I so badly wanted this to be the most exciting blog post I’d write. Many of you have been unaware of the journey my husband and I have been on the last few months. We were supposed to share the news with you around this time, but instead, we’re sharing our journey of heartbreak, grief, and our road to recovery and hope.
Immediately after returning from weekend travels for the 4th of July holiday, Kevin and I found out we were expecting our first baby. Ecstatic and nervous, the following weeks and months felt like time had slowed yet sped up somehow all at once. From cutting down on my coffee intake to planning surprise announcements for our families and closest friends, life looked so different pretty much immediately after we saw those two pink lines.
Until it was all gone. Ironically, October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It’s also when we planned on sharing our news and our baby’s gender with the world. So it only feels right to still share about our baby, even though it’s not the news we wanted to be sharing…
My heart in sharing this is for the sake of bringing the heartbreak of miscarriage into the light. What the enemy intended to use for destruction, God can use to bring hope and healing. That’s why I share — not for pity, or flowers, or DMs on social media… but because Kevin and I are determined to create a legacy for our child, even though the world never got to meet him. I truly believe that by sharing our story, maybe even in pieces throughout future blog posts, that other loss parents will find hope in this journey.
I never got to share a birth story for my baby. So I’m instead sharing the moments of his life that will forever matter to us. This might include some details that may be hard to read, especially if you’ve been through a miscarriage yourself. So take it in stride if you need to. My hope is that sharing this will feel cathartic, but also maybe… just maybe… there’s another mama of a heaven-dwelling angel out there who will need these words as much as I did.
At our 6 week appointment, the doctor confirmed our greatest joy… I was indeed pregnant. But our baby was measuring small, too small for us to make out its little body on the ultrasound. This was something my doctor assured me was nothing to worry about.
I have longer cycles than average, so a slower growing baby was to be expected, according to my provider. We scheduled a follow-up ultrasound for the next week and finally could see our little bean-shaped baby on the screen, with a strong, beating heart fluttering in its chest. We were overjoyed, and asked for a string of copies of the picture to share with our families.
We immediately began planning trips to see our parents and share our good news. My parents were first. My mom’s birthday was coming up in just a week… but my brother who lives home was having friends visit that weekend. So instead, I convinced my dad to let us surprise mom that very weekend instead of waiting for her birthday.
We met them at the Dairy Queen near their house as we were driving down to see them. And I came up behind my mom to surprise her that we were there. Dad kept our secret well! She was shocked. When we got back to their house, I gave Mom her “birthday gift” but had my brother and my Dad sit next to her as she opened it.
Inside the gift bag was a baby book… Five Little Ducks. But the “Five” in the title was taped over with a piece of paper that said “Six” and a sixth duck was taped to the front. This was meant to symbolize my parents five-now-six grandchildren… Everyone was SO excited.
That very next weekend, we flew to Atlanta to visit Kevin’s family. Kevin’s parents have no grandchildren, so we were beyond excited to tell them this news. We picked out a baby book for them as well, this time with otters on the front — my mother-in-law’s favorite furry animal. When they opened the book, it didn’t quite register at first. They flipped through confused, but commenting at the cute pictures. Kevin stopped them and said, “Mom, you can finish reading that to someone special when they come in March…”
“Someone special? Who??” Mom said.
“Your first grandchild.”
Cue the happy tears. The rest of the weekend was all talk about how to fit a car seat on the golf cart to zip baby around Peachtree City next summer.
The following week after that, we were set to go back to my parents lake house for our summer vacation. It was also my birthday week. So on the Sunday before my birthday, my parents invited my grandparents over for lunch. We did cake and presents, and the final present I passed to my Grandma. The tag said, “Good Things Come In Little Packages” and inside the ribbon-bound box was our ultrasound. It was so exciting to tell my Grandma our due date… March 31: the day after HER birthday.
After a week at the lake talking all about strollers and baby shower plans, we went back home and started telling friends. Some of our closest friends are married couples we know from our church. We first told our friends Austin and Bailee, who counseled us from our engagement through now and gave speeches at our wedding last year. Then we told our friends Ian and Kristin, who at the time were about to welcome home their first baby the following month.
