On the morning of May 29, 2012, my husband and I arrived at the hospital, anxious to welcome our new baby into the world. I was scheduled for a repeat c-section at 8:00am. My pregnancy had been healthy and uncomplicated and I had been at my last prenatal visit only 4 days prior, confirming a healthy baby with a strong heartbeat (143 bpm).
I had a hard time sleeping that evening- part excitement - part baby doing her usual late night kicking/punching and my inability to get comfortable.
Once at the hospital, my husband and I joked about our decision to have children so close together; our oldest was not quite 2. The nurses hooked up my IV and attached the contraction monitor, preparing me for surgery. They wrapped the fetal doppler around my very large stomach and struggled to find a heartbeat. I wasn't worried because the baby had just been moving that morning. After multiple failed attempts, an ultrasound had confirmed that our baby's heart had stopped beating.
I was rushed to the operating room where I delivered a beautiful 8lb 11oz baby girl who we named Sophia. My nurse placed her into my arms, and I expected signs of life but she was not breathing. The doctors told me they tried for 19 minutes to revive her but their attempts were unsuccessful and she was born still. Her cause of death is unknown.
In my grief, I felt a calling to do more. Because Sophia was a heart valve donor, I became involved with Lifebanc (Northeast Ohio's Organ, Eye, and Tissue Procurement Organization) but I could feel a tug pulling me for something else.
So, 7 months after Sophia died, I signed up for graduate school with a plan to get my Masters Degree in Counseling, open a nonprofit that would provide free grief counseling to families who suffer the death of a baby, and build a community of support for families who have to know this pain.
And so, Sophia's Wings was born. I graduated with my Master's Degree in Counseling from Nova Southeastern University in December 2016 and with the help of my church, friends, and family, I have a space to provide free grief counseling to families.
As of today, we are currently serving 5 families on a weekly basis.
This is just the beginning.
We have plans for support groups, volunteer opportunities, events to honor and remember our babies.
Oftentimes, when losing a baby, we can view our life as "before baby" and "after baby." While their death shatters us, I believe that we can become transformed by our tragedies and allow our light to shine through our brokenness.
It is my hope that at Sophia's Wings, families can feel comforted and supported on their grief journey - that they can allow us to carry some of their pain and that ultimately, they can find healing and peace; that they can be transformed by tragedy and grow through the grief.