“How very softly you tiptoed into our world, almost silently, only a moment you stayed. But what an imprint your footprints have left on our hearts.”
We were never sure that we wanted to start a family. We loved our nieces and nephews but we always would leave gatherings and entertain the question, “Did we really want kids?
So we put it off. I kept waiting for some revelation that I was destined to be a mom.
Then one day after visiting our friend’s newborn Justin said, “I think I could imagine a little babe running around now.” A rush went through me. Then the doubt flooded in again.
“Do we know how to be parents though? Do we have the patience? Do we need more money?”
“Babe, I worry about all that too. But I feel like we would just love the crap out of our baby. Isn’t that good enough?”
And then it hit me. We were just scared, terrified actually. Terrified of loving something more than we could understand. Just like every other parent-to-be. So, we started trying even though our doctor told us that, at 41 years old, getting pregnant naturally was a long shot. I had a 5% chance. We made a pact that we would “be prepared” for whatever was going to happen.
And yes, I am well aware of how naïve the statement “be prepared” is.
How can anyone be prepared for anything that isn’t here yet? Yet, we think as long as we plan ahead everything will be fine. We got pregnant quickly and felt blessed. We lost that baby. Everyone said how common it is. That doesn’t make it easier.
We got pregnant again right away. I was stressed, waiting for another miscarriage. Then I stopped it. I realized that I couldn’t prevent what might happen. Our first ultrasound was at 6 weeks. Justin’s reaction when he saw her makes me cry every time I think about it. She was little alien, her heart a flickering light. I fell madly, deeply in love with her, and Justin all over again, in that instant. I absolutely wanted her. My revelation.
We got through the first trimester but three months isn’t a magic number. Anything can happen at any point during your child’s life inside you or out. Celebrate every minute of it. The genetic testing was good and she was growing well. I was Superwoman. We had reached 20 weeks and everyone was making plans.
My favourite question was, “Are you guys ready?”
Would we ever be ready? Nope. We just have to deal with whatever comes and do our best.
Then my cervix started funneling. Emma and I were both healthy but my cervix was incompetent. I was put on bed rest and we were scared. There were so many plans I had for the next four months. What could I do? We remained hopeful.
My cervix ended up opening completely by 22 weeks. My doctor performed a cerclage to try to keep Emma in me. I spent the day at the hospital, not thinking about losing her, but about Justin and I, our nine years together. We were becoming parents and it was going to be awesome.
As I drifted off in the operating room, I called out, “Please save my baby.”
When I woke up I reached for my belly. She was there and so was Justin, wrapping me in love. We kept saying how lucky we were.
A week later I was 2cm dilated. They admitted me to Sunnybrook with the intention of trying to get Emma to 24 weeks and a 20% chance of survival. Our “new plan” was that we were going to have a micro-preemie. We knew she could have multiple complications. We started researching how to care for a premature baby.
That night I realized that all of our fears before we got pregnant had nothing to do with any of this. Nothing can prepare you for the helplessness you feel when you are dealing with the possibility of losing your child.
I went into labour the following night. They gave me drugs to try and stop it. It didn’t work. I was getting exhausted with being strong and hopeful.
I will never forget the look of pain on Justin’s face as he gathered me in his arms and we cried together. He had been strong and loving and attempting to make me laugh any chance he could. “We’ll be okay baby,” he whispered.
Our nurse told us how incredibly brave we were. I didn’t feel brave, I felt lost. I cannot explain the emotional pain of knowing your baby will not survive. My brother and sister-in-law came. We cried, laughed and tried to keep our minds off the inevitable.
Emma Rose was born at 8pm on July 12th. She weighed 1.2 pounds. Her heartbeat was faint. She had beautiful lips and her nose was the size of tip of my pinkie. She was perfect.
We sat with her for a while. We told her how special she was and how dearly she was loved. To hand her over was the hardest thing we have ever done.
Losing her has taught me many things. You never know how strong your relationship is until you go through a tragedy. Love is easy when life is easy. Our love has grown.Every life, no matter how short, is a gift.
Never say to a woman that she will try again, things happen for a reason or at least you can get pregnant. It is insensitive.
You never know what anyone is going through until you have gone through it. Be empathic, not sympathetic.
In the heartbeat that Emma was with us she showed us a love deeper than we could imagine.
Never get too caught up in plans. They change. Take life as it comes and deal with it the best you can. Live in the present.
Emma gave us the freedom to have faith that, in tragedy, you can grow and come out of it stronger.
In her death, Emma taught us how to be parents.
Thank you my sweet girl.