Maura’s Story


After trying for 2 years, Ryan and I found out we were infertile in June 2010.  After tons of tests and getting several opinions we decided IVF was our best option.

January 2012 we did our first round of IVF and found out we were pregnant on February 15. We couldn’t believe it! It actually worked the first time!

Like most women, I suffered from morning sickness and exhaustion. That was a fun little treat. At about 11 weeks we had a scare.  I immediately left work for the day and headed to the ER. After a long exam and lots of waiting we had a sonogram that showed a nice strong heartbeat. Thanks be to God! Ryan and I both cried from relief. Turns out I had a subchorionic hematoma. I was put on bed rest for a few days then told to take it easy.

After that little scare everything went pretty smoothly with the pregnancy. All appointments were great, she was perfect!

June 3rd we found out that we were having a baby girl. My Mom and I had gone to my normal OB visit on May 16th and little Miss was being stubborn that day so we couldn’t tell her gender. We went to Before the Stork 4D on June 1st and she cooperated. We had the technician put the results in an envelope for a gender reveal party which was scheduled for June 3rd. With family and friends we cut in to a beautiful cake and found out that we had a baby girl on the way. Simply amazing!

Let the dress shopping begin!

I spent the next few months buying cute little dresses, decorating her nursery and planning her entire life.

On August 28th I was a little nervous that my kick count was down for the past two nights. So we went into the Labor and Delivery for a checkup; everything was fine. They ran the stress test and during the stress test Maura kicked so hard it knocked the monitor right off my stomach. We were incredibly relieved. The next day was our scheduled OB visit and same as the night before, ultrasound and heartbeat were excellent.

September 18th Ryan and I attended a parenting class at Kaiser in Irvine and packed my bag and baby’s bag for the hospital. Her due date was fast approaching.

September 19th was a normal day. Ryan was off work and we spent the morning prepping for Maura Lynn’s arrival. Ryan was putting together her cradle for our room and I was washing her sheets and clothes. Right before we left the house for our regular appointment, I threw a load of her onsies in the wash.

Little did I know I’d never get the chance to finish her laundry.

I knew something was wrong when the look on my doctors face turned serious with a hint of panic. He told us he couldn’t find a heartbeat. He tried for several minutes, the panic increasing with every passing second.

She was gone. Our daughter was gone.

They left us alone in the room as we wailed in disbelief.

We drove from the doctors office in San Juan Capistrano to the hospital in Irvine. The longest, most horrific drive of my life.

I immediately called my mother at work. I simply told her “you need to get to the hospital now.”

Less than 5 minutes later my sister Kerry called Ryan to ask what was going on. He told her there was no heartbeat and that she should come down now.  Minutes after that my Father called and I told him the same.  The terrible news spread like wild fire.

The rest of the day is a blur. Family showed up at the hospital to be with us, phone calls were made to all the women who were to attend my shower that Sunday, a priest came to bless us and many tears were shed.

I was induced around 3 that afternoon.

At 6:45 the morning of September 20, 2012 Maura Lynn Shafer silently entered this world. The only sounds in the room were the sobs from her Mother, Father and Granny Lene.

Once she was here Daddy and Granny ran over to see her, convinced the doctors were wrong. But she was gone. Our sweet little girl lay silently in the nurses arms.

She was beautiful and perfect!

Regrettably, I don’t remember the first time I held her. My mind was clouded from morphine at this point. I was unable to get an epidural because of a possible allergy so all they could give me was morphine for the delivery. Morphine didn’t do much for the pain but it helped block out some of the trauma. Unfortunately, now I can’t remember the first time I held my daughter.

October 30 we had a date set to have Maura’s newborn pictures taken with Richelle Dante, an amazing photographer in Orange County. My sister Kerry called her to cancel the appointment. This was the first call like this Richelle had ever received. She offered to come to the hospital and take Maura’s photos for us. Because of this we have some of the most beautiful photos of Maura and our family. In these photos you feel every ounce of pain and every ounce of love:

I thank God I have these photos. That day went by so quickly and was such an emotional blur that I struggle to remember most parts of it. I often find myself going back to look at the pictures to remember the greatest day of my life. The only day I ever got to see my daughter.


At 8:30 that night Ryan and I said our final goodbyes to Maura. The most difficult thing I ever had to do was hand my daughter off to nurse Kelly knowing I would never see her again. I wanted to die. I simply wanted to die.

