Natalie S’ Story

Beautiful Chapters in our Family’s Journey

Being pregnant has become a big part of my identity over the last eight years as we grew our beautiful family. While I am excited to start the next chapter of our lives, I am also saddened that my chapter of carrying our babies is likely closed.  

Natalie wears a black dress. She holds her pregnant belly with both hands and stands in front of some trees with the sun shining through.

Photo credit: my sister-in-law 


Today I find myself staring at the most beautiful little girl- a girl I never thought I’d have the privilege of raising- taking in every expression and milestone. I am filled with such a love that words cannot describe as I watch her two older brothers dote over her, a connection I hope all siblings get to experience.  

At the same time, feelings of grief re-emerge as my eyes fill with tears. Parenting after loss is different. I can’t help but wonder what my family would have been with all of my children earth-side… the feeling of never having experienced any of these moments with our first daughter several years ago. A day doesn’t pass that these thoughts don’t re-emerge in some capacity.   

Natalie holds her newborn daughter in her arms. The rest of her family hold their hands over the baby's head and body.

Photo credit: @padmaaravindphotography 


When we decided to start our family, we were faced with many challenges. We tried to fall pregnant for what felt like an eternity, month after month failing to see those two pink lines. After several tests and visits with our local specialist, we were given very low chances of ever conceiving naturally. As a young couple, we decided to wait it out to see what the future would bring and even began the process of adoption.   

After months of continuing our journey, we fell pregnant for the first time. We were ecstatic! Everything was going so well during the first trimester until our 13 week scan.  

Laying in a room by myself, I remember so vividly a student technician performing our ultrasound and leaving the room to get her superior. The head-tech came in and shortly after said she was going to call our doctor. We had already seen and heard baby’s heartbeat.  

We were immediately given an appointment at Maternal Fetal Medicine and walked upstairs where we sat in another waiting room. The doctor in the hospital let us know that something didn’t look quite right and referred us to a high-risk specialist out of town. 

At 16 weeks, the day of our appointment, I had a very lengthy ultrasound. I sat in a silent waiting room with other mothers in similar situations, waiting for what we had hoped was good news. Then, my name was called. I was brought into a board room where I met with a panel of doctors and experts who would tell me that my daughter would have no chance of survival after birth and left me with a list of options and paperwork. 

I left the appointment in complete silence and got into the car to return home. I instantly broke into tears as I sat in the parking lot, sobbing at the news that we would never bring our daughter home- the child we so desperately longed for and were already deeply in love with.  

The next weeks and months were filled with appointments and ultrasounds, including repeat anatomy scans and fetal echocardiograms, to confirm the grim diagnosis and determine our next steps. Our baby girl was diagnosed with Pentalogy of Cantrel (her organs developed outside of her abdomen) and multiple heart defects that could not be repaired. We were closely monitored and did everything in our power to carry our pregnancy to term, in hopes that we would meet our daughter before her passing. 

During this time, I was one of 11 women pregnant in my workplace. I would listen to them plan their baby showers, filled with excitement and anticipation of their new arrivals. I was so happy for them and was honoured to be part of their own journeys and celebrations. As my closest friends were bringing home their car seats and setting up their nurseries, we were meeting with the funeral home director and our local cemetery to make other arrangements.  

My students were filled with love and excitement as they watched my belly grow. They would talk to my baby every day and show so much love toward her. I had prepared a letter to send to families when the time came to let them know of our daughter’s arrival and her passing. The children learned that every living thing has a time to live and a time to die and they grew in knowledge and compassion.  

At 32 weeks, my water broke in the night and my husband rushed home from work. It was time to meet our baby girl!  

Upon arriving at the hospital, I was hooked up to the monitors in the maternity ward with other labouring mothers. Our daughter’s heart rate was dropping so low with every contraction that they took her off. The nurse looked deep into my eyes “I’m so sorry” and explained that when this happens, often times the baby is born sleeping. My husband and I took a moment together to mourn that reality and prepare ourselves for what would come next.  

