On this day a year ago, I was almost 21 weeks pregnant being wheeled into the OR feeling Greer’s kicks and woke up with her gone. I left the hospital with my body feeling like I just gave birth, my chest filled ready to feed her… but with empty arms. I could not look at a baby, an expectant mother… I could barely hold my nephew without tears. The guilt I feel from TFMR {Terminating for Medical Reasons} and not being able to actually deliver her is something I’m still very much working through. There is never a day that goes by that I don’t think about her or the events surrounding her death. Somedays, I still can’t believe this is something I was faced with and have to carry for the rest of my life.

I know how blessed I am to now be pregnant with Tatum. I thank God and Greer every day for her. I think it’s important to vocalize that she doesn’t replace or take away from Greer. Each one of my daughters are special and unique in their own way. I will continue to make sure Greer is honored and remembered always. I have found such comfort in counseling other mothers who have been through this. I have been filled with immense pride given from Stella. It amazes me how at such a young age she has handled this with empathy and compassion beyond her years. Josh has seen me at the lowest of low points this year….. and held me up when I didn’t think I could stand alone….. the absolute true definition of a forever love. He made sure I didn’t lose my faith in God when I almost did. Find someone that will be everything for you in the darkest times. As much as this was trying on us as a couple for sure, it absolutely brought us closer together.

I’m so thankful to the people that would always ask me how I’m doing and check in with me months and months after… the people that send me a quick message before these appointments for Tatum. I will always, always be grateful for you.

If you are going through this, hold on. The clouds will part, the rainbows will come. Even when it seems like you will never find joy again… you will. Honor your sweet babies. Honor them by talking about them and helping others. I read something somewhere about using social media to impact others…not to impress others. I love this because it’s so right on. Starting this blog and joining support groups online has led me to beautiful friendships and receiving kindness in ways I didn’t think were possible. Strangers thank me for being so open and helping them. That to me is so incredible.

I am not the same person I was a year ago. My perspective on life is different, my relationships are different, the way I parent Stella is different. These are all amazing things that have come out of such a tragedy. I shouldn’t even say it’s been a year without her. Physically, yes.. obviously. But, she sends me signs all the time. The cardinals showing up, the rainbows, dreams, even the ghost image on my first ultrasound with Tatum…. I’m so grateful for those signs and the growth this has brought me. My “watchful, gaurdian” Greer is indeed the angel of her little “bringer of joy, cheer” sister Tatum. How blessed am I to have these beautiful souls in my life. Very. Very blessed.

-Emily

My name is Jaide, and on July 30th, 2015 we had a termination for medical reasons. We lost our daughter, Ellie-Mae Sarah.

We were so happy to be pregnant, as we’d been trying for 3 years. I have endometriosis and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), so it had been a struggle to conceive. Ellie-Mae was our little miracle. We instantly felt she was a little girl, and had her name picked.

Around 8 weeks, I had some cramping and was referred to have an early scan, as doctors were worried I was having an ectopic pregnancy. Everything looked great and we were so happy with the news.

We went to our dating scan on June 30th, 2015. I was 12 weeks and 5 days. That’s when our lives changed forever. 

We were told there was a large cystic hygroma on the back of our baby’s neck, and sent to sit in a room to speak to someone. We were referred to another hospital to see a specialist in the fetal medicine unit.

6 days later, it was confirmed that there was something wrong with our baby, and that the hygroma measured 22mm. We were offered a termination for medical reasons at that point but declined, as our baby still had a 10% chance of survival. 
They couldn’t do any testing at that point, as my placenta was in the wrong place. We were told to hope for the best, but expect the worst. They’d see us back in 3 weeks to see how things were progressing.

I went back at 16 weeks and 4 days (July 27th, 2015). We received the worst news imaginable. Ellie-Mae now had 2 large cystic hygromas on the back of her neck, fluid around her heart, in both lungs, in her tummy, and under her skin from head to toe. She was in heart failure, and there was hardly any amniotic fluid around her, as it was all inside her (this is called hydrops). 

She was now given a 0% chance of survival. We had to make the decision to keep going with the pregnancy, or to let her go. Doctors suspected she had Turner Syndrome, but they couldn’t know for sure, as there was not enough amniotic fluid for them to be able to do an amniocentesis.

We decided we didn’t want her to suffer anymore, and that we’d terminate for medical reasons. We went home and the next day (July 28th, 2015) we went back for me to start the process. I took the first tablet to end the pregnancy. 

