Casey is so special to me. She's my best friend, my sister, my "person." Seeing someone I love so much hurt so badly has been heartbreaking. I have talked a little bit on the blog about her second pregnancy and the shocking, painful news of her miscarriage. Anytime I mention it here I always run it by her first as I never want to tell a story that isn't mine to tell or share something that someone doesn't want to be shared. Today Casey is sharing her story. The difficult path she's been on over the past several months. I hope that writing this has helped her in her healing process and I pray it also helps someone else who may be experiencing something similar.
I recently was catching up with an old friend and we began discussing the recent loss of my baby boy. As we talked she revealed to me that she also has experienced a loss and some other struggles concerning pregnancy. As we sat there having the conversation I felt a connection to her I had not expected. I was able to truly understand her pain. In that moment I knew I had to share my story. I know getting it out will be cathartic for me and my hope is that someone out there will benefit in some small way.
There have only been a handful of times in my life where I felt a strong urge to write . That feeling where there is a narrative in my head that I need to get out. I was surprised when over the past few months I started to feel this particular narrative forming. I truly believe God is directing me to tell my story. You might not agree or even relate to anything in this post but that’s OK. This is my story and my journey and if it helps anyone in any little way that’s what matters. When I came to Emily with the idea to write a guest entry on our loss I was beyond blessed for her to be super supportive! (duh)
A couple disclaimers before we jump into the deep stuff….This is my story and my experience. It is still very raw and emotional. Reading this you might not understand these feeling or relate. You also might relate all too well and try to compare your pain or loss. One huge lesson I have learned through this journey is that losing a child is painful no matter how many weeks you happen to have carried that sweet baby in your belly. I have had women reach out who have had later term miscarriages, tubal pregnancies, 8 week loses and all of them hurt, all of them miss their babies, and all of them are allowed to grieve their child in the way they need to. (Is this already getting a little intense??? )
Most people have a passion in their life. People who know me know that I am a very passionate person (sometime too much so) but I have always been searching for what my true outlet for that passion will be. I was always one of those “wanting to change the world” type people and wanted so badly to make my mark. I taught high school for three years and while I loved my students I knew that was not my true passion. (Shout out to all the teachers out there….it ain’t easy!!!) Well on June 4, 2014 my true passion came into the world at 8:38 AM with a wrinkled forehead and the sweetest little toes. It hit me hard that being a mother was my true passion and what I was on earth to do! That kind of love that you feel when you hold your baby in your arms for the first time is literally the most overwhelming feeling in the world! At that point I knew that this was all that mattered. Loving this child and showing him God’s love was all there was anymore. And let me tell you I love being a mom. Yes it’s hard, no I’m not perfect at it, but it is the most rewarding passion there is. And now I will stop with all of that gushing…I told you I can be a little too passionate.
Based on how obsessed I am with my son it is not surprising that I was on the “lets have another baby” train pretty quickly. We decided to start trying January/ February of this year and let me tell you the praying was real for this baby. I tend to struggle with waiting on God’s perfect timing. I wanted to so badly to be patient and know that we would get our baby when God knew it was time. I wish I could describe the feeling I had when I got that positive pregnancy test after only 1 month of us trying. I literally fell to my knees and praised God…and of course there were tears. I just knew that the Lord knew we were ready and I felt overwhelmingly blessed that I was going to be able to be a mom to 2 children and to give Carter a brother or sister.
