My mom asked me a few weeks ago if I'd be willing to share my daughter's story here at some point. I agreed to it. Writing about it has helped me. I feel compelled to share portions of my experience with my little girl. I don't know if I am the only one I am helping, but if I can help anyone else who has gone through this, or may soon find out they are going to go through it, then I am happy to share and help.
Also, she is just so precious to me, all I ever want to do is talk about her. She has left an indelible mark upon our family. She has changed our family forever for the better.
I've been having a hard time deciding how I am going to write this. There is so much I could say. I've decided to first share with you what we wrote as her eulogy. After I share that, I'll share with you some other thoughts, and things I've learned so far. My husband and I wrote her eulogy together, and he is the one who shared it at her memorial service. Just bear that in mind as you read it. Read it as if he is telling it to you.
"As parents we were excited to find out that we were pregnant with our second daughter. There had been several miscarriages prior to Elodie arriving into our lives. I was super excited to know that there were going to be 2 Hannan girls born in 2020 (Austin's brother's family welcomed a baby girl in February of this year. That is the other Hannan girl he is referring to.) In December 2019, right around Christmas time, Lindsey took a pregnancy test, and it was positive! It was the first of many miracles we would experience with Elodie. In March Emily was able to go with Lindsey to her doctor’s appointment where they found out we were having another girl! Lindsey’s doctor, Doctor Branaman asked Emily what she thought her sister’s name should be, and Emily suggested Mittens. We went back and forth on choosing a name, but neither of us really loved anything we thought of at first. On April 7, the day of Lindsey’s 20-week anatomy scan, she thought of the name Elodie. When she asked me what I thought of that name I remembered a sister missionary that we both liked that served here in Phoenix as a French speaking missionary whose first name is Elodie. We both felt the spirit as we attended lessons with her. At Lindsey’s 20-week checkup we knew that Elodie would be a very special girl. We found out Elodie had some health issues. Her kidneys appeared enlarged with cysts, and she had what is called an encephalocele at the back of her head where her skull had not completely formed. For months we prayed for Elodie and to this day Emily still prays for Elodie to come back. We asked many family and friends to pray with us and fast with us. The one thing we learned from the numerous doctor visits, ultrasounds, and MRI, was that Elodie’s heart was strong. This meant a lot to us as we knew Elodie was a very special spirit with a very special mission.
Lindsey knew that Elodie was up against insurmountable odd coming into this world and so we elected to give birth via C-Section to give Elodie the best chance at life. Elodie was scheduled to come to us on August 6, our wedding anniversary. The hospital was a very quiet place as there was no visitors allowed with Coronavirus restrictions. I remember scrambling to get on scrubs unaware of how fast a C-section was. Elodie was born at 8 am and she weighed exactly 8 pounds. When she was first born, she was not breathing on her own. Her sister Emily was down in the hospital waiting room with her grandparents waiting to be brought up to meet her sister, and we were worried that Elodie wouldn’t make it that long to meet her.
Then, miraculously, Elodie started trying to breathe. The NICU nurse was able to get her on some oxygen to help her. Elodie was a fighter, her heart was strong, and she was such a calm baby. It was a mad rush on everyone’s part to get us back into the labor and delivery room so we could bring Emily up to meet her sister. Although Emily was only allowed to be in the room for 20 precious minutes, we were so grateful that she was able to spend time with her sister. Before Elodie was born, Emily had told us all of the things she wanted to do with her sister. “Take her a bath,” “Feed her a cheese stick,” “Feed her a fig bar,” “Have a sleepover with Elodie,” and “Hold Elodie’s Hand”. Elodie and Emily were able to achieve most of those goals.
As we remained in the hospital with Elodie we knew her time on earth would be brief. Despite Lindsey’s efforts to get Elodie to eat, she made no effort to eat and never even acted hungry. We were thankful for each precious moment we were able to spend with her, and each minute was a miracle to us. Lindsey had never ever wanted to get a c-section if she could help it, but she knew as she looked at her daughter’s sweet face that if she had been asked to do it all over again, she would.
Another miracle we experienced was Lindsey’s healing after the C-section. By the next day she was up and moving around, and we were hopeful that we’d be able to take Elodie home where she would get to meet more family and just spend time with us in our home environment. Thanks to Lindsey’s quick healing and Dr. Branaman’s understanding of why we wanted to leave, we brought Elodie home on August 7, which also happened to be her grandmother’s birthday.