I don’t remember much about the next few days. I cried so much, and even the hospital staff was crying with me.

At 9 am on July 30th, 2015, I went to the hospital again to be induced. A pessary was placed inside me and I started getting slight contractions around 11:30 am. By 12:45 pm I was in full blown labor. I delivered our beautiful girl at 1:10 pm.
What happened next was very upsetting for my husband. I stood up to move right as my water broke. Ellie-Mae had come straight away and, as I stood up the cord snapped. Ellie-Mae fell on my husband’s feet.

The nurse was very apologetic about this. It is just something my hubby and I will never forget. We got to hold Ellie-Mae and spend a little time with her a big regret I have is never taking any pictures of our time with her.

The next few weeks are a blur. A post-mortem was done, and we were informed that Ellie-Mae did have Turner Syndrome. I got a call from the hospital telling me that my “fetus” was back from post-mortem. This still upsets me that they used the word “fetus” instead of baby. 

We laid Ellie-Mae to rest on August 27th, 2015
xx

An incredible thing that has come out of this journey in sharing is the power of the human connection.

All it takes is one person to say, “Me too”, and the black cloud that screams isolation seems a little less dark.

The ugly circle that is pregnancy loss is a big one unfortunately. It comforts me to know that I have other hands to hold through this. Other hearts that feel what I feel. Half of these girls that I consider my spirit sisters, I have never met face to face. We message each other to check in, to lift each other up, to vent, to pray, to cry, to feel it all.

If you know someone who has experienced the loss of a baby, someone who might be hesitant to reach out, please encourage them to do so. Sometimes just having someone say “How are you?”, who has walked through this storm might be the connection they need to feel that day to BREATHE.

You are not alone. This community is always, ALWAYS here for you.

Special thanks to my angel mama warrior, Morgan, who sent me this psalm as a daily reminder~ The lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 

~Emily

It’s June 4th. And I am still standing.

The anxiety I had leading up to this day was actually more painful than today. I anticipated it so much, that the thought of it made me lose my breath. I just kept thinking I should be packing my hospital bag and putting finishing touches on her nursery, but here I am staring at a bare room.  It has been just short of 5 months since Greer physically left me. Since that day, I have cried every single damn day. Some tears were purely of missing her. Others were falling from feelings of guilt, fear, judgement, trauma, sadness, anger, worry, and exhaustion.

The layers to my experience through this are complicated. Having to make a decision and feel Greer kicking me while I was laying on the operating room table, to then wake up with her gone is straight trauma. I relive this over and over and over. And then you add the actual loss on top of that, and it is just an insane amount of grief.   It is extremely lonely and isolating. And the triggers are fierce. Oh my. Seeing baby clothes, newborn babies, pregnancy announcements on social media, baby shower pictures….It’s a nightmare for an angel mama.

This has been hands down, the darkest season of my life. But, I did have a choice in how I made it through this journey.  I could have gone off the total deep end or I could help myself. I chose to help myself. I leaned on my amazing support system, I have gone to therapy regularly, I read a lot, I take really great care of myself, and I find things each day to be grateful for. Stella’s innocent insight and unconditional love when she knew mommy was sad, little signs I took from Greer from above, Josh’s incredible way of comforting me, my best friends checking in, fellow angel mamas praying for me, my mom calling me 50 times a day…I owe a TON of my strength to them. And my pets. Pets are legit THERAPY. If you are a pet lover, you know how amazing they are when you are going through it. And music and walking. Yes and yes. And I can’t forget my oils. Thank you mother nature. And good ole’ reality tv for laughs. Jersey Shore and Southern Charm marathons made for some fun mindless distraction.   I grieved properly by never holding back my emotions, showing Stella that it’s more than OK to cry when you lose someone you love. I also found new doctors, and am seeing a perinatologist tomorrow for closure. I found my faith in God again and pray multiple times a day. I pray to Greer as well.

Today we honored her in planting pink and purple hydrangeas along side a little girl angel statue.  I will continue to write here to continue to comfort others going through this. But today I am lifting the weight I have been carrying around for months. I am ready to start my next chapter. My next season that will be filled with light and happiness. I know Greer wouldn’t want any different and I owe that to her. She will now be looking down and seeing her mommy happy with her big sister and her daddy and living life completely and magically to it’s fullest. We love you Greer. You have certainly seen us through. xo

I consider myself a spiritual person. The day my grandmother passed away, I saw a beautiful rainbow, and on the day of her funeral there were butterflies everywhere. Every time I see a rainbow or a butterfly, I think of my grandmother and instantly feel comforted.

