Mom to Caris AnnaBelle Tate
January 30th, 2011 – February 5th, 2011
Newport News, Virginia
I had the best pregnancy of anyone I have ever met. I never had any morning sickness, I didn’t gain a lot of weight, I always took my vitamins, I saw my doctor a couple times a month… the only issue my husband and I thought we may be facing is possible Down Syndrome, which was mentioned at our 20-week ultrasound. While that came as a huge blow to us (I cried every night for Caris, praying that if she did have Down Syndrome, that the Lord would bless her with the ability to still enjoy life to the fullest).

I wrote love letters to Caris in a journal, which I still can’t bring myself to read. After all, it has only been one month. I have to keep reminding myself of that, and allow myself to have the ability to grieve our baby girl…
I carried Caris AnnaBelle to 36wks + 6d, and was always told how active and busy she was. Her heartbeat was always strong and I cried every time I heard it on the monitor. It was such an amazing sound.
I was due on February 21, 2011. Caris was born at 4:55pm on Sunday, January 30th, 2011 weighing 7lb 12oz and measuring 21.25 inches. She was born with an enlarged heart, which made it difficult for the blood to pump from her heart to her lungs and then circulate throughout her body. When she was first born, her umbilical cord ripped and she lost a lot of blood. I remember holding onto Chris’ hand after that final push and waiting to hear our baby girl cry her first cry. When we finally heard it, we were so happy and began bawling. We weren’t able to hold her before they took her to the NICU of Mary Immaculate. I was able to kiss her forehead, though.
She spent 11 hours in the NICU at Mary Immaculate before they transported her to the NICU at CHKD in Norfolk. It was a very scary transition, and I was so saddened that I wasn’t going to be able to go with her, because I had not been released from the hospital yet. Thank God for my doctor, he came in around 8am on Monday the 31st and told me I would be discharged soon- so I could be with her. My mom and aunt Sonja were Caris’ first visitors at the NICU at CHKD and I am so thankful that they got to spend those first hours comforting her, I am certain she could feel their love and their presence.
Caris continued to get better throughout the week. They had found a combination of breathing treatments, medicine and methods that were working well for her. On Friday, February 4th, she started having difficulty and they had decided to change some of her treatment. Caris didn’t like that too much. She proved she was stubborn, just like her mommy, and would let the doctors and nurses know to leave her alone.
Saturday, February 5th, 2011 was the worst day of my life. Upon arriving at the hospital to visit my baby girl, I was told that the treatment that CHKD was providing for Caris was no longer enough to sustain her. She needed to be transported to the Children’s Hospital at UVA in Charlottesville. This was incredibly difficult to handle. She would be transported by ambulance 3 hours away to be treated at UVA with a procedure called ‘ECMO’ which is a lung and heart machine. She had an 85% chance of survival once being put on that machine.
My mom and I drove to Charlottesville and spent Caris’ last hours with her. She continued to have breathing complications while the doctors and nurses in the NICU at UVA were trying to figure out the best treatment methods. They decided to put her on the ECMO machine as her last chance. While prepping Caris for this transition, she stopped breathing, and after trying to resuscitate her for a half hour, her little body couldn’t handle it anymore.
Caris passed away, while my mom and I stood at her bedside.
I never got to hear my baby cry after that first cry. I never got to hold my baby until she was already gone. I never got to bathe my baby, to swaddle her, to rock her, to squeeze her and see her look back at me with adoring eyes. My baby was never given that chance.
And while I would love to be able to sit here and say I know that God has all the answers and His plan is best, I am finding it hard to comprehend why our baby girl is not here with us. Caris was the most wanted and anticipated baby in this entire world. I never spent one day of my pregnancy complaining or wishing it away- being pregnant with Caris was the best time of my life. Her birthing experience was the best pain I have ever endured. I would do it again and again and again, even if I knew what I knew today.
Chris and I are grateful that our little girl is no longer in pain. We are grateful that she is sitting in Heaven with my Mamaw, her uncle Luke, and her cousins Kody and Kaitlyn. We are grateful for the moments we spent with her in her 6 short days of life.
We don’t think it is a coincidence that Caris’ heart was too big- we think it is a testament that she was sent here to show the love of Christ through her little body.
We should know by May 2nd, 2011 what caused our baby girl to be so sick and to be taken from us. Until then, we’ll keep pressing in and pressing on.

It’s still so new and so fresh. I dream of my baby girl several times a week and I think of her constantly. I have found great comfort in reading the other posts here and knowing that I am not alone and every single emotion, no matter what it is, will bring me healing.

Maggie has provided the following update:

What they did know, and what they have ruled her death as (unofficially) is Congenital Heart Disease (CHD). Congenital heart disease can describe a number of different problems affecting the heart. It is the most common type of birth defect. Congenital heart disease is responsible for more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects. 
When Caris was in the womb, she did not have to breathe. I did that for her. Her heart had to pump extra hard (for reasons we won’t know until the final autopsy results come in, which should be before May 2nd- that is when we will know 100% what the diagnosis was) and since the heart is a muscle, the extra pumping made the walls larger. When she was born, I was no longer breathing for her… I was no longer doing anything to sustain her life. Therefore, with her thickened heart wall, it was hard for the blood to pump from her heart to her lungs and oxygenate her entire body.
Dr. Bass told me there is nothing that I did, nor could have done, to prevent this disease. I have been told that a million times, but for some reason when he said it, I felt better.
I was still concerned about the genetic testing results, as our 20-week ultrasound showed Caris had some markers for down syndrome. A common thread with down syndrome is heart defects… so, naturally we wanted to know what those results were. Looking at our baby, she didn’t look like she had any visual genetic defects- but her medical records proved otherwise, in regards to her appearance. I wanted to know what the actual chromosome tests had to say.
Dr. Bass called down to the genetics lab and sat on hold for ten agonizing minutes… when he hung up the phone and looked at me, he smiled. I began to weep. He said “Maggie, she had no genetic defects, those tests came back negative!” and also some Metabolic testing had been done, which would prove yay or nay on other genetic defects. My baby did NOT have down syndrome! God’s Girls prayed against that the evening we had our 20-week ultrasound and were told she had those markers- and God heard those prayers and either healed her from it, or the doctors were wrong! We are still thankful we opted not to do the amniocentesis, even knowing what we know today. The risks weren’t worth it- and having 6 days with our beautiful baby girl is better than having no days with her.
Maggie blogs at
You can contact her at
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  1. Take as much time as you need. It's been 4 months on the 19th since our baby passed and I still struggle. Somedays I feel ok and others are horrible. I will pray for you and your husband. :@)

  2. Mrs. Tate says:

    I also started a blog:

  3. LauraJane says:

    I'm sorry for your loss. I'm sure your sweet Caris knew how much she was (and how much she continues to be) loved.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss of sweet Caris. I'm sure that she always felt how much she was loved. These early days are horrible and you think that you will never feel better. Somehow, it does start to happen. Just hang in there and don't push yourself. It is going to take as long as it is going to take.

    I also had a lot of trouble with God after losing Jacob. I still do, but it has eased a little.

    You aren't alone.

  5. I'm so so so sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself.

  6. Jennifer Jake says:

    thank you for sharing your story.

  7. Shannon Renfro says:

    WOW, your story has so many similarities to my own. I am so sorry for your loss and I am the Face2Face support group leader for the Hampton Roads area. If there is anything I can do, please let me know.

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