Katie Joy Duke’s Story

1. Describe the process of getting pregnant.  Was it easy for you?  Was it hard?  Did you have to go through fertility treatment?

My husband, Eli, and I were on vacation in Kauai when we found out we were pregnant. Eli had proposed to me the day before, and I said “yes!” The next afternoon I was feeling funny after we went for a hike, and it crossed my mind that I might be pregnant. I was a few days late but hadn’t given it too much thought because we were on vacation. That night I took a pregnancy test which confirmed my suspicion. So, technically, we weren’t trying, and our pregnancy was a total surprise. 

2. What was the pregnancy like?  Was it easy and smooth?  Hard with a lot of pregnancy symptoms?

My pregnancy was golden.  Easy and smooth. I never suffered from morning sickness, and I was delightfully horny during my second trimester. I loved being pregnant.

3. Did you have a reason why your losses occurred?

After Poppy died, we asked for an autopsy.  The only finding, which still didn’t give us solid answers, was “a small placenta and mild asymmetric growth retardation of the fetus.” During my pregnancy with my rainbow baby, I was prescribed one baby aspirin per day at the start of the second trimester and through the end of the pregnancy.

4. How far along were you?

Poppy was stillborn at full-term, one day after her due date.  Her birthday is October 26, 2015.

5. What are your babies names?

 Poppy Annabelle Muir, stillborn October 26, 2015

 Moxie Phoenix Muir, my RAINBOW baby born October 9, 2017

6. Did you get to spend time with your baby or get any keepsakes?

We spent about 24 hours with Poppy in the birthing suite.  She never left our sight. We were given a linen memory box for keepsakes, and we kept the little hat that she wore in the hospital. We also got her footprints. A volunteer photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came and took pictures of us with Poppy.

7. How was the medical treatment/support during your loss?

The midwives and nurses were incredible.  We felt protected in our cocoon of sadness.  I have very positive memories of the care we received.

8. Did you receive support from family and friends after your loss?

We received tremendous support from our family and friends after our loss. One of the gifts of Poppy’s death was learning how to both ask for and accept help from others. There were also very hard times when insensitive words or uncomfortable stretches of silence caused hurt feelings. In time, everything was forgiven.

9. How were your emotions after loss? (Angry, sad, scared, confused, etc)

My emotions were all over the place.  I went through a very deep depression after Poppy died, but I made it through. I felt a little bit of everything—rage, jealously, confusion, anxiety, panic.  I also felt peace, hope, inspiration, and love.  It took a lot of time to heal, and I was deeply committed to my recovery.

10. How did you know you were ready to try again?

With the advice of my marriage counselor and individual therapist, my husband and I decided to wait until the first anniversary of Poppy’s birth to try conceiving again.  I knew I was ready because I was more excited than scared. It took a lot of faith to try again!

11. What has the pregnancy with your rainbow baby been like? 

Pregnancy with my rainbow baby was a mixed bag, but I was able to love her unconditionally and enjoy the process more than I feared it.  I had a year of physical recovery and lots of therapy under my belt by the time we tried again.  During my pregnancy I had the support of a life coach, my husband, our support group. Also, my best friend was pregnant at the same time, and we had a lot of fun planning to be mommies together.  I just had to believe that it would work out. I also felt confident with my medical care providers and the support of an amazing naturopathic doctor.

12. Is there anything special you do to remember your angel baby/babies?

We celebrate Poppy’s birthday every year. We hang a stocking for her at Christmas and every year we buy her a new ornament for the tree.  We talk about her with our rainbow Moxie, and when Moxie asks questions, we are open and honest.  Also, I spent six years writing a memoir in Poppy’s honor and it will be published May 2022.  The title is Still Breathing: My Journey with Love, Loss, and Reinvention.

13. Is there anything you want others to know about going through loss?

I want others to know that even at your darkest moments, you are never alone.  Stillbirth happens to so many of us, and we are warriors for surviving the pain and heartache.

Katie is wearing the rainbow skirt and holding a copy of her new book.

Katie is wearing a pink top and white pants.  She wears the rainbow skirt and holds it in the air around her.

A three photo collage of Katie with the rainbow skirt, her new book, and her daughter.

Katie stands on a ladder in a bookstore.  She holds her book and holds the rainbow skirt out to one side.

Katie stands on a ladder in a bookstore.  She holds her book and holds the rainbow skirt out to one side.

Collage of Katie on a ladder in a bookstore.

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.*

Get a copy of Katie’s book, Still Breathing: My Journey with Love, Loss, and Reinvention here.

Photos taken by Eli Muir.

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