Friday, January 6, 2017

The 6 Week Wait

**This post was written over a year ago, shortly after our daughter passed during my postpartum period. I realized I never shared I decided to share it today! I hope it helps anyone who is dealing with the recent loss of a pregnancy and child. **

Those who have tried to conceive or struggled to conceive know the 2 week wait all too well, but the 6 week wait is rarely mentioned. Maybe it is because the 6 week wait occurs at a time when most new mothers are too busy to notice. They are busy taking care of the new life they brought into this world. They are busy with feedings, changing diapers, and falling madly in love over and over again as they get to know the quirks of their new little best friend.

For babyloss moms, the 6 weeks following childbirth is anything but fun and exciting. Not only are we coping with the loss of our child, but we are coping with the constant changes our bodies are facing as they transition from new mommy to their pre-pregnancy state. From hormones to postpartum bleeding, to producing breastmilk and adjusting to your new mom body - it is a lot to handle on top of the grief. When a new mom of a living child is going through the 6 week wait, I assume they are anxious to lose the baby weight and see those stretch marks disappear. For a babyloss mom, the experience is very different.

For the first week after giving birth to Penelope, I woke up every morning thinking I was still pregnant. Life told me otherwise, but my body wasn't ready to let go. In addition, there was no little newborn laying in the bassinet next to my bed to remind that I was no longer pregnant. Every time I would think I was pregnant, I would have to remind myself that I wasn't and relive the experience of losing my daughter all over again.

The first week was the worst because I also still looked pregnant. Not that I felt like going out in public, but if I did, I feared people would ask me when I was due. Then I would have to explain that I actually just had a baby, but she is no longer with us. Luckily no one had the opportunity to ask me that question.

When it comes to stretch marks and the beautiful linea nigra down the center of my belly, a little part of me cries as I see these marks starting to fade. I want to hold on to those marks because they are the traces of evidence and proof that a life did exist inside my womb. They are reminders to me and to the world that Penelope was born, I am a mom, and it all wasn't just a dream.

One thing that is rarely talked about is the postpartum healing process. Most women who have living babies are not trying to conceive right away so their body has the proper time to heal. As soon as we lost Penelope, I wanted to try to conceive again as I know the joy from having another child may be the only thing that can help fill this void in my heart. Little did I know, it will take a while before it is safe for my body to carry another baby because I had just carried Penelope to term. My body needs time to restore the nutrients that were lost in supporting Penelope, as well as my uterus needs time to return to its normal size and to heal. Since I live a heathy lifestyle and supplement, our doctor said we could try again in 3 months. It will be at least 6 months until I can do IVF again.

Although I am almost there, I have not hit the 6 week postpartum mark yet. I cannot wait until that time so I can exercise, swim, and do more things that will help me cope with emotions of Penelope's passing. In the meantime, I look at these 6 weeks as time of complete grieving. It is a time where I can allow myself to be completely submerged in my grief because that is the only way I know I will get through this.

I try to do as much as I can in these 6 weeks to help me heal. I get a lot of rest. I also have been back to my acupuncturist, my chiropractor, and my nutritionist to make sure my body is still healthy despite my heart being broken. I go for gentle walks almost everyday to ease my mind and to keep my body busy. I also am fortunate this happened in the summer because I am able to sit outside in the sun and get some vitamin D...I couldn't imagine if this happened in the winter.

I also try to focus on my nutrition a lot. The first week after Penelope was born, we were fortunate enough to have family and friends bring us meals because we could hardly function. After a week of not cooking, I knew I needed to get to the grocery store and get back into the swing of things for me and my husbands health. I try to cook meals with a lot of nutrition to help my body heal quicker.

