Our Sweet Angel Baby
I’ve thought a lot about writing this post over the past two years. There have been so many times that I wanted to share this story but didn’t. And even more so, so many reasons why I haven’t. I have been so scared to share my story, to go back and relive such a dark, sad chapter in our lives but something also seems so right in sharing it now.
In November 2013, I became pregnant with our first baby. I was elated. Brent was even more excited, crying when I told him the news. I will never ever forget his face, his tears of joy, and the immense fiery love that we already both had for this baby. We were on cloud 9. Four weeks pregnant and we were already doing the weekly bump pictures. I was beaming with happiness as I stood there with my hand cupped over my stomach each passing week. As the weeks went by, it was so incredibly hard to keep this secret from our family, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas. We wanted to make sure we were “in the clear” before getting the whole troops excited. In such a short amount of time, I was already browsing nursery ideas and Brent, per usual, was researching everything he could possibly think of. We celebrated New Year’s with a few close friends, and I remember being consumed with so much happiness and love for Brent, and for our baby, that night. I will never forget that New Year’s and the insurmountable amount of happiness my heart had and how much I was looking forward to this new exciting year we had ahead of ourselves.
Two days later, we went in for our first doctor’s appointment. I was 10 weeks along now, and since we’ve never had a baby before, we didn’t know what to expect. The nurse went through what seemed like pages of questions. I was so anxious, let’s just get to it! She left the room and I changed into a gown. Brent and I both waited anxiously to see our sweet, perfect baby. Our doctor entered the room and proceeded to give me an ultrasound. We saw our little jellybean on the monitor, and a smile was radiating across my face while tears ran down my cheeks. Brent squeezed my hand so tight; I have never felt a love like this before. So many feelings I will never forget.
An eerie silence came across the room as my doctor continued to scan. In what seemed like the longest seconds of my life, she softly said that she couldn’t find a heartbeat. I remember laying there, not quite sure what she meant (after all, we’ve never been through this before). Was the machine not working? Does she need to flip a switch to turn on the volume? I looked up at Brent and he looked at me, and we both looked back at the monitor, terrified to make any assumptions but I think we both secretly knew. I swear minutes passed before I finally asked, “what does that mean?” Our doctor continued scanning my uterus and quietly apologized, whispering “I’m so sorry you guys, there is no heartbeat.” She must have seen the blankness in our eyes, understanding that it just wasn’t clicking for us. She repeated herself and said, “I am so sorry, you have lost the baby.” I couldn’t even grasp what she was saying. I thought I misheard her. I was confused, in shock, and felt instantly empty. As I looked up at Brent, he too seemed completely confused, his eyes and face completely lifeless. The details we briefly discussed afterwards were a blur; I still couldn’t comprehend the news that we just heard.
There were no words on the way home, just tears. I walked up the stairs and threw myself onto our bed, trying to pull myself together because I had to go back to work. As I gathered my belongings and walked back down the steps, Brent was in pieces. I had never seen him like this, uncontrollably crying, sobbing with so much hurt. I remember grabbing him, hugging him as tightly as I possibly could, and we sobbed together.
Over the next few days, this sadness only worsened. I think it finally started to register to us what we were about to go through. We went from having the best kept secret from our family to having to share the most horrific news anyone could imagine. I know talking with the closest of family and friends was supposed to make this all so much easier, but to me it only made it harder. I don’t think anyone can really offer much support or comfort unless they went through the same things themselves. I never blamed them, and understood that they didn’t understand the amount of sadness in our souls. The things that they said while trying to offer comfort, support, and love only made me more sad, and honestly even mad. No, everything isn’t going to be alright. And no, there isn’t anything you can do. And no, we can’t just try again.
The weeks dragged on. I hated waking up. I dreaded going to work. I avoided going back home. While at work, I would sit at the computer researching miscarriages, reading forums, and trying to gain any type of insight, comfort, and peace in this nightmare we were living. I would repeat this ongoing research every single day as if I was going to find some new revelation to bring me immediate solace. I broke down numerous times every single day for months at work, hiding behind my monitors and sneaking away to the bathroom. I went to the gym every night, trying to shed this darkness and hide my sadness from Brent, only to see friends walking around with their adorable baby bumps peeking through their workout gear. I would cry on the treadmill, cry all the way home, and cry in the shower. Baby news consumed my Facebook. I couldn’t get away from it. This darkness followed me everywhere I went and everything I did. I can’t even count how many times I cried myself to sleep, having so much guilt that it was possibly something I did, feeling so alone, empty, and completely dead inside. There were no words Brent could say, and there was nothing I could say to him. He was struggling just as bad as I was, but was trying so badly to hold it together to be strong for me. We would fall asleep holding each other, and wake up in the morning only wanting to go back to bed. We didn’t want to face another day where every single thing constantly reminded us of our loss.
