NIXA, Mo. "This is Kaylyn Mae," Nicole Hyde says in referencing a photo of a newborn child sitting on the coffee table of her home in Nixa. "She was born on May 21st of 2018. And she had hypoplastic left heart syndrome. That is where only half of the heart develops."
Nicole and her husband Nick knew from the time they saw their daughter's first ultrasound that the left side of their little girl's heart had not formed properly and doctors informed them that the baby would only live minutes when it was born. Yet the couple decided to go ahead with the birth because they wanted to meet Kaylyn Mae, and rejoice in her life no matter how short it was.
"She was born at 8 a.m. and she passed away at 10 a.m. so she lived for two hours," Nichole said. " When she passed away she was on my chest and it was really difficult but we were able to have our family present so everybody close to us was able to hold her and kiss her and tell her they loved her."
Still it's a moment so heartbreaking that it's difficult to fathom the emotional toll.
"We were just really thankful that we got any time because it was the same feeling you have when you have any baby, Nichole recalled. "You see 'em and get to hold them for the first time and it's still just as amazing. It was such a sad time but it was so filled with love."
Even in that short time, the couple's bond with their newborn baby made them want to keep her memory alive.
"We wanted her to have a legacy," Nichole explained. "Essentially we wanted to make a difference."
So they decided to donate Kaylyn Mae's organs to research for congenital heart disease to try and help others.
"If she can help any other little baby (it's worth it)," said Nick. "It's the number one reason kids under two (years of age) pass away."
The family has been kept updated on the research efforts, and even though Kaylyn Mae's time on this earth was short, her legacy has literally reached the heavens.
"The placenta and umbilical cord that was donated is actually going up to the International Space Station to be studied with growing tissue," Nichole said. "And then one of the research facilities that got her organs wanted to name a star after her and that seems so full-circle. The cells will go up (to the space station) and she has her own little star too."
While Kaylyn Mae will never swing on a playground or go to school, that little girl with a defective heart may be a lifesaver so that other children can enjoy a normal life. So it's only appropriate that her remains are kept in a heart-shaped urn and that a Build-a-Bear keeps a recording of Kaylyn Mae's heartbeat that reminds us all of the sacrifice she and her family made in the name of love.
"Sometimes all you get is two hours," Nichole said. "And you can give a lifetime of love in that time if that's all you get."