When I saw the two pink lines on the pregnancy test on that brisk March morning in 2014, I felt a rush of joy, hope, and excitement. The gift of a child was something my husband and I had prayed for since we got married, and those two pink lines confirmed that our prayers were being answered and we were so thankful! I called my OB/GYN to schedule my first appointment and anxiously waited for that day to come. When the time for my first appointment arrived, I will never forget hearing beat after beat of the baby’s heart when the doppler touched my stomach—it was truly the best sound. We scheduled our next appointment and left that day feeling so grateful that everything looked good.
My pregnancy with Emma proceeded as any normal pregnancy does. She was measuring right on time at every appointment and her heartbeat always sounded strong. I went in for my 35-week check up on a beautiful Tuesday that fall and as all my previous appointments had gone, this too, was normal. My doctor sent me on my way and said, “see you next week!” What I didn’t realize as I walked out of the office that day was that next week’s check-up would never come.
Three days after my 35-week appointment, my husband and I found ourselves at the hospital because our normally very active Emma, hadn’t been kicking me the way she did every other day. They immediately gave us a room where the nurse put the doppler to my stomach. The sound of a beating heart, one I had come to cherish so much, was nowhere to be found, instead replaced by silence. The doctor telling us that Emma was gone was something I never could have prepared myself for. Six days after my 35-week appointment, I delivered Emma. She was so beautiful, a full head of hair, a tiny button nose, and two small freckles on her right cheek. She looked so peaceful, as if she were just sleeping.
After spending the next two days holding her, brushing her hair, and telling her how much we loved her, our very harsh reality set in- we would be leaving the hospital without her. At home, her crib was set up, her clothes laid out and her toys ready for her to play with. But we were going home without her. We would have to continue on living, but all we kept asking each other was how?
The truth is that we weren’t sure. We left the hospital with empty arms and with no direction on how to begin to pick up the pieces of our shattered dreams as a family of three. In our darkest and saddest days that followed, we found solace in the advice, support and love from other families and couples who had been through a similar loss. We leaned on strangers who instantly became friends through our shared experience of grief. These new friends taught us so much about how to cope with our grief while still honoring Emma’s life, even though it was shorter than we could have ever hoped. It was through the bonds with other grieving parents that the idea of Forever My Baby You’ll Be emerged.
Our hope is that through Forever My Baby You’ll Be, we can reach out to others experiencing the loss of an infant as early as possible. We want parents to be armed with the knowledge and resources to honor their baby’s life. There are many wonderful organizations that help grieving families through this type of loss. However, in the midst of receiving such devastating news, parents are often numb and in shock. During that time, it is almost impossible for parents to research support services on their own, and hospital staff aren’t always aware of what’s available. The goal of Forever My Baby You’ll Be is to provide resources to help parents prior to and through delivery of their baby and in the days, weeks and months that follow. More importantly, we want to be able to give back what we received from so many strangers during our saddest days- love, hope and a sense that even on your loneliest days, you are never alone in your grief and loss of your baby.
Miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death will affect 1 in 4 women and is such an isolating loss. As a friend, relative or acquaintance, it is easy to feel paralyzed by inaction or a loss of words. If you know someone who has experienced a loss, don’t be afraid to talk about their baby with them. Let them know you are there for them and that their baby is always on your heart.