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Finding hope after a late miscarriage. The story of our 17 week loss.

***I very rarely blog about my personal life, but I felt like I needed to write this blog. Not only for myself, but for anyone else out there that has suffered a miscarriage. This is a topic that a lot of people don’t like to talk about, but I have found that talking about it makes it easier for me. I hope that others can do the same. ***

I remember it like it was yesterday. December 14th. It was a normal Wednesday in our household. My husband woke up with the kiddos and got them breakfast, dressed and ready to get out the door. I woke up just in time to roll out of bed, get dressed and take my son to school.  I know, how lucky am I to have a husband that lets me sleep in while he tends to the kiddos in the morning?! He knows I’m not a morning person, and is probably doing it just to avoid having to deal with my morning crankiness, but nonetheless, I am so thankful for him.

You see, in early September I suffered my first miscarriage. After this I was in a dark place, and mornings tended to be harder than normal. Although I have never been a morning person, the last several months were harder to get out of bed than usual.  I was only 7 weeks or so when we found out it wasn’t a viable pregnancy, and physically passed everything about a week later.  It was my darkest time. I felt like I was drowning and could never catch my breath. How was this happening? After almost 2 years of trying for a third baby, how was I losing it so quickly? Even with the mornings being harder, and days seeming longer than ever, I was doing my best. My best to be hopeful and be thankful for the life I had.

Fall is my busiest season of the year. As a birth and newborn photographer, I found it oddly healing photographing births and capturing newborns’ first photos during this time. I was terrified that I would be terribly jealous and wouldn’t be able to continue to do what I love, but those beautiful mamas gave me hope. Hope that one day I too would be where they are, welcoming my third baby and knowing everything we had been through to get to that point was worth it.

So there I was, December 14th, finding myself extremely tired and needing more coffee. I had just dropped my son off at school and decided I would head to the coffee shop and treat myself to my second cup of coffee for the day. Then I thought to myself, maybe I was pregnant. Fatigue had always been one of my first signs of pregnancy.  Who am I kidding, it’s doubtful I was already pregnant again.  I am just tired because I have two kids, and what mom of two kids isn’t tired all the time?  I was driving to the coffee shop with my daughter, she was already chatting about the chocolate milk she wanted and asking if I would get her a treat, and by treat she meant a cookie, or cake pop. It was only 9:30AM, but I probably would have given in; sometimes it’s just not worth the fight.  But without much thinking I decided to forgo the coffee shop and instead we would run to the store so I could pick up a pregnancy test. If I wasn’t pregnant I would probably shed a few tears and then go get that second cup of coffee I kept dreaming about. If I was in fact pregnant, I probably shouldn’t be having 2 large cups of coffee all before 10am.

I picked up the test and came home and immediately go to the bathroom to take the test. Before I could even blink my eyes, there it was 2 dark lines. Seriously?! I was already in full on tears at this point. I was pregnant!! I couldn’t believe it. I immediately called my husband. He answers and I am in tears. I heard it in his voice, he was thinking oh gosh, what is wrong now?! I tell him I’m pregnant and begin to sob some more. I don’t even remember what he said, I don’t even remember how long we talked. I kept looking at the test wondering if I was dreaming. My celebration and tears of joy quickly turned to fear. What if we miscarry again? I was such a wreck the last 3 months, how could I ever go through that again. I knew I had to stay positive about this pregnancy but it was so hard.

Over the next several months we had several rounds of blood work, multiple ultrasounds and countless times hearing the most perfect heartbeat via the Doppler. It was finally happening, our time had finally come. I had terrible morning sickness (more like all day sickness) for weeks, but it didn’t matter. It would all be worth it in the end.  We passed the “danger zone” of the first trimester and I was finally starting to feel some relief from the sickness. We told the kids and they were so excited. They asked everyday about the baby and when he/she would be here. We went shopping for baby gear and they always wanted to buy something for the baby. We started planning the nursery, everything was on track. We were well into the second trimester and it was time to start getting everything ready.

On March 14th I sent my midwife a text first thing in the morning asking if she could fit me in. The night before I was getting ready for bed but told my husband something felt off. I wanted to listen to the heartbeat just to know everything was fine. We had an at home doppler and because of the previous miscarriage we had been listening to the heartbeat several times starting at around 11 weeks with no problems. I always found it very quickly, listened for a minute and turned it off. That night I turned it on, I was almost 17 weeks so I knew I would find it right away, just like I had a few days earlier. But this time I couldn’t hear it. I listened for several minutes and nothing. My heart sank. My husband laid down with me and kept saying he was sure everything was fine and baby was just hiding. I wanted so badly to believe him, but deep down, I felt something was wrong. We tried to find the heartbeat for almost a hour, with no luck. I finally told him I just needed to go to sleep, I couldn’t even think about the possibility of the worst. The next morning as soon as I woke up I tried to listen for the heartbeat again. It was still silent. No beautiful sound of a healthy heartbeat. My son came in the room, as cheery as he was every morning, saying “mom I can’t hear the baby’s heart beat!” I slowly turned it off and said “I know, I can’t either.”  I wanted to cry, but didn’t. My son just went on to play, having no idea what this meant. I looked at my husband and we were both worried and he asked if I would make an appointment. I told him I had already sent the midwife a text.

