The last day you were alive was on my 32nd birthday. I felt you. I felt your knees and elbows inside my body as you moved and stretched. Instinctively I rubbed my belly just as I had with your older sister, to soothe you and let you know I loved you. I was unaware that something was wrong.
The following day was a Sunday and I was going about my day with your sister and daddy getting things done around the house in preparation for you, still blissfully unaware.
That evening you stopped moving and I just knew I had lost you. I tried to put it out of my mind as terrible things like this "don't happen." I baked cookies with your sister, something she loves. "When Violet gets bigger I will teach her how to bake cookies," she said. "I bet she will love it." I agreed and told her she is going to make a wonderful big sister, but you remained still and I felt my body change. I was no longer able to remain blissfully unaware. I knew you had left us.
I asked your father to bring us to the hospital early the next morning. He tried to remain optimistic in his usual fashion. He held my hand as we walked into the hospital, both of us calm, hoping we would get checked out and sent home after seeing your beating heart on a screen and feeling silly for worrying. That moment never came.
The nurse blamed her machine. "This one has been acting up, let me go find a new one," she said when she could not find your heartbeat. She could not blame the second machine when yet again your heartbeat did not fill the room. I looked at your daddy and the words came out: "She is gone."
The doctor came in to do an ultrasound. There you were, perfect as can be, minus a beating heart. No one said a word, the doctor just looked at me and shook her head.
My world crashed. How could this be happening? How does a healthy baby die?
The next 24 hours marked the longest day of my life. We were waiting for you to enter the world. I spent the time trying to make peace with the fact that when you entered the world we would not hear your cry, we would not look into your beautiful eyes. You would be born sleeping and I tried desperately to accept that.
When the moment finally arrived, I was terrified. I was clinging to an ounce of hope that by some miracle you would be born and we would hear you cry. You would have fooled us and this nightmare would be over. Of course that did not happen.
You were perfect. The nurse swaddled you and brought you to me. Your perfect little rosebud lips were as red as could be. You had your sister's nose and long fingers. I cried — I cried for you. I cried for me and our family. How am I supposed to say goodbye to my baby? A baby I was just saying hello to? How do I tell your big sister that you are not coming home with us?
The day you were born was the coldest day in June on record. It was raining — cold, dark and raining. It felt like the universe was mimicking the way I felt inside. It was the kind of day that makes you want to go back to bed and not wake up until the sun is shining again. That is what I wanted, to wake up from this hell and see the sun shining with you there, happy and healthy.
When the time came for us to leave you, my heart broke. How does a mother leave her baby in a hospital? How do I walk out the door with empty arms and learn to live with this? My worst fears were staring me in the face.
Daddy and I walked out the door the same way we came in, hand in hand. The difference now was that our hearts were broken.