Don’t Give Up Hope

Last week I was at my sister Emilie’s house, she opened up a file on her computer and slid her laptop over to me saying, “This is Alex’s essay for his English class. He said I could share it with you.”

A little while later Alex came home from school. I asked him if I could share his essay with all of you.

I share a lot of what goes on behind the Signing Time scenes and in our day-to-day lives, but as much as I wanted to share our loss over the past three years, it wasn’t mine to share.
Are you shocked… you don’t know everything? ๐Ÿ˜‰

So… since Alex gave his permission… today my Guest Blogger is my nephew, Alex Brown.
(Kei Malone grab a tissue. You have been warned!)

Don’t Give Up Hope
~Alex Brown

When I was four years old, I was on my way back to my house. I got out of my grandparents’ car. I ran as fast as my little legs would carry me. MY MOM HAD A BABY! I was so excited I managed to push all the midwives out of the way and smacked the doorframe at top speed. I got back up and ran. I didn’t care. I was a big brother! I came in and my new little brother, who still wouldn’t be named for weeks to come, was laying asleep on the same blanket that to this day is still his favorite blanket. I am not kidding, he was literally a square. He was short and fat. He was sleeping right next to my mom, who was almost sleeping.

Now when Zach (that’s what we named my little brother after a couple of weeks) was four years old, my parents tried having another baby. Everything was going well. The baby (which later turned out to be a she) was moving and was healthy. Then we got into the second trimester. Everything was going well. Then at her twenty week ultrasound, there was no heartbeat. Somewhere around sixteen weeks, its heart stopped beating. It was a tragedy. My whole family was crying for weeks. We couldn’t believe it. Two babies and nothing went wrong, now one died. The doctors could not find a solution. It was as if the baby just up and died. A couple of weeks later, we decided to get on with our lives. We had fun, but no one could stop thinking about the baby.

Two years went by. We still couldn’t stop thinking about the baby that died. Finally, my mom was pregnant again. We were all excited. Everything was fine. The heart was beating, it was healthy, and nothing was wrong. Finally, we made it into the second trimester. Again the heart was beating, it was healthy, and nothing was wrong. We passed sixteen weeks. We were all a little paranoid. My mom went for her eighteen week checkup and it happened again. Its heart had stopped beating. Again, no reason for it, it just up and died. We cried for a few months this time. The doctors could find no explanation. We had to get on with our lives for real this time.

Nine months later my mom surprised us all. She was pregnant again! Everyone was amazed. Then we all thought, “Third time’s a charm.”
We made it into the second trimester. Everything was the same. She was healthy, she was moving, and nothing seemed wrong. As my mom went in for her checkup, every one was holding their breath thinking “third time’s a charm. . . third time’s a charm. . . third time’s a charm. . .” She called. When she shared the news we all gasped, only this time in excitement. The baby was alive!

Everything was fine. The heart was beating, it was healthy, and soon my mom could feel her kicking. Lucy, my ten-year-old cousin with spina bifida, said “can I feel?” she wanted to feel her kick. Doubtingly, my mom put Lucy’s hand on her stomach. Almost at once, the baby donkey-kicked her hand! They both screamed, startled and excitedly at the same time.

Later my mom was diagnosed with gestational diabetes; a disease that women sometimes develop during pregnancy. She had to be careful of her blood sugar. We were in the third trimester. We could actually feel her kicking now, and not just soft taps, they were to the point where they were donkey-kicks every time!

I finally started seventh grade. I now have to get up at six thirty every morning just to make it to jazz band. On September twentieth, my mom was having contractions. She went to the hospital while I went to sleep. I got a call at 6:15 in the morning from my mom. We had a baby girl! The baby is now about two weeks old. She happens to be crying next to me right now as I finish this essay.

So, in the end, I learned never to give up hope. If we had, I wouldn’t have his adorable little sister. Also, I learned that sometimes things don’t go the way you planned, but they turn out right in the end. Last I learned that good things come in small packages. Wait, I smell something. WOAH! I guess not all small packages have good things. . . take this dirty diaper for example. Now excuse me while I grab some baby wipes.