The next morning I awoke with no baby in my belly and no baby in arms. It was the first day without my child. I couldn’t see the point in going on.

At some point an Irish priest mistakenly came into my room. He blessed me and was so kind and comforting. The woman with him sat on my bed and told me she had lost her son many years before.

They finally discharged me around noon. As they wheeled me through the hospital panic started setting in. I was leaving the hospital without my baby. I was leaving her behind with strangers who would not, could not love her and care for her like I could.

I walked in with a baby and walked out with a broken and battered soul.

We don’t know why Maura left us. Her autopsy results showed she was perfectly healthy and all my test results came back clear. Not knowing can almost drive you insane. I am always trying to figure out what I did that caused her to die. I can be in the middle of doing the dishes and I’ll holler out “it was the cookie dough! I took a bite of cookie dough while baking,” or something else that could have done it. My doctor assures me it was nothing I did but that does not help ease my mind. If I didn’t do anything wrong then why is she dead?

The following week all the women in my family and the “Wrecking Crew” rallied together and planned my daughters funeral leaving little for Ryan and I to do. If it were left to us, I don’t know that anything would have been done.

I remember thinking what a cruel joke it was, I went from planning her baptism to planning her funeral. My mother and sisters went from planning her shower to planning her funeral.

When we met with the Pastor of the church a few days before the funeral, he showed us around as we had never been to this particular church before. As we walked down the aisle I was overcome with grief when I realized Ryan would never get to walk his daughter down an aisle and give her away.

My cousin Mary wrote a song for Maura, “Maura’s Song.”  I’ve only heard it twice; the first time in my living room just two days after saying goodbye to my sweet girl and the second time at her funeral. It’s a beautiful song and devastatingly sad. I can’t bring myself to listen to it again but one day I hope to have the strength to hear this beautiful song written for my child.

It’s been six months today since I said hello and goodbye to my baby girl and it has not gotten any easier. The pain and anguish isn’t as raw as it was in the beginning but it’s still there every moment of every day. If one could die from a broken heart I’d already be dead.

Some days I consider it a success to just get out of bed each day. I don’t function at the same capacity I once did and I’m definitely not the same person. You’ll often hear fathers of loss say their wife died right along with their child. It’s true. Every woman I’ve met through our common bond is a completely different person than she was before her child died. How could one not be?

Writing Maura’s story was very difficult to do. My husband Ryan wrote the first part for me to get me started. He has been my rock and I thank God every day for him. He is a wonderful husband and an amazing Father.

People often ask us where we got the name Maura Lynn. We wanted something classic, Irish and beautiful so we picked Maura, a variant of Mary. We named her Lynn after my best friend Kadra Lynn.

Since losing Maura we’ve learned that her name actually means sorrow. Sorrow now defines my life.

My heart is broken, my heart is full. Maura Lynn completed my life.

Ryan and Kelly Shafer



  1. Lyndsey, Harper

    Kelly, I am reading her story and crying. Thank you so much for sharing her story and for sharing Maura Lynn with the world. Your daughter is an amazing angel and you and Ryan make her proud every minute of every day. I hope you both know that with your strength you have helped not only myself but others to find their strength. I love you both and I am so happy that our girls are not alone, they have made it to where we are also not alone. I think it was you that said, we are both members of a members only club that never wanted to become members of. Thank you agan for sharing.

  2. Christine (Ligaya's mommy)

    Thank you for sharing Maura’s story with all of us. Love you all so much and I’m so proud of you xoxo

  3. Kris Rea

    It’s been almost 19 years for me and my new normal took place on June 18 the day she was born and they brought her back but when I woke up from my emergency c section I learned she had been with out oxygen around 45 minutes so I knew things weren’t going to turn out good then I learned I also had a hyst so I was never going to have any more children she was in NICU all kinds of tubes drugs to make her not have seizures we hd her baptisted while she was in the hospital she was on breathing tubes and one day the doctor sat us down and told us she was brain dead and we needed to make some decisions meaning turn the breathing machine off so June 27 1994 we went to a different room in the hospital and we let family members say good by and then my husband and I took turns holding her and praying to God please let her live and after about an hour her breathing was getting shallow then we prayed please God take care of our special angel and at 2:00 in. The afternoon Kimber Lynn Rea left us here we were people telling us we had a funeral to plan we were in shock a funeral no that only happens to old people or in the movies lucky my dad took care of most of it but the next day we went to the funeral home and had to pick out a coffin

