Young Santa Rosa Beach mother loses what would have been her first daughter three weeks before Mother’s Day. Her focus is on celebrating her daughter’s short life.
On the day Bobbi Reddick learned her first-born would be a girl, she cried. The self-described tomboy didn’t know what she’d do with a girl.
Then she met her daughter, Miriah.
"When I had her, I couldn’t put her down," said Reddick, who lives in Freeport. "I was in love. In love. I was mesmerized."
That was 22 years ago. Now that Miriah lives in Santa Rosa Beach with her husband and two young children, mother and daughter talk on the phone every day,. They think alike and when they shop; without even checking with each other, they often select the same items.
So last month when Miriah gave birth to a premature stillborn daughter, it was Bobbi who came to the hospital and swaddled her granddaughter.
Miriah was just six months pregnant when her daughter died in her womb. The delivery, delayed for at least a day, was traumatic for the infant’s tiny body.
"They just didn’t have her wrapped up the way you would a baby," Bobbi said. "I was trying to keep the look off my face. I just kind of went into Mommy mode, had to numb what I was feeling and do what I had to do."
Miriah’s husband, Eric, had been there for the delivery. But due to the coronavirus, only one person could be with her at a time.
Miriah had always wanted a girl. She dreamed of the day her daughter would get married, of the two of them getting their nails done together. She wanted a daughter so they could have the kind of relationship she has with her mom.
Now, she is trying to celebrate the gift she was given, even though she held it for such a short time.
"My daughter’s life mattered," she posted on Facebook, two days after her daughter died. "She was here. She is mine. I still got my baby girl.
"I refuse to only hurt at her memory, or harden my heart or try to forget. ... I will look for her everywhere until I die," she wrote. "I will find her in everything beautiful, in my own children’s eyes, in my husband’s strength, my own mother’s hugs."
They named their baby Nilah Juliet Alvarez. She was 1 pound, 1 ounce when she was born Saturday, April 25.
Miriah believes she took her last breath two days earlier.
On that Thursday, Miriah took a few moments to lay quietly so she could focus on feeling her baby move. With a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, her days are hectic.
"I laid there, I was like, ’Come on Nilah, just move so I can be calm the rest of the day,’ " she recalled. "I was pressing and feeling, felt just the faintest movement.
"At that point, she was already dying and that was her last movement. I’m glad I can recall. She moved that last time for me.
"It was so faint. That was all she could give me."
The next day, Miriah woke up early, ate something sugary, but couldn’t feel her baby at all. She went to her doctor’s office, where they told her the baby was dead. The amniotic fluid was gone, for reasons that are still being determined.
They told her she’d have to wait until the next day to be induced.
"I was alone when they told me because I knew nothing was wrong," she said. "They told me to go home and find someone to watch my kids."
She spent the rest of that day believing they were wrong, that she would again feel her daughter move. Before they induced labor the next day, she asked them to check one more time.
"I knew she was gone but had the slightest bit of hope," she said. "I still don’t feel like it’s real."
The delivery was tough on the baby, visibly breaking some bones.
"It hurt me to see her and she was my own," she said. "It was hard to see her because she looked in pain. She had already spent time not alive."
Then Bobbi came in, scooping up her granddaughter and tenderly swaddling her in blankets before laying her in Miriah’s arms.
It is one of the things Miriah is grateful for -- that she got to hold her daughter and spend time with her. That her mom took care of her, again.
"My mom wrapped her up," she said. "Made her look comfy."
In the last few weeks, Miriah has learned a lot about love and a lot about grief.
"I just look around at everybody and they have no clue," she said. "Nobody knows. I feel like everyone else’s world is still standing and mine has just stopped.
"I don’t want to be angry but I’m a little bit jealous."
And her mom, who knows her so well, said that Miriah has feared losing people she loves ever since she was 5 and lost her grandmother.
"We both know about loss now," Miriah said. "We have gotten closer. Now I feel like I understand her better now because she lost her mom and I lost my baby."
Some days, she is able to get up and make breakfast for the boys and play with them and feel almost normal. Others, her mom covers over, often sensing she’s needed before Miriah even tells her.
Before Nilah was cremated, they got to hold her again.
Her cremains will be kept at the family’s home in Santa Rosa Beach.
"We want her at home with us," Miriah said. "I don’t want her at a place with strangers."
She continues to sort her thoughts and feelings out on Facebook.
"If I could choose from all the babies in the world, if I was offered a choice to give up the time I had with you for the certainty of a living baby, I hope you know this: I would still choose you."