Layla Emerald. We decided on her name while on our baby moon in Vanuatu. She was a part of our family long before her birth.
Born still five days past due
Tragically, and still so hard to fathom, Layla was born still five days past her due date in July 2011.
Her little heart just stopped beating, and she stopped moving in my belly. I knew something was really wrong, and despite trying everything to rouse her, the doctors confirmed the worst. That afternoon is like a horrible, cruel nightmare that still creeps back into my mind on my “sad days”. How do you even begin the process that the little life you’ve been lovingly nurturing for more than nine months is gone? But yet still inside you? I still had a big, round pregnant belly. But we would not hear her cry at birth; we would never see her open her eyes, and we wouldn’t have the chance to strap her into her capsule and take her home from the hospital. And a funeral for a baby is just about the most harrowing and distressing thing someone can endure. How to begin to process such an awful occurrence is still beyond me. I’m truly not sure how I did it.
Layla was exquisite. She was perfect. Too perfect for earth, in fact. Her baby sister, who we have the privilege of parenting in a real-life sense, continues to offer us beautiful insight into what Layla might have looked like as a baby, a toddler, a preschooler. But the wondering is something that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
The fog of desperate sadness
I honestly felt that there was no possible way I could heal from Layla’s loss. No way I could live without her in my arms. I was certain I’d never smile or laugh again, and that the fog of desperate sadness that I lived under for months and months was my forever. I shuddered at the thought of ever being pregnant again – because no-one could promise me it wouldn’t happen again. And I couldn’t have survived it a second time. Of this I was sure.
Four years on
And yet, here I am four years on – standing, smiling, and living a truly wonderful life with my two living, breathing rainbows. Layla’s baby siblings brought light back into my world. Their very being is a constant reminder of what we lost when Layla died – but there’s always beauty amongst the sadness.
I am stronger than I ever thought possible, and my broken heart has begun to heal. It is a work in progress – but I’m proud of how far I have come. My loss is a part of who I am, but I am not defined by it.
My life is not what I thought it would be – not how I had planned it out in my head. But this is my reality, and I am embracing it.
Layla will forever be a part of me, and we will always speak her name. Her legacy endures through the way we will always strive to help others who follow in our path.
Mother to Layla Emerald.