No One Knew

Written by Amanda Cunningham.

Many of us walk through life with a protective shell standing between the real us and everyone else. We tuck things away and keep them hidden by choice. We may never realize the joy which awaits us on the other side if we allow people to know the real us- perhaps by choice and perhaps not. For one little girl, she never chose her shell, but she taught her parents everything through it.

Jeremy and Kendall first met in graduate school in San Antonio. Kendallimage2He was attracted to Kendall’s selfless heart and ambition; she was drawn to Jeremy’s chivalrous and kind nature. Their love grew quickly and they were engaged in six months. One year later, they were back home in Dallas and married on June 20, 2009. And two years into their marriage, both with matching graduate school degrees, successful careers, and the purchase of their first home, they discovered they were pregnant with their first child. Everything was going perfectly according to their plan until Kendall's morning sickness never went away.

She tried to hold it together with all of her might.

“My nausea lasted all day and all night. I was absolutely miserable, but everyone reassured me it was morning sickness and it would pass after the first trimester. When it didn’t, I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis, a rare and severe type of nausea during pregnancy. On my worst days, I vomited 15 to 18 times. It always started at 3:00 am and would happen every thirty minutes. Then I would have to get ready for work.”

Kendall’s drive and dedication to her career, coupled with her desire to save her time off from work until after the delivery, found her shutting her office door to be sick in private. She tried to hold it together with all of her might. And Jeremy was her rock-solid cleanup crew and dependable driver as she was in and out of the ER multiple times due to dehydration and weakness.

Her first cry was the most beautiful sound they ever heard.

Six weeks before her due date, Kendall was in the hospital again, but this time, the doctors decided their daughter must be delivered. They believed the violent nature of her condition caused a tear in her amniotic sac. After seven solid months of misery, Kendall and Jeremy were both relieved at the ease of the labor and delivery. Emerson’s first cry was the most beautiful sound they ever heard.

Eme NICU Picture

Since Emerson was six weeks premature, the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) team whisked her away from Kendall and Jeremy. Kendall called across the room, asking if Emerson had all her fingers and toes. No one responded. More staff rushed in the room, all with worried faces, as Kendall’s heart filled with panic. They handed her Emerson for a quick picture and then took her away to the NICU. “She was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. But everyone in the room, including myself, knew something was really wrong.”

Jeremy and Kendall waited out the longest hour of their lives together. When the neonatologist returned, she confirmed their fears. Something was wrong with Emerson but they didn’t know what it was. All they knew is something was very wrong with her skin. In an instant, Kendall’s heart broke into pieces for her daughter. She was devastated, lost and in complete shock.