Miscarriage

Ashley’s Story

Baby G & Naomi

March 2021- it had been 9 months of carefully tracking every sign and symptom of my cycle. I even bought an expensive OPK from a Facebook ad thinking I’d get better results. Then, in mid March, on the day we were heading to my OB to start the conversation of helping us in our journey to parenthood, we got the 2 lines. We were pregnant! My husband and I were excited, relieved, scared, etc.

These feelings however were short lived. That night I started spotting. But my medical degree from Google University taught me that was normal. I bled off and on for a week and we finally went to the ER to see what was going on. We then found out our little bean was ectopic. At the time, I didn’t realize the severity of what could have happened. I was given an methotrexate injection and instructed to get blood work done once a week until my hormones returned to normal.

I bled for a month straight! I didn’t realize until later how lucky I was. We caught it early enough, Baby G was only 4 weeks along. “It was just a fluke!” We kept saying.

Once we got the okay to try again we did.

September 2021, another positive test. Because of the ectopic, we went in for an ultrasound at 6 weeks to make sure it wasn’t another ectopic. We held our breaths until that appointment.

Whew! Sigh of relief, not ectopic and we even got to see the heartbeat. We had to go back in the next week to make sure the heartbeat was continuing to rise as normal. During that week I was out on progesterone. That week 7 appointment was more good news! Things looked good. We were really going to be parents and we could finally be excited about it.

At this time I had also entered into, what would be, my last & most stressful year as an 8th grade teacher. Things seemed to be progressing well. My symptoms were bearable.

Then came the week before Thanksgiving break….11 weeks along

On Monday, I started bleeding at school. I ran to a co-worker’s office crying on my plan and she did her best to calm me down. As with most teachers I thought I’d stay through the day and then reevaluate from there….I did just have a pelvic exam so that’s the cause of the bleeding right?

I told my principal what was going on. She came to my room to check on me and she could tell from my frazzled instructions to the class that I wasn’t okay. She insisted I go home so I did. Bleeding had stopped so I went home and relaxed the rest day. Luckily we were given an online learning day the next day so I just had to post my assignment online and I could spend the day relaxing. The bleeding had stopped, things seemed fine.

On Wednesday, I went to work as normal. By lunch time the bleeding started again. I knew this time something was wrong. I told my teaching team and principal I needed to go to the ER. My amazing principal even offered to drive me. The ER doctors confirmed what we already knew, I was miscarrying.

I immediately texted my therapist who got me in the next day along with a follow up with my OB.

The next day I went to my therapy appointment and towards the end the cramping started. I made it home with the worst pain I’ve ever had. What happened next was a whirlwind of tears, trauma, multiple pairs of underwear, a towel, and eventually an emergency D&C.

Through all of this, take a wild guess what I spent a majority of the time thinking about? My classroom, my students, what quick sub plans I can get together, how I’m going to explain my sudden absence to my 8th graders who watched me leave in a panic twice in one week.

See, that’s the thing about teaching. Our whole identity becomes about our students and our classroom. I barely had time to grieve what had happened before I had to go back to class and try to explain to my students what happened all while dealing with the same behavior issues I’d been dealing with all year. Oh, and did I mention I was in my last year of grad school?

It was a lot. I became mad & bitter towards God. I lost who I was, I lost my baby Naomi, and even though I thought I was hiding it well, those closest to me knew I wasn’t the same.

It’s been a tough year of finding out why our journey to parenthood has been this painful. 2023 is off to a better start, I’m in my new role as a school counselor in a new school district. I have a doctor who is willing to help us.

Hopefully this story will have a happy ending and not end here; feeling left behind by life while those closest to me have been building their families.

This isn’t a club I want to be a part of but man, it’s a community of some of the most supportive strangers I’ve ever met.

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Coping With Loss

Life After Pregnancy Loss: Emily

Emily was one of the first to share her story on The Understanding Heart (and one of 3 Emily’s! Haha, we love you all). Her original story was written a year ago, right around Hazel’s first birthday. The following is her perspective of life after pregnancy loss.

