Proceeds from the Inaugural Phoebe’s Flight 5k will be donated to Sutter Roseville Medical Center’s Pastoral Services Fund to be utilized for a variety of programs honoring the memory of children that pass away there. This includes a remembrance garden, support groups, and other resources for grieving families.
Phoebe’s Flight was created to raise funds to aid programs and hospitals that offer support to parents of “Angel Babies”. The run was organized by people who have been touched by this tragic experience, and who want to show that from giving comes strength. This year’s recipient is Sutter Roseville. We aim to create a sacred and reflective place for those children who don’t get to go home; and for those parents who must continue on and try to make sense of it all.
Like every couple expecting a child, we were so excited. We had always loved the name Phoebe for a girl, and we knew we wanted to name our child Phoebe even before we were married. Catcher in the Rye is our favorite book, and Phoebe is Holden’s sister…she’s the only person in the world whom he considers perfect and beautiful. We love the scene where he sits on a bench at the zoo, watches her ride the carousel, and thinks about her youth and innocence. When we found out that our baby was a girl, we felt like we had the perfect life. We had so much fun decorating her nursery with birds since the Phoebe is also an adorable type of bird. We dreamed of how our son Connor would play with her and how she would look up to him. How she’d dance with me on her wedding day and get her nails done with my wife when she was older. She was the missing piece in our existence, and we were so excited to welcome her home.
On August 11th, 2015, we went to our doctor for a routine check-up. She was five days past due. My wife, Stacy, hadn’t felt her move much the day before, but knowing she was a big baby and that movement slows down the less space a baby has in the womb, Stacy wasn’t too alarmed. The moments before the doctor walked into our room were as lighthearted and fun as every appointment. We were even joking about how stubborn she was being in coming out and speculating when we would be induced.
The doctor came in the room, and we joked around a bit. Stacy reclined on the bed, and the doctor took out his monitor. He lowered it to Stacy’s stomach and heard nothing. Stacy started to panic right away and reached for my hand. Phoebe always had a very strong heartbeat that we could hear immediately. I assured her that everything was fine and so did the doctor. He moved it around for what felt like an eternity and then finally got a heartbeat. Everyone in the room breathed loudly with relief and smiled. The doctor then glanced at Stacy’s vitals that had been taken by the nurse and said, “I just want to make sure that that was the baby’s heartbeat and not yours.” Again, the heartbeat was hard to find, but when he found it, he counted, looked at the chart, and then asked us to go to an ultrasound room across the hall.
Stacy already started to cry, and my breath became very shallow. The doctor lowered the wand to her stomach and looked on the screen. We saw the heart and it wasn’t moving. He looked at us with a slight tear in his eye and simply said, “I’m so sorry but your baby has died.” “What does that mean?” I said confused. He replied, “Your baby has no heartbeat; your baby has passed away. I’m sorry.” Stacy jumped off the table and hugged me; then she ran to her mother who was waiting in the other room. My vision went white and I ran to the bathroom to throw up. I returned to the room to see everyone crying. The doctor hugged me, but I was too angry to accept it, and I punched the paper towel dispenser.
After giving us some time, the doctor prepared us for what we had to do next— deliver my stillborn daughter. A c-section was offered up as an option, but my wife said she’d rather deliver her naturally, which impressed me so much at the toughness she displayed. We made an appointment to come back. We went home, told loved ones who fell into our arms crying, and picked up our son Connor from school. We didn’t tell him what was going on at that moment so we could cling to his ignorant and innocent happiness before we went back.
That evening we checked into the hospital at Sutter Roseville. A picture of a fallen leaf floating on water was placed on our door to let staff members know what had happened to us. My wife’s induction started and she fell asleep. Her mother stayed with her that night, and I went home so I could lie next to my son while he slept. I stayed up most of the night quietly sobbing as I looked at his face on his pillow and imagined what she would’ve looked like at his age…something I still do at times.
