Rainbow Baby Newborn Photos Lisa Millerick Photography

Rainbow Baby Newborn Photos Lisa Millerick Photography

rainbow newborn baby pregnancy infant loss awareness hope after loss NILMDTS

Every now and then a personal project is a must in this creative world of photography.  For me, raising awareness about pregnancy and infant loss is a well-known passion of mine.  As a NICU nurse and photographer, I utilize my love and skills for families to provide heirloom photography during their time of tragedy.  As a volunteer for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, I am able to be invited in during a family’s darkest hours.  I am invited in to capture the details of their babies that they will cherish for a lifetime.  The gift I receive is far greater than the gift I can give back.  But, as I have learned from these families, I have grown to realize not enough time is spent talking about pregnancy and infant loss.  It is a rather taboo subject for many.  And, while I understand talking about loss is uncomfortable, it is also a very important and necessary part in the healing process.  1 in 4 pregnancies will result in miscarriage or stillbirth of their baby.  That number is staggering, which means many feel they are not able to share and speak of their loss.

This special series of photos is dedicated to raise awareness about pregnancy and infant loss.  These little babies gone too soon through miscarriage, stillbirth or during infancy are the rainbows of this world.  They truly are!  Many will refer to their siblings that follow them as Rainbow Babies, but I feel these babies are also truly the rainbows.  These babies allow their families and everyone they touch to gain perspective – perspective that life is a gift, our time is unknown and we need to embrace each and every day.  I know, that for me, each baby has touched my heart forever.  Each baby has made an impact that guides me in my life.  I am truly a better person for having met all of these families.  I have been graced with lifelong friends in many of them and, together, we have made a difference for other families by raising awareness or donating our time together.  None of which would have happened without their babies.

Please read below to learn about everyone’s journey.  I asked families to share whatever they felt comfortable with – long or short but just so they know their voices can be heard.  Not all are the same and everyone experiences grief so differently.  I hope these personal stories will help shed light on what it may feel like for a family going through the indescribable feelings they encounter during infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.  If you or your loved one have lost a child and need guidance please feel free to reach out to me for local Connecticut resources here or see below for a couple resources.  Thank you so much for all the families that have trusted me to help tell their story.  I truly hope together we can make a difference in this world!

 

Baby Amelia –

rainbow newborn baby pregnancy infant loss awareness hope after loss NILMDTS

“Our first baby, Evan, was born July 4, 2016, at 41 weeks, ruddy and chubby (9lbs!) and pink and beautiful. We got to snuggle him for just 8 hours before we lost him unexpectedly to HIE on the following day. It was devastating, and the time that Evan was with us is so fiercely special to me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I’d do it all over again without a second thought.

Our rainbow baby, Amelia, arrived 15 months later, on October 7, 2017 at 7lbs, every bit as beautiful and wonderful as her big brother, and we are so in love.

In the two weeks since we’ve met Amelia, we’ve experienced the incredible joy and relief that comes with bringing home a rainbow baby, and also loss and grief for what should still be. It’s important to us for others to understand that we are now proud parents of not one, but two perfect babies: Amelia close by, and Evan, just out of sight.”

 

 

Baby Camron –

rainbow newborn baby pregnancy infant loss awareness hope after loss NILMDTS

“Well growing up as an only child and always having this overwhelming nurturing side, I always knew that I wanted to have a large family. I had my first son at 18 and never married so I spent many years focused on him, my education and my career as a firefighter. The years just flew by. When I was 31, I went in to discuss fibroid removal and was told at if I wanted to have more kids I better do it soon because I am probably running out of time. I decided that even though I was single I wanted to expand my family and looked into fertility treatments. I had my son Kaiden at 33 after my first try with IUI even though I was told that I had only about a 20% chance of it working.

Then I decided to try again at 35 and after 3 tries at IVF I became pregnant with twins. We were elated to think we were going to have two new additions to the family. I have always wanted a daughter and thought maybe I would have one this time . I picked out names and started buying twin baby gear etc…. Unfortunately at my 12 week ultrasound I found out that we lost one of the babies. It was a very painful for me because I had this picture of my babies and imagined them growing up together and just the future with my twins and their brothers. I know that some people don’t understand how it could hurt so much since the baby was not born but I felt a tremendous loss and spent the rest of my pregnancy in fear of losing the other baby too. Doctors couldn’t explain why it happened and apparently it happens often in the beginning months of pregnancy.

After a very hard and traumatic pregnancy and birth baby Camron was born on October 7th at 8lbs1oz and 20inches long at St Francis hospital and he is doing great. His brothers and I love him very much and now our family is complete.”