Nothing made us feel better, and sadly we both knew that only time would heal our hearts. It was a long, cold winter full of so much emptiness and sadness that turned into anger and madness. How did God let this happen, and happen to me? Haven’t I already gone through enough, losing my dad suddenly and tragically at the age of 18? And the pain of losing this baby was more excruciating than any other type of loss I ever had in my life. I felt like it was my fault, that I did something to cause the miscarriage, like eating something “wrong” or working out too hard, although I knew deep down it wasn’t that. I was trying so hard to find the “why” when I knew there never would be an answer. I felt like it was some sort of sick karma coming back to haunt me. I would ask God “why” over and over again, thinking He was punishing me for something I did wrong.
At the time, I never thought we were going to get out of this deep, dark depression we were in. After all, I didn’t know what our future held. And the few times we did feel like a normal couple again and laugh, we immediately felt guilty that we had a few minutes of happiness, like we forgot about our angel baby. I think what helped our hearts heal was finding out we were pregnant again that May, but sadly, we weren’t filled with the same amount of joy that we had with our first baby. We were terrified. Scared of what the future held, what the outcome was going to be, and if everything was going to be “okay.” Mother’s Day was a jumble of emotions; remembering our angel baby that we lost just months ago, but also trying to celebrate this new life we created, but then feeling completely guilty by celebrating this new babe. One week after Mother’s Day, we buried our angel baby on May 21st with all of the other angel babies through a small service that St. Joseph’s held. I am positive I would have been a blithering mess that day if it wasn’t for the little baby growing in my belly and the recent restored faith I had in God.
As the weeks went on, we felt more and more confident in this pregnancy. We were past the first trimester, but I still couldn’t trust the unknown. Even at our 20 week ultrasound and “normal” lab results, I still felt uneasy. I just wanted this baby safe and in my arms. There are so many awful stories about babies born too soon, and so many complications that could arise. I was anxious every single day for over 40 weeks. I was scared to share the news with the world that I was pregnant, afraid this baby would be taken from me, too. And going through a miscarriage myself, I didn’t want to “gloat” our happiness onto others who secretly may have been going through a miscarriage or infertility themselves.
Past the 40 week mark and after 22 hours, the doctors wheeled me down for an emergency c-section. My heart literally burst right there on the surgical table when I heard Emerson’s wailing cries. With the sheets hung high, I hadn’t even seen him yet but I was just so thankful that we made it. I was a puddle on that bed knowing our little guy was safe and healthy. I will never forget how my heart felt in those minutes, how fiery love burst through my chest, seeped from my body and soul into this new little human being we already loved more than life itself. Every single second of anxiety was all worth it for this sweet, (stubborn) little boy. Read about Emerson’s birth story here.
Even though we have Emerson here in our arms, and his sister just 2 weeks away (again, I’m feeling so nervous that something could go so wrong), I still think about our angel baby on a daily basis. I often wonder what he or she may be like, what they would look like, and every single month I imagine the new milestones we would be at with him or her. I find peace in knowing that they are in God’s hands, sitting on Grandpa Stan’s lap. And to think when their little eyes opened, the first thing they saw was the face of Jesus. I also think that if we didn’t lose our first little baby, we also wouldn’t have Emerson here with us today. It is so bittersweet; not that I would ever want to replace our first baby, but the love that consumes our heart by having Emerson here with us is so undeniably irreplaceable.
I have to admit, before having our miscarriage, I knew that miscarriages happen, and that it is awful. But until you’ve either gone through it, or held the hand of someone going through it, I don’t know that you can fully grasp how terrible the experience is. The guilt, sadness, anger, emptiness, and darkness is so indescribable and utterly unbearable. And in today’s society where we are all supposed to be so “connected” through social media, that actually makes it so much worse. Still today I try not to “baby spam” on my Facebook account, knowing how common miscarriages are and how many of my friends are probably secretly going through such pain. I know that every single person is probably genuinely happy for someone else’s pregnancy success, but I still try to be considerate by not “baby spamming” assuming that it’s happening more than we know it is.
1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. 1 in 4. Since going through it myself, I have had friends open up and share their story with me. I feel like 5 years ago I never really heard about it or didn’t know of anyone personally who went through it. And maybe it’s just the timing in my life, but I now know several close friends and family members who have struggled with miscarriage, infant loss, and infertility. It’s absolutely heart-wrenching to know so many people who have gone through it, too. To think that they experienced the same pain that I had makes me sick to my stomach. I do want you all to know that each and every night I hug my Emerson so so tight, thanking God for him, and we ask God to watch over all of you out there and hold your hand through your own journey. I have been through so much pain; we all have gone through so much pain. And I know it may not seem like it at the time, because I never thought I was going to recover, but when that time does come, and God puts a baby in your hands (whether it’s through IVF, adoption, a real life miracle—whatever your path may be), it will make it that much sweeter when it does happen.
This Saturday, October 15th, is infant loss awareness day. Please join me in lighting a candle at 7pm as we remember these angel babies gone way too soon. Thank you for allowing me to step away from the highlight reel and open up, spread awareness, and share our story of our sweet angel baby—greatly missed and never forgotten. Love and prayers to you all <3