“On April 2nd, 2019, two days short of being 38 weeks pregnant, my daughter Goldie Rhiannon’s heart had stopped. My womb had turned to a tomb and I had to deliver my beautiful, perfect, silent baby. While many parents going into labor dream up who and what their baby will look like out of the womb, we were crossing our fingers for answers… some sort of visible explanation of how and why our once perfectly healthy baby girl was gone. Unfortunately, we are left with no answers. Her cause of death was undetermined.
The night Goldie died I told the nurse, ‘Tie my tubes. I’m done. I’m done, I can’t do this again; I don’t ever want to do this again!’ I told my fiancé Ryan that if he wanted more kids, he could find someone else. In fact, I begged him to find someone else. ‘If you want kids, you’re going to have to find someone else. Please find someone else. I just can’t do it. I’m done. My body always fails our babies. Something is wrong with me and I just can’t do it I’m sorry.’
At 18, I miscarried 3 times. In 2016, I became pregnant again. At our 20-week anatomy scan, I found out I had Velamentous Cord Insertion. Here I was, at risk of losing another baby. My sweet Finn Hendrix was born in 2017, healthy and all but still with a complication that made me fearful of losing him my entire pregnancy. Goldie was perfectly healthy. Always measuring ahead, always active, but now she was gone. It had to have been me. It had to have been something I did. ‘Was it Subway? Could it have been drinking too much Dr. Pepper? Did I bend down too much?’ I knew none of those were the cause. But here I was, blaming myself. I felt like my body had failed me again. I felt like I was failing as a mother. I failed to give Finn a sibling. I was failing as a fiancée, our baby died inside my body. ‘It was my job to keep her safe and I couldn’t even do that!’ I said over and over and over. I wanted out of my body. I wanted a new body, one that worked. One that did what it’s ‘supposed to do.’
2 weeks later, I had a mental health check-up with my OB. She told me she knew I wasn’t done having kids. She said, ‘Your plan was to have a baby and bring a baby home. I know you still want that.’ And I did. I told her I did. I was tired of looking at a nursery full of unused baby things. I was tired of watching our brand-new car seat sit on the kitchen table and collect dust. She told me if my labs came back good, we were good to start trying.
One week later, they came back clear. We got pregnant on the first try. I remember taking the test just for fun, thinking nothing would come of it. I set it down on the bathroom counter and walked over to Goldie’s picture. I stared for a bit and then walked back over to the test…it was positive. My eyes filled with tears and I clenched it in my hands. I walked back over to Goldie’s picture and ‘showed’ it to her. How bittersweet this was. I was so excited. A baby! I was getting another chance at a living baby! But those dark thoughts quickly followed. A baby! I was getting another chance, but I knew in the back of my mind this baby could die too. Stillbirth doesn’t discriminate, I knew that all too well. I was overwhelmed with so many emotions and called Ryan into the room.
I handed him my positive test and he was as shocked as I was. He didn’t have words other than, ‘This is awesome,’ I knew it wasn’t a ‘thrill’ like the positive we saw with the babies before. We now knew there was no safe zone. We knew this could happen all over again. To get so far only to get so far. The first try. How could the unluckiest people have gotten this lucky? I immediately made an appointment with my OB for the next week. ‘Back so soon?!’ she laughed as she turned the lights off to start my ultrasound. I could see the worry in her eyes when she sat down.
‘Well, there’s the sac…but I don’t see a heartbeat. It could just be early though… I’ll have you come back next week.’ I left defeated. I didn’t understand how this could possibly happen AGAIN. The week waiting felt like forever. That week was worth it. A heartbeat. A perfectly healthy baby. We set up my appointments and I was sent over to the High-Risk specialist where they’d monitor my pregnancy to be extra safe. I finally felt a glimpse of hope again. Appointment after appointment everything was looking beautiful. Despite one little scare of a brain cyst, our baby was perfect. We announced on social media very early. We knew safe zones didn’t exist. We wanted to share our joy and excitement! We were flooded with comments of, ‘Goldie’s going to be a big sis!’ Everyone seemed to share our joy.
