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.”

As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted a family more than anything in the world. In 2007, my fiancé and I had decided to begin trying for a baby.  Months later, I was late for my period and decided we needed to take a test.  I vividly remember sitting in my room, waiting more than anxiously to read the results. We were both elated when the results were positive. We shed tears of joy together and headed out to meet his parents for Easter dinner with a definite pep in our step and smiling inside about our little secret.

Monday morning, I walked into work feeling like a different woman. I was cradling my belly and feeling “not alone” for the first time in my life.  I felt a sense of peace that was very unfamiliar to me. Someone is with me and inside of me. We were together and one.  I had a beautiful little baby that I will always have to love and care for. The comfort I felt in that was indescribable. I had a permanent smile in my heart.

After transitioning through my first trimester, I began taking the necessary steps in preparing for our new baby. We signed a lease for a two bedroom condo which was close to both of our families.  We decided to move out of the city. I was taking my prenatal vitamins and going to all of my doctor’s appointments. Everything was falling into place.   I shared our news with friends, family and co-workers.  My belly was growing every day and I loved my bump.

Father’s day was approaching and I thought that there would be no better idea than to do a gender reveal for my fiancé on father’s day! At 20 weeks, I made an appointment to take Jimmy to the OBGYN to reveal the sex of our baby. I don’t think I have ever been so excited in my life. As we waited in the lobby, I imagined taking home the little ultrasound photos they will give us with “it’s a girl” written across the photo. What a perfect day! Finally are names were called. We headed to the back room and the ultrasound was amazing. We were indeed having a girl! Our baby girl had grown so much and she was very actively moving around. They had her ultrasound projected on the wall.  My heart was full.  Then I realized the nurse was silent, I turned to look at her and her expression was not one of someone revealing good news. She looked at me and said “I will be right back. I have to grab the physician”. My heart dropped into my stomach. I looked to Jimmy in a complete panicked frenzy. I knew something was wrong and the wait was grueling. After what seemed to have been hours, the doctor came in and told us something was wrong. Our baby had Cystic Hygroma, which affected the baby’s heart, the chances of her living full term were slim to none.  Immediate confusion set in. He moved us out of the room into a genetic specialist’s office. The genetic specialist brought out a pamphlet and rattled off some facts about the disease.  I heard none of it. I had run out of the building in my own head, but was unable to physical move.

After extremely careful consideration, we had decided to go forward with an advanced D&E. We had not been home since the doctor’s appointment. We checked into a different hotel every night. I was unable to face anyone or answer any questions. I could not fathom seeing the look of pity or sadness in anyone’s eyes when they looked at me. In addition, I was still technically walking around with a baby in my belly that only I knew would shortly be taken. I remember going to the store during that time and the woman at the check-out counter ask how far along I was. This was gut wrenching. I put myself in complete isolation from the public. I was not mentally strong enough to deal with anyone but Jimmy. He was the only one that understood.

After weeks of hiding and painful surgery prep, the day had arrived. I was put on a surgical table and put under completely full only to wake up completely empty.  When I opened my eyes post-surgery, a man with a clip board approached me immediately. “Can you please sign this form as we need to know what your wishes are in handling your baby’s remains?” I was extremely drowsy from the anesthesia and was incapable of making any decisions and especially of that importance level.

When I was cleared to leave, I was wheeled out to go home .Upon arrival, I carried on with my normal life routine per usual. My fiancé could not stop praising how strong I was. I was not. I wasn’t grieving appropriately. My family did not say anything of comfort or acknowledgment to me.  However, my grandfather did mention that if I ever put him through this experience again, he would disown me.  I realize he is from an old school generation, but it really hurt me.  At this time, I needed hugs and kind words, not the “if we don’t talk about it, it didn’t happen” attitude my family had. I felt very alone and more than anything empty physically and emotionally.

