When one new dad returned home to find his wife curled up with their baby in her crib, he thought it was adorable. He was so enamored with the scene, in fact, that he took a photograph of it to look back on in years to come. At the time, however, he had no idea of the heartbreaking reason behind his wife’s actions.
That woman, moreover, is Dayna Mager, who had first met her husband Matt when she was just 12 years old. They would become high school sweethearts and, in 2010, eventually go on to tie the knot. Then, in October 2015, the couple from Ann Arbor, Michigan, welcomed their first child – a girl named Luella.
But Dayna’s delivery was far from straightforward. Indeed, although she had once prayed for a natural birth, that wouldn’t be her fate. After Dayna had spent 18 hours in labor, her body had begun to give out; as a result, her unborn baby’s heart had started to weaken, and doctors duly rushed Dayna into theater to perform an emergency C-section.
Dayna’s unplanned cesarean left her feeling like a failure, however. She felt so down, in fact, that it affected her relationship with her husband and how she bonded with her child. But thanks to her family’s support and her trust in God, she slowly began to heal.
And Dayna even decided to post about her experiences as a new mom on her blog. Addressing her daughter in one doting post, she wrote, “Thank you for showing me that I am enough for you. That mommy and daddy are enough, and that together in this moment, our family of three is made complete with you.”
But, eventually, Dayna had to overcome a hurdle that a lot of new parents have to deal with: that is, facing leaving her child in the care of others in order to spend some quality time with her partner. And one of Dayna’s first post-pregnancy dates with her husband came a few months after the birth; they had left Luella in order to attend a worship concert.
Going to that concert was a big step for Dayna. Little did she know, though, how much it would go on to affect her. Indeed, weeks later, when she went to see to a screaming Luella in her cot, something that Dayna had heard at the concert struck her. So, she climbed into the crib and snuggled up to her baby.
Then, when Matt returned home later that night, he found the pair curled up fast asleep. “It had been a really rough day, and I just needed her to sleep,” Dayna explained to Today in 2016. “I needed to rest. I climbed in there and she snuggled next to me and fell asleep.”
It later emerged that this was not the full story, however. But that came out in March 2016, when Dayna shared the image on Facebook that her husband had snapped of herself and Luella in the crib. And alongside the photo, she explained the heartbreaking reason why she’d joined her baby in bed.
It all came back to that night on which she and her husband had attended the worship concert. “At that conference, a missionary shared his story, and it shook me to the core,” Dayna subsequently explained on Facebook. “A moment that would forever be burned in my fragile, hormone-raging, new mommy heart.”
“That missionary was in an orphanage in Uganda, and he has been in many before, but this one was different,” she continued. “He walked into a nursery with over 100 filled cribs with babes. He listened in amazement and wonder as the only sound he could hear was silence.”
As a new mom, Dayna knew all too well how rare silence was in her own home – and she was only looking after one baby, not 100. And as it turned out, the lack of noise also surprised the missionary in the story, too. As a result, he went on to ask his host why the orphanage was so quiet.
But the lady’s reply to the missionary was heartbreaking, and it would change Dayna’s life forever. “Her response to him is something I will never, ever forget. EVER. This was my ‘why’ moment,” she wrote in her Facebook post.
“She looked at him and said, ‘After about a week of them being here and crying out for countless hours, they eventually stop when they realize no one is coming for them,’” Dayna continued. “They stop crying when they realize no one is coming for them. Not in ten minutes, not in four hours and maybe, perhaps, not ever.”
“I broke,” she added. “I literally could have picked up pieces of my heart scattered about the auditorium floor. But instead, it stirred in me a longing, a hunger. A promise in my spirit.” That night, in fact, she returned home to Luella and vowed to always be there for her.
“We came home, and that night as Luella rested her tiny little ten-pound body against mine and we rocked, I made a promise to her,” Dayna revealed. “A promise that I would always come to her. Always. At 2:00 a.m. when pitiful desperate squeals come through a baby monitor, I will come to her.”
And Dayna added that her dedication to Luella would be just as strong throughout the years. “Her first hurt, her first heartbreak, we will come to her,” she wrote. “We will be there to hold her, to let her feel, to make decisions on her own, and we will be there.”
“We will show her through our tears and frustrations at times, that it is okay to cry,” Dayna concluded. “It’s okay to feel. That we will always be a safe place, and we will always come to her.” And with that, the mom shared her post on social media. She could probably never have guessed the reaction that it would go on to receive, however.
That’s because in excess of 27,000 people have since shared Dayna’s update. In addition, her words appeared to touch the hearts of the many moms who left their comments below the post. Yet while the response was overwhelming for Dayna, she was nevertheless happy to have affected so many people.
“It’s impacting people because of the heart of it,” she later told Today. “You feel something when you look at it.” She added, touchingly, “It’s helping us focus on the important role we can play in our children’s lives. Not being perfect, but knowing that our love is limitless.”