Six Days

Erin Britt essays

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A feat: an act or achievement that shows courage, strength or skill. Skimming the surface of my life I’d think this does not apply to me, far from it! I’ve had a normal, ordinary and great life so far but not necessarily full of awards and accolades. So what have I done worth noting, I ask myself? Well…I’ve experienced loss, had the courage and strength to face it, and did not fall victim to it.

It’s so easy to place labels, to be labeled yourself, and then settle into that role. That’s what I did not want. I did not want to be looked at, talked about in whispers, be pitied, or have my loss define who I am to others.

I am the mother of four beautiful children, three that I am lucky enough to hug on a daily basis and one that watches over us from above, our forever angel Cora.

I do not want to be known as the mom who buried her child. I’d rather just be known as Gavin, Nina, Cora, and Louie’s mom.

On a chilly Tuesday morning in January my husband and I went in to have our third baby. I quickly realized our lives would never be the same, or at least not in the way I had anticipated. Cora was whisked away just as quickly as that emergency c-section occurred. She was unresponsive, “floppy” they said, however her body, all 6 pounds and 1 ounce of her, was still working—heart beating, lungs taking in air, all with the help of machines but still some on her own. I met her briefly, not the precious skin to skin time I had fantasized about and experienced with my others but more a, “could barely reach over from my hospital bed to her incubator”, before she was transported to another hospital in the city in the hopes that some experimental treatments and tests would give answers as to why, how, how bad. Those tests came back and whatever miniscule amount of hope I did have was shattered. I knew saying goodbye was in our future.

I had six beautiful days with her. I would never get to see her eyes open, hear her cry, her laugh, clean her boo boo’s, or take her home. But I got to change her diapers, take her temperature, give her bathes, comb her gorgeous hair, hold her hands, dress her and rock her. Nothing was private, all in the open NICU, but it was like it was just she and I. I knew these would be the only moments I’d have with her, and I treasured them all. I was with her as she entered the world and I was with her as she left it.

These are the moments that define me as a mother, not the fact that I buried the child that I had those moments with. Nothing was easy, it’s all still a work in progress. There was a lot of crying and all the stages of grief occurred. I have a lovely case of anxiety from it all. I speak of her daily and encourage her siblings to as well, which makes for some interesting questions from their classmates and parents.

In speaking of her, and her short yet impactful life, I continue to heal and hope that others going through similar experiences have found comfort and healing in finding that they are not alone, seeing hope in “after the goodbye”. Cora gave me the strength, and continues to give me the courage to move forward, to laugh again, and reminding myself I’m allowed to be happy. Choosing to live each day like it’s the last, brushing off the little stuff, and embracing love and life’s beauty. I am the luckiest person because of her. And just as my children here on Earth will leave me and move out, go off to college, grow up and get married down the road…she never leaves me, she is always in my heart…


About the Author

Erin Britt

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