This entry was posted in Crazy Little Thing Called Life and tagged , , , by Rachel Coleman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rachel Coleman

The opinions and late night musings published on this blog are Rachel de Azevedo Coleman's alone, and are not ever intended to represent the opinions and sentiments of any organization or product that Rachel is, was, or will be associated with. Rachel Coleman is the creator and Emmy-nominated host of Signing Time!, the children's American Sign Language vocabulary building series. She is also the creator and host of Baby Signing Time, Rachel & the TreeSchoolers, and Rachel & Me. Rachel now serves as the Executive Director of the American Society for Deaf Children, a 501c3 nonprofit established in 1967 by parents of deaf children. ASDC is the American Sign Language organization for families who are raising deaf children. Motivated by her child, Leah's deafness, Rachel has spent the last 18 years creating ASL products to help bridge the communication barrier between hearing and signing communities. In 2006 Rachel founded the Signing Time Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to putting communication in the hands of all children of all abilities. In 2014, the Signing Time Foundation launched a 50-Lesson online ASL curriculum called "Sign It: ASL Made Easy" that is available free-of-charge to families with deaf or hard of hearing children ages 36 months and under. Apply at For those who do not qualify to receive Sign It ASL for free, they can find it for purchase at very reasonable rates on Rachel and her husband, Aaron, live in Salt Lake City Utah. They are parents to Leah who was born profoundly deaf, and is now a senior in college at NTID/RIT in Rochester, NY. They are also parents to Lucy who has spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and recently graduated high school. In 2010 the Colemans were joyfully reunited with Rachel's daughter Laura. Rachel is proud to be Laura's birth mom. Laura was placed for adoption as an infant in 1992 when Rachel was 17 years-old.

53 thoughts on “Don’t Give Up Hope

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. It was very sad, but hopeful and I’m so happy for all of you that there was a happy ending. Love the humor at the end of the essay. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. I’m sitting here in utter silence, hand to my mouth, not able to move because of the words I just read. I have been doing work on my laptop for a few hours and in just wanting to take a break decided to read your latest entry. I found myself constantly asking, “Now, did she say Alex wrote this?” because the writing was so mature, so real I swore it came from an adult. I know adults who can’t even express themselves this clearly or maturely! To Alex, you are a remarkable boy, and to Alex’s parents, I tip my hat to you for raising this remarkable young man. To the whole family, I offer a super sized “Congratulations” on the latest addition to your family! Alex, it boggles my mind that you have realized something that took me over 30 years to discover: that sometimes things don’t always go the way you planned but they turn out right in the end. I’m not your mother, Alex, but as a mother I send you a huge virtual hug! I’m going to share this with my nine year old; you created a gem of an essay. And hey, those not-so-great ‘things’ in certain small packages will entertain you if nothing else–especially if you’re anything like my 9 year old with his baby brother! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Wow, what a mature and eloquent perspective on a long-awaited happy ending. And I love the second picture of the threesome! Congratulations to Alex, Zach, Emilie, and the rest of the family!

  4. Wonderful essay Alex! Thank you for letting Aunt Rachel share it with the world. Your family has been through a lot and I am so happy that you all have this beautiful new baby girl to love. She is blessed to have you and Zach as her big brothers and your mom and dad as her parents. Take good care of each other.

  5. Wow! Through the eyes of a child! I’ve often wondered how it affected my boys with the loss of our baby. I’m sure Shane doesn’t remember it at all and Brett remember’s but doesn’t usually verbalize his feelings. And then came Cole two years later!

    What an awesome essay Alex!

    (thanks for the tissue warning…even if it was said to Kei.. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

  6. What a profound and amazing essay Alex. I am humbled at the depth of character it took to write this and share it. God bless all of you.

  7. Congratulations to the whole family on the new arrival! I love the picture where Alex and Zach are mimicking her crying face.

    And congratulations, please, to Alex who is an exceedingly eloquent young man. It’s completely corny to feel like I’ve grown up with him (it’s more like I’ve watched him grow up on the series, really) but I know you all must be really proud about how he turned out.

    Anyway, this guest post really hit a note with me: my partner’s first pregnancy ended unexpectedly, without anything having been wrong, at 23 weeks and we lost one of our twin girls and our survivor continues to struggle (and overcome) so much. We were scared to try again but are so glad we did; we walked on eggshells for two trimesters, began to breathe more freely when the third began, and were thrilled to have made it to 39 weeks. So we know something of what Emilie must have gone through and we’re very pleased to know that the third time was the charm for her.

  8. Alex,
    You are a wonderful brother. Thank you for sharing your feelings about something that hurt so much. And especially thank you for giving us all some hope. My sister’s baby girl died at 7 months old with no explanation by doctors. Her death has had a dizzying effect on all of us. Your essay brought hope to me, and I’m excited to share it with my sister so that it might also bring hope to her and her family.
    Thanks again.

