Thank you for your comments, emails, cards, gifts, love and care over the past week since our baby girl Molly Marie was born and went to Heaven. We really have felt your thoughts and prayers over the past week, as we did throughout our entire pregnancy, and they have helped us to continue to take this next part of our journey with Molly one day at a time.
Last Thursday, Molly’s birthday, was a very special day for our family. I don’t know if words can express how much it meant to Bob and me to be able to meet our baby girl alive. Though we probably only had about 10 minutes with her, they are moments we will cherish and forever be grateful for.
Our beautiful baby girl Molly Marie was born at 12:57 p.m. and she lived about 14 amazing minutes until it was discovered that she had died at 1:11 p.m. Bob held her for most of her short life outside of my womb. I was glad that she got to spend that time so close to her Daddy, as I watched and touched her as much as I could from my position on the operating table. Having carried her to almost 30 weeks gestation, I felt I had so many opportunities to feel her move and connect with her, that I wanted Bob to have as much time as possible to connect directly with her, though he had felt her move a few times with his hand on my belly, when she was still inside me. Bob saw her jerk or move a bit about 4-5 times. I saw Molly do so at least once. From picturing that moment in my memory, I think I saw her move her left shoulder.
Our pastor Fr. Bill baptized Molly right after she was born and I vividly remember praying the Our Father with him, for the second time that day (Fr. Bill had prayed with Bob and me in our hospital room before the c-section to deliver Molly), as part of Molly’s baptism. I recall seeing Fr. Bill baptizing Molly. He later told us that it was one of the most moving experiences of his life.
After Molly was baptized, while Bob had been holding her and we had some time to look at her, touch her and talk to her, one of the nurses asked to take her and check for her heartbeat with a stethoscope. After the nurse told Bob and gave her back to him, Bob told me “she’s gone.” One of the nurses who cleaned her off and wrapped her up in a blanket, before bringing her to us, after she was born, shared later that she saw her move some and even kick once. We also remember her mouth be somewhat open.
As we were on our way to return to our room, we saw my mom and Sean making their way down the hallway to join us, so we could introduce Sean to his baby sister, before the rest of our family came in. We didn’t want him to be overwhelmed. It was very special for us to see Sean holding his baby sister Molly. Bob sat with Sean as he held Molly and it was a very special time for them to share. I wish I could have been closer to them physically during those moments, but I was recovering from my c-section and was glad to at least be able to watch from my bed nearby. As Sean held Molly, he touched her face a few times and really appeared to be soaking up the moments he had with her. Sean seemed so happy to see her, even though we think he did understand that she had gone to Heaven and would not be coming home with us.
Next my dad, Bob’s parents, my sister, Bob’s sister and our sister-in-law (Bob’s brother’s wife) came in and got to see Molly and spend time with her and all of us together. As my parents and sister relayed in their post that day, it was a tear-filled time, but also peaceful in many ways and everyone there seemed to appreciate having the opportunity to be together with their granddaughter or niece. It meant so much to us to see our family with our daughter, as there won’t be other times for us to experience that, except for when we are all together in Heaven.
Physically it was bizarre to be doing the recovery part of my post-c-section in a room with our family members meeting and spending time with our baby girl. But I was able to focus on watching everyone with her, while our nurse worked with me on my initial post-partum recovery.
Bob’s brother came later in the afternoon to see us and meet Molly, which meant a lot to both Bob and me. Our brother-in-law (Bob’s sister’s husband) and my sister’s fiancé were both out of town on business and thus not able to visit us or meet Molly that day, which we understood and were glad they were able to be with us on Monday when she was buried.
A good friend of ours also was able to come see us, meet and hold Molly. It also meant a lot to me to have her there, as we have been such a big part of each other’s lives and families over the past four years that we have been friends, since we first met, through our neighborhood playgroup, when our eldest sons were both only 3 months old.