    My oldest child was starting special Ed that fall at 3 years old and will need special Ed for the rest of his life I couldn’t have any more children I wanted to die why did I live and not her I asked God that a lot I also told him how angry I was at him

    2 years later we took a trip to Vietnam and brought back a baby girl we named Kendal she will never take the place of Kimber and I will never forget Kimber couldn’t even if I tried and 8 years after Kendal came we adopted another baby and he is now almost nine

    I don’t like to celebrate Mother’s Day because one of my children is missing and every June when that date comes I usually have a break down but that’s ok (

    (All of this was from a doctors terrible mistake she killed our baby and the sad thing is she still delivers and works at the same hospital )

  4. Kadra

    So beautifully written Kelly and Ryan. I remember the day you called me to tell me you were probably going to go with Lynn for Maura’s middle name. That day you gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. A little princess named after me. I know I’m not her mommy and I will never miss her like you but I do miss Maura and all the special girl things I was going to get to do with her. All the cute little outfits I was going to buy and being the nice auntie who gets her an American Girl doll so that mommy & daddy could buy all the accessories.;) And the secrets that you don’t dare tell mom and dad but can tell auntie…about first kisses and first loves. I never told you at the time but thank you both for naming your little angel after me.


  5. Kelly RN, Maura and Kelly's Nurse

    As I read this story I am taken back to the day I cared for your whole family. I can see your face as I gave you matching bracelets, it was pure love! I remember bathing Maura and washing her cute little toes. As I held your child in my arms she left a footprint in my heart I am honored to see my named mentioned in your story. That day was one of the hardest days of your life but I remember telling you , ” Time doesn’t stop but it continues to move on and you will get through this. You don’t know how but you will” Here you are six months later and were able to tell everyone your story about your daughter. You are amazing parents who have found the strength to carry on and make a legacy for Maura. You have no idea the lives you have touch and the difference you have made in the community.

  6. Shannon

    I remember the day , I was told kelly was pregnant . I cryed with joy . In July we went to 4th of July party at Kate’s house . I was so excited to be with Kelly. Take pitures with my childhood friend who we both were in one anothers wedding. I was beyond excited. The following weeks went fast. My husband and I decided to move to Cincinnati Ohio. I just remember telling my husband I am going to miss the shower. We moved Aug 1. Kelly messaged me on facebook . About a few weeks after we got here. Saying the shower won’t be the same . But she was very happy and was excited for me. For mine and my familys new start. It was less then 20 days of me being in ohio

    • Shannon

      That my mom called me and told me. Maura was gone. I lost it. My knees buckled. I was so mad . I wasn’t able to get in my car and drive to kelly. I just wanted to hold her. Then I pulled my self together and booked my flight home. It is weird how Kelly has always been the strong one in our friendship or we cry together . But this time it was different I had to be strong for her . And not show her how bad this hurts me but to be there and show her that everything’s going to be okay or some ok. I know it will never be the same. Maura has helped me in so many way’s . She has taught me it is okay to grieve . To talk about a loss. I thank you sweet pea. I love you Kelly and Ryan. Maura Lynn Has a legacy continues to grow and touch so many people. Just like me.

  7. Payson's Mommy

    Thank you for sharing your story Kelly. With tears in my eyes and a broken heart for you and Ryan…and all the parents who’ve experienced what most people don’t ever experience in a lifetime- my heart is with you all. Your story will touch many and Miss. Maura must be so proud of her mommy and daddy!

  8. triciamercogliano

    I just wanted to say my condolences for your loss, I know the pain as well sadly. I recently lost my little girl at 20 weeks, she was born Stillborn due to a chromosomal abnormality called Turners Syndrome, each day is so hard to get through and raw, very raw. So many people do not know what to say or how to say it, in my case not too many people have said anything at all. Yesterday marked 5 weeks since she died and it still feels like yesterday. Just know you are in my thoughts ❤ xox

  9. positivagirl

    What a beautiful daughter you have in Maura, reading her story brought tears to my eyes. I know how it feels to lose your daughter at the end of pregnancy. I know that silence. My daughter Maya was was stillborn full term in 2010. I had no children at home, and I never will have again either. Her room was ready, the cot was up with the mobile….. and her clothes in the wardrobe.

    It has been 3 years now, and every day my daughter is in my heart., She is the wind in my hair, she is glow in my heart. And Maya is with me every day. My daughters due date was the date of her funeral. So, yes, I too understand the irony of the date too. I have written a lot on

    Sending you a hug x

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