DUNWOODY, Ga. — Cindy and Bob Baima of Dunwoody, Georgia, finally have their happy-ever-after.
5-year old Nathan., and 3-year old Abigail.
And, upstairs, a reminder of what they went through to get here.
A pink teddy bear.
“There might be times I’m having a rough day and find that I just need the comfort of holding the bear,” says Cindy Baima.
The bear marks the beginning, the brief life of their first born.
In 2009, after two years of trying to get pregnant, the Baimas learned they were expecting.
“It was just such an answer to prayer,” says Cindy Baima. “We were so very, very excited.”
But halfway through the pregnancy, an ultrasound showed the baby, a girl they named Reagan Marie, had Trisomy 18, a rare genetic disease that causes severe birth defects.
The U.S. Army Reserve chaplain and his wife were told their baby might not survive the pregnancy, and if she did, she could be born with life-threating complications.
“And so we decided that no matter what, we would be with Reagan until the end of her natural life,” says Bob Baima.
This is where the teddy bear comes in.
Cindy read that having a bear to hold might comfort her during a difficult delivery.
So, she brought the bear to Northside Hospital, when her water broke 10 weeks early.
It was May 4, 2010.
Hours later, Reagan was born.
“And the doctors immediately evaluated her condition,” says Bob Baima. “And they realized she would not live very long.”
In the end, they had just 21 minutes.
“They immediately put Reagan on Cindy’s chest,” Baima says. “And I was there with her, holding Reagan and talking to her. Just loving her. And we both were doing the same thing. And it was just a beautiful 21 minutes with her.”
Oana Hogrefe, a professional photographer, captured the tender next few hours, as Northside encouraged the Baimas to take their time, to hold Reagan Marie, and say good bye.
“We had the bear with Reagan,” says Cindy Baima. “Kind of how a child will snuggle ups with a stuffed animal. And we had pictures taken of her with the bear. And then when I left the hospital, I was holding the bear.”
The bear made such a difference, the Baimas created the Reagan Marie Teddy Bear Fund at Northside — to offer a teddy bear to each woman losing a baby.
“We realized how painful it is for a mother to leave the hospital with nothing in her arms, watching all these other moms leaving with babies in their arms and balloons and all these celebrations,” says Bob Baima.
Six years after the Baimas let Reagan Marie go; they believe her spirit lives on, one teddy bear at a time.
“It’s certainly a great way for moms and parents to know that they’re not alone in this,” says Cindy Baima.
To learn more about the Reagan Marie Teddy Bear Fund at Northside, visit http://www.northsidepnl.com/reagan-marie-teddy-bear-fund.html