‘There’s no baby in there. Definitely no heartbeat.’ 7 angel babies and one COURAGEOUS couple

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“It was August of 2014; J and I were celebrating our eight years of marriage together. Cuddling close on the pier out on our romantic date, we decided it was time to expand our little family. We were excited and anxious for this new adventure. We were already so blessed to have two sweet kids 4 and 2 at the time. Everything felt so perfect. Our life seemed so good, we were both in good places and there weren’t many worries ahead. Life just felt happy.

Collage of couple in selfies celebrating at years of marriage and their 4 and 2 year old kids
Courtesy of Whitney Billings

That very next morning, our world forever changed in a single moment. Our world literally fell apart. Something horrible had happened to our family. So horrible, I can’t mention what exactly. The heartache was the worst I had ever felt. After months of trying to cope and mend our hearts, we decided that we still needed to stick to our plan we made on the pier that night. We knew our family was the most important thing. We knew that God would direct us in the path we needed to be. With much prayer and Hubby + Wife bonding we were ready for the next chapter in life.

I had this plan for myself that I wanted to be the healthiest I could be for this baby. It wasn’t about size; I just wanted to be healthy. I had two previous caesarians that I never wanted to have and knew things would be different if I tried. I changed our families’ diet, we started eating more fresh and less processed, I became a runner. Yeah, ME a runner. Who would have thought? Hey, I never said I was fast or anything but I moved. I started off small and eventually could run up to 5 miles without stopping. I signed up for my first 5K too. I was pretty proud of myself for my accomplishments. This was a great outlet for me while coping with our recent family struggle. If I was feeling down or discouraged I would just run. Best part is that I was able to involve my two kids. I pushed them pretty much every time I ran. They started wanting to run like me. I felt like, as a mom, I was doing something right.

It was late October; I had gone to the Doctor to have my IUD removed. This was really exciting for us! Just a few days later I realized that the bleeding I was having didn’t seem normal. I had an IUD in the past, so I compared it to that experience. Then a few days later, I was in the bathroom and passed this blood clot that was quite large and different looking. Later discovering that it was not a blood clot, in fact, it was a 7-8 week old baby. I held my own baby in my hands with no knowledge I had ever been pregnant. I felt baffled. Yet, at the same time, I didn’t feel sad or the need to grieve. I was okay. I told my Doctor about it and he confirmed that it was probably a fetus. Now it was November and I was pregnant again. I was beyond excited for our third babe on the way. I wanted this announcement to be so special for my family. I decided to wait until we got to Disney Land for my Birthday.

I pinned a pin to my tummy that said, ‘First Visit’ (with the idea that it was the baby’s first visit) while I took a photo of my family waiting for their reaction. Mostly Hubby’s reaction. He was pretty surprised and well the kids they didn’t get it. Ha! We started making plans and getting really excited! It was December 3rd, 2014 when our plans crashed and our hearts broke. I lost that sweet little baby of ours. Seven weeks along and that baby was gone. We were devastated. I had never had a miscarriage before, so this was quite a surprise to us.

Going in to see the Dr. wasn’t fun either. There was blood work and, ‘oh leave your urine sample for us.’ It was more like a blood sample, sadly! Saddest part honestly, telling the kids our baby went to Heaven. So we didn’t tell them. We waited six months before saying anything about the baby. We thought that maybe we could get pregnant again, and maybe we wouldn’t have to put them through that pain and loss. It never occurred to me that we should wait to tell them, ‘just in case.’ The day came where we had to tell them. It was a sad day. Sweet Layla cried. It broke our hearts. Christmas was a hard one that year, for so many reasons. I felt empty inside. I remember reaching out to some girlfriends. To my surprise, their reaction wasn’t what I was hoping for. I left feeling more empty and unsupported.

It was March now and a new year. We were ready for a fresh start. We found out we were pregnant again. This time we were excited but nervous. By late March, we lost our sweet baby at five weeks along. We didn’t even get a chance to be excited. I felt defeated, lost and broken. Again… back to the Doctors office, blood work and the urine sample. Somehow my hormone levels always came back at practically ZIP!