All of the fun and exciting stuff came next. Going to our first appointment and getting that first ultrasound. Hearing that sweet heartbeat. Telling our parents and close family. (We told my family on Easter with the “prize egg” being stuffed with the ultrasound picture) Starting to get Carter prepared for being a big brother! And then the waiting began. Waiting for that magical second trimester. I tried hard in both my pregnancies not too get too far ahead of myself until the “safe zone.” Well I remember so so distinctly reading my pregnancy devo the week I was entering that magic 2nd trimester and it saying “breath a deep sigh of relief” and oh I did! And when I went to my appointment at 13 wks and heard that, strong (as the nurse said), heartbeat I felt the Joy and relief even more. And then the plans began!!! Planning for the holidays with 2 kids, looking into Halloween costumes for families of 4. All of those thoughts on how to navigate life with a newborn. I had so much fun just thinking about this precious addition to our family. Another fun part of entering the 2nd trimester was telling the world about our precious gift. My personal photographer (she legit has so many talents), Emily, took some precious announcement pictures of us and Jordan and I were super excited to put them out there. These are some of my favorite pictures of Carter ever! I feel like our excitement really shows in those pictures.
It is crazy that in life how there are these huge things that happen that you don’t see coming AT ALL. I never truly knew what being blindsided by something felt like until the morning of May 9th. I went in for my regular 16wk checkup and thankfully (such a God thing) Jordan was able to be there. As the nurse tried to find our baby’s heartbeat I noticed she was struggling. By the time another nurse and the doctor were not able to find it I started to get a little concerned. Jordan, who is not a worrier at all, kept reassuring me that everything was fine. No one on staff actually seemed overly concerned at all. Our nurse was acting really excited that we would get to do an ultrasound and find out the gender a little early. Well in the next 10 minutes everything that we thought about our future and our family was shattered.
Even today it feels like a nightmare that plays over and over again in my head. Hearing the ultrasound tech say “I am sorry but your baby does not have a heartbeat today.” Honestly the next few days are a bit of a blur. I know that the tech immediately got our doctor (who has been beyond amazing through this whole thing) and there was a lot of talking and crying. I remember thinking pppppplease get me out of here but of course there are papers to sign and a D & C to schedule but I was really in a state of shock. I just didn’t understand how my baby was dead. I mean I had just been experiencing heartburn and thought maybe a felt a little kick a couple days before. My baby was still inside of me. This made no sense to me. It got real for me later that day when my dad was talking to me and said “you just have to find comfort in knowing that he is in Heaven.” Ohhhhh ok I thought…so I will never get to hold me sweet baby in my arms, snuggle him, feed him, kiss those sweet toes. Until I meet him in Heaven. This was a hard realization and in that moment I lost it. My poor dad probably felt bad but it was the first time I truly realized that even though his little body was still in my belly, his soul had gone to be with the Lord. The thought that kept running through my head was “this really freaking sucks!”
The next few weeks were filled with a ton of mixed emotions. I had this even greater sense of appreciation and love for Carter. I wanted to soak every single second with him up and give him tons of fun experiences and even more love that before (poor kid probably felt a little smothered haha). This is the time when I decided we are taking him to Disney ASAP (we did and OMG so so magical and healing). This is also a time when I formed a very deep appreciation for the people in my close circle. The outpouring of love from those close to us was something that I could never ever fully describe. From my amazing sisters and brother to my parents and everyone who called or sent a card, to have that feeling of being wrapped up by people is such a cushion to the immense amount of pain I was feeling.
Speaking of the pain, whoa. I never really understood how getting your heart broken could truly cause physical pain before losing a child. There were a lot of nights were things got pretty ugly for me. I have never felt so out of control. Like I literally could do nothing to make the pain stop. There was also a strong feeling of responsibility that I felt and still feel. When you are a mom it is your job to protect your children. I feel like somehow I failed to protect my baby. I know this is completely irrational but the feeling is still there. Almost like guilt that there is something I could have done differently. This is the feeling that made me very hesitant to see anyone who was not in my inner circle for a while. Emily kept me busy (which was so awesome and exactly what I needed) but for a while every time I went out in public I wore my “disguise”(Which was an awesome orange Gap hat I have had since 6th grade). When I decided to retire the “disguise” Emily was thrilled haha.
