Emmalee’s Story

The more that I have talked about my loss and baby journey, the more I have realized that my story is not uncommon but just as difficult to talk about and process. Thankfully, along the way God put people in my life to support my husband and I through this stage. We have always look forward to God’s promise of providing us a family and hope sharing our story will bring peace and comfort to others knowing that they are not alone.

The start of 2020, we decided that we were ready to add a bundle of joy to our lives. I checked up with my OB and asked her about stopping birth control and what I needed to expect over the next few months. We were both feeling positive and ready for this next step.

In November 2020, I found out super early in the morning that I was pregnant. I was bursting with excitement but my husband was still asleep and I wanted to tell him in a special way. I got out a onesie I had purchased when we decided to start our family, put the test in a Ziplock baggie and hid it on the bottom shelf of our coffee table. When husband woke up and started making us breakfast, I pulled the surprise to the edge of the shelf and put his phone on top (I knew he would be looking for it soon). Sure enough, he went looking for his phone, saw the super awesome news and exploded with excitement. I still have pictures of that breakfast, where I hid the onesie and of him right before he found it.

Instantly, I started to work on ways to tell our family. I made our little niblings (nieces and nephews) T-shirts and figured out the best time to tell both sets of parents. Oh, we were also moving during all of this… yes… during this time we had bought our first house and I got a really bad case of strep throat. From Nov. 1st – Nov. 21st it was stressful but we were so happy. The love that grew between my husband and I, I will always treasure. I have kept all the pictures and items I bought/made for this happy announcement because I never want to forget the joy we had for those 20 days. It will always be a special place in my heart.

On the 19th of November, we (husband over the phone) got to hear our little one’s heartbeat. It was 109, which I thought was great but the nurse and dr. held some caution in their voice but told me not to worry. We moved into our new house on the 21st and on the 22nd I started cramping. I knew it was not good but I would not give up hope. I went to work on Monday and the nurse called me to go straight to the emergency room. My sweet coworker, who is now a forever friend, helped me get my stuff together and covered my work for the next few days.

My biggest regret was that I told my husband to not come to the emergency room. I knew he hated doctors and I did not want him to see us this way. I left the emergency room with an empty womb and heart. I went home to a house that was filled with boxes and a strange new place that was not comforting until my husband got home. He was and will always be my home (cheesy, I know but it is true).

To answer anyone’s questions, I did not have a D&C, I was able to pass the sack naturally which I wish my OB would have warned me about because I was not prepared for that process on my own. I felt that I just flushed my baby down the toilet without preparation. We made it through Thanksgiving, my best friend’s wedding, a baby shower I was hosting, and Christmas. Honestly, I could not process the whole loss until January. I wanted no one to worry during these usually happy times. Luckily, I was already connected to an amazing therapist that helped me through these times and the upcoming times I did not know I would need her so much.

To wrap up 2020, end of December I got a lovely bill from the emergency room. I reached out to my insurance asking why it was not partially covered. I went to an ER that was in-network but to find out the doctor on call at 9AM in the morning that particular day was not in network. THE ONLY DR. ON CALL at the time was not in my network. My last option to fight insurance was to write a letter. And I sure did write that letter. I basically wrote letting them know that while I was having a miscarriage, I got online to check which ER was in network and went to it but I did not have access to all the doctors that might be on call during that time. I did receive a letter back stating that the procedure I had done at the ER was not necessary for my condition, in short, that is why they would not help pay any of the bill. Just typing this out makes my blood boil again.

Starting January 2021, we were still processing but not willing to let go of hope. We knew God had promised us a family… but we also started talking about maybe our family would come about in a different way than we originally thought. All of 2021 was just us trying and me tracking every little thing. We took breaks every now and then. On July 9th, we celebrated the would have been birth of our baby. I wrote a note to my baby and sent it up with a biggest happy birthday balloon I could find. The holiday times came around again and we decided to start the next process with oral medication in January 2022.

January 2022 was here and I was dragging my feet. It was not a simple process to get a medication that should help our “unknown infertility”. All the uncomfortable tests to see if my organs where doing what they should be doing and then facing the table again where I last heard my baby’s heartbeat… just made it an emotional process that I did not feel strong enough for. By March I was able to start the medication that should have us pregnant in a “few short months”. The first two months came and went… then the next two… and I could only do a max of 6 rounds of this medication. We were praying these last two months would be it. But come August and still a negative pregnancy test. I was broken.

My husband earlier in 2022 finally got to the part of anger and frustration that I had been at for the last year and a half. We had both struggled to keep the fire of “next month will be our month” going. I messaged my OB and asked for fertility specialist references. She sent me two. I reviewed them, picked one, set up the appointment and then waited. It was a daunting appointment to wait for. At the end of August, we both sat in super low seats talking to a stranger who made it feel like he had the only answers for us to have a naturally born child. We asked if we could keep trying on our own for a while and he said we could but with little hope did he see it happening. A few days later we received the cost for IUI or IVF. While processing it all, we decided to wait again until January to start the next big step. We needed to buckle down over the next 4 months and save, save, save for our little bundle of joy we have desperately prayed for and wanted.