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Life after loss feels like a revolving door that you’re not allowed to exit. It’s been two years since I dumped my beer down the drain after taking a pregnancy test on a whim. I couldn’t believe that there were two lines there. I held the secret in two days until my husband returned from his hunting trip because I wanted him to know in person. Only weeks later to have the elated feeling crumble into a thousand pieces. 

I used to get angry when people would tell me after losing Hazel that it wouldn’t always hurt this bad. How could I ever get over or feel better about losing a child. I’ve had to endure close friends, siblings, cousins experience pregnancy and birth all while in this inbetween. I say endure because it’s hard- some days forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other. It’s even harder to allow yourself the ability to be happy for them AND sad that it’s not you. I struggled with that a lot. It’s a hard fact to talk about but needs to be talked about more. How someone’s happy news literally brings me to my knees with tears flowing like a river. Why can’t that be me? Why do they get to bring their baby home? Why does it have to be so hard? Why do I have to hear my son’s pleas for a real baby? Explaining to an almost four year old why his sister is in heaven and not here is a very difficult thing. It makes my heart break into a million pieces. I wish it was simpler and I wish it was fair. Nothing about losing a child is either of those things.

In the almost two years since my loss I feel like I’ve been through a battle. Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I wish at this point my story had a happy next chapter, but we don’t. Sometimes pregnancy loss leads to an even longer road. In August 2021, a uterine ultrasound to get a baseline picture turned into a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE)- tests, lots of headaches with insurance, and a surgery to remove a uterine septum. I was happy they found something that could have been the cause to my miscarriage. Surely removing it and healing would help me get pregnant again. 

Once we hit the 12 months of trying to get pregnant, I had to make the phone call back to the RE office for next steps. After more tests for both myself and my husband we were diagnosed with unexplained secondary infertility. That diagnosis really stung. It felt like my body failed me again. I felt broken and still do. 

We are in the throes of infertility treatments. My mind automatically goes to the what ifs. What if it doesn’t work? What are the next steps? Can I do more? Besides the physical, emotional toll, the financial toll is another issue. Nothing is covered by insurance- because apparently having a family isn’t something that we should be paying for, right? The number of phone calls I have made to the insurance company is far too great to count. This adds to the stress and trauma of this all. 

For the last two years I’ve felt like my body hasn’t been “mine”. Whether it was to house Hazel, deal with postpartum, hormones to regulate my cycle before and after surgery, hormones to induce a period after my 55 day cycle, more medications to induce follicle growth for intrauterine insemination, and hCg trigger shots. For someone with a fear of needles I am pretty darn proud of myself that I can give myself shots! 

I have many questions that come with no answers. How did the pregnancy that was so easy to come by be the one that didn’t make it? These things I will never understand. I lay my head down each day grateful for my (almost) four year old son that feels more like a miracle with every passing day. I hope for the day when I get to the other side of this storm and no matter the outcome I hope it brings me peace. Until then, I’ll keep looking for signs from Hazel to let me know she’s watching over us.

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Coping With Loss

Life After Pregnancy Loss: Toni

Toni shared the story of her baby Kingston on the blog in May 2022. This is her perspective of life after pregnancy loss.

It has been 1 year, 9 months and 21 days since we were told that our sweet baby didn’t have a heartbeat. I still remember that cold, snowy day. I remember the heartbreak in my children’s eyes as we asked the ultrasound tech to look again and try harder to find the heartbeat and watching my husband hit his knees, pleading with Jesus and calling out for my sons heart to beat again.

I remember feeling the most lost I’ve ever felt. Completely unable to make one single decision. I was met with a wall of uncertainty and, if I’m honest, I find myself back at that wall from time to time. 

It’s hard to believe how much time just moves on. Almost as though I am supposed to just walk away and pretend it never happened. 

Life after loss is really weird. One moment I’m completely fine, without a care in the world and then the biggest wave of grief just knocks me down again. It’s something I never imagined I’d walk through. Still to this day I can hear the ultrasound tech’s words ringing in my head. It feels like a really bad nightmare, except this is actually my reality. 

As a believer in Jesus, don’t think I didn’t and still don’t wonder why Jesus didn’t bring my baby boy back to me. I definitely do. It’s in those moments I have to remind myself that even though that moment in time didn’t go how I thought it should go, He is still so good and He hears me when I pray. 

