Markie Ostler, of Lehi, Utah, had long dreamed of being a mother. And after giving birth to a son in 2016, she couldn’t wait to have another baby.
“I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant. I had always felt like I needed my kids really close together,” Ostler, 27, tells PEOPLE. “I was ecstatic. I had my son Urban and the second I had him, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness! I want another one.’ ”
However, during Ostler’s pregnancy, doctors learned that baby Everly had four congenital heart defects, including Double Outlet Right Ventricle (DORV), atrioventricular canal, pulmonary stenosis and hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The illnesses would ultimately take the little girl’s life.
Everly (left) with mother Markie Ostler
“It was really hard. I got in my car and I cried for a solid hour,” she says of the moments she got the heartbreaking diagnosis. “I could sense the whole time that something was wrong. I couldn’t even handle it, because I knew the whole time. And I finally had the validation that I wasn’t crazy. Call it mother’s intuition.”
Everly was born on November 6, 2017 and doctors quickly whisked the baby girl away for treatment. However, two hours later, nurses gave 27-year-old Ostler a special moment to hold her new baby.
“They had to help me because she was hooked up to so many cords and wires,” Ostler tells PEOPLE. “They handed her to me and that was the first time I held her and got to know her. I probably kissed her a million times. I just told her to be strong and that she’d get through this.”
Everyly Jo Ostler
Days later, when Everly was just 3 days old, she underwent her first open heart surgery. About a week and a half later, she survived a second heart procedure.
“There’s nothing worse than seeing your baby [that way],” she says of seeing Everly after the surgeries. “It was so awful to go into the room. She really just looked lifeless, honestly. As a mother, it was excruciating to watch your baby go through something so hard. It’s just not fair.”
Things soon began to look up for the Ostler’s, as Everly’s health began to improve and doctors moved the infant from the hospital’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit to its recovery wing on the third floor.
From left: Everly, Urban, Andrew and Markie Ostler
“[My husband Andrew and I] both started crying and were just so grateful. We announced to everybody that Everly was on the path to go home,” Ostler gushes. “We were able to bring [our son] Urban into her room. Being on the third floor was just so perfect because I was finally able to do the mom things. I was finally able to be her mom.”
However, after just three days with the little girl in the recovery wing, things suddenly took a turn for the worst. On Dec. 9, doctors called Ostler and urged her to get to the hospital. The parents raced to the hospital where they learned that Everly’s heart had stopped abruptly.
Everly (left) with father Andrew Ostler
Ostler says doctors tried for nearly an hour to revive the baby.
“I walked up to her hospital room,” Ostler tells PEOPLE. “Literally the very second I stepped up to that doorway was when the surgeon threw his hands up in the air, he took his face mask off and he said ‘That’s it. There’s nothing we can do.’ ”
Andrew (left) and Markie Ostler
The family buried Everly just a few days later, and the grieving mother has only now begun sharing Everly’s tragic story.
She first spoke out about the death in a post on Love What Matters describing Everly’s heart as “defective.”
“This baby girl was so healthy and perfect inside my belly. She kicked and flipped all the time and she was just so perfect and looked perfect,” Ostler says. “It’s hard and it’s awful. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody”
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