It was shortly after that when I remember my sister giving me a special little gift. It was a bracelet. Then she told me her exciting news. She was pregnant with her second baby. She too had her own struggles. I was genuinely happy for her. Even though I felt happy for her, my heart still hurt. It was the only natural way to feel. Soon after my sister told me she had more exciting news. She was pregnant with TWINS! I couldn’t believe the news. I was so, so happy for her and her family. Truth be told though, I cried. I cried to Heavenly Father asking why I couldn’t just keep one baby. One baby of my own. Why did my sister get two babies? And I left with miscarriage, after miscarriage? I knew I couldn’t compare my life versus hers but I was suffering. I needed answers.

We decided we needed to take a break for a bit and get our minds off the situation. Once we were somewhat mended, we got back in the swing of things. Trying all the time, taking my basal body temperature and all that good stuff.  Meanwhile, friends and family of mine got pregnant, some already having their babies, and others making the social media announcement. I longed for all of this. I felt happy for those friends and family, but it was hard to feel happy in my own life. During this time I hosted baby showers for many close friends and my sister expecting her sweet twins. My husband encouraged me not to do it. He told me it would be too hard on me. The natural self in me was to go out of my way for my friends and family; anyone I was close to and loved.

Looking back I wish I could have let myself grieve more, instead of hiding it behind all the activities I kept myself busy with. For those that know me, you know me as a gal that loves taking pictures. I am that MOM over posting sweet pics of her kids on social media. What you don’t know is that I’m a pretty private person. Even though I post a lot of pictures, I also don’t share a lot about myself, personal struggles, or anytime I have lost and grieved a baby. I’m more the type to suffer in silence. Somehow it made me feel more normal. Or maybe I was just burying all the pain, hoping it would go away. Did I mention I’m a professional photographer? Yeah, so I do that too.

Right about the time I started having my miscarriages…I all of a sudden became a popular maternity and newborn photographer. This seemed to be all that I was doing, newborn after newborn. Honestly, it was bitter-sweet for me. I loved the opportunity to hold these sweet, new, and fresh smelling babies while I photographed them. However, at the same time, I was bottling up the deepest depression inside. Holding it all in just to keep my professional status. I never led on to anything I had experienced. I would lose a baby and then a week or so later maybe even days later have an appointment with a new baby. Who doesn’t just love the way they smell though?

Six months of trying made for a difficult time but eventually I got pregnant again. It was September now, I was pregnant again. Finally! I was so, so nervous and scared of what might happen. I tried to be so careful, ate really healthy and exercised carefully. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter what I did. I lost that baby too at five weeks along. Again, our hearts sank. I was right back where I left off. Depressed, sad, and blaming myself for what had happened. Every time I experienced this, I fell into this deep pit and couldn’t pull myself out. I wouldn’t let others pull me out and when they tried I pushed them away. This was baby number four, I had lost. FOUR! My sweet husband was there for me every-single-time, and what did I do? I pushed him away. I told him to leave me alone. To go away. My heart hurts so much reliving this. I wish I had let him. Let him cry with me. Instead, I took the blame for it all. Therefore I should suffer alone.

I remember the night I lost that baby. I began to bleed and I knew right then I had lost another Angel to heaven. Except, this time was different. I was getting ready to go see my sister in the hospital. She was in preterm labor and on bed rest. My mind was somewhere else. I lost that baby, kissed my kids goodnight, and jumped in the car to get over to see my sister. I bawled my eyes out the whole way over. Making it hard to see while driving. I was a wreck. A complete wreck and I knew it. Walking up to labor and delivery, I had to walk past the baby nursery. You know the ones with the great big glass windows, so you can see the sweet new babes? Yeah, those killed me. Killed me.

Seeing those fresh babies and knowing that my body wasn’t working like it should. Longing for another baby, praying I could have another baby. BUT my sister needed me. SO I had to put my feelings aside. I wiped my tears and put on a smile for her. I think she knew something was off with me, but again I hid my pain. Not for myself, but for her. I knew she was in great pain and stressing about her babies coming early. It was that very next evening; my sweet sister was taken back to the operating room to deliver her babies ten weeks early! My mom and I cried together. Our family was experiencing more struggles then we felt built for.