Grief isn’t just over, unfortunately. It doesn’t just leave. It’s a story in and of itself, and while I don’t like to read it very often, I know one day my story will be able to help someone else and I’ll know the purpose behind my pain. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Jesus didn’t take my baby. He is still so good and He can always be trusted. 

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Our Story

A letter to my baby

December 2022

Every year, near the anniversary of my miscarriage, I write a letter of some sort. The first year, I was pregnant with my now-living daughter and made a video for her. Last year, I wrote it to my pre-miscarriage self. This year, I was in a space where I was able to write a short letter for Anthony, my baby that died during pregnancy at 10 weeks and 5 days.

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Hey bud,

It’s been 3 years since you started to leave. I can’t believe it’s been that long, and at the same time, I feel like it’s too short – I feel like I’ve known you my entire life.

Even in those early moments, you felt familiar. People will say “oh, at least you were only 10 weeks.” Have you ever met someone that changed your life the instant you met them? I met you when that test came back positive, and I was forever changed.

I knew you when you were the size of a blueberry. Small and fragile, but with a beating heart. You reminded me to slow down, eat what made sense (the pancake and gummy candy addiction is still here by the way – how did you instill that in utero???) and embrace the moment. Yes, I worried about you, but isn’t that what a mother does?

And yet, at the same time I was celebrating and sharing, I knew. I knew that deep down, you wouldn’t be here for long. I asked the questions, I followed the rules, I listened to their platitudes; “just relax. Everything is fine.” And yet, I knew. I just didn’t know when.

When you left, what I didn’t know was what you were leaving behind;

A strength I didn’t know I had.

Pain I couldn’t wrap my head around.

And a legacy that would be used to help others for years to come.

When people say “at least you were only 10 weeks,” they don’t know.

They don’t know what it’s like to carry a child and then feel them slowly and painfully leave you. Wanting so badly for them to just hang on and know there’s nothing you can do.

They don’t know how it feels to start over from an already long journey. You’ve come so far, but you’ve got so far to go.

They don’t know that I knew you. And of course I did – you’re my son.

I never met you, but I know your heart. Because it beat close to mine.

You were so small, but are doing such big things.

I am so proud to know you.

Merry Christmas, Anthony. I love you.

Love,

Mommy

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Coping With Loss

Life After Pregnancy Loss: Colleen

Colleen recently shared the story of her recurrent pregnancy loss journey. The following is a follow-up of what her life has been like since losing her babies Quinn, Peyton, Riley and Bryn.

When Brittany reached out to ask if I would be interested in writing a follow up post about life after pregnancy loss, my first thought was that I’m not living life after pregnancy loss, but living life in the thick of it.  After losing four babies in less than a year, without a healthy pregnancy or another baby yet, loss is very much still a part of my life. In the past year, I have made it through three due dates, with our final due date coming up in a few days.  This last due date is for our baby that made it to the second trimester, the one that gave us hope we were finally out of the nightmare. We won’t be bringing home our baby to watch her grow, but instead have a teddy bear with her ashes that will always be a reminder of what could have been.

Life during/after pregnancy loss is constantly being reminded of what you’ve experienced and lost along the way. It begins with going into each new week knowing what week of your pregnancy you should be in, as you slip further and further away from your baby. You slowly begin to lose track of the specific week, but your due date is still etched into your mind. A swift punch to the gut comes with every pregnancy or birth announcement and seeing families like the one you envisioned makes the hole in your heart grow. The sweet messages and check-ins from most friends and family drift away quickly, leaving you feeling like you shouldn’t still be grieving. A friend of mine recently described wanting to have a baby (through loss and infertility) as feeling like you’re watching a revolving door that you can’t get into – everything is moving around you while you’re stuck in place.

With all of that being said,  I am still hopeful we will one day add the second baby we are dreaming of.  This road has been an extremely difficult one and I look forward to having this phase of life behind us.  I recently had surgery to remove my uterine septum, that was misdiagnosed for nearly a year after my second loss. This surgery has been the only thing for me to hold on to as we begin trying to conceive for the sixth time.  I hope and pray we found our answer, but the experiences of the past year have left me jaded and skeptical.  Pregnancy loss changes you, and I will never be the same person I was a year and a half ago.  We will be forever grateful if we are able to have another baby AND will always long for the four babies I held close to my heart but never in my arms. 