 

Baby Sienna –

rainbow newborn baby pregnancy infant loss awareness hope after loss NILMDTS

“Last fall, my husband and I excitedly decided to expand our family. Not only did the prospect of another baby fill us with joy, but the idea of seeing our darling 2 year old son, Weston, blessed with a younger sibling brought us an extreme amount of happiness as well. The day I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to surprise my husband with the news when he got home from work. I picked up Weston from daycare, zoomed to the store, and got him a t-shirt with the words “Awesome Big Brother” stretching across the front.  I was hoping to have daddy see Wes in the shirt when he got home, but unfortunately he ended up having to work late that night. So to improvise, I put Weston to bed in the t-shirt and when daddy went to get him out of his crib in the morning, he couldn’t have been more happy with the news!

Fast forward six weeks later, I had already squeaked the pregnancy news to my best friend and a few close colleagues of mine. I remember the exact moment it happened. It was a Sunday morning and there was no denying what was happening to my body…to my baby. My heart utterly shattered. How could this be happening to me? My first pregnancy was so healthy. I just don’t understand. What did I do to cause this? Is it the cold I have? Did I sneeze too hard while lying on my stomach? So many irrational thoughts and blame flooded my mind trying to make sense of this catastrophic event. I found myself crying in the shower at the thoughts of my baby escaping me. Physically feeling the reality of what was occurring as I went about my day trying to cope while simultaneously trying to put on a happy face for my students (I am a middle school special education teacher).

I know people recommend you don’t disclose your pregnancy until around 8 weeks, “in case something happens.” To that I have to disagree. If I didn’t share my initial news with my best friend and close colleagues, I would not have been able to overcome this tragedy without their outpouring support. I will never forget going to work on that Monday, eyes swollen and red from crying, face blotchy, I couldn’t hide the pain and heartache I felt. My coteacher immediately sensed something was wrong and when I told her the devastating news, she wrapped her arms around me and gave me a hug that just emanated with strength, support, and love. I received more of those empowering embraces as I shared my loss with the rest of my close colleagues. Each one giving me the strength and courage to continue through the next hour…day…week…month. As I shared my grief and my story, more and more people I worked with shared their stories of loss and battles with infertility. I never felt alone in this because I wasn’t afraid to tell others what happened to me and I embraced every kind, encouraging, and supportive word I was given. Each made me stronger and filled me with the optimism that one day I will have my second baby…my beautiful rainbow baby.

Just shy of one year later, my husband and I welcomed our lovely Sienna into this world. She truly is the beauty that followed the ugliness of a storm. She is and will always be our blessed rainbow baby.”

 

 

Baby Ariana and Baby Jacob –

rainbow newborn baby pregnancy infant loss awareness hope after loss NILMDTS

rainbow newborn baby pregnancy infant loss awareness hope after loss NILMDTS

“About six months into trying to conceive, I was diagnosed with a medical condition that made it hard for us to get pregnant on our own. We didn’t anticipate to be one of the 1 in 8 couples who struggle with infertility, but here we were.  For almost two years there were multiple blood draws, doctors appointments, procedures and failed treatments.  There were never-ending heartbreaking inquires as to when we would have children…a question we didn’t know for sure would have an answer.  With each pregnancy announcement we witnessed we longed for it to be our turn to experience such joy.

Eventually we found ourselves pursuing in vitro fertilization (IVF).  IVF, while not a guarantee for conception, felt like a golden ticket in some ways – and I held on to this idea that we would finally be able to move forward and our bundle of joy would soon be joining us.  This idea was further reinforced when we became pregnant after our first IVF cycle.  It was the first time I had seen those double pink lines and we were ecstatic.  A couple days later I went in for my first blood pregnancy test which again confirmed that I was pregnant.  We had finally made it… or so I thought.  Two days after the first blood draw, I went in for a second with the anticipation that my numbers would have doubled as they are supposed to.  But they did not.  They only went up a slight amount and the nurse delivering the news expressed that it was likely we were experiencing an early pregnancy loss (known in the medical community as a chemical pregnancy).  Another blood draw a couple days later confirmed this to be the case.  We were devastated and heartbroken.  Angry that something we worked so hard for and finally received was so quickly taken away.  I sobbed in my husband’s arms at how unfair it all was.

We decided to move forward with another IVF cycle as soon as we were able, but I felt defeated and hopeless.  Our second cycle failed and I again found myself wondering if we would ever receive our happy ending.  Our third IVF cycle we decided to increase our odds and transfer two embryos instead of one as we had the prior two cycles.  To our pleasant surprise, both embabies implanted and began growing as expected.  The pregnancy itself was pretty uneventful but for a long time I struggled with the fear of it all being taken away again; almost like waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Pregnancy after infertility and loss can be a real emotional struggle, but I found support groups, an online community and friends with similar journeys to help me along the way.  I celebrated and embraced each small milestone to help me get to the next.  And just a few short weeks ago, our beautiful double rainbow entered the world, healthy and perfect in every way.  We feel so blessed to have them in our lives and are eternally grateful to have finally made it to the other side of the storm.”

