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I tried to smile and be polite but I could barely hold back the tears...

Early in February of 2015 I was surprised to find out I was pregnant with our 3rd child. I was exited but was also cautious. I had two uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries and wondered how I deserved a third. I remember praying every morning in the shower "Please God, keep my baby safe."

With my first two daughters I never even considered that a loss would be a possibility but this time was different. I kept coming across articles about miscarriage and still birth and I would actually read them and wonder why I felt compelled to do so. The morning if February 19th my husband and I were talking about the baby and when we should start telling people. He said I could tell people when I was ready but he wanted our girls to know first. I remember saying I thought I wanted to wait until after our first appointment.

A few moments later I went to the bathroom and I saw blood. I immediately panicked and began sobbing. I remember my husband sitting on the side of the tub and putting his arm around me. I finally got myself together enough to call the doctor. The triage nurse assured me that it was most likely normal early pregnancy bleeding and to try to not worry. They worked me in as soon as possible that morning to give me reassurance. I remember laying in the bed with my husband holding me waiting for the time of my appointment.

I went to the appointment alone because my husband had to watch our girls. I remember sitting in the waiting room anxious to be called back. I finally went back into the exam room. I remember hearing the doctor congratulate another mom in the hallway before entering my room. I explained what was going on and she told me there were three possibilities normal early pregnancy spotting, ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage.

After the exam I went back for an ultrasound. I remember the ultrasound tech going through all the parts if my anatomy and taking measurements. She saw my baby snuggled in kind of hiding. It seemed like an eternity that she searched for the heart beat and suddenly I saw it. A tiny flicker and for the first time I had hope that everything would be ok. She measured the heartbeat to be 120 beats per minute. I remember asking her of that was a good heart rate and she said yes anything above 100 was good. I felt reassured and the plan was for me to come back on my previously scheduled appointment.

That evening I was scheduled to go out of town with three of my coworkers for a conference. I was anxious about going but my husband encouraged me that everything was ok and I should go and have a good time. I met everyone at one of the girls houses. I remember get showing us around her new home before we left. I used the restroom there and saw again some spotting. I remember feeling anxious but I talked myself into believing it was just from all the poking around at my appointment earlier. We left shortly after that.

I was driving since I have a minivan. I remember feeling some cramping on the way and just not feeling right. About an hour into the trip I mentioned being ready for dinner so we stopped to eat. I went to the bathroom first and as soon as I sat down there was a huge gush of blood. I didn't know what to do. I was away from home without my husband with my coworkers who didn't even know I was pregnant. I went to my car and called my husband. He offered to come get me but said I needed to tell my friends what was going on.

I went back inside and in the same breath I told my friends I was pregnant and was losing the baby. I remember one of them hugging me and then them telling that I needed to eat. I reluctantly ordered something but could only take a few bites. I remember sitting at the table just staring out the window waiting for them to finish. I couldn't talk. I couldn't cry I just stared. They all offered to drive us back home but I insisted on driving. I needed something to occupy my mind so I didn't break down. I remember pulling into my friends condo parking lot.

Everyone got out and said they were sorry and to keep them posted on what was going on. I remember driving away and as soon as they were out of my sight I lost it. I cried all the way home barely able to see through my tears. When I got home I just went upstairs and laid in the bed waiting for my husband and kids to get home. The next thing in remember is my daughter coming in and giving me the biggest hug. She didn't know what was going on. She was just glad to see me.

I held her for what seemed like forever and couldn't hold back the tears. I put my girls to bed and then just laid in bed. I remember my husband asking if I wanted to watch tv and I just said I don't know what to do. I told him I was so sad and cried until I fell asleep. The next morning I called the doctor as soon as they opened and they scheduled an appointment for 11:00 that morning. I struggled to keep it together all morning for my girls. The shower was the one place I felt I could just let go. I remember crying audibly like a young child does and just feeling like my arms were empty.

I dropped my kids off at school for their delayed start due to snow and went to the doctor alone. My husband is teacher and didn't have a substitute so he had to work, I remember wearing sweat pants and a pink sweatshirt. I didn't even feel like putting on real pants. I remember every detail of the waiting room that day. I was sitting against the wall with an elderly lady right one chair down from me. She was fumbling through her wallet and making small talk about the weather. I tried to smile and be polite but I could barely hold back the tears, I remember a young girl sitting across from me who was obviously pregnant. She had long dark hair and was wearing black legging and a white shirt. I remember a couple sitting across the room. The wife was pregnant and was drinking a cup of water. They were obviously excited and I could tell from their talk they were their for the second trimester ultrasound.

I remember after I was called back the nurse asked me "How are you today" not in a concerned way but just casually. I wanted to scream at her that my baby was probably gone but instead I politely said I'm ok. After getting my weight and blood pressure they took me straight back to ultrasound. The ultrasound tech and midwife were in the room. I fully expected not to see a baby anymore but there on the screen was my precious baby. She was no longer snuggled up hiding but was floating freely in the amniotic sac. I remember the tech going through all the anatomy again and taking measurements. She kept saying to the midwife "The pulsating is mom's heartbeat" but she kept searching hoping to see my babies beating.

