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Little Cora Died at 5 Days Old

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I first heard about the most commonly occurring birth defect from the coroner.

Little Cora

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.

When the coroner told me Cora had a birth defect, I was stunned. How could my perfect- looking child have a birth defect? After all, birth defects don't run in my family.

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.

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8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Robin February 22, 2010, 12:36 PM

I’m so sorry for your loss and that they didn’t catch the problem before your daughter was discharged from the hospital.
After my daughter was born a year ago we were literally packed and ready to go out the door when the doctor heard a murmur on her exit exam. We stayed another day and a half with my husband and I sleeping in a wing of the hospital under construction near the maternity ward, waiting for a Cardiologist to be availible to review her Echo (the hospitals resident Pediatric Cardiologist was on a two week vacation). It was terrifying and no one could tell us anything.
We now have to go every 6 month or so to get her scanned at the cardiologist. Luckily she’s fine and they believe the holes will close on their own over time.

Nicole February 22, 2010, 1:14 PM

I am so sorry for your loss and can’t imagine the grief you are going through! That being said, I am a mother of 1 holding my breath for the next 7 weeks until we have our fetal echo done (I am currently 13 weeks pregnant with our 2nd). I am a survivor of a CHD and have lived my life knowing that there is a 1 in 4 chance I will pass this on to my children. While I’m so thankful for your article and the fact that someone is finally talking about this, I also want to make it clear to people that not all CHD’s end tragically. So while we need to educate mothers-to-be on the topic, we also need to treat it as any other possible defect. Thank you so much for sharing your story and getting the word out there!

Kristine Brite McCormick February 22, 2010, 5:53 PM

Thank you for reminding us that not all CHD stories are like Cora’s. In fact, CHDers are Olympians, Shaun White has a CHD and had open heart surgery before the age of one. Much love. xoxo

heartmama February 22, 2010, 8:13 PM

I love what you have been doing for CHD awareness, I’ve followed you on Facebook and Cora’s Story and came here to read your article. Like you, I considered myself educated and bright, and I read and read during my pregnancy’s and never once read about CHD’s. How could that be possible, I thought?? I know now..people, doctors and medical proffesionals don’t like to talk about things they don’t know about, especially when it involves babies dying. It needs to be brought out, it needs to be in their faces and THEY need to be educated. I hope you find healing.

friend February 23, 2010, 12:17 PM

ever heard of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrom) aka Crib death? even worse than CHD because there’s no reason and the child just dies. again, you just wait for the coroner’s call to find out. it’s terrible.

Anonymous February 23, 2010, 6:15 PM

RIP Cora

Me February 24, 2010, 7:11 AM

I am so, so sorry for what happened to Cora. Good for you for taking such a nightmare of a tradgedy and turning it into awareness that will hopefully help more children to get diagnosed before it’s too late. I am so very sorry.

mockingjay pdf March 15, 2011, 11:31 AM

This is excellent! How did you learn this stuff? %WEBSITE%

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