It was the moment when they wheeled baby Cali into the NICU and we were standing right there watching it all happen. She was so tiny and fragile looking. Then came baby Kai. He too was tiny and fragile looking. We just cried and prayed and prayed. It was a tender moment. Lots of prayers went out for their sweet little family. I remember standing in those hospital hallways so long, and only moments after my miscarriage while my legs just shook from the shock. From all the bleeding my body had to endure. Again, back to the Doctors to do blood work and a urine sample. All for them to tell me, I am no longer pregnant. Which I of course already knew.

Newborn twins asleep together in basket who have since passed away
Courtesy of Whitney Billings

It was exactly one month later now. Hello October! I love October, because well, of course, there’s Halloween and lots of candy! I became pregnant again! Worried… of course. Through this whole process, our insurance was either non-existing or crummy. Hence making it difficult to really get to the bottom of these issues I was having. I would see a doctor and then another doctor, doctor after doctor.  I finally got my insurance worked out and was able to find a really awesome doctor, to say the least. He made sure every need of mine was met. Shortly after I found out I was prego again…well, I bet you can guess what came next?

Yeah, I lost that baby too. That was baby #5. FIVE miscarriages! WHY!? Again, I was five weeks along. It was right before Halloween and it sucked. It made it hard to enjoy the simple pleasures. Back to the Doctors I went. More blood work and a urine sample full of more blood. This was becoming routine for me. It was like a nightmare that never ended. I hit rock bottom. As soon as I started bleeding…I cried. I prayed to God… asking this to stop. To take it all away. I could NOT do this anymore. I remember I started folding laundry on my bed. Then I just blew up. I threw my clothes all over the room while I cried. Then I threw myself into a fetal position and hid in my closet. Hid in my misery. Crying my eyes out. Crying my soul out. Nothing was left for me to do but cry.

That’s when my husband found me. Yeah, his wife was curled up, crying mascara running all over her face. Did he care what I looked like? Not at all… he was so sad for me and for us. Of course, I pushed him away again. I wish I didn’t. I just didn’t want to bring him down with me. I remember this night so vividly. I was in so much pain; I just wanted to be alone to cry. I was so uncomfortable that I slept alone on the couch. The next morning J woke me up. When I got up from the couch I was weak… next thing I know I have blood running down my legs and a puddle of blood on the floor. I cried. This sucked so much. No matter what I did, I had to constantly be reminded. My sweet husband, he was so good to me. He helped me to the bathroom and cleaned up the mess. I really do love him. He’s my greatest supporter in good and bad times. We moved on eventually, but I never forgot what that experience was like. I felt changed.

It was November now. My Birthday month! I had been doing lots of research about pregnancy, staying pregnant and so on. My doctor was completely on board with me. Supporting me every step of the way and encouraging me. I was able to get pregnant again. I thanked God for, because every time felt like a miracle. Generally speaking, I believe any pregnancy is a miracle. Right!? My Doctor prescribed some progesterone suppository for me to take while pregnant. I also took my regular prenatal vitamin (as I had always been doing), and a baby aspirin. The progesterone was to help keep me pregnant. It thickens my uterine wall thus helping to keep the baby in and keep me pregnant. I lost baby number SIX, two days before my Birthday! I was five weeks pregnant. While this may not seem far enough along to be attached… let me tell you the emotional and physical aspect of it all is enough to rock your world. I couldn’t believe this could happen again! There was no explanation of all this madness. I went through the steps of depression once again. I Pushed people away that I love, said no thank you to help and acted like I was ‘Okay.’

So back to my Doctors office, to just get the same heartbreaking news, low hormone levels. Then there was all the usual stuff to be done. Only this time, my Doctor had some new ideas. First of all, he told me that this wasn’t my fault. He said that I was perfectly healthy and fertile. There should be no reason why you can’t have a healthy baby, he said. He was always very compassionate every single time this happened. I appreciated this so much and respected him for his compassionate care. He was the first Doctor to actually try to fix this situation. He then sent me to the lab to have a full blood panel done. He said he would be testing for anything that could be wrong. Worst case scenario, he said I could have lupus. Lupus is an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues.

