Star Legacy Foundation

Alexander Lloyd Marsh and Ariel Skyler Marsh

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Alexis and Akeem from New Jersey endured two losses this past year before welcoming their beautiful rainbow baby, Ariceli.

Alexis, a pediatric neurologist, and her husband, a child psychiatrist, are courageous to share their heart-wrenching experiences with us.

A month after getting married, I was somewhat shocked to discover we were then pregnant. It all happened very fast — at least to me! But we were definitely feeling blessed and looking forward to meeting our first child. As we went along, we were told we were having a “textbook pregnancy.” Everything was going according to plan, though I was constantly nervous that something bad could happen — especially as a doctor and knowing too much about the sad stories we often see in pediatrics!

Then one day, at almost this very time (in 2014), at 24 weeks pregnant on October 30, I realized I had gone the whole day without feeling our son’s movements.

When I got out our home doppler, I also couldn’t find his heartbeat. It was late at night by that point, so we went to sleep and planned to give it some time. I had asked about movements at the last doctor’s visit and been told not to worry about kick counts because movements would still be inconsistent. The next morning, however, when I still wasn’t feeling movements or finding a heartbeat, we called the doctor’s office and went in to be checked. It was at that time they confirmed there was no longer a heartbeat.

We had had a stillbirth — something neither of us had never even learned about in medical school. And in our case, there was no obvious cause — “It just happens”. As you all probably know, there were no words that can adequately capture all the emotions that happened next.

We named our first child Alexander Lloyd Marsh, after both of our grandfathers. It is hard to believe it has been a year now since his birth and death…”

“…In January we learned we were again expecting, this time definite twins (in Alexander’s case we were told we may or may not have had a vanishing twin, (something that none of the doctors ever cared to talk about further or investigate).”

We felt so blessed, even though we still would give anything to have our son back…

I felt good about this second pregnancy — it felt “different” because of the twins. Then, in only a few weeks time, I lost all hope when I fell on ice and broke my wrist. I was devastated that something horrible might happen. Not only was the broken wrist horribly painful, I wore casts for 9 weeks and had to get surgery. The doctors continued to tell me not to worry, and that the twins looked great, even at their nuchal.

The ultrasound that followed 4 weeks after my surgery, at week 16, told a different story. It was then we found out Twin A had stopped growing at 13+ weeks. Again, no words. That moment, as well as the moment we found out we lost Alexander, were by far the two lowest moments of our lives.

I literally had death inside of those who I loved more than anything, not once now, but twice. And then to be told “Well, Twin B looks great!” Again, no words. It was horrible. They wouldn’t even investigate Twin A’s gender even after we found out Twin B was a girl (they could have done a blood test but said under no circumstances was it allowed for twins, which made no sense.)

I spent the rest of the pregnancy hating myself for having lost Twin A and being scared to death we would lose Twin B. Because we didn’t know the gender, we chose the gender-neutral name Ariel Skyler for Twin A.

After insisting on twice weekly NSTs and doing all of those home remedies to bring on spontaneous labor, Twin B, Ariceli Nalo, was born healthy just under 38 weeks gestation on September 15.

Unlike with Alexander — where we at least had a baby we got to hold for a moment and later bury — there was no mention of Ariel by the doctors during Ariceli’s birth, even though I repeatedly asked that they try and try look for remains that we could bury.

Ariceli is named after Ariel, so that Ariel can live on forever through her, until our family can someday be made whole again. We are so blessed to have Ariceli, who is healthy and a generally very happy baby. But we still know there will always be pieces of our family missing. It hurts to not have answers as to why our other children were taken away from us.

It also hurts to not feel validated at times by others. People, whether they are medical

professionals or some of our family members or friends, don’t like or feel comfortable with such “taboo” topics such as stillbirth. By meeting members like you in the Star Legacy Foundation, however, I have hope that someday we will have more answers, and be able to bring at least a little bit of comfort, and maybe closure, to all those families who lose a part of themselves.”

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