After a few weeks of getting back into the swing of things, a pattern developed. I would go to work and every day and at 3 o’clock on the dot I would have a panic attack. I would shake and lose my mental focus completely. I would lose my vision and become dizzy.  This created an intense urge to get somewhere safe and isolated.  I progressively started getting nervous about more and more. I was having trouble going to the grocery store without running out prior to paying for my food.  This evolved into being scared to leave the house in general. I soon realized I needed help.  These symptoms were the consequence of not dealing with my grief. Emotions that weren’t dealt with, that I had stuffed so far inside of me and needed to be released.  I was not as strong as everyone had thought, I was human. I did lose my baby and I needed to address it. If I didn’t do it in a healthy way, the feelings were clearly going to come out in an unhealthy way.

I decided to call my doctor to find out where my daughter was buried. That day I took a trip to visit her grave. When I got there, I dropped to my knees and all of the emotions I had kept inside came pouring out instantly. I dug my fingers in the dirt in attempt to get as close to her as I could.  I cried and told her how sorry I was. How sorry that my body couldn’t help her and neither could I. She needed me. I told her how sorry I was for pretending I didn’t care when I did. Lastly, I told her that no matter what happens in my life, she will always be special and my first little girl.

It has taken me this long to come out with my feelings regarding the loss of my daughter as this is something that is still very difficult for me to revisit. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story. I am now blessed with a healthy 8 year old daughter. As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted a family more than anything in the world.  Now I have one and a special little angel looking down on us. There is hope after loss.

-Erin Crawford

We all have heroes.  And over time the image of a hero changes.  Webster says a hero is “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities.” Or “one who shows great courage.”  As a songwriter, my heroes have been those with the ability to succinctly tell a story, express their emotions, and transport us into a space where we are compelled to see the world through their eyes…if only for three minutes and twenty seconds.

I remember meeting Emily.  I came to her house for our first date and was met with the warmth, vigor, authenticity and welcoming smile I’ve come to know and love.  Everyone who knows her, gets what I mean.  She’s one of those rare people who lights up a room.  But by the end of that evening, I noticed something else about her.  It became clear to me what kind of mother she was to Stella.  As I thought about becoming a father, starting a family and not only doing life but thriving at it, I quickly identified her as the person I wanted to do this with.  It was in that moment everything prior that hadn’t made sense in life, suddenly did.

Things had gone swimmingly over the following months and it wasn’t long before we began talking seriously about starting a family.  Emily and I knew we didn’t have time on our side in terms of trying to have children.  We certainly weren’t high risk but if it meant having more than one, we’d need to get started sooner rather than later.  We didn’t know what to expect.  Would it be hard for us to conceive?  Would it be possible at all?  Despite our fears, there was a lot in our favor.  We are both healthy and care about wellness on many fronts.  Em had given birth before.  There was no family history to really be concerned about.  After a few months of trying, it happened.  I remember crying in the kitchen with Em, holding each other as we celebrated the news of the positive pregnancy test.  It was surreal.

The next morning I remember opening my eyes and staring at the ceiling.  I’d usually be reaching for my phone to check work email or shut off my alarm.  But this morning and every morning after the first thing I thought about was our baby.  I thought about Em.  I thought about Stella.  I thought about our baby…Greer.  It was one of those seminal moments in time that instantly etches itself in a person’s story.  It was nothing I needed to set a reminder for or mark on a calendar.  I knew I would never forget how I felt when I found out I was going to be a father.

The following weeks and months were filled with excitement, hope, promise, a ton of planning and a healthy dose of nervousness and fear.  I was reoriented.  I became more and more thankful for the kind of mother Emily is.  What I saw on our first date suddenly jolted to the fore of what we were building.  I found comfort in that.  There was simply no one more qualified to enter this chapter with than Em.  I became more and more thankful for Stella and everything she had taught me to that point.  This was bigger than anything I could have orchestrated on my own.  They were preparing me for fatherhood.

