Erika’s Story

I lost my daughter, Kaylee Grace due to a full placental abruption. I was two weeks shy of my due date.  My pregnancy was perfect in every way. I was a very healthy young woman and did everything right to make sure my baby was healthy.  I had a normal workweek and had professional maternity photos that week. Our bags were packed and the car seat was ready. Kaylee’s room was full of every item on my baby shower list because my friends and family showered me twice with the most memorable baby showers. My mom had flown into town to be there for the birth of her first granddaughter. The back pain started late in the evening, then quickly contractions, which felt on top of each other.  We headed to the hospital and I laid in the back seat of the car in agony. The only thing that got me through that drive were the kicks I felt from Kaylee. I talked to her and told her to be patient because she would soon be in my arms. When we arrived at the hospital, the staff worked to get me to a room. I felt like I was having one solid contraction for hours, so in my mind, I was having this baby any moment. My husband and mom stood by my side when I heard those words no mother wants to hear. “We can’t find a heartbeat.” I could never put into words how I felt during that moment.

The doctors quickly sedated me for the night to help with the mental and physical pain. My family were left making numerous phone calls at midnight. My sister and dad, who were driving separately across the state of Florida to reach me, had to pull over and stop for the night.

The next morning, medications were started and I went into full labor. I delivered Kaylee with just a few pushes, as she was already very low and ready to be in my arms. I held her every moment I could. Sending her to the morgue was extremely difficult. Our friends and family visited and we did our best to get a picture of each person holding her. I wanted to make sure that all of us could grieve together. Our dear friend, who is a minister, did a sweet memorial service in my hospital room with as many friends and family who could fit. Kaylee was born March 23rd, 2007 weighing 6 pounds, 5 oz.

The moments do not seem to get better after losing your baby. Instead of breast-feeding your baby, you are left with engorged breasts. Instead of choosing which outfit your baby is going to wear for the birth pictures, you are cutting their hair and taking as many pictures as possible before their skin turns blue. Instead of placing your baby into a car seat to head home, you are handing her over to a nurse to take her body to the morgue. Instead of being wheeled out to your car with your baby in your arms, you are being wheeled out next to another mom who is holding their baby. You climb into your car, and drive away, with no baby. Once you get home, you have to contact the funeral home to determine how your baby is going to be buried. People see you and ask you where your baby is and you are left telling your story repeatedly.

As days went on, I went back to my new normal. I returned to work just two weeks later, which may not have been the best decision, but it kept me moving forward. I desperately wanted to be pregnant again and was pregnant with my daughter, Hannah, just 6 months later. I had another picture perfect pregnancy but at 36 weeks I had to deliver her due to my blood pressure spiking while at work one day. Hearing your baby cry for the first time is the best sound any new mom could ever ask for. Hannah is my first rainbow baby. She was born on September 22nd, 2008 weighing 5 pounds, 11 ounces.

Several years went by and during this time, I went through a divorce. I always wanted a family and hoped to one-day remarry. Over the years, I focused my energy on completing triathlons and I met my husband, Jeff, while training for a half ironman. We both wanted more children and I found out I was pregnant while we were on our trip to Yellowstone National Park. Baby animals surrounded us and it just made our trip more memorable. At one of my appointments early on, I was told this baby no longer had a heartbeat. I knew miscarriages were very common, but hearing those words again, “we could not find a heartbeat” caused additional pain.

Months went by and I was pregnant again with another baby girl. Early on in the pregnancy, I was diagnosed with a sub-chorionic hemorrhage. I had several ultrasounds and eventually, it seemed to have resolved so we thought we were on our way to a healthy pregnancy. A week before Christmas, I woke up in horrible pain, and began to hemorrhage. The bleeding never stopped and I was too weak to stand. My husband rushed me to the hospital where I continued to hemorrhage. My husband and doctor had to stop three lanes of morning rush traffic to get me to an open operating room. I had an emergency surgery to stop the bleeding. I lost her.

After this third loss, I did not think I could go through another pregnancy. I saw a specialist who encouraged me to wait six months for my body to heal. Over those six months, I focused on my mental and physical health. I became pregnant again just six months after my third loss and this baby had the same due date as Kaylee, which caused me additional anxiety.   I cautiously looked forward to every visit with my doctor. My husband came with me to my appointments and slowly I progressed each week. At 36 weeks gestation I was admitted to the hospital due to my blood pressure spiking. I had complications throughout the night and by morning; I was wheeled to a delivery room. This labor was the longest and was not without complications. After a very long morning and afternoon, I delivered my second rainbow baby, Chloe. Chloe was born March 10th, 2016 weighing 5 pounds, 5 oz.

Over the past 14 years, I have become a better version of me, and it is because of my losses. I have turned my focus on making myself happy, and fulfilling my dreams because I know that is what I would want my mom to do if something happened to me.   I have learned that life is too short to be miserable.  I spent many days crying all the way to and from work, grieving the loss of Kaylee and my other two babies.  I have given speeches about infant loss, attended many infant loss meetings, and joined many infant loss support groups in hopes that my story will help other new moms know that life can go on after losing your child. Each year goes by and I can never think of a way to celebrate Kaylee’s birthday. I originally began planting various trees and plants each year on her birthday. We have an area in our yard that we call “Kaylee’s garden.”

When I read, Project Finding Your Rainbow, I immediately felt a connection to all of these moms. I have read every story and have cried through each of them. At the time that I write this, I am two weeks out from receiving this beautiful skirt in my hands. I have spent hours choosing dresses, shoes, and the perfect location to take photographs.  I chose the week of Kaylee’s 14th birthday for our photography session because I thought it was the perfect way to celebrate Kaylee, my miscarriages, my rainbow babies, and myself.






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