Here are a few things that I did that I feel will help my body heal physically:
- Try to relax and sleep as much as possible
- Eat clean, nutritious (organic) meals
- Avoid gluten and refined sugar
- Continue taking prenatal supplements
- Take fermented cod liver oil ( a superfood that helps with everything including fertility)
- Drink a lot of water - I get about 80-100 oz a day
- Wear a belly binder (I used a Belly Bandit) to help uterus return to normal size
-  Try to make a green smoothie for one meal a day - I usually make mine for breakfast
- See a chiropractor as your body may need adjusting after going through labor
- Get a massage (I waited until 4 weeks postpartum to get one)
- Pumping my breastmilk
- Spend time in the sun

Healing is an emotional and physical process. Please take all the time you need before returning to your regular activities. Just like healing from a surgery or an accident, you do not want to push to hard and set yourself back, especially emotionally.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Surviving the first few weeks...

When I was pregnant, I never imagined the first few weeks after labor would be filled with mourning instead of joy.  I never expected the outcome to be what it was. Although the birth of our daughter was magical, it was also terrifying knowing that we were leaving the hospital empty handed. It was terrifying knowing that the path we had planned on going down had changed dramatically and we had to figure out a way to move forward with life in the midst of a nightmare.

The hardest part of having a stillbirth, for us, were the first couple of weeks after. We are only 2 months out, so things could change from here, but for right now I can say the first couple of weeks were the worst. When you lose your child at 41 weeks gestation, the shock is the most unbearable thing. I refused to believe she was gone. Coping with the rug that has been ripped out from under you is what takes the most energy, in my opinion.

I am writing this post to give others who have experienced the same loss a guideline to help get through the first weeks that may seem too hard to survive. Know that you WILL survive. If not for yourself, for your child. No child wants to see their mother or father in pain. If you cannot move forward and find joy for yourself, do it for your child who only wants their parents to be happy.

Here are some things that helped us through the first few weeks following the birth of our daughter:

1. One of the first things we were told in the hospital by the nurses is that only a small percentage of couples survive this sort of tragedy. I think at that point, I made a promise to myself that we will survive. No matter how different our ways of grieving could be, I promised myself that my husband and I are in this together. Have a conversation with your partner and let them know that you are in it together. As time progresses, talk openly about things that make you sad or things that make you happy. Be accepting of your partners' ways. You are both new people after this experience and you can be better or you can be bitter. We chose to be better. Lean on your partner, stick together, and realize at this point you are a team, even if you have never been one before. You just created a beautiful child together and you should be so proud of each other.

Sticking close to my husband (and kitty)...together we will get through this!

2.We had family come to our house before we got home and put all of our daughters things in her nursery and shut the door. At the time, coming home to our daughters things would have been overwhelming. We kept them in her nursery for and few days until we felt comfortable enough to go into her nursery together and bring out the things we wanted around the house.

3. Rely on your family members or friends for support. Our family was understanding of our needs and were available for us when we needed them. We, literally, at times called for family to come over and then asked them to leave after 15 minutes because it was too overwhelming for us. Thank goodness they understood! For the first two weeks, family and friends made us meals, cleaned up our house, and spent time with us while we were mourning. Moms, since you are going through the emotional stress of losing your child combined with the physical stress of going through labor, it is so important that you eat regularly and rest often. Your body is healing on top of combating emotional stress. If you are having trouble remembering to eat, set a timer for every 3 hours and eat when it goes off regardless of if you are hungry or not. If you have long periods of no appetite and you are unable to sleep, contact your doctor or a counselor and let them know your situation. Also, remember to continue to take your prenatal vitamins.

4. Be okay with doing nothing. If you have the luxury of not having to go to work right away (I hope you had some sort of maternity leave!) and if your husband is able to stay home with you, stay in and be comfortable in your own home for as long as it takes to feel better. You will know when it is right to leave your house. When we first came home from the hospital, we were in PJs for the first two days. We were kind of like zombies just hanging out at home trying to cope with the shock. Coping with shock takes a lot of energy and drains your body. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to rest. Lay in the sun outside if it is a sunny day and get some Vitamin D. Go for a short walk on a nature path and take in the beauty of outside. Just take it easy.