Now that all our closest people knew our news, we felt everything getting so real. A baby was really coming. And this baby was already showered in so much love from everyone we told. We could hardly wait for our next ultrasound.
We were scheduled for another ultrasound to check on baby’s size and progress at my 10 week mark. I felt enormously anxious that morning. It had been a few weeks since we last saw our baby, and I knew we weren’t out of the woods yet with the second trimester still a few weeks away. Kevin noticed my hesitancy that morning and assured me everything would be fine.
Call it mother’s intuition… but nothing was fine. As I laid on the bench waiting for the sonographer to show us our baby, I tightened up every nerve and muscle. She barely flashed past what we knew was a bigger, beautiful baby. We saw its head and body. Kevin and I instantly said to each other, “The baby’s bigger! Definitely bigger than the bean we saw last time!”
But she quickly moved away from it before we could barely study it. Why wasn’t she showing us the baby? Why was she taking so long to measure my ovaries and blood flow?
“Will we get to hear baby’s heartbeat today?” I asked, desperate for a hint toward something positive.
“Um…I’ll get to that in a minute…” she responded.
My throat lumped. But I assured myself this was normal. I promised myself if I stayed calm and trusted God, we’d see that heart flutter any second now.
The baby’s picture flashed onto the screen once more. The sonographer put down her tool and sighed.
“I’m not detecting a heart beat. I’m so sorry.”
Frozen. To this day, I hear those words repeating in my mind, with her voice attached to it. The cadence the same every time. Like a broken record.
“Are you sure?” I begged.
“I’m sure. I’m sorry. I’m going to get you in to see the doctor.” She left the room. And Kevin and I sat there in the dark, staring at the screen in disbelief. Sobbing.
The walk to my doctor’s exam room immediately after felt like a living nightmare. The lights and hallway walls around me faded in and out of my vision as I tried to keep my footing and force a brave face. I passed other pregnant patients on what felt like the longest walk of my life.
10 weeks, 3 days pregnant with a baby who died most likely at 8 weeks old. A mere week and a half after its heart was shown fluttering on the screen of our last ultrasound. My doctor assured me with her most empathetic tone that nothing was my fault, and there’s nothing I could have done or not done to prevent this inevitable outcome.
We were given a few options to consider, then we were dismissed. There we were again, walking past happy couples in the waiting room and pregnant mamas on their way to yet another healthy check-up, most likely. And yet I somehow still felt a duty to try to hide my grief, so I didn’t scare any of them into thinking they might end up like me.
We scheduled our D&C surgery the very next morning after we were delivered our terrible news. As I sat in the bed of the pre-op room, I seethed with anger and bitterness. Why me? Every nurse and doctor I saw kept saying, “You’re young and healthy…” so XYZ shouldn’t happen and you should recover quickly. Young and healthy…. enough to miscarry? I still wrestle with that.
But I’m so thankful for the nurses at VCH. Each one I met handled our case with empathy and respect. Though I could have gone without all the pitiful, pursed-lip smiles every one of them gave me as they walked in to introduce themselves. Each facial expression was a reminder that I was not there to deliver a baby… I was there to remove one.
When I woke after my operation, I saw a nurse on my right and Kevin on my left. And before I could get words out, I started sobbing. My first realization was that I was no longer pregnant. My hips ached and abdomen cramped sharply to prove it.
Because of the intense emotion (mixed with leftover anesthesia), I started violently shaking, my shoulders and hips and knees folding in and out like a panicked butterfly. More fear. More distrust and loss of control of my body. Would it ever end? But the nurse held me and Kevin remained so calm as I stuttered trying to ask for help, for answers, for hope.
They threw warm blankets on me and that knocked me out again, leaving me to sleep off the anesthesia for a few more minutes. I could hear what was going on around me, but I couldn’t react or open my eyes. Eventually I did. And they fed me crackers and ginger ale until the pain meds kicked in.