We truly were given as much time as we wanted with our daughter after she had died and even though we believe her soul was in Heaven at that time, we did really appreciate being able to spend a lot of time just holding her and looking at her and trying to capture memories of her sweet little face, body and other features in our minds and hearts forever. At one point, Bob and I had Molly in the bassinet in the room, she was dressed in the pink outfit we had bought for her awhile back (with the butterflies on it), with the pink teddy bear next to her, that her big brother Sean gave her. She looked like she was just sleeping and it is one of my favorites and most vivid memories of being with her after she died.
Our bereavement photographer Karen with “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” also has shared with us, on her website, the proofs of the wonderful pictures she took for us of Molly and our family on her birthday. They are really incredible. I can’t stop looking at them. They do really capture so much of what we experienced with Molly during the time she was with us after she was born and then died. I so wanted to have some pictures of Sean with his baby sister and those shots are among my favorites that Karen captured. Though our baby girl was very swollen from the fetal hydrops, she was still so beautiful to us and having close ups of her face, hands, feet and other features to always remember how Molly looked is so special to me. Karen was hoping to get us a CD with the picture files sometime later this week and when we receive it I will upload some of our favorites to share with you.
Bob and I decided that we ready to say goodbye to our baby girl, not that we would have ever been really ready, but that we could part with her body, around 6:30-7:00pm that evening. Before we did say goodbye to her, I held her and Bob stood very close to me at my bedside. We cuddled with our daughter and told her how much we loved her and were grateful for the time we had with her both before she was born, after she was born alive and even after she died.
I was moved to my postpartum room at about 10pm. There was a special picture on the door with a green leaf and a tear drop running off of it, with a purple background. Apparently it is a symbol to notify the nurses and other hospital staff of our loss and to remind them to be sensitive and compassionate in caring for us, as I recover from the c-section to deliver Molly. For the rest of our time in the hospital, I was able to come home Saturday evening, the care we received from the doctors, nurses and hospital staff was incredible. They took such good care of me and made the time after Molly died until we went home much more bearable. We also had many family and friends call and/or visit us while I was recovering in the hospital. Their presence and support was/is much appreciated and we thank you.
We also are so grateful for all the care and compassion we have felt since we got home from the hospital including the meals that friends and neighbors have brought for us, your calls, your visits and especially to all those who have been helping us to care for Sean as I recover physically from the c-section to deliver Molly.
Molly was laid to rest earlier this week on Monday, April 21. I will share about her burial in another post, as this one is already fairly long. I will tell you though, that it was another very special and memorable day for our family and I am finding that these end of life rituals, that we are going through to honor and always remember our daughter, seem to really be helping me to cope with and grieve the loss of our baby girl in what I feel to be a healthy way. Just a reminder, especially for those of you are local, that Molly’s Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, May 4 at 3:00 p.m. at St. Barnabas Catholic Church here in Chicago.
Finally, some of you have asked if there is a place that we would like for donations or memorials to be made, “in lieu of flowers” to honor Molly’s life and memory. We have already gotten notifications of donations and memorials having been made to various worthy causes and organizations in our Molly Marie’s name and we are so grateful. For those who would still like to do so, we have chosen The Heart Institute for Children Foundation at Hope Children’s Hospital, 4440 W. 95th Street, Oak Lawn, Illinois 60453.
The Heart Institute for Children is where all of Molly’s fetal echocardiograms took place and had she survived where many of her heart examinations would have taken place. We were so impressed by our perinatal cardiologist Dr. Bettina Cuneo, our echocardiogram technologist Mary and the other staff members there. We are grateful for how compassionately they helped us navigate our journey with Molly after we learned her diagnosis and prognosis and hope that any donations they receive in memory of Molly may be able to help other babies, children and families touched by congenital heart defects (CHD), as well as with research they might be doing to further understand how CHD occur and how to help to treat them.
Thank you again for your continued thoughts, prayers and support during this time. My physical recovery is going well overall and I even had my staples (from the sight of my c-section incision) removed at our OB’s office this morning. It is hard to believe that one week has passed now since our Molly’s birth and death. We really miss our baby girl, and I especially miss the connection I felt with her moving around inside of me, but we do continue to feel her presence in our life and believe she is watching over us from Heaven.