We were quickly brought into our own private room, where the sound of monitors and crying newborns was muffled from the rest of the maternity ward, and my midwife arrived shortly after. I was longing to experience the process of giving birth and learned to trust/listen to my body. Our midwife was incredible, showing so much compassion as she knew what was to come.    

We had the most fantastic nurse for whom I will forever be grateful. She checked in often, contacted our photographer, and stayed by my side as needed… then it was time to push. I felt a great determination in knowing we would be holding our daughter just a few short minutes later. 

There she was, quietly taking breaths as they placed her on my chest. We watched her every move- her little gasps of air- as she lived in our arms; the most beautiful moment I had ever experienced.  

It was dad’s turn to hold his daughter. Her breaths became fewer and more labored as he embraced her tiny body, swaddled across his chest. There she would take her last breath and peacefully pass knowing and feeling her parents’ love.  

We spent the rest of our time at the hospital holding our baby girl and observing her perfect little body, tiny features, and her beautiful imperfections. We were blessed to have this time with her as a local photographer took pictures and the nursing staff took casts of her feet. When we were ready, we invited immediate family to meet her. 

Natalie's daughter, who passed shortly after birth, lays swaddled in a blanket.

Photo credit: @ashleymwaters 

We named our first daughter Adeline Elizabeth meaning noble in God’s promise.  

A couple days later, we had the opportunity to hold her one last time at the funeral home before her intimate burial with immediate family.  

After Adeline’s passing, I was fortunate enough to donate breastmilk to NICU babies across southern Ontario. In 11 weeks, I pumped 18 gallons before returning to work. It played a big role in my healing process in knowing her life made an impact! The baby girl we were entrusted with mattered- not only to us, but to others!  


That fall, we would find ourselves pregnant again and cautiously optimistic as we teetered with grief and excitement. My first trimester was fantastic and at 14 weeks we were given the go-ahead that our baby was healthy. I was so excited to share with family, friends, and my students. 

Shortly after, some of my bloodwork came back showing that baby’s placenta was not functioning as it should, but that baby still looked healthy and right on track with growth. I would be monitored closely again.  

At 15 weeks, I was involved in a minor car accident on my way home from prenatal yoga. I called my midwife and went to the hospital to be monitored. It was a relief to find out that baby looked great!  

A few weeks went by and it was time for our anatomy scan. We were anxious; hoping and praying that everything was as it should be. I sat in the waiting room listening for my name to be called.  

My heart raced in anticipation as I walked back into a room where the technician placed cold gel on my belly. She moved the probe back and forth, up and down, and nothing… I heard nothing… just silence and the feeling of my heart pounding against my chest. I instantly started crying, stating that I didn’t hear the heart beat and told her to get my husband.  

I still remember the fear in his face as he came into the room so soon after I was called in. He looked deep into my eyes. I shook my head as we both broke down into tears. How could this happen to us again?  

While we were shaken by the news, a feeling of numbness took over us. We were all too familiar with the routine. Go upstairs. Meet with the doctor. Be transferred to the OB floor. Go home and wait… wait for the phone call to be induced the next day.  

That day we made arrangements once again with our funeral home, called the local cemetery, and spent the afternoon together.  

The following day was Valentines Day. We kept our phones close and waited for a call from the hospital. We waited all day for a bed to open up and didn’t receive a call to be induced until late at night.  

When we arrived, we were brought into a room and given medication to get the process started. What was supposed to take my body 8+ hours to process, only took four and it was already time to push.  

He came fast! Our first son was born sleeping. The nurses would wrap his tiny body in a towel and place him in our hands. This time we did things a little differently- just the two of us- spending time with our son Joseph until it was time to make funeral arrangements.  

We chose to have a private ceremony with just the two of us and the priest. There he would be laid to rest with his older sister and my dad.     

This time, I only took 4 weeks off work, where I returned to the same set of students who had experienced another loss. I would answer questions as they came up and was fortunate to have such amazing support from most of the families. 