 

Baby Olivia –

rainbow newborn baby pregnancy infant loss awareness hope after loss NILMDTS

“My second pregnancy came as a surprise. I had a feeling I was pregnant and was able to get a positive pregnancy test quite early on. I was anxious about having another baby because my first was not even 1 yet. Despite my worries, I instantly loved this baby. My first pregnancy went very well without any complications, so I figured it would go the same. Only a select few knew I was pregnant. We were waiting for that “safe week” to announce. Shortly after 6 weeks I noted some spotting. I was sent for blood work and that was it. October 15th 2016 I started with heavy cramping and heavier bleeding. I called my OBGYN only to be told what I already knew/feared, “You are having a miscarriage”. I was fighting back the tears during the call and once it was over I instantly broke down. Even though I was just over 6 weeks, it still really hurt. You start to think “What did I do to cause this?” We kept quiet about it for some time. I started to talk about it more and more. I don’t know why miscarriage is such a “hush hush” thing. I felt better when I did talk about it because it acknowledged the pregnancy, which it was real for me.

When I became pregnant with my rainbow baby, I do have to say it was a different feeling compared to my first. Every little thing/symptom had me worried that something was wrong. I know with each new pregnancy I will always have that fear that it will happen again. I still enjoyed my pregnancy but in a different way. Now I have my rainbow baby and love her dearly.”

 

The following stories are stories from families who I have personally served in my volunteer role.  They have shared their journey and their newest babies with me and I am grateful they are willing to share their journey with the world.

Baby Aniyah –

rainbow newborn baby pregnancy infant loss awareness hope after loss NILMDTS

“What was supposed to be the happiest time in our lives turned out to be our worst nightmare. A moment in time that will be engraved in our heart for the rest of our lives.

On January 5, 2014, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby. We were over the moon to finally be able to start a family of our own. Several months later we were scheduled for an anatomy scan. My husband’s prayers were answered. We found out we were having a healthy baby boy. I don’t think there was a happier man on the face of the earth than my husband was that day. He was ecstatic we were having a “mini Anthony”.
The weeks and months to follow were full of excitement and anticipation as we prepared for our son’s arrival. Sadly, that would all change in the blink of an eye.

On Wednesday, September 3rd, I awoke to what I thought would be a normal day. But something was off. I couldn’t feel our son move. I tried not to worry as I had previously heard this was common toward the end of pregnancies. The more a baby grows the less room they have to move. So I decided to make myself breakfast thinking having food in my belly would stimulate him. But it didn’t. I made a call to my doctor , to be on the safe side, told them what was going on. They thought it was best I come in as soon as I could. For some reason, I wasn’t worried. Death never crossed my mind. I remember calling my husband on my way there and telling him they were having me come in just to make sure everything was okay with the baby and him telling me not to worry, that everything was going to be fine. I also remember talking to my son the entire ride there asking him to wake up for mommy and stop being such a sleepy head.

I arrived at my doctors office and was immediately taken to a room. I was quickly hooked up to NST monitors to check how the baby was doing and to check if he was under any stress. But there was no audible heart beat. We couldn’t hear anything. That’s when I knew something was terribly wrong, I just had a feeling. I remember the nurse continued to search for a heart beat for what felt like an eternity. But still there was nothing. All she kept saying was, “he must be having a slow day.” But I could tell by the look on her face something wasn’t right. I went ahead and asked her if something was the matter she’d tell me, right? Her response was, “of course.” I, myself, working in the medical field, knew if something was wrong the doctors would be the ones to come in and tell me but in that moment that’s all I could ask. She decided to do an ultrasound. As soon as I saw my baby on the monitor, I knew exactly where to look. My baby’s heart was no longer fluttering. My heart sank. A deep pain took over my entire body. A pain that not in a million years will I be able to verbalize. Gut wrenching pain. Immediately, the tears started to fall down my face. The nurse looked at me said she’d be right back and quietly stepped out of the room. Moments later not one but two doctors came in. They both looked at the screen, said a few words amongst themselves and that’s when they turned to me and said “we’re so sorry.” “Your. Baby. Is. Gone.” Gone?! How?! Why?! I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of their mouths. No! Not our baby! What could have possibly gone wrong? I had just had an ultrasound a few days prior and our son was as healthy as can be. How was I going to tell Anthony our baby was no longer with us? That our son was gone. Every imaginable emotion invaded my body. I was shocked, hurt, angry. I didn’t want to believe our son was really gone.

At this time the nurse came back into the room. I asked her if she could please call Anthony and have him come right away. I didn’t want to be the one to make the call because I didn’t want him to hear the state I was in. After all, he had a half hour drive from his place of employment to where I was and it just wouldn’t be safe for him to drive after learning such awful news. Telling my husband was extremely difficult. I felt like I let him down. Like I had failed him as his wife and as the mother of his child.

I was induced the next morning. Alijah Alexander Brown was born on September 4th at 7:30 am just 10 days away from his due date. He was born with the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around his neck. This is what ultimately took our boys life. Alijah was the most beautiful perfect baby boy I had ever seen. A perfect little nose and beautiful full lips. Ten little fingers and ten little toes. I was so happy to finally meet him but so deeply sad at the same time. I would never get the opportunity to look into those tiny little eyes. Alijah looked so much like his daddy. At least to me he did. We spent the next several hours loving Alijah, hugging him, kissing him, memorizing every single detail of his little face, hands and feet and sharing him with our family. A family friend was gracious enough to come and take photos of our boy. Leaving us with memories we will cherish a lifetime.

