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I was halfway through my pregnancy. We had already made the announcement that we were pregnant with our daughter’s younger sibling weeks earlier, and decided the theme of our new baby’s room. We bought a second crib and a second changing table. We were beyond excited to be welcoming our second baby to the family, the baby who would “make our family complete”.

I was going to some doctor’s appointments by myself. Routine check-ups seemed easier if my husband just stayed home with our daughter. This appointment was supposed to be a “get weighed, spend more time waiting for the doctor than actually talking to her, measure, check the heartbeat, see you soon” appointment.

Until she couldn’t find the heartbeat. 

She ran out of the room to get the ultrasound machine to see what was going on. I remember her saying, “Don’t worry, the baby is probably just in a bad position.” I couldn’t help it though. I knew deep down, this was not OK.

That was it. In the blink of an eye, at almost 20 weeks, it was over. We lost our baby and there was nothing anybody could do about it. 

I laid on that ultrasound table alone, sobbing, feeling like my soul had separated from my physical body. I drove home and told my husband the news. The next day, we were on our way to the labor and delivery unit.

We were the couple they were expecting. They knew us as soon as we walked through the door. Our nurse greeted us and took us down to our room at the end of a hallway, all by itself. It had a teardrop on the door to let everyone know we were here to have our baby . . . but we wouldn’t be taking him home.

Stillbirth is giving birth to a beautiful baby boy you’ll never get to hear cry. You’ll never get to see his first steps or his first smile.

Holding him for as long as possible, knowing that even forever wouldn’t be long enough. 

Knowing this is the only chance you’ll ever get to be with him.

Treasuring his little nose and holding his 10 little fingers and toes. It’s trying so hard to imprint a moment in your memory that you know you’ll never get again.

Stillbirth is being given a book about how to keep your marriage together because statistics say in two years, you’ll likely be divorced.

It’s feeling the crushing, deepest depths of grief.

It’s anger.

It’s picking out an urn and deciding what will go in the memory box.

Leaving the hospital empty-handed and going to a funeral home to pick up his remains.

It’s feeling guilty the first time you laugh or smile again.

It’s questioning your faith, your strength as a human and mother, the world, everything.

It’s the awkward pause when people don’t know what to say to you. 

Stillbirth is walking past a half-decorated baby’s room every day.

It’s an empty crib and an unused changing table.

Stillbirth is walking a long journey you never asked to walk.

It’s knowing joy and grief can live together, simultaneously. 

I let our loss make me thankful for my amazing daughter and to cherish her even more. Thankful for a husband and a marriage that was able to sustain this type of damage and come out the other side stronger. Thankful that if my little boy isn’t here with us, he gets to be somewhere in Heaven with my mom. Thankful that even though I feel like I lost myself for a little while, I was able to find myself again. Thankful for memories to share with my daughter someday. Thankful for the everyday joys we continue to share as a family. Thankful for smiles and laughs. 

Once the smoke cleared from the bomb that blew our world to pieces, we could see that life is still so, so good.

Some days still look grayer than others, as I’m sure they will for a long time, but on those days I will remember that light will always beat darkness. 

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