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Have heard it said that.


The greatest loss a human being.




Experience is the loss of a child.


This is true. The person you were before, you will never be again.




Doesn't just change you. It demolishes you. The rest of your life is spent on another level.


The level of those who.


Have lost.


A child. My mom said that a few years before she died, and for her, it was true. She was demolished by my brother's death, and she felt the pain of it every day. But she was able to feel other things as well. Love and joy, fulfillment. She didn't just survive. She lived for 31 years after my brother's death. She worked, she painted, she wrote books, and she was able to do all that because she could talk about my brother's death and about him. And shes that she could do it without the quaver in her voice, the sense of vertigo that I still get when talking about what happened. There was a loss, however, my mom didn't talk about, something I only learned decades after my brother's death. My mom had lost another child, one I never knew about. She'd had a miscarriage. I think it was in 1965 after my brother was born and before I came along. When I did finally ask her about it, she didn't say much and I didn't want to press. It's interesting to me that my mom, who rarely spared me the details of any aspect of her life, had kept her miscarriage hidden.


I was never sure why, but then I listened to the voicemail messages from the end of last season, and so many of you spoke of the babies you lost and society's silence surrounding it. The friends and family who didn't know what to say or said nothing at all.


Thirty-five years ago, I lost my only child. My name is Catherine, and I lost at twelve weeks. And the grief astounded me. I didn't think I was allowed to grieve. My husband and I lost our first baby at six months pregnant. I lost my second child to a really rare genetic-conditioned society was telling me, It's just a miscarriage. Just get over it. I will never get over it. I just have to get on with it. Get on with the living.


My mom must have felt that pressure as well back in 1965 when she had her miscarriage. One caller pointed out to me that the idea of a parent losing a child is so unspeakable. No word in English has been invented to describe it. We have words like orphan and widow, but nothing for a mother or father whose child has died.


Making the loss of a child, this taboo subject where you don't talk about the person, you don't bring them up, I actually think that that can make living with it more difficult. My grief is useful to other people who are in grief and their grief is useful to me. It's like driving in a whiteout snowstorm. If you see that there are headlights in front of you, it helps you feel like there's a path that you are on and there is space to move forward.


That is what all of us are looking for, isn't it? A space to move forward. This is all there is with me, Anderson Cooper. We'll be right back.


Hey, this is David Reind. I'm an audio producer at CNN. And one of my favorite things about working at CNN is that I can call up our super smart correspondents and reporters whenever I want to pick their brains about the news and the stories they're covering. Well, I want to bring you in on those conversations with our podcast, CNN 1 Thing. Each week, I grab one of those said reporters and we break down one big story that's been making headlines. Again, the podcast is CNN One Thing. Listen on your favorite podcast app.


Welcome back to All There Is. My guest for this episode is Katie Tallman. She lives in Texas and left me a voicemail last year about her daughter, Everly. I'm going to play a part of that message now and then talk with her.


I lost my daughter, Everly, two years ago. I was pregnant with her, and I found out that it was very likely that she wasn't going to make it. I had a choice, and I chose to roll the dice. She was my first baby, and I wanted her to be a baby. I really was stillborn. But throughout the pregnancy, I prepared myself as much as possible. But what I learned is that nothing, absolutely nothing could have prepared me to deliver a stillborn pity. To holding a baby that comes out and didn't cry, I couldn't have been prepared for how loud the silence was in that room. Nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming feeling like I needed to run somehow to the other side of the world to go find her.


That was a year ago or more that you left that message. Do you feel different than that person today?


I do, and I don't because, as you know, it's not a linear thing. Just listening to that voicemail, it sometimes doesn't feel like it's me. I think I still am taking in my story and understanding it and getting through it.


At what age did you know you wanted to be a mom?


I remember in fourth grade, our teacher asking what we wanted to be when we grow up, and I said a mom. I remember people laughed at me, but it's what I always wanted. It is my heart's desire to bring children into this world, and I've always wanted a little girl. I was 28 years old when I got pregnant. We were pregnant with twins, and there was Baby A and Baby B, and they just named them just off of location in the womb. Then at nine weeks, we found out that Baby B had died. My miscarriage is called Vanishing Twin Syndrome, where your body absorbs it. I had no cramping, I had no bleeding. It's just I was told one day I was having twins, and I was told another day I wasn't. Then a few weeks later, 12 weeks, we went to see the maternal fetal medicine specialist. I had no idea what was about to happen. The sonographer got really quiet. They found fluid behind her neck. Instantly, the mood in the room changed. The air changed. They took the sample from my placenta and tested it, and they let me know that my baby had Turner's syndrome.