I was watching a video of a medium one day after I lost Greer, and she mentioned that we can get signs from our loved ones and we can ask for them specifically. After she said this, a red cardinal came into my mind. My grandmother loved red cardinals. She always talked to me about birds, had bird feeders around her house and would sit with me outside when I was little to bird watch.

I told Greer in my prayers to her that I was hurting badly and I missed her. My heart ached to know that she was better. I asked her to show me a red cardinal, so I knew she was at peace. I have had tremendous amounts of guilt run through me for terminating my pregnancy. Guilt that tortures me. I have been desperate to know that she still loves me and understands why I made the decision I did out of love for her. I needed something to help me. I needed a sign.

Two days after I made this prayer to Greer, I was out with Josh and our friends one Saturday afternoon. We had a really nice time and after our friends left us, I wanted to go to the book store. I was kneeling down looking through some books and said in my head…”Greer- I am really struggling. I haven’t seen a red cardinal.. I need this sign from you….”. I stood up and turned the corner of the aisle, and there was a book right in front of me with a big red cardinal on the cover.

The next week I had to make some phone calls about insurance bills. You know the annoying kind where people are rude on the phone and you don’t understand why. I had to talk to them about having an advanced D+E, the termination, the whole nine….I didn’t get a lot of empathy I guess you could say from the people I was speaking with. Josh came home from work, took one look at me, and I started bawling. Trying to make me feel better, he said, “Hey, did you see any red cardinals today?” I looked out our window of the family room through my tears and in my direct line of view was my neighbor’s garden flag with a red cardinal on it.

While Josh and I were away recently, we were watching a show outside in Disney and a red cardinal showed up and perched right next to us.

Over the past month, we have seen a red cardinal appear multiple times throughout the week on our back porch.

I now get texts from Josh from work on his walks around Princeton saying, “I saw a red cardinal!”

This may seem insane to some of you or just a coincidence, but I encourage you to try it. If you are desperately missing a loved one, ask them to show you a sign. You might just be surprised with how often they show up to remind you that they are at peace and always with you.

~Emily

Me sitting down and writing my story has been a long time coming. It’s not easy to expose yourself  and share your emotions (at least for me it’s not) but no one should ever feel alone. I want to thank my sister friend, Emily, for creating such a beautiful space and community for women to share their truths.   Emily and I call each other sister friends because once upon a time we were sister in laws. So using the word friend doesn’t really seem to do our relationship justice. This little backstory does have relevance to my current story because in my previous marriage, my ex and I had fertility issues. And of course Emily has been by my side through all my baby struggles.  

I can’t really remember exact dates or a time frame for when my ex and I tried to have a baby, it’s not really important…. what matters most is the overwhelming feeling of sadness and hopelessness that we felt.  I was really young at the time and I don’t think I actually let myself feel the weight or severity of what we truly were going through. I always have been a glass half-full kinda gal, who never let anyone crush her dreams.  So I pushed forward through doctors appointments, procedures, and needle poking because in my mind there was NO WAY I would never be a mom. The detail I am leaving out is that my ex was the one with the infertility. But in my mind if he couldn’t have a child, I couldn’t have a child.  It was our infertility. After push came to shove we had exhausted every option possible. I’ll never forget that day in the doctor’s office after hearing the news that the last procedure didn’t work…I’m pretty sure I felt numb inside. I was completely defeated and for years after I was in a very dark place.   I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I truly felt like someone else. I also felt like my time allowance to talk to family and friends about my sadness was up. So I buried my sadness like every other normal human being because that’s what you do right? But I couldn’t even fake being happy for people who were getting pregnant.  And I remember crying all the time in my car when I was alone. My once happy go lucky attitude was lost and I felt really isolated. I tried getting counseling, which helped me personally realize a lot of my issues and struggles, but ultimately it did not help our marriage. I hate to blame infertility on my failed marriage because it CERTAINLY wasn’t the only thing but it played a roll.  We couldn’t get on the same page after all that we went through. I could tell that when he looked at me he felt that he failed me. No one should ever feel like that towards their significant other, it’s truly awful. And I know I wasn’t a gem to be around either.