Cuddling with our daughter's onesie

5. Tell as many people as possible. This helped us tremendously. Obviously, it is a very personal decision and it is up to you who you want to tell, but for us, we knew we had to tell everyone right away. The day we got home from the hospital, we posted our baby girls story on Facebook and let me tell you, the outpouring of love and support from friends and family truly helped us get through that dark time. We would wake up in the middle of the night and look at our phones to see the kind words friends were sending us and it would make us feel better. The excellent thing about Facebook is that you can tell almost everyone at once, so you don't have to anticipate running into someone you haven't seen in a while and have them ask the dreaded question "How's your baby doing?"
Another thing we did was have close friends call places that we frequented to tell them the news. We had my husbands father call our chiropractor. We had a friend call and tell our favorite restaurant, one  that the servers were anticipating the arrival of our baby girl with us. It may seem like overkill to some, but it was very helpful for us because it allowed us to go back to "normal" life again and do things we enjoy without having to fear the emotions that may come up when we have to explain ourselves to someone who hasn't heard the news.
For all other people who I have regular contact with, I sent emails to let them know. Many people called me to give their condolences, but I just couldn't answer. I wasn't in the mood to talk. If people are calling you, they will understand if you don't answer, too!

Cards and letters of support from friends and family

6. One of my saving grace's was that I was able to produce breast milk. During my pregnancy, I was always worried I would not be able to breastfeed. When I started producing breast milk, I just had to pump. I wanted to know that I could do it, I wanted the experience, and I wanted to continue to feel like a mother even though my baby was gone. Little did I know, pumping was one of the BEST things I could've done for healing my body and my heart.
When you are in the aftershock of losing your child, your world is turned upside down. You lose track of time for a while and you can't quite get on track. Pumping helped me get back in a schedule. I pumped three times a day- morning, noon, and night. I started to rebuild my world again around that schedule. Not only did it help me organize my days (which lets you feel some sort of control in a situation in which you have no control), but it helped heal my body.
Pumping releases oxytocin which makes you feel good and also stimulates your uterus to contract back to its normal state. If you feel like pumping to donate breastmilk, you should definitely do that! I had intentions to that in the beginning, but I decided not to as I didn't have the energy and I didn't want to put pressure on myself. We did freeze a bag of breastmilk to keep for nostalgia. For the other pumps, we would go in our backyard and pour the breastmilk in the garden and say a few words to our daughter in Heaven.
Another significant reason for pumping, for me ,was that it made me feel connected with my daughter. I would sit in the chair in our bedroom in front of the window where I had always pictured myself feeding her and rocking her to sleep. When I would pump, I would sit in that same chair and hold on of her onesies or blankets, look at her picture, and just visualize how it would be if she were here. It allowed me to create memories with my daughter that I thought I could never have.
Colostrum from when I first started pumping

Our ritual of pouring the milk into our garden

7. I cannot say enough about showers. It sounds silly, I know, but I have a new appreciation for showers that I never had before. Every morning we would wake up, take a nice long shower, wash of the pain, and start a brand new day. A new day means an opportunity for new joy. We would even say that every shower is our daughter "showering us with love." We didn't just take showers in the morning, we took them whenever we needed to restart our day. If the day got too hard, too sad, or too exhausting, we would hop in the shower and start the day over. It really helped us, as simple as it sounds!

8. One of the greatest urges I had postpartum was to help others who had gone through the same thing. I have developed compassion, something I don't think  I really had before this. I don't know if it is because I believe that no one should ever have to feel this kind of pain or if it is my motherly instincts coming out, but I really and truly want to help anyone who endures this kind of loss and help take their pain away. I was so thankful for the mother who donated all the memory boxes to the hospital that our daughter was born at. I was so thankful for the mother who sent me a poem and a sweet bracelet in the mail because she lost her son. I want to be that person for someone else. I started this blog in hopes that I can help someone who is in the midst of their pain. It really is helping me and I hope it is helping someone else, even if it is just one person! My mother-in-law was kind enough to start a foundation in memory of our daughter to help other families pay for the funeral costs associated with losing a child. I plan to be a big part of that foundation. If I can touch just one family and help make their life easier, than I will be happy.

