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Mom to Faith Ann

October 25, 2018

Alexandria, Virginia

In my lifetime, I have carried two daughters in my belly. I watched and felt them both grow and kick. I heard their beautiful hearts beat – steady and strong. The first came into the world pink and crying. 6 pounds, 5 ounces of joy.  My second daughter came into the world silent in a cold operating room. A 2 pound, 4 ounce precious little person we would never get to know. They are both our children. Both our beautiful, sweet daughters. But only one is with us.

Since losing Faith, I find that I continually describe how I feel as lost. I was in the Army at one point and land navigation was not my strong suit. During one leadership course, the instructor took away my compass and told me to just use my map and terrain associate to find my way. Now I’m on land that hasn’t been mapped before with no terrain to associate. But the weird thing is that others are here on this unmapped land. Even in the short time since we lost Faith, I have found myself in the singularly painful and loving space where I must share that Faith is gone and in the next breath the person I am talking to shares their own loss. It’s painful and loving and intimate and horrifying all at the same time.

When Faith was 10 weeks old, we learned she had Down Syndrome. Neither myself nor my husband had much experience with children with special needs so we aimed to learn what we could while Faith was still growing and yet to join us in the world. We joined a new parents group, we read articles, bought books. When we learned months later that she had a problem with her stomach, we learned again, and went to more appointments, changed doctors, changed hospitals, and toured a NICU. At 28 weeks we learned she had a heart issue but not one that would cause a need for surgery. The doctors treated Faith and I as though everything were progressing smoothly, certainly with a need to monitor, but no heightened sense of alarm. Two days later, Faith did not have a heartbeat. To say we were shocked and numb would be an understatement. I’ve never felt what it left like to live a nightmare until that day at the hospital. The doctor kept coming in hour after hour to saying it would be longer because of other babies being born in the operating room. Even then, I understood rationally that it must be that way, but that didn’t make the pain lessen. Comfort came in the form of three amazing young nurses who treated Faith with such love, taking photos, wrapping her sweetly in blankets, giving us time with her. My older brother was also with my husband and I. As he had been during the birth of our first daughter. In dark hours of the night, waiting with us, praying with us, mourning with us. Faith’s family around her. We miss her every single day. I don’t know if it gets easier. Maybe it shouldn’t.

You can email Lee here.

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