Winnie Elise Graham

March 4, 2024
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Born March 4th at 3:05 pm. 

8lbs 2 oz. and 20.5 inches long 

She was pure magic and perfection… 

This isn’t the birth announcement Trevor and I thought we would be making. Every parent’s worst nightmare had just become our reality. Minutes after her arrival she was called home. Her sweet soul was too good for this world and could not stay with us.

I carried sweet Winnie in my womb for nine months. Nine months of healthy check ups, nine months carefully crafting the most beautiful baby girl. Our daughter Isla was so excited to be a big sister. Often screaming proudly to anyone that would listen “my baby sister is coming soon!!!”

Winnie was an active baby throughout my pregnancy. She was constantly kicking and dancing. Every ultrasound we had she would show us her silly joyful spirit. Giving us big smiles, sticking her tongue out at us, and showing off her sweet dance moves. I would often crave cinnamon rolls while pregnant and told Trevor and family several times that cinnamon rolls were the essence of Winnie’s soul… sweet, tender, brings joy to everyone, and reminds you of an old whimsy soul you just want to hug.

Around 37 weeks I started to notice that Winnie had become less active. I expressed this concern to my doctor and she asked if I was hitting my kick counts… and I was hitting my kick counts every day within 30-minutes of starting my timer. But something inside me kept telling me that something was off, something didn’t feel right. After a few days the kicks and movement were noticeably less. Despite hitting my kick counts the day before, my intuition told me to skip waiting for the kick counts and immediately take myself to the emergency room.  Upon my arrival I was hooked up to monitors and they noticed that Winnie’s heart rate was not normal and kept rising and then plummeting and then stabilizing and doing it all over again.

My doctor came in and told me that because I had eaten lunch that day they would have to wait until 8:30 pm to perform my c-section. We had the plan and I was moved out of the emergency room and into a birthing suite to wait. Trevor and I were so excited that we were going to meet our 2nd baby girl soon.  

During the short wheelchair ride to my new room Winnie’s heart became more unstable. After being hooked back up to the monitors we quickly realized that things were not ok. My nurse immediately called my doctor back in. In a matter of minutes I was rushed and surrounded by nurses and doctors having my clothes cut from my body and being told that things are going to move quickly so they can bring my sweet girl earthside safe and sound. I remember wanting Trevor to come with me but he couldn’t. Nurse Brindy grabbing my hand and her sweet soft eyes reassuring me that everything is going to be ok. I remember squeezing tight and looking back at her telling her how unbelievably scared I was. She continued to reassure me everything would be ok telling me how brave I am and doing everything she could to keep me calm.

I remember counting back and waking up to my worst nightmare. I opened my eyes and no one had to say anything, their sovereign faces said it all. I asked for my baby and was met with the news that her body was here but her soul had been called home. I immediately asked for her to be placed in my arms. The tough as nails Nurse who moved me from the emergency room to my birthing suite now carried the softest eyes. She leaned in, put her head against mine, tears rolling down her face and said “I have been here before. I lost my second daughter… She was stillborn too. Hold your beautiful girl for as long as you can because this is the only time you get with her.” I squeezed Winnie tight and looked back at my nurse and asked “Will this pain ever go away?!” To which she replied “No, you just learn how to live with it… but don’t live in it or it will break you.” I will never forget her words and the love I felt from her in that moment. I will forever be grateful that God chose her to be my nurse and gave her the healing opportunity to share her story of her sweet girl and her wisdom to help carry Trevor and I through.

I did just that… I sat there for 20 hours straight in what seemed like the twilight zone. Trying not to miss a single moment of time with my sweet girl. Taking in every inch of her face. Mesmerized by her beauty. She had the softest black hair, the chunkiest cheeks, the most perfect little button nose and the sweetest most kissable lips. I loved on her for as long as they would let me. Until I had to give her up the next day to save someone else’s life.

That same night my sweet nurse Courtney came to let me know that Winnie was eligible to donate her heart valves and potentially give life to two other families. With no hesitation, Trevor and I said absolutely. Knowing that our sweet girl could give the gift of life to other families and potentially save parents from feeling this pain and despair, gave Trevor and I a sense of peace and light in this terribly dark time. The next day around 12:00 the nurses and doctors lined the halls to participate and honor our little hero at her donor walk. Our Winnie Elise left a huge imprint on so many lives and did not leave this earth without leaving behind a legacy. She is a hero and we are so incredibly proud of her. 

We still don’t know what caused Winnie’s body to stop working but we are grateful for the lessons that Winnie continues to bring us. The signs she sends us to let us know her spirit will never leave us and we will always be connected, and the strong bond she and her big sister Isla have despite never meeting in this lifetime.

Trevor and I are devoted to spreading love through this unfortunate event and will find a way to continue to honor Winnie’s legacy and use her story for good. 

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