I think I painted a pretty depressing picture for you all.   So you can imagine that it took me a little bit to crawl out of that hole. The thought of being pregnant was sooo far removed from my brain that it still felt unattainable.   But like with everything else, time heals all wounds and I started to re-imagine my life with a child in it again. The good news is, I did get pregnant last spring and it truly felt surreal.  My boyfriend Josh and I were excited, but I did have a lot of thoughts going on in my head. I had just started a new career, moved to a new city and honestly were we even really ready for this?  Josh wanted to tell the world about the baby, but I was VERY reserved. I was afraid to tell a random stranger on the street, whom I would never see again, let alone a co-worker or a friend. Something inside was telling me not to get too excited.  At first, I blamed it on my past and tried not to be such a pessimist. Not every baby journey has to end in sadness. I eventually allowed myself to get excited with the idea and have a positive outlook on this pregnancy.

I didn’t feel too different, no real terrible signs of pregnancy to report.  My doctors appointments at first were all normal. Then at around 8 weeks, the baby was measuring smaller than they should have been.  Everyone assured me this was typical early on. My doctor ordered me to get a dating ultrasound at Johns Hopkins in 2 weeks and that was that.  Josh travels for his job quite often and he was going to be out of town during my dating ultrasound. I didn’t even think twice about the fact that he wouldn’t be there other then I was sad he would miss seeing the little bean.  I arrived to my appointment and quickly start the ultrasound per usual. At this point, I was a little over 10 weeks. There was an ultrasound tech and a student tech in the room, since we were at a teaching hospital and all. Both women were incredibly nice and we had been chatting up a storm the entire time.  Eventually they had to leave the room to speak with the doctor, she said she would be right back. All of a sudden the room was flooded with music and my heart sunk. I knew something was wrong. I don’t think I can ever listen to “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles the same way again. My heart was pounding for what felt like 20 minutes as I waited. Both techs came back in with the doctor.  I could see the look of sadness on the poor young techs face and for some reason I wanted to be brave for her. The doctor told me there was no longer a heart beat and I tried to hold back my tears. I was successful for some time but once the doctor had left the room, the lump in the back of my throat was unbearable, and I bursted into tears. What exactly just happened? What do I do now?  If I didn’t have these two sweet women in the room with me, I don’t know what I would have done. They both hugged me and consoled me and tried to talk me through my next steps. The girl asked me if I had anyone that could come get me and sadly I had just moved to a new city and told her no. Then she asked me if I needed to call anyone and my heart sunk even more. I now have to break Josh’s heart with the news.  Because he is the amazing man that he is, he flew home to be with me immediately. I couldn’t bare the thought of being alone. But unfortunately for him my demons had quickly boiled to the surface. And just like that, all my old feelings had IMMEDIATELY rushed back to me like they never had left. I’m never going to be a mom, it’s not in the cards for me, maybe God is trying to tell me something….And I was sad and heart broken over the miscarriage for longer then maybe I should have been.

It was hard for me to shake those terrible thoughts out of me head.   Luckily my boyfriend is a saint. He is patient and kind and he let me completely fall. I  cried all the time but he never made me feel like I “needed to get over it”. I wanted to get back to my normal self for him, for us.  What was being in this dark place again benefiting me? Nothing. So I let myself feel it, be sad for awhile, probably drank too much wine…but eventually got back to my normal routine. I want to try this again.  I want to be that happy go lucky girl that I know is deep down inside me that was buried years ago.

As I sit here typing up this novel, sorry guys… I am constantly being kicked and reminded by my little miracle baby boy inside, Atlas. There is now light at the end of the struggle.  There is a reason I had to go through these tough times and I will be a stronger women because of it. You can also be damn sure I don’t take any day of this pregnancy for granted!  I am a little over 6 months pregnant now, and I want to be an example of hope and light for anyone else who has felt as hopeless as I did. Women need each other during these times, especially when our hormones are running rampid.   It is hard to explain the sadness that we feel, so at least if you can express it on a site such as this beautiful one, we won’t feel alone anymore. This is the first time I am publicly putting out there that I had a miscarriage.  I’ve never really opened up about it and I am upset at myself for hiding it this long. It’s not that I felt like people didn’t deserve to know… I think I felt like everyone would normalize it. Sooo many women have miscarriages and we are meant to feel like it’s not such a big deal.  Everyone kept saying, you will get pregnant again, so and so had 2 miscarriages and now they have a healthy baby, and so on. I felt like my feelings were swept under the rug often by people who knew about it, so I didn’t really want to bring it up and have my feelings minimized. To me, it was a big deal and I had my worries that something major was wrong with me. Even though everyone kept reminding me 1 in 4 women have miscarriages.  But this was my miscarriage, not theirs, and I was scared and upset about it.

