Lots of mothers will tell you their lives changed forever the day their child was born. That was true for me, too, but then just nine days later, my life changed again.
That was the day my daughter died.
I didn’t expect to get pregnant. After years of being told my husband, Dan, and I could not conceive, we’d started our family a less traditional way, by foster-adopting a beautiful baby boy. Six months later, I discovered I was pregnant.
On May 3, 2006, we welcomed Rhiannon Fay-Marie McMurray into the world. Doctors said our little girl was in picture-perfect health and sent us home.
After a little more than a week, Rhiannon began acting fussy, stopped eating and wouldn’t sleep. Worried, I took her to the doctor’s office on May 11. There, between the waiting area and the examining room, Rhiannon went into cardiac arrest.
Our “miracle” died the next morning.
An autopsy later showed that Rhiannon had contracted an undiagnosed virus sometime in her first few days of life. We’ll probably never know where or when. In older children, this virus acts like a common cold, but in a baby as young as Rhiannon, it systematically attacked her organs.
Doctors told us the virus was incredibly rare, but the next year, the Rocky Mountain region experienced an outbreak among newborns. Sadly, many of them didn’t survive.
We later learned a staggering statistic: In the United States alone, 30,000 babies born each year die before reaching their first birthday.