In 2010 I was expecting our second baby, a little boy named Weston. My pregnancy was just like my first, easy and nothing out of the ordinary. I finally got to 39 weeks and was anticipating birth any day. One Sunday, I remember telling my husband I hadn’t felt the baby move a whole lot that day, but I didn’t think anything of it because you always hear people say babies don’t move a whole lot at the end because there’s not much room left. I went through the following day, still not thinking much of movement. I stayed busy with my toddler and my other two adopted kids and never really stopped to count kicks.
The next morning, I had an appointment with my home birth midwife and during the 45 minute drive, I kept pushing on my stomach to see if the baby would kick me back, but there was nothing. Deep down I knew something wasn’t right, but I still didn’t think the worst and was actually a little excited because I had started feeling slight contractions during the drive. I came into my appointment and told my midwife how I hadn’t felt a lot of movement and she wasn’t overly concerned at first either. We got to the point of the heartbeat check and she tried for several minutes, but couldn’t hear it. She said I should go straight to the hospital where they could do an ultrasound to determine what happened.
As I drove to the hospital I called my husband and best friend to tell them what was going on and to meet me at the hospital. I was checked in and sent down for an ultrasound right away, where they determined my baby had no heartbeat. I think I was in shock because I was abnormally calm and went back up to the delivery floor to be admitted. I’m typically a very natural birther, but this time I decided to have the epidural so I wouldn’t have to face the birth pain as well as the pain of not having my baby to take home at the end.
Since I was already in early labor, I was able to get the epidural fairly quickly and relax until it was time to birth my son, about 6 hours later. The nurses had previously asked me if I wanted to hold him right away or have them take him and clean him up a little bit before they gave him to him. At the point when they had asked, initially I had said to clean him up and bring him back, but when he was born, I changed my mind right away and asked them to hand him to me as he came out.
It was a surreal experience holding my still baby. I kept waiting for his cry, but it never came. I held him for quite a while and studied his perfect features, trying to remember the baby I wouldn’t get to watch grow up. I was surprisingly not that emotional at first. It wasn’t until later that night when we were able to be discharged that it hit me; I would not be bringing my baby home with me. As they pushed me down the corridors of the hospital to our car outside, I cried and continued to cry all the way home.
I don’t remember much from the rest of that night. It was late when we got home, so I think we just passed out and slept until morning. Morning felt like we had just been through a dream, but the realization of my lost baby hit hard, especially as family started to come into town for support.
A day or two after the birth, we went to the funeral home to prepare for our son’s funeral and burial. That was another surreal moment in my life. You picture yourself “someday” being in the funeral home planning a funeral for your parents or elderly loved ones, but you are never prepared to be in the funeral home talking with the director about your tiny baby born just days before.
We had a very nice, small graveside ceremony with close friends and family and buried our angel in a special part of the cemetery called “The Angel Garden” set aside for young children and babies.
While still in the hospital, the nurses told us about the photography group, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, who come to the hospital and take photos of stillborn babies as a way to keep their memory alive. I’m so grateful to the photographer who captured our angel for our memories. What a heart-wrenching, but fulfilling job these photographers must have! We were able to use the photos to make a photo book and share with our other kids since they did not actually see their little brother (we thought they were a bit too young to deal with that at the time).
We ended up getting pregnant a couple months later with my daughter and looking back I honestly don’t remember what it was like the months following our loss. People kept telling me, “You’ve all dealt with your loss with such grace and maturity.” So I guess we must have handled it “well” in others’ eyes. I guess for us, while we definitely questioned why, we never had “anger toward God” like some may experience during a similar loss. As the years have gone by, we still think about and miss our angel. I always wonder what he would have been like and what he would have become. Dealing with our loss has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to experience in life so far. However, it really was our faith that got us through it and how I’m able to share our story to this day. Even though we may never understand, we trust that everything happens for a reason and that God is in control.
If you need support during your experience with loss, consider the organization, Be Not Afraid. Their group offers peer-based support to parents experiencing a prenatal diagnosis and carrying a pregnancy to term.