This was something really scary to think about. I didn’t feel like I had lupus, but I did feel like something had to be wrong. I mean how could I be completely normal, and have lost six babies in a row!? I went in to do the blood work. As always, I had my little sweet three-year-old with me. I didn’t love the idea of him being there every single time I had to do blood work, but we made it work. It was something we did quite often. When I got pregnant I did blood work and when I lost a baby we did more blood work. I had the opportunity to explain to my son how neat it is that Doctors can help you, just by doing a blood test. He always said to me, ‘Mommy I’ll be brave for you and hold your hand.’ And we kept lollypops on hand…for him of course! So I did the blood work and eighteen vials later the blood work came back just fine. Go figure huh? Back to the drawing board, I guess. At this point, I was willing to try ANYTHING! Although, hubs and I decided… we needed to give my body and mind a break from all this. I was scheduled to come back to see my Dr. in two weeks.

It was December now. We’ve been at this over a year now. It’s been a long year, to say the least. We had lost more than we knew was possible. For some reason, people liked to remind us what we already had when they would find out about us losing a baby. ‘Oh well you already have a boy and a girl, so you will be ok.’ These comments were hurtful to us, and so many more comments were made that aren’t even worth mentioning. Anyway, I was still taking the Progesterone, baby aspirin, and another new medicine that I would start should I become pregnant again. It was my two-week follow-up appointment, from my last miscarriage in November. I had found out by some way of another miracle I was PREGNANT!! In fact, I got three positive home pregnancy tests. Even after all the trauma, I was excited.

It felt like this amazing miracle God had blessed us with and it was different this time. Although I was still paranoid, I felt hopeful. It was right then in the Doctor’s office, I lay there 7 weeks pregnant with my Husband by my side and we heard it. Thump, thump, thump… it was our baby’s heartbeat. It was really happening! I felt so happy but so afraid. The Doctor came in and said, ‘We have a healthy baby and strong heartbeat! Aren’t you happy!?’ My reply, ‘I can’t be sure everything will be ok Dr.’ Of course, you know what’s next…more blood work! Then, again just a few days later. Just to be on the extra safe side my Doctor prescribed a blood thinner shot, in hopes to work with my body and keep the baby in. I would be injecting this big needle into my tummy daily. My first thought, A SHOT! Eeeeek! My reply, ‘Dr. I am willing to try anything!’

Honestly, it was quite awful and I had anxiety every night before my shot. It made me feel dizzy and strange. However, I wanted to do everything possible for my baby. I did this for about two weeks. Then my crummy insurance once again decided it wasn’t really pregnancy related and chose not to cover it. I was then faced with an $800 monthly out-of-pocket fee! My Dr. and I chose to discontinue the medicine, as there was no scientific proof this medicine was helping me. Later on, when I got the call from my Doctor regarding my blood test results, I remember sitting at Chick ‘fil’ a with the kiddos playing. It was loud and when I heard the Doctors voice on the other end, my heart swelled with fear, until he said, ‘Well your hormone levels tripled in just a few days! You are doing better than you ever have!’ I couldn’t believe it! I think that was the moment I really became hopeful, that this was REAL!

Ultrasound of baby after woman miscarried several times
Courtesy of Whitney Billings

I was seen pretty regularly by my Doctor, as a high-risk pregnancy. This time things were so different. My belly started to grow. I slowly started to become attached. I prayed, we prayed, the family prayed that I would be able to keep this baby. I was given a blessing by my sweet Husband that God would allow our family to welcome this baby to earth. I felt so much peace and happiness. Eventually, people started to notice my growing belly, including our two children. Being that it was my third baby that belly starts to push out quickly! Yet, I didn’t comment when I got the looks or questions. I was too afraid of saying, ‘Yeah we are having a baby!’ I thought I might jinx it… if that was even a real thing! Plus I really didn’t want to have to answer to people if this too was a baby that would leave me. Every day was a blessing with this growing baby in my belly.