So please do yourself a favor and go share your stories because there is no better release. You also could be helping other women out there having the same exact feelings as you are….

-Colleen

If you google pregnancy loss, the first thing that is displayed across the screen is “Very Common.”

Education and Social Work are my passion, so I am a natural sharer.  I am not a private person. I will tell the mailman my business because I feel that everyone has a story and having conversations is what brings meaning to life. You never know what you can learn from someone or about yourself by talking. And by talking, I don’t mean surface level bullshit that might not even be the truth.

Why are we so afraid to be genuine? Why are we so afraid to speak to our reality? If you are a private person, OK. I get you might not want to announce your fertility struggle or your miscarriage, or the fact that you had to terminate your pregnancy at 5 months on social media. What I don’t get is with pregnancy loss being “very common” , why are women left to cope alone or feel guilty or feel that they don’t have anyone who can relate. And even more perplexing is knowing people know your story, yet those people fall reluctant to extend themselves….

I shouldn’t walk into a room full of women and feel pity eyes on me. And on the same face as those eyes, there is a mouth that wont say a thing….

I shouldn’t walk into a group of women and talk mindlessly about the weather. Like what is that?  Is our society so screwed up that we have lost all sense of how significant losing a baby is? Are people so consumed with their own lives, that they can’t extend themselves to a bereaved mother and feel compelled to talk to her? I don’t care if you aren’t an empath or outgoing, if you hear someone talking about losing a baby and you are staring mindlessly at your phone and can’t bring yourself to say anything…..no.words. If you have a vagina or even a penis for that matter, turning your cheek to that is mind blowing.

Do people understand that their are women crying on their bathroom floors as we speak and men left feeling helpless? There are women getting surgery right in this moment to remove their baby from their uterus who they will never lay eyes on. There are women going into birth a healthy child, only to hold them stillborn. There are women injecting themselves with fertility drugs because they have had 4 miscarriages in a year. These are deals. BIG deals at that. And I feel compelled to get people talking about it.

On the flip side from this frustration, I have experienced amazing things from total strangers through this. These people are leaders in humanity.

Thank you to the mom who I never talked to before who went out of her way to tell me her story.

Thank you to the people who 3 months after my loss send me inspirational quotes and cards.

Thank you to the mom who gave me something to help me with fertility.

Thank you to mom who messaged me through here expressing she needed someone to talk to who has walked this before her and accepted my call.

Thank you to the girl I met in a loss group online, who prays for me and who I now consider a dear friend.

Thank you to the girl who I never met, but heard what I went through and messaged me on Facebook just letting me know she was thinking of me.

Thank you to the mom at Stella’s school who in our very first conversation together about nothing related, decided to open up to me about her loss years ago and recommended a new physician for me to try.

We need more of these people. More hand holders, more authentic humans. We need more. We need to do better for each other. We need to talk.

Because the reality is, pregnancy loss is very common and it should never be that elephant in the room.

-Emily

Why me.

Why after doing everything to be a good mom to Stella, am I faced with this?

Why after dedicating the last 13 years of my life to helping children, was I dealing with this?

Why after surviving my divorce, was I having another nightmare to walk through?

Why is someone who has only ever wanted to be a mommy the one who has to lose a baby?

Why did Stella have to be the kid that had to lose her little sister?

Why did Josh have to be the man that had to lose his daughter?

Why us? We are good people. We are kind. We do the right things.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

The dark road to “Why Me” is long. It is full of fear and self-doubt. It haunts you and consumes you. And I am telling you, it is no way to live.

Do I have moments when I am tempted to go down this dark road? All the time. But what I am choosing today is gratitude.

Greer has given me gifts through the loss of her. I have gratitude for what she has brought me.

From losing Greer, Josh and I became connected in a new way. We are closer. We love and appreciate each other on a whole different level than before. We saw sides of each other that were deeper than we ever knew.  I can’t even put a word to the growth of our love for each other from this, but I am forever thankful to Greer.

Greer pulled me out of a job that was no longer serving me or my family. I was working myself to the ground. I was not appreciated. I was feeling unfulfilled. I was not being supported. I was rarely having quality time with my family. Because of Greer, I quit. And I couldn’t feel more free.