9. During this hard time in your life, you must have faith. Whatever your religion or spirituality is, you must know that this was out of your control. Let your faith eliminate your fears. Don't punish yourself for what happened. Know that this was the journey that you, your partner, and your child were meant to go on together. Know that your child is not gone. They are closer to you now than ever before. Your child is with you forever and they will continually give you signs that they are with you. We received so many signs from our daughter. Take those signs as what they are meant to be- comfort  and love from your baby. Your child is in a happy place full of love. You will meet again. It is not over. Since you have endured this great loss and have come out better, you will be rewarded for your suffering. A friend told me during time "God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers."

A fortune I thought was a sign.
The back said "May" which was the month our daughter was born.

10. Know that things will get better. Always know that feelings are fleeting. My husband and I were so confused when our daughter passed because we are happy people and we wanted so hard to continue to live our happy life. We didn't want sadness or negativity. We just wanted to be happy! I remember when we got home from the hospital, I thought the misery I was feeling was going to last forever. I wish someone would have told me "you are not going to feel this way forever." I will be that person to you.  You are not going to feel this way forever! Feelings come and go. Feelings are like waves...just ride them out. You may feel really happy one moment and sad the next, but you will not feel miserable forever. Life does get better. You will find joy again. Things will make you happy. You will laugh. You will love. You will move forward.

Happiness is a choice just as much as sadness is a choice. Sure, you are going to feel sad and that is perfectly okay. You have the right to be sad your entire life. You could mourn forever, but who wants to be sad forever? Know that being happy does not mean you love your child any less. Honor your child by being happy, moving forward, and maybe even bringing a little sibling into the world for you angel baby.

*Thank you so much for reading my blog! If you are here because you experienced the loss of a child through stillbirth, miscarriage, SIDS, or any other experience, please know that your are in my thoughts and prayers. I send you all of my love! You will get through this...stay strong, stay positive. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. *

How did you get through the first few weeks after a loss? Comment below!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

"How does that happen?!"

I think the first question that comes to anyones mind when they hear of a baby dying is "how does that happen?!" That was definitely my first question when the shock subsided. I think our nature as humans is to be curious and we always want answers. We have been so conditioned, or at least I was, to believe that these kinds of "accidents" don't happen in todays world. We live in country with amazing standards and technology, how could someone ever have a stillborn baby?

I remember hearing stories when I was pregnant. Two people told me they had stillbirths. My first thought, in total selfishness, was how could you tell me that while I am pregnant? It was the absolute worst case scenario and I wasn't going to let my mind go there. And there was no reason to let my mind go there. Stillbirths don't happen that often. They are not very common...but the fact is they DO happen. That is reality. And while I was pregnant, I chose to avoid reality.

Two days before Penelope has passed, we had an ultrasound and a NST (nonstress test). The ultrasound was the first one that we got to see a front view of her face! It was so exciting for us! The NST also came back completely normal. They had predicted Penelope was going to be between 6 and 8 pounds, so about 7. There was the appropriate amount of fluid still surrounding her and everything looked "perfect," they said.

I knew something was wrong the moment I woke up two days later. I had felt a weird movement from Penelope in the middle of the night. Nothing too concerning, but enough to take notice. I had assumed, since I was 41 weeks along, that maybe it was a movement indicative of labor coming soon. I had never been pregnant before so I did not know what to expect. The only thing I knew, once I woke up that morning, was that I needed to hear her heartbeat. Once we found out she no longer had a beating heart, I could not wrap my mind around how this happened. I was healthy. I did everything..and I mean EVERYTHING for her. I racked my brain thinking what I could have done to have made this happen. A part of me felt so responsible, but a part of me also knew it was completely out of my control.

