If I don’t write it all down, will I forget? Will there come a day when I no longer remember The Story Of You? When all I remember is that you were wanted, loved, and then you were gone? Will there come a day when the only thing I am left with is the pain I felt? The unique pain only a mother who has lost a baby knows? 

I don’t want to ever forget the story of you. 

I learned of your existence in my womb almost exactly a month before your soul departed. December 19th, 2019. We were headed to see Christmas lights, and I took the pregnancy test thinking it would be negative . . . and it was so clearly positive. I joked to your daddy that maybe nines were significant to us because we found out about your big sister on the 29th. 

We saw you and your thriving heartbeat of 178 beats per minute on January 3, 2020. I was 6 weeks and 4 days pregnant.

Your due date was August 23, 2020. 

I was sick, so sick. I spent a few weeks doing nothing but taking care of big sister. I even lost almost 15 pounds. The pregnancy with you was shaping up to be the same as my first experience with pregnancy, I lost 20 that time. 

On January 18, 2020, I woke up feeling amazing for the first time in forever. I sat up in bed and declared we were taking a family trip to the zoo. We had the best day ever. While there, we joked about when I was very pregnant with your big sister and we came to the zoo so I could “walk her out.” I wondered if one day I’d do the same with you. 

Ultrasounds later showed that was the day you stopped growing. At 8 weeks and 6 days. 

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Was it something I did? Did I walk too much that day? Should I have made an effort to eat better during those weeks I was so sick? The conditioner I was using in your sister’s hair had clary sage oil in it. I just knew it was my fault you were gone. I stopped using it. 

Our first midwife appointment was on January 31, 2020. I should’ve been 10 weeks and 5 days pregnant. They struggled to find a heartbeat with a Doppler, struggled to find you on the ultrasound, but they did and they said it was OK.

I never thought it was OK. In my heart, I knew. 

Just two short days later, I started spotting. The dread crept in. Another quick ultrasound with difficulties finding your heartbeat, maybe a flicker, and I was scheduled the next day for an in-depth scan. Again, I knew. 

On Monday, February 3, 2020, at what would’ve been 11 weeks and 1 day pregnant I learned there was no longer a heartbeat. No one said those words of course. I laid there alone. I wasn’t allowed to look at the screen. All of the words that were not said hung in the air. “We’re all done here” was all I got.

I cried. I was hugged by a stranger. She knew that I knew what she wasn’t saying. 

I originally made plans to allow my body to proceed on its own. I knew eventually it would happen. I would sit on the toilet at home and your tiny body would leave my womb as I wept and bled. I wasn’t ready to let you go yet because this would be the only time I got to hold you, inside of me.

I knew eventually your body would leave me and that would be that. I’d have nothing but heartache and emptiness to remember you by. 

I bought oversized pads and granny panties to prepare because I had been told the bleeding would be severe. I have never seen as many pregnant women in Target as there were that day. Their round bellies taunting me. I would never grow round with the growth of you inside of me. I also bought a bottle of wine. I felt guilty drinking it. 

Within a week, I decided I could no longer wait, I scheduled appointments for consultations, I had two more ultrasounds to confirm you were no longer living before a surgery would be scheduled. 

That final ultrasound. The last time I would ever see you. I lost complete control sitting on the table when the tech walked in the door. I cried so hard I couldn’t talk. I should have been 12 weeks and 2 days pregnant. There you were, frozen at 8 weeks and 6 days. Two arms, two legs, no heartbeat. She offered me pictures but gave me the choice to leave them. I took them home.

You may be gone, but you are still mine. And I wanted to remember you. 

I was scheduled for surgery in three days, but I got sick and had to postpone. I have never cried as hard as I did that day. The pain was so great knowing I would be carrying a deceased baby in my womb for four weeks and one day by the time I had surgery. 

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The D&C was scheduled for Monday, February 17, 2020. I should have been 13 weeks and 1 day pregnant. The night before I started cramping. The pain was excruciating all night long. I thought for sure I was finally going to pass your body at home.

I didn’t. I started bleeding as we pulled into the parking lot. At the front desk, they offered me an adult diaper and told me to wait. I was in so much pain. I begged the doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists to knock me out and get it over with. 

I woke up from surgery and immediately cried, “I’m so thankful it’s over.”

Little did I know, it would never be over. The pain never goes away. I went home that day with an empty womb and a hole in my heart. 

Just a few short weeks later I got a call. We had opted to do genetic testing. We learned that you were a girl. We were saving that surprise for your birth. That you had Turner’s syndrome, which ultimately led to your death. That this shouldn’t occur again. I should have felt better, relieved, but I felt sorrow. 

So this is the story of you, my sweet girl. A baby with a name we had chosen that I am still unable to speak out loud.

The little girl I carried within my womb for 13 weeks and 1 day during the end of 2019 and early 2020. Your story is filled with pain and sorrow. Not at all how I planned it. There were no first kicks in the womb, no stomach growing round with life, no magical home birth, or learning to nurse you. There was no skin-to-skin or newborn baby smell. There was no watching you and your sister together. No images of your daddy with his two girls.

Your story was filled with heartbreak although I wish that wasn’t what I thought of when I think of you. 

 I do think of you.

Every single day. 

For the rest of my days. 

I know I will always remember The Story Of You. 

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Bradleigh Hollister

Bradleigh Hollister is a mama of three girls, two earthside and one in Heaven. At the time of this article, she hadn’t yet received the precious gift of her rainbow baby that would come in early 2021. She has a passion for motherhood, travel, and expressing her emotions in writing through Facebook captions and the notes section on her phone. She aspires to travel the U.S. in a skoolie conversion and live off-grid.

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