As we approached Norah’s birth month, we entered with hesitation, reservation, and ongoing grief. Afterall, this is our first time “celebrating,” or facing, or enduring, the birthday of our deceased daughter. When I stop and sit in that concept it makes my chest ache and burn. It’s all still so confusing. How did this happen to us? We are good parents. We provide the best care and the most love for our children. How are we surviving this life? How are we pushing forward, when it feels like time has stopped? All of those repetitive thoughts are haunting. I suspect they’ll last a while… forever, perhaps.
Then, last week, in “perfect Norah timing” we received the documented, final pathology results of our Littlest Love’s brain. Our sweet girl had significant brain damage and had suffered several small strokes, both of which occur during a hypoxic-ischemic event in utero. The results also correlate with the pathology of the placenta, which showed severe aging and malperfusion, or poor blood flow, and a possible impending hemorrhage. None of which were detectable (I had my last ultrasound just 10 days prior to her birth), or preventable (this pregnancy was the healthiest of my three), or fixable (that part really sucks!).
My instincts and my worries, from even before we found out I was pregnant, were correct. My nightmares about her having a brain issue were actually a premonition. She had been giving me all of the signs long ago, but didn’t exhibit symptoms based on these findings. She “told” me that our time was limited, I just had no idea that it meant her life would be so very short. Afterall, our time is limited with all of our children, as they all grow so quickly. We fully embrace the growth of Addy and Sydney now – it means they’re alive.
Norah is a true miracle in so many ways. She lived a very short, but very full and healthy life, when she shouldn’t have even made it out of the hospital or achieved any milestones. She would have had a rapid health decline, and a fatal prognosis, had she lived past her 111 days. While her life was short, we know that she was spared from suffering.
None of this lightens the grief, but it does absolve me from constantly questioning my mothering abilities. She has given me more confirmation of love and instincts, of the overwhelming maternal bond I had with her, and of the comfort and care we provided her with, as well as all of the incredible things she gave to us. However, answers leading to why a child died just aren’t enough to repair the life-long aching in the missing piece of her parents’ hearts.
*Note: Norah’s remains are now at Seattle Children’s Hospital, undergoing intense and focused research to help eliminate SIDS for good. We continue to hope and pray that others will be spared from that monster.
If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about SIDS research, just as we were, please visit the Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Guild of Seattle Children’s Hospital at http://www.givetostopsids.org
This organization has also partnered with Cribs for Kids, where we are part of an amazing bereaved parents group.