When Penelope was born, there were no answers as to what happened. There was no knot in the cord, there was no placenta abruption (I had no spotting or bleeding my entire pregnancy until I was induced), and the cord was not wrapped around her neck. From what the midwives and nurses saw at birth, everything was normal. My blood was drawn before and after Penelope was born. Everything in my blood work came back normal, as well. I had no clotting issues, there was no mixing of mine and Penelope's blood, and there was no virus or infection. During my pregnancy, I didn't have high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, or eclampsia. I did not have gestational diabetes. The only issue I had was getting pregnant and once I was pregnant, everything truly went very smoothly.

The placenta was sent to a lab for testing. Like the blood results, the placenta was perfectly normal and looked to have been functioning well. The placenta was also the perfect ratio to Penelope's body size. Once again, everything was perfect. 

Penelope was a beautiful baby. The nurses even commented on how beautiful she was. One of my speculations, take it with a grain of salt, was that Penelope's symmetry was immaculate. According to some of my more natural health books I have read, facial symmetry is a sign of good health. I like to believe Penelope's symmetry was a sign to me that she was healthy and did not have any genetic issues. We never performed an autopsy on her (I could not bear that thought) so we will never know, but from my speculation, I feel safe saying she was very healthy.

I think the next question that comes to mind would be "did I do something to cause this?" If anyone knows me, they know how paranoid/obsessed I was about not letting anything interfere with the health of my baby. I don't have to go into the list, but I avoided MANY dangerous things while pregnant...some of these things pregnant women are given the "OK" by their doctors to consume such as caffeine and aspartame. I took amazing prenatal supplements and tried to eat as healthy and as clean as possible. We had a home doppler if that is any insight into how crazy paranoid we were about keeping out baby girl safe.

We also had amazing prenatal care. I cannot say enough amazing things about our RE, the midwives, our chiropractor, our naturopath, and our acupuncturist. We covered every freaking base.

To some that may be incredibly frustrating-  to do everything in your power to protect your baby only for them to be born still with no answers. For me, it is at times frustrating, but mostly it feels like a blessing. I feel so grateful knowing I did every possible thing in my power to make sure my baby was safe. I have no doubt in my mind that this was completely out of anyones control. I am thankful to know that she was healthy those 9 months..that she was thriving and had a safe place to call home. I am relieved to know that I can carry a baby to full term without any issues because I know I can do it again and deliver a healthy, living, breathing baby.

It is a tough pill to swallow, but accidents do happen. That is why they are called accidents...there is no body to blame. The final report that was drawn suggested that this was possibly a cord accident. By cord accident, there was no obvious knot in the cord and the cord was not wrapped around her body. The doctors think blood flow somehow stopped flowing to her, either by her getting stuck leaning on her cord or by her clenching the cord with her hands. The odds of a stillbirth happening are 1 in 160 people. Of that small percentage (0.6%), cord accidents happen in only 2 - 4 %. The odds are very very small. 

If someone asked me what happened, I can honestly say God happened. This was Gods plan for us. No matter what I did or didn't do, I had no control. God brought Penelope into our lives for 9 months and just like that, he took her away.

I am thankful for the time we had together and I look forward to the day I will see her again. Until then, I just have to be thankful for today.

