Our first daughter was born healthy in 2013 after a fairly normal pregnancy. In 2014, we experienced our first heartbreak after finding out at 9 weeks we’d had a missed miscarriage, resulting in the need for a D&C. The experience was lonely and isolating, after all, few people even knew I was pregnant so it wasn’t quite “acceptable” to openly grieve. After health complications that followed, we were finally given the all-clear to get pregnant again – which we did during a blue moon that following summer. The first trimester was racked with stress thinking I would surely miscarry again. After making it past that 12 week “safe” mark, I hesitantly breathed a sigh of relief and let myself start to enjoy the pregnancy. After all, the chance of having a second trimester miscarriage was only 1-5%. The chance of having back-to-back miscarriages? 1%. The odds were in our favor this time.
We had the big gender reveal scheduled. The box waited in the family room ready to fill with blue or pink balloons after our next ultrasound. At nearly 19 weeks pregnant, we headed to our appointment to find out who we would be adding to our family. We had no idea that empty box would never be filled with balloons… Despite attempting to for hours, the details of that appointment are not something I can get myself to type. The stillness and silence on the monitor is still deafening. The trauma still very real.
At 19 weeks along you are given two choices: Go to the Labor & Delivery unit to be induced and deliver your sleeping baby; or be put under general anesthesia and undergo surgery to get a D&E. I can’t think of another way to say it other than that both options completely sucked. We were informed that the latter option would be the safest for me and would pose the lowest risks… and while this is a personal and agonizing decision for those who ever have to make it, I knew I could not possibly handle going through full-on labor without having a crying, living baby at the end. Surgery was scheduled. Unfortunately, I had to wait an unbearable two days for the appointment (this is standard since it requires a pre-op appointment the day before to help the cervix dilate). Two whole days of carrying a baby you know has died is another kind of torture.
The drive to the hospital was the longest and shortest ride all at once. I needed this to be over, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I stared at the bright, full moon and refused to take my eyes off of it. It made me feel connected to our baby girl (who I didn’t even officially know was a girl yet… we never made it to that part at our appointment). The rest of the morning leading up to surgery was a blur. My doctor was kind and compassionate, but he had a sadness in his eyes. He knew what this baby meant to us. He was the same doctor that performed the procedure after the first miscarriage.
The lights were bright. I closed my eyes as tears streamed down my face, my hands pressed on my belly. Then, darkness.
The surgery was over… I was empty and so were my arms. It was a girl, as I suspected. Her name came to me on the drive to the hospital as I looked at the moon. Angelica Luna. I imagine her face all the time, though I never got to see it… The tears started again and didn’t stop...We left the hospital that day with an envelope of papers about what to expect as I healed physically and another with Angelica’s tiny footprints. The endless grief journey began…
The hours, days, weeks and months that followed were the worst of my life. I was in a downward spiral. I needed to know I wasn’t alone. I sought out support groups, books from others who had been in my shoes, online resources, and anything else I could do to allow myself to grieve. Despite numerous tests, we never did get answers about what went wrong with Angelica or the baby before her.
Later that winter we became pregnant again. This time, with twins! Naturally-conceived twin girls… a shock, to say the least. I think I held my breath through that entire pregnancy and didn’t exhale until the day they were born and I heard their cries. The wait was over. Two babies sent from our two angels in heaven. We do not for one second take for granted how fortunate we are to have three healthy daughters here on Earth with us. We are painfully aware of the fact that this is not the case for many – which is how this non-profit organization came to be.
Four years later, the grief journey continues – and I know it always will. I have felt a strong pull to do something for others who are going through what we went through and to make something positive come from all of this. The packages we donate provide resources to patients and their family members as they leave the caring hands of the hospital staff and navigate the grief journey at home.
Thank you for allowing us to share our story with you and for providing a source of light and love to others during the darkest of times.