Natalie's three children stand next to the headstones of their two siblings.

Photo credit: myself 


That summer I would find myself pregnant again and suffer a Chemical Pregnancy loss at 8 weeks. I was all too familiar with the process and it sadly became more routine than we’d like to admit.  

Around Christmas, we fell pregnant a fourth time. While very cautious, we were shocked every time to find that this “baby is healthy”- three words that still fill my heart with endless gratitude each time I hear them. I had a beautiful pregnancy with additional monitoring to help put my mind at ease.  

My water broke in a restaurant at 36 weeks. I was excited to trust my body again and experience labour for a third time. This time was different. Our son’s heart rate kept dropping and the doctor opted for an emergency section, where she discovered the cord wrapped around his neck three times.  

As I was in surgery, the beautiful sound of baby screams filled the room and I cried tears of joy and relief. Our baby- the one we so desperately longed for- was finally here and he was perfect!     

A year later we would fall pregnant with another son. Again, we had a beautiful pregnancy and I was closely monitored. His placenta had split with an unprotected blood vessel laying across my cervix. There was a high risk of my water breaking, the vessel bursting, and baby and myself not making it. My section was scheduled for 36 weeks to prevent any complications and there he was- another perfect baby boy. (Requiring a little time in the NICU).   


A year had passed and we decided to expand our family once more. It took us a little longer to fall pregnant this time. We were thrilled when we saw those two pink lines again. We saw the little flicker of a heartbeat at our first scan, then at our second scan, we found ourselves struck with another loss.  

We knew the routine… no heartbeat… Take meds- Wait- Deliver baby. This time was different once again. There was a sense of peace and familiarity as I delivered another boy in the quiet of my home early that morning. I placed his perfectly formed body in a tiny box and started my day.  

Within the hour, I would have to call into work, wake my boys/feed them, bring them to school/daycare, and carry about my day. My husband and I had a beautiful time together where we buried our son, went out for coffee, and shared our feelings surrounding our latest loss. 

That night, we shared the news with our boys and answered any questions they had. 


It took one full year after our most-recent loss to find ourselves pregnant again. I felt a great sense of calm take over my body as we prepared for our newest child. This time nausea hit harder than it ever had and I spent most of my free-time in bed during my first trimester.  

We had beautiful scans of our baby and were shocked to find out that our bloodwork showed elevated risk for down syndrome. I opted for more detailed bloodwork which would take three long weeks to come back.  

I took a call one morning at work and heard the words, “Your baby is healthy! Would you like to know what you’re having?”, a sentence that seemed so routine for the nurse on the other side of the phone. I quietly said yes, as tears rolled down my cheeks. “It’s a girl! Congratulations!”  

I replied with “okay” and stared silently as time stood still. Our baby is healthy and we’re having a girl! It took my whole pregnancy to process these words until our daughter was safely swaddled in our arms.  

There is beauty in watching the boys grow up with their little sister. A sweetness has emerged from their busy bodies as they respond to her cries and giggles. Each day, I look around the table and have an immense sense of gratitude and love- a feeling of wholeness in my heart. We made this: our beautiful family.   

Our older son picked out the name Elliotte, meaning strength of God, and she has taken our first daughter’s name as her middle name. I look forward to the day our sweet little girl can fully understand the honour she carries with her sister’s name and how much joy she continues to bring to our family and friends each day. She’s an absolute gem; one of our deepest blessings. 

Natalie's newborn daughter is swaddled and laying on top of a fuzzy blanket.

Photo credit: @sarahannphotography519 


I am amazed to find that many women have similar stories of pregnancy and infant loss- which are now being shared more openly so that grieving families may not feel so alone during those difficult times. This incredible community of parents show great determination, perseverance, and strength as they navigate through grief and the challenges of growing their families.    

These experiences- these tiny chapters in my life that have moulded me into the wife/mother/friend that I am today- are all part of my great journey. 

Natalie's daughter lays on top of the rainbow skirt.

Photo credit: myself  

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