By 4pm, they were wheeling me to the car to send me home to recover.
The physical healing began right away, just like the doctor told me it would. Besides some light bleeding and nighttime cramping, I bounced back from surgery fairly quickly. Emotionally, the healing process has been long, painful, deep, and twisty. Texts from family and visits from friends piled on the days after. I even photographed two weddings the weekend and week after the surgery, trying to shut off my grief and get into autopilot again.
But it was hard. It still is. Every ounce of me wants my baby back. I often felt like I was living in a nightmare and couldn’t wake up. I so desperately wanted to wake up.
The only thing I felt I could do was memorialize our baby. It felt strange at first… but it also helped us heal to name our baby. Only Heaven knows now what our baby’s gender was. We were just over a week away from finding out ourselves when we received our devastating news. But if my intuition means anything… I think that baby was a boy. I felt that way from very early on.
Because I carried our baby until August 31, I wanted to name him August. It’s not a name we ever considered for a boy… which I like because it’s unique and we can save those other names for our future children. Calling him “Baby August” felt immensely better than referring to the baby as “it” or “the baby” or “first baby” or sadly and eventually “other baby.” And names like August nowadays could probably go either way… so we don’t even have to struggle fitting “him/her” into sentences either. It’s just… August. Baby August.
I now wear a thin, gold ring to wear on my right hand. The ring features a baguette-cut peridot (for August) surrounded by tiny diamonds (for April, the month we were supposed to meet him). It’s been a daily wear for me since we got it. I love having it as a reminder that even though my baby is no longer with us on earth, I am still and will always be his mother for having carried his precious form for 10 weeks.
This season has been one of the hardest and darkest of my life. I battle so many emotions (probably a lot of them due to post-partum hormones). I’m so thankful for my people, who have showed me and Kevin so much love in the past few weeks. The meals, visits, texts, gifts, have all been so meaningful to us and help us feel like our baby is still being remembered by others.
Ontop of all of this, I’m still battling health challenges. Just recently, I pursued an appointment with an endocrinologist to address irregular numbers found on my 6-week blood test back in July. The doctor warned me that there may be a longer road ahead to motherhood than I anticipated as a result of those irregularities, which has kickstarted a whole new wave of grief for Kevin and I.
I think it’s ok to not be ok. And in those moments, it’s important to lean on those stronger than you. I’ve especially had to ask for prayer from others, because when I pray, I come undone. By leaning on godly people during this season, and investing time refueling myself with the things that make me feel myself again (photography being part of that), I’m getting through. Little by little. Day by day.
I don’t know what this journey will look like. I hope to be able to write more about it and show the goodness of God in all this. For now, it’s still murky and hard to see, because we’re IN IT. If only more people would share their story before the miracle — I think we’d find more community and know how to better handle when hard times come our way.
For now, I hold onto hope that there WILL be hindsight. There WILL be a miracle. One day. Somehow. And for now, I keep that hope alive by expressing gratitude. I’m thankful for my parents, who have helped keep me grounded in just focusing on the next step and not every million steps after that. I’m thankful for Kevin, who has been giving the extra 90% when all I can give is 10%.
I’m thankful for close friends who have not stopped checking in. I’m thankful for my sweet bride Mary — who gifted me a baby toy camera to celebrate my baby (a gift for me, on HER WEDDING DAY!! What a sweet soul). She did not know then that we had lost him, but that sweet gift continues to mean so much to me today because it’s a symbol of how widely loved our baby was.
Which leads me to my final piece of gratitude: I’m so thankful our baby was loved. We could’ve kept him to ourselves. Everyone says, wait until the second trimester to tell people. But that baby deserved to be loved and celebrated, and that’s exactly what happened.
He was loved by his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and honorary aunts & uncles (our friends). And I’m most thankful that August was wrapped in that love before being cradled in the arms of Jesus.
I’ve found a lot of comfort from the old hymn “Because He Lives” but I’ve often sing the second verse a tad differently in August’s memory.
How sweet to [carry] a [precious] baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child [won’t] face uncertain days
Because He Lives
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