched in tears and filled with anger. By God’s grace we had the best nurses by our side, nurses that we still keep in touch with today. Jenny bravely delivered our perfect daughter, Addison Capri on April 14 2015. She was so beautiful. The perfect little nose. She had blonde hair in tight little curls. The Doctor described the loss as a complete fluke. Addison had a cord issue called ‘velamentous cord insertion’, and it had twisted so tightly at the point of the insertion on the placenta that it cut off all blood flow and nourishment. It was undetectable, unpredictable and unbelievable.
We spent as much time as possible with our daughter. Unfortunately, they had to take our daughter to the morgue to prevent any further decay. At this time, I vaguely remembering calling a funeral home and making arrangements, a phone call I never could of imagined making at 27 years old. I was going to bury my own daughter, and I was only 27.
A loss like this is simply indescribable. The hopes and dreams you had with your baby are now shattered. The ‘what if’s’ are the most difficult for me, personally. Nobody quite understands the little things, like why Holidays are difficult, or why a certain song brings tears, or why some jokes simply aren’t funny, or why life will never be the same. Society and family members can be spiteful, uncaring, and insensitive. Many expect you to move on like it never happened. Like your child never existed. It’s a personal journey, and I hope to never forget the pain and sadness, because I am feeling something, and my daughter is a huge part of life.
Through IVF in late 2017 we were blessed with boy/girl twins, Harrison and Hadley Capri. It’s so much fun to tell them about their older sister Addison. We tell them about the memories we made when Addison was in Mommy’s belly. We show them her grave site and celebrate birthdays and include Addison in everything we do. We kept some of Addison’s early toys, and we give them to our kids as ‘hand-me-downs’ like normal kids would get from their big sisters.
Some days are a real struggle. I am very involved with my kids’ lives, and I often look at my little Hadley, who is almost 2, and I think what if. What if you are just like your big sister? What if you had your big sister here with you? It breaks my heart every time, but I know I will see my daughter Addison again, and my kids will be with their sister again.
As an emotional guy, I felt very left out during our loss. From family, friends, and the entire bereavement community. I’m hoping to change that by volunteering with Little Joys. I started volunteering in order to give back and use some of my talents to help others. I have found such strength working in my daughter’s name and for such a great cause. What a joy to give families a few more hours with their kids.