Later that day, we gave Alijah back to his nurse Kristiana. I have never seen my husband break down in tears the way he did at that moment. Letting him go was by far one of the hardest things we had to do. Knowing we’d be leaving the hospital without him was difficult to bare. We had a small funeral service and buried our boy next to my grandmother. It was comforting to know he wouldn’t be alone. Though I knew his soul was in heaven with our Heavenly Father and that one day I would see Alijah again.

The days and weeks to follow were flooded with calls, texts, visits and cooked meals, which we appreciated so very much. We were surrounded by a group of such loving family and friends. But as time went on all that became less and less. We realized that this would be our new normal and we truly only had each other to get through these difficult months ahead.

Thankfully, I was able to stay home from work for three months. Anthony went back a week later, by choice. Him and I are so different in many ways. He needed to keep his mind occupied. That’s what helped him and I understood it. I, on the other hand, wanted to isolate myself from the world. I wanted to stay in the comforts of my four walls. I was so afraid to bump into anyone. To have to explain what had happened to Alijah. I used these few months of isolation to get closer to God. To rebuild my relationship with Him. Something I had somehow drifted away from. I can honestly say that it was Gods love and mercy that helped me get through some of my darkest days. If it wasn’t for Him I don’t know where I’d be today.

Anthony and I knew we so desperately wanted to be parents again. So after several months we finally had THAT talk. We agreed that I had given my body enough time to heal from Alijah’s pregnancy and that although the pain from losing him was still very present we thought we were mentally and emotionally ready to try again. We knew it wouldn’t be an easy road but it was one we were willing to take.

It was late March and I hadn’t been feeling myself lately. Kind of like how I did when we found out I was pregnant the first time. Anthony was away on a business trip in California so I’d be home alone for the next week. I had just gotten off an exhausting 12 hour overnight shift in the hospital and decided to stop by the pharmacy to purchase a home pregnancy test. I rushed to get home as I couldn’t wait to find out if we were pregnant again. I took one of the tests and waited the allotted time. The anticipation was killing me. Thankfully the results showed up relatively quickly. I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. It was positive! We were having another baby! I was so happy and nervous all at the same time. I called Anthony forgetting it was 4:30 in the morning California time. He picked up and I excitedly told him the good news. He groggily replied, “that’s great babe. I’ll be praying for the baby and you do the same.” Prayer soon became our best friend for the months to follow.

I’d be lying if I said this pregnancy was smooth sailing. It was the most nerve wracking time for us. From the moment we found out she was a girl until the moment we had her in our arms. We weren’t going to find out the gender. But the planner in me needed to know. I’ll be honest, the day we found out, deep down, I was a bit disappointed. This meant we’d have to start all over again. We were prepared for a boy not a girl. That same day I went shopping for girl items but this time I did something different. I didn’t bring anything home with me. I stored everything I bought along the way at my mothers house. I just couldn’t bare something going wrong again and having all these things in our home.

This time around we were monitored very closely. I was considered high risk so not only did I see my OB quite frequently but also maternal fetal medicine specialists. Such close monitoring was extremely comforting. We also did some monitoring of our own. For our peace of mind, Anthony bought us a fetal doppler. This meant I could hear our daughters heart beat whenever I wanted. You have no idea how this came in handy. It truly became our security blanket.

On November 17th at 11:07 am Aniyah Alexandra Brown was born. She was the prettiest baby girl I had ever laid eyes on. Head full of hair, rosy pink cheeks, and beautiful full lips. I couldn’t believe she was actually here in our arms and we were taking her home. This time we weren’t leaving with empty arms. The joy, the gratitude, the happiness Anthony and I felt was overwhelming. With Aniyah, came healing. I’m not saying that because of her we forgot about our boy. No. We will never forget Alijah. In fact, we think of him every day. But she helped heal our broken heart.

Through Aniyah’s arrival, God reminded me of his promises for my life. He reminded me that after every storm, there’s always a rainbow of hope. I thank Him daily for my sweet girl and pray He takes care of her always. He sent her at the perfect time in our lives. A time I thought only sorrow existed.

It’s been three years since Alijah’s passing. We think of him daily and talk of him often. If you would have asked me, three years ago, where I’d be today, it certainly would have been a bit different. But now I wouldn’t change the adversaries we went through. It made Anthony and I stronger and it gave us our beautiful Aniyah. She’s changed our life for the better. Life can be our worst enemy at times but it can also bring us the most beautiful things to ever happen to us.”

 

Baby Antonea –

rainbow newborn baby pregnancy infant loss awareness hope after loss NILMDTS

“There are no words to accurately articulate what it is to lose a child; literally there is no word for a parent who has lost a child. Maybe that is the case in point: a tragedy so sad that it goes unspoken.

