Christina Shell Howse (2006-2006)

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Christina Shell Howse
Christina Shell Howse.jpg
Born: 2 Mar 2006 Provo, Utah
Died: 3 Mar 2006 Provo, Utah
Father: Andrew Michael Howse
Mother: Alicia Louine Hansen
Siblings: Ashlyn Kay Howse
Christina Shell Howse
Andrew Michael Howse Jr.
Schuyler Malcolm Howse
Nikkelle Tryphena Howse
Christina’s Journey
Through the eyes of her parents

Christina’s earthly journey starts in the summer of 2005. We found out we were expecting our second child on July 25th. We weren’t expecting to be pregnant again so soon, but we were pleasantly surprised that Ashlyn would have a sibling so close in age to her. This pregnancy started out similar to her pregnancy with Ashlyn. She didn’t get very sick, and things seemed to be going well.

When we were pregnant with Ashlyn, we decided that we would wait until she was born to see if she was a boy or a girl. This time we decided that we would find out, and see if we liked that better than being surprised. Looking back, we are glad we found out as soon as we could, since most of our time with her would be while she was still in the womb. We were able to pick out her name, which allowed us to feel close to her on a more personal level. She was given the name Christina Shell Howse. We gave her this name for a few reasons. We both liked Christina because it is a beautiful name, and Ashlyn was actually almost named Christina. Alicia changed her mind last minute and decided on Ashlyn instead. She felt Christina was yet to join our family. Andy chose the spelling, because he wanted her name to show that she was a follower of Christ. Andy came up with the idea of Shell for the middle name. Alicia didn’t like it at first, but it grew on her as Christina grew. His idea was that she would be Christina Shell Howse, and he could build her a doll house made out of Sea shells, and the sea shell would always symbolize her. It fit well by coincidence that the spelling made it “C” Shell Howse.

A few weeks into the pregnancy, Alicia started to worry that something was wrong. At first she just thought she was paranoid, but as weeks went by and she didn’t start showing and hadn’t yet felt the baby kick, her concern grew. At 18 weeks, she decided to make an appointment with her midwife and explain her feelings and see if they could check things out. Her midwife brushed aside her concerns, and said that every pregnancy was different. We waited for our scheduled ultrasound 2 weeks later, and found out we were having another girl. Ashlyn was going to have a little sister. During the ultrasound, they told us that she was a little small for her age but that it probably wasn’t anything. They knew we were concerned, and said we could see a specialist for peace of mind.

We then set up an appointment with a Perinatologist for the next week, on Alicia’s birthday. It was at this appointment that they found several abnormalities with Christina, and told us that they suspected that she might have Trisomy 18. We went home that night and did a lot of research on the internet to find out more about this chromosomal disorder. Neither of us had ever heard of it up until this point. We found out that 2/3 of babies with Trisomy 18 are stillborn, and less than 5% live to their first birthday. This was really hard news for us, but we did our best to be positive and prepare for any possible outcome. Our motto was “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” We met twice with a cardiologist and found out that she had a large hole in her heart, and that her aorta was connected to the wrong side. These defects were not serious problems for her while in the womb, but would become a problem once she was born and tried to breathe on her own. The other indicators of Trisomy 18 were her small size, clenched fists, and cysts on her brain.

The only way to find out for sure if she did have Trisomy 18 was to do an amniocentesis test. We didn’t want to at first because of the risks involved, like a rare but possible miscarriage. As time went on, we felt the need to know for sure so that we could make all of the hard decisions we were faced with. We had the amniocentesis and found out on Jan. 27th that Christina did indeed have Trisomy 18. The Dr. told us that because of her heart problems, she would probably only have a few hours, maybe days, if she made it to birth at all.

The following weeks were filled with tough Doctors appointments, impossible decisions, lots of worrying, and deep emotions. During this time, we were truly sustained by all of the prayers from our family, loved ones, and friends. There is no other way we could have been able to feel the peace and comfort that sustained us through all of this. Each day that went by, and Christina was still with us, was like a miracle. We tried to savor moments with her by having Alicia feed her different foods that she needed to try, and going different places that she needed to visit. We would say to each other “Christina needs to have cold stone ice cream” and then Alicia would eat some. We think she really appreciated it.

On Monday, Feb. 27th, we went to our scheduled appointment with the Perinatologist. We expressed to her that our greatest desire was for Christina to be able to be born alive, and allow us to spend at least a few moments with her. Knowing that this was how we felt, and after doing an ultrasound, she decided that she needed to be born soon. With tears in her eyes, she told us that she felt the best thing to ensure time with her would be to check into the hospital that night to monitor her, and for Alicia to have steroid shots to help Christina’s lungs mature a little more before they induced labor on Thursday morning.

