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  • Elyssa

Our Story - Sadler Ray Cottrell

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Sadler Ray Cottrell, born still January 23, 2023. Our lives were forever changed the moment you were delivered into the arms of angels. From the day I saw the two faint lines on a pregnancy test to the night we found out you no longer had a heartbeat, I loved you with every ounce of me. And I will forever love you until I can hold you in my arms again for an eternity.

Life after loss is something I wish as humans on earth, we never had to experience. If you are here today reading this because you too have experienced great loss in your life, I am sorry you are on this journey. I just want you to know you are not alone. I hope you can read our story in a way that gives you utter peace in knowing that we will see the light again. Even if you are still walking the path to get there. Because I am too. And that is why I feel so led to share my story with the world. So join me as we walk together.


Saturday morning, as I lay in bed feeling Sadler move, I had no desire to get up. I had an anterior placenta, so feeling Sadler move was rare. In the last few weeks, I had just started to really feel him more as he was getting bigger. My husband Turner came into our bedroom after being up for a little bit and jokingly said, "Are you ever going to get up?" I said, "I don't want to Sadler is moving like crazy." I laid there for a few more minutes until he slowed back down, and I decided to get up for the day. My goal for the day was to clean out the kitchen cabinets and take the bottles out of the boxes. I knew I needed a dedicated space for Sadler's bottles. I had my baby shower the weekend before so there was a lot of unboxing and organizing to get done. We also were having friends over for dinner that night, and I had to make sure the nursery was ready to be shown off. I got to work and felt tired a few hours into the day. I laid down for a nap after getting the bottles put up. When I laid down, I didn't pay much attention to Sadler's movements before dosing off and I woke up in a hurry knowing I needed to go to town to get stuff for our dinner that night and start cooking. So again, I didn't pay attention to his movement. Turner and I drove to town and on the drive I got car sick. I could not figure out why I was sick, but thought maybe I might need some food. After getting some groceries, we went through Taco Bell and I ate which made me feel a little better. When we got home, I went straight to work preparing dinner, setting the table and getting ready.

Our friends finally arrived and dinner was almost ready. While waiting I showed them the nursery and Sadler's little outfits that I imagined him in. I told them to smell the clothes because I had just washed them in Dreft and it was the sweetest smell. We talked about Sadler crawling on my whiteish rug, tearing the books off the bookshelf, and then my friend asked "Can I feel him move?" I told her "Yes, when he starts moving I will tell you so you can feel my belly." I didn't realize at that moment, that I really hadn't felt him move since I was laying in bed.

We ate dinner, talked, and ended up roasting marshmallows. so, we stayed busy and I yet again, didn't pay much attention to Sadler's movements. After roasting marshmallows we came back inside and sat down and continued talking. When I was sitting there it hit me that I hadn't really felt him move. I tried not to worry as we had friends over and I was busy so I told myself "I will lay down after they leave and I know I will feel him." Our friends left and I laid down on the couch for a few minutes to see if I could feel Sadler move. I felt nothing. It was late, so we decided to just go to bed and I told myself to stop overthinking this. Naturally, I couldn't fall asleep. An hour had passed since our friends left, and I still felt no movement from Sadler. Turner was fast asleep, the house was dark and quiet and I was laying in bed poking my stomach trying to get Sadler to move. I started praying with everything in me, asking God to PLEASE let this baby move. I got nothing. I then turned to Google to see if I could find ways to get the baby to move. Poke your belly, turn over on your side, drink something sweet, drink caffeine, eat some chocolate, do jumping jacks, etc. etc. I decided to get up and go to the kitchen and eat a couple of chocolate chip cookies our friends had left. I went back to bed, and laid there. Nothing. I kept poking, turning and got nothing. It was about midnight at this point and I knew something was definitely wrong. I called the hospital and asked them what to do and they said to drink some orange juice. If you don't feel the baby move after 30 minutes come in. We had no orange juice at the house, so I found some Vitamin Water, adn thought "I will try this." Nothing. Still no movement. So, I woke Turner up and told him we need to go to the hospital. We threw on some clothes, and didn't pack a bag because I knew we would be coming back home. Sadler was being stubborn and I doubt this would be anything at all.

We passed a gas station on the way to the hospital and Turner got me some orange juice. I laughed and said, "You watch, he will start moving after this and we can just turn around and go back home." The entire drive to the hospital we discussed him possibly being taken tonight via emergency c section, or I might have to go on bed rest, or maybe the cord is around his neck. We never once thought Sadler wouldn't have a heartbeat anymore. We actually were kind of excited at the thought of them taking him tonight so we could meet him.

But, I knew the second we got to the hospital this wasn't going to be good. After an hour drive and drinking the entire bottle of orange juice Sadler still hadn't moved.

We get to the room, and the nurse tells me to get undressed and that she will put the monitor on me.

So, I did just that. I had a hospital gown on, and we sat and waited for her to come back. The room was ICE cold, and dark. And, nobody knew we were at the hospital. I didn't want to wake our family up since it was the middle of the night and I just thought there really is probably nothing wrong.

The nurse came back in and put the monitor on me, and I heard a heartbeat but it was kind of slow and not very loud. She kept moving it around over and over and said "I can't tell if this is your heartbeat or his." I told her "Well, Wednesday at the doctor his was 138." I saw on the screen, the heartbeat showing was 117. She put the finger monitor on me, and both were showing 117. I knew they were both mine. My heartbeat was 117. Not Sadlers. The nurse said "I am going to get you an ultrasound" and she left the room. 20 minutes went by and Turner and I said nothing to each other. I just watched the heartbeat stay the same.