Greer allowed me to be home more with Stella. I am now the one who puts her on the bus and is waiting for her as she hops off smiling. I am now the one who takes her to dance class. This gives me SO much happiness.  I never had that opportunity before this. Greer is allowing me to not be stressed in my time with Stella and instead I am truly present in that time. I appreciate Stella even more than I thought imaginable. Her teacher even mentioned that now that I am home and more involved with her, her anxiety at school has subsided. What an amazing gift from Greer.

Because of Greer, I only spend my time on things that serve ME. I was always, ALWAYS making it about what was best for others and not myself. That is a way of the past. I now love myself enough to take care of myself. I only spend my energy on what I am passionate about and what brings me joy. AND through my new path, I am still fulfilling my calling to help others and I have my angel Greer to guide me.

Thank you Greer for giving me a new perspective on life, for my awakening…for EVERYTHING. You have been one of my greatest blessings. I will continue to live with you in my heart and live the way that you so incredibly showed me how.

To my beautiful friends who are experiencing this, I encourage you to try and find a gift that your baby has given you through this experience. It may just be what you need to look toward the path where the sun shines brightly and you can start anew.

-Emily

I officially found out I was pregnant with Ivy the day after Christmas Day 2017. However, I knew I was pregnant way before I got the positive test. I had the nausea, the exhaustion, and was super irritable (sorry John haha). I had been hoping to get a strong positive test on Christmas morning and surprise John then, but baby girl decided she wanted to make me wait a little longer. The moment I finally saw those perfect two dark lines, I instantly started sobbing. So much heartache and loss had lead up to this moment of immense joy. I immediately sent a photo of the test to my best friend because I still had like 12 hours until I would see John after work, and I couldn’t keep it to myself. I set up a cute little announcement and waited for John to come home.

John and I obviously were obviously over the moon. I was so excited to see that pure joy on his face when he read the sign, He kept saying ” Are you serious?!”… Sweet man, so much love for his little one. I know that some people would not have announced their pregnancy earlier than 12 weeks, and I totally understand that. But this is not our first pregnancy loss… so we personally felt like no matter how much time we had with our little Rainbow Baby ( term used for a baby conceived after loss) that we wanted that to be celebrated. I would announce early again, if we are given that opportunity. The time we had with Ivy was pure joy and I am thankful that she knew only love. People asked how we knew it was a girl, since we hadn’t had a gender ultrasound yet… I had so many dreams of her being a girl, while I was pregnant. I don’t know if this was God’s way of bringing me comfort, but being able to name her was an honor. I chose the name Ivy after the Kari Jobe song “The Garden”. My favorite part in the song goes like this:

“And for this moment, You planned ahead
That I would see, Your faithfulness in all of the green
I can see the ivy, growing through the wall
‘Cause You will stop at nothing to heal my broken soul”

I love this analogy of God’s faithfulness being like spring, you can always count on spring to come again, and you can always count on God’s faithfulness to you. I also love that anytime I see ivy growing or signs of spring coming, that I can be reminded of our sweet Ivy Mae. It reminds me of the goodness of God, even through all of this.

This next part is hard for me to share, it is raw and it is painful but it is our story. I woke up on Sunday morning and I was feeling so good. My little baby bump and I headed off to church, because John was already there playing on the worship team. That Sunday was Sanctity of Human Life Sunday… and I took this photo with my sweet girl on that morning.

Later that day, I fell extremely hard on some ice in our driveway. I felt okay but I was pretty sore. I know now that the fall is not what caused us to lose Ivy but until we learned the cause,  I was full of guilt. Around 11:00 pm that night, I knew in my heart that something was wrong. I went to my doctor on Monday and they told me just to wait, but don’t lose hope yet. I am pretty sure they knew the outcome that was before me, but I appreciate them giving me a little bit longer to hope. John stayed home with me on Tuesday, at that point all of my hope was gone. I was in extreme pain and had a lot of blood loss. I went to my doctor in the late afternoon on Tuesday, and I could hardly walk. In the past I was able to miscarry at home, but this time I knew that something wasn’t right. I adore my doctor. She is compassionate and yet straight forward at the same time. In this instance especially, I needed that. They did an unmediated D&C in the office. Typically they would do this at a hospital and put you under. I am sorry for those of you who don’t like TMI stories, so I won’t go into the full detail but let me just say that this was hell on earth. I have never experienced that amount of physical and emotional pain all at once. I don’t think that I could go through that again. After the procedure was over and I had rested some, I actually felt a lot better physically shockingly. Emotionally though I was a total wreck, and I think rightfully so. The week following I went back in for numerous tests and checkups. We then learned that John and I have incompatible blood types… for all of my friends who are trying to conceive, PLEASE get your blood types checked or advocate for yourself to have your doctor do that. Until I switched to my current doctor, no other OBGYN had done this… this is so preventable and you want to get the Rhogam shot, before you have antibodies in your system. ( if you want to talk more about this, feel free to message me! It is all sort of confusing). Since losing Ivy, I have now been to the infertility clinic and started seeing a doctor there. She is hilarious and just the kind of calming presence you need in this journey. I have discovered that I have a few other issues that are playing into our losses and that is not easy to grasp, but I am thankful for doctors and technology that help us with this. We have been presented our options moving forward, which I will talk more about at a later time, but for now we are mourning and we are healing.

