We received many emails and cards when Maddie was in the NICU. A lot of the notes made comment on the strength we showed during Maddie’s roughest days. I never felt strong. I was numb, on purpose. I tried to separate myself from the horror of the NICU, and I tried to not love my baby because I was so afraid of the pain I would feel when she died. I didn’t understand how anyone could praise me when I felt so, so weak. Who tries to not love their own child?

I was desperate to find others that were going through the same experience Mike and I were going through. I wanted to find someone who was employing the same defense mechanism. I stumbled across the blog dedicated to the story of another little girl in a NICU who as born only 18 days before Maddie. This baby girl was very, very sick, much sicker than Madeline. Her parents somehow managed to write about their daughter every day, and what struck me was their deep love for their baby. They were told their daughter wouldn’t make it, but they still loved her so much. I was blown away by how fearlessly and ferociously they loved their baby, and after that I finally let myself feel the same love for Maddie that had been bubbling up inside me.

I am not ashamed to admit that I blatantly stalked that blog! I really became invested in the family’s life and we commented on each other’s blogs. When she had surgery on her heart, I would reload the page 25 times an hour, looking for an update. Things were really touch and go for a while, but she pulled through, and after being in the NICU for 22 weeks, she finally went home on March 26th. I was so happy for them! I remembered the joy Mike and I felt when we brought Maddie home and I was so relieved that they were finally feeling it, too. They still updated their blog and it was great to see how they were all adjusting to life at home with each other.

Today I loaded their website and found that their beautiful daughter had died suddenly on the way to an appointment. There was no warning, one moment she was breathing, the next moment she wasn’t. Her mom gave her CPR on the side of the road until the paramedics came, but despite their desperate attempts she didn’t make it. There aren’t words to describe the pain they must be feeling. I know how it feels to be told your baby is going to die, and that is unbearable. To actually have it happen is beyond me.

I am so grateful to this family for everything they taught me. Even now, they are showing so much grace at a time when, were the roles reversed, I would be so bitter and unresponsive. I wish they didn’t have to go through this, and I wish I could somehow comfort them the way they so deserve. The loss of a life so young is a hard thing to wrap your head around. I’ve said it before…babies aren’t supposed to die. I’ll never forget this darling one, she and her family will forever be in my thoughts.