This time period was also filled with a lot of emotions about random things! This was described very accurately to me as my emotional bucket. When a great loss or tragic event happens you are dealing with it emotionally pretty much around the clock. Therefore my emotional bucket was always full, meaning I could not handle ANY type of added emotional situations. I mean thanks Johnson and Johnson commercials for making me bawl! I literally would lose it if someone responded to the invitation at church or gave me a compliment. One big moment was after Carter’s2nd birthday party in June. Our family was so awesome (duh) and everyone stayed after to help clean up. This show of love was more than I could handle and I literally broke down. Yup emotional bucket super full!
After a couple months of crying, eating, shopping and Disney I decided that I needed to start some conscious actions towards healing. I am not super familiar with the stages of grief but I do know that moving forward is one of them. I HATE when people say “moving on” or “closure” because I don’t want to move on from my baby or close the door. But I did some things to help me recognize him and begin to heal.
As excited as I was to announce to the world we were having a second child I was devastated to have to announce that he had gone to Heaven. I waited, probably a little too long, (my sign was a woman coming up to me and rubbing my belly and asking about the baby... that sucked), but I knew it had to be done. Afterwards though I was so happy that I did. The outpouring of support for us was amazing and so comforting. I do feel like there were positives and negatives of being “out” about our pregnancy and one huge positive was the prayers! Having people message me and tell me that they are specifically praying for us was such a big deal to me! To feel so lifted up in a time of so much pain gives you an unspeakable amount of appreciation and comfort. Now to a little negative….some of the stuff people say. I mean jeez y’all! I know everyone means well and I don’t hold anything against anybody at all but here is a short list of things I personally feel are the WRONG things to say:
*This was God’s plan ( so not true..the evil in the world comes from the devil, John 10:10, but I do know God has a plan for our lives and because of that we will be ok...but don’t tell me that my Baby dying was God’s plan)
*It’s time to start getting over it/moving on
*Oh I know someone who has had several miscarriages (I know ppl want to share their experiences and have good intentions in thinking it'll be relatable to me but unless it's your own personal story then it just isn't helpful and actually adds anxiety to fears of having such an experience again in the future)
*At least you have Carter (It is true that he has been the BIGGEST comfort got me through this time but I also know how strong that love is and that makes my hurt really, really deep and it doesn’t make me miss my baby any less)
*People who just ignore you – I think too often people are reluctant and feel like they aren’t sure what to say. I would rather you say something or do something (even if it’s the wrong thing) than nothing at all. It makes you feel like you are some kind of miscarriage leper when people start avoiding/ignoring you.
Overall the people who were there for me the most and in the best way were those who just felt my pain with me. Recognition of my baby and the loss I am feeling is something that is still so important to me. I often find myself (sometimes awkwardly) talking about my baby and my loss. I always have my baby on my mind and there is never a bad time to talk about him!
There have been many times over the last few months when I felt like God was trying to comfort me. I described it to someone as God giving me a hug. One if these hugs came when we were trying to decide on a name for our sweet baby. Shortly after we got the news that he had gone to Heaven we knew that we wanted to give him a name. I had had a discussion with a friend a few weeks before about the name Silas and that was on my radar of names to give to this baby. I love it because it’s Biblical and he is a character who did not give up in the face of adversity. Well the day that Jordan and I began talking about a name God reassured me that Silas was our baby’s name. I had been slacking on my Bible study in the weeks after the news. I had been reading a few verses for strength here and there but was honestly just very distracted. That night as I was getting in the bed I read the verse we have on our chalkboard: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5: 7. I thought wow I needed that and I decided to read the entire chapter as I got into bed. Well guess who Peter names in vs. 12 as the faithful brother who helped him write the letter, yup Silas! And that is the name we gave our sweet baby boy.
