To those who don’t know me, I may look like a new mom. In the store or at the park, they only see my beautiful three month old, Riley, with me. They comment on how sweet she is and her big blue eyes, they ask if she’s my first. Instantly, my heart sinks.
I grasp at my necklace that has tags for both Riley and my first-born daughter, Leighton, who never took a breath in this world. It’s in moments like these that I share the names clasped in my hand and written on my heart, as well as our family’s story.
Our pregnancy with Leighton was uneventful, easy even. High school sweet hearts who were now married, living in a new house and expecting their first child. Our life felt picturesque and we were grateful, so grateful.
On Valentine’s Day 2016, our world came crashing down when the words “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat” were muttered to us. How was our healthy and active 34 week old baby now gone? She was kicking and moving just a few hours before. There were no warnings, no decreased movement. We didn’t even know that this could happen to healthy babies in the third trimester.
Two days later our first daughter was stillborn, but she was still born. She was 6 pounds 1 ounce of perfection. She had ten fingers, ten toes, her daddy’s chin and mommy’s nose. She was here, she was real, and I will always be grateful to her for making me a mom.
Riley will grow up knowing that she has a sister that came before her and in some respects, I believe she already does. It’s the way she smiles when looking over my shoulder or how she falls asleep on my chest with her hand holding on to the tag with her sisters name on it. This is as close as my girls will get this side of heaven, so I wear their names with love and pride, to honor them both.
– Amanda Kaufmann