Holding Aubrielle: One family's story of love and saying goodbye

To commemorate National Birth Defect Prevention Month and raise awareness, we share the story of Aubrielle Rossiter, who was born with a rare genetic disorder.

  • Birth defects affect 1 in 33 babies every year and cause 1 in 5 infant deaths.
  • The cause of most birth defects is unknown.
  • Having a caring team of doctors by your side when your baby has a birth defect can give you hope.


The short life of Aubrielle Rossiter changed her family forever. To mark National Birth Defect Prevention Month, we share her story.

When she was 18 weeks into her pregnancy with Aubrielle, Holly Rossiter learned her daughter would be born with trisomy 13—a rare genetic disorder that affects the number of chromosomes present and causes severe health problems. Most babies born with trisomy 13 don’t live to their first birthday.

“It was devastating to find out my little girl had this abnormality that was going to make it so she wouldn’t have a long life,” Holly said.

As she and her husband, Michael, drove home they discussed their family’s future. “We knew that we were going to continue with the pregnancy,” Holly said. As a couple, they made a conscious decision to remain positive no matter how hard the road ahead may be.

“We talked about how we had choices to make through the pregnancy. We could choose to be happy, to allow ourselves to be happy during this pregnancy, or we could choose to not be happy,” said Holly. “It was a turning point for me.”

Holly and her family sought the aid of a perinatal hospice program at Providence to help with her baby’s delivery. The assistance they gave was “a blessing,” according to Holly.

When Aubrielle was born, her family members gathered in the delivery room for a celebration of her life. Aubrielle’s older sister Elise, then 2, sat in Michael’s lap to snuggle and gently kiss her sister’s head. Her extended family held her close.

“I really wanted to share my daughter with as many people as possible,” Holly said. “We were able to have a room full of people that meant a lot to me, that could hold Aubrielle and enjoy her and get to see just how amazing and perfect and wonderful she was. That was very important to me.”

Shortly after her birth, Aubrielle nestled into her mother’s arms and took her last breath. Leaving the hospital without her daughter was, “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” said Holly. She took it “minute by minute” and allowed herself to grieve like she’d allowed herself to feel happiness.

She credits the hospice nurses with helping her make it through the experience. “I feel blessed to have had hospice,” said Holly. “They saw Aubrielle as an individual, not as a sick child. They saw her as someone who had a purpose here in life, even if it was just for a brief, short period of time. They really saw her and they saw me.”

Hear Aubrielle’s story.

National Birth Defects Prevention Month focuses on raising awareness about birth defects. Learn more from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network.

Find a doctor

Providence offers expert prenatal care you can trust. Find a Providence Obstetrician using our provider directory. Or you can search for a primary care doctor in your area.






Spread awareness about #BirthDefectsMonth by sharing your story of hope (and tears) with readers @psjh.

Related resources

Institute for Human Caring

6 Things You Can Do to Help Prevent Birth Defects

High folate levels in pregnancy may increase risk of autism

How can you lower your baby’s risk of getting a cleft lip?

Perinatal Comfort Care Program

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Women's Health team is committed to providing useful and actionable insights, tips and advice to ensure women of all types can live their healthiest lives.

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