Unfortunately we were right. The baby had no heartbeat. Our midwife confirmed it via Doppler and ultrasound and also sent us to the hospital just to be sure. There I was, laying in the ultrasound room, already knowing at that point that my baby had died. The screen pops up and you see the most perfect looking baby. They turn on the sound and the pull up the screen that shows the heartbeat and you hear nothing and only see flat lines. That’s it. There was no hope. For seemingly no good reason, my 17 week baby had no heartbeat, even though we had just heard one several days prior.

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The following evening, we went in to start the induction. As soon as we stepped foot into the Labor and Delivery unit I started crying. I didn’t think I had any tears left in me, I had cried so much over the last 36 hours, that I truly thought I was all cried out. But there I was. I was changing into the hospital gown and waiting for my nurse to come in to start the induction. All I could hear were all the nurses at the station laughing and joking and all I could do was be angry. I was mad this was happening to us and they were going on about their lives and making jokes. Unfortunately when you are grieving, it is easy to find yourself blaming others and angry at everything. I set my feelings aside as my nurse came in. Turns out, they were grieving for me. The set of nurses that helped me that night and the following day were the sweetest nurses I have ever met. They had so much compassion and empathy for our situation and did everything they could to make we had the best experience possible, despite the circumstances.

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On March 16th at 5:08AM we welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Caleb.  We had the opportunity to hold him, count his little fingers and toes and do everything you would with your full term baby.  He was 7 inches long and a tiny 3.5 oz.  Despite being so tiny, he was perfect. I think the hardest part of that day for me was seeing my husband struggle. I felt like I did that to him, like it was my fault. I know he would never think that, and deep down I have to believe I didn’t do anything that caused this, but I think any mother that has lost a baby during pregnancy blames herself. It’s easier to blame someone for what happened, and the easiest person to blame is yourself. But I have to remind myself that I did everything I could during the pregnancy to ensure Caleb was healthy, and as hard as it is to hear, sometimes these things just happen. 

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We held Caleb for about 2 hours and during that time I had a photographer come in and capture the most precious photos of our baby boy. I am so appreciative of her. Waking up at 5am and coming in to capture our only memories of our little boy. She did a perfect job, and I am so thankful for her. As a photographer, I brought my camera, but I was in no place to be able to take a photo, so I am so thankful she was there to capture me with Caleb. As my  husband and I were walking out of the hospital, empty handed, I knew we were both thinking the same thing. It was so hard walking through those halls, hearing brand new babies crying and seeing a waiting room full of people so excited to meet their family’s newest addition. I kept my head down the whole time, I couldn’t even look. There I was in my worst nightmare and they were there celebrating new baby’s. 

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It has been 15 days since we said goodbye to Caleb. The last 2 weeks have been the hardest. Similar to my previous miscarriage I feel like I am drowning and sometimes feel like I can’t catch my breath. I have my good days and my bad days, but there isn’t a single day that I don’t think about him and what could have been. I am sad that he is gone and that I am no longer pregnant. Just a few weeks ago we were buying baby gear and planning our life with a third child, and here we are feeling more hopeless than ever. What I have found through this is that talking about it helps. That is why I have rambled and written probably the longest blog post I have ever written. But I am so thankful to my friends and family that have just let me talk about it. They let me express my feelings and do anything they can to help. I know no one can say anything to make me feel better, but just having support there to listen is what helps. So thank you, to all of you, that have listened to my story. Here is to tomorrow and hoping it’s a good day. I have to look forward to the future and hope that this isn’t the end of our story. I have to hope that one day I will have another baby and be able to raise him/her along with our other crazy kiddos. No matter what our future folds, I will always remember Caleb and be a stronger person because of him. I am continuously trying to stay positive and believe there will be hope after the heartbreak. 

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Thank you Catptured by Brezi for the beautiful photos. To view more of her birth work, you can visit her website at www.capturedbybrezi.com

If you or someone you know is suffering a late loss, please consider contacting Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) they have volunteer photographers from all over (myself included) to be there to capture beautiful memories of your baby so you can always cherish them for years to come. 

   
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One Response

  1. My dear, sweet Stephanie. My heart breaks for you and your family. This was beautifully written and I know it will touch the innermost feelings of other women who have experienced this. Sometimes, you just need someone to validate your feelings and you have done that for those Moms. Having never had children, I cannot imagine going through this. You are strong and you have the gift to capture the love in a family with your words, camera, and intuition; even when that love involves grief. Thank you for sharing the photos of Caleb; he was a handsome little boy. He will live on in the hearts of our family and your friends. I am so thankful you and Ken have each other. Grieve at your own pace and know you are loved. I think about you every day. Sending you, Ken, and the kids much love. Aunt Ruthann

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