Her second X-chromosome was missing, and I would likely miscarry. Most babies that are diagnosed with Turner syndrome die within the first trimester. I expected that. Everly made it a lot longer. She made it until she was 23 weeks and three days.


What was your decision making process when you heard the news there's a 1 % survival rate for babies with Turner syndrome?


I started to try to rationalize in my head that, well, maybe the statistics are wrong. I chose to keep going. I wanted to see it through, but it was really hard. Every single appointment, her swelling increased and it was impacting her organs. She wasn't doing what a baby is supposed to do, like grow. I never got to feel her because she couldn't move. Her kicks weren't strong enough for me to feel her.


You and your husband bought a Doppler machine so you could hear her heartbeat.


Yes, that's the best thing we did. We started doing it every single day as a good morning and a good night.


This is the sound they heard. It's Everly, her heart beating.


I have every single one recorded. I have them all, and I have the last one, too. We were really lucky to have that at our disposal and use it all the time.


Is that how you learned that her heart had stopped?


Yeah. We had just been to our 22-week appointment, and it was devastating. This was the appointment that made me drive to cemeteries to try to find the right place for her.


You actually had to go to funeral homes and cemeteries while you were carrying Everly?


Yeah, I did. I went by myself. Tyler, my husband couldn't do it. He just couldn't do it. I went to three different places because I knew that when a baby dies and you are at the hospital before you leave, you have to know where the body is going to be sent. I needed to research that and I needed it to be perfect. That was hard talking to the funeral directors that are trying to sell you something, and you still have a living baby inside of you, but you're looking for their home. Just awful. When we were going to bed that night, her heart rate sounded so strong. She sounded wonderful. My husband and I were talking about how proud we were of her that night, and my husband kissed my stomach before we fell asleep, which I'm so happy he did. When we woke up the next morning, it was St. Patrick's Day, I woke up first and that feeling when the power goes out in your house and it just sounds different and we just knew. I don't know how, but we just knew. We put it on and we heard nothing. It was silent.


Tyler searched and he searched and we knew. We just needed to go to labor and delivery. That's when I met Carol. She is a nurse that specializes in bereavement, and she tried, and again, it was silent, and we could see her. But there was no heartbeat. The worst words ever, there is no heartbeat.


You talked about the loudness of the silence in the delivery room.


Yeah. I was just trying to survive. It was like I was in somebody else's body. This was my first experience with having a child with labor. They give you medicine to induce labor. When everything started to work and Everly was getting closer, I absolutely panicked. I just wasn't ready for her to leave because once she was going to be out of me, I had very little time left. I was holding in so much, so much fear and devastation, also holding on to a little bit of hope that somehow everyone was wrong. And when Everly came out of me, I screamed and let out this primal moan that was everything that I had been holding in. It was then that I knew that I had lost and that I was wrong and that she was never coming and it was never going to be true. The room was so silent. My doctor was whispering. My nurse wasn't talking. You can hear the hustle and the bustle and the hallway of all the nurses and the families being wheeled around and the babies crying. Then my room was so dark. And empty and sterile. It was awful.


It was awful. But then.




Don't know if you've ever had something like a situation where you feel so much pain and so much grief and then in almost the next breath, you feel so much pride and joy. When they first handed Everly to me, I was distraught. Then I looked at her and I saw her features under all of her swelling. I was filled with so much love for her. Again, the pride and the joy and this overwhelming peace came to me and I think that's a God thing, and that was the biggest gift to receive in that moment so that I could be there and to really treasure that moment that I had with her, that very small window. I'm glad that I was able to feel that peace while I was there with her.


She had felt that peace and the love from you all her life? Yeah, Meg.


I believe that so much. I have to believe that. I have to believe and know that while Everly was in me, all she knew was love. That she was never hungry, she was never cold. She was never hurt. She was never disappointed. She knew my voice. She knew her dad's voice. She knew the songs we'd play. She knew the light we'd shine on my belly. She only knew love. She went straight from me to heaven. She's in the best place possible. I have to keep telling myself that and reminding myself that, that even if I was given the opportunity to have her back, I couldn't. Sometimes I need to convince myself of that, but I know that she is where I ultimately would want her to be. That is what my faith tells me, is that she is whole and restored and happy and perfect and that helps. It helps to know that one day I will see her again and we'll have that hug and embrace that I'll never have to let go of. I'll never have to.


