My immaculate Kaydance was born on February 3, 2009. Seven pounds, nine ounces, she was perfect.
Expecting parents joke and say they don’t care what gender their baby is, as long as he or she is healthy. Well,
I loved Kaydance even though she wasn’t.
At twenty weeks pregnant, we found out our soon-to- be little girl was being diagnosed with pulmonary atresia, a congenital heart defect in which the pulmonary valve does not form, obstructing blood flow from the heart to the lungs.
Its cause is unknown and rare, occurring in about 7-8 per 100,000 live births. With all the technology we have, the outcome is favorable.
I had an emergency caesarean section, after a failed pitocin drip. At 1:33 pm, my baby drew her first breath of air and was immediately taken to an adjoining OR room, where a breathing tube was inserted. I was moved to a recovery room, where we awaited the arrival of Kaydance. About forty-five minutes later, five people suited up in jumpers that read “Akron Children’s Transport Team”, came in pushing a box containing a sweet bundle of joy. I was able to slip my hand in the small opening provided to touch her for only a moment.
In that consequential moment, I saw the future, the upcoming fight that I would not give in to.
As if taken from a movie scene, in one small and slow motion, the transport team moved my daughter out of the room, bound for the children’s hospital a mile away.
Over the next six weeks, Kaydance underwent three open heart surgeries, multiple “minor” surgeries, a bout with sepsis, and several cardiac arrests. When she was four-weeks- old, the children’s hospital said they couldn’t do any more for her and life-flighted her to the Cleveland Clinic to be put on the heart transplant list.
Kaydance suffered a stroke during the plane ride, but fortunately she was so young they didn’t think it would affect her long-term.
Luckily, Cleveland had one more idea before deciding she needed a new heart. That is when she underwent her third open heart surgery. Following the surgery, she began to see tremendous improvements.
It wouldn’t be long before we could take her home.
Then came March 20th .
I could sense something was wrong when I entered her room that morning. Kaydance had sepsis, again. She was on the highest volumes of medication and there is nothing more that could be done. This time she would not pull through. It was time to say goodbye.
At 3:15am on March 21, Kaydance earned her wings. I held her as she went.
With the support of my family, and their arms locked around me, I found the courage to hold my head up, and walk down the hospital hall, one last time.
I went home the next day, after not being there for six weeks. This was my home, but now it felt like a stranger’s.
Cards and flowers rained through my house, and I cried with every one.
A week after the funeral, the cards stopped and people were getting on with their lives. Here I was feeling as though my entire world was falling to pieces around me. How did I pick up the shattered fragments and continue breathing?
It wasn’t until I became pregnant with my second daughter in October of 2010 that I truly began to have faith in the future again.
It has now been seven and a half years since Kaydance left.
I am happily married with two beautiful and healthy children.
But there isn’t a day I don’t remember Kaydance. I have just learned to accept it and live with the loss. Over the past seven years, I have learned to bury my pain around most people. I see the tension on some faces when I mention her. I see the uneasiness it causes. So I lock it up and pretend it doesn’t hurt.
In February of 2015, I found The Nest.
Words cannot express how grateful I am for this organization.
These amazing individuals have helped me in my journey through motherhood. But most importantly, they allow me to remember Kaydance without the awkwardness.
Last year, when Jenna told me about the first No Small Loss event, I tried to talk myself out of attending. I came up with multiple excuses not to go because I knew it would be so hard. I felt as though no one would accept my pain and honor my daughter as she was meant to be honored.
In the end, I went. I am so thankful I did.
This event was so good for my soul. Not only do they accept your pain, they embrace it. Our children were here. Whether it was for six weeks, a few seconds, or a couple weeks in utero.
They were here.
Some of the women have not experienced a loss like we have, and they don’t act like they know how it feels.
They simply hold our hand and let us grieve. They let us sob and they stand by us.
Society has seemed to forget the lost babies or make us feel uncomfortable to remember them, but
The Nest doesn’t.
No Small Loss is an event to reflect on the loss but embrace the love. While our babies’ lives were so brief, they were also remarkably meaningful.
Life is quite rushed. We often don’t have time to reflect on our loss, and sometimes it’s just too painful.
Nevertheless, it is such a blessing and a spirit cleanser to have people that support us. To have people that say “I don’t know your pain, but I recognize it, and I am here.”
My journey with Kaydance taught me to cherish the experiences, blessings, and people life has bestowed to me.
I appreciate the community at The Nest. I am beyond thankful that they hold this event and they don’t question our loss or experience. They simply let us remember.
If you have experienced a loss, come to No Small Loss. Don’t talk yourself out of it like I almost did. You will be so lifted and refreshed to be able to openly remember and grieve. You will be able to meet parents who have felt your pain. It is a day to remember our babies together.
If you haven’t experienced this loss, come anyway. Parents who have need you. We need you to tell us it’s ok.
We have encountered one of the worst experience life has to offer. Yet, we are expected to continue living without our babies. No Small Loss and The Nest itself, is a safe place for us.
Having a day to be able to remember them,
helps make living without them a little easier.
“When a child loses a parent they are called an orphan.
When a spouse loses her partner, they are called a widow or widower.
When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.” - Ronald Reagan