Answer by Lisa Kathryn Perry:
I married for the second time at 38. I met my husband on New Year's Day and knew that I loved him, really loved him, about three weeks in. Two months into our relationship on Wednesday, March 9, I discovered I was pregnant. I was flabbergasted; we had been so careful, I thought. I went out and bought him a bottle of bourbon, called him, and asked him to come right over. I had no idea what he would say. He came to my small apartment and sat down at my kitchen table, gazing across at me. I poured him a shot and said, "I'm pregnant." He said, "Well, then I guess we'll just have to get married." Which we did, two days later, in my sister's living room with 30 or so people there. Our bridal party consisted of my nieces and nephews, all of whom were under the age of six.
We were ridiculously happy. We found out we were having a girl and named her Mariko Kathryn. My husband comes from a family of four boys and was beside himself. We planned and dreamed and talked about what she would be like, what she would look like (he is Japanese-American, I am Scots-Irish American). Would she be fair?
What color would her hair be? Could she possibly turn out to be blonde like all of my cousins and two siblings? And then, at 23 weeks, I started to bleed. I was immediately placed on bed rest and I remember watching all of the episodes of Prime Suspect and falling in love with Helen Mirren. I lay there day after day dreaming of my baby, picturing her, planning our future together. My husband made me crab cakes and ice cream sodas and delectable salads. We lay in bed when he came home from work holding hands and watching horrified as OJ Simpson in his white SUV wound and darted through the crowded California expressway. Not once did it occur to us that this would end badly. I had had a checkered life, filled with trauma and loss, and I was so very happy for the first time in such a long time. My husband, my child, our family. I couldn't believe my good luck. And then, at 27 weeks, my water broke.
Twenty-one years ago there was no attempt to save a baby born so early. We barely made it to the hospital where she was born. My husband sat beside me clutching my hand and said, over and over, "This is really bad, this is really bad." He leaned over and kissed my mouth hard, tears streaming down his face. We held her, our tiny delicate girl, all two and half pounds of her, whispering her name, telling her how much we loved her until she died in my arms a few hours later. I was absolutely devastated. This was not supposed to happen. This was the last decade of the twentieth century for God's sake. But it did happen, and as we grieved our daughter's loss we found others who had gone through the same thing, who reached out to us and did their best to comfort and hold us.
I was very lucky to have another child. So bittersweet: he was born on what should have been her due date, had she made it, exactly one year later.
I have never gotten over her loss; every year on the anniversary of her birth and death I am blindsided by fresh grief. I picture her as she might have looked as a young woman, I wonder who she would have become as a person. I wish so much that I had gotten to keep her.