A Mother’s Loss, Heaven’s Gain


I was blessed to cross paths with an amazing woman who I now consider one of my best friends.  She has taught me so much in the little time I have known her.  On days when I think I have it bad my thoughts immediately go to her and her losses and I am quickly reminded that my burdens are not that heavy.  We will all go through loss and grief in our lives.  There is no way to avoid it.  We will lose our parents, our friends, siblings, spouses, and so on but there is no greater loss than that of a child.  My mother lost my brother when he was 23 years old and in that moment of loss she was forever changed.  She was left with a hole in her heart that no matter what will remain with her until she takes her last breath.  I want you to meet Crystal Presnell, a mom whose life was forever changed when she lost not only one but two sweet babies.  This is her story of loss, grief, and strength.

They say “life is what you make of it” and I am a firm believer in this, but sometimes no matter how hard you try life doesn’t turn out the way you would like for it to. When life throws you a curve ball you have no choice but to keep living. I have been told again and again that I am the strongest person ever and that people don’t know how I have remained sane. Well, I don’t always feel strong. I have my ups and downs, I have screaming fits, panic attacks and days that quite frankly I feel like giving someone a high five upside the head with a chair. I get so frustrated, I feel lost but I have to pull out of it and be a mom. You see I am a mommy to 3 beautiful angels. Sounds like a perfect life, doesn’t it? Well, I will tell you why it is so hard for me to be happy some days. I have 3 angels, but I only have 1 here on earth with me. This is my story:                                                                                                                                                                                   In October of 1999 I found out I was expecting. I wasn’t married, just out of high school and thinking strongly of joining the military, but it did not matter. The day I saw that big “plus sign” I was beyond ecstatic. My (now) ex-husband proposed to me on Christmas night of ’99 . We wanted to bring our little bundle of joy into a stable home. We set our date for May 20th, just 4 days before my birthday. The days and weeks went by and I started getting a little tummy and I could feel movement. I loved when I could see a little foot impression moving across my tummy. Everything was perfect. We bought a little home that would be perfect for our little family. Everything was coming together perfectly and we were so excited. The nursery was beautifully decorated and ready for the new arrival. I was scheduled for a sonogram at 6 months to find out the sex of the baby. I was really nervous I have to admit, after all this was all new to me. As I lay there the doctor placed the “magic wand” on my tummy and began to look at the monitor. He then looked at me and said “this baby is going to die” point blank that is how he said it. I began to cry, he then looked at me and said “if it doesn’t die it WILL be retarded” I then went from crying to screaming for him to please just shut up. The rest of that visit is a complete blur to me. I remember my mom helping me walk to the car and trying to calm me down but I was heart broke. Then I remembered miracles can happen and I could not or would not believe my baby would die. We didn’t find out the sex that day because the baby wouldn’t turn for us to see. I had every hope that the doctor was wrong and that everything would be ok. On May 20th we said our “I do’s”, I turned 19 on May 24th and on the night of May 28th a month before my due date I went into labor. We go to the hospital and after a very hard delivery of a breech baby with hydrocephalus I finally delivered a 4IB 2Oz baby boy that we named Hunter Allen. His heart was beating but his brain had never formed. His little heart continued to beat for 45 minutes before he flew away to Heaven. It would take forever to tell all of the details so I will leave it at that. I was completely crushed. I didn’t want to see or be around ANYONE!!! I went home to a house that felt completely empty. My mom had gone and took down the nursery because I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing it. I cried and screamed for months. I remember hyperventilating from screaming “I want my baby back” over and over every day for months. It just seemed so unfair and I was completely lost. The specialist I had seen told me this had happened at conception and there was only a 1 in 10 million chance that it would ever happen again. 2 ½ years went by and we decided to try again. Of course when I found out we were expecting again I was on edge; everyone was. I had a great pregnancy and the baby looked perfect at every visit. I went in to labor at almost 8 months and it couldn’t be stopped so my daughter was brought into the world on August 10, 2002 at 5IBS 7OZ and we named her Madison Cheyenne. She was very sick and had to be sent to a children’s hospital 4 hours away. The doctors in my home town said nothing more could be done for her just after one day. But amazingly she started to improve the day after she arrived at the children’s hospital and we got to bring her home in 2 weeks. This was the best day of my entire life. I finally had my sweet baby home with me. I am very happy to say that she is now a very happy, healthy, beautiful and sassy 10 year old. Life was finally starting to look up and the hurt from Hunters passing was becoming somewhat more bearable. My little Maddie was so perfect. She had the most beautiful tan complexion and jet black hair all over her tiny head. I could have eaten her up. When Maddie was 11 months old we found out we were expecting again. Once again we were so happy. We had wanted to have at least one more and now we were having just that. I was very nervous but since Maddie had been ok I remained positive. At 3 months into the pregnancy the doctor noticed I had lost a lot of weight since the month before. I had no morning sickness so it wasn’t from that and being “high risk” he decided it best to go for a sonogram. I will NEVER forget the look on the doctor’s face when he looked at the screen. He turned and looked at me with tears in his eyes and asked me what the complications with my first pregnancy had been. (This was a different, much friendlier doctor)  I burst into tears because I knew what he was getting at. He wanted me to see a specialist in another town so off I went. I spent 8 ½ hours having sonograms and I have no clue how many doctors came in to have a look. They then talked amongst themselves and came back to tell me I should terminate the pregnancy. My answer to that was NO! I would give this child every chance at life that I possibly could. Those were the most miserable months of my entire life. I couldn’t eat or sleep.  I itched so bad from my nerves that my legs were a bloody mess from scratching so much. It was a living nightmare but I had to stay strong for Maddie and for the most part did as good as could be expected.  I was almost 9 months when I woke up in labor. I didn’t want to go to the hospital but had no choice in the matter. By the time I got to the hospital I had half way delivered a breech baby. The doctors tried everything possible to finish but nothing would work. I started slipping away so they rushed me to the OR and put me under. My body had endured so much pain that I went into shock and my heart kept stopping. Thankfully they brought me back each time. Finally after 35 minutes they finished delivering her. The baby I had carried for nearly 9 months had lost the battle during birth. I had no clue until I woke up in recovery that I had gave birth to a 4IB 7Oz baby girl that we named Maria Lynn and that she had already earned her angel wings during birth. I held her for hours and hours. We laid her to rest 3 days later at the same cemetery where my little Hunter and my daddy were laid to rest. I could walk to the graveyard in 2 minutes literally and did so every day. Madison was very young when Maria was born and not even born yet when Hunter was born but she tells everyone about her big brother and little sissy.When we visit their graves (we have since moved) we both sit and talk to them and have a good cry. We still visit them very often and always will.  It breaks my heart for Maddie because she wants a sibling so bad but I am seriously too scared of what might happen. She hates being an only child so I go above and beyond to make sure she never feels left out. Life has dealt me some major lemons but I still have a smile on my face. People ask me how I stay sane and my answer to them is “it could have been worse”. I follow these sick baby’s/children on FB and I cannot imagine what those parents deal with every day. Not knowing from one minute to the next if your child will live to see tomorrow. Those people are my definition of a true hero. I miss my baby’s more than anything but I don’t question “why me” because I know God doesn’t make mistakes. I am beyond blessed with my daughter, so I try to keep a smile on my face and be thankful for what I do have. Also, I know the day will come that I will see those precious baby’s again and they are being taking care of by the best babysitter there is, and they are in perfect health. I still have many moments that I cry for them and that will never change. Hunter will be having a birthday this month. I cannot believe my baby will become a teenager this year.  Some days seem like all of this took place just yesterday and other days seem like it has been forever since I held them sweet baby’s in my arms last. My favorite quote of all time is “Take all the time you need to heal emotionally. Moving on doesn’t take a day, it takes a lot of little steps to be able to break free of your broken self”. These words are so powerful to me because they are so true. Lord knows I have taken many, many, many steps to get where I am today and it has been far from easy. For those of you that feel like you just can’t go on trust me when I say “yes you can”! At the age of 31 I have been through more than a lot of people in their 60’s and 70’s but I am still here to tell about it so that is a huge blessing in itself.


