Choose joy. Those two words have become a mantra for Mike and Meighan Cable.
The Hardin County couple found out last October Meighan was pregnant. In March, during the second trimester, their baby girl, Eloise “Ellie” Joy, was diagnosed with Trisomy 18.
According to the Trisomy 18 Foundation, the condition also known as Edwards syndrome is caused by an error in cell division, known as meiotic disjunction.
When this happens, the foundation said an extra chromosome 18 results in the developing baby and disrupts the normal pattern of development in significant ways that can be life-threatening, even before birth.
“If a baby is born then they have severe developmental delays. But most babies with Trisomy 18 pass away prior to birth whether by miscarriage or super late in the pregnancy,” Meighan said.
Trisomy 18 error occurs in about one out of every 2,500 pregnancies in the United States and one in 6,000 live births, according to the foundation. It also results in a significant number of stillbirths occur in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.
Meighan, who already had three miscarriages, said the diagnosis was hard to hear. Mike added it is something a person initially can’t really process.
“You don’t really know what it means. Then it kind of overwhelms you because you kind of realize what is going to happen,” he said.
Ellie was stillborn July 8 at roughly 39 weeks.
Knowing since March they only would be able to hold Ellie, but not keep her, the couple took on the mantra of “Choose Joy.”
“We felt like day to day was a choice. We could either sit in the pain and sadness of her loss and waste the last trimester just being sad. Or we could live with her,” Meighan said.
Meighan said they took Ellie for a motorcycle ride, took her to Florida to visit Meighan’s best friend and more things they knew they wanted to experience with her in her life.
For Meighan, she said being up front and sharing what was happening with others over the months was healing for her. It kept her in the reality.
“Now, talking about her, you are acknowledging her life. You are acknowledging she lived. Sometimes even if I cry or get emotional, it is not a bad thing because you still are acknowledging her life and that you saw importance in it to ask me about it,” she said.
“I like talking about her and I like telling people about her. … She was real and she was alive so I am going to continue to talk about her not only because I want to acknowledge her life but because she has done so much in our lives and in our small group’s life and in our family’s life.”
On the day of Ellie’s birth, Mike said there probably was never a time they were alone. Their family, friends and church small group were constantly there for them.
“That was probably the most impactful for us. Ellie changed their lives and she changed ours,” Meighan said.
The couple with all those people even had a worship service in Hardin Memorial Hospital’s chapel.
“It was good for us. It was good for our family. Regardless of what is happening in our lives, God is still good. He is still powerful. He is still loving,” she said. “Regardless of what happens in our lives, His goodness doesn’t change.”
“I think it was important to us to experience that and show Him how much we still love Him, and to do that with her.”
As October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, HMH is hosting a Service of Remembrance for families and parents at 6 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Searle Pavilion at Freeman Lake Park in Elizabethtown.
The ceremony will comprise a non-denominational service of remembrance for parents who have lost an infant during pregnancy or shortly after birth.
Chaplain Jessica Jasper said they are trying to break the silence and bring awareness to an issue that happens.
“When you are not talking about it, it makes people feel that they are the only ones that it ever happened to, and they are not. There are many people in our community who have suffered a great loss like this,” she said. “This is something that has been going on for a long time.”
Jasper said Oct. 15 is “a moment where we are intentionally pausing and remembering these babies, remembering and celebrating the life that these children lived and the impact that they continue to make.”