How long did you stay in the hospital after the birth?


We got to stay there over the night. Our hospital had what's called a cuddle cot, and it's a temperature-controlled cot so that when you're not holding the baby, you can put the baby down to slow down the deterioration. It's a beautiful and heartbreaking thing to have.


The cuddle cot is for babies born stillborn?


Yeah, it's for dead babies.


You spent the night with Everly.


I got to spend the night with her, holding her. I rocked her and I sang to her, and I sang, You are my sunshine. I read her verses and I kissed her and kissed her and kissed her and kissed her and kissed her. And then, then they took her and she went that way. And then I went the other way and just don't know how I did it just like run after her. They gave me a box and it had stupid pamphlets in it and on one of my discharge papers, it said, Stop taking your prenatal vitamin. I'm so messed up. And so she went down the hall to the right and I was wheeled out to the left. I regret a little bit not spending more time with her, and I regret not running after her. It's just telling the person, No, you are not taking her, and she's mine. But... Oh, God. But I knew that I couldn't take her home. I knew I couldn't do that.


Just as Katie said that nothing could have prepared her to deliver a stillborn baby, she also was not prepared for some of the responses to Everly's death by others in her life.


I found that many of my friends weren't able to be there for me and my family, honestly, because it's not something they wanted to talk about. It's unspeakable. Losing a baby, delivering a dead baby, and having to bury a baby, it's unspeakable. They weren't comfortable with the rawness of it. It was too much for them. Then also, there were friends that would try to say something, but then what they said hurt so much. I don't think there's anything good that comes from a sentence that starts with At least you know you can get pregnant. At least you can have another baby. At least you didn't go on any further. Yes, I was happy that I could get pregnant again, but that did not erase Everly. I was at a grocery store, and I remember looking around, feeling like nobody could see me, and I was just screaming inside. Really, I just wanted to talk about her. I wanted to have permission to speak about her because I felt like I wasn't allowed to. I was supposed to sweep that under the rug like it never happened, and it was all of me. Friendships changed, the dynamics of my family changed.


Some of that was protecting myself because I didn't want to be told to hurry up and have another baby so I could be grandma less than two weeks after my baby was buried.




Said that to you. Yeah, with a smile on their face, Hurry up and have another baby so I can be grandma. Really, all I wanted to do was just be around people that got it, that had been to that depth, that pain, and that figured out how to claw their way out of it and survived. That's what I wanted. And things got dark. Things got pretty dark at times. I wanted to kill myself. I almost did it whenever I was driving. I was going to drive off the road. I thought about the bathtub, and I went under and I couldn't do it. A lot of it was because I was so terrified that maybe I would be punished and I wouldn't be able to see her again. I just wanted to feel... I mean, I was hurting so bad, I wanted it to stop, and I wanted to feel something else. I didn't talk about that for a long time. I'm not ashamed, but I guess in a way, I am. It was really overwhelming.


Katie found comfort in a WhatsApp group she was a part of with other women who'd lost a child to Turner syndrome. Looking back, she says she would not have made the same choice again to keep the pregnancy when she learned about Everly's diagnosis. Though she pointed out to me she would be forced to continue with the pregnancy under current Texas law.


What I did the first time, it was the choice that I made. It was the way that I had control of this very powerless situation, but I could not go through it again. I know way too much now, Anderson. I would need to have a lot of evidence from my doctors that this wasn't going to play out in my favor, but I would absolutely find a way to close the pregnancy sooner. I can't come up with the right way to say it, but to spare myself and the baby, I couldn't do it again.


Katie wanted to show me the box she was given when she left the hospital. She keeps it and everything else related to Everly in another box her mother gave her.


This is a box that I have that my mom had whenever I was younger, and so in this box is all there is. This is all there is of Everly Grace Tallman. So in here, I've got jewelry that people have sent me. This is a sunflower. It's a sunflower. It makes me think of Baby B. And then there's an E. This was from her funeral. It's got her name, and it's got her name, and it's got a Bible verse, her stats. And then if you can see, that is her footprint and her handprint over there.


What's the Bible first?