2 thoughts on “A Mother’s Loss, Heaven’s Gain

  1. I am so deeply sorry for your losses. Although my situation was different than yours, I had to say goodbye to my firstborn son when he turned 11 months old. I had just turned 22. Shortly after that, my husband (who I thought was the love of my life at that point) filed for divorce. It’s many years later and I’ve been blessed with 2 step-kids and an amazing 14 year old. Motherhood has been the best experience of my life and I take comfort in knowing exactly where my first baby boy is. God bless you for your courage and strength!!

  2. Crystal, I never knew the whole story about your baby’s, only knew that you had lost two. So sorry for all the hurt you have had to go thru at such a young age. No wonder you worship your daughter and are so proud of her, and spoiling her to death, just kidding can’t blame you. If I had went thru what you have I would be doing the same thing. As you may know I had my first child between 6 to 6 1/2 months premie and I know the worry I went through, I just can’t grasp the pain that you went through. I’m glad you shared your story, it was heartwarming yet so sad to read but maybe this is what you needed to do to be able to reach the next chapter of your life, whatever it may be. I know you will make the best of it, someone as strong as you are can do anything you set your head to. LOVE YOU CRYSTAL AND SO PROUD TO CALL YOU MY GREAT NIECE. May life give nothing but Roses. You look so happy in this pic, hoping that is what your life will always be.

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