A few short weeks later, I ended up on the floor of my bathroom laughing because I was holding a positive pregnancy test. After our discussion about waiting until January 2023, I stopped tracking. I never stopped thinking about it every single moment but I was not looking at my little app telling me what I should be doing each day. I wish there was another answer to give other than we “stopped trying” because believe me, we did that before with no answers. We whole heartedly believe that it is all God’s timing and that this is our time with our baby, to grow our family.

I won’t lie, it was not a relief at first… I had lost my first at 8 weeks… I had to get past that mark. I passed that 8-week mark and then I said okay… let’s make it to 12. Each day I would check to see if I was bleeding or if I felt any of the type of cramping I had before. I had to take progesterone every evening for the first 12 weeks which was not fun but worth it if it helped our baby. Each day was a blessing and once passed the 12 weeks, we graduated from every 2-week appts to 4-week appts.

As I write this story, I am currently at 25 weeks. We had a very stressful 20 week appt. We were so happy to see baby boy at the anatomy scan and find out all about him. We were delivered some news that there was an issue with the umbilical cord called a vein varix. The doctor was unable to be in the office so we had to hear it from her over the phone. I left the appt crying as she ended the explanation of the prognosis with “demise of the pregnancy”. My husband was with me and he is a pretty rational guy, but he too was very upset. I quickly reached out to my OB and set up a meeting with her. Come to find out, it was not as bad as it should have been expressed to us. She reached out to the head specialist over the department and had her review the scans before I left the office and they confirmed it should not be an issue.

We followed up at 24 weeks with another scan to monitor the umbilical vein varix and thankfully, it has not grown and the head doctor said it should not even have been brought up the first scan from the other doctor. Now, I might have a note in my file about being a crazy mama but with all the heartache we have gone through, each appt I feel like I am holding my breath and waiting for the doctors to say “everything is okay”. We are now in the count down stage and slowly getting the nursey ready. Every day I feel him move and see a bigger belly in the mirror is a blessing. We pray that in May 2023 to welcome a healthy and happy baby boy.

Below is a letter I wrote to God on January 31, 2021. This was a suggestion from my therapist and I have shared the suggestions with others who are having a hard time working through feelings.

“Dear God,

I know you know my heart and all my feelings, worries, anxiety and self-doubt. I write this to not give you an insight in what you already know but to remind myself of where you delivered me from and the blessings you have in store for (husband) and I. But right now, I still hurt even though I know there is a greater promise in the future. November 23rd, I felt betrayed. On the 22nd I thought maybe I’ll be okay… it’s just stress… God won’t do this to us, but it was confirmed that next morning. Back at the end of September when I gave it up to you and said “Okay God, I give you control over our family”, you answered immediately and then it was gone in 22 days. I’ve been confused and loss on why this, why does it have to be this way? I hope to one day look back and understand but then I also must accept that I may not ever really understand and trust you and your goodness. I loved those 22 days with (husband) and our baby. I want to always cherish those swift moments we had together, not knowing they would be so few with this baby. My deepest regret/wound that is hardest to heal is the feeling of letting (husband) down, that my body could not take care of his child, our child. I am scared for the next time. Worried that excitement will lead to this pit of feelings again, where all my fears of failure are right on the surface. I miss our baby. I know (husband) and I will always be our baby’s parents and we have a place in our hearts and home for it. I know we will be stronger for it, maybe not now or for a while, but looking back we will be. I wish I could ask you to promise to never do it again but I know I can’t ask that. I know you know what is best even if it includes pain. I am trying to give up control so I can lean more on your strength and grace and less on my own weakness and hatred.”

I never fished the letter or signed it. I want to finish the letter after my baby arrives. Reflect on where I was and where I am now and “end” my letter to God. Until writing my story, I had not read it since writing it. Reflecting, I remember the hardest thing was getting over blaming myself and feeling like a failure in front of my husband. As many times as he reassured me, he did not think that way about me, I could not let it go. This whole journey has taught me a lot and a big lesson on compassion to other’s journey, no matter what it is, that we just might not understand but being there and available is so important. We both know our journey is not over. Once little baby boy arrives, it’s only the start of a new stage of parent’s worries and concerns. I will constantly need God’s grace and help and of course the village I have built up around our family to make it day by day. I will never forget the kindness extended to me by my family and friends and I hope to extend it back to them one day if they need it.

Emmalee H.

Emmalee wears a blue dress and the rainbow skirt.  The skirt flows out behind her as she holds her pregnant belly.

Emmalee wears a blue dress and the rainbow skirt.  She looks down at her pregnant belly.

Emmalee wears a blue dress and the rainbow skirt.  Her husband holds and kisses her pregnant belly.

Emmalee wears a blue dress and the rainbow skirt.  She is standing with her husband.

Emmalee wears a blue dress and the rainbow skirt.  She stands and smiles at her husband.

Photos taken by Kelsey Russek.

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