|Ocala, FL -
December 26, 2011|
Published in the Ocala Star-Banner on Monday, December 26, 2011 at 5:08 p.m.
All was going well with Kelly Tingler's first pregnancy. Proud father Jim had joyfully documented each stage of the baby's progress. But four days after reaching full term, Kelly sensed something was wrong.
Kelly Tingler said it was a Monday morning when she realized that the baby wasn't moving as much as usual.
“But we didn't panic,” Kelly, 27, said. “To be on the safe side, we went to labor and delivery to check. By the time they hooked me up to the monitor, they couldn't find a heartbeat. Baby Audrey was gone. It was a compression of the umbilical cord that had taken her home to be with the Lord.”
“It was all pretty sudden,” said Jim, 31. ”We were living in a worst-case scenario.”
In this state of despair, Kelly was admitted to the hospital. Surrounded by only the closest family and friends, she steeled herself for the induced labor.
Each family member and the parents prayed for a miracle. But it wasn't to be.
Baby Audrey came beautifully formed, yet still, with no cry to announce her arrival. The parents and family members cradled her, and tears rolled down their cheeks.
Jim and Kelly had high praise for their medical team.
“The hospital was absolutely wonderful, they were sensitive and thoughtful,” Kelly said.
“The nurses on labor and delivery at Munroe went above and beyond the call of duty,” Jim added. “Everything they could do to help, they did. Our nurse was sensitive and caring but yet focused on her mission to help Kelly deliver Audrey. We were given a folder when we left. It had words of counsel and encouraging thoughts. One sheet included things for the family to do, and not to do.”
Although the information was helpful, it seemed somehow incomplete.
“How do people who have tragedy like we do, how do they go on?,” Jim asked.
“A nurse told us there was a stillbirth probably every other week. You don't hear about it, since it's not something you celebrate and broadcast to the world. But it's more common than you think,” he added.
He said that as they prepared for Audrey's memorial service, many people wanted to do something for them.
“A stage full of flowers at the service would have seemed like vanity,” he said. “Why not use that money to pour into others?”
So the Tinglers established the Audrey Lynn Memorial Fund through their church, New Testament Baptist. The fund provides long-term counseling for parents who go through similar circumstances.
The young parents also learned about a special program, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, that captures poignant images that preserve forever the memory of babies like Audrey.
Munroe is the only hospital in Marion County that delivers babies. In 2010, Paula Gravelle, then a new nurse there, looked on as another nurse from her labor and delivery team prepared a memory box for a couple who had lost their baby.
Gravelle enclosed the boy's measurements, footprints, photos taken by nurses, a baby bracelet and other items that represented the hopes and dreams of those who loved him.
“We have many volunteers wanting to help. We have loomed, crocheted, knitted and lace blankets, along with layette sets of every size. Parents may keep them as mementos. Many times they just want something that has touched their baby,” Gravelle said.
She said another way to help families in the healing process and to honor the child's legacy is make them aware of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a nonprofit organization she discovered as a nurse in Utah.
Through the Colorado-based group, the family receives a DVD slideshow set to gentle music and a CD with high resolution photos. Neither the hospital nor photographers receive compensation.
The group, founded in 2005 by Cheryl Haggard and photographer Sandy Puc, has more than 7,000 professional photographers in 25 countries, who must are rigorously trained and meticulously screened.
Cheryl, who lost her own newborn child, said, “It wasn't only my husband and I who experienced the death of our son. Our older children lost their baby brother as well.”
She thought healing would come as she could look back and see images of the “swirl of dark hair on the back of his head to the little dimple behind his ear.”
The images show “he was here and that he will forever be a part of our lives, no matter how brief his stay,” she said.
“Parents can have photos taken with their baby, with their family, or alone with a memento from the mother and father, for example their wedding rings ... It is whatever they are comfortable with.”
Munroe Labor and Delivery Manager Pam Hudspeth said that, at first, patients were a little skeptical, but now the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The photographers come at all hours of the day or night,” Hudspeth said. “They take beautiful pictures. It's a wonderful, wonderful organization.”
For information Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep call 877-834-5667.