her story

4 days before she was born
Caris AnnaBelle Tate is the best thing that has ever happened to her father, Chris, and I. When I was pregnant, I would often sing her a song letting her know that "Caris, you are the best, thing that's ever happened to me, and your daddy" and I am blessed to have had the privilege to sing that song to my daughter while I held her hand on the last day of her life.
4 hours old @ MIH NICU

Caris was born at 4:55pm on Sunday, January 30th, 2011. She was born with an enlarged heart, which made it difficult for the blood to pump from her heart to her lungs and then circulate throughout her body. When she was first born, her umbilical cord ripped and she lost a lot of blood. I remember holding onto Chris' hand after that final push and waiting to hear our baby girl cry her first cry. When we finally heard it, we were so happy and began bawling. We weren't able to hold her before they took her to the NICU of Mary Immaculate. I was able to kiss her forehead, though.

She spent 11 hours in the NICU at Mary Immaculate before they transported her to the 
NICU at CHKD in Norfolk.
NICU at CHKD 4 days old

 It was a very scary transition, and I was so saddened that I wasn't going to be able to go with her, because I had not been released from the hospital yet. Thank God for my doctor, he came in around 8am on Monday the 31st and told me I would be discharged soon- so I could be with her. My mom and aunt Sonja were Caris' first visitors at the NICU at CHKD and I am so thankful that they got to spend those first hours comforting her, I am certain she could feel their love and their presence.
Caris continued to get better throughout the week. They had found a combination of breathing treatments, medicine and methods that were working well for her. On Friday, February 4th, she started having difficulty and they had decided to change some of her treatment. Caris didn't like that too much. She proved she was stubborn, just like her mommy, and would let the doctors and nurses know to leave her alone.

Saturday, February 5th, 2011 was the worst day of my life. Upon arriving at the hospital to visit my baby girl, I was told that the treatment that CHKD was providing for Caris was no
longer enough to sustain her. She needed to be transported to the Children's Hospital at UVA in Charlottesville. This was incredibly difficult to handle. She would be transported by ambulance 3 hours away to be treated at UVA with a procedure called 'ECMO' which is a lung and heart machine. She had an 85% chance of survival once being put on that machine.

My mom and I drove to Charlottesville and spent Caris' last hours with her. She continued to have breathing complications while the doctors and nurses in the NICU at UVA were trying to figure out the best treatment methods. They decided to put her on the ECMO machine as her last chance. While prepping Caris for this transition, she stopped breathing, and after trying to resuscitate her for a half hour, her little body couldn't handle it anymore. 

Caris passed away, while my mom and I stood at her bedside.

I never got to hear my baby cry after that first cry. I never got to hold my baby until she was already gone. I never got to bathe my baby, to swaddle her, to rock her, to squeeze her and see her look back at me with adoring eyes. My baby was never given that chance.

And while I would love to be able to sit here and say I know that God has all the answers and His plan is best, I am finding it hard to comprehend why our baby girl is not here with us. Caris was the most wanted and anticipated baby in this entire world. I never spent one day of my pregnancy complaining or wishing it away- being pregnant with Caris was the best time of my life. Her birthing experience was the best pain I have ever endured. I would do it again and again and again even if I knew what I knew today.

Chris and I are grateful that our little girl is no longer in pain. We are grateful that she is sitting in Heaven with my Mamaw, her uncle Luke, and her cousins Kody and Kaitlyn. We are grateful for the moments we spent with her in her 6 short days of life.

We don't think it is a coincidence that Caris' heart was too big- we think it is a testament that she was sent here to show the love of Christ through her little body. 

Thank you again for all of your prayers.