So much has happened since our last little (huge) life update. I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll pick up where we left off.
After we found out that our baby girl likely had Trisomy 18, we were sent to a specialist to confirm those findings, and to also monitor her growth via ultrasound. We got to see her sweet little cheeks, her tiny ears, her clenched fists, her cleft lip, her feet that always kicked me on the upper right side of my tummy.
Even though we knew her life could be complicated and short, she was still our beautiful baby girl on that ultrasound screen. She was so, so active, and she had her daddy’s large hat size just like her brother and sister – she even looked like both of them from certain angles.
We’ve experienced such an array of emotions.
Joy – Watching her rub her eyes and hide her face from the ultrasound technician. Watching Elodie’s eyes light up when she felt her sister kicking.
Confusion – Wondering how exactly her diagnosis would affect her. Some Trisomy 18 babies don’t make it through delivery. Some live for a few hours, days, weeks (probably with lots of help in the NICU). Some of the stronger ones live for months and even years (probably needing oxygen and/or feeding tubes). There was just no way of knowing her needs until she got here, but we had to try and prepare ourselves for every possible situation.
Sorrow – Just the thought of not being able to meet her alive broke my heart.
Finally, at 33 weeks along in the pregnancy, baby girl decided it was time. Time for us to meet her and to stop worrying about all the ‘what if’s.
On Thursday, January 31st, in the evening, we checked in to the hospital and I labored through the night. We met with the neonatologists to discuss our wishes for baby girl. We prayed we would get to meet her alive and that she could meet her big sister and brother. We rested as much as we could. We decided on her name.
At 7:56am on February 1st, Cecilia Christine was born. She was given oxygen as the neonatologist declared her heartbeat not strong enough to intervene. She made the decision for us.
She was here, and she wanted nothing but our love and comfort.
We held her, we kissed her, Elodie counted all her fingers and toes. I couldn’t believe how much hair she had. Our priest was there to baptize and confirm her. My good friend Amy was there to photograph every single moment for us to cherish forever.
At 10:15am they could no longer hear her heartbeat. We continued to hold her and love on her all day until it was time to send her to the funeral home, and we went back to our home to rest.
The next two days were a blur as family members traveled to be with us, and Elodie and Milo fought colds. There’s nothing that will bring you back to reality faster than caring for your other children!!
On Monday, we celebrated Cecilia’s short, perfect life at her funeral, surrounded by family, close friends, and co-workers. We picked readings that gave us strength and showed us God’s love in times of hardship. We had four priests who have been so dear to us on our journey both before and during our time with Cecilia. Fr. Brian Christensen, who was there with us in the delivery room, Fr. Matt Fallgren, who we see most every weekend in Hermosa, Fr. Michel Mulloy, who helped us prepare for marriage and also baptized Elodie, and Fr. Paul Rutten, who knew us in college and presided at our wedding.
At the burial, the sun peeked out, and the tiniest snowflakes sprinkled us all as we prayed over Cecilia’s body one last time. If you look to the West while standing at her grave, you’ll see a beautiful, sweeping view of the Black Hills. As lovely of a view that it is, I know her view in and from Heaven is even greater.
Thank you all for your love and support.
Thank you to our doctors and nurses who gave us comfort and confidence before and during our hospital stay.
Thank you to our ultrasound technicians who gave us the gift of seeing her so active and taking extra pictures of her sweet face.
Thank you to all who were able to join us on Monday to celebrate Cecilia’s life.
Thank you to all who continue to be with us and pray for us as we find our ‘new normal.’
While we will always miss our third child, we know that God’s plan is good, and we are so thankful to have had the time with Cecilia that we did. As we held our tiny, motionless baby in our arms, we understood that we didn’t have to worry about her anymore. She knew nothing but love, and as her heart beat for the last time, she was brought to the One whose love is greater.