Early on, and on accident, we found out this baby was a boy! Once again, a bittersweet moment. It meant Goldie was going to be our only girl and her things were going to still go untouched. BUT it also gave me a chance to have more hope. I was able to really separate them. ‘This is a different baby with a different story and *hopefully* different outcome,’ I kept saying. Month after month, this baby boy grew bigger and stronger. I counted kicks the way little kids count raindrops on a car window. Every second he wasn’t kicking, I was trying not to panic. Visiting Goldie at the cemetery, I would look at spots wondering if I’d be burying this baby too. Pregnancy mixed with grief is HARD. I couldn’t buy stuffed animals, teethers, or things sized past newborn for fear I would jinx something. I googled every single symptom that I thought could be something wrong. I made countless visits to OB triage just to be sure he was still alive. I couldn’t say to anyone, ‘WHEN he comes home.’ It was only, ‘IF he comes home.’ My saving grace was knowing I was going to meet him…one way or another.
On January 22nd, I walked into the hospital to be induced with my baby boy kicking away. I went into the same labor and delivery doors that I went into 9 months prior to be told that my daughters’ heart had stopped beating. I stopped at the same check in desk to sign in that I did with Goldie. In March 2017, it was a desk where I signed in to officially become a mother. I didn’t know stillbirth existed. In April 2019, it’s the sign in sheet where I became a bereaved mother.
I signed in alone. I insisted Ryan stay in the car while I got into a room ‘just in case he had died too.’ I was scared. The nurses knew my prior history and asked if I was okay. ‘I think so. I just feel like I’m going to throw up.’ ‘You’re going to leave with a baby this time!’ the nurse said. I mumbled, ‘I hope so…’ The truth was, I wasn’t okay. I was terrified. I didn’t know if I was going to leave with a baby this time. I wasn’t oblivious to all that could happen this time. I learned this pregnancy that people try to reassure bereaved pregnant mothers by saying we WILL bring a baby home and to speak things into existence. Unfortunately, we know the harsh reality. Despite our prayers, our hoping and wishing…bad things can still happen. After getting checked in, the nurse walked me into a room and my induction process was quickly started. Ryan came in and it felt so surreal all over again. We were smiling. We were laughing. There were no tears. There was a heart monitor! With a living baby’s heart beating!
The nurses came in and out turning up my sweet boy’s heart monitor because they knew I needed to hear it. It felt like a dream. Shift change was coming up and in walks my night nurse. The same nurse I had with Goldie. The nurse who wheeled me out with my box instead of my baby. ‘I recognize you!’ she said. I was overcome with emotions yet again. She knew Goldie existed! She saw her! She saw her in real life! Considering only my parents, nurses, and doctors saw Goldie in real life, this was extremely special. Ryan and I were so excited for her to be my nurse again.
My contractions were getting closer and closer and I was tired of getting up to pee. I called my nurse and told her I wanted an epidural. In came the anesthesiologist. My nurse held my shoulders and talked me through it. From that moment on, it all was very quick. It was time for shift change again and my nurse was leaving. I will forever be grateful for having her that night. My new nurse came in, who was my nurse when I got there the day before. Sweet as can be. She told me I was dilating quickly, and I’d have a baby by noon…she was right! About 10 minutes before it was time to push, I broke down and started bawling.
I told Ryan no birth photos just ‘in case’ he had died too. I texted my mom. ‘I can’t do this. What if I’m making a mistake? What if Goldie is mad at me? I can’t do this I just can’t!’ My mom assured me Goldie wouldn’t be mad at me and I COULD do this. I took what she said and pulled myself together. I asked Ryan to bring me my makeup bag, perfected my winged eyeliner, and I was ready to push. After about 4 pushes, my doctor told me his cord was wrapped around his neck. I panicked. I was done. No more. I knew there was a chance something could be wrong, but he needed to come out. I just closed my eyes as tight as I could, clenched my teeth, and pushed…
And out came our screaming, healthy, living baby boy. I had nothing to say. Tears flowed down my face and I just cried along with his cries. There is no cry like the ones that come from your own tears when you birth a silent baby. But there is also no cry like the one you thought you’d never get…
9 months later, here we are with our little piece of hope. Amongst the golden pines, we found our Stoney Evergreen. Perfectly picked by his big sis Goldie. We waited nearly 2 years for this. We waited 2 years for screams, for clothes to be used, and to finally use that brand-new car seat. This is our time to finally parent another living baby. We are parents of 3! Even though you can’t see Goldie, we are still parents of 3. For the first time in a long time, I consider us lucky. How lucky we are to get to love 3 perfect babies even with one of those 3 missing from our arms.”
**This story was written by Ashton L. of Texas and originally appeared on Love What Matters.