Thank you to everyone who has shown us such love and support. 
Your kindness is so very appreciated! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Penelope Grace

May 25, 2015 5:33am
6 lbs. 4 oz. 20 1/2 in.
"Too beautiful for earth"

(Thank you to Jamie Galloway from "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" for the beautiful
photos that we will forever cherish. You are an angel. )

Our Story

The Start
Our journey began in 2012 when we first got married. We both knew right away we wanted to have children so why wait? Naive to the many obstacles that surround fertility, we tried to conceive for a few months and quickly became frustrated. Why isn't it happening? Isn't it supposed to happen right away? Isn't that why we are told to practice so many forms of birth control until we are "ready"?! After about ten months of trying and the frustration building each month, we decided to make an appointment with the Ob-GYN to see what the problem was. My Ob-GYN at the time told me it takes at least a year for a healthy couple to conceive naturally at my age. Until we reach the 1 year mark, she would not move forward with any fertility treatments. With more frustration, I quickly changed doctors to a different Ob-gyn who was rumored to "move quickly" when it came to fertility treatments. Our new doctor welcomed us with the option of chlomid. After a month or two on chlomid with no luck, we decided to combine chlomid and IUI. We tried this combo twice...once again, with no luck. After multiple tests including a hysterosalpingogram, there was no answer as to why I could not get pregnant. Everything looked great. My husband is apparently an expert sperm producer and everything on my end looked great. 
We decided to dig a little deeper and started seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist. He was wonderful...a very positive and loving man. We tried another version of IUI, but using the injectable hormones. This was my first experience with injectable hormones and it truly wasn't as bad as I heard it was. In my mind, it was a means to an end so I really didn't mind giving myself shots every day. (The only hard part was being at the doctors office every other day for about two weeks at 7am and our doctors office was an hour from our house! ) This round of IUI did not work out for us either. 
At this point, had been trying to conceive for about a year and a half and we thought it was time to just take a break from assisted reproduction. We decided to take time for ourselves and try to enjoy life without children. 

The Natural Path

We ended up taking an 8 month break from assisted reproduction, but during this time I pursued a natural approach to healing my body and what may have caused my "infertility." I saw a naturopath and nutritionist once a week for those 8 months. The naturopath found all sorts of issues that I treated with whole food supplements and by completely changing my diet. I felt great and looked the best I have ever looked. Although we said we were on a "break," we still tried to conceive those 8 months with no luck. Although my naturopath assured me we were almost there, I became impatient and we decided to take the plunge - we decided to move forward with IVF.

Invitro Fertilization

Doing IVF was a huge deal for me because I had just spent the previous 8 months detoxifying my body and I was afraid of all the damage IVF was going to do, but I was willing to take that risk for the beautiful reward- a precious baby. We decided to see our RE again in July 2014. During an ultrasound we discovered that I had ovarian cysts and the IVF cycle was delayed yet another month. Finally, in August 2014 we did our first IVF cycle. The shots were not big deal for me since I had already experience that with IUI. The early morning appointments were not bad either since this time my husband went with me for the ride and we would make a morning out of it. 
I was a low responder to the hormones. They were able to retrieve 10 eggs. We were overjoyed since they predicted less than that in prior appointments. Unfortunately, our joy was squashed the following day when we found out that after fertilization only 2 eggs had made it through the night. Only TWO...after all of that. We still had to wait another four days to see if the embryos start to grow. We were certain they weren't going to make it.
Four days later, early in the morning we got the call that one precious little embryo had made it and they needed us to come in immediately for transfer.
We hopped in the car, eager as can be, and off we went to receive our little embryo.

After the transfer, we spent the next two weeks on pins and needles...curious if our little embryo decided to call my womb its permanent home. After the two week wait, we got our first phone call from the RE...the entire office called us on speaker phone and said "YOU'RE PREGNANT!!" We were so was the first time, as far as we knew, that we had gotten this far. Although we wanted to jump for joy, we were cautiously optimistic because we had a long road ahead of us still. Every few days, my blood work was drawn to measure the HCG levels in my blood. If they increased at a certain rate, that meant that this was possibly a viable pregnancy. We were lucky and it was! 

On our first ultrasound, we got to see our little baby's heart beat. And on the second ultrasound, we were able to see our baby move. It was absolutely incredible. It truly was a miracle. 

