On June 6, 2019, at 10 pm I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. We named her Elliott Ruelisha Cole Burkhart. She weighed 3.26 pounds and was 13 inches long. 

I found out I was pregnant with her on November 5, 2018. One year after suffering a miscarriage. Her due date would be July 17, 2019. 

On Jan. 23, 2019 is when we found out our son would now be a big brother to a little girl. He wasn’t thrilled, to say the least. The very next day we were shopping for all things pink! We had bought her crib, swing, pack and play, and clothes I couldn’t wait to dress her in. 

We were on cloud nine! At the peak of the mountain with so much joy and excitement! But on Jan. 31, 2019 we found ourselves in the lowest of valleys with no hope in sight. Our joy, our excitement, but most importantly the future of our baby girl was stopped abruptly. 

We were sitting in a hospital ER room as the doctor told us she had a birth defect called anencephaly, her condition wasn’t sustainable for life. She would most likely either die in the womb or shortly after birth. I felt numb. I felt my world around me crash and all that was good, was lost. We were given two options, we could either terminate the pregnancy, by this time I was already 16 weeks pregnant, or we could carry her for as long as the Lord allows. Without question, we chose life for our daughter. 

I had never heard of anencephaly before, so while trying to process the news and grapple with the almost certain fate of our daughter’s future, I turned to social media for help. I found two Facebook groups, one of which were mothers who were also facing the same thing as I, and the other was a group that sent out care packages for mothers whose children have been diagnosed with anencephaly. Both groups gave me so much support and at times made me feel not so alone and hopeless. 

I applied for a care package and received it on March 22, 2019. When I opened my package, tears instantly filled my eyes. The smell of a newborn caught my attention first, then I found little hats for our daughter, each made differently and of several sizes bases on her needs. There were also two bracelets one for Elliott and one for me. The package contained many things that I hold close to my heart. The fact that someone is willing to give up there time and money just to give mothers like me the support, encouragement, and hope we desperately need, fills my heart. A complete stranger cares for me and my daughter, what a beautiful feeling! 

 

For the next couple of months, I spent most of my time traveling to doctors’ appointments and selling t-shirts to my community to help raise more for Anencephaly Hope. I wanted to give back to someone who gave so much to me, and others like me. We were able to raise $800. Doing this helped keep my mind and spirits up. It also showed me that even though I felt alone, I wasn’t and that there are people out there who don’t know you from Adam, who have a kind and loving heart. 

The day my daughter was born, was one of the best and yet hardest days of my life. She was born via c-section. She was a fighter. I was in complete awe of her. She had blue eyes and dark brown hair. Her tiny toes and fingers were perfect. I studied her so I could memorize every inch of her. I kissed her, I took in her smell, and I held her close till she became an angel at 11:32 pm. She gave us 92 perfect minutes with her. 

 

We dressed her in an outfit that said little sister on it, while our son wore a big brother t-shirt. We were able to use one of the hats made and sent by anencephaly hope. A hat I still have. That hat and outfit hold so much value to me, so much significance. Something I’ll cherish forever. 

 

On June 13, 2019, we laid our baby girl to rest surrounded by friends and family. That day still feels like a dream, more like a nightmare. I can’t explain how I felt that day. But what I do know is I want to honor my daughter’s memory, I want her to live on through me. 

Elliott’s Memory Project is established because of her. I want to help mothers whose unborn child has been diagnosed with a fatal birth defect. I want to give these mothers what anencephaly hope gave me, Hope. I want them to know they are not alone and that the life of their unborn baby matters. I want to speak their name and give them the love and support they deserve.

To read more about Taylor and her journey click here.