In March of 2001 I found myself sitting in the passenger seat of our minivan, freshly purchased for what was supposed to be a family of four … but there were just three of us. The fourth, our daughter Emma, was born just a few weeks earlier, and passed away after just eight days of life from congenital heart defects. My husband and I had made it home to our driveway after returning from my first postpartum OB appointment. Having sobbed the entire way home I sat motionless in the passenger seat. I was angry, and I found myself snapping at the tiniest of things.
I don’t exactly remember what caused me to snap at that particular moment. My husband said something, probably as innocent as, “Are you ready to go inside?” and that was all it took. Every ounce of anger spilled out in that minivan. My rage spanned the gamut of reasonable to absolutely absurd. I berated the pregnant teenagers I had seen in the waiting room at my OB’s office, the pain of the C‑section incision that throbbed with my every twist and turn, the nurse who dared to ask how I was doing, the weather, my hair, the song playing on the radio — nothing was safe from my wrath. My husband sat silently and listened, and when it seemed as though I had choked up every last morsel of anger, he turned to me and said six words that would change my life.
“You can’t be this angry forever.”
I sobbed. Again. He was right. While my life had spun out of control with the loss of our precious baby girl, I realized that I had a choice — a real CHOICE — that was completely within my control. I could determine my daughter’s legacy, and anger and bitterness didn’t have to be a part of it. I had no idea how, but at this pivotal moment, sitting in my minivan, I knew some GOOD would come from my heartache.
Over two decades later, I have found that GOOD in my work with Healthy Birth Day, Inc. and Count the Kicks. Since founding the organization in 2008, Janet, Jan, Tiffan, Kerry and I have had had the honor of hearing from countless parents whose babies have been saved with Count the Kicks. We have looked into the eyes of the babies who are here, happy, and healthy, because their parents knew to speak up if they noticed a change in their movements.
Those babies are our daughters’ legacy and the GOOD I knew I needed to find over two decades ago. I will never stop working to ensure that more parents have these stories to share.