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This morning I woke up no longer pregnant. No longer carrying the baby inside me that I had prayed so hard for. I feel empty, numb, robbed. I told myself it wouldn’t happen to me. And now here I am, devastated that we will no longer be welcoming a baby in August.

I tried to be strong yesterday. I barely flinched during the procedure and didn’t shed any tears. Walking out, I felt emptier than ever. I was leaving behind my baby, the one I carried for two months, questioning if I will ever carry another baby again.

Time seems to be standing still. Just last week I had my first ultrasound. Two sacs. One baby. Healthy with a strong heartbeat. The other sac, empty. But there was one baby, and I took that.

The weekend followed, full of nausea, fatigue, and food aversions. I welcomed it.

Monday. Still a heartbeat. I was anxious but reminded myself how the statistics of miscarriage drop once there’s cardiac activity. Now that feels like a lifetime ago.

Wednesday. My next ultrasound. I went alone, thinking everything would be fine.

As soon as they put the probe down, I knew. I looked at the screen and didn’t see that familiar little flicker I saw before. I hoped that it was my eyes or in my head. I waited with bated breath for them to say something. Anything. I turned and looked at them. It was written on their faces.

The baby’s heartbeat was gone.

RELATED: I Had a Missed Miscarriage

I lay there, stunned. Too numb to move. I heard, “I’m sorry,” and my response, “It’s OK.”

Why did I say that? I wasn’t OK. 

Inside, I was breaking. I felt helpless. The baby was gone. There was nothing I could do. I didn’t want to let on how devastated I was. I don’t know why.

Knowing that second sac was empty always made me nervous. I refused to download the apps that track your pregnancy and compare your baby to sizes of fruit, I would stop when I caught myself imagining the future with two kids, and I didn’t allow myself to dream of potential names.

The truth is, I held my breath the second those two lines appeared. My previous pregnancy taught me that nothing is promised or guaranteed. Things can change in an instant. And now I find myself learning the same lesson, unfortunately with empty arms.

Too often, we hear women say, “I was only X number of weeks.” As if that downplays what they’ve been through or how much they’re hurting because of the stigma surrounding pregnancy loss. The truth is, it doesn’t matter if you lost a pregnancy at 6 or 30 weeks. It doesn’t matter if you have one or five other kids.

At the end of the day, you still lost your babysomeone you loved immensely and unconditionally from the second you found out about them.

You can’t help feeling that you failed to protect the human growing inside of you. We’re told it’s out of our control. It’s a hard concept to grasp and doesn’t make us feel any better.

I’m learning that losing a baby leaves you in an isolated place. People don’t talk about it. They’re afraid to bring it up, afraid you’ll shatter into a million pieces.

No one tells you that you’ll feel OK one second, and the next, you’re breaking down. No one tells you that even when that heartbeat is no longer detected, you still have pregnancy symptoms until your body catches up with itself. No one tells you that one of the hardest days is the morning after you wake up from the physical lossthe first morning you aren’t carrying your baby inside you. It hits you with the force of a tidal wave, drowning you in emotion.

Despite the devastation, we chose to name the baby August, which means “magnificent.”

Our due date was in August, and for those few fleeting months, it was a magnificent honor to carry this sweet baby.

RELATED: A Mother’s Love Can’t Be Measured In Weeks

In my first pregnancy, my husband and I nicknamed our baby “Poppy” (he was the size of a poppyseed when we found out). The pregnancy was difficult, and after he was born, we decided on a tattoo of a poppy flower to honor that experience. We’ve decided to do something similar for August.

The other night, I couldn’t sleep. In search of ideas, I looked up August birth flowers. Tears filled my eyes when I saw the result: a poppy. 

Even in these dark days, I choose to believe brighter days are ahead. I’m not sure what those days look like just yet, and that’s OK, because I know August is watching over us.

To anyone experiencing life’s darkness, brighter days are ahead even if you can’t see them yet.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Emily McDonald, BSN, RNC-OB

Emily McDonald is a wife and mother of one. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her family and has worked as a high-risk labor and delivery and obstetrics nurse since graduating nursing school with her Bachelor's in 2013. She enjoys writing, crafting, and spending time with her family and friends. 

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