The words rang in her ears and she couldn’t focus on anything else the doctor was saying. Her husband of less than one year sat beside her, but she couldn’t even look into his eyes for the support she desperately needed in that moment, and so she just held his hand. She sat there thinking over the news she had just received... trying to digest it. Trying to makes some sense of it. Trying to turn it into some tangible thing she could hold and then throw away as if it had never existed. On that rainy afternoon in January, LaToya learned that she would not be able to naturally conceive a child. The news was devastating. She and her husband, Cooper, left the hospital heartbroken but with the faith that God would provide answers and that He would get them through what felt like the most difficult time in their lives.
Two months later, she woke up one morning very sick. On a whim, Cooper rushed to the closest drug store and purchased two pregnancy tests. When he handed them to her she broke down, feeling that he was playing some cruel joke on her. Why would she take a pregnancy test, when she already knew that pregnancy was more or less impossible? With reassurance from Cooper, she took the test and the results were positive. Sure that she had done something wrong, she took the second test and it was positive too. Shocked was an understatement for how she felt. The next day, she went to the doctor and her greatest dream was confirmed. She was expecting a baby, which was due in November, just three days after her own birthday… a gift from God.
During the next few weeks, she and Cooper lived in complete awe at the thought of being parents. They would bring a life into this world. They would have the responsibility of molding that baby into a child of God. They thought of how they would share their testimony of faith with their miracle child… and with the world. They were going to be parents. She was going to be a mother.
A few weeks later, they learned that their little one was a girl. Suddenly this baby, which was already loved and cherished, had an identity. LaToya was ready to be over-the-top with all things girly. She made plans to buy everything pink, lacy, and girly she could find for her daughter, Hope Danyea.
Every night, she laid in bed, talking to Hope. Telling of her day, wondering who she would become and telling her she could be anything she wanted. LaToya dreamed of taking her to ballet classes, softball games, and of just watching her grow. Those quiet moments are the ones that mattered most.
On the evening of July 13th, while getting ready for bed, LaToya felt a huge gush of water. Unsure of what was happening, she went to the hospital and was told that her water had broken. She panicked. She was only 22 weeks pregnant. It was too soon. It was only July, not November. She was admitted to the hospital and placed on indefinite bed rest. She and Cooper kept their faith in God, praying that he would guide them and protect their daughter. They did not know what else to do.
July 16th is a date already marked in LaToya’s mind. It is the day she lost her brother Danny to liver Cancer nine years ago. Hope’s middle name “Danyea” is in honor of him. That day is also the day she lost her daughter. Hope Danyea was born stillborn at 22 weeks and 6 days. LaToya’s world shattered and turned black. Her dreams of a beautiful baby girl were gone. She would never be the ballerina she saw or the CEO of a company. She would never be… Listening to the doctor say, “I am sorry, but she did not make it,” sounding like a tuba blowing directly in her ear. It was deafening. It hurt. It seemed as though it couldn’t be real, but it was. That moment became the thick black line drawn down the middle of her life. The line that separated the person she was before and the person she is today.
She left the hospital a few days later with a broken heart and a bag full of memories. She did not have a sleeping baby wrapped snuggly in a blanket, or a handful of “It’s a Girl!” balloons. Just a bag, a sympathy card from the hospital, and pamphlets from the grief counselors on how to cope with their lost. This wasn’t how their story was supposed to end.
Dear Hope, you left me!! Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 6:53 in the morning! I’m so heartbroken right now! You didn’t suffer because you never had a chance. My heart hurts so much!! I miss our 4:00 gymnastic practice that you loved to perform.
You looked just like your dad. Long legs with big feet and hands. Beautiful black hair. They dressed you in a pink and white dress with a little white crotchet beanie! You looked so peaceful and delicate. I wanted to kiss and hug you but I was afraid.
I feel so empty now, I don’t know which way to go. I can’t believe I will never see you again. Only in my dreams and that’s the best feeling in the world. I wish I could have you back but I know I can’t.
Please keep watch over me and your daddy. We both love you deeply!!
In the weeks since they lost Hope, LaToya and Cooper have tried to find some sense of normalcy, but have instead found themselves in an odd place. Some people around them have changed.. they have distanced themselves. They simply don’t know what to say or how to properly express their condolences. So instead, they have just walked away… LaToya and Cooper realize that they have to be ok with their new reality and accept that not everyone handles grief the same way. In her mind, LaToya fears being “that lady” who lost her baby… the weird lady that no one wants to be around. In reality, she knows it is not really that way, but in her head, that is often how she feels. LaToya admits that she sometimes blames herself for losing Hope… for feeling that what happened was her fault or that she could have done more.. for feeling that she failed at having a baby. In her mind, she knows that it is not really her fault, but it’s as though that information can’t find it’s way to her heart.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. LaToya wanted to share her story because she knows there are other women going through similar loss, and like her, feeling as though they have to hide their feelings. She hopes that her story of Hope will encourage others experiencing something similar to share their story and to not feel as though no one understands. LaToya and Cooper know that God is not done with them yet and keep their faith in Him.
Thank you LaToya and Cooper for so bravely sharing your story, and to Kunya Jones with Makeup Dash for pampering LaToya and making her look gorgeous.