The Loss of Our Sweet Angel Baby

I got the sudden urge to sit down and write today. Some of you that have followed me for awhile know that I used to write a healthy living blog, where I detailed the ins and outs of our lives on a regular basis. After a few years of blogging nearly daily, I began to crave privacy and decided to shut down my "My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries" blog. I am someone that finds writing therapeutic, so sitting down to blog regularly is something I miss on occasion.

I wavered back and forth as to whether I wanted to share this publicly. It's some deep stuff, and most definitely personal. But then I was reminded of the comfort I found in reading other people's experiences through their various losses and trials in life. Not that I ever wish suffering or pain on anyone, but there's something about knowing you're not alone that can bring comfort. And if I can bring just one person comfort in knowing they're not alone, then I am confident this needs to be shared.

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It's been 8 days since I found out that we lost our sweet angel baby. I went into my 12 week appointment last Wednesday feeling a little anxiety that comes with most prenatal appointments, but mostly excitement to hear the beautiful sound of our baby's heartbeat. We had heard and seen our little babe just a few weeks prior at my 8 week appointment, and again before that at about 7 weeks (due to some random spotting I had at the time). Both ultrasounds reported strong heartbeats and everything looking "perfect".

As I got up on the examination table, the nurse kindly told me that sometimes it takes a minute or two to find the heartbeat at this stage since the baby is still so tiny. I knew this and pulled up my shirt, as she squirted the gel on my stomach. I always carry my babies right out in front of me, and it's never been difficult to find the heartbeat in the past, so when the nurse was taking several minutes to find the heartbeat, I naturally started feeling extra anxious. Then she responded with, "Oh, there it is! And do you hear that 'whooshing' sound? That's the baby moving!" I instantly felt relieved and took a deep breath. But then she said, "Well wait, the heart rate number isn't showing up ... let me see if I can get it again." I thought to myself, "She's either a really new nurse or something isn't right at all." After taking another several minutes of trying to find the heartbeat, she finally decided to have my midwife come in to see if she could find it. The midwife once again tried to tell me that the baby is so small at this point, so sometimes it's still difficult to find. After she, too, couldn't find it for a couple minutes, I knew something was definitely wrong. She ordered an ultrasound for me, and I felt my body instantly start shaking. I walked to the ultrasound room with Reese in my arms feeling completely dazed. Reese was the only one with me, as Cody was at work and Hunter was at preschool. I wished so badly that Cody was with me in that moment. But, I never expected anything to be wrong after seeing a strong heartbeat at our last ultrasound appointment, so I told him there was no need to come to this one.

I got up on the ultrasound table, and the ultrasound tech squirted the gel on my stomach and used the wand to find our baby. I'll never forget the picture of the little baby that popped up on the television in front of me, but with no flickering heartbeat. It brings me to tears just thinking about it. The last ultrasound we saw of our baby at 8 weeks, he or she was just a little bean that you could hardly make out. This time, it looked like a real baby -- with a head and a body. It all became even more real that I had a baby in my stomach. Then the ultrasound technician gave me news that I never thought I'd hear. She looked at me with sad eyes and told me that she was so sorry but she couldn't find a heartbeat, and that the baby was only measuring 9 weeks 2 days when it should've been measuring right around 12 weeks. I was in complete shock. In that moment, I just kept thinking, "No, no, no. This can't be happening". I felt completely blindsided as my body had showed no signs of miscarriage. I feel like you don't hear of these termed "missed miscarriages" very often, and it was the last thing I expected going into our appointment.

I instantly just wanted Cody. I wanted him to hug me and I wanted to be able to cry in his chest and I wanted him to tell me everything was okay. But, I had to be strong, so I just prayed and prayed and prayed ... and then a few minutes later I burst into tears. The midwife came in and asked me if I wanted the nurse to take Reese into another room while I processed everything. I told her yes and was so grateful she offered that to me. My midwife was amazing through it all. She gave me multiple hugs, let me cry, and told me that this just happens sometimes and it's nothing I did or didn't do. She led me back into our original room, and I called Cody to tell him the horrible news. I think he was in shock just as much I was. He immediately tried his best to comfort me via phone. I eventually put him on speaker phone so we could talk through everything with the doctor. She told us our options and what she recommended, and we ultimately decided to try a medicine that would encourage my body to pass everything. My midwife explained that this would be the least invasive way, but that there was also a chance it wouldn't work because I was a little further along in pregnancy. At this point, my mind was in a fog and just went with the medicine, which is what she recommended. We ended the phone call, and Cody told me he would be heading home right away to be with me. 

I got myself together the best I could, gathered Reese and our stuff, and we headed out to the car. Poor Reese ... I felt so bad she had to see me like that. Even though she is only 2 years old, she definitely sensed something wasn't right with mommy. She was an angel that day. She gave me all the snuggles, was the best behaved little girl, and made me smile even when I didn't feel like it. I sat in the parking lot of my doctor's office for awhile just sobbing. I finally decided to called my mom, my dad, and my best friend, who also had a previous miscarriage later in her first trimester. They all provided great comfort, and I finally got myself emotionally together enough to drive home.

