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Joseph’s story

Not going to lie, I’ve been avoiding writing this blog. But it is time and I really think Joseph’s story deserves to be heard. If you’ve met me, you know I’m an open book but something is so weird writing about your child that isn’t here on the inter-webs for all to see. At the same time, I think it is a step towards healing and a part of grieving, so here it goes.

Last March, 2018 I noticed that it had been a while since I got my cycle. I was still nursing Joy so that really isn’t that crazy (she was only 14 months at the time) and I had only gotten my period I think twice since she had been born. I let it go for a while and around day 45 I decided to take a pregnancy test. My jaw literally dropped when I saw the two lines. To give a little back story we had never accidently gotten pregnant before. We had actively tried with all of our babies. After our first miscarriage, which was in August 2015, we knew we wanted another baby. We tried for 9 months before I decided to go hard core and did a very intense essential oil routine (hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). That being said, I didn’t even think it was in the realm of possibility that we would get pregnant without trying.

Now I know that pregnancy was the result of  my app incorrectly tracking my irregular cycle…but hey we weren’t mad. I found out only two days before our 8th anniversary so I waited and decided to tell Aaron by writing a poem in our anniversary card. I love watching the video of him reading the poem and figuring out what it was saying.  So much surprise!!

If you’ve ever experienced a miscarriage you know not to let yourself get too excited until after first trimester. So we waited…and waited…and waited. We heard that heartbeat and we saw that little body. We went back in for another appointment at 15 weeks where we got to hear that heartbeat again…I had no clue that that would be the last time I would hear our sweet little boy.

Because my prior three pregnancies had been girls, I was so sure that this one was a boy. My cravings were different, I felt different, everything was different. Looking back it could have been because something was wrong but I really didn’t think anything of it at the time. I was showing so early and around 8 weeks even guests at weddings were making comments.

That whole time I was learning how to be a mom of a toddler and a preschooler. Joy had only started walking when we found out we were pregnant so it was exhausting to say the least. I imagined what it would be like to add another babe to the mix of our crazy little life. Joy and this baby would only be 22 months apart, just like my brother and I are. Adam and I were always close growing up so I really was excited that Joy would get that even if it wasn’t exactly on purpose.

At 17 weeks, we decided we were far enough in the clear that it was okay to announce this pregnancy to the world. My mother in law took the sweetest picture of our family at the beach, even Joy was smiling. The girls were in their little matching outfits and everything was just perfect.

After we got back from the beach, we were counting down the days until our 20 week ultrasound, but first we popped into our doctor’s office for our monthly visit. At that point in the pregnancy you just go every 4 weeks to check in and hear the heartbeat. This visit typically takes less than 5 minute and then you go about your way.

I had both girls in tow and luckily since Aaron works in Towson he was able to come. I remember telling him he didn’t have to and it was going to be a short appointment, but he wanted to come. Thank GOD my husband came to that appointment, I literally don’t know what I would have done without him there.

I remember my doctor, whom we adore, pull up the doppler and look for the heartbeat. At 19 weeks you really should hear the heartbeat right away you don’t really have to look for it like you do at 12 weeks. She looked and she looked….and she looked. With every passing second my heart started pounding out of my chest. The only thing I remember saying outloud in those moments was “this can’t be happening!” She went to pull it up on the ultrasound just to check…I know my doctor and I know she would have immediately told me if she saw a heartbeat. She didn’t say anything, she just kept looking.  In that moment, I knew the baby was gone.  It was really one of the worst moments of my entire life.  Paisley and Joy were there and I didn’t want to lose my mind in front of them so I didn’t even cry.  Together as a family, we walked in disbelief out of the office to go to the perinatal center to confirm what we already knew.

In the moments we were waiting for the ultrasound tech at the perinatal center my mind was just going in circles.  I remember Aaron pulling Paisley out of the room and explaining what happened to the baby.  I swear, that God uses children in these moments to speak to us because that sweet little girl came into the waiting room, gave me a big hug and told me that it was going to be okay and that it was okay to be sad.

The ultrasound confirmed our fears, but what we didn’t know was that this little baby had already been gone for 3 weeks at that point.  He was measuring 16 weeks and 2 days and I should have been 19 weeks.  My body just had no clue, no physical signs of loss, no bleeding, no cramping.  Just a baby who had no heartbeat.

That was July 3rd and I had a big wedding July 7th.  I knew that I could just not shoot the wedding, I knew that this family would understand.  But…I really wanted to and there really was no reason that I couldn’t.  So we decided to schedule the induction for the morning of July 8th.

Do you know how weird it is going to Labor & Delivery when you know you aren’t coming home with your baby?  That was a very long, very hard walk down to the end of the hall.  I honestly cannot say enough kind words about the amazing nursing staff at St. Joes though.  They were so sensitive to everything we were going through.  They purposely put us in that room so it was away from the moms in labor, so we couldn’t hear the cries of healthy babies being born.  They gave us all the time we needed to answer questions and to just be in that moment.

Our induction was so different from my other ones…there was no IV, there was no checking in on the baby or you.  All they did was insert pills that would cause you to dilate and go into labor.  During the time we were waiting, two wonderful friends from our amazing church, Horizon Church of Towson, came and visited with us.  I just remember that time being very sweet, which is really weird to say. Missy and Kara prayed with us, cried with us, laughed with us, and just sat with us.  In those moments that was exactly what both Aaron and I needed.  Looking back all I remember is feeling so loved by them.

