Remembering Cora: A mother’s story of infant loss

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. WOTV 4 Women asked West Michigan moms to share their personal stories about pregnancy and infant loss.

Cora's baby feet

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of WOTV 4 Women, its staff and/or contributors to this site.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) — With October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, it makes me want to shout from the rooftops what my husband and I went through, along with my family.

It’s been almost seven years since we lost our baby girl. For me, it does not feel like it happened just yesterday, but more so a distant dream. I went into labor around 23 weeks along and was in the hospital for five days trying to keep the contractions at bay. But she had other plans and I delivered her suddenly and with no pain meds or epidural.

Michelle and her husband with Cora Rae - December 2008
Michelle and her husband with Cora Rae – December 2008

We named her Cora Rae and she was born alive, if only for a while. I do not remember when she took her last breath, but I was not in the right frame of mind to fully understand what was happening. My husband’s first experience with a newborn was holding his one pound, two ounce baby girl whom we would not be bringing home.

Unless you have been through it, you will never know the feeling of leaving the labor and delivery floor without a child to bring home. Trying to explain that feeling to people who have not felt that loss was frustrating to even try to explain.

“We received a birth certificate and death certificate in the same day.”

The physical aftermath didn’t help the emotional pain. Your breasts still fill with milk waiting for a baby to latch on that never will. My whole body was covered in bruises from all the needles poking and prodding, magnesium sulfate, IVs, and antibiotics. I was reminded every day just by looking in the mirror what my body did.

For myself, the only way to grieve or make the pain go away was to talk about it with other people who could relate. Being open and honest about everything we went through was the only way to find others who felt the same way and to get them to talk about their own personal pain. I can’t even count how many women I’ve met that have gone through similar experiences. Doctors say the statistics are low, but they don’t seem low to me. Statistics don’t matter to the people.

Michelle VanAllsburg is a mother of two children and one angel baby. She formed a Facebook group “Grand Rapids Pregnancy and Infant loss support” to help local families who have experienced pregnancy loss, stillborn baby, infant loss, or miscarriage. Click here to request to join.

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