I put Reese down for a nap, and Cody arrived home shortly after that. Hunter went to a friend's house after preschool, so Cody and I spent almost the entire afternoon in bed, sobbing, cuddling, and processing everything. It was such an emotionally exhausting day, but it was necessary to sort through our emotions together. I really believe those few hours we spent alone grieving together made a huge impact on the whole healing process for both of us. 

My doctor told us that we could take the medicine whenever we felt ready. We decided that I would take the medicine that night to induce the passing of everything. I didn't want this to drag on any longer. I felt SO anxious through all of it and wondered if I should've just requested the D&C from the start. I had no idea what to expect and from everything I had heard, it would most likely be a somewhat horrifying experience to pass the baby and tissue, especially with our precious baby being right around 9 weeks. I scheduled a casual play date the following day with two of my close girlfriends at my house to keep my mind busy. During that day and the next, I was told I should experience a lot of bleeding and tissue loss. While I did experience a lot of discomfort, cramping, and some bleeding, I just knew the medicine wasn't fully working. I found some relief in this and also some annoyance, as I just wanted the physical pain to all be over.

I went back into the doctor on Monday, and they did another ultrasound, confirming that I indeed did not pass everything, as I had suspected. This meant I would need a D&C. I found out shortly after my appointment that the soonest day they had available was Friday -- five days later. I immediately burst into tears when I realized I would have to wait several days longer for this to be over. I cannot explain or tell you how helpless and absolutely horrible it feels to have our sweet baby in my stomach, knowing that he or she is no longer living, knowing that I can't do anything to help him or her, knowing that he or she is still in there but not thriving or living. Not only that, but I still feel pregnant and experience pregnancy symptoms ... and while those symptoms brought me peace in the past, I am now reminded every single time I experience them that I will never get to meet our little baby.

This past week has truly been one of the most difficult weeks of my life. Moments of loss or tragedy are hard, but life still goes on all around us in the midst of our minds and emotions feeling foggy and unclear. I have two small children to care for, I have a job to be at, I have clients to take care of ... and in some ways, I want life to just stop, but I know that it can't. So, I have no other choice than to just keep moving forward, one moment, one hour, one day at a time. This doesn't mean I don't grieve. Because trust me, I have my regular moments of letting myself just cry, pray, and be sad. But, the distractions of life have been a blessing too. I have experienced ALL the emotions -- the initial denial, the deep sadness, the intense anger, the unexpected resentment, you name it. Some days have been really hard, while others have been better. I know this is normal and will continue this way for awhile. One of my closest girlfriends who has also gone through terrible loss has reminded me again and again that it's okay to feel ALL the feels and to give myself permission to do so, but to not allow myself to stay there. I've really taken that to heart. 

I can't go without mentioning the amazing support that I, along with my family, have received this past week. It's truly been overwhelming to me. Our family and friends have been an incredible source of comfort and support to us this past week. It also gave me some new perspective into the relationships I have in my life. Not only that, but some of the people that I never would've imagined have reached out to us in ways that have blown me away. Thank you SO much to those of you that have shown love and support. I can't tell you how much it's meant to us! The support we've received has been a reminder to me that when someone is hurting or going through something difficult, to do something. Sometimes it's hard to know what to do in certain situations, but any sort of kind gesture -- flowers, dinner, a card, a message -- goes a long way when someone is suffering. Also letting them know they are continually supported and not forgotten has been big for me. Going through pain, any pain at all, can be so isolating at times. Knowing others care about you and are thinking of you makes you feel loved and a little less alone. I've also learned that while miscarriages can be "common", they most certainly don't come without a lot of grief and pain. I think of myself as a fairly compassionate person, but I am just as guilty as the next person for passing off news of a miscarriage in the past as "so sad" and then moving on like it hardly happened. It makes me sick to my stomach to think I didn't empathize more with others through those losses. My heart aches and goes out to anyone who has ever had to experience a miscarriage or loss of their child. It's a pain I hope no one ever has to experience.

Tomorrow is my (what feels like) long awaited D&C. I am anxious. Anxious about the actual procedure, about the anesthesia, about the emotions that will come with it all. But I am also ready. Ready to feel the relief that I think will come with the physical aspect being over. Some may think it's an "no big deal" procedure, but it's a big deal to me. It comes with a heavy heart and lots of emotions. That being said, I know I will come out strong and will get through this next step with God and a loving support system on my side.

One of my biggest go-to verses through this season has been Jeremiah 29:11 -- "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." This is a verse my sister and I both love and have found great comfort in throughout the trials of life. I am truly confident in this verse and will continue to move forward knowing that God sees me, He loves me, and He has a great plan for me and our family.

Much love to all of you!

XOXO, Ashley