Very simply here is our story: Pregnancy. Loss. Heartbreak. Uncertainty. Hope. Anxiety. Rainbow. Remembrance. Gratitude. Fear. Love.

Just shy of 36 weeks pregnant, we were at what we thought was the last routine ultrasound before the birth of our second child. The ultrasound tech excused herself and came back with the doctor who delivered the news that our baby’s heart had stopped beating. It felt like time stood still in those moments, yet the hours, days and even weeks that followed all felt like a blur.

With the support of our family, we navigated the path forward head-on. We went home to pack our bags for the hospital, though it was strange. Do we pack anything for the baby? We did. Do we bring a camera? We didn’t.

With a blessing from our priest, pitocin more intense than I would care to endure and strength that can only be described as from Nicholas’ spirit, we delivered our stillborn son early on the morning of December 11, 2015. 5lbs. 19oz. and 18 inches. All of the testing on Nicholas and me came back clear, “normal.” There was no indication of what caused his stillbirth.

We held him, talked to him, sang to him, kissed him and thankfully took a few photos (with our phones) to remember that he was real, in the midst of something that felt unreal.

We walked out of the hospital with a white remembrance box and our bags. Same pregnancy. Same delivery. No baby. Weird.

We connected with Hope After Loss and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep the day after we came home.   Both organizations have been instrumental in our path forward. After the funeral services and burial of our son, it felt strange to celebrate the holidays, but we did. Despite our uncertainty of what the future would hold, we did our best to “be normal,” but really we now live a new normal.

We were hopeful to get pregnant again and bring a healthy baby home. Instead, we got pregnant and had an early miscarriage. We got pregnant again and held the hope every day. Each milestone gave us more hope (and sometimes more angst). We welcomed our Rainbow Baby, Antonea Estelle, to our family April 21, 2017.

Gavin, our four year old son, has been our light. He gave us more reason to hope and helped to buoy our spirits and hearts during a time of despair. It now brings us so much joy to see Gavin and Antonea interact and love one another.

We remember and honor Nicholas every day. We are grateful for him; for the perspective that he has given to us and for blessing us with Antonea’s safe arrival. Nicholas will always be our second born, a child we love, as we love our living children, we just express that love in a different way. Sometimes seemingly innocent conversations hurt and our grief will re-surface. Sometimes, we opt to keep Nicholas and his story to ourselves. He’s our angel and we can make that choice. Today we choose to share Nicholas and his legacy with you. If you feel compelled, we welcome you to perform a random act of kindness to spread love in the spirit of our Little St. Nicholas. When you feel a strong gust of wind, know that is him saying “Thank You.”

 

Baby Eloise –

rainbow newborn baby pregnancy infant loss awareness hope after loss NILMDTS

While this family couldn’t share their story in their own words, they have given me permission to do so from my perspective.  I think this will give you an opportunity to see it from an outside perspective.

I met Eloises’ moms during a prenatal class they attended.  I was the teacher at Babies R Us and they were excitedly awaiting the arrival of their baby girl.  We hit it off and talked for quite a long time after class.  We had an immediate connection and we wouldn’t find out why until a few weeks later.  During my prenatal teaching, I never brought up that I am a photographer for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.  I felt it is a time to share joy and, only if the topic comes up, would I openly talk about.  But, I did hand out my newborn photography business cards in case anyone had any interest.  I left them on the table and a few were taken.  I am so very grateful to have done so.

What would follow a few weeks later was an email that, their daughter, Aveline Charlotte, no longer had a heartbeat at just over 23 weeks pregnant.  They were reaching out to see if I knew anyone that would be willing to photograph their little girl to capture all her beautiful details.  It was in that moment, I realized fate has pulled us together.  I explained my volunteer work and said it would be a beautiful honor to come take photographs of their time spent with their daughter.

Entering the hospital room of a grieving family is so very difficult.  Grief and shock comes in all forms.  Sometimes, it is through silence.  Sometimes, loud gut-wrenching cries.  Sometimes, it is smiles with no tears.  Sometimes, it is disbelief.  Sometimes, it is anger.  Sometimes, it is through a warm embrace.  What I have learned is to never judge.  Never judge how a family is handling crisis.  It is an out of body experience and one that no one can imagine unless they are in it.  From Aveline’s family, I received a warm welcome.  I shared in their tears and I shared in their joy as they looked over their little girls perfect features.  I captured them one by one.  In many ways, I feel I am a vehicle to get families to see their children in the most normal way possible despite what they are going through.  We talk about their beauty, I capture their hands, their feet.  The families touch their babies in the most loving ways – all because a camera is capturing these moments.  But, in reality, this isn’t about a camera.  This is about creating memories with their child.  This is about remembering that their baby only knew love, only knew care and compassion and that this family only gave love and care and compassion to their baby.  My camera is a vehicle to touch and love your baby during tragedy.  Aveline only knew love here and I am honored to have been able to capture that for her family.