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Miscarriage

Beth’s Story

A year ago yesterday, I saw a heartbeat. Two days later it stopped. We went through our third loss in less than a year. 

   This time the midwife and doctor decided there is nothing we can do, just go to a fertility clinic. Of course, I felt horrible, like there was something wrong with me. That I was doing something wrong. Still to this day, I have those moments where I think that. I see someone smoking while pregnant and am like, “I never did that, why couldn’t I have had a healthy birth?” I try not to let those thoughts take over, because it causes envy, jealousy, anger and bitterness. I am so very thankful for all the babies born and so very glad there are women that don’t go through what I did. I will continue to give my negative thoughts to God, I refuse to let them take over.

    We didn’t feel that a fertility clinic was the answer. God sent us to a new doctor. He read my chart and said he wanted to run some more tests. 17 vials of blood later, he said my eggs were healthy, I was healthy and he doesn’t see a reason for me to go to a clinic. He said we will try something new when I get pregnant again. Before I left the office he said “I will be praying for you.”  I knew then that God sent me there.

   Here we are, a year later, and we have not had another pregnancy. Every month I have hope that it will happen.  I do get discouraged when it doesn’t, however, I know God has perfect timing. I struggle with many emotions daily. With the support of my husband, parents, other family and friends I continue to have hope and cling to God’s promise.

  We have found strength and encouragement from our church family. Not a week goes by without someone praying over us or someone says they are praying for us. So every week, I am in tears. Not always because of grief, but because of the love and encouragement. Just a couple weeks ago, I held a 2 month old premie and it brought joy to my heart.  Being around babies and pregnant women is not always easy. God has sent us this family at the right time and we know our own family will grow at the right time as well.

  I don’t share this to get sympathy, I share this to show God’s love through our struggles. I am growing everyday as I go through these emotions. I continually give my thoughts and hopes to God. I’ve seen many stories where couples have broken up, where they can’t get out of depression,  because they can’t get past the grief and hurt. I understand because without God, I would be right there. I don’t have the strength, but God does. God’s love and grace is so strong, just relying on Him makes moving forward so much easier.

  God is always there through the storms and the calm days as well. Let Him help you move forward. We are one day closer to our breakthrough, one day closer to God’s promise!

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Stillbirth

Rachna’s Story

Rohan

On March 1, 2020 I found out I was pregnant. My husband was out of town at the time, because his father was transitioning to hospice care. We were able to tell my father-in-law about the positive pregnancy test shortly before he passed away. 

The world shut down due to the pandemic that month. We were all in an odd reality where working from home was the norm, hours were spent on the couch and I had so much time to think about the little life growing inside me. I remember my mom telling me that my pregnancy news was getting my family through the terrifying new world of COVID. 

However, I am a worrier by nature. I am also a physician, so I am the worst type of worrier that exists. I kept waiting for something to happen with my pregnancy. Every day, I would read a story about a woman having a miscarriage or an Instagram page about stillbirth would pop up on my feed. 

Still, I had the picture-perfect pregnancy. It was a little strange that my husband couldn’t come with me to any of my OB visits due to the COVID restrictions. I eventually learned to call him on the phone while they listened to the baby’s heartbeat, so that he could hear it too. Our 12 week ultrasound showed a beautiful baby, and the ultrasound tech “was pretty certain” it was a boy. We immediately went home and bought him a Spiderman outfit. 

And–isn’t this how it always is–on June 21, 2020, we had a beautiful Father’s Day. I had just had my 19 week appointment and everything looked great. I remember we ordered takeout and excitedly talked about how next Father’s Day, we’d have a little baby to hold!

That night, I started to feel some mild cramping. Nothing to worry about, I told myself, I had been walking a lot that day, and just needed to take it easy. Then I noticed some discharge when I went to the bathroom. It seemed different–more wet and tinged with blood. That could be normal too, right?

Overnight, my physician brain was working overtime. Sure, plenty of pregnancy symptoms are normal, but they could also be a sign I was losing my baby. At 4 AM, I called the OB triage line and they told me to come in.

