I first heard about the most commonly occurring birth defect from the coroner.
Kristine Brite McCormick: I'm an educated, bright, inquisitive person, and while I was pregnant with my first and only child, Cora, I read and educated myself nonstop.
Through all my reading, I never once stumbled across congenital heart defects (CHDs). The thought that something could be wrong with her little heart never crossed my mind.
But the coroner said her little heart was a mess. "Congenital" simply means "present at birth" -- I know, because I had to look it up in the dictionary after I hung up the phone with the coroner.
After Cora was born, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. She was perfect. No signs of any sort of health issue.
Then one night, I woke up late to nurse her. She suckled sweetly, cooed and rolled her eyes to the back of her head. Bliss. She felt perfect in my arms.
I looked up to tell my husband something about how cute or sweet or perfect she was, and looked back down.
She was dead. Her face and my chest were covered in blood. She was pale, limp and not breathing. We rushed to the emergency room, but it was too late.
CHDs aren't always genetic. They can strike any family regardless of race, class or nationality. The statistics vary a bit, but according to the March of Dimes, about one in 125 babies are born with a CHD.
Cora died only two months ago, and I now spend every waking moment spreading her story. I can't let any other mother learn about congenital heart defects from the coroner.
Kristine Brite McCormick writes about Cora (almost) daily on her blog, Cora's Story. If not on her blog, she can be found on Twitter, @kristinebrite or Cora's Facebook fan page telling Cora's story. Follow Kristine for more information about congenital heart defects.