“Perfect.”  Doctor’s visits, blood work, ultrasounds, genetic testing…perfect.  I remember hearing that word more than once.  Everything was “perfect.”  So you can imagine my sense of calm and confidence when we went for our 20 week visit to find out our baby’s gender.  A girl!  “Daddy’s little princess,” Em said with a smile.  Everything I’d felt until then about becoming a father and the focus on preparing the way for her to come into the world suddenly intensified a thousand fold.  Our baby became a her, a she.  She was Greer.  As I tried to wrap my head around it all, she became identifiable, tangible.  I imagined what she was going to look like.  I thought about what color we’d paint her nursery or if I needed to paint at all.  And it progressed.  I hoped she would have her mother and sister’s kindness, their heart, their infectious smile and zeal for life.  I hoped she would dance like them.  I wondered if she’d maybe want to play softball so I could teach her how to hit.  I wondered if she’d like music or instruments like her sister does.  I wondered if she’d have her sister’s curiosity and joy for learning and reading.  I wondered if she’d be a cat person or a dog person or both, like her mom and sister.  In that moment…I somehow wondered all of this.

Em has shared Greer’s story and what happened in the remainder of that hour.  As we came to terms with the worst news a parent could hear, I remember searching for answers.  I remember asking for worst-case scenarios and odds.  I wanted numbers on risk because I assess risk for a living.  I needed to hear things in a way that was familiar to me.  But none of this was familiar.  None of this was supposed to be happening.  Nothing about this was normal and despite what we had been hearing for months, it certainly was not “perfect.”

Over the next few days, my image of a hero changed.  I saw Emily face a decision, I hope no one reading this ever has to, with a courage that can only be defined as heroic.  I found strength in her womanliness.  I took comfort in her motherhood and how that informed her.  I trusted her completely as we navigated all of the emotions involved in losing an unborn child.  A child we planned for and wanted more than anything. I’m still not quite sure she knows and may never fully understand how much I relied on her through our decision, all while I tried my best to be a source of comfort and peace for her.  I listened to Stella courageously, matter-of-factly, heroically state that God just needed Greer back for a little while to fix her and that he would return her to us soon.

We all have heroes; and while my admiration for the Gregory Isakovs and the Matt Berningers of the world hasn’t waned, mine look a whole lot different now.

I’ll admit, I am unsure of what to expect in response to this.  I am hopeful that offering a father’s perspective can add something of value to someone and provide a glimmer of hope.  The same hope we found through friends, family, nurses, doctors and complete strangers who could have stopped at picking us up off the ground but instead carried us to sanctuary.

Years ago, my friend sent me this quote; “Our family is a circle of strength and love. Every joy shared adds more love. With every birth and every union the circle grows. Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger.”

It is effortless to share in family joys and celebrations. It was only through a devastating and sudden loss of a much wanted pregnancy, that I was reminded of the strength of my family.

The strength of my daughter who expressed immense compassion and respect for the medical team as she endured an unfathomable amount of emotional and physical pain. And was then still determined to provide comfort to her young daughter.

The strength of my daughter’s fiancee who cushioned her while navigating his own personal despair and numbing sadness.

The strength of my seven year old grand daughter who channeled her sadness of losing her baby sister by playing with her baby dolls and bringing one everywhere she went.

The strength of my other daughter who came to my daughter’s side and provided undying hope and love.

The strength of my other daughter’s husband as he carried his wife through grieving the loss of their niece.

The strength of my husband whose steadfast support masked his suffering over the inability to take the pain away for his daughter.

The strength of extended family and friends whose gestures of kindness reminded us of their positive presence in our lives.

It is the remarkable wisdom of my granddaughter whose words of peace to her mother truly anchored our family with light, “Don’t worry Mommy. God will help Greer feel better and then send her back to your belly someday.”

I am so grateful that our family remains a circle of strength in the highest of happy experiences and the lowest of sad ones.

-Sharon Wodyka (Emily’s mother and Greer’s Grandmother)

Contact: SharonWod@aol.com

Nugget – When I was 5, I decided the name of my future daughter. Don’t worry. It’s not Nugget. I gave my baby the name Nugget, maybe out of caution, maybe because I did not know his or her gender just yet…either way, I affectionately referred to my little one as Nugget.