Back at home Elodie was surrounded by her grandmas Hannan and Reynolds, her grandpa Reynolds, her cousins Spencer and Amelia, her aunts Jessica and Madalynn, her uncle Tyler, and of course, her big sister Emily and us, her parents. We were so grateful for the countless miracles that allowed us to bring her home and spend time with family during this weird time where most people aren’t allowed in the hospital.
We spent the next few days taking countless pictures and videos and watching Elodie and Emily form a special bond as sisters. There were lots of hugs and kisses given, and everyone who was around her could feel her special, powerful spirit.
Lindsey had asked Elodie if she could at least stay long enough to meet her uncle Jacob, who was up in Flagstaff that weekend doing his training with the national guard. Jacob anxiously waited on Sunday for permission to head home, and as soon as he could leave, he headed straight for our home. Despite hitting some bad traffic, he made it to our home and spent time holding Elodie.
Shortly after Jacob left, Elodie began to show signs of distress. We had hospice on call and did our best to keep her comfortable. We spent that last precious night together, and Emily came into our room to have one more sister sleepover with Elodie.
Elodie passed away Monday, August 10 at about 8 AM, four days after her birth. Although we are heartbroken by her passing, we know that she was met in the Spirit World by many loving family members, including her grandpa Jim Hannan who passed away last year.
Despite our grief, we felt the power of Elodie’s spirit. Her life was brief but powerful and has made a great impact on us. Our family has grown to include two beautiful girls. We know that Elodie’s work was meant to continue in the Spirit world as she proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who died without a knowledge of it.
During all our fasting and prayers for Elodie the one overwhelming feeling we had was, “everything is going to be okay.” We know that this is true. Even as we grieve for our little girl and all our hopes and dreams of having her here with us, we know that everything is okay as she is safe and happy in the Spirit world. We know that thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ we will be with Elodie again, and when we are reunited, she will be whole, and we will never need to be separated from her again. We can say as Paul did, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”'
That is a brief summary of Elodie's story. There is a lot more I could tell you. There are some things I can probably never share as they are too close to my heart. I'd likely never be able to describe them properly. As Elodie's mother I spent the most time with her. Every kick I felt while pregnant, every little hiccup meant so much to me. They are precious moments that I'll hold dear forever.
When it became clear to me that Elodie wasn't going to be staying long on this earth I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why this had to happen, and why it had to happen NOW. After a year of trying and miscarriages, why wasn't my miracle rainbow baby going to live? Why did it have to be at the same time as COVID? I became so concerned that this virus was going to erase my daughter and I couldn't let that happen.
In the four short days that she was here I learned a lifetime of lessons on faith and miracles. Elodie was meant to be born now. She is still, and forever will be, my miracle rainbow baby.
In the weeks since she passed away I have learned a lifetime of lessons on faith, love, grief, and miracles. I have felt the deepest, most hollow ache in my heart, my arms have felt heavy with longing for my baby to be back in them. I have clutched the last outfit she wore while she was here with us and just cried because I miss her so very much.
I have also felt lifted and loved by the countless prayers being offered on our behalf. I have been surrounded by good, kind people who have done all kinds of service for my family. I have heard from so many other mothers who know exactly what I am going through. They have immediately reached out to me in love and let me know that they are here for me whenever I may need them.
It may be hard to believe that losing your child can be a spiritual experience, but I am here to tell you that it is, if you let it. Yes, you will feel the deepest darkest grief you have ever known. I will miss Elodie for the rest of my life. But I have also felt the closeness of my Savior Jesus Christ, and have felt deeply the truth of His Atonement and Resurrection, and the promise that it brings that death is not the end. I will see my baby girl again. It will be a happy, beautiful reunion, and I will never have to say goodbye to her again. Mourning and grief can be beautiful and spiritual because they draw us closer to our Heavenly Father, where we can better remember His promises, which are sure. He has never lied to me, and He never will. Elodie is mine forever, but she was His first. He knew exactly what she needed, and He knows what I need now.
I sang a song at Elodie's memorial. It is a French hymn called Souviens-toi, which translates to "Remember." It was a song I'd sing to her while I was pregnant. The overall song is basically a parent singing to their child. Likely a newborn child from the way the first verse is written. In the third verse it talks about how the parent and the child knew each other before coming to earth. They happily accepted their Father's plan to come to earth and gain a body. They promise each other that, through their love and their faith, they would be reunited.
I know Elodie and I made promises of that nature to each other and to our Heavenly Parents.
That is what I can share with you about my sweet baby girl. She is so precious to me.
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to eleven! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Then, one more daughter, with her technical and science skills, plus creativity has joined in to round us out! Read more about us here!