I cried the whole car ride to the hospital. I rubbed my belly gently and prayed that it was going to be okay. When we arrived, an OB resident immediately did a physical exam. She tried to make small talk, but after my exam was finished she quickly left the room, saying she would be right back. 

Another resident came in with her, and did an exam. She looked at me pale and wide-eyed. I remember she spoke in very short sentences. She told me it wasn’t my fault, and I did nothing to cause this, but my cervix was 5 cm dilated and the baby’s membranes were coming out. 

The next few hours were a blur. We met with an MFM specialist, who told me I had cervical insufficiency. A horrendous diagnosis that usually isn’t discovered until a woman has had at least one 2nd trimester loss or a pre-term birth. My cervix was weak and couldn’t hold my baby in. 

We met with the Pediatric NICU team, who basically told us our baby was not going to survive if he was born that day, week, or month. He had to be at least 24 weeks to be considered for resuscitation, and even then it would be a long hard battle in the NICU (and in life) due to the risk of infection, developmental disabilities, brain bleeds and a whole lot of other terrible things. 

To top it all off, I had my 20 week anatomy scan, which confirmed we were having a boy. He was perfect in every way, other than the fact that his feet were nearly coming out of my cervix. He was starting to move too, I could feel the little flutters in my belly as a constant reminder of how far along I was. I was halfway through my pregnancy, I kept telling myself. I made it halfway through.

There was one tiny sliver of hope–a cerclage, or cervical stitch, could be attempted to try to buy us some time. In this case, an emergency cerclage (placed when a woman’s cervix is already thinned and dilated) had about a 50/50 shot of getting me to a stage of pregnancy where it would be safe(r) for the baby. 

We knew we had to give this baby a chance. So a few hours later I was wheeled into an OR, had a spinal epidural placed and a thick band of surgical suture sewn into my cervix. 

The next few days were torture. I was on strict hospital bedrest, while they monitored me for signs of infection or pre-term labor. I was scared to cough or sneeze or move. Not only was I terrified to move, I had to be alone overnight because of COVID visitor restrictions. I left the TV on constantly to try to keep my mind on anything else. 

After a few days, they let us go home, but I was told to continue the strict bedrest. My husband even got me a wheelchair so I would never have to be on my feet. It didn’t matter. Less than 8 hours later, I was back, this time with bloody red discharge and more cramping. 

I lasted one more day in the hospital before my water broke. Fluid gushed down my legs as my uterus began to contract. I called my mom in an automated sort of voice and told her they had to remove the cerclage. I was in labor because I probably had an infection, and baby needed to come out. 

They wheeled me into labor and delivery–to the room at the end of the hall, so I wouldn’t have to hear the women in labor with their babies who would actually make it. The hallway seemed long, but a second later I was in the room.

I remember pushing a small body, feet first, out of me. I remember my husband, half crying, kissing me on the forehead while I pushed. I remember holding our perfect son in my arms. He didn’t even weigh a pound, but his heart was beating when he arrived. I remember my husband cutting his umbilical cord and holding him while he passed. I remember praying that it would happen quickly, because I didn’t want him to be in pain, even if it meant an extra moment with him.

Afterward, we slept. Our small family of three. The little baby, who we named Rohan (Sanskrit for “ascending”) wrapped in a blanket. 

If there are angels on earth, my labor and delivery nurse was one of them. Not only did she take photographs of Rohan, make tiny imprints of his feet, and help us to bathe him, she made me sandwiches, helped to stop my bleeding and hugged us both. 

We were able to spend the next several hours with him. We would take turns holding him, crying over him, kissing and snuggling him. Mourning the life he would never get to have and the love we wanted so badly to show him. When it was finally time to say goodbye, I felt like I was leaving a piece of my soul with him. 

I’m not even sure what to say about the aftermath except that it was worse. We did everything people usually recommend. I took time off work, I saw a therapist, I even started bullet journaling. None of those things made a huge difference. I considered a day a success if I got out of bed and put on something other than pajamas.

No one really knew what to do for us. My family wanted to visit, but because of COVID they couldn’t. Our friends and colleagues sent us food and flowers, but I didn’t want to endanger anyone by seeing them in person. 

