Abigail Patricia Mueller
On February 26, 2009 I started having contractions. On February 27, I noticed decreased movement. On February 28, our lives changed forever when our daughter, Abigail Patricia Mueller was born still. How did this happen? We didn't even know stillbirths still happened in the 21st century! Everything was fine 3 days ago....
Our lives are now clearly defined as 'before' and 'after' Abigail. The inital emotions after a loss like this are debilitating. I never knew that emotions could be so strong that they would manifest themselves physically. My heart and my (empty) arms, actually ached. Everything was forced: talking, crying, functioning, breathing. We were on autopilot. We never thought that in our 30's we would have to bury a child. We never thought we would spend our 5th wedding anniversary setting our daughter's headstone. We didn't know. Looking back on the last 18 months, I am amazed at how ignorant we were 'before'.
Before Abby, we knew NOTHING about stillbirth or the risk of it happening to us. We actually suffered a miscarriage prior to this pregnancy at 12 weeks. Everyone is aware of the risks of miscarriage. As soon as the first trimester was over, we breathed a sigh of relief and felt the 'risky' part of pregnancy was over. We were stunned to learn that more than 4 million stillbirths happen EVERY YEAR! ~30,000 in the U.S. alone. 1 in every 200 pregnancies ends in stillbirth! Did anyone else know that?
I struggled for a long time with 'why'. By nature, I like data. There was no data. Abby was gone. Nobody could tell me why. I have always relied heavily on my faith to comfort me in times of sorrow or confusion. I always believed that 'everything happens for a reason'. That God has a plan. But this....for the first time in my entire life, I was lost. I couldn't find one way to spin this in my head to make it make sense. If it was God's plan for me to lose my daughter, WHY would he wait for me to go full term first. It was like insult to injury. Why would he do this to Abby? To Jeremy and I? To Kiley? To our families? WHY? As I spent the first few days alternating between holding her in my arms and apologizing to everyone who came to visit me in the hospital for the loss I felt so responsible for, I was overwhelmed with how perfect she seemed. Besides the internal, spiritual struggle, I was also devastated to learn nothing from an autopsy. Cause of death was unable to be determined. I am not ok with that. Something happened to Abby.
I feel a very strong need to find out why. After the initial debilitation eased, and I was able to start looking into it, I scoured the internet to find information and others who might have gone through something as awful as we had. Someone else who could understand and maybe tell us why. As it turns out, as common as stillbirth is, very few people talk about it. It's like a secret! In the medical profession, during prenatal care, after the loss....nobody wants to talk about it. We will never make any progress in reducing the number of stillbirths if we don't talk about it. That is why I decided, on Abby's 1st birthday, to start Abby's Run. As crazy as it sounds, it came to me in a dream. Ever since that day, I am compelled to drive change. It doesn't give me peace, but it gives me focus, determination, and purpose. It makes me feel that I am doing SOMETHING for my daughter. I also want to keep her memory alive, I don't want anyone to forget that she existed. I believe we can make a difference. The world is a very small place when you are talking with folks who have gone through something this traumatic.
My vision is that the proceeds from Abby's Run will go toward research to understand how and why this happens. We need a national or international database tracking stillbirths so we can understand correlations and patterns, etc. We need a standard protocol in prenatal care to prevent needless death. When the unthinkable happens, we need a standard protocol around the autopsy process. Parents are entitled to an explanation. Parents need support and resources readily available. Mothers need to hear that it isn't their fault.
Stillbirth is preventable. Think about that. STILLBIRTH IS PREVENTABLE.
On behalf of our entire family, thank you. Thank you for your support emotionally and financially. We believe most of you are reading this because our Abby has effected you in some way too.
We believe that Abby can change the world.
Mindy & Jeremy Mueller
(Abby's mom and dad)