After that my wonderful friend and acupuncturist, Shannon, came.  You guys…Aaron and I really had never felt so much love and support than we did during that time.  Shannon did a treatment that would help induce labor and wow did it work.  During the treatment I started to go into active labor.  As soon as she took out the needles, my doctor came in and we delivered that little baby.

This is the hard part.  And maybe skip this paragraph as it may be difficult to read.  Because our little guy had been gone for almost 4 weeks by the time we delivered, he was so badly decomposed that our doctor advised us not to see him.  They also could barely tell that he was a boy, they probably examined him for a good 3-5 minutes before they confirmed.  Such a weird thing and sometimes I look back and regret not seeing him, but at the same time I really love and trust my doctor.  She obviously has been in this situation way more often and so we decided that she knew better than us in this case.  If we ever want to see him, the hospital did send us home with an SD card of pictures of him.  So that is comforting to know that we have photos if we every decide to look at them.

Speaking of the hospital, I again cannot say enough wonderful things about St. Joes.  They sent us home with hand knit blankets, a box full of sentimental things for our baby, a hand made blue teddy bear, a praying beanie baby animal and much more.  I had another friend who delivered a care package to the hospital as well.  We got his little footprints on a little canvas to always remember.  They have grief counselors that follow up with you as well.  And several months later St. Joe’s put on a truly touching service for all the babies lost too soon.

The next step after the delivery was to name this sweet little babe.  I knew I wanted a strong, traditional, biblical name which is kind of different from our girls’ names.  The funny thing is that while our doctor was making sure everything was out to avoid infection she was making small talk and actually suggested the name “Joseph.”   I really didn’t think too much of it, but as Aaron and I talked we kept coming back to it.  He was born at St. Joseph’s hospital and there were so many different Josephs in the Bible that did really amazing things.  That name had so much strength and it was so fitting for our little guy.  We ended up deciding on the middle name Allan because both mine and Aaron’s dad share that middle name.  When I got home I looked up the meaning and cried so many tears when I read what Joseph means.  The meaning is “to add another son,” which actually gave us a ridiculous amount of hope that our story doesn’t end here.

We went home….we hugged our living babies, we cried, we ate, we drank, we did all the things to try to wrestle with the fact that we weren’t pregnant and that we have a son who is not with us.  It REALLY sucked and it was REALLY weird, but I cannot even begin to describe to you how our community held us up during this time.  I really don’t think that I would even had been able to make it to the next day without them.  We had meal after meal delivered to our house, we had friends who asked questions and listened.  We had people who babysat so Aaron and I could go on dates.  We felt so much love and so many people who did things right.

Were there friends who didn’t reach out?  Were there people who knew about our loss, saw us and said nothing?  Were there family members who did not say one word or  still don’t even acknowledge our loss?  Yup…but I really don’t blame them, I blame our culture.  People don’t like to talk about sad things or things that are not comfortable.  I’m here to tell you when you don’t know what to say, literally all you have to say is that…I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY.  It’s okay to feel uncomfortable and to be awkward.  Trust me, some people were really awkward and stumbling over their words.  But man…did I appreciate them and their effort.  It was so so appreciated.

Overall, I’ve learned a lot about grief and that it absolutely comes in waves.  I honestly 100% believe that healthy babies don’t randomly die and that our sweet little Joseph would not have had a good life had he made it to the outside with a heartbeat.  I believe that we had this experience for a reason, even if it was terrible.

I find comfort in the fact that Joseph knew no pain and that the last voices he heard were his daddy’s, his sisters’ and his momma’s… loving on him every moment we got.  I’m pretty sure I know the exact moment he died, we were at the beach and if you know me you know that the beach is my happy place.  The place where the stress and worries melt away.  It comforts me to know that that is what he felt in those last moment.  Peace, joy, and love….and now he is experiencing all of those things with our Father in heaven.  Until we meet again sweet boy….we’ll always be loving you.

 

If you’re looking for advice on how to help a loved one who has miscarried, check out this blog by clicking here.  

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  • Christina - I am so proud of you for sharing your story and doing this post. I hope it brings you peace when you look back on and read.ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn Nordvedt - What an honor to read this. While I grieve with you over your loss I appreciate you sharing. Stories like these bring comfort to so many others that you may never even know about their loss(es), it gives courage to others to struggle to share their story and it give confidence to the one who just doesn’t know what to say. Your story and others like it shed light in the darkness. Enjoy this mother’s day weekend with your family here in the seen and feel the presence of one who waits to meet you in the unseen.ReplyCancel

    • Anna - Thank you so much for reading and for your encouragement….if it helps one person it was worth sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl arpasi - Anna, I put off reading this for a while. I am so glad I got to be with you all at the beach, and with little Joseph. I know what I’m feeling cannot even come close to the loss you feel. Your sharing your deepest hurts I know will help someone else experiencing this devastating type of loss. I love you and will keep you in my prayers. I imagine my grandma Geary and my mom taking care of the little babies.ReplyCancel

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