I also had an immediate knee-jerk reaction that I wanted to have another baby. Immediately. I was trying to grieve for one baby and plan for another. My body needed to heal, but my heart had so much love stored up for this baby that I didn’t get to hold for more than a few hours. 

Eventually I went back to work, which was another hurdle. Two of my colleagues were pregnant.  I spent most of my time dodging them so I wouldn’t have to see their bellies. I told them flat out I wouldn’t be going to their baby showers. I muted Zoom meetings if I heard a baby cry. If I saw a pregnant patient or someone who recently gave birth, I immediately locked myself into a bathroom stall and sobbed until I felt better. 

It seems obvious, but I learned that everyone grieves differently. My husband was more introspective with his grief. I had to let it out. I talked to anyone I knew that had lost a baby. I craved story after story of something similar happening to someone else, because it just made me feel less alone. I read and listened to so many stories of miscarriage and loss. Their words echoed what I desperately wanted to feel. They seemed to say: I will never get over this, but I did get through it. I survived, and so will you. 

The question everyone asks after something like this happens is, why? Why did this have to happen? That question got me nowhere, so I started to ask what? What can I do about this? What is Rohan trying to teach me?

He taught me this:

-I definitely married the right guy

-My family may not ever understand exactly what I went through, but they will do everything in their power to help me find happiness

-You can still be a mom to a baby who isn’t Earthside

-Time and distance don’t erase the pain, but they do ease it

-You have every right to protect your heart. You do not have to congratulate someone on their baby news, you do not have to go to anyone’s baby shower, and you can cry in the baby clothes aisle at Target if you want. 

-You can (and will) feel intense fear and intense joy at the same time

-You can (and will) go through pregnancy again

-Wearing your pain like a badge of courage, sharing your story with others is how you make meaning out of the senseless things that happen in life

I have a little 4 month old now. His name is Sam. He has my chubby cheeks, and he’s my husband’s best friend. He’s the best thing to ever happen to me, the best thing I’ve ever done. And it’s because of Rohan that he’s here. 

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Miscarriage

Emma’s Story

On February 23rd 2022, I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t quite believe it at first so I took a second test, then a third. I had so many emotions, I was terrified. I was only 19 and had no idea how my boyfriend was going to react, all I could do was cry. But I was so excited, I always wanted to be a mum and we’d spoken about kids all the time.

Days and weeks went by and we both got so excited. I’d downloaded pregnancy apps, obsessed with how big my baby was this week, we’d chosen names we wanted for both genders, we’d look at cots and prams we both liked. Even stuff we could get later on, ready to turn our spare bedroom into a nursery. Everything seemed perfect. I met my midwife for the first time when I was 10 weeks pregnant. She asked general questions about my health, what pregnancy vitamins I had been taking and what would happen from here. I remember her saying “you may think you’re young but 19-21 is such a good age to get pregnant, you’ll fly though it.” She put me at ease so much, I felt like I could finally start enjoying being pregnant.

On April 6th, I had my first scan, I was so excited to see my baby for the first time. I remember sitting in the waiting room with my boyfriend being unable to hide my excitement. I was finally called in and my scan started, it was so quiet until the sonographer asked how far along I thought I was, then asked when I found out I was pregnant. He told me he was struggling to find a heartbeat and asked to do an internal scan. I immediately started crying. I remember trying to hold in my sobs while he did the second scan. I still remember him saying “I’m really sorry Emma but your baby doesn’t have a heartbeat” so vividly it still hurts 6 months later. I was taken into another room with a student midwife where she gave me a photo of the scan, told me I was measuring just under 9 weeks and how I’d have to go for another scan next week to confirm everything I was told today.

5 days later, I started bleeding lightly. A part of me was relieved because I couldn’t bear being a coffin for my baby anymore. I assumed I was just going to have a heavy period, like everyone told me it’d be. At around 3:30am, I woke up with the worst pain I could ever imagine. No matter what position I was in there was excruciating pain. I ended up having to sit on the toilet because of how much blood there was and the shriek I let out when I felt my baby pass. I remember at around 6am when the pain starting to become tolerable I had to take a shower to wash all the blood off myself, I even had to mop the floor. My bathroom looked like a murder scene.

