‘May your children please step out?’ The ultrasound tech seemed irritated. I was congratulated and given a death sentence all in one.’: Grieving mom knits miniature crochet hats for angel babies

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“In February of 2019, we found out we were expecting our rainbow baby after suffering a miscarriage two months prior. Ecstatic is an understatement.

The fear of having a second miscarriage never left my mind. I counted down the days until we would reach what they refer to as the ‘safe zone’ and with each week that went by, my anxiety faded. Every appointment, our baby’s heartbeat was strong and every little bit of our baby was growing right on track.

Courtesy of Megan Stiles

June 2019, I went to my 20-week anatomy scan, knowing I’d find out the gender that following weekend at our Gender Reveal Party. I told my husband since we weren’t finding out the sex, it wasn’t a big deal if he came or not and I would bring photos home for him to see. I brought one of our family friends to help with my kids. I had done this three times already, I knew the routine. I walked into that room, fully expecting to see a wiggly, beautiful healthy baby and wonder if I was going to even the playing field with another girl or outnumber my daughter with another boy.

What I never expected was my world to completely come crashing down in one appointment that was supposed to be routine. The ultrasound tech seemed so irritated and I pegged it as her being annoyed I had my children there. I later realized that she wasn’t annoyed, but trying to keep it together herself as she knew when she left that room, she’d be coming back destroying our joy and happiness.

Smiles quickly faded to worry as doctors, nurses and specialists all started to crowd the room. They asked if I could have my children and friend step out of the room. I remember at that moment thinking they were going to tell me my child had dwarfism or Down syndrome. That would make things different, but nothing we couldn’t handle. I never expected to be told that my baby had something severely wrong with him and without intervention, he would die.

Courtesy of Megan Stiles

I left that clinic having to break the news to my husband and my family. I remember calling my mom in the middle of her workday and the first thing she said when she picked up the phone, ‘What’s going on? Is everyone okay?’ It wasn’t the first time she’s answered the phone like that when I’ve called unexpectedly, but it was the first time I’ve ever had to answer that question with a no. It was soul-crushing.

My doctor explained I needed to come back the next day to have a procedure done and without it, my son would pass away, no question. So that’s what we did. I came back a week later to find, even though the procedures went as expected, it did nothing to help my baby’s condition. We found out we were expecting a little boy that day. At that moment, I was both congratulated on having another little boy and given his death sentence all in one.

The doctors told me he would pass away in the next one to two weeks. It was important for me to come in twice a week because my life was at risk of developing life-threatening conditions with each day that passed.

I walked into that clinic at the two-week mark holding my breath. I fully expected to be told this little boy was no longer with us and I’d be leaving there, childless. But instead, week after week went by and appointment after appointment, he was still there, still alive. He was defying odds and amazing each doctor we came into contact with.

We were told each week he was staying stable, for some miraculous reason, but his condition has a 90 percent fatality rate and there was still a very good chance he would not make it. We prayed and never let go of hope and because of that, each week was another week we got with our precious boy.

On August 9th, 2019, 7.5 weeks after our baby’s diagnosis, I had a really off day. I was so tired the whole day and just felt weird. That evening it had dawned on me I had never felt movement from our baby. I started to coax him to move with every trick I could think of, but nothing. I convinced myself it was just an off day and he probably moved around all day, but I was too sleepy to realize. I went to bed and decided to reassess in the morning.

I woke up early the next morning, and immediately went straight to trying to provoke movement in him and when I couldn’t, I knew. I don’t think it had hit me at that moment, but subconsciously, I knew he had passed. I think in that situation, most people would rush to the hospital without thinking twice about it. But instead, I took my time getting ready, I showered, ate, got dressed, and walked in prepared to feel like an idiot for coming in for no reason, other than being a worried mom, but knowing the news I would actually receive was probably going to be the complete opposite.

30 minutes of trying to find his heartbeat on a doppler, four nurses, and a portable ultrasound later, I was given the news. ‘I’m sorry, but it looks as though there is no longer a heartbeat.’

I remember listening to the nurse call my husband and tell him what had happened and how debilitating that was, knowing a stranger had to tell him because I physically couldn’t do it. How do you find the words to tell someone their wife can’t call them, because their son died and she can’t muster up the strength to tell you?

My body wasn’t anywhere close to being ready to deliver and this would be my first vaginal birth, as my other three were all c-sections. I opted to be induced that day anyway. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew it was time. It was the hardest and most exhausting thing I’ve ever gone through in my life, but after 52 hours of excruciating labor and three failed induction attempts, our son was born.

Courtesy of Megan Stiles
Courtesy of Megan Stiles

On August 12th, 2019 at 3:39 p.m., David Carl Stiles was born silently into this world weighing 1 pound and 2 ounces, and 11 inches long. I was 27 weeks and 6 days pregnant the day he was born. He was perfect in every way.

Courtesy of Megan Stiles
Courtesy of Megan Stiles

I couldn’t believe after enduring such a hard and traumatic labor and rocking out a VBA3C, I wouldn’t be taking this little person home. Instead, I left with empty arms and a broken heart.

Courtesy of Megan Stiles

It’s a walk of shame, watching people walk by you with car seats and huge smiles, knowing they’re going home with the one thing you wish you could. The immediate drop of smiles when they see you leaving empty handed with a pale, tear-stained face.

Courtesy of Megan Stiles

That day, I knew this couldn’t be for nothing. I promised I would keep his memory alive and his life wouldn’t be without purpose.

The last five months I have spent learning how to live without my son and how to grieve but heal at the same time. I started speaking very publicly and vocally about pregnancy and infant loss because the one thing I realized in those first few weeks is, nobody has a clue how to deal with child loss. Nobody talks about a baby dying. Oftentimes, bereaved parents are pushed to stay silent and suppress what happened. It never sat right with me to just be okay with that. I knew David’s story needed to be told and through being honest about my grief, I have found that.

With the vocalness of my mourning process, David’s Hearts bloomed. On top of being an advocate for bereaved parents, I knew more needed to be done. I started making little crocheted hats in different gestational sizes, ranging from 4 weeks gestation to 40 weeks to give to parents.

Courtesy of Megan Stiles

I have sent out over 40 hats since September and there is still a long waitlist I’m slowly moving through. I won’t pretend like the last five months without my son have been easy, but I find hope and comfort through David’s Hearts. The emails and Facebook messages from these parents, thanking me for giving them a little piece of their baby, is the biggest reward I could ever receive through this. Helping others helps me heal.

Courtesy of Megan Stiles

Seeing the impact David has made through these hats gives me hope and drive to keep going every single day. David never took a breath. He never cried a single tear. He never experienced the joy or pain of life, but he left such a large imprint on this world. David showed, despite being stillborn, he still had so much life.”

Courtesy of Megan Stiles

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Megan Stiles. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories about child loss here:

‘I kept crying out, ‘Please wait! It’s too early!’ I was 19, pregnant with quadruplets. My water broke at just 24 weeks and wouldn’t stop.’: Teen mom births miracle micro-preeme after losing 3 of her quadruplets

‘I never got to see your face, but I’m still your mother. I loved you the moment I saw those 2 pink lines.’: Mom pens heartbreaking letter to child lost, ‘I hope you feel us, we’ll never stop loving you’

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