  9. Thanks to Alex (and Rachel) for sharing with us.
    Zach and his little sister are very lucky to have a big brother like Alex. Alex is wise beyond his years. He clearly has accepted his role as big brother and loves it. It’s a big responsibility and he will do great.

    Take care.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story. Its beautiful that your family did find strength in their hope. This essay is a fine example how: While we try to teach our children all about life,
    Our children teach us what life is all about. Now I need a tissue! Thanks again for sharing.

  11. Alex- Beautifully written! Thank you so much for sharing your feelings with all of us. Everyone else has said what I was thinking about how mature you are and what an amazing writer. What I want to ask is… What’s your sister’s name?
    Oh and Ellie says Hi and Congratulations

  12. First, congratulatiosn to Emilie and the whole family on their beuatiful little girl.

    Alex, I am moved by your words and your mature wisdom. Thank you for sharing a perspective that so many adults tend to ignore…the siblings/children going through the loss of a a dearly wanted child. Thank you for sharing your story.

  13. Alex-
    We love you! Our entire family feels like you and Leah are living here with us. It could be because we have you on the TV (all seven of them) every single hour of everyday!

    You are a fantastic big brother and a beautiful writer. Keep it up. You have a gift.


  14. He’s got quite a knack for story-telling, Rachel. Congratulations to your sis and bro-in-law not only on overcoming their two losses, and on their beautiful girl and two sweet boys, but on raising such a smart and well written son.

  15. Wow Alex!!! What an Excellent Essay!
    So sorry about your loses.
    I Love Your Message “Don’t Give Up Hope”.
    It is so very true and many times I forget it.
    Your essay will stay with me forever.
    This really gives me Hope and inspiration.
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Love and Hugs Viv

  16. Dear Alex,
    What a powerful life lesson that will go with you always. At such a young age, you have found your “voice” in writing. It is a true gift. Now and forever use that gift and share with others like you have today. Thanks for such an invaluable lesson!!

    Lynn Lepage-Fitzpatrick
    Jr. High Language Arts teacher
    graduated with Kei Davis Malone

  17. Congratulations! Through tragedy you really can triumph. So glad your family did not give up hope. Alex, not only are you an amazing young man, you also change diapers too? I bet your mom is so proud to have you as her son.

  18. Pingback: Pregnancy Week by Week | Calendar and Calculator » Rachel Coleman ยป Blog Archive ยป Don't Give Up Hope

  19. A happy ending… Never give up hope, that’s for sure!! Hooray for Alex and Zach. What a great story, and such a brave little boy!

    Thanks for sharing Alex (and rachel).


  20. Wow what an amazing story! I admire you all for your strength! If I was Alex’s teacher, I would deffinitely give him an A+! Congratulations Big Brother’s Alex and Zack!

  21. that was the most precious thing ive ever heard. he sure knows what hes talking about. very sweet and inspirational. thats a strong boy

  22. What a wise little man!

    After years of infertility and numerous miscarriages, I adopted the beautiful little red head who was more than happy to help you sign “red” at the Wisconsin Buddy Walk.

    I am currently expecting another little girl in seven weeks…the furthest I’ve gotten in a pregnancy since my son was born fourteen years ago.

    Way to go Alex! Thank you for the reminder to never give up hope!!

  23. Amazing that this beautifully written essay came from someone who is young in age, but wise beyond his years. I hope you received an A for this wonderful paper. Thank you for sharing.

    Congratulations on the beautiful new addition to the family.

  24. Thank you for sharing this wonderful essay of Alex’s. Alex, thank you for sharing yourself. I am going to show it to my 6 year old son who needs to know that he is not alone in sharing the loss of a sister. He was only 2 (almost 3) when we had a baby die at 16weeks. We talk about our daughter/sister who died and he has said that he wishes he could have held her. (not really possible or we would have done so!). We now have a wonderful 2 yr old son who adores his big brother but it doesn’t change the fact that we also have a daughter/sister. So, thank you for sharing and opening your heart to the signing times community.

  25. Wow Alex! You are one amazing 7th grade writer. I think you are following in your Aunt Rachel’s footsteps??? AND you are one amazing big brother. That was a very bitter-sweet story. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Thank you all for sharing this beautiful essay. I know all too well that things do not always go the way that we wish they would. I have a 23 year old son and thought that I would never have more children. I got married when my son was 12 and my husband adopted him a year later. After seeing what a wonderful father my husband was, I changed my mind and we decided to have more children. We had two miscarriages (one at 6 weeks, the other at 12 weeks), then had a beautiful baby girl. We wanted a brother or sister for her, but it took a long time for me to get pregnant again. I finally did, but lost the baby at 14 weeks, just a couple of weeks ago. The pain is still fresh, and it brings up the pain from the other losses. However, I know that God has a plan, and that it was each of my baby’s time to go when I miscarried. I love each of my children so dearly. That will never go away, but hopefully time will ease the pain of losing my little Angels.

