‘I stood in line, filling the medication that would remove the life within me. I looked at my fiancé. ‘I’m going home and grabbing my camera.’: Woman photographs friend’s birth while miscarrying, ‘Let’s not forget the mamas’

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“I remember standing in line at Publix to fill the medication that would help continue to remove the life within me. I questioned whether or not I should photograph this birth…for about 30 seconds. I knew what I was going to do. Being decisive has its advantages. I looked at my fiancé Nick and said, ‘I’m going home, grabbing my camera, and heading back to the hospital. I can take these pills later.’

Naturally, he was worried about my physical well-being and my mental health. But I knew if I didn’t do this, I would regret it for the rest of my life. Having this once in a lifetime opportunity to document and watch life unfold before me for my friend was something I knew would never happen again. I just had to be there for her.

I remember being in the room feeling blood dripping from my body, the signs of my own child’s life going and knowing in just a few short hours, I would no longer be pregnant. I watched my friend’s body bleed simultaneously in agony and pain, signs of life, the movement down the birth canal, as she waited to bring her baby into the world. A life leaving and a life beginning all in the same room at the same moment and I was transfixed.

I wasn’t as sad as much as I was painfully magnetized by the heaviness of God’s love in that space. I turned soft music on and turned the TV off to ease the energy in the room to help my friend. And then I heard the song that always reminds me of my daughter, Clementine, called ‘Light’ by Sleeping at Last. I knew it was perfect for all of us to hear. Light was what we needed.

I remember her birthing room was a sacred room. It was filled with gentle love and motivation and tough aggressive love and encouragement, mostly coming from women. ‘You’ve got this. You are strong,’ they chanted. And I stood wide-eyed, bleeding and breathing, not wanting to miss a moment.

To be in a room filled with women empowering other women is truly a surreal experience that supersedes all the words I have. I’ll just sum it up as ‘RAD’ for now.

I trembled watching this birth story before me. My adrenaline was wrecked with excitement, preserving these memories into still frames for my friend, and in this moment I realized truly what gift my grief had turned into. As she bared down and pushed with all her muscles and confidence, the oxygen in the room grew thick with anticipation as the baby boy left her heaving body, sliding down from her to this world. And then there was the release; my eyes cried real heavy, warm, salty tears for the life before me and the life leaving me. It was painfully beautiful how that juxtaposition felt, but it reminded me how much God truly loves me; to place me in this space and to gift me the eyes of perspective. And the truth is I have never felt closer to humanity than I do now.

Courtesy of Alex Michele Photography

My pain has brought me closer up to the human condition. To sympathize is to say, ‘I am sorry you’re going through this.’ But to empathize is to say, ‘My heart is breaking alongside yours.’ And empathy is healing my broken heart. Joy and grief often coincide, they hold hands as old friends, but only if we allow our minds to surrender the pain and know God’s story for our lives is much grander than anything we could ever conjure up! And now I know the real truth: we can only experience true love with earth shattering reckoning and soul-crushing heart breaking.

Her name would have been Birdie. We were convicted of this the same evening we found out we were having another baby. We laid in bed, giddily laughing, on a high of hope, tossing names back and forth like catch and landed solidly on this one. We loved its simplicity and its quirk. She was to be a real bada– one day. We just knew it. And now here we are, gently and carefully moving onto peace from surrender and from holding on to letting go of the dreams we had for her and for us as a family. We know her life was grand even in its brevity. And she, she was my pivot. I will never forget the story of her, my friends’ birth and my own rebirth, and what our miscarriage taught me particularly that day on May 20th: resilience and softness of the vulnerable, beating, human heart.

When I think back to the hustle of the birthing room, I remember peering over at my friend bent over in pain. Baby had just been born and everyone was surrounding the miracle that happened before our eyes and naturally everyone was in awe of him. But I was especially in awe of her. I saw you, mama.

Courtesy of Alex Michele Photography

I saw the pain in your eyes and in your face and in your body. Because this is now a new season called postpartum. We tend to forget our mamas when babies are around. We ask how baby is, what does baby need, can we hold the baby, can we buy this for the baby, but…what about mama? Let us not forget the hard work she endured to carry this child AND the hard road ahead to mother and heal and feed and rest and parent her other children also. What do mamas really need? Meals dropped off, someone to watch baby so they can shower, solid child care for her other children, house cleaners to stop by and help out. Heating pads and coffee and comfy PJs. Maybe fast food. Or a friend to fold laundry. Maybe a new movie to watch or your Netflix login. Let’s not forget the mamas. It’s just so easy to because women are incredibly strong and seem to have it all together. But they need the support and the extra hands more than ever entering into that fourth trimester.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Alex Michele of Jacksonville, Florida. You can follow her journey on Facebook here and Instagram here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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‘She couldn’t stop looking over to where her brother would have been, had he survived. I couldn’t help but feel he was lying there, letting her know he was present, and will always be with her.’

‘I woke up from the anesthesia. ‘Is it closed?’ My family nodded. I couldn’t get pregnant. I feared passing it on to my kids. I knew my life would change, but didn’t understand how much.’

‘I text him. ‘I’m so sorry, do you need me?,’ he asked. ‘No. I don’t need you. You wanted this.’ We’re fighting again. We lay in bed. Our bed. We cry. I cannot give him what he wants.’

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