I felt stupid being so distraught. I was so young and I had lost my baby so early into pregnancy. I knew other women had it so much worse than me. I felt ashamed and like I did something wrong. I refused to see my mother, my partner’s parents, I even struggled to see my partner some days. I really expected to go back to everyday life after my miscarriage but it was far from. I wish miscarriages and the grieving process was spoken about more as it could save a lot of pain for so many women.

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Miscarriage

Jennifer’s Story

I found out I was pregnant the week of Thanksgiving 2021, which was 10 days before our wedding.  We were pleasantly surprised, and I let the venue know so I could avoid certain foods and alcohol without letting any of our guests know of the news.  Right before Christmas, my husband caught COVID so we both were symptomatic and had to reschedule our first prenatal appointment until January 7th. My husband told most of his family, friends, and a fair amount of coworkers and I told only a select group of friends and family.  Maybe it was because it still felt unreal to me, or maybe I had an underlying fear that something was wrong. The nausea I had in early December was no longer occurring yet my belly was still growing. 

When we went for the ultrasound, the OB saw a sack but was uncertain of the heartbeat. She questioned us a few times if we were sure of the conception date because the baby was measuring about 7 weeks when it should have been about 10.5 weeks. We were rushed to the nearby hospital for a more in depth ultrasound.  Within 30 minutes of leaving the hospital,  I received the most devastating words… “there is no heartbeat. It appears the baby stopped growing 3 weeks ago.” We were told that we need to think about our next steps since I was at risk for infection with a deceased fetus inside of me. The “in sickness and health” part of our vows was hitting us hard a month into our marriage. Since the appointment was on a Friday, we had to weigh our options over an entire weekend, but luckily a family friend who is an OB/GYN walked us through the different options. I questioned whether there was a chance maybe they were wrong about the heartbeat up until I walked into the operating room for the D&C. 

My recovery time physically from the procedure was fine with minimal issues but emotionally, I was wrecked.  I blamed myself in many ways (being over 35, underweight, stressed from wedding planning, etc.).  I felt disconnected from my body when I looked in the mirror. I had trouble seeing the same person I was before the loss.  However, in some ways, the loss really helped me advocate for myself and focus on putting my own needs first. I broke away from unsupportive friendships, changed jobs, and sought out therapy and nutritional counseling. I learned what it truly means to have a supportive partner.  We have started trying again at our own pace, and we are open to what the future holds for us. 

Jennifer G.
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Stillbirth

Autumn’s Story

Bastion “Bash”

2020 was the year the entire world grieved. And oh boy, grieving is what my family did…

With the pandemic approaching and my 2nd pregnancy ending, I thought my newborn would bring me comfort during hard times. Now, I’m triggered by others mentioning their “covid baby”. Because theirs got to stay. 

Bastion Porter Cohen was stillborn March 25, 2020. His big sister was 2 years old at the time. I had just had a healthy 37 week check-up. Everything was fine, until it wasn’t. He died a few days later with no real known cause, except speculations that his cord was wrapped twice too tightly around his neck. 

With the loss of our son, was the birth of our nonprofit. Still Loved was created to continue Bash’s legacy. It is a foundation that sends bereaved parents cards in the mail dedicated to their sweet angel babies. I have personally sent cards all over the world. We remember your baby on their birthday or angelversary, when others tend to forget this important day. I want parents like me to know their babies aren’t forgotten. They are, in fact, celebrated.

Autumn Cohen

I have also written a resource for parents like me. In Memory Of You is a baby memorial book for bereaved parents. It is designed like a traditional baby book, but with added journaling prompts to grieve & help parents find their new “normal”. Unlike a traditional baby memory book, this one respectfully omits pages like crawling, walking, and “firsts”. Instead, I focus on last moments together, missed milestones like holidays and birthdays, and ways to cherish your baby. Remember details of your sweet little one through precious illustrations, scrapbook-style photo pages and writing spaces. This is your all-in-one spotlight for your beautiful baby gone-too-soon. Keep their memory alive and know they are always with you.

Autumn Cohen

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