From that day on, everything was perfect! We graduated from our RE's office and back to a regular Ob-GYN. The pregnancy was amazing...I felt great and I looked great. We were so happy to have this little life growing inside me. We documented every moment of the pregnancy and truly cherished it. In December 2014, we found out that our precious little baby was a GIRL! We could not believe it. Shortly after finding out her gender, we decided on her name- Penelope Grace. I would scribble the name Penelope Grace on scrap paper whenever I could. We were all so in love!

 The Moment When Time Stood Still
As the due date approached, we became more excited, but also anxious at the idea that we were going to be parents. The dream that we had longed for for so many years was now coming true. My due date came and went and Penelope had still not made her entrance into this world. My mom was two weeks late with both my sister and I, so I had no worries about being a little past my due date.
It was May 24, the day of my husbands brothers wedding. I woke up with a desire to listen to our baby girls heartbeat. We had a heartbeat monitor at home that gave us reassurance throughout the entire pregnancy. I remember finding her back with my hand and placing the monitor directly on her and hearing nothing. I panicked a little, but in denial I told myself the monitor much be broken. Little did I know, my husband had tried the monitor on himself while I was in the other room and it was working. My denial was so strong, but we felt like we should go to the hospital anyway...just to be sure our baby girl was okay. I remember getting in the car on our way to the hospital and saying to my husband "she always moves when I'm in the car and she is not moving." I don't know if I was still in denial or just in shock. We checked into the hospital and we were sent to the labor and delivery floor. The nurse had me lay down as she tried to find a heart beat with the fetal monitors. I was still in shock. I don't remember having any emotion at this point...I was blank. She told my husband and I that she could not find the heartbeat, but the doctor will be in to confirm. As the nurse left the room, I just broke down into tears. I grabbed my husband and told him how scared I was. When the doctor came in with the ultrasound, she confirmed.

"Here is the baby's head, here is the baby's heart...and there is no heart beat. I am so sorry."

I broke down. I completely melted into my husband. We both cried so hard. It was like someone had sucked all the life out of both of us. Like deflating balloons, we just collapsed.

There are no words that could ever describe that feeling. I don't know what that feeling was. It was worse than anything I had ever felt before...I would never wish that upon anyone. I think that feeling is ironically called "love." Because when you lose something, you feel just how much you loved it.
In that moment, time stood still. Our world froze. A part of us died, too.

The show must go on...
We cried for hours, sitting on the floor of the hospital, physically feeling our hearts crumbling to pieces as we called our parents to let them know that they will never get to hear their granddaughter's voice or see her smile or feel the clenching of her tiny hand in theirs.

We told my entire family, but we had to keep it a "secret" (I don't even know if that is the right word to use) from my husbands family because it was his brothers wedding and we did not want to spoil their day. We have our whole lives to grieve the loss of our baby girl, but my husbands' brother and his wife have only that one day to celebrate their love and we could not ruin it with saddness. My husband told his father and his uncle, and they somehow managed to keep it together for the wedding until they were able to tell the whole family the following day.

As our relatives came one by one into the hospital, tears streaming down their faces,  we were told by the nurses that I would have to proceed with a vaginally delivery as soon as I was ready. I begged and begged for a C-section. After we found out our baby girl was no longer with us, the thought of delivering her had completely left my mind. I forgot that the show must go on and she has to come out. The doctor insisted that I must do a vaginal delivery- she reminded me that it would be the best thing for my body and for our future children. 

We are one.
I was induced and the contractions started coming. My husband and I laid in the hospital bed together for the entire labor. We hugged and kissed and cried. At one point, we begged God to please make us one person so we would not have to go through this as two separate individuals. The contractions became stronger and I began shaking convulsively. I can't remember if that was part of labor or if my body was going into shock. Soon, I received the epidural and after that time went by quickly. It was time to push. My husband sat next to me and held my head with every push. After only a few pushes, our baby girl was here - May 25, 2015 at 5:33 am. Although she did not cry, did not move, did not breathe or make a noise...she was here. Her spirit filled the room. My husband and I held her in our arms and our hearts melted. She was so incredibly beautiful. I think in that moment our beautiful baby girl, my husband, and I all became ONE. We felt a love so strong for each other...there is no humanly word to describe it. That was by far, the absolute most best moment of my life. 

