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“I am not going to sugar coat anything. There is a lot that is wrong with your baby. It isn’t going to make it. I just want to be honest with you.”
Those were the first words we heard from a doctor after going in for our ultrasound at 19 weeks. I began to bawl as the doctor started talking. I think I was crying so hard that he just gave up trying to explain anything to me. I don’t remember what he said but he tried to give me a quick hug and then quickly made it out of the room.
On November 10, 2015, my husband and I joined a club that nobody wants to be a part of. We lost a baby.
Women lose babies for many different reasons, and I don’t believe any of them make it easier. For us, we weren’t given any answers till about 3 months and extensive testing later. Eric (my husband) and I found out that we are both carriers of a rare genetic mutation that doctors believe cause prenatal death. We are the 15th couple in the world to have been discovered to have mutations in both of our RYR1 gene.
I was absolutely devastated hearing the doctor’s diagnosis on the day we had our ultra sound. I couldn’t believe that we had made it halfway through the pregnancy and now I was being forced to come to terms with the fact that my child was suffering while still in the womb.
We made doctors appointments with all of the best specialists in Houston (one of the best medical centers in the world) and each one had more bad news for us. We even went to get an MRI to see if the imaging might show that things weren’t as bad as the doctors though, and things might end up ok. Unfortunately, it only showed more issues.
Our sweet little girl had quite a few issues. Her spine was twisted, her heart didn’t close completely, her stomach never developed, her lungs were filled with fluid, her skin was swollen, her intestines had been punctured by a rib, and she was paralyzed.
I couldn’t imagine how she was already in so much pain in the place where she was supposed to be the safest.
A little background on me – I am not typically a calm, measured person. I am passionate about everything. I react to things quickly and with a lot of emotion. I have emotional meltdowns when I get lost on the streets of Houston.
So it was actually an act of God that I didn’t lose my dang mind as I lost my little girl. My typical reaction would have been
anger rage. Just ask my husband how I act when he tries to give me directions when I do get lost.
God made it so clear to me during this loss that her life would not be forgotten and that He would do great things with her story.
Which is why I want to give encouragement to the moms out there who have lost a baby.
You Are A Mom.
One of the things that I struggled with for a while was feeling like I had lost the ability to take on an identity that I was so looking forward to becoming. But just because I don’t get to hold her in my arms does not mean that I am not a mother. Your baby has made you a mom no matter how long you carried them, whether that was 6 weeks or full term. You are a mom and nothing can ever change that.
It is NOT Your Fault.
Seriously. I asked every doctor for explanations and to tell me what I could have done to prevent this from happening. Even before we had the genetic diagnosis, each doctor said that there was no way to put me at fault. You couldn’t have done anything to cause your loss. Not diet, not getting a virus, not your genetics.
They will not be Forgotten.
This was actually my greatest point of stress. I feared that life would move on and everyone would forget that I had ever been pregnant and had been carrying a little life. Yes, there will be people who don’t say anything about your loss because it makes them uncomfortable. Don’t hold that against them. I don’t know that I would have known what to say to someone before it happened to me. But your little baby will not be forgotten, by you. And if you get to the point where you can talk about it, your baby won’t be forgotten by others either.
You are not Alone.
I cannot tell you how many people came to Eric and I and shared that they had also gone through a miscarriage or stillbirth. Like I said before, it is not a club anyone wants to be in, but it is the most supportive club I have ever joined. You are not the first person to go through this and sadly you won’t be the last. Lean on others who have walked the path you are walking now.
Share Your Story.
I think one of the worst things we can do when experiencing something as devastating as pregnancy loss, is to keep quiet about it. I know it hurts to talk about it at first, but it will get easier. And you have no idea who your story could impact and encourage. For me, sharing her story is helpful in making me realize that her life had so much purpose no matter how short it was.
And finally, Don’t be Afraid to Try Again.
The thought of trying to get pregnant again after you lose a baby can seem too emotional to bare for some. For others, it feels like becoming pregnant might ease the pain more quickly. I understand both sides, and to be open, my husband and I jumped on the try again immediately train. Do whatever seems best for you and your family. But I do encourage you, don’t let this keep you from ever trying again. Eric and I have a 75% chance of having a baby that is not effected by our dumb RYR1 gene. And for a while, all I could fixate on was the 25% chance that I would have to go through all of this devastation again. But in the months following the loss of our daughter, I realized that if it did happen again, God would use that baby’s story in a way that He is using the story of our little girl. And it will be amazing and it will be worth it.
Women who experience loss like this are so near to my heart. If you are going through this, I would love to talk to you and encourage you. You can email me at Mattie@growingthegivens.com if you would like, or you can comment below.
Today, March 29, 2016 is the due date we were given for our daughter when we found out we were pregnant with her at 6 weeks.
We named her Elizabeth Faith Givens and we still love her very much.