OUR BABIES LOST TO MISCARRIAGE
My husband and I had only been married a few months when we suffered our first miscarriage. We were devastated, but we kept the loss to ourselves because we did not know how to talk about it. Following that loss, we walked through a season of infertility which was isolating and painful. When we did get pregnant again, we were overjoyed and yet afraid of going through the pain of loss again. When I began to miscarry for the second time, I longed to be able to talk to someone who understood – someone who had been through it – but we did not know anyone who had been through a miscarriage.
AN UNCERTAIN PREGNANCY WITH TRIPLETS
After our second loss, it took many months to get pregnant again, and when we finally did, we had no idea of the journey that we would face. From the moment we found out that I was pregnant with triplets, life as we knew it changed. We had countless appointments with my obstetrician and maternal fetal medicine specialist, and we were made well aware of the risks of continuing with a higher-order multiple pregnancy. Every day was an unknown, and every week was a milestone.
We were certain we would not make it to term, but the hardest truth was that we were not guaranteed to even make it to viability. Every week was a battle between the hope that we would get to know and raise our babies and the reality that we could be preparing to say goodbye. At 16 weeks gestation, my pregnancy took a turn for the worse. I was rushed into surgery in the hopes that the procedure would buy us the time we desperately needed. For a while, it appeared as though the surgery helped, but at 20 weeks gestation, I was admitted to the hospital.
At 22 weeks, just shy of viability, I went into labor unexpectedly. In a matter of hours, we met and said goodbye to our daughters, Bridget and Vivian, and our son, Liam. The whole experience was chaotic and traumatic for both my husband and I, and though I know we never could have been fully prepared for that experience, I wish we had had the opportunity to plan for those moments better.
FEELING THANKFUL & SAYING GOODBYE
I will always be thankful for the time we had with our babies because we spent those moments as a family. My husband and I each had the opportunity to hold our daughters and son and tell them how much we love and cherish them. My husband, in a display of pure love, faith, and strength, spoke the words I needed our babies to hear. He lovingly told them of their Heavenly Father and the perfect eternity that waited for them. I still thank God for my husband’s clarity in that moment. He spoke words of peace, faith, and comfort into a traumatic and chaotic time.
As new parents, we spent the fleeting hours with our babies studying their features, marveling at how similar yet different they each were. They were so fully their own individuals yet they belonged together. A trio of perfect babies born too soon.
Bridget was the first to pass away, followed by her sister Vivian, and her brother Liam, and each loss took pieces of me with them. As I held all of my babies in my arms after they had passed, I felt like a shell of who I had been before and of who I had been dreaming and hoping to be. The life I had been planning for disappeared in a matter of hours, and my husband and I were left with overwhelming grief.
We were woefully unprepared for life after loss. Leaving the hospital without our babies and going home to a house that had been lovingly prepared for them was torture. We had had a baby shower just prior to my being admitted to the hospital so our house was stocked with baby items in triplicate. These gifts that we had so joyously opened and celebrated were now a painful reminder of all that would never be.
There truly are not words to express the agony that our losses left behind. I longed to hold my babies and nurture them. I was a mother with empty arms, and I felt entirely alone in my grief. Our friends and family rallied around us and did their best to support us. They did not know what to do for us, and we did not know how to tell them what we needed. A loss of this magnitude was new for us all.
As the weeks and months passed, I found comfort in connecting with other parents facing loss. My own battle with feeling alone fueled a passion for lessening the isolation other loss parents experience. I wanted to be for those parents what I had longed for in my own experience: someone who had been through it and understood. I wanted to be a sounding board, a resource, and a support for them because I needed that in my own life.
After losing Bridget, Vivian, and Liam, my husband and I suffered our third miscarriage. Mourning the loss of our sixth baby was devastating, and that pain further increased my passion for other families. I began to speak out and share my story in the hopes that other parents might find validation and support.
A NEW HOPE
Three months after that loss, I found out that I was pregnant with our daughter, Charlotte, and I could not wrap my mind around the possibility of another loss. As her pregnancy continued, I became increasingly more afraid of losing her. When I went into labor with her at 32 weeks gestation, I was convinced that my worst fear was coming true again.
Following her premature birth, our daughter spent 8 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, and I became intimately familiar with yet another aspect of grief, loss, and life after loss. Our journey through the NICU was traumatic, and yet, we were fortunate enough to finally take home a living baby. Raising our daughter has been an overwhelming joy and honor, but it comes with the knowledge of the six who came before her. As I watch her grow, I am reminded of all that we lost, and that is why I do the work that I do.
I get the privilege of raising our daughter, and I have found peace in our losses. Supporting other families through sharing my story and working with Carrying To Term is how I parent my Bridget, Vivian, and Liam. I will never fully heal from the pain of losing my children, but I find such peace in building a legacy in their honor. That legacy is one of support, awareness, and most importantly, connection.
If you are reading this as a parent facing a prenatal terminal diagnosis, I see and hear you. You are not alone, and I am here to empower, encourage, and support you as a fellow grieving parent. The words I speak and write come from a personal and broken place. I do not choose my words lightly, and I do not underestimate the unique and difficult aspects of your own journey. It is my deepest desire that you find support, connection, and a little comfort in a circumstance I would give anything to change for you.
If you are reading this as a friend or family member of a parent facing a prenatal terminal diagnosis, I commend you. The heart you have is a gift, and I am here to educate, encourage, and support you as you care well for your friend or family member. I know how hard your job is, and I want you to know that your support means everything to the ones you are supporting. It is my hope that you feel equipped to love and care well for the grieving parents in your life.
If you are reading this as a professional caring in some capacity for a family facing a prenatal terminal diagnosis, I thank you. The work you do is vital to the emotional and physical well-being of these families, and I do not view the task you are undertaking lightly. I believe that caring well for families facing loss starts with caring well for the doctors, nurses, therapists, and other professionals coming alongside them. It is my hope that you find support, encouragement, and resources here that help you do your job well.