It says, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, wonderful. I know that full well. It's from Psalms, and it's... I needed to remind myself, and it felt very comforting and is that she was perfect. She was fearfully and wonderfully made. Even though she was very, very swollen, she was full of fluid, and she was wrapped in cellophane, but she was perfect. And I've got my pregnancy test in here. I've got it all because you can't throw it away. I couldn't throw anything out. Anything. A validation from parking. I've got it. It all means something. And so this is a picture of me and Tyler holding Everly. I was obsessed with wanting to get pregnant again. One doctor wanted me to wait a year, another doctor six months, and somehow we settled on four. And then we got pregnant with Luke. Thank you, God. And we found out that Luke was a boy, which was so bittersweet. In my mind, I couldn't get pregnant with a girl because what if? If I got pregnant with a girl, I'm going to lose her again.


Turner syndrome is only in girls.


Turner syndrome only happens to girls. But I also couldn't have a boy because then I never got my girl. I felt like I could right or wrong by getting pregnant with a girl. I know that sounds weird and it doesn't sound right, but ultimately having Luke, I mean, he saved my life. He really did. Then we got pregnant again with Ryan, another healthy baby, and found out it was a boy. Amazing, but I really cried then because I don't know if we're going to have more kids. It was a lifelong dream I had to be a mother to a little girl and to have that relationship.


What have you learned about grief that might help others?


Well, my favorite quote that helped me a lot, and you may have heard this, it's by Jamie Anderson. It's, The grief I've learned is really just love. It's all the love you want to give, but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corner of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and then that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go. It's particularly that last sentence. It's just love with no place to go. Of course, I grieve because I loved her. She is, she was, and that I'm really grieving a lifetime. I'm grieving everything I lost, all the milestones and all the birthdays and all the seemingly insignificant things the first days of school.


One of the things you said is that you see her now running in a field.




I love that image.


No, I love it so much. It's the same image every time. She's around three, four, and we're in a field and she's in front of me, and she is running as fast as she can and giggling, and she's wearing a blue dress that's a spaghetti strap and she looks back at me and smiles. It's interesting that I don't view her as a baby. I don't view her as an adolescent, a teenager, an adult. She's this three-year-old girl running wild in a field. And just like the feeling of joy and peace that I got in the hospital room, that that was a gift, this is the other one. It is huge. I can picture her as she's well. She is well, and I love it. Yeah. I don't see it that often, but talking about it right now, I see it very clearly. She's running and she's just a little girl and she's great. I do believe that heaven is like that. I don't think she knows that I'm gone. She looks back and there I am. I'm just right there. I'm right there.


And you are. You're not gone.


I can't wait to hug her. I can't wait to hear her voice and to hear her laugh because there's no sound in the image that I have. She's just running, and I know she's laughing. I can't wait to hug her and to have this homecoming and to never let go, to just be there and get to find out if Baby B was a boy or a girl. I cannot wait. Every single day is one day closer to her, and I have to remember that.


Kitty, thank you so much. Thank you for talking to me.


Thank you for reaching out for the podcast in general. It's amazing that you can be alone in your house and feel less alone when you're listening to something like this. And thanks for helping continue Everly's legacy. Being able to talk about her and share is such a gift for me. So thank you.


That's all there is for this week. Next week, with the holidays approaching, which can be difficult for so many of us, I'll talk with Amanda Petrusich, a music writer for The New Yorker whose husband, Brett, died suddenly in 2022. She's now figuring out how to raise their young daughter on her own.


How do I let my daughter see me grieving? How do I encourage her to understand that grief is normal, that grief is love? But also to make sure that she knows that I am going to be okay and she is going.


To be okay.


I think the work of that is exhausting.


That's next week on All There Is. Thanks for listening. All There Is is a production of Cine and Audio. The show is produced by Grace Walker and Dan Bloom. Our senior producers are Haley Thomas and Felicia Patinkin. Dan de Zula is our technical director, and Steve Lickety is the executive producer of Cine and Audio. Support from Charlie Moore, Carrie Rubin, Shimerid Sheetreat, Ronnie Betis, Alex Manassari, Robert Mathurs, John Dianora, Lini Steinhardt, James Andres, Nicole Pessarou, and Lisa Namrow. Special thanks to Katie Hinnman.


This week on The Assignment with me.


Audie Cornish, I'm talking with filmmaker and historian Ken Burns.


What are the things you would do differently?


Nothing. Nothing. I wouldn't do it differently. I just know that different ages of us.


Constrained by different things. What do you think the constraints are today?


I think the sensitivity about.


Language and description. Listen to the assignment with me, Audi Cornish, on Your Favorite Podcast App.