I remember the midwife asking if she wanted her to get the doctor to look. She asked me if I had anyone with me and I said no I was alone. Finally I heard the worst words of my life. Ones I already knew were true. "I'm sorry, your baby has no heart beat". The midwife then went out to talk to the doctor and I got dressed. When she returned she said my doctor wanted to have blood drawn to check my hormone levels and see me again the following week. I remember her asking if I was ok and saying this is common and there was most likely a genetic abnormality. I didn't care what abnormality my baby would have had I would rather her be here.

I called my husband when I got back to the car and let him know what was going on. The rest of the day was a blur of picking my kids up and trying to hold myself together. I didn't want them to see me so upset. I remember that afternoon locking myself in my bathroom and just sobbing. I felt so sad and so ashamed. I didn't know what to do. Should I tell people or keep it a secret. I did email a close friend from our church. That sweet friend bright me some books on grief and miscarriage and dinner the next night. I remember that weekend knowing I had to name my baby. The word Hope kept coming to my mind.

The next day after finding out my baby had died was a Saturday. My husband had a work meeting for a couple of hours. He encouraged me to go somewhere with our girls. He was worried about me staying in bed all day. I remember telling him I didn't feel like going anywhere and I was scared to be out and start bleeding heavily. I decided on going to lunch and going to the craft store to get a project for my girls to do. I suddenly needed to paint a plaque for my baby Hope. To have something to remember her by. We ate lunch and then got ice cream at a place in the same shopping center.

I remember struggling not to cry and looking at everyone around me angry they were do happy. When we while we were eating ice cream I saw someone I knew. We talked for a few minutes and the whole time I was just thinking about my baby being gone. It was like the whole world was going on around me without a care in the world while my heart was broken into a million pieces. At the craft store I went down the stencil aisle, I wanted to paint Hope on a plaque and was looking for letter stencils. As I looked down the isle a package caught my eye. It was a stencil set that already had the word Hope with a cross and a dove. I got my supplies and headed home.

I remember feeling so anxious and just couldn't handle being out in public any longer. I remember over the next couple of weeks being so nervous and scared to go to places for the first time. I worked through over two weeks of bleeding and going to appointments weekly before my precious baby finally left my body. I remember at one appointment telling the doctor I thought I wanted a d&c because I wanted the physical reminder to be over. It wasn't able to be scheduled until the following week, so I decided to take her advice and let my body take care if things naturally. I thought I wanted the physical over quickly but when it finally was I felt even more devastated. It was like as long as my babies body was still inside of me she was still here, but when I knew baby Hope was physically gone it made things even more real.

The next two months or so I was so angry. I was angry that God had not answered my prayers, angry that people who don't take care of their children get to keep their babies, angry that my husband didn't want more children. I was grieving harder than I thought possible. It took every ounce of energy to make it through the day and by the end I had nothing left. It was more than I could take having to pretend all day long at work or with friends or with my kids that nothing was wrong when inside I was falling to pieces. The shower was my safe place that I could just let go.

I remember telling my husband many days that I just needed to get in the shower and cry. I remember thinking if I just got pregnant again right away everything would be ok. Even through the anger I knew I needed God. I need Him more than I ever had before. I listened to praise music constantly. I read scripture like I never had before. I began a journal writing letters to my precious baby, prayers to God, random thoughts, Bible verses, and lyrics to songs.

As I opened up and shared with friends that I had lost my baby I found out so many people I knew had been there too. God brought into my life new friendships and strengthened old ones with mothers who had too lost their precious babies. I had so many women willing to listen to my cries and random thoughts and to give me advice and encouragement even while they were grieving their own losses. It was like a secret club I had unfortunately been inducted into.

At first I was ashamed and didn't want anyone to know but then I felt like I needed everyone to know. I needed my baby's life to have mattered. I couldn't stand the thought if it being like she never existed. One if my biggest prayers through this journey had been that something good would come from my loss. God says in his word that he works all things together for good for those who live according to His word. I've already seen the good He has done in me. Bringing me closer to Him and to my husband. Helping me to be more present in my parenting of my girls who are here.

But I know there is more good to come and I want part of that to be that awareness is brought to pregnancy loss. I've never felt more lonely in my life than I have grieving the loss of a baby no one knew but me and that everyone has forgotten but me. I don't want any other mother to have to feel this loneliness. Before losing my baby Hope when I thought having a miscarriage would be sad and disappointing but you could always try again. I was so wrong. The grief I have felt over the loss of my precious baby is as real as if I had her here with me for a lifetime. I think about my baby every single moment of every single day. I will never forget and I will never be the same person I was before. I wish more than anything my baby Hope was still here but I have never regretted her existence. I'm so thankful God chose me to be her mommy even if it was just a short time.

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