1. Describe the process of getting pregnant. Was it easy for you? Was it hard? Did you have to go through fertility treatment?
It wasn’t too hard for us. We did experience a very early miscarriage prior to getting pregnant, but we were able to get pregnant again on the next try. We are so blessed to not have any issues with fertility.
2. What was the pregnancy like? Was it easy and smooth? Hard with a lot of pregnancy symptoms?
It was a completely normal pregnancy until it wasn’t. Everything was going very well, it was very similar to my first pregnancy which resulted in a perfectly healthy baby born on her due date. I did have morning sickness and exhaustion! The day before Mother’s Day in 2021, I started having Braxton hicks contractions. I was 25 weeks 5 days. I sat down to rest and time them, just in case. As time went on that day I realized that the contractions were coming in regular intervals. I called labor and delivery and they said it was probably fine and I might not even need to go to the hospital. I’m so glad I trusted my instincts because by the time I got to the hospital I was in full blown labor.
3. Did you have a reason why your losses occurred?
The hardest part of all of this is that we will never have a true answer as to why our daughter came at 25 weeks. Some doctors think it was cervical incompetence where my cervix was just not strong enough to hold her in any longer. Other doctors think the preterm labor was caused due to our daughter’s severe heart defects. Our sweet girl had many congenital heart defects, but also had an episode in utero that caused part of her heart muscle to essentially die off. That part of her heart muscle did not work. In simple terms, our baby had a heart attack when I was still pregnant with her. My OB believes that an event as serious as a heart attack in utero is what triggered the preterm labor.
As far as our daughter’s passing, after 89 long, hard days in the NICU she finally could not fight any longer. Her heart was tired, her lungs were so sick, and she was exhausted. She had a procedure done to check her airway and too much anesthesia was administered, necessitating chest compressions. About a week after this procedure, she passed away from a pulmonary hemorrhage. The doctors at the NICU think it was caused by how sick her lungs were. However, I have done so much research and fully believe the trauma of having chest compressions along with the airway irritation that took place when the procedure happened is the reason for the pulmonary hemorrhage.
4. How far along were you?
I was 25 weeks 5 days when she was born. She passed away at 89 days old.
5. What are your babies names?
Her name is Merritt Ann Kelly
6. What was the birthing/loss experience like?
Similar to the pregnancy, birth was fine until it wasn’t. I was fully prepped for a non medicated vaginal birth. However, she turned breech and kicked her feet into my cervix. At this point, the doctor said we had to do an emergency c section to give our baby a fighting chance. I had to have a vertical incision on my uterus which puts my current pregnancy as high risk.
Losing our daughter after fighting for 89 days was devastating. It is a loss that will never be adequately described with words. It’s an emptiness, a guilt, a panic, that I cannot describe. For a long time I felt so guilty – for not spending more time with her, for not fighting harder for her, for not realizing my preterm labor issue sooner… for everything. Grief is a long, winding road, with many stops and u-turns along the way. It was a sense of chaos at first. I felt like I was in denial. Sometimes I feel still in denial. I have three children, yet one is missing from our daily lives. It’s a bizarre feeling.
7. Did you get to spend time with your baby or get any keepsakes?
Yes, we had 89 scary, beautiful, challenging, love-filled days with our sweet girl. It was not always good. There were days we didn’t know if she’d make it to the next minute. But I got to hold her, kiss her, smell her little head, hold her hand, sing and talk to her and I’ll cherish those 89 days for the rest of forever.
Once she passed, we got locks of hair, handprint and footprints, and a few other keepsakes.
8. How was the medical treatment/support during your loss?
My doctors have been extremely supportive. I love them so much!
9. Did you receive support from family and friends after your loss?
Yes, my parents have been our lifeline. My mom in particular. Our entire family has been very supportive.
10. How were your emotions after loss? (Angry, sad, scared, confused, etc)
All of the emotions. Enraged. Depressed. In denial. Confused. Questioning EVERYthing. Panicked.
11. How did you know you were ready to try again?
It’s hard to say. There wasn’t some big flashing sign saying “it’s okay to try now”. We just knew our hearts were ready. Mentally, I don’t know that I was ready or that I would have ever been ready. This pregnancy after loss has been daily panic…that’s human nature. I had prayed so much and asked God for a sense of peace. Once we started trying, I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace and I knew it was the right time.
12. What has the pregnancy with your rainbow baby been like?
It has been redeeming, scary, painful, beautiful. I am scared every minute that something will go wrong. But I remind myself that God gave us this beautiful life to honor him and that if it was not in his plans for us to have another baby that he wouldn’t have allowed me to get pregnant with my son. Medically, I have been monitored very closely which has been nice to know what’s going on at all times.
13. Is there anything special you do to remember your angel baby/babies?
She is a part of our every day life. Maybe not in the traditional sense of feedings and changing diapers and seeing her. But we talk about her every single day. We thank God for her in our prayers every evening. She is STILL our daughter. She will always be my baby girl. My 3 year old, Mills, still talks about her every day. Mills will wave at the sky sometimes and say “hey Jesus, hey Merritt!”. Our girl is all around us, in everything we do.
14. Is there anything you want others to know about going through loss?
You are NOT alone. Loss can feel so lonely at time. You can feel a little crazy! I just want every family who experiences a loss like ours that it’s not just you. You might feel alone but there are parents that have gone through this who know the struggles and there will be parents who come after you who will learn them too. Loss doesn’t have to be *all* bad. Please try to use your loss to bring some light to this dark and crazy world. Bring awareness to the reasoning behind your loss. Honor your sweet baby. But most importantly, when you are ready, try to help others who are going through a similar situation. So many people reached out to support us, but the conversations I had with moms who had also lost infants were among the most helpful. It gave me so much hope.
Photos taken by Rachel Taylor Photography.
Find out more about Project Finding Your Rainbow.
Pin and help spread the project!