I remembered when Emily had a close friend lose a child that she got together some peopleand purchased a tree to be planted in his memory. I thought that planting a tree would be not only a good way to recognize Silas but also a way for me to feel like I was doing something positive for my child. I can’t help but think about all of the birthday parties and holidays I am going to miss with him. In August I finally felt strong enough to organize purchasing a tree and getting the family together to have a little ceremony. God’s hands were all over this situation too. We ended up purchasing the tree from a local place and the woman told us the best kind for this type of thing is a magnolia tree called a “Little Gem” (how perfect is that!!!) She was super nice and gave us a huge discount. As we were leaving I spotted a cool rustic arrow that was for sell in the little shop attached to the landscaping company. I had recently decided to get an arrow tattoo and felt like that was another moment of God hugging me and reassuring me that planting this tree was the right thing to do. The meaning of the arrow is pulling back and remembering before moving forward. The rustic arrow now hangs in our living room and is an awesome reminder of that moment.
I cannot describe how awesome I felt after we had the tree ceremony. I was pretty nervous leading up to it and wasn’t sure how I would make it through. It was super casual and a few people said a few things. I read the letter that I had written to Silas. My sweet daddy said a few things, including how he prays everyday for all of his grandbabies to make it make it to Heaven but he knows that Silas is already there (that really stuck with me). Sweet Kye and Britt had made a few drawing for him and they said a few things. (Side note: Emily has told me on several occasions how Britt has been super sweet about praying for me and Silas, sweet sweet girl) Jordan said a few words and my brother said an amazing prayer. My grandmother brought a few balloons that we released which was really great too. I cannot put my finger on what exactly about this was so healing but I felt better after this day than I had felt since May 8th. It may have been being able to recognize and celebrate my baby, it may have been sharing my pain with my family who also were mourning the loss of their grandchild and nephew. But whatever it was I am so so so happy that we did it! Having the tree to go to is such a peaceful thing and having the memories of that day and the outpouring of love from our family is amazing!
There are a few other things that I do feel like have helped me along this journey. Jordan got me a necklace with an “s” for Silas that I adore and love to wear. I framed a picture of my last ultra sound and have it in the living room. There are certain songs (“Thy Will” by the Scott Family is one…so good! Look it up!) that have made me bawl but been such a comfort and reminder of Gods presence during this time. I know everyone might not agree with having reminders of their lost child around but for me it has been so comforting.
So after all this I guess I can say that I am still not ok. And that is OK! There will always be apart of my heart that is with Silas. There is a lot of worry and skepticism about the future. There is a lot of prayer for faith and calmness. There is a little twinge of something (I know some of you know what I mean) when I see a pregnancy or birth announcement on FB. There is now an overwhelming feeling that anything can happen and any time and I can take nothing for granted. I know that my baby is in Heaven and I will get to meet him and love on him all I want in my eternity but I still miss him. Silas will always be my second baby boy. I will always love him and remember him!
I am so, so proud of Casey. As painful as it has been to see her hurt so much and to experience something no one ever wants to experience, she has been such a strong example of unwavering faith. It's such a huge example to me on leaning on the Lord through trials in life. She has allowed herself to feel and be real and raw as needed throughout this healing process which is SO important! She's strong but knows it's okay to not always be strong. I'm so thankful for the bond we share and have been honored to be part of her support system through this time.
These past several months have been so difficult for our entire family and even though it's been awhile now, we are all entering a new phase of grief. Tomorrow is Silas's due date. We transition from thinking "Casey should be pregnant right now" to thinking more specifically of the little boy who isn't here on Earth with us. Casey and I are both big planners and I know she had so many plans for the coming months as a family of four. I thank you for the prayers you've already sent up on her behalf, but please continue to lift up her and Jordan during the tough times ahead. I know how hard it will be for them tomorrow and throughout the holiday season.
God is always good, all of the time. He has continued to bless Casey with reminders of His unending love for her and we are simply jealous of Jesus that He's able to hold that sweet boy in His arms! We all cannot wait for the day when we will get to meet him there in Heaven. Until then he will always be part of our lives and on our hearts.