Eventually, we had to tell the kids as I was nearly three months pregnant and obviously showing. They were so thrilled and that’s all we talked about from then on! It was a really joyous time after all that pain we had felt. I literally prayed to God and thanked him every day, for each day I had with our baby. Things started to move along, we discussed the baby’s nursery and the plans we had, we talked about baby names and I bought some new maternity clothes. I even found the cutest swimsuit for the summer approaching. After all, I was due September 2nd so I was going to be hot. I was so happy. Then the day came when I felt that sweet baby kick inside of my tummy. Oh, it was a glorious feeling. SO comforting and I thanked God right then and there.  Time went on, the baby was healthy and so was I.

I went in for my regular check-up with the Doctor, and to get my ultrasound as well. This time for fun I brought along Grandma and my son, Hunter. I laid there on the table watching in anticipation, to see our little sweet pea. The next words I heard sounded like a nightmare like I was literally in a dream. The ultrasound tech said, ‘There’s no baby in there. I’m not getting anything and definitely no heartbeat.’ I lay there frozen. My body didn’t move and all I heard was my little 3-year-old saying, ‘Where’s the baby, mama?’ I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe this! All I remember saying is, ‘no, I felt the baby kick’ and she replies with, ‘No you didn’t that’s impossible. There’s no baby there.’ My heart must have left my body because I didn’t have any emotion.

I just picked up my stuff and left. Straight walked out. I walked to the car with my family, holding my boy’s little hand and my body was completely numb.  This couldn’t be true? Could it? I was almost 14 weeks (3 months) along! AND YES I did feel that baby move! Who was she to tell my body what I did or didn’t!? Eventually, the nurses came out to get me and I had to see the Doctor. I didn’t see the need to see him. It was all over anyway. I sat there in his office. Not moving and keeping my shit together because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to stop. My doctor came in and asked to hug me and apologized. I of course vocally pushed him away and said no.

Every part of my being ached and I couldn’t shake what had just happened. He strongly suggested I go to the hospital to have a D&C. A D&C is a procedure to remove the tissue of a fetus. He said if I didn’t do it, that it would be possible for me to hemorrhage out (bleed out) since I was so far along. I thought to myself, that would never happen to me and I’ll be fine. I was always saying, ‘I’m fine!’ when in actual reality… fine meant I was terrible but it was merely a cover. So I left the office, and cried the whole way home along with my mom next to me. No one said anything, we just cried. It was awful. When I came home my husband was there home from work. I hadn’t even told him the news yet, but he heard. I was so angry, I felt entitled to share that news with him but I didn’t get to.  I went to my room and curled up on the floor and I held my belly that was still a three-month baby bump. Could this be true? Did this baby really leave me? WHY!? Next thing I know my husband is there with me curled up on the ground crying with me. Then I realized that this pain is just as much real for him as it is for me.

We were devastated beyond measure. I felt my life shatter before me and I crawled into a deep dark hole, where no good thought became. I went to sleep and slept and slept while family and friends stepped in and helped us. I turned my phone off and slept through lunch, dinner, and continued to sleep. The next morning I slept through breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I couldn’t eat. I was sick to my stomach by this loss. This is the time I began to write my story. Even if no one read it, I think I just needed to get it out. That first night we decided to tell the kids, as we didn’t want to drag it on. The pain we felt by telling them the news was almost worse than the physical pain I felt. They were sad and then angry. Why did God take our baby? We tried explaining that God loves us and would never hurt us. They were crying and sad. My heart sank. I felt responsible for their pain.

The next few days are a blur and quite scary to think about. If you can imagine this, things only got worse from here. The next night, I was lying on the couch at home and when I went to stand up blood instantly rushed out of my body and filled a puddle on the ground. It wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t move and my legs began to shake. Justin was right there with me the whole time. Why I didn’t go to the hospital? Beats me! Anyway, the bleeding slowed down a bit and I seemed to be doing ok. I began getting really busy and trying to find ways to fill our time.

