Leila died at 38.5 weeks and a huge part of me died with her. My heart has a hole, and the guilt of her being gone and me still being here can be paralyzing. She was 7lbs, 4 oz, 20 inches long, a true dark beauty with black hair and deep brown eyes- just like her dad. The cord, as my doctor figured, was wrapped around her neck 3 times, and ultimately caused her death.
I learned Leila had passed away at my weekly OB appointment. I was alone, thanks to Covid. She kept me awake the night before, as she typically did, with kicking and punching and flipping. While my doctor was using the doppler, my phone was recording for my husband to hear our girl’s heartbeat. The doctor and I joked, and then the silence hit us. Where was she? We felt a kick and looked at each other. Such a stubborn girl, I thought. Minutes later I was having an ultrasound and I saw her. She was so still. There was no moving, no breathing practice, no flutter of her heart. My doctor kept looking as I grew numb. “I’m so sorry.”. Soon the air was gone. My doctor removed my masked and helped me catch my breath as she explained I needed a more detailed ultrasound to confirm Leila’s death. She asked if I wanted a wheelchair for the walk to the connecting hospital. Wheelchair? I thought. My body has completely failed me, it doesn’t deserve a wheelchair. Let it walk.
The days that followed were filled with crushing phone calls, deep sadness, thinking, planning, induction of labour, an epidural, pushing, a weird excitement of finally being at the hospital to give birth until reality set in, and finally holding my beautiful, lifeless little girl. We held her tightly and with the help of the most wonderful nurses had her picture taken, and handprints and footprints. We wrapped her tightly in an I Love You blanket, kissed her cold lips, and had the nurses take her away.
Before we left the hospital, we asked to see Leila one more time. The nurse brought her to our room in the most beautiful purple box, with a satin purple ribbon tied around. Our gift. Leila may be gone, but the gifts she continues to bring to our lives seem endless. From the unbelievable outpouring of support and love from family and friends to bringing my husband and me closer than I ever thought possible, to our son who Leila brought to us exactly 5 days before her first birthday, she has blessed us. So even though I feel like a large part of myself died along with her, I know she would want me to live for her and with every breath, I take I will, because that’s just what a mom does.