The ultrasound tech came in with a mobile cart and began to scan my belly. Her screen was faced towards her and when I looked at her face she looked concered. I said "He was breech Wednesday" just to try and make conversation. She said "He is head down" I didn't say anything. Just thought that was odd. She said "I will be right back" And left, came back in a few minutes later and started scanning again. She then cleaned my belly off, and said "Take care."

About 30 -40 minutes went by, and the doctor and nurse came in. I knew immediately what they were about to tell me. The doctor sat in the chair and said "I am so sorry, but your baby no longer has a heartbeat."

Numb. That is how it felt. Numb. I turned to look at Turner and it was like slow motion watching him put his head into the palms of his hands and look down. I looked at the nurse behind the doctor as she was wiping tears from her face. And the doctor sat with her hand on my leg shaking her head.

I felt at that point I was no longer in the same body. It was truly an out of body experience. I watched myself go through this.

I looked at the doctor and said "I don't understand I was just at the doctor's Wednesday. I then started crying hysterically and I could barely get the words out. The doctor asked me "is there anything you need to tell me." Tell you? What did I possibly do to tell you why this was happening? I said "NO? I didn't do anything. I've never even had a drink. a sip of caffeine, I didn't eat lunch meat, everything was fine Wednesday."

I asked, "what happens now?" And they began to tell me we can let you go home, pack and come back, wait for your doctor, we can start your IV and start inducing you, etc. etc. It hit me right then, I needed to tell my mom. So, I asked them to let us call our parents and we will let you know. They left the room, and I turned back to look at Turner and he had tears rolling down his cheeks as he stared into blank space. I said "I can't call mom, I need you to call her. But I don't want to go home I just want to start this process."

"LaRissa, Elyssa didn't feel the baby move and we came to the hospital and he has no heartbeat," Turner said to my mom as he was crying barely able to speak the words. I know him calling my mom and his mom took every ounce of strength that man had. To speak the words. To say out loud, the baby has no heartbeat. I don't know how Turner was able to do that, but I know now it was the strength of our God.

It seemed like an eternity before our parents got there, but eventually, I saw a crack in the door, and the first face I saw was my mom. As I write this with tears in my eyes, my heart aches for the ones who have to face battles alone. In that moment, I was immediately comforted with hugs and love from my mom, dad, and Turner's parents. We weren't alone, and we were all about to face the unimaginable together.

I lay in bed and watched as my Dad and Turner's Dad were crying leaning up aginst the wall. My mom was next to me and turners mom was hugging him.

I could tell both our parents had cried the entire way to the hospital.

The nurse came in and asked what we wanted to do and I said "I dont want to leave, I just want you to start the process."

I was given an IV and wheeled to another room, where I would be for the next 42 hours.

We were immediately hit with questions about his name, what we wanted to do with him, do I want an autopsy, do I want him cremated, do I want him imbombed, do I want a funeral, do I want a casket etc. etc.

I had NO IDEA anything other than his name. How was I supposed to tell you what I wanted to do with my baby when I just found out 2 hours ago he wasn't alive anymore? The days and nights in that room were LONG. I lay in bed and watched everyone around me crying nonstop. As I lay there with a sunken belly and a baby who was no longer alive inside of me. Waiting until I was dilated enough to push him out.

At 11:14 pm. on January 23, 2023 Sadler Ray Cottrell was born. 4 lbs. and 3 oz. and 18 inches long. The silence in the room was deafening, not a single cry was heard.

I held my baby with tears and joy and smiled as I had never felt more proud of something in my life. I grew that. I grew that beautiful baby boy, and he looked perfect. He had curly hair like his daddy, and his hands were identical to his daddy too. He was Turner made over, and I never knew a love like that existed.

I stared at Sadler, and I wanted to shake him awake. I wanted so badly for him to look at me with the same love I was looking at him with. But, as I picked his little hand up and sat it back down, it fell on the sheet as there was no life left in Sadler. He was gone, and there was nothing anyone could do to get him back.

We buried our angel in a casket made by his Grandpa John, and on a family farm. I know we will be reunited again and I must make the best of life here on earth until that day comes.

Death is such an odd thing to me. In life, when something breaks, we fix it. When a toy dies, you replace the battery. We bring it back to life. But, when humans and animals die, they're gone. There is no bringing them back. Can you imagine a world where we would live forever? Sometimes I think that sounds nice, but I don't want to live on Earth forever. A place full of sin and heartache is not where I want to be forever. I want to live in heaven for eternity one day, where I can hold Sadler, and hug my mamaw. That is why I keep pushing forward. I have faced the unimaginable and pushed out a baby who I knew wasn't going to be alive anymore. And, I still have a life to face, a life I know will have more heartache and pain. But I can't stop moving forward because at the end of this life, I hope to have lived it in the most full way possible. I hope to shed light on others, and share the goodness of God, and I hope that I can leave just a little happiness behind. Sadler did that, so I want to also. Sadler is my Ray of sunshine today, tomorrow, and forever. When the sun shines brightly, I will look up. And when the suns not shining, I will look for the rainbow.










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