I am beyond thankful for the time we had loving Ivy Mae here on earth, and I am still honored that God chose me to carry her and continue loving her even with her gone. I long to see her face in heaven, but until then I rest in the fact that she is with her Creator and her King.

-Morgan Merkel

-Blog~ https://mourning-and-dancing.blogspot.com

ANGEL….that is the name that she was given by my then 6 year old Mia, the big sister to be.  I had names in mind for her, one was a favorite but decided to go with Mia’s choice because she had said that her little sister was now our own Angel in heaven watching over us.

My pregnancy wasn’t planned.  In fact, I was still taking my birth control pill despite a 3 day lapse because of prescription issues in the beginning of the month and didn’t realize I had missed my period for over a week.  Nonetheless, I wanted another child.  Correction, WE wanted a child together and so as the shock wore off, I found myself happy even if the timing wasn’t right.  I had been with my boyfriend, Tim, for long enough though our relationship was kept quiet because of messy divorce situations.  We had been friends for some time, both failed in our first marriages, both already have a daughter from those marriages and wanting children was something that bonded us initially.  As our relationship grew, our bonds grew in many other ways.

At the beginning of my 8th week with Angel, I began spotting.

I have experienced 3 miscarriages all together.  My 1st was a chemical pregnancy at week 5, followed 2 months later with a perfect pregnancy that brought Mia into my life in 2010.  Then a 2nd pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, so I just figured that there would be no heartbeat when I went in for my 1st prenatal appointment a few days later. With the last miscarriage,  I had begun spotting at 7 weeks but went to the doctor and there was a heartbeat.  A week later, I went to work spotting a little heavier in the morning but around noon I began experiencing severe back pain, cramping and heavier bleeding.  Before, I could figure out what I should do I bled through my pants while working with a patient and ran to the bathroom just leaving the patient on the table.  “Oh no”, I thought, here we go AGAIN…… ” I cried to myself when the spotting started with Angel.

Much to my surprise, there was a very strong heartbeat and she measured exactly what she should at that point.  My progesterone was low and there was a small area from implantation that the doctors thought was the cause of the spotting.  I was thrilled and cried in disbelief.  I was put on a progesterone supplement until the 10th week when the placenta produces it on its own.   Everything seemed to be going well with it from that point.  I had agreed to the genetic testing which allowed me to find out the gender at week 13.  The test came back at the lowest risk, even for my “advanced maternal age”, the numbers were that of someone much younger and it was a girl.  I was so excited that Mia was going to have a little sister.  The two of them would have been the same age difference as my younger sister and I.  I had only told a few people about the pregnancy up until this point because of the circumstances.  My sister was the 1st after Tim of course, my mom and Emily were the others.

My sister was with me for the 12 week ultrasound at which point everything looked as it should still, though she measured 2 days smaller than she should have.  I was told that could be perfectly normal, especially since everything else looked so good.  It didn’t sit well with me but that feeling was quickly pushed aside.  I was able to feel her move by 16 weeks, my belly was beginning to grow a bit.  I still waited to share the news.  I mean I hadn’t really been open about my relationship with the majority of people around me and wasn’t really sure how it was going to go.  My anatomy scan was scheduled during the 19th week.  Tim was going with me to this appointment.  It was the first time he would be seeing his little girl.  It was something he had been wanting to experience for such a long time.  He had tried for many years, multiple miscarriages, failed IVF and failed surrogacy.  This might not have been the right timing in our relationship, but it was a miracle.  We certainly felt it was meant to be and with everything he had come to mean to me, everything our relationship had become, it was the one thing I wanted to give him more than anything.

