What would you do if, just two weeks shy of your due date, you discovered your husband only had five or six days to live?
For 31-year-old Diane Aulger, the answer was easy. She and her doctor decided to bring her daughter into the world a few days earlier. And talk about down to the wire: Dad was able to hold baby Savannah for about 45 minutes before he passed on a few days later, losing a fight with cancer.
If you keep up with Oh, Mother, you'll know this isn't our typical over-the-top parenting fare. But it's pretty moving – and caught our attention.
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Perhaps most wrenching of all are the family photos at the hospital – especially those of hubby Mark, wearing a hospital gown, baseball cap and oxygen mask, cradling his baby girl as Diane nestles in. And, of course, the shot of the three of them flanked by their four – yes, four – other young kids.
Holding her tiny newborn and choking back tears, Diane told ABC News the reaction of her children as they struggled to understand. "My 10-year-old said, 'Is dad asleep?' And I said, 'No he's in a coma.' Then he said, 'Is he going to make it?' and I said 'No' – and he screamed." Her 8-year-old cried, "I'm not gonna have a daddy."
It's heartbreaking. And it's worse – when you consider that Mark, 52, had actually kicked cancer a few months ago. There's happy footage of him and the kids this past Christmas in that ABC clip. Mark's happily strumming a guitar. Days later, he would learn he'd developed pulmonary fibrosis – a result of eight months of chemotherapy.
"It was basically like his lungs were soaked in concrete," said Diane on ABC. "They couldn't inhale, they couldn't pass oxygen through.
"He in essence suffocated to death."
Mark's sole request, when he learned his condition was fatal: "I'd like to see the baby," Diane told the Associated Press. The couple's beds were side-by-side during the delivery, she added, noting that since she was already experiencing "pre-labor symptoms," she didn't hesitate to hasten the process.
And it's definitely resonated with the nation. Donations have poured in –everything from well wishes and checks in cards to a new roof to a huge box of nearly 400 diapers, according to WFAA.com and HuffPost Impact. Even a California millionaire reportedly gave a "significant donation" to "buy herself a car big enough to transport her entire family." "I'm in shock still," the gentle-spoken mom told WFAA TV in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Now, mom and the kids are focused on keeping dad's memory alive, from photos to conversation, she told the AP: "We're living day-to-day as if dad's still here. They talk to dad. Mark was a very funny, funny dad."