Rachel and Kyle got married in 2016. After enjoying a few years of married life together, they were fortunate to have no trouble getting pregnant, and they had their first child, a girl named Taylor Joy, in July 2019 after a healthy and normal pregnancy and delivery.
When Taylor was almost 2 years old, they decided it was time to have another baby to complete the family they had always dreamed of. Once again, they were able to get pregnant without any problems in the spring of 2021. They were overjoyed to find out that they were expecting another baby girl! Taylor was so excited and ready to become a big sister. Rachel had another healthy pregnancy without any concerns or complications.
Near the very end of her pregnancy, Rachel’s blood pressure was a little higher than normal, but the same had happened at the end of her first pregnancy, and her doctor was not concerned. The baby also continued to have strong, frequent movements.
On January 19, 2022, at almost 39 weeks along, Rachel went into labor shortly after waking up. At some point in the morning, Rachel realized she wasn’t sure if she had felt the baby move that morning. She was not concerned, because she didn’t remember Taylor’s movements being quite as strong during labor. She and Kyle headed to the hospital to have the baby.
When they got to hospital, Rachel was assessed before being admitted to labor and delivery. The nurse could not find the baby’s heartbeat, and a doctor confirmed with an ultrasound that the baby had no heartbeat and had passed away. During this time, Rachel’s required COVID test came back positive, even though she had zero symptoms. Since she was in active labor, they were admitted, and Rachel delivered a beautiful, perfect baby girl that evening. They named her Blake Leslie.
Despite COVID restrictions, the hospital allowed Rachel and Kyle’s parents to be present for labor, delivery, and recovery. They also had a photographer friend come to the hospital to take beautiful pictures of Blake with her family. The incredible nurses and hospital staff were able to make Blake’s hand and foot castings. Rachel and Kyle were able to spend about 16 hours with Blake before having to say goodbye to her earthly body forever. Leaving the hospital without their baby girl was the hardest and most heartbreaking thing they’ve ever had to do.
Rachel and Kyle chose not to have an autopsy done, as they were advised that it wasn’t likely that they would get any helpful results from it, and they were aware that it wouldn’t change what had happened. They did test blood samples from the placenta, and Rachel had some blood work done, but they were never able to determine a reason for Blake’s death.
In the following days and weeks, they were blessed by family and friends that brought meals, snacks, household supplies, and gifts for Taylor. They had loved ones come visit to talk, cry, and distract. They had a small and beautiful memorial service at their church to celebrate and honor Blake’s life.
The time after Blake’s death was not easy on anyone in the family, and they are still grieving her almost a year later. Although they will always be grieving, Rachel and Kyle turn to their faith in God to find strength each day. They find hope and joy knowing that Blake is experiencing eternal life in Heaven, and they know that they will be reunited with her one day. Rachel has also found a lot of comfort in Instagram pages run by loss moms, including Journey for Jasmine. Knowing that others have been through similar losses make her feel less alone. They are determined to keep Blake’s memory alive, and to honor her in many ways. Rachel crochets cradles for Bridget’s Cradles, and she also made bracelets for The Pink and Blue Project this year. They talk about Blake all the time with Taylor, who never got to meet her baby sister, but is still the best big sister Blake could possibly have. Rachel came across Project Finding Your Rainbow shortly after Blake died and knew that when the time was right, she wanted to participate by having a turn with the rainbow skirt.
Rachel and Kyle decided they did not want to wait long to try for another baby. They knew that no baby would ever replace Blake. They still longed to have two living children, and wanted Taylor to have a living sibling to grow up with. They found out that Rachel was pregnant again in May 2022. So far, Rachel has had another healthy pregnancy. They found out that they are having a baby girl, expected to arrive around the new year.
Rachel wants others to know that baby loss can happen to anyone, at any gestation. If you are one of the unlucky ones who loses a child, you are not alone, no matter how alone you feel. The baby loss community is not a fun club to be in, but you will meet the most amazing and supportive people, who are the only ones who truly understand what you are going through. She also wants others to know that there is always hope. It’s okay to grieve and go through all of the emotions, and that even when you feel like you’re never going to be okay again, that one day you will. The pain of losing a child never completely goes away, but it does get easier to carry. She encourages loss parents to take their grief one day at a time, seek counseling or therapy to help you through the grief, and to chase your rainbow, whatever that may look like for each person.
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