I know this was a devastating loss for her family.  We kept in touch and became friends.  If a family keeps in touch with me after the loss of their baby, I welcome them into my life.  I love the connection we have and let our relationship build.  I won’t reach out to a family, because quite honestly, I know I can also be the source of a painful and dark time.  However, I am grateful this family has chosen to become part of my life. Each family that does teaches me more and more about the journey of loss and hope after loss.  I have become more compassionate and understanding because of their babies and their vulnerability to allow me in during such a dark time in their lives.

Less than 1.5 years later, Eloise was welcomed into this world.  She is a beautiful and healthy baby girl.  In this photo above, you will see her holding her Molly Bear.  Molly Bears creates weighted teddy bears for families coping with any form of infant loss. I think it is a beautiful gift that this bear is the same weight as their baby girl Aveline.

What I have learned is that grief doesn’t end with your Rainbow Baby.  In fact, many times, it makes families realize all the firsts they will never witness with their baby they lost.  However, the love felt for these babies that follow is fierce and real and enjoyed to its fullest potential.  I can see that incredible love in every family that I encounter.  And I am grateful to have been part of their journey too.  These babies and families have made me a better and more compassionate person and I will continue to love and honor them through my volunteer work always.

 

 

Jill’s Angels – held in her heart but never in her arms –

rainbow newborn baby pregnancy infant loss awareness hope after loss NILMDTS

Jill is my best friend since birth.  I asked her to share her journey of loss.  While I was there for her, as she mentions, I truly don’t think anyone can understand the effect loss after loss can have on you emotionally unless you go through it.  I am honored to have a friend in her and thank her for sharing her story below.  Not all of us will have the happy ending we dream of and, although, it is a harsh reality, it is one that deserves to be shared.  Jill is a beautiful friend who enjoys her family and her life in a way many wouldn’t think possible after so many losses.  Her and her husband’s strength and will to survive is a testament to their beauty inside and out.

 

“I was 28. I had battled stage 4 endometriosis since I was 15 and old enough to have my period. I had so many surgeries I lost count. I never thought about the effect that could have on my fertility. I just figured I could have children and there wouldn’t be an issue.   When my husband Chris and I decided it was time to have a baby, I went and saw my Ob-Gyn and told him I wanted to try. He said “Jill, you know the chances of having a baby are slim right?” “I have to be truthful with you.” Those words really didn’t enter my brain. I’m a woman, I’m meant to birth children.

After only one month of trying, I knew right away I was pregnant. I didn’t need a test to confirm, but I can remember going to CVS early in the morning and then driving to my husbands work to tell him the good news. Never once did I even think that I could not have this baby. It was too easy!

Charlie was born in 2004, and was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He was perfect in every way. My pregnancy was uneventful, his birth was easy. He was a good baby. Life was perfect.

Charlie was about 2 ½ when we decided it was time to have another baby. It would be so easy we figured. That’s why we waited until what we thought would be a good age difference between our children.

Again, we tried. Again, I knew right away I was pregnant. Call it a women’s intuition, I just “knew” Again, we were ecstatic. We told everyone we knew. We even told Charlie he was going to be a big brother and there was a baby growing in my belly. Things seemed great. I was nauseated, just like with Charlie. I felt sick 24/7. Everyone said this was a sign of a healthy pregnancy. Around 5 weeks I began to bleed. I called the doctor, in a panic, I figured I was having a miscarriage. My best friend Lisa was probably the first call I made. Her husband, being an OB-Gyn, they were my go to. Everyone assumed this was just some “break through bleeding” pretty normal actually. I went and saw my doctor and they ran some hormone levels. It turned out, they were extremely high. We actually joked it could be twins. Nothing to worry about. “Completely normal” But still, my gut told me something wasn’t right. It was around 7 weeks, the bleeding continued. My levels seemed to keep increasing, so they still figured this was normal. Finally, when I began to have some pain, I called and insisted to be seen. An ultra sound determined the pregnancy was ectopic.

“You need to have surgery right away” “This could be deadly” I can’t even remember what transpired after that, but what I do remember from that experience is that after my baby was removed from my right fallopian tube, the doctor showed my husband. I’ll never forget the pain in his eyes. Or the tears that streamed from his face. But me, my only concern was “ when could I try again”

After my body healed we were given the go ahead. We were told that after an ectopic, the chances were high it could happen again. I told myself it wouldn’t. That was a fluke. Again, not surprisingly, I was pregnant after my first try. It became a joke. “Fertile Myrtle”

Now I was considered high risk. As soon as I hit 6 weeks the doctors scheduled an ultra sound to make sure the baby was in the uterus, not the tube. I’ll never forget that appointment. “Your baby is exactly where it should be”

Just like the other times, I was sick 24/7. No bleeding. I even felt like I was needing maternity clothes by 7 weeks. We joked “twins” I bought some elastic waist pants and was on top of the world. I even dreamed I was having another boy. Started thinking about names. At 11 weeks I went in for a routine exam. Heard the heartbeat and that sound was the most amazing sound to me. I made it through 11 weeks. I heard a heartbeat. My baby was surviving.

