My friend, Rachel, and I were "expectant mothers" at the same time, but not in the usual way.
We talked with great anticipation about the baby girls we were both soon to adopt (mine from here in Utah, Rachel's from out of state) and how they would be friends, how we couldn't wait to photograph them together at parks or at swimming pools, how wonderful it would be for them to have a friend the same age who was also adopted.
We ran our lists of potential names past each other, deciding it was perfectly okay if we both used the middle name "Jane," since we both loved it so much. My baby arrived in October, miss Keira Jane Lucas. And Rachel's baby was born in January, little Daphne Jane Gainer.
When Rachel and her husband heard of Daphne's birth, they were told she had been born with a serious heart condition. And another baby, a healthy baby girl, had also been born at the same time in another state.
Rachel and her husband had the rare opportunity to choose which baby girl would be theirs. Many adoptive parents might have opted for the healthier baby automatically. But neither Rachel nor her husband could stop thinking about the "heart baby," fretting about her well-being, wondering if she would have the chance to have a loving home and a mother and father. They knew, without a doubt, that this sweet tiny infant in Alabama, who had a special heart, was meant to be theirs. One thing Rachel wrote, that has stayed with me, is this:
"We made our choice because we knew it was what God wanted for us and for Daphne. We couldn’t have made a different choice."
Rachel flew to Alabama, and lived there in the hospital with her baby girl for several weeks as she endured tests and surgeries and procedures that had the potential to save her life. When she was cleared to fly her new baby home to Utah, Rachel devoted herself to Daphne's care—and all the hospital stays, supplemental oxygen, and constant monitoring that entailed—with lots of help from Daphne's eager big sister, Shelby.
But on March 18, at just 58 days old, sweet Daphne passed away, after enduring a 7 1/2 hour open-heart surgery. And while the grief has been overwhelming, Rachel knows that her little girl was loved every day of her life, and that she'll be a part of her family forever.
Rachel maintains a blog, The Brief, Beautiful Life of Daphne Jane Gainer: a mother's reflections on life, death, and what comes next, where she keeps Daphne's memory and her story alive.
And this Saturday, she has put together a team to participate in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk, with the goal of collectively raising $2,500 for heart research. Keira and I will be walking with Team Daphne, and our personal fund-raising goal is $200.
Tomorrow, I'll share an album Wendy Smedley and I created for Rachel, in honor of Daphne. She was not on this earth for very long, but she was loved deeply and will be remembered always.