It is surreal to me that I am sharing my story. I wish more than anything that this wasn’t our story. But it is…
We had the perfect life but I didn’t know it. Chris and I met at work and got married in 2010. We both had good jobs and we were ready to start a family. In 2011 we found out we were expecting. We were ecstatic and we did what everyone does when they find out they are having a baby. We bought a new family friendly car, and we bought a new house, to prepare for our growing family. At our 10 week apt we found out that our baby didn’t have a heart beat and we were devastated. I struggled with it and asked God why? After a couple of months, we found out we were expecting again. We went in for an early ultrasound just to make sure everything was going ok. It was more for me and my anxiety than anything. I was positive going in because I usually am. But again we left in tears…
A few months later we were expecting again for the third time. I was nervous at our first appointment but we saw what we hadn’t seen before a beating heart! I was nervous the whole pregnancy but on October 16th 2012 we got the best anniversary present ever, Eloise Beatrice Bromley. Eloise is a fun spicy little girl. Just a little before she turned 1 we found out she was going to be a big sister. I was over the moon when I found out we were having another little girl. I always wanted a sister and to be able to give that to Eloise was a dream come true. Hadley Sue was born August 4th, 2014. Hadley was a sweet and kind little girl. She loved to cuddle and there was nothing better than when she would stare deep in your eyes, raise her tiny, little hand, and touch your face. Haddie was not always great in groups, but loved her one-on-one time with anyone who held her. Hadley also gave the biggest, toothiest, grin. For those who knew her really well, Hadley even loved to growl. She liked to bite the people she loved most.
I was living my dream life. We loved being together as a family which usually meant a picnic in the living room and playing on the floor with our big hairy dogs. Looking back at all the sorrow we experienced with our miscarriages I thought that the biggest tragedy of our lives was behind us.
June 2nd, 2015 was a Tuesday and it was a normal day.
Haddie woke me up early like usual with a big toothy grin. I picked her up out of her crib and took her downstairs and I made her a bottle. For some reason this particular day I was “busy” and instead of holding her like I normally did I let her drink her bottle on the couch. I was getting ready for work in the bathroom. She crawled to the baby gate and stood there squealing. I would step out the the bathroom and say, “Haddie Bo Bo”. I even probably sang some ridiculous “Haddie Bo Bo” song. I strapped her into her car seat and drove the girls to daycare. I was late like usual so I quickly sat Haddie down in the breezeway and signed the girls in for the day. I didn’t take Haddie out of her car seat and hug her. I patted her head and said I loved you and she smiled the big toothy grin. Then I was out the door and on my way.
I arrived at the office and went about my day checking emails, preparing for a pool inspection, taking phone calls. I had to leave work early because I had a doctor’s appointment in Grandville. The pool inspector showed up at 3:00 as planned. I walked around with her and answered some questions, made some jokes. Little did I know Haddie had already taken her last breath.
I left work around 3:40 pm picked up my BFF Emily to accompany me to this appointment. I changed into my gown and my phone rang. The caller ID said, “UKNOWN CALLER” so I ignored it. I think I even said, “Stop calling me!”
Two minutes or so later it rings again and I huffed and picked it up. “This is so and so from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s department and we need to talk to you.”
It is not unusual for the police to call me because of the job that I do. Annoyed I said, “Well I am at the doctor can you call me back in an hour?”
He said, “No it’s an emergency.”
At this point I am thinking a building at my community is burning down. I said, “Can’t you just tell me what it is?”
He said, “No we need to speak with you in person. Where are you?”
Now my heart is in my stomach and I start scrambling in my head, what could it be?
I told him where I was and he said, “We are sending a police officer there to talk to you.”
Not good. I immediately called Chris. He didn’t answer.
I started to panic a little more. I called my Mother-in-law and asked, “Have you talk to Chris?”
She told me that she just talked to him. So I called him again and he answered. I filled him in on what the police said and he thinks the same thing as me, it has to be work related. I tried calling the daycare where the girls are and it goes to voicemail. This was a little alarming and I asked Chris to call the daycare. I had Emily get ahold of my mom and she is ok. I called my work and spoke with my leasing agent. He tells me that police showed up looking for me but wouldn’t tell him anything. Chris has since called daycare 6 times and still no answer, he also realized that he missed a call from an “UNKNOWN” number. My doctor came in and I told him to quick do the exam and I filled him in on what’s happening. There is a knock on the door and the nurse told us that the police are here.
Chris called back again and I could hear the panic in his voice, “The police are at the daycare!”
In walked the policeman and I said, “My husband is on speaker phone just tell us what is going on.”