Saying hello and "see you soon!"
We were able to spend 8 hours with her before the funeral director was called to take her away in the moses basket. Almost all of our immediate relatives were at the hospital and were able to spend time with our angel. My husband and I held her and laid with her as much as possible. We took photos with her, took her footprints and handprints, took a lock of her hair. We changed her into her "coming home" outfit. My husband had always dreamed of laying with her in bed at home on his chest as she slept so we decided to lay with her on the hospital bed in that position. Soon her nose started to bleed and cleaned her off and put her in the crib. One of my favorite moments with her is watching her laying in the crib and my husband and I laying in the bed next to her. I held her hand and watched the sunlight shine on her face. I could only think about how beautiful she was. I was in awe of her features. She truly was a miracle delivered straight to us from the hands of God.

As the hours went by we knew it was time to say good-bye to her...but we could not bring ourselves to say good-bye, so we just said "see you soon!" 
Trying to smile through the tears...

God's Tears
The funeral director sat the moses basket on a bench in front of a window in the hospital room. As we laid her down and gave her kisses, the beautiful sky outside the window turned to a storm. There was a downpour that lasted maybe ten minutes as we said our last words. I feel like those were God's tears crying for us and for our baby girl. He felt our sadness. As the funeral director came to take her away, the skies parted and the sun came out again. It was truly a divine intervention. 

Blessings in Disguise 
May 24, 2015 was the worst day of my life, but May 25, 2015 will forever be the best day of my life. I will always remember the feeling of holding our precious angel in my arms. I will always remember her soft, cold cheeks and her perfect face. I will always remember her brown hair, just like daddy's and her perfect little body. Those little hands that I dreamed would come to life for one moment to clench my finger....those hands will forever be in my heart. 

The blessings that came from our journey with Penelope Grace were tremendous. The love between my husband and I grew infinite. All of the problems of the past seemed to fizzle away in comparison to the loss we had just experienced. Family grew closer, friendships grew stronger. Life has more meaning now. I appreciate more than I ever have. My faith is so connection with God seems closer than it has ever been. Not only have prior relationships grown, but new relationships have formed. Out of our loss, we have met so many people with tremendous hearts and such compassion. I can instantly bond with others who have experienced losses of their own. Although it is not a "club" you want to be in, once you are in it, you are so thankful for all of the other members. 

We are looking toward the future and staying positive. I am so thankful to have this new perspective on life and and new found love and appreciation for my husband. I am thankful that I now know I can carry a child to full term without any problems along the way. I only hope Penelope paved the way for her brother's and sister's so that future pregnancies come easy. As soon as possible we will be trying for our rainbow and we know Penelope Grace will be sending her sibling love and protection along the way. We will continue to honor our baby girl as our family grows. 

I send so much love and prayers to anyone out there who has experienced loss. My heart aches for the families facing infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. The loss of a child in not only the loss of their life, but the loss of the future and the loss of your dreams. Before and during my pregnancy, I spent hours day dreaming about what my children would look like, what they would do, who they would become, what would make them the unique and individual. Those dreams of Penelope are gone and I know that things will never be the same, but I like to believe that I will receive signs and signals from her along the way, letting us know she is still with us and will always be with us as our family grows.

If you are reading this, please continue to have faith in your destiny. If God put the dream in your heart, than you are meant to see that dream come true. Keep going and don't stop trying! 
This blog is a positive place to provide motivation for those who have experience stillbirth, miscarriage, and infant loss. Please follow on our journey as we grow our family and meet our rainbow(s).