Ashton Wade Wilwert
From the very start of our pregnancy everything was normal and uneventful – just as you want it to be. We were to be first time parents and we were excited beyond belief to have a child change our lives forever. When we found out that Ashton was a boy, both of us started imagining our futures with a bright eyed, active little boy. After the 20 week ultrasound our Doctor called with a concern regarding Ashton’s foot and wanted us to have a follow-up visit. The first ultrasound technician was not able to get a view of one of his feet – they were unsure if he was just hiding it or if there was a more serious issue such as club foot or no foot at all. This really scared us as we started to imagine the challenges our child would have if there was a problem. After further testing it turned out to be a false alarm, and as soon as the ultrasound technician put his image on the screen we were reassured with a little tiny thumbs up from our son. We knew then and there that having him in our lives was going to be an adventure!
The rest of the pregnancy went along without issue, with us being blissfully ignorant of the troubles that pregnancies can cause. Our 36 week checkup was on April 9th, 2010 in the afternoon. I got up on the table to do the usual heartbeat check when the doctor struggled to find the spot. She asked me when I last felt him kick and I froze. I hadn’t been as thorough about counting kicks as they recommend; Ashton did not move around a lot and I just took for granted that everything would be fine. I struggled to answer her question and looked at my husband for confirmation – last night? The doctor continued to search for a heartbeat unsuccessfully and decided to send us to get an ultrasound. The clinic we were going to did not have an ultrasound machine on site so we had to go to the next town over for the test. At this point my husband and I were terrified of the thought of losing our son and had no business being on the road with the many questions and fears that were running through our head. We arrived at the second clinic 20 minutes later and shortly after the ultrasound confirmed our worst fears, that Ashton no longer had a heartbeat.
That night we made the most difficult phone calls of our lives to share that Ashton was gone. We spent our remaining hours together crying, treasuring our last night together and praying that the doctors were wrong. The next morning we headed to the hospital and 14 hours later our beautiful Ashton was born. My husband and I held our breaths as the nurse placed our son in my arms, waiting for a cry that never came.
It was true, Ashton was gone forever.
We spent the next 20 hours together, cherishing every second we had with Ashton knowing this was our only chance to get to know his features, create memories, and hug and kiss him until our final goodbyes. We took the opportunity to bathe, diaper and dress Ashton as any parent would, and a photographer blessed us with our most precious gift – professional photos of our angel.
Losing Ashton was the hardest thing we’ve ever been through – not only did we lose our son that day, but we also gained the fear that we would never be able to be parents of a living child. We had so many unanswered questions from our loss… however with a lot of patience, a ton of love and support, and blind faith we were blessed with a daughter just 13 months later, and as I write this letter I am 31 week along with our second son. I am absolutely certain that Ashton is their guardian angel, watching over and protecting them just as any big brother would.
It has become extremely important to us that our children know their big brother and that Ashton’s memory is kept alive as time passes. We celebrate each of his Angelversaries with birthday cake and something special each year (last year his extended family all received wind chimes with his initials and birthday painted on them, next year we plan to release 3 Chinese lanterns for his 3rd birthday). Our daughter, Anika, recognizes Ashton’s photo and gets a big smile every time she says his name, often kissing his photos.
As painful as losing Ashton was we would never want to take the experience away. Ashton touched our lives forever and we will never be the same. He made us better people and taught us a new level of love that we will never forget.