Amanda V’s Story

My first pregnancy was great, it took no time at all to get pregnant and we went full term, no issues at all. I think that put it in my head that they all would be like that, but that wasn’t the case. I ended up pregnant a second time, but that ended days after I first got a positive. I was sad but ready to try again because that loss showed us we really wanted another. It took 2 months to get pregnant with our daughter, I was more nervous in the beginning, but past that, I was so excited.

She was actually my easiest pregnancy, until the very end. In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, my blood pressure started to rise a little, and my baby’s growth seemed that it may be slowing. At the same time, we were having snow storms and I wasn’t able to make the ultrasound appointment I needed to. But she seemed to still be growing and doing well otherwise. My blood pressure wasn’t at a concerning level, just a little higher than my normal. I chalked it up to the super stressful winter we were going through.

But at 39 weeks, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. I went in to the hospital for an induction, and was taken into triage by myself. There they tried to find her on the monitor, but were having a hard time. I knew it wasn’t right. In my heart I knew she was gone. I could easily find her on the Doppler. Her position didn’t change, I would have felt that. I told them where she was positioned and where we usually find her heart beat but no luck. They called a doctor in for an ultrasound and he confirmed she had no heart beat.

His words were “here’s the heart, it’s not beating.” It felt so cold. He said it looked like it had happened within the last 8-12 hours. I felt like I died in that moment. The nurse asked if I wanted my husband, to which I replied yes. She got him and the doctor just repeated what he told me. It felt like a knife in my heart. I just felt like all the life drained out of me. My mind instantly went to how do I tell people this news? Especially my 2 year old son, and my mom.

Originally I was told I could still be induced, but when they took my blood pressure it was much higher than it had been and they recommended a c section. I was quick to sign off on that, I had a c section before and I really didn’t think I could handle trying to labor for a dead baby. I was whisked away pretty quickly for the section, and my midwife who was with us made sure we got to hold her right away. She made sure we got pictures with her. She made sure we were able to bathe her and dress her and keep her with us while we were in the hospital.

We had named her Avalon Louise. The name Avalon was my husband’s favorite, and we’d had that name picked out for our first daughter for years. After the first day, I couldn’t hold her anymore. My husband did. But she just looked more and more dead, I just couldn’t stand it any longer. The whole thing felt like an actual nightmare. My husband did the hard job of telling our family and church family the horrible news. He told our son and he came and saw her in the hospital. It was so heartbreaking. I stayed 2 nights in the hospital, was glad to be home again for one night until my blood pressure went up again even higher, I was experiencing postpartum preeclampsia and ended up rushed to the emergency room to spend another 2 nights in a different L&D until I was stable on medication. 

My mom, my aunts, and many of our church family were there for us like we couldn’t believe. I was on bed rest 2 weeks after coming home, and our church set up someone to come help out for a while each day with household chores, with our son, or whatever we needed during that time  They set up a meal train for probably an entire month. My mom practically lived with us for the first few weeks to support us. I am so grateful for those people. It made a bigger difference than they probably even realize.

After she was stillborn, I went a bit back and forth on being pregnant again. On one hand, I was terrified, but on the other, it was like I needed to get pregnant ASAP. When I was in the emergency room I looked at my husband and told him through tears that I just wanted to adopt the rest of our kids, I just couldn’t do it again. But the next day, I was looking up information about VBA2C.

2 months later, I saw an OBGYN who was recommended to me, to ask him questions. I told him my situation and asked him the earliest he would consider it safe for me to get pregnant again. Neither I nor my husband wanted to wait longer than we needed to. He said at least 12 months between the births, so we started trying as soon as we were at that point. I got pregnant again after 2 months. Immediately I asked for my HCG and progesterone to be tested, I literally took a pregnancy test every day for 3 weeks, until I got an ultrasound.

The first trimester was full of anxiety. It seemed to let up in the second trimester for a while. I could find his heartbeat on the Doppler and check in each day that he was alive. But after 20 weeks I started analyzing movement or lack thereof, and it brought some anxiety back. It’s been very back and forth since. This pregnancy has been physically harder on me than my first 2. I wonder if it’s the back to back pregnancies that is doing it. Either way, I am confident if I bring a baby home, it will be worth it all, and I’m grateful for this little rainbow boy. I am sometimes hesitant to call him our rainbow baby just yet, but I also am trying to think positively, that we will bring him home alive and we will see our sons play together. It will be worth the physical pain and the anxiety to hold a newborn again.

Before I was pregnant again, I got a tattoo for Avalon, I want to always remember her and feel she’s a part of me forever. It’s a visual representation of what I already feel. I have plans for a flower garden, though I’m not much of a gardener, I feel this will be a lifelong project that will improve as the years go on and be a beautiful representation of the beautiful girl we miss so dearly. 

Going through loss like this has changed me absolutely. Changed so much about how my brain is wired, I can feel it. But at the same time, I have found the people who truly are worth pouring my heart and time into. The ones who are really worthwhile. My circle is smaller, but I’m grateful for people who I feel comfortable with and know we would do anything for each other that we could.

If you’ve not been through loss, but want to be there for someone going through something like this, acknowledge their baby, just be there, show up, listen, say their baby’s name. I just want people to acknowledge my daughter’s life. She was a real person, whether you met her or not. She will always be a part of our family and always be our firstborn daughter. Just thinking of someone’s baby goes a lot farther than you may realize.

Amanda wears a white off the shoulder dress and the rainbow skirt. She holds her pregnant belly.

Amanda wears a white off the shoulder dress and the rainbow skirt. She holds her pregnant belly with both hands.

Amanda wears a white off the shoulder dress and the rainbow skirt. She holds the rainbow skirt in the air with one hand.

Amanda wears a white off the shoulder dress and the rainbow skirt. She kneels on the ground while her young son kisses her pregnant belly.

Amanda wears a white off the shoulder dress and the rainbow skirt. Her husband stands next to her and they smile at each other.

Photos taken by Camryn Stewart.

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