When Brandon and I became serious in our relationship, we set a time frame. 32. When I turned 32 we’d start a family.  That gave us time to further our careers, Brandon as a touring musician and me as a music teacher/budding music school owner, before settling down. Well, as one-by-one my friends and cousins had babies, 32 felt like an eternity to wait, but we stuck with the plan.

In August of 2017, my baby-making birthday arrived! I was so excited to finally reach a new point in my life.  Brandon was a little hesitant, but on board.  We found out quickly that both of us were quite fertile.  Early October: I saw the faint blue line.  I was pregnant…for a day…and then I got my period. A chemical pregnancy. Late November: another faint blue line, and no period.  I was ACTUALLY pregnant this time.  My stomach grew a cute little bump. I developed an aversion to chicken.  Even the mention of chicken made me green.  I was completely exhausted and so very sick.  Looking back, it was rough, but I was grateful to be experiencing the rite of passage, telling myself, “These are all signs of a healthy pregnancy.”

5 weeks. I had some side pains, so they brought me in for an ultrasound.  There was a sac in the right place! Yay! 7 ½ weeks. A real fluttering heartbeat!! I’ll never forget that sight and Brandon’s awe at the little pulse on the screen…but the baby was measuring small.  The doctor seemed unconcerned, telling us 90% of the time it meant nothing…so we happily continued on, telling friends and family over the holidays.

10 weeks. My morning sickness began to subside.  I figured it was natural.

10 ½ weeks. I started cramping, then spotting. The morning sickness was gone. My gut knew, but I tried to remain calm.  The doctor confirmed my worst fears.

I opted for a D&C only two days later, not really knowing that a D&C meant surgery. My anxiety could not fathom the thought of waiting for the full miscarriage to take place, or worse, miscarrying while teaching children or while attempting any normal activity.  The doctor made it seem like a D&C was no big deal, but for someone who had never undergone any type of surgery ever, it was traumatizing to show up at the hospital to find out I was about to be adorned in hospital robes, wheeled away and put under, only to wake up and be empty inside. Literally, after 2 ½ months of nurturing my little Nugget, I was empty.

To those whom have never experienced a pregnancy loss, you likely think, “Oh it’s so common. It’s normal. You’ll get over it and have another one soon.” That’s what I thought prior to January 8th, 2018.

For those whom have joined the unfortunate club, it is a devastation unlike any other. It’s hard to explain to others how you’ve lost a piece of yourself. 7 days of inconsolable grief followed.  I tried everything in my power to feel better, including an impromptu trip to Colorado for some fresh air.   I went back to work 2 days post-D&C, because according to doctors, it’s a minor surgery and you can do that. In fact, I poured myself into my work until I broke 5 weeks later.

I took an immediate leave of absence from my elementary school job. I inadvertently let my to-do lists pile up for my music school, and I continued to break, quietly, sometimes through big smiles, while dancing, and masking my emotions with wine.

It has been 9 weeks since I lost my little Nugget.  I’ve been in and out of urgent cares and doctors’ offices 5 times with physical complications post-miscarriage. I’ve hired a perinatal loss therapist to help me get back on track emotionally.  I’ve have good days and bad days.  Actually, I’ve have great days and awful days.  It’s weird to go through such extremes.  I’m well aware that I’m not operating at full physical or emotional capacity, just yet.  I am human.  I’ve made some beautiful discoveries about myself in the past 8 weeks, and found temporary peace through writing, nature, and yoga.  I’ve recognized some jarring faults to my current fast-paced lifestyle, too, and am making changes.  I’m fixing myself at my own pace.  To everyone in this unfortunate club, you are human too.  Give yourselves the time that you need, whether it’s a week or a year.  Fill the emptiness with whatever is necessary to feel somewhat fulfilled again, and don’t force the healing process.

It’s time to try again. These are uncharted waters, but Brandon and I have hope that we will meet our little Irene or Lucas soon.

Sophia Hardesty

E-mail: Sophiahardesty1@gmail.com

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