The next morning, on August 12th, 2015, I dropped my son off at school and went to the hospital. My wife began to feel labor pains and started to push. The whole time we were hoping it was a mistake and we would hear a crying baby when she came out. At 11:51 AM, my daughter Phoebe was born, but there were no cries. She was beautiful and perfect. 9 lbs, 2 ounces, and 19.5 inches long. My wife and I cried when we saw our daughter for the first time, knowing that soon we’d also be seeing her for the last time. I remember looking at her body, every inch of it, trying to remember every chubby fold, precious toe, curly hair, because I knew I was never going to see them again after we left the hospital. It was the ending of the worst 24 hours of my entire life.
We found out that Phoebe died of a fetal-maternal hemorrhage. That’s when the baby’s blood rushes into the mother’s. We were told that this happens in about 1 out of every 5,000 pregnancies…usually when there is a trauma, such as a car accident. It can also happen completely at random, spontaneously and for no reason, like what happened to us, but the odds of that happening are so small that there is no research on it. The only solace we have is knowing that when it happened, it happened very quickly, nothing could have been done to prevent it or fix it, and Phoebe didn’t suffer. A friend of mine said, “We all wish we could die peacefully in our sleep, and Phoebe not only got to die that way, but also in the embrace of her mother in the most perfect environment for nurturing on earth.”
We had Phoebe cremated and held a small service for her at the church that we now attend every Sunday. The days and weeks that followed were dark and blurry. People called, flowers came, condolences were given. All of them were appreciated, but I can’t remember details about any of it now. We felt like shells of what we once were…unable to smile or laugh or eat or move. Our son was the only motivation we had to put one foot in front of the other.
A few months later, when we could handle it, we told Connor what happened to his sister. He was only three at the time, so we weren’t sure how much he understood. We took him into her room, sat on the floor, and told him that his baby sister Phoebe was no longer coming to live with us, but she would always be with us, watching from the sky. Our son’s eyes filled with tears and he let us know that he did, indeed, understand.
Since her passing, the outpouring of support has been incredible. Stacy and I decided that endlessly sobbing or raging at our misfortune is not how Phoebe would want us to live. We decided to turn out post-traumatic stress into post-traumatic growth and use this experience to become better people. We honor Phoebe every day and think about her every time we hear or see a Phoebe bird. We are grateful for our son Connor and our new son, Theo. We especially love our listeners for helping us in all the ways they have. That’s why, with the money raised by them, we purchased a bench in her honor…at the Sacramento Zoo…overlooking the carousel…like in Catcher in the Rye . Now, anyone can sit and watch children play and think about how innocent and youthful they are in memory of Phoebe.
Thank you for reading our story.
The Ferguson family
Frequently Asked Questions
Our Phoebe was born at Sutter Roseville and we aim to create a place for those children who also don’t get to go home with their parents a sacred space to ease their pain and honor their memory.”
–Gavin from the Wake Up Call
7:30AM – Event Kick Off and Introduction
8AM – 8:15AM – Kid’s Fun Run
8:20AM-9:20AM – Adult 5K
9:30-10AM – End of Race Festivities
Adult 5K – $25 and it comes with a complimentary shirt. Sizes S-XL while supplies last.
For the Adult 5K you may register online through Sacramento Perks at: http://www.getmyperks.com/deal/sacramento/phoebes-flight-5k
For the Kids Fun Run, you may register online through Sacramento Perks at: http://www.getmyperks.com/deal/sacramento/phoebes-flight-5k-1
Or during Walk Up Registration on November 19th (day of event) at Olympus Pointe Sculpture Park from 6:30AM-8:00AM
YOU MUST PICK UP YOUR REGISTRATION PACKET IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN PHOEBE’S FLIGHT 5K.
ALL ADULT REGISTRANTS MUST PICK-UP THEIR OWN REGISTRATION PACKET
Pets are allowed at the park but not during the race.