Please view Katie's memorial
|Remembering Catherine Cullen,|
January 31, 2007
We would have called her Katie had she lived. And we do call her Katie, even though she did not live. She quietly snuck into our lives -- lives we thought to be full and complete as they were -- and, then she snuck away, in the same quiet way, and left us empty and broken-hearted. Katie was a surprise, and Chrissy was not sold on the idea of motherhood, but after hearing the baby's heartbeat in Pam and Louise's office, she immediately loved the person growing inside of her. The pregnancy, after the initial work to accept it, was easy. Uneventful. We were touched by the volume of good will from our friends and family at the news of the pregnancy. We were amazed by the amount of love showered upon us. So many people were looking forward to meeting our baby. We were nervous, but ready. And we were blessed. We were part of something sacred.
We wondered how we'd incorporate a child into the menagerie of fur, which included (but was not limited to): Lacey, our dog, and our five cats, Monkey, Simon, Angus, Platooski, and Crabcake. But we were determined to make it work. After all, what child wouldn't love all of those animals? We had recently purchased a fixer-upper, and because of our own lack of certainty about the timeline and direction for projects, we decided to make the whole house baby-ready. We had cribs, and pack-n-plays, and bassinets in nearly every room. Books, blankets, toys, wipes, and diapers were tucked in every nook, for convenience.
We didn't find out the gender during the pregnancy, so we needed a working name, so we could refer to the baby. We chose the slightly irreverent "Chudley," inspired by the pregnancy in the movie Clerks II, which we had seen just a week before we discovered the pregnancy. The nickname stuck, and became affectionate and sweet. Early on, Glen came home with hockey skates and said, "Boy or girl, my Chudley is gonna play hockey!" We contacted the Canadian embassy to find how to acquire dual citizenship for our baby. We formed opinions on diapers and circumcision, and were already eying-up toddler dinnerware with French words and Parisian-style sketches of un elephant, et un zebre, et un singe, et un crocodile, et une girafe to encourage our child to take an interest in languages, the planet, and of course, animals. We wondered daily if our child would have Glen's ear lobes (he has attached lobes) or Chrissy's (hers are detached). We planted more than a hundred bulbs on a warm day in early January 2007 so our child would have an explosion of color and fragrance in the spring to celebrate our new lives.
In the immediate days prior to Katie's birth, the baby was moving so much. She was an acrobat and a bit of a tease! Every time Glen tried to feel her move, she'd stop. And as soon as he took his hand away, she began squirming around some more. Glen researched and ordered last minute supplies for Little Chudley: diapers, and Buffalo Sabres pajamas. Chrissy started to write thank you notes for the baby shower gifts, and imported lullabies into the iPod. A second bathroom was installed downstairs (Platooski the cat was the construction crew's foreman), and a railing put up in the stairwell. Jenny cooked and cooked, and stocked our freezer. On January 31, Chrissy went into labor, so Jenny came over and sorted through the baby's things so that we'd have the most immediate items at the ready for the first few weeks. Glen put coffee on, and Louise arrived. This was it! She checked the baby's heartbeat. She checked again. There was no segue, no proper transition. We were silly with excitement one minute, and the next, the baby was no longer alive.
Despite being told her baby had died, it didn't make much sense to Chrissy, who was in hard labor, and so, she still expected to hear her baby cry, when she was finally born. Instead, she heard the wails of her husband and sister, the weeping of the midwives. Katie's umbilical cord was compressed around her torso and under her arm. She had Chrissy's nose, fingers, and detached earlobes. She had a head of beautiful, dark hair, and Glen's forehead. She was perfect. Perfect and beautiful. She was born without an epidural, into a room and world full of love for her.
We knew, by embracing the pregnancy, our lives would change forever. And they have. Our bulbs began emerging in March, and those flowers were a vibrant, aching reminder of what we did not have, but their determination to thrive proves life does go on. Forward. There was no going back to our life before the baby. Katie, even in death, continues to teach us about loving more and living well. A broken heart is an open one.
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and please take a few minutes to view Katie's memorial, a wonderful outpouring of love from her friends and family.