The ultrasound began and seemed to be going just fine, we saw her arms and legs, hands and feet, her face.  It was all there, all moving and to us it all looked normal.  What caught my attention was that the tech never asked us if we knew or wanted to know the sex, she said nothing about it.  She then stepped out half way through and came back after a few minutes and looked at a few other things.  She told us she was done but never printed out pictures.  She just said the doctor would be in to see us.  My heart sank.  I knew none of that was normal.  The high-risk doctor walked in and I saw it plain as day on his face, he couldn’t even make eye contact with me.  He looked only at Tim even though he was speaking to both of us.  He began to tell us that it appeared she had skeletal dysplasia.  Her bones were not growing appropriately, and she was measuring small, 15 weeks when she should be 19.  Her arms and legs were disproportionate to the rest of her, her chest cavity was small and abnormal.  It was unlikely that it would grow big enough to support heart and lung development.  He recommended further evaluation at CHOP but also said he was certain she was not compatible with life.

There are no words to describe that moment.  I took it all in, heard every word the doctor said.  He talked about our options and yet, there really wasn’t a choice was there.  I could carry the pregnancy out with it most likely ending at miscarriage and labor at any time. I could hope to bring her into the world only for her to live minutes or hours in pain or on machines for a few weeks at most. I could terminate the pregnancy while there was still time.  He left the room and that was when I began to cry.  That was when it hit me, a dull edged dagger to the gut that was twisted again and again.  I was able to leave and get to the car without crying but the whole way home and for hours just laying in bed holding each other and the days following the tears just wouldn’t stop.  There was no choice but to terminate the pregnancy.

How could I let her experience pain?  How could I risk my own health and everything else?  Initially, I had opted not to go for further testing and began scheduling the appointments for the D & E.  I was going to have to wait at least a week.  There was a part of me, however, that decided to go for the testing at CHOP.  I wasn’t sure but I needed to know more.  What type of skeletal dysplasia was this?  What is the risk for future pregnancies?  I needed to know more before I could say goodbye to her.  The waiting period was pure torture for us.  I was emotionally all over the place even though I tried not to be.  I had to tell my dad and brothers at this point and a few other family members and friends I was close to.  I needed to know I had support, needed people to reach out and just ask if I was ok or to allow me to vent.

It was almost 3 weeks from the time we first got the news til the day we said goodbye.  Testing a CHOP not only confirmed that she had skeletal dysplasia but determined it was Thanatophoric Skeletal Dysplasia and then revealed a second conditioned called Confined Placental Mosaicism.  The physician literally told me I had a “weird placenta.”  It was calcifying and there was only a single blood vessel in the umbilical cord when there should be two.  She was slowly dying inside me as multiple organs were already failing.  I walked out feeling that I was making the right decision, but I also realized that I got to spend two and a half hours watching her during the ultrasound, being with her before saying goodbye and I was given pictures.  It would help in time with closure for me.

We said goodbye to her on March 23rd…one year ago today.

That time period and the time after was difficult for me.  I cried more in the days between the initial diagnosis and our final goodbye then I did after.  Our final goodbye felt relieving after 3 weeks of knowing and waiting.  I continue to grieve til this day.  It is not something you get over.  I am at a place today where I can walk past the baby sections of stores without crying.  I can look at other happy, healthy pregnant women and be happy for them.  I can look at baby girl clothes without being sad.  It is a scar that will be forever imprinted on my heart though it is not visible.  I made a promise that the scar would not become a restriction.  I allowed myself to cry and express my emotions as often as I needed.  I knew I was not okay, I did not feel whole and that it was okay to not be.  I talked to those I confided in and I was able to begin to share our story with other friends and family members.  I had physical therapy treatment which not only helped with the physical issues I experienced but the emotional issues as well.  One year later, I am 40 years old.  I still have hope of having a healthy pregnancy.  I have an amazing 7 year old daughter, my relationship is stronger then ever and I completed my first half marathon last November with the second coming up in a few days.

My Angel is always with us, never forgotten, a scar on my heart but from it I, no We….have grown.

Thank you, Emily and Josh, not only for your friendship but for allowing Angel’s story to be shared on her one year anniversary.  This is a bond I wish we didn’t have to share but I am glad that we are able to be there for each other.  As Mia had said when I told her about your loss, “Her Angel and Stella’s little sister can be up in heaven together and be best friends just like they are.”