Today was supposed to be the day that we told everyone about you. We would have been 18 weeks. We had already told about half of your family about you when the unthinkable happened.
On December 4, your dad and I were so excited to hear your heartbeat. It had been four long weeks since our last appointment. We left for Montgomery early that morning and went straight to the OB’s office. Thanks to COVID, your dad and sister had to wait in the car. I didn’t have to wait inside long. The nurse sent me straight into the room so she could get my measurements and hear your heartbeat. The Doppler machine didn’t pick up your heartbeat. She kept trying to find it and I told her I was starting to get worried. She said there were plenty of reasons the Doppler may not pick up the heartbeat, but she wanted to send me down to ultrasound to be sure. I waited for what seemed like hours, but it was probably only 5 minutes.
They finally called me back for the ultrasound. I recognized the tech. I think she was the one that did our first ultrasound. She led me to the ultrasound room and immediately put the warm gel on my belly. Within seconds she said, “Ashley, I’m so sorry. There’s no heartbeat.” I burst into tears. She hugged me and said she’s been through this twice herself. She asked if anyone came with me to the appointment. I told her my husband and daughter were in the car outside. She said if I wanted them to come in, she would make it happen.
I called your dad through blubbering tears and said, “There’s no heartbeat. They said y’all can come inside. Do you want to?” He did. The ultrasound tech sent me back upstairs to meet with my doctor and she met your dad and sister in the lobby.
Your dad gave me the biggest hug he could. He was so strong. He held back tears so he could be strong for us.
My doctor came in and immediately hugged me. She was surprised to learn that I had not experienced any miscarriage symptoms. I was surprised to learn that you had been in the arms of Jesus for two weeks already. The ultrasound showed that you stopped growing around 13 weeks. Since we were already in the second trimester when you passed, my only options were a D&C the same day (Friday) or a D&C Monday. As difficult as it was, we chose to do it the same day. I worried that it would be even harder to wait an entire weekend to say goodbye.
They sent me downstairs to do blood work before I went to the hospital. The phlebotomist greeted me and asked if I was okay. I shook my head as tears ran down my face. I told her we lost our baby. She pulled me to my feet and gave me the biggest hug. She squeezed me tighter and told me she lost her twins recently. As she drew my blood, she shared more of her story. We probably hugged 4 or 5 more times before I left.
Your dad drove us straight to the hospital across the street. I checked in and asked if I could have any visitors. They said one visitor was allowed. Since your dad and Camryn were both in the car, I called him and told him to go home. There was no reason for them to wait outside for over 4 hours. He didn’t want to leave me by myself, but I assured him I would be okay. Even though I wasn’t sure I believed it at the time.
While I was still in the waiting room, your dad called all your grandparents to tell them that you had passed. I had texted our pastor and a couple of friends to tell them, but I didn’t have the heart to tell our families. It was too hard. I asked your dad to make sure no one contacted me about the procedure. I couldn’t handle going through the details with anyone.
When I finally got into my room, I asked if we could do one more ultrasound – just to be sure. I knew the results would be the same since you had stopped growing weeks ago. I just needed to be sure for my own peace of mind. My suspicions were confirmed.
A friend called me right before my surgery to encourage me and pray for me. She specifically said, “This isn’t your fault.” Tears flooded my eyes. Even though I never actually said or thought, “This is my fault,” I felt like it was. I was going through everything over the last few months.
“Did I not eat enough?”
“Could I have ingested something that caused your demise?”
“Did COVID weaken your body when we had it in October?”
“Should I have prayed for you more?”
“What did I do wrong?”
These thoughts and more were creeping in the back of my mind. I needed to hear that it wasn’t my fault. And just to make sure I heard that message loud and clear, God used two others to tell me the same thing – your dad and my doctor.
I wasn’t emotionally ready for the surgery. I wanted your dad to hug me one last time before they wheeled me to the operating room. He couldn’t be there because of COVID. It was lonely. I was exhausted from crying. As soon as they started pushing the gurney, I blinked twice and fell asleep.
The next thing I knew, they were waking me up. The procedure was done. I didn’t get to see you or hold you. It’s probably best since your lifeless body had been inside me for weeks. Now I’ll always just imagine a precious happy baby. Much better than the alternative.
Your dad was anxiously waiting outside the hospital to pick me up. My emotions were fragile. My body was weak. The radio played as we drove home. The first words I heard were:
“don’t hang your head
It’s gonna end
God’s right there
Even if it’s hard to see Him
I promise you that He still cares”
“The pain ain’t gonna last forever
And things can only get better
This is gonna make you stronger”
I knew I would be okay one day, I just didn’t know how long it would take for that day to arrive. We knew God had a purpose in our pain, but it didn’t make it any less painful.
When we got home, Camryn was excited to see us. One friend had watched her so your dad could come back to the hospital for me. Another friend brought us a meal so we would have one less thing to worry about. We are so blessed!
Physically, I was fine the next day. I didn’t have any pain at first. A few hours later, I felt the medicine wear off. I remembered that the hospital prescribed pain killers and your dad picked them up from the pharmacy just before they closed. What a blessing! I didn’t know how much I would need them over the next 24 hours.
Sunday was the worst day for me. Other than the excruciating chest pain from being intubated, I also caught the stomach bug that your dad and sister had on Friday. Yep, the same day as my surgery. Camryn threw up on the way home and your dad threw up late that night.
My first thought after throwing up the first time was, “Really, God? This is the worst weekend of my life and we’re topping it off with a stomach bug?”
The next day, I was especially weak. I had lost 7 pounds overnight and could only keep crackers and Gatorade down. I was alone for hours and slept most of the day. It was exactly what I needed. I couldn’t wait to see your dad and Camryn that evening. Things were starting to get better.
Four days after we found out that you were gone, it still hurt. I had been too emotionally weak to pick up my Bible over the last few days, but God recalled a few verses to me.
“Sorrow may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Paraphrase of Psalm 30:5)
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you experience trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)
I chose joy. I could have let this pain consume me, but I chose joy.
Every time a song came on the radio, I cried inconsolably. I felt them deeply. It’s like God chose the songs that day just for me.
The lyrics of each song broke me. God is so good! Each song was a reminder that God is sovereign and He will use our pain for His glory.
We may never know what caused you to leave us before we could even see your face. We’ll never know a lot of things about you, but we do know that you’re safe in the arms of our Savior for eternity! To my unborn child, we love you and we can’t wait to meet you when the Lord calls us home one day.