Couple uses music therapy to preserve memories of infant's short life
Losing a child is something no parent should experience, and when one expectant couple found out their daughter wasn't expected to live long, they took steps to turn their heartache into a few precious moments of celebration, preserving their newborn daughter's legacy.
Thursday, December 4th 2014, 3:15 pm EST
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Losing a child is something no parent should experience, and when one expectant couple found out their daughter wasn't expected to live long, they took steps to turn their heartache into a few precious moments of celebration, preserving their newborn daughter's legacy.
What should have been a joyous time for Carlee and Ian Kern turned into heartache.
Carlee was about 19 weeks pregnant when the couple got bad news: an ultrasound showed abnormalities.
"They suspected it was a chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 13," Carlee said.
We were both pretty young," Carlee said. "It was our first pregnancy, so what we were more worried about was how we were going to deal with life after we had her."
The couple found out their was a chance their daughter, whom they decided to name Hattie, could be stillborn. And even if she wasn't, her chances of surviving long after being born were not good.
The Kerns needed support.
They found that support at the Hearts and Hands program at Kosair Children's Hospital.
"I think that the first time that we met, we were actually at the end of the day so we had quite a bit of time to sit and talk," said Stephanie Cline, who works with Hearts and Hands at Kosair.
They started talking about preparing for Hattie's birth, and making plans to create memories to preserve Hattie's legacy.
"We used to send families out of here maybe with a footprint or two," Cline said. "But knowing that they're walking out of here, and they're not leaving here with their child -- it means a whole lot to our families."
Carlee had heard about making music from the sounds of the baby's heartbeat as the melody.
Brett Northup, a music therapist at Norton Healthcare, pitched in to help.
"In Hattie's case, she was right around 143 beats per minute," Northup said.
For the song, Carlee chose "Pooh's Corner" by Kenny Loggins.
"It's always helped put me to sleep, and we played it for Hattie when she was in my belly," Carlee said.
Ian and Carlee wrote the lyrics, and Northrup put it all together.
"There was one particular section that was about 15 seconds long that was just perfect, so we cut that and looped it and created that and turned it into a 6-minute song," Northup said.
The couple got Lamby, a stuffed animal, and took her everywhere they went, even Washington, DC.
"It ended up being the first family vacation that we took," Carlee said, adding that they "crammed a whole lot into three days."
On Sept. 8, when Carlee was 7-and-a-half months along, doctors said it was time.
"We were basically just hoping and praying that she came out breathing," Carlee said. "And she did."
Hattie was here.
"She wasn't really moving a whole lot, Ian said, "but she took a couple gasps ... we were happy we got to meet her."
The Kerns spent about 40 minutes with their daughter,
Along with a lot of pictures, handprints, footprints and moldings were taken to remember that precious time.
Hattie's song was also finished the day she was born. She died a short time later.
"I think she passed shortly after we played her song," Carlee said. "So, it was nice."
Now that 40 minutes -- the short span of Hattie's life, is preserved.
"We were able to spend time with our daughter, and I don't know, we got to make to memories within those 40 minutes that people strive a lifetime to make.
Cline says by creating the song as part of Hattie's legacy, the Kerns have given other families the opportunity to do something similar.
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