Her name is Reagan Marie: the firstborn of our friends, Bob and Cindy Baima, and our goddaughter. A beautiful baby girl with a fatal genetic disorder.
Today is her birthday.
Through the years, Reagan’s story has touched many people so I wanted to share it with you.
It was Cindy’s first pregnancy. At around 20 weeks, her doctor diagnosed Reagan Marie with Trisomy 18. Cindy and Bob were devastated. Mart and I, and other friends and family, ached for and grieved with them.
Doctors, women in Cindy's online support group, and others in their life encouraged the Baimas to terminate the pregnancy, but they never considered it, being convinced that all life is a gift from God. They loved their daughter deeply and wanted to walk every day of the journey with her.
In utero, they treated Reagan Marie like they would have if they hadn’t gotten that diagnosis. They talked to her, prayed for her, giggled at her movements, and enjoyed her growth. Somehow they knew she was happy.
Our church community and other friends of the Baimas reached out in support, encouragement, and prayer. We were deeply touched by their faith in God and their willingness to embrace the pain that losing their baby would bring.
One morning at 30 weeks, Cindy’s water broke. It was too early, although the Baimas knew that she might not go full-term. Gathering their hospital bag, they also grabbed a pink bear that Cindy bought earlier, when she read that a mom at high risk of perinatal loss could be comforted by holding a teddy bear when she could not hold her baby.
They arrived at the hospital, and Cindy's labor progressed. Reagan Marie was born at 10:03 am. “We could not believe she finally had arrived,” Bob says. “We could not stop looking at her. We talked to her, stroked her head, and told her how beautiful she was." They wanted to enjoy her for as long as they had her.
Around 10:20, Cindy suddenly had a sensation that Jesus was standing next to her bed. He was smiling, and his arms were open wide. A few minutes later, at 10:24 am, Reagan passed away.
She lived for 21 minutes.
In those moments, Cindy and Bob were filled with joy to be able to hold their baby girl and filled with sorrow that she was gone so soon. When they left the hospital without Reagan, Cindy held the pink bear, which brought her comfort in a small way.
Their hearts were broken, and now they would have to learn to live without their baby. But they knew that God was with them in their pain.
Their grief, their love for Reagan, and their compassion for other parents who lose a child led the Baimas to establish the Reagan Marie Teddy Bear Fund. With it, they have one goal in mind: that no mom would ever again leave Northside Hospital, their hospital, with empty arms. Of course, a stuffed animal can’t replace a child, but a teddy bear can bring some meaning and comfort in a situation that is otherwise filled with pain and sorrow.
Today, Reagan Marie would be seven years old. Along with her parents who love and miss her, she has two younger siblings who know they have a big sister in heaven.
And so far, the Reagan Marie Teddy Bear fund has gifted 1800 bears—roughly one per day since the fund has been in existence. That means 1800 grieving mothers who would otherwise have left the hospital with empty arms have been given a gift of comfort. Because of Reagan’s caring parents and their gratitude to God for her life.
21 minutes. A beautiful life. A legacy of love.
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