The next day I was scheduled for my first trimester screening. I packed up the car with my then almost 3 year old and off to the hospital I went. My husband was working and I told him I’d be fine, no need to come. Everything is fine, I’ll be home for Charlie’s nap. The doctor came in and explained what they would be doing at this appointment. Listen to the heartbeat, do an ultrasound and do some 12 week marker tests. What happened next seems now like a blur. But hearing those words “We can’t find a heartbeat” “Let’s do an ultra sound”

By then I was in hysterics. I called my best friend while I was lying on the table. “Lisa, how can this be?” “They heard a heartbeat yesterday” “What do I do?”

She called my husband for me, because at that point I couldn’t speak. I was 12 weeks. How could this be??

Charlie by then, was walking around the hospital waiting room and saying “baby no heartbeat” “There’s no baby in Mommy’s tummy”

I went home and was told to rest, and the next day I’d have a D&C. What? Go home and rest? Like some kind of cruel joke, I went home, with my baby dead inside and woke up the next morning and had surgery to remove my baby. All I could think about was WHEN could I try again. This had to be behind me. The first was ectopic, the second there was no explanation. Could be anything they said. But in a few weeks, your body will heal and you can try again.

It started to become a joke with everyone I knew. It was like I could walk by my husband and get pregnant. Getting pregnant wasn’t the problem. It was keeping it. Was it the one coffee I’d have in the morning? Was it the tuna I had eaten? I tortured myself. I tortured Lisa, and probably asked more questions than she could handle. There was no better cheerleader than her.

I was sick again, it seemed like I couldn’t get through the day without vomiting. I barely ate. This too made me nervous because for me, it wasn’t a good sign like everyone said. I sailed along. No bleeding. No pain, and I again scheduled my 12 week routine first trimester screening. This time, we had a babysitter for Charlie and my husband drove me. “It’ll be fine.” Again, when trying to detect a heartbeat, there was none. “WHY?” “Why was this happening to me?”   My doctors said they wouldn’t do any testing. It was more normal for them to begin testing after 3 consecutive losses. I was told to either try again or consult with a fertility specialist.

You know what happened next? I was pregnant.

This all seems so much like a blur to me. Because looking back on it now I don’t know where I got any of my strength from. Again, we suffered a devastating loss. At 13 weeks, there was no heartbeat detected. This time I insisted they don’t let me go home. I couldn’t sleep through the night this time with a dead baby inside me. Nobody seemed to understand. I wanted it out. They listened.

I went again to the outpatient surgery center. I was on a first name basis with the anesthesiologist at this point. Dr. A. He and I joked, I just wanted a little “extra” in my IV so I could numb my pain for a bit. I tend to wake up quickly after being put out. I hated that. When I woke up, I was reminded. My baby was gone. How could this be.? Why was this happening to me again?

Finally, I underwent some testing. Those tests revealed that I had 3 blood clotting disorders. I have Factor V leiden mutation, Anti-thrombin 3 and Protein S deficiency. Was this the reason? But no clear answers were given. I was advised to go on blood thinners the second I became pregnant again.

Again, pregnant after one try. So many women have difficulty GETTING pregnant. I was so fertile. But was I? This time I began giving myself daily injections of Lovenox. As the needles filled my empty laundry detergent bottles, I assured myself that this was what was going to give me a baby. With a bruised stomach to resemble a diabetic giving insulin, I again went for a 12 week screening. Again, there was no heartbeat.

At this point my husband said we should give up. We had a beautiful boy. We had a perfect son. He is enough. But while I knew he was enough and I knew he was perfect, I needed another baby. I wasn’t giving up. I became obsessed. It was all I thought about. I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy any of my pregnant friends. In being perfectly honest, I felt like a horrible person. What kind of person isn’t happy for their friends and family having babies. I made excuses not to attend baby showers. I made no eye contact with pregnant women. I hated them actually.

I began a journey at UCONN Health Center. They were the best fertility experts I was told. If anyone could get you a baby, it’s them. They wanted to do some special genetic testing that would cost $5,000 dollars. We looked to our family for help. I don’t know if everyone just felt sorry, or truly wanted to help but we got the money.

I began the grueling in vitro meds. Shooting myself with different drugs, becoming a person I didn’t even know. “Why was I doing this?” My husband, my rock told me at any point I could give up. I couldn’t give up. I was a woman, and I was put on this earth to have babies. If they couldn’t tell me WHY I couldn’t, I’ll keep trying. We had a failed round of IVF. I didn’t even produce enough eggs to get to the point of retrieval. Devastated, my doctor, the one everyone told me could get me a baby, looked in my eyes and said he was sorry. He told me to go home, and just have fun trying. He told us that we shouldn’t waste our time on fertility treatments and to just go home and try again naturally.

