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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: It would have been my daughter's first birthday

By Shane Epping/Missourian reader
April 15, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Shane Epping shares the story of his family's journey, and of his daughter, who died one day before she was born.

Shane Epping has lived in Columbia since 2005, when he entered the Missouri School of Journalism for a master's degree in journalism. He works for MU as a photographer and an adjunct instructor.

April 12, 2013, would have been my daughter’s first birthday. But she’s not here. She died one day before she was born. After 41 weeks of pregnancy, the doctor couldn’t find her heartbeat. Her name was Faye. And she was beautiful.

Halfway into the pregnancy, we were told for the first time that there was a problem. Faye had a fatal chromosome abnormality known as Trisomy 18 that would allow her to live inside her mother, my wife, for an undetermined amount of time. They told us that Faye might make it full term, but would probably only live a few hours, or a few days at the most, after birth. Mary, my wife, and I never imagined that Faye would pass away before we met her. But she did. All Mary wanted was to hold her baby, alive, for at least a little while. But it didn’t happen.

We all have burdens to bear. We all suffer. Losing Faye has been my biggest challenge thus far. But I know I’m not alone. As part of the "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" organization, I have photographed 11 babies in the past year who didn’t live. I feel for all of those who experience loss, in whatever form it comes.

I’ve had a year to think about what happened. I'm reminded to live fully — but not today. All I really want to do is run away — toward the ocean and never look back. I can imagine a better place far, far from here. Mary will meet me there. I'll enjoy the water and we'll watch the sunset. I'll probably swim out too far and Mary will worry about me. But I'll make it back. And we'll keep going because there really is no other choice.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.