The words ring in my ears “your baby has no heartbeat.”
My mind raced as I shook with tears. What went wrong? Why was this happening? The technician got up to leave and I wanted to stop her and ask her to check again. Maybe she missed it. Maybe God would do a miracle and his heart would be beating again.
I wasn’t ready to let go of all my hopes and dreams for this little life I was carrying. Everything changed with 5 small words.
I’ve never been more intimate with death. My body had become a coffin holding that lifeless body.
We went straight to the hospital to deliver our 17-week-old baby. I was scared for what lay ahead. But in what felt like the darkest moment of my life, I knew the only way I would get through was with God’s strength. I ushered up silent prayers. Pleading with Him to do a miracle, but if that wasn’t His will, to calm my fears and just give me strength. There are no words to describe the immense peace I felt going into that hospital.
They gave us one final ultrasound to have a few pictures of him. It was different this time. I knew he was dead and seeing him lifeless inside me broke my heart.
And then it began.
They gave me my first dose of Cytotec and we waited. I stared at the clock hands going around and around, moving in and out of grief as each new contraction came and went. Tyler was the same, with moments where he would be ok and then moments when his body shook with grief.
17 hours later our sweet boy entered the world in still silence.
We were alone. No crying. No hospital staff rushing around to check vitals and get him cleaned up. I was afraid to look and see my precious baby who had died. The nurse came in, wrapped him in a blanket, and handed him to me.
He was perfect. 10 fingers. 10 toes. The sweetest little nose.
We had 6 hours with him. Just staring at his tiny features. Singing to him and praying. He was so cold. I wished that we could go back to when he was safe and warm in my belly. I didn’t want it to be over. But eventually, it was time to go home.
I was afraid again.
Afraid to walk out of this hospital empty-handed; to walk past the nursery where perfect, healthy babies were sleeping; to watch them take my baby away. “Where will they put him? Will he be safe? Will he be all alone? Please don’t take him away from me! I just want to keep him safe with me forever.” The nurse wheeled him out in his bassinet and that was the last time we saw our son.
We drove home. Silent, exhausted, trying to understand what had happened.
The days that passed were filled with sorrow but also precious joy as we spent time just soaking in time with our three children.
There were days when I wondered if I was doing grief “right”. How could I have joy and laughter with my children, but also grieve the loss of my son? But this is life with grief. I carry sorrow in one pocket and joy in another, and a lot of times they’re all tangled together.
Summer came and went and in August we found out I was pregnant again. At our initial ultrasound, more horrible news arrived. “There’s just nothing developing. I’m so sorry.” A week of monitoring hormones and a second ultrasound revealed another miscarriage. A “blighted ovum” the midwife said.
I went through two rounds of Cytotec and a final D&C when my body failed to pass everything. I wondered why God would allow me to get pregnant again, just to take it away. But again, the Lord answered me with a peace beyond understanding.
Through both losses, we were surrounded by family and friends. They brought meals and flowers and showered us with love and care. But I still felt alone in my journey. No one quite understood what we had endured. No one quite knew the pain my heart felt losing Zion and our other precious baby.
But God whispered to me “I’m here. I see. I know the innermost details of your heart. My hands were on both babies in your womb. I’ve been with you every step of the way.” I leaned in and poured out my heart to Him, trusting He would carry me through and that He was enough.
A speaker at my local Bible study recently said, “Allow God to change you, even though He may not change the situation.” So, I’m growing closer to Him, allowing Him to change me and praying He’ll use my journey for His glory. No matter the trials that may come, I know God loves me and will carry me through.
It’s no coincidence that today, Infant Loss Awareness Day, is Zion’s due date. It’s no coincidence that today I have the honor of sharing our story. My prayer is that you be encouraged. That if you’re walking the difficult road of infant loss and miscarriage, you feel less alone and have more hope.
Today, as I visit my son’s grave, I will grieve, but also rejoice in the fact that someday I will be reunited with him and his little brother or sister in Heaven. Until then, I will rest in the truth that they are both being held in the arms of Jesus.
Emily Perry lives in Alleman, Iowa, with her husband, Tyler, and three children, Naomi, Eli, and Valor. Previously a full-time graphic designer, she is now a full-time stay-at-home mom, but still enjoys doing a little graphic design on the side for her favorite shop, Knotted Fern. A favorite pastime of hers is painting and watercolor. She loves spending time outside with family and takes her camera with her everywhere. She enjoys collecting plants, antiques, and eggs from their backyard chickens.