Raya Marie Nordby
It was late May; we had just recovered from COVID, and the city began to burn.
Somehow, amid all the stress from the riots and hatred threatening to tear our world apart, life found the strength to form in the middle of the chaos.
Two weeks later, two little pink lines appeared.
We found out we were pregnant about 6 weeks along, and confirmed a healthy baby was quickly growing within me.
At the 10-week appointment, we tested for several chromosomal abnormalities, as well as the gender. The doctor confirmed the greatest news: the tests came back negative, and our love had formed a healthy baby girl.
At the 12-week appointment, we opted to receive one more genetic test, simply for our own peace of mind. That too came back negative, and I got to hear our baby girl’s strong heartbeat.
We spent my 27thbirthday registering for gifts, and the next several months referring to her by name, discussing how much time we would take off when she arrived, touring daycares and telling our family & friends.
At the 20-week ultrasound, I was finally able to have someone accompany me, and for good reason.
While all of baby’s organs were functioning normal, part of her brain was not.
I remember the look on the Doctor’s face when he came in, full of shock that he even had to have this conversation with such a healthy pregnancy thus far.
I remember the rush of heat that fell over me when he described what they saw on the screen; or rather, the parts of the brain they were not able to see.
In agony, we waited 48 hours to get in to see a specialist and receive a more in-depth ultrasound, as well as an amniocentesis (taking a sample of fluid from the baby’s birth sac to confirm a diagnosis).
A diagnosis that only 1 in 30,000 babies have.
A diagnosis that solidifies their inability to make it to term poses potential health risks to the mom and, by some incredible miracle they do make it to term, a 1% chance of surviving their hospital stay.
A diagnosis they gave our little girl.
In order to grasp at some sense of hope, we opted for additional tests, including a fetal MRI.
The results were the same, and on October 21,2020, we had to bid goodbye to our first daughter.
You hear about miscarriages.
Babies don’t make it past the first trimester and it’s unbelievably painful and unbearable.
But no one talks about what happens if all that pain and suffering doesn’t happen until 20 weeks.
22 weeks + 4 days, to be exact.
Because at 22 weeks + 4 days, we had to say goodbye to our baby girl.
And between feeling sad and angry and helpless and numb, making sense of the situation has not been possible.
We are good people. And I can’t stop thinking if it was something I did; was the Lord punishing me because I didn’t go back and pick up my dog’s poop one time? Or because I hit and killed a raccoon a month ago? Was this punishment for saying something rude about a stranger or honking at a car that cut me off?
What did I do to receive this punishment? What did my husband do?
A man who only wants the best for people; a man who spends his life protecting citizens that outwardly distaste him for his choice of job? A man who has talked suicidal people down to safety, and has helped save a child that was stuck in burning hot water? A man who can do no wrong, and only deserves all things good in the world?
He spends his work days dealing with individuals that have 10 kids they never wanted.
We only prayed for one.
And now, I have to walk into her room and stare at all the gifts we have already received.
A week ago, the crib we spent hours selecting showed up at our door.
I have to go to Target and pass the baby section, wondering what her favorite blanket would have been; what stuffed animal she would have gravitated towards.
I never pray for myself.
I pray for my family, and I pray for Gregg.
But I prayed like heck for this little girl.
I prayed day in and day out for her health and safety.
And it wasn’t enough.
I did it all correctly, ate everything they say you should, avoided everything I was told to, and prayed like Hell.
And it wasn’t enough.
It wasn’t enough to save her.
And I don’t know where we go from here.
Do we try again right away? Could our hearts handle the possibility of this happening again?
Do we just sit on the couch eating candy bars & watching episodes of The Office and wait for someone to wake us from a bad dream?
I don’t know.
But I do know that I have the most incredible man by my side. And while this is never something I would wish upon a single soul, I am so grateful to have him by my side.
And I hope she forever knows how incredible her daddy is.
I hope she knows much her parents have loved her, and will continue to love her.
I hope she knows how hard we tried to save her; the tests we opted to have in hopes for better results, the time spent in the clinic and hospital to try and keep her.
I hope she knows how much her furry brother wanted to meet her.
I hope she knows how much we will talk about her to her future siblings, and how much we already miss her.
And most importantly, I hope she knows how much we loved, currently love, and will continue to love her.
Because damn is that little girl loved.