We were going to have a baby..

We were going to have a baby, but we had an angel instead.

Things didn’t turn out the way we planned.  We are supposed to be exhausted and worn out.  My breasts should be engorged with milk because she needs it.  We should be so filled with love that we are bursting.  I should be doing laundry filled with dirty baby clothes.  The house should be a mess because we are just learning how to juggle all the duties of parenthood.  Things didn’t go the way we planned.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014, Cora joined us in this crazy world in body, but not in spirit.

I was a few days shy of being 38 weeks and feeling all the weight of being that far pregnant.  That weekend I was not feeling right. Being my first pregnancy, I just chalked it up to what it was and trudged through.  I’m not much of a complainer so I kept on going.  Monday night I had a slightly high temperature and called my midwives.  Tylenol and relaxing was recommended and it seemed to work.  I was feeling some movement from our girl so I thought all was well.  That was a hard night to sleep and Tuesday morning was not any better.  I knew something was going on and excitedly thought Cora wanted to join us earlier than her October 9th due date. I even packed my makeup bag and toiletries as I got ready for work.  I had felt worse in my life, but made an appointment anyway.  I even went in to work and powered through until that morning’s duties were done.

Jeff picked me up at work to go to the appointment.  I kept thinking my students had given me some sort of illness.  So when I went into the office, they made me wear a mask.  I refused to tie it in the back, but followed along with their wishes.  Jeff even took a picture of me in the waiting room.  Little did we know that would be our last picture with Cora inside of me.  We waited a long time in the waiting room that day to see our midwife, but when we did we got right to it and they were checking for a heartbeat.  When she couldn’t find it right away, I wasn’t surprised because it had happened before.  I still felt a bumping around so I wasn’t concerned.  Even when she had another midwife come in to try with another Doppler, I wasn’t overly concerned.  The same thing had happened to my friend a week earlier.  Then, they sent us back into the waiting room to wait for a sonogram.  I think it was just being my stubborn self or being completely ignorant because even as we waited in the waiting room for 30 minutes I still thought all was ok.  Little did I know was that Jeff knew, but was just keeping it all to himself.

The rest is a moment in my life that I play over and over again everyday.  Going into the sonogram room, watching the nurse take measurements and just thinking…”get to finding the heartbeat already”.  She didn’t look for the heartbeat right away and I was so impatient.  Her next words were the worst thing I have ever heard, “I’m sorry but there is no heartbeat.”  Seriously…this shouldn’t happen to people “like us”.  That is, planners, responsible, careful and healthy people who are this far along in the pregnancy.  Jeff immediately broke down, but I did not…I was stoic.  Shocked.  Even as they talked about what we can do, I didn’t cry.  I focused on what I had to do next, give birth to my daughter.

In denial would be the phrase to describe me at that time.  I kept thinking that she might still be ok by a miracle.  These things don’t happen to me?

After calling our families and trying to explain something we didn’t and still don’t understand, we decided to go to the hospital and deliver our Cora that night.  How would I go home and wait?

It turns out that I didn’t need to wait very long because my body had started laboring the night before.  When I arrived at the hospital I was dilated three centimeters and progressed quickly to six before I got the epidural.  Waiting for that epidural was not enjoyable and I couldn’t imagine giving birth without one now.  I give credit to those that do it naturally.

After a few hours in the hospital, I still had barely cried, but I to this day just knew how focused I was to bring our girl into the world.  I had a job to do and I wanted to do it as best I could.    The next few hours were a blur.  I remember my midwife telling me I was ready to go, but was okay to wait a bit for my Mother and oldest sister to arrive from out of state.  As soon as they came I started pushing.  Apparently my body once again was ready and it took about 30 minutes before we could see Cora in person. I still remember staring at a bright yellow light across the room while pushing and still thinking, “maybe she will cry and it will be alright.”

Jeff and I had talked to our midwife about seeing her prior to pushing.  We left it up to her because we weren’t sure what state she would be in.  But, when she popped out, and I mean popped, she was perfect.

Thinking back three months now, Jeff and I have regrets.  We held her and loved her, but man we wish we could have done it more.  She was perfect, with dark hair like her daddy, bright scarlet lips, 6 pounds, 15.5 ounces and 21 inches long.The nurses dressed her and took pictures and treated her like she was living child.  To this day I still wish we could have sung to her, but at that time, the shock was overwhelming.

My father and other sister arrived the next morning and were able to love on her.  Seeing Jeff and my father with her are some of the most painful memories. I know that Jeff and I both questioned if we could handle parenthood in the months leading up to her birth, but seeing how devastated we were and how we dealt with her loss, we are more confident than ever that we could handle parenthood.

Cora was cremated and we wear necklaces with some of her ashes.  She is able to come around with us wherever we go.  We call her our sunshine because the sun warms you and that seems to be comforting to us because we can feel her.

It has been three months to-date and the pain is no better.  We are so much stronger as a couple.  We realize what wonderful friends and family we do have and cherish that each day.   Despite numerous tests and analyses, we still have no answers to what happened to our girl and too often we hear that this can be common.  Talking about our situation has been helpful and we have heard so many stories about others in our shoes.  People just don’t talk about it because who wants to talk about babies dying?  I know I didn’t when I was pregnant, but being naïve wasn’t helpful either.

Death is the great fictionalizer. Cora is alive our minds; forever with us, but always out of reach. She is forever the sunshine of our lives.  One day we will meet again.

A friend sent this poem to us and it really hits home.  We all have struggles in life and we have faced the worst one of our life.  We will be stronger and will appreciate life more because our angel wants us to.

The world may never notice
If a flower doesn’t bloom
Or even pause to wonder if the
Petals fall too soon.
But every life that ever forms,
Or ever comes to be,
Touches the world in some small
Way for eternity.
The little one we long for was
Swiftly here and gone.
But the love that was planted is
A light that still shines on.
And though our arms are empty,
Our hearts know what to do.
Every beating of our hearts
Say that we love you.

<3 mk, jeff, and cora

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