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Keiran Hope

July 27, 2006

I’ve really struggled with what exactly I wanted to say. There aren’t really the words that I need.

Keiran is my niece. My only sister’s first child. She was stillborn on January 26th. She had Trisomy 13.

The day we found out something was wrong is a day I will never forget. It was August 1, 2005. Poopy had been running a fever, so I was home with her. We were laying in bed, and the phone rang. It was my Mom, telling me something was wrong. I don’t remember what was said. I just remember getting off of the phone, holding Poopy and crying. She started to cry as well. I know it’s probably that she was freaked out to see her mommy cry, but I like to think that she was sad for her cousin. The one she’d never get to meet.

My sister is probably the most amazing person I know. She’s smart, funny, pretty, loyal, sincere, honest, real, warm-hearted – all that fuzzy stuff. I’m lucky because she’s my friend too.

I remember when we found out she was pregnant. We had a BBQ for Memorial Day at our house. My sister and I were sitting on my front porch talking. I knew they had been trying to get pregnant and I asked her how it was going. She told me she felt like she was about to start, she was cramping. I told her that if she continued to cramp and no period to test. Later that night she called. They were having a baby. I was so happy that I cried. She was going to be the most amazing Mom. She had so much love to give a child. Trey was going to be a great Dad. He had a rough up-bringing, so he knew what NOT to do. This child was so lucky.

When we found out that something was wrong we were given options of what it could be. Trisomy 18 (fatal), Trisomy 13 (fatal), Trisomy 21 (Down’s) or Turner’s Syndrome. We prayed for Turners. We weren’t so lucky. When the news came in that it was Trisomy 13, we were all in shock. How could this happen? My sister was such a good person. She was married, had a good job, a lot of love to give. Tragedy doesn’t come based on what type of person you are. It just happens. We also found out that they were having a little girl. How bittersweet.

They were now faced with a decision. They could terminate the pregnancy (as most couples do), or they could continue on – though the outlook is not good. Most babies don’t make it full term and those that do pass very quickly. I’ll be honest, I was all for termination. I didn’t know if Jamie could stand the heartache of carrying this child, letting her go. It’s not that I think she’s weak – she’s just stronger than I ever gave her credit for. I wanted the pain to stop for her, so she could begin the healing process. She couldn’t give up hope on her daughter. She wanted to be the best Mom she could be and give her a fighting chance. God would take her when He would take her. Jamie felt it simply wasn’t up to her. They continued with the pregnancy.

The next few months were full of heartache, anger, sadness, happiness, excitement, triumph. They named their daughter Keiran Hope. She kept beating the odds. She was small, falling further and further behind. They said she wouldn’t make it to term. They said at different times that she wouldn’t make it even a week longer. She hung in there. She fought – she was strong for her Mommy and Daddy. They said she wouldn’t be more than a pound – they were wrong. She kept proving the Doctors wrong, kept beating the odds. She had her Mom and Dad’s strength, heart, determination. They hadn’t given up on her, and she wasn’t giving up on them.

The day she was born was one of the best and worst days of my life. I finally got to meet my angel, but she was already in heaven. I was the first person to get to hold her (after Mommy, of course). She was so perfect, so tiny. 10 fingers, 10 toes, cute baby butt, long monkey toes, the image of her Daddy. I never wanted to put her down. I missed her birth by minutes. I hated that I wasn’t there for my sister, I wasn’t there to see her brought into this world. Everything happens for a reason though – maybe it’s just something I wouldn’t have handled well. We got to hold her, kiss her, tell her all the things we had been waiting to say. Then, we had to say goodbye. I don’t think any of us were ready. Can you ever really be? I got to help dress her for her pictures. What an honor!

I have a picture of her on my nightstand. I tell her goodnight. I dream about her, wonder what she would be like today. She would have been 6 months old yesterday. I can’t believe it’s been 6 months. Would she be crawling already? Eating solid food? Laughing at her silly Daddy? Playing with her cousin? She’s always in the back of my mind, in the front of my heart. There are hours that I don’t think about her and then I feel guilty.

Jamie is the epitome of what a Mother should be. She loved her daughter and did everything in her power to save her, to keep her safe, happy, loved. I can only hope that one day I will be the Mother she is.

You wonder why God would ever take a child from her mother. You wonder what the point of all this pain is. Let me tell you – Keiran touched more hearts across the world in her very short life than most people that live to 99 are able to. She had people from all walks of life coming together, praying for her, loving her. She had an impact on thousands. How many people can say that? This little girl, who never got to live outside the warmth of her mommy’s belly was loved beyond all reason and when she passed, she was mourned the way I know I never will be. Her short life she was safe, fed, loved. She knew that. So, while we are here, stuck on earth missing her, she’s safe in heaven, loving all of us, not wanting us to hurt anymore.

My life is better because of her. I know true pain like I never would have without her, but I know the purest hope, love, and warmth like I never would have either. My niece was the next closest thing to my own child to me. Losing her ripped my heart out but knowing her brought me closer to God, my family.

I miss her. I hate that Jamie and Trey had to go through this. A person should never have to bury their own child. It’s brought them closer though.

Rest in peace sweet angel.

An Angel in the book of life wrote down our baby’s birth and whispered as she closed the book “Too Beautiful for Earth” – Author Unknown

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jamie permalink
    July 27, 2006 9:35 pm

    That is beautiful. Thank you so much.

  2. October 10, 2008 7:37 pm

    Jen, my heart aches with this story and even though I’m reading it more than two years after you wrote it, my condolences and sincere sorrow are with you and your family. This is the second story I’ve read tonight with a similar story line, and I’m simply humbled by your sister and brother-in-law’s courage and strength, as well as the couple who just carried their son to term knowing the outcome would be the same.

    Here’s the link

    I don’t know if this kind of pain ever goes away. Maybe by you sharing the anguish here, we will each take a piece of the pain and hold it in our own hearts for you. I wish for you and your sister that time somehow softens the edges this has surely left on your heart and soul.


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