We were pregnant again about 2 months later. But this time I was bleeding right away, and being high risk, they didn’t mess around. I had an ultra sound and it was determined that I was in fact having another ectopic pregnancy. I was rushed into surgery that night, and that time I lost my left fallopian tube. The chances of having a baby at this point were very slim. Yet, I still wouldn’t give up. I lost so much of my life those years. Obsessed with having a baby, or just angry at God for not giving me one.

In 2009 I suffered the biggest loss of all. My Mom, my world, was taken tragically from me. All this loss. How could God do this to me?

But somehow, I felt like maybe my Mom would watch over me if I became pregnant again.

About a month after my Mom passed, I was in fact pregnant again. Maybe she was working her magic from the other side. I remember spending hours at the cemetery, begging her to help me if she could. But this time I lost the baby at 7 weeks. Maybe she was taking care of me from the other side. Maybe it was time to quit.

I will never understand or know why I was never able to have another baby. I will say that those were the worst days of my life. I lost about 5 years of my life. Even considered adoption at one point. My husband, again, my rock was doing whatever it was I wanted. He was content with our son, but knew deep down it wasn’t enough for me. When he finally told me that he couldn’t adopt a baby because he was scared somehow we’d lose that child too, I somehow found it within me to give up.

I made the decision to give up my fight. I will never forget the appointment when I discussed options of stopping. I cried in the arms of my OB-Gyn. She told me I was strong, and I was a fighter. Her words meant nothing at the time, because I was conceding.

I made an appointment to have an ablation and end my fertility, or lack there of……….

I began to heal. I began to forgive God. I began to look at my son in a different light. He is a true miracle and a gift from God. He is meant to be here and to do great things. I was meant to be his Mommy, and Chris was meant to be his Daddy.

It’ll never be easy when someone asks, “Do you have other children?” “Is he your only?” I want to tell them my story. At times, I’m angry at them for even asking. However, my story is my own. I’ll never know the reason for the things I went through. I will never know why my body failed to do the thing most women can do so easily. I survived the worst days of my life.

I have my family to thank.   My husband, who stood by me during our darkest hours. My best friend Lisa, who provided me with hope, and encouragement and for being the shoulder I could cry on more times then I could count. I thank my son, Charlie for being my true miracle, and for teaching me every single day how precious life is, and how much of a gift children are. Most of all I thank my Mom, for teaching me how to love, and how to prevail and for always guiding me with her love.

Life is good, I have what I need. I survived.”

 

A sincere and heartfelt thank you to all who have shared their stories.  I believe we are stronger together and thank you for being vulnerable and open to sharing your feelings.  You and your babies will always have a beautiful impact here on Earth.  

 

Hope After Loss is a wonderful local organization here in Connecticut.  Hope After Loss, formerly the Hygeia Foundation, is a community of women and men who grieve the loss of a pregnancy or infant. Through peer support, burial assistance, education, and awareness initiatives, we provide connections, comfort, and care to those who have experienced the loss of a baby.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is available nationwide through local volunteer photographers and its mission is to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture.

For more information about me feel free to look here as to why I do what I do.

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  • BaotranNovember 2, 2017 - 4:02 pm

    An absolutely beautiful project, I loved reading your experiences and the stories shared. Just beautiful! ReplyCancel

  • N Wiening Photography LTDNovember 2, 2017 - 11:16 pm

    Wow!! What can I say. What a lovely project to have captured. My daughter came early and I was always worried I would loose her but I didn’t. There isn’t a moment to date that I don’t value having a precious daughter to love and cherish. Some woman never get the chance to have their own children so I feel blessed everyday. This was a wonderful read and once again, well done, great post xReplyCancel

  • Emma HutchinsonNovember 3, 2017 - 2:10 am

    What heart wrenching stories Lisa.  Sending them all much love and prayers for peace.ReplyCancel

  • Milana PhotographyNovember 3, 2017 - 3:36 am

    Ohhh Lisa. So many prayers going out to all of the families who have lost their sweet babies. My heart goes out to them. HUGS! So sweet of you to recognize them!ReplyCancel

  • LindaNovember 3, 2017 - 11:59 am

    Such beauty from ashes….I remember the incredible loss I felt when my first pregnancy ended without the precious baby I had named and made a place for in my home and heart.  Turning to the Lord was a huge comfort and I remember how He helped me with the grief.  My heart understands the need to talk about the loss and to rejoice in the baby that follows!ReplyCancel

  • ShannonNovember 5, 2017 - 4:52 am

    What an incredible project. With every storm comes that beautiful rainbow. I myself had my rainbow baby and she is everything I could ever hope. You never forget the one you lost but find so much joy in the beautiful gifts that come after. thank you for doing this. It truly is incredible and you have strength that I wish I had as a photographer!ReplyCancel

  • Shannon PayneNovember 10, 2017 - 2:42 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to all of these families.  This is such a special blog post and project.  Beautiful job!  Love to all of these families.ReplyCancel

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