The sea of bodies–young and old, tall and short, every race, every story–engulfed us as we entered the starting plaza for the March for Babies. Busy chatter filtered through the gusty, chilly wind as we were entertained by child cheerleaders, Zumba instructors, and local news personalities. The sadness, the hope, the love, the pride was palpable. Custom-made T-shirts put a name or face to the reasons we all were there. “Maggie-Straight Out of NICU” boldly yelled one family’s glory across the neon pink fabric.
Each step of the 5k took us a foot closer to our goal of honoring our two daughters. Evelyn, contentedly riding (sleeping between the bumpy curb jumping and gravel filled paths) completed her first walk. Tied to her stroller were the white and purple bandanas handed out (honoring our loss and and NICU baby, respectively). She was a trooper through the hour-and-half wait for the walk to begin, and again as it took us an hour to conquer the circuit.
Driving home, smiles beaming on our faces, we count ourselves blessed to be able to be representatives of such an esteemed group of people. This group includes more of us than we even realize. As I did not comprehend until we lost our Sophia, I know many friends, acquaintances, coworkers, friends-of-friends, and even family members who have stories of their own. A likely underestimated one-in-four pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Many others lose their babies later in pregnancy, struggle with premature birth, or have babies who suffer from birth defects. It is devastating, depressing, lonely, and a place of grief unlike any other. Having survived a version of this story four times, watching other families today filled my heart with awe, as their willingness to walk and share their lives with us for just one day is inspiring. Despite all the tears, mournful memories, and bargains unheard with a higher power to bring our little ones back, it is what we choose to do with our anguish and despair that counts in the end.
Thank you to family and friends who care so much you take the time to wade through my pictures on Facebook and Google+, leave comments,”like”, or “love” my endless posts about the wonder that is our little Evelyn, and open their wallets to support our walk today. (In total we raised $559!)