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. 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 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. 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 anxious the entire 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, grins. 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 just like any other 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. I was getting ready for work in the bathroom. She crawled to the baby gate, pulled herself up, and stood there squealing. I remember stepping out the bathroom saying, “Haddie Bo Bo”. I even sang some ridiculous made up “Haddie Bo Bo” song. I strapped her into her car seat and drove the girls to daycare. I was running late so I quickly set 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 simply patted her head, said I love 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. 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 and picked up my BF 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.
Two minutes or so later it rings again and I was annoyed and picked it up. “This is so and so from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s department and we need to talk to you.”
It wasn’t unusual for the police to call me because of my job. Frustrated I said, “Well I am at the doctor can you call me back in an hour?”
He says, “No it’s an emergency.”
Still thinking it was work related I said, “Can’t you just tell me what it is?”
He says, “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 tell him where I am and he said, “We are sending a police officer there to talk to you.”
Not good. I immediately call my husband, Chris. He doesn’t answer.
I started to panic a little more because I knew he was traveling. I called my Mother-in-law, “Have you talk to Chris?”
She tells me that she just talked to him. So I call him again and he answers. I fill 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 Friend get ahold of my mom and she was ok. I called my work and spoke with my leasing agent. He told me that the 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 comes in and I tell him to quick do the exam and I fill him in on what’s happening. There is a knock on the door and the nurse tells us that a policeman is here.
Chris calls back again and I can hear the panic in his voice he says, “The police are at the daycare!”
In walks the policeman and I say, “My husband is on speaker phone just tell us what is going on.”
He tells us who he is and I said, “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. My doctor was holding 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 Chris was already there and he was holding Eloise. 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 started by telling us that 2 adults 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 them 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 Haddie she could have prevented her death. There were several license violations that were found that day, that directly 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 found her.
Haddie was 4 days shy of being 10 months old. At this point she was crawling, standing up, and almost walking by herself. So I was shocked to find out that she suffocated on a blanket. In fact I didn’t believe it when they told me. Until the CPS worker who was on the scene that day came to my house and told me the details of how Haddie was found. The blanket she suffocated on was a thick comforter blanket. It had been draped over a crib next to the pack and play that she was sleeping in. It was with-in her reach she just wanted to cuddle. She was found with the blanket wrapped around her head.
Haddie’s death itself was meaningless. It’s my job to bring meaning to her passing. I will spend the rest of my life living for Haddie and making life the best it possibly can be for Eloise and her new brother Fitz. July 9th, 2016 Fitzgerald Penn joined our family. He is clearly a blessing and he brings us joy. But I am constantly aware of the fact that he will never know his sister. In everything that brings us joy, will always bring us pain too….
I will spend the rest of my days speaking her name, telling her story and how she changed our lives, and honoring Haddie.
Although our dream life has been completely altered in a way I never could have imagine ….our story is not over.
This is the story I have been given…it’s my job to tell it. Some days I hate my story with every ounce of my being. Some days I don’t feel like telling it or living it, and I believe that is ok. I think we need to give ourselves grace and allow ourselves to be sad when we are sad. To really feel that. My daughter died…that is sad. There is no “happy” about that. It’s not possible to make her death a “happy” thing. But my story isn’t over, Haddie’s story isn’t over. Her story is powerful…her story is inspiring…her story changes lives. It has changed my life. It has made me to let go of the things I can’t change, Stop obsessing over the things that do not matter, To soak up every moment I have with those I love, To laugh more, experience more, to live more, to invest in the things that don’t cost any money. So my challenge to you today is to embrace YOUR story, the good, and the bad. Be bold enough to tell your story….because you never know when it could change someone’s life. Everyone has a story. If we all stopped an thought about what someone’s story could be do you think you would not be so quick to pass judgement? But if you knew their story would you treat them differently?
I was a different mom before Haddie died. It makes me sad to think that Eloise and Fitz won’t know that mother. But I am doing the best I can. We all have a story that has shaped us into the person we are today. So before you judge each other remember that everyone has story.
What will you use your story for? Will you let it bring you down? Define you? Define your children? Hold you back?
Or will you use it for good? Own your story use it too encourage, to walk beside someone, to change your narrative? You are in control.
Just because that is how the story went doesn’t mean that’s how your story has to go. You are the meaning maker. It’s your decision what you do with your story.
It is my hope that every time you put a child to bed you remember Haddie. My daycare worker loved my girls. She made a mistake that day. It only took one day, one time of choosing to not follow the safe sleep guidelines for Haddie NOT to wake up.
I am so thankful for the job that you guys do everyday. It is so important, you save lives. I hope that everyday you come to work you see Haddie’s face, remember her story, and tell it. It is my goal to make sure that Every Child Wakes Up and I want it to be your goal too. It is my hope that every family you meet gets to pick their child up at the end of the day. Because I didn’t…