‘I could feel my baby kicking inside me as we chose her urn and filled out the paperwork’

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The technician quickly told us that it was a girl. But then she started taking longer, and finally she asked us to step into another room. Our doctor delivered the news gently. But then she sent us to a specialist who wasn’t so gentle.

‘The measurements are all off,’ they told us. ‘We need to know how you’d like to manage the pregnancy.’ It was surreal. I was firm in my decision, but I can empathize with women who feel like they have no choice. Because in that moment I doubted that I would ever be able to meet the needs of my child.

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She had a condition called ‘skeletal dysplasia.’ Her bones weren’t growing like they should, and she might not even survive. I’m usually a fairly private person, but this time was different. I didn’t care how many people knew. There were prayer chains and Facebook groups.

My friends got together without me knowing, and they prayed over us. We received letters from so many people: family overseas, people we’d lost touch with, people we’d never met. We hung them all in the bathroom until the entire wall was filled.

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But a few weeks before our due date, we received the worst possible news: Elliana’s chest cavity hadn’t grown enough, and there wasn’t room for her lungs. I asked the doctor to give me the odds, but he just shook his head. We began to plan for her funeral.

I could feel Elliana kicking inside me as we chose her urn and filled out the paperwork. I remember wanting to stay pregnant forever so that she’d always be safe. On the day of her birth, the waiting room was filled with people who loved us.

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They prayed from 10 AM to 5 AM the next day. I still keep a picture of that waiting room hanging in our hallway. And it’s my favorite picture, because it reminds me of all the people who petitioned for Elliana’s life.

And we got our miracle. I struggle with it sometimes, because I know so many people lose their babies. But Elliana came out breathing on her own, and the doctors were in awe. Eight years later—they’re still in awe. Our story has a happy ending. But even when it seemed like a tragedy, I never felt alone. I never felt like the story was my own. Because in my darkest moments, a community of people chose to share my burden.

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About the author:
This story first appeared on Humans of New York Facebook page and is published here with permission. Humans of New York began as a photography project in 2010. Somewhere along the way, the writer/photographer began to interview subjects in addition to photographing them. And alongside their portraits, he includes quotes and short stories from their lives. For more amazing stories and photography buy the book HUMANS by Brandon Stanton.

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