He told us who he is and I think I might have said something like, “Just tell us!”
“Police were called out to your daycare today and your daughter has passed away.”
“Which one!?!?!” Chris and I both yelled. “HADLEY,” He said.
Chris was driving back from Lansing and I could hear him yelling. The officer took the phone out of my hand. I was screaming and crying and I am pretty sure everyone in that office heard me. My doctor was holding me and Emily was hugging me. I must have sat in there for another 10 minutes or so because leaving that exam room meant that it was real. I had to deal with it.
We finally got in the car and Emily drove as I wailed and asked, “Why?” I remember sobbing, “My baby, my baby, she’s so sweet.” Over and Over. I wanted to drive straight to where Haddie was, but the detective said that I was not allowed to do that. We had to meet the detectives at a fire station. We pulled in and your Daddy was there and he was holding your sister. I opened the car door and Eloise ran to me and hugged me she immediately asked, “Where’s Haddie”.
We went inside and met with 2 detectives, CPS, the Medical Examiner, and several victim’s advocates. They start by telling us that 2 people in the daycare did CPR until the paramedics arrived and they took over but it was too late. They then started asking us questions like, “Does she sleep with a blanket?” “Does she have any health issues?” “Has she experienced and trauma lately?” This whole time I kept asking when I can see Haddie. They informed me that I could not see her and she was being transported to Blodgett for an autopsy. She was a healthy, happy 9 month old baby. They had no answers for us and we were just supposed to go home. How do you go home with out your child?
We later found out that our daycare provider although she didn’t intentionally hurt my child she could have prevented her death. There were several license violations that contributed to the death of my child. Haddie suffocated on a blanket that was never supposed to be in her crib or near it. She was left alone for 3 hours without being checked on once. Haddie had been gone for an hour before anyone checked on her.
So here we are our life changed forever, and nothing is the same.
I have asked God many times why he chose us to walk this journey for the rest of our lives. It has only been a short time since I have lost my Haddie but I have spent so much time searching for a reason why, or a justification, something that would make sense of this tragedy. What I have found is that there is nothing this side heaven that will make sense of this or bring meaning to Haddie’s death. One thing that has changed for me is that I now long for heaven. I am ready. I could never say that before. I see how broken this world is how we aren’t supposed to want to be here. Knowing that my family will never be complete again until we get to heaven makes me long even more for Jesus to return. I pray for His return daily.
As much as I hate that this is my life, it is my life. Because there is no clear reason why this happened I will spend the rest of my life bringing meaning to Haddie’s passing. I will spend the rest of my life living for Haddie and making life the best it possibly can be for Eloise. In everything that brings us joy it will always bring us pain too….and you know what that’s ok. Because my daughter isn’t here. I am ok with the sadness, I can’t imagine not having sadness, I live every day with out Haddie. Does this mean I live in a dark room and cry all day…absolutely not. Someday yes. We try our hardest to give Eloise the fullest life possible with many adventures. Sometimes we are living life through our tears and our heavy hearts. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t experience sadness at some point. But we do feel joy everyday too. I will spend the rest of my days speaking her name, telling her story and how she changed our lives, and honoring Haddie.
So I will end my story with this…..when we dedicated Haddie at our church we were asked to write her a letter. Now reading this letter it’s as if Haddie is reading it to me… and to all of us.
To our bright-eyed Hadley Sue:
Never in a million years did we think we would have a bright blue-eyed baby girl! If Mama didn’t pull you out herself we wouldn’t think you were ours. In this short time that you have blessed our family you have brought us incredible happiness. You have a sweet spirit that compliments your sister’s sassy spiciness in a way that only God could have planned.
As your parents we want to give you the world and the moon too! Although no matter how hard we work we will probably fall short on that wish for you. One thing that we can give you and will spend every day trying is a loving, God centered family. We aren’t perfect and we will make mistakes. We can promise you a life of experiences, adventures, love, laughs, and sadly sometimes tears.
We have prayed for you since before we even knew there was going to be a “you”. We will breath our last breaths praying for you. Our first prayer for you is always that you will grow up falling in love with our Savior and choosing to fearlessly follow Him. We hate the thought of you experiencing hurt, and if we could remove that from your life we would in a second.
One thing I can guarantee you is that there will be moments in life that you will hurt. You will suffer. You will ask God why. We pray that during those times you cling to the promises that God has given you. Claim them. No matter what your hurt is God’s plan is always sweeter than you could have imagined. No matter what happens in your life remember that it’s your story. God gave it to you and He wants you to tell it!
We love you sweet baby girl. You and your sister are so very special to us. Living life with you is our greatest joy.