"On Sunday, April 16, the day Keri officially hit full-term at 37 weeks, suddenly, we were in the two-week window. In two weeks, we’d be prepping to welcome our baby girl into the world, and preparing to say goodbye to her. I planned on sitting down that day to write Eva a letter, like I did before Harrison was born, to give him on his 18th birthday. She’d never read it, but I was going to read it to her," Royce wrote.
That morning Keri notice Eva was especially quiet. After coming back from lunch she sat in her favorite spot and prodded Eva to move. After no reaction, she got up and walked around, drank cold water and at some sugary stuff. Still nothing. That's when they decided to go to the hospital.
In the car, Royce asked “This is going to be bad, isn’t it?” he said. Keri erupted into tears and her body shook. He had his answer.
After searching for a heartbeat using a doppler, and verifying on an ultrasound machine, it was confirmed that Eva was gone.
"We had tried to do everything right, tried to think of others, tried to take every possible step to make this work, and it didn’t. No organ donation. Not even for the failsafe, research. We felt cheated," Royce wrote.
Since there was no reason to control variables anymore, the doctors induced Keri into labor.
"The rest of Sunday and into Monday morning were the darkest, most painful hours of our lives. Not that grief needs to be ranked, but compared to even when we found out Eva’s diagnosis, this was so much worse," Royce wrote.
"I longed for just five minutes with her, heck, five seconds with her. All of that practical stuff about organ donation was irrelevant to me now. I just wanted to hold my baby girl and see her chest move up and down. I just wanted to be her daddy, if only for a few seconds," Royce wrote.
At 12:37, Eva Grace Young was born weighing 3lbs 4oz. Royce cut the umbilical cord officially separating Keri from Eva at 12:38.
At 12:40 a call from LifeShare came in.
“Hey Royce, it’s Laurie — will you give me a call when you get a chance? I think I have some good news for you.”
Dr. Pinard returned the call on behalf of the couple who were holding eachother and crying as the nurses cleaned up Eva.
“I’m on the phone with LifeShare,” she said, a smile cracking through on her face. “They have a recipient for Eva’s eyes.”
"It’s a weird thing to say that in probably the worst experience of my life was also maybe the best moment of my life, but I think it was the best moment of my life," Royce wrote.
It wasn't what the couple was planning for, but in that moment, it was exactly what they needed to hear.
"I buried my head in my arms and sobbed harder than I ever have. Keri put her hands over her face and did the same. Happy tears," Royce wrote.
"A few feet away the nurses finished cleaning Eva up and wrapped her, putting the hat Keri had knitted on her head. As they handed her to us for the first time, much of the dread and fear was lifted off us, and replaced with some hope and joy again. Here comes Eva Grace Young, the superhero she was always meant to be," Royce wrote.
"We always wondered things about Eva, like what color her hair would be, if she’d have Harrison’s nose, if she’d have dimples like her mama, or what color those eyes would be. In the time we spent with her, one was always just a little bit open, and I fought the temptation to peek. I can’t ever hold my daughter again. I can’t ever talk to her or hear her giggle. But I can dream about looking into her eyes for the first time one day, and finding out what color they are," Royce concluded.
See the beautiful memorial video the family put together, don't forget the tissues because this won't leave a dry eye in the house.