Exceptional care prompts family to give back to Memorial Family Care Birthing Center

Even after suffering the heartbreaking loss of their second child, a local family touched by the exceptional care received at Memorial’s Family Care Birthing Center (FCBC) in Shiloh wanted to give back to honor their late daughter in hopes of impacting others.

Kelsey and Kyle Mueller of Nashville, along with daughter Halle, visited the Family Care Birthing Center last December to present a $10,000 check to the Special Care Nursery (SCN) in honor of their late daughter, Harper.

During the third trimester, Mueller was unexpectedly diagnosed with oligohydramnios requiring close monitoring for the duration of her pregnancy. Oligohydramnios is when the amniotic fluid volume (AFV) is less than the minimum expected for the gestational age.

“In most situations, heading to the hospital to deliver your new bundle of joy is full of excitement and joy,” she said. “We were definitely excited to deliver our second baby, but we were also full of fear and anxiety as this was not the ‘normal’ pregnancy we had with our first.”

Due to the complications during her pregnancy, the Mueller family was directed to Memorial’s FCBC Friday, August 12, 2022. After almost 48 hours of labor, she delivered baby Harper and said the delivery staff was amazing to her whole family.

“The entire staff at Memorial explained everything to my husband and I, including how the delivery process would go since our little one would need extra care and support in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit),” Mueller said. “Our daughter spent four days in the NICU before being life-flighted to Children’s Hospital due to becoming critically ill, which ultimately took her life on August 18, 2022.”

Kelly Harre, assistant nurse manager in the SCN, worked with the Mueller’s during their stay at the FCBC and said she feels privileged to have been part of their care team.

“Kelsey and Kyle went through such a tragic loss, and I wanted to do whatever I could to help and support them during this time,” Harre said. “Even with the loss of their beautiful baby girl Harper, Kelsey still took the time to text me and thank the staff for everything we had done for them at Memorial Hospital.”

Harre said the Mueller’s were able to add a positive light to the situation in many ways.

“Even with the level of sadness this brought to the Muellers and the NICU, we got to see the beautiful love and bond that the Mueller family made during their four days on our unit,” Harre said. “It brought us all together to show kindness and compassion to the Mueller family and ourselves as we all mourned the loss of baby Harper.”

Mueller said her family is grateful to a number of people at Memorial and expressed wanting to thank her care team, doctors and the entire NICU staff. She said her family’s motivation for donating came from the incredible quality of care her family received during such a tragic loss.

“We couldn’t be more thankful for the NICU staff and the wonderful care they provided to our daughter during her stay,” Mueller said. “We decided to donate to the FCBC because our daughter received exceptional care in the NICU, and we want her to forever be remembered there. We hope this donation will help the lives of other sweet babies requiring the extra care in the NICU.”

Working in the healthcare field, Mueller said she knows how difficult it can be to receive new equipment or recognition, and her family wanted the FCBC to know how much their care impacted their lives. The donation is a combination of money donated by family, friends and community members as a memorial for Harper.

“We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from everyone and knew we had to give back,” she said. “We would like the money to go to the NICU for whatever they need – whether it be toward new equipment, rockers or a library for new parents to read to their babies. We will be happy just knowing it was put to good use in our daughter’s honor.”

Dr. Shawn O’Connor, chief of pediatrics and neonatology medical director at Memorial, cared for the Muellers during their stay in the SCN. O’Connor said he gets emotional any time a family suffers this kind of loss.

“Being present for the birth of a child is a moment in one’s life that is usually shared with only the closest of family and friends,” he said. “As Neonatologists, we are honored to witness this miracle of birth every single day, and we dedicate our lives to healing newborns. Through this pain of losing their child, the Mueller’s took their tragic experience and chose to donate back to the NICU. I am amazed at their selflessness and resilience.”

O’Connor said he is grateful to the Muellers for choosing to partner with Memorial in future care of sick newborns in honor of their daughter.

Mueller said members of the FCBC care team still continue to reach out to her family to this day to check in on them.

“The continued outreach, love and support of Dr. O’Connor, Kelly Harre and our family and friends has definitely helped us cope through this difficult process,” she said. “We find comfort in knowing our sweet girl is in a much better place, and all she knows is how much myself, her father, big sister, family and medical staff loved and cared for her. Our sweet Harper will forever be our little guardian angel.”

Mueller wants to let anyone experiencing child loss or grief that they are not alone.

“The loss of a child is and never will be easy,” she said. “Reach out to your family, friends, community, support groups and medical staff. They are all there to help you through this difficult time. We may never know why things happen, but God always has a plan.”