Being at the hospital with constant monitoring of Christina’s heart rate helped to ease Alicia’s mind because we could watch and be sure that Christina was still with us and not going into stress. We had emotions going both ways during this time. On one hand, we were excited to know that we would finally be able to meet Christina and hold her in our arms. On the other hand, we were frightened that she would almost certainly pass away very shortly.

Thursday morning came. Alicia’s labor was induced at 6:30am. Christina was surprisingly strong during labor and didn’t go into distress, which was as we had prayed for.

Christina Shell was born at 10:40am and gave us joy to see her!

She was one pound, thirteen and a half ounces and fourteen inches long. However, she was doing very poorly and needed immediate help to start breathing. Several of the nurses from the Newborn ICU were right there waiting to help her and were able to assist her in taking that first breath of life. She was then given back to us briefly to be held and then rushed to the NICU.

We then found out that Christina did indeed have the suspected severe problems with her heart and that she also had a problem that we did not know about before. Christina’s esophagus did not reach her stomach, making her unable to be fed through her mouth. She needed an IV to keep her blood sugar from dropping, but being as small as she was, they didn’t know if they could get a good enough vain to give her the IV. The neonatologist said she would try once to give her the IV and that if she couldn’t get it in on the first time she would stop because she didn’t think we should keep poking her. Fortunately it did work the first time and she was able to keep a good blood sugar level.

Much of our family were able to be there to see little Christina and provide the love and support that was needed for this short time that she would be here to meet them. After quite some time in the NICU, they allowed us to take the ventilator into our room, allowing all of her family that was visiting to see her at once, especially her older sister Ashlyn who was too young to go into the NICU. Here Christina was blessed and given a name, by her Father and others who were close to her. This was a bittersweet time. Sweet because we were allowed the opportunity to hold our daughter in our arms, but bitter because it was too difficult to have anyone else hold her, and there were many family members that didn’t get the chance to meet her. Alicia’s family drove out from West Virginia to meet Christina, and was able to do so that night.

After all of Christina’s visitors left, we were able to spend a few precious hours with her. We gave her a bath, and helped her stay warm by holding her against our skin. This was a wonderful moment, because we were able to hold her close and feel her move instead of being wrapped in several blankets to help her keep warm.

We had been putting off the inevitable by having her hooked up to a machine that made sure she got extra oxygen and made her breathe if she went too long without taking a breath. The dreadful moment came where she would have to breathe on her own. This was the hardest moment in our lives. We held her and talked to her as she gave her best. She fought much harder than the nurse had expected and gave us as much time as she could. And though there was nothing more difficult than seeing her struggle at times, when it was time for her to leave us, she went peacefully back to her Father in Heaven.

We are extremely blessed to have Christina as part of our family and look forward to the time when we can be reunited with her in Heaven. We know that because of the Atonement of our Savior, we have the opportunity to be with her again. All she needed to do was to come to Earth and obtain a body, and then return to her Father’s presence. Christina was a miracle, and we will always love and remember her.


The Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, Sunday, 5 Mar 2006:

Christina Shell Howse

Christina Shell Howse passed away Friday, March 3, 2006, at 5:38 a.m. at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. She was born March 2, 2006, at 10:40 a.m. to Andrew Michael and Alicia Hansen Howse of Orem, Utah.

Christina was afflicted with Trisomy 18, a severe chromosomal abnormality.

Her surviving relatives include her parents; her one-year-old sister, Ashlyn Kay Howse; paternal grandparents, Arnold and Joanne Howse; maternal grandparents, Galen and Jennifer Hansen; great grandparents, Donna Heinz, and Wilford and Vada Hansen.

Her family will always love and remember her, especially for her struggle to survive and her faithful endurance to the end.

Funeral services will be held Monday at 9 a.m. at the Sundberg-Olpin Mortuary. 495 S. State St., Orem. Friends of the family may call at the mortuary from 8-8:45 a.m., Monday morning.

Burial will be in the Orem City Cemetery.

Orem City Cemetery


  • Birth: Telephone call from Wynona Pearl Chantry Robison, Thursday afternoon, 2 Mar 2006:
Christina weighs a little over 1 lb and is stable in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Andy and Alicia are awaiting the arrival of Alicia's father before they make any life-support decisions.
  • Death: Telephone call from Adria Howse, Friday morning, 3 Mar 2006:
They took Christina off the ventilator at 2:30 am. She breathed on her own until 5:30 am. I didn't get to see her.