Leia Kate’s Story

16 Nov13

As told by her mother Christina.

My daughter, Leia Kate, was born 27 weeks 5 days premature on 1 Aug 2010. Nothing during the first 6 months of my pregnancy pointed to a premature birth. Everything was good, I felt good and thought this would just be another textbook case, just like her older brother.

Although she was well when born, she caught an infection in her lungs in NICU, which then developed into Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD) and later we found out she also had quite a severe case of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and ROP.  Leia was on O2 24/7 and had a Naso-Jejunal Tube (NJT) from her nose to the small bowel (jejunum) to facilitate the continuous feed. She was in and out of the hospital throughout her life. We prayed hard for her to be back home for Christmas that year, which she did. But she passed away suddenly the next day, 26 Dec 2010. She was about four months old.

December is usually hard for my husband and I, but we try to make it through the month and especially Christmas. While we are sad knowing that’s when Leia left us, we still want her two brothers to remember her in a happy sort of way and help make good memories for our boys.

What I wanted to share is what I wrote on the blog page. It was written on her birthday two years ago, back on 1 Aug 2013. I’ve given up trying to be guarded against triggers, since just about anything can hit me in the face. It’s really pointless to try to be proactive and think of all the possible things that will remind me of Leia and try to will myself to either face them or run away from them. I tried, and it’s not possible.

Ballerina Flats 
Originally posted on August 1, 2013

So this week has been harder than I thought.

Don’t get me wrong, I hold you so close to my heart and you are always on my mind. A song, a scene from a movie or a TV show, a picture, a quote, a news article can make me think of you and cause me to feel sad for awhile.

But twice a year, I just find it harder to breathe. I become more guarded, I act as if I don’t let it eat into me, but it gnaws on that same spot that hasn’t quite heal from the last time. I smiled and look for something to laugh at, someone to laugh with (your brothers and your dad are great at that). I distract myself with work, things like checking out Amazon for good buys, but it’s just temporary.

Is it just me or time just kinda slows down when we get to August and December.

Last Thursday, I had lunch at Wang Cafe after taking your older brother to school. My usual fare, Mee Siam (a local food with Malay influence) and Iced Lemon Tea.

Along came a mother pushing a stroller with a baby, about your younger brother’s age, and a little girl standing on the Lascal Buggy Board. The eldest child, a boy maybe about eight years old, took up the rear. The mother found a table right in front of me, gave instructions to the older brother and the little girl to sit there while she went to place her order, taking the youngest with her.

The little girl, the middle child, decided to take out the Crayola markers from the pouch and some Disney Princess colouring sheets. Her older brother, quite mischievous actually, decided to disturb her by dropping his coin into the back of her dress.

She had the prettiest light grey dress and shiny silver ballerina flats. Her hair was tied up into a short ponytail and she got more and more irritated with her older brother. Although she tried to show her displeasure by giving him the look and pushing his hand away, she didn’t throw any tantrum and decided that the best way for him to stop whatever he was doing was to ignore him and she continued to colour her Belle.

I nearly died there. It was really hard to keep the emotions at bay. My jaws were clenched and my eyes started to sting.

The mother came back and their food came shortly. She cut up the noodles into smaller bits and put aside some chicken macaroni soup for the two older children. The youngest, the baby, started to fuss a little in the stroller but stopped when he found a toy to chew on.

The little girl was too short to eat her macaroni seated on the stool, so she had to kneel on it and ate her lunch on her own.

I left before they finished.

That little girl was you, Leia.

That would have been all of us, you, me, both your brothers.

And it sucks that it isn’t.

On Monday, I saw them again at Wang Cafe. What a coincidence, except the mother had taken the two older children with her.

Once again, the little girl had to kneel on the stool to eat her chicken macaroni soup.

She had another pair of ballerina flats, a light blue one. The prettiest blue I have ever seen. The blue that I would have gotten you this year.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Leia.
We miss you here, always.