Mandy’s Story

My husband and I started trying for our first baby after ten years of being married. It took seven months and that positive test came when I least expected it. I kept it a secret all day until Cory got home, when I gave him a set of toy car keys to tell him. I’ll never forget the look on his face. We quickly told our family. Everyone was so excited!

I was miserably sick the whole time I was pregnant. I had awful morning sickness and then migraines. We never dreamed anything bad could ever happen though. 

When I was seven months pregnant, I got COVID and felt like he was moving a lot less than usual, and my O2 was low. Cory took me to the hospital and I got checked out. Raylan started moving once they put the monitor on and my O2 was okay, so they sent me home. My blood pressure was on the low side, but I was sick and just wanted to go home. 

Four days later, I knew something was wrong. I hadn’t felt Raylan move at all overnight, and my urine was really dark. I was thinking maybe a UTI or kidney infection. Cory took me back to the hospital. Nurse after nurse tried to find Raylan’s heartbeat, and when they called my doctor in, she looked at us and said, “I’m not finding a heartbeat”. Part of me died hearing those words. She started explaining that I had lost a lot of blood, and they weren’t comfortable with me delivering there and wanted to send me to a larger hospital. It had never occurred to me that if something happened to Raylan, I would still have to deliver him. It was awful to think of labor without the outcome of a baby to bring home. 

I was taken by squad to the next hospital where the OB on staff said I could either have a c section, or deliver him naturally. She warned that I had already lost a lot of blood and would likely be in labor for hours just to end up in the OR anyway. We chose the c section. I just wanted it over with. I had to be given two transfusions to replace what I had lost. Later, one of the nurses told me I had lost about 30% of my blood. I don’t remember any of the surgery. With the blood loss, the doctor said it wasn’t safe for me to have an epidural. I had to go under general anesthesia, and since I was technically still contagious with COVID until midnight, Cory couldn’t go to the OR with me.

Raylan Mack Brenly was born at 28 weeks on 10/5/21 at 12:10am, 2lbs 13.5oz, and 15.5″ long. He was beautiful. He looked just like his daddy. I regret not spending more time with him and not taking more pictures, but at the time, we did all we could do. 

I was blessed with amazing nurses. The first night after Raylan was born, my nurse came in and told me about her little boy who was born still a few years ago. It brought me comfort to know she understood what I was going through. I asked what her boy’s name was. It was Jackson. I’ll never forget that.

We got no answers on why we lost him. We were told this “just happens” sometimes and we’ll never know why.

I never thought I would have to be wheeled out without my baby. I never thought I would cuddle a bear and plaster handprints instead of Raylan. We should be complaining about being kept up all night, but our house is quiet.

I don’t want pity. I don’t want to pretend he never existed. I am going to talk about him and cry over him openly, because that’s what mamas do. We talk about our babies. Raylan will always be my little boy, and now he’s our guardian angel.

Three months after losing Raylan, we got another positive pregnancy test. The amount of fear and love and excitement I felt in that moment was overwhelming. I’m currently 18 weeks pregnant with our little rainbow girl, Rosalyn Jade. Things are going smoothly, though I’m still sick like I was with Raylan. My OB and MFM both believe this pregnancy will be successful, and all of our tests have been coming back great. I know I won’t feel like we are “safe” until she’s here in our arms, but I know she has an amazing guardian angel watching over her, so I’m trying to have faith.

Mandy sits with her husband in the back of a red truck.  She is wearing a pink top and the rainbow skirt.

Mandy lays on the ground with her head in her husband's lap.  She is wearing a pink top and the rainbow skirt.

Photos taken by Angela Higby.

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