    Thank you, Alex for a fresh perspective. I hope that you recieved an A for your essay. It has touched many people’s lives. Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful little sister. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  27. Such a beautiful story and so uplifting for everyone to hear especially coming from a young man like Alex. Alex, I’m sure you are a fantastic brother and it’s so amazing to hear how you all shared your emotions together during the hard times and the good times. I know those sweet babies that were lost in the womb are smiling down on your whole family with love. You’re a shining start to other young men.

    Thanks for sharing.

  28. So sorry for your family’s loss Rachel, but happy to hear Alex has a healthy little sister to love and lovingly torture. (Speaking from experience as an only girl with 4 brothers…) What a bright, insightful young man — thank you for sharing!

  29. I really was in need of this, my semester in college is not going very well. I don’t believe every week you should have mental break downs. Trying to get better, and hopeing for a little bit of a break coming soon. Thanks Alex, for giving everyone a little inspiration.

  30. I can’t believe this was written by a 12-yr-old boy! He is so gifted and sweet! It’s a beautiful message, thanks for sharing it with the world.

  31. Thank you so much for sharing this touching, heartbreaking story. I have 2 friends who have had similar stories and I asked one if she could share what she’s found out about her miscarriages, as it sounds so close to your sister’s story. Here is what she shared:

    “I don’t know if this would be the same thing that caused my miscarriages or not. I had a condition called anti-phospholipid syndrome, also called anti-cardiolipid syndrome. It’s a simple blood test to see if that is the problem and a baby asprin a day during pregnancy allowed me to carry two more to term.”

    My other friend was told that late term miscarriages are becoming more frequent…so sad!

    I hope this helps.
    God Bless you!

  32. Alex It take bravery to write like this! We all are proud of you!

    I don’t know if you have heard about this story, I don’t even know if it’s true, but I share it with everyone who has had a pregnancy loss. It really made me feel hopeful after mine. You can find it easily online; just do a quick search.

    Chapter Excerpt from Part IV of Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife


  33. Hey Alex
    Thank you very much for sharing this touching, heartbreaking story. Congratulations to all in your family – especially to your Mom. I’m so happy that you now have a sister. By the way I love the pics above. You three are like Angels :))

    Wishing you and your family all the BEST and keep up writing, because you’re really talanted!
    BIG HUG ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. What an inspiring story! We are adoptive parents (both of our children are from China), and there is nothing I wouldn’t give to be able to meet my children’s birth-parents. I have fantasies of throwing my arms around birth-mom and thanking her from the bottom of my heart in a sobbing mess. Adoption is such a blessing for us, but I am all too aware of the pain that can accompany such a huge decision. Your story is a testament to the healing that adoption CAN bring. Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Thank you for your inspirational story. My daughter and I love Baby Singing Time. Your mom was very brave to be able to go through that again. I had 3 healthy sons and was pregnant with my 4th son when I went in at 24 weeks and they could not find a heartbeat. After I delivered him they found out that he had tangled up his umbilical cord. But instead of feeling like we should try again we were lead to foster/adoption. That is how we ended up with my daughter four years later. We got her at 2 1/2 months and she had developmental delays until she was about 2 1/2 years old. That’s why we started using Baby Signing Time. It helped her so much with her vocabulary and improved her speech. I’m so glad you guys have a beautiful baby sister now. Thank you for sharing your talents with the rest of us.

  36. Thanks for sharing your story. You are so brave! I cried as I read your post. That’s so wonderful that you reconnected with your first baby. My Mom was 16 when she had to give a child up for adoption. Four months later she found out she was pregnant again (with me), but this time she and my Dad married each other. I grew up knowing that I had an older brother. My Mom held nothing back and was always open and honest with me. I saw the pain in her eyes and could feel her broken heart. She never once not thought about him from the time she left him with his adoptive parents. Mother’s Day was a painful day for her too even though she had me and my other brother to celebrate with. I always wished I could take her pain away. When he turned 19 he found out he was adopted and became an active part in our lives. It’s been great having my big brother around. It’s like he was never gone. Congrats on this new chapter in your life! There’s going to be many happy years ahead for you.

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