1. Describe the process of getting pregnant. Was it easy for you? Was it hard? Did you have to go through fertility treatment?
Getting pregnant was not easy for us. Our wedding was scheduled during co-vid. My now husband and I had been together for 5 years before getting engaged. In August we decided we were unsure if our wedding would still occur and that we were ready to start trying to expand our family. After 9 months of negative tests we started with an OB for advice. After 3 additional months we were referred to a specialist who told us they were unsure of our chances to conceive due to secondary male factor infertility. No one could tell us why, my husband has a 9 year old from a previous relationship so the news rocked us. After 3 failed IUIs we were encouraged to switch to IVF, we asked for one more cycle and our specialist agreed. On our 4th medicated cycle we conceived our son, the positive pregnancy test was one of the best days of our lives. It took us approximately 2.5 years to conceive.
2. What was the pregnancy like? Was it easy and smooth? Hard with a lot of pregnancy symptoms?
My pregnancy with our son was tough in the first trimester. I was very sick and struggled with severe nausea. Otherwise we were told our pregnancy was “picture perfect”.
3. Did you have a reason why your losses occurred?
We were given a reason, our son passed from a cord injury more specifically known as a cord torsion at 25 weeks. His umbilical cord was twisted on itself next to the abdomen. Our doctors tell us it would have likely happened early on around 8 weeks and that they don’t know why torsions happen. We were told the injury slowly deprived our son of oxygen and nutrients he needed. Based on the location in the cord we were told no ultrasound would have been able to detect this.
4. How far along were you?
We were 25 weeks 3 days when we heard the words no heartbeat.
5. What are your babies names?
Our son’s name is Levi Michael Ballard
6. What was the birthing/loss experience like?
The birthing/loss experience was so overwhelming. I work in Healthcare so I knew the reality of needing to deliver being 25 weeks but my brain completely went into denial. The ultrasound was the only one my husband missed. Having to call him was the hardest thing. The OB sat in the room with me and supported our choice to go straight to the hospital to deliver. The staff where we delivered were so compassionate and amazing. Every nurse and doctor gave us room to grieve and offered support. Having to decide if we would bury or cremate Levi while waiting to give birth was overwhelming. The actual birth of Levi was quick. From induction to birth was approximately 15 hours and the OB who delivered was nothing short of incredible.
7. Did you get to spend time with your baby or get any keepsakes?
We spent 8 hours with Levi after he was born. The only time he left our arms was to go to the NICU to have molds made of his hands and feet. NILMDS was contacted by our staff and came to take photos. Our nursing team went above and beyond for us. They asked if we wanted colored photos taken on our phone by the nursing team, we were both so unsure. One nurse said, “If you decide you don’t want them I can delete them, but maybe you will and it’s better to have them in case.” Our colored photos are my favorite thing in this world and I’m so grateful for her. We were also given his hand and footprints, pieces of his hair, a hat, a memory box, and measuring tape with his length. All things are so treasured.
8. How was the medical treatment/support during your loss?
Again I cannot say enough about our medical team. Our nurses cried with us. They smiled with us. They told us how beautiful our son was. As a nurse myself it was so amazing to see how compassionate our team was for our situation.
9. Did you receive support from family and friends after your loss?
Honestly some of the people I thought would be my biggest support were the least supportive and others who I didn’t expect to step up did. Friends became a huge support for us during our time of grief. I’m blessed with 2 amazing best friends who were my rock. They say you learn alot about people around you in your grief and I’d say that was accurate for me.
10. How were your emotions after loss? (Angry, sad, scared, confused, etc)
I’ve definitely gone through every stage of grief. I have been incredibly angry, sad, confused. I would question God daily in the beginning and beg to trade places. Over the months I have learned to manage my grief better but there are still days of anger and sadness. I still don’t understand why our son couldn’t stay but feel comfort in knowing I will see him again one day.
11. How did you know you were ready to try again?
When we were deciding when to try again we never imagined the path we would end up on. After taking so long to conceive Levi we thought we were about to start another long road to our next baby. I actually spoke to an old friend who also had a loss and asked how she knew she was ready again. She gave me the best advice. She told me she knew whether she waited 2 months or 2 years the love for the baby lost would never fade and neither would her desire to be an earthside mom. That resounded so strongly to me. My husband and I decided we would start getting IVF procedures to begin the journey at 3 months postpartum to be surprised at our prep visit with the news we were pregnant.
12. What has the pregnancy with your rainbow baby been like?
This pregnancy has been all the emotions. Anxiety has been so high waiting and praying this baby is born earthside. It has been filled with guilt for feeling happy though I know Levi handpicked his sister for us. But along with the guilt and anxiety has also been joy. Our rainbow has given us meaning again as a family. She has even brought light back for her earth side big brother who has struggled with the loss of his little brother. She is a miracle
13. Is there anything special you do to remember your angel baby/babies?
We have pictures of Levi around our home. We recognize him in snowflakes and bumblebees. His Molly Bear will be included in family photos moving forward. And his little sister shares his initials LMB with him.
14. Is there anything you want others to know about going through loss?
Loss is the hardest thing we have ever survived, and each day is a new survival day. Lean on those who give you comfort and strength. Find your people who will remember your angel with you and value them. Remember your grief journey is your own. Let no one tell you how to grieve.
Photos taken by Claire Keathley Photography.
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