Prior to this, we had been looking at homes, so we decided to keep that process going. Also, something we had always wanted to do is become foster parents. We prayed long and hard about this and decided to start the process now. On this particular day, we found our home to be and placed an offer that night we also attended our first foster parent class. It had only been days since we lost the baby. I know this all sounds crazy, but this is what kept me from crawling back into that dark hole all alone. I needed to be busy and productive. We had always wanted to be foster parents, but our time just came sooner than we had planned for. That night our world came down hard on us again!

Here’s the truth though, God was holding us up. He was there for us when we fell.  It was after our foster class. We were home visiting with my parents, who had so sweetly watched our kids for us. As we sat there I started to feel my body have contractions and dilate. It began to get stronger and stronger. I stood up to shift the pain and that’s when the blood came rushing down. Again! It was happening again… only this time it was worse! My husband helped me to the bathroom and I couldn’t stop the bleeding.

Oh my gosh, it was happening! Exactly what my doctor had said would happen. I was hemorrhaging! My body went into shock and my legs started to shake again. I wasn’t just losing blood, I was hemorrhaging out. There were HUGE blood clots that were the size of my entire hand!! I bled so bad that I couldn’t stop it enough to even get out of the bathroom. Finally, my sweet husband helped me to the shower where I continued to bleed and bleed. I stood there in the shower losing my baby. The baby that was supposed to be my rainbow baby! The bleeding didn’t slow down in fact I became so weak in the shower that I began to feel my self-passing out. That’s right when my mom and Husband stepped in & helped me out.

My husband called my Doctor, and because I have an amazing Doctor we actually got to talk to him even though it was around 12:00 A.M. at this point. He told us to go to the hospital as soon as possible and to tell the hospital to call him right away once we got there. We rushed over to the ER. By now, I was having severe contractions, only a couple of minutes apart. Every time I had a contraction, a huge blood clot would come out.  I could hardly stand the drive over. My body was so weak, and by now I was shaking all over teeth chattering and all. When we got to the hospital I was too weak to walk, so Justin ran inside to get me a wheelchair. I remember when he left, I had another contraction, and to ease the pain I tried to get out of the car, only to realize that I had zero strength and instead I sat stuck on the footstep of our car. This is where things get worse again.

We checked in to the ER and told them to please call my Dr. Except they didn’t. ER was packed. GO figure on a Tuesday night. There was no room in the waiting room for us, so we parked in the hallway of the ER entrance. This officially SUCKED! We waited and waited and WAITED! I was in horrendous pain. Every two minutes I had to squeeze onto Justin’s hand to make it through my contractions, while I let out cries. After a while of waiting, the bleeding began to get worse. By now, I had bled through a huge jumbo pad, my underwear & pants. I sat there in my wheelchair in a puddle of blood while it dripped down to the floor. Think they let me in at this point? Think wrong.

At some point, an ultrasound tec took me back for an ultrasound. Get this; she actually tried to do a VAGINAL ultrasound! I told her there is no way in Hell she is sticking something inside of me while I’m bleeding out! So instead we did a regular ultrasound on my tummy. I tried to tell her that if I got up there would be blood everywhere. I guess she didn’t really believe me, because when I got up sure enough blood all over. She looked a little surprised.  Now for the ultrasound, she pushed on me with her machine all through my contractions and actually saw the blood clots coming out. It was misery.

Think we got a room at this point? Think again. Back to the ER waiting room! We sat there and things just kept getting worse. Another person that was in the ER said to Justin, ‘Did she have a miscarriage? They should be taking her back already! She looks like she’s in a lot of pain!’ Then at that moment the admitting nurse yelled at Justin and I, ‘We are doing the best that we can do! You just need to be patient!’ Mind you this is after waiting TWO HOURS in the waiting room while bleeding! I was in too much pain to talk or say anything for that matter. Finally, after waiting some more we got a room in the ER. The nurses began prepping me for surgery and get this they actually tried to put a catheter in me while I had all feeling! You can imagine my response at this point.

Then my Doctor arrived. Oh yes! He was here! I finally felt at ease and just felt peace.  I was so ready for this horror story to be over. That’s about when I had to say goodbye to y hubby, so they could take me back to the OR. I wasn’t even scared. I just felt sad for my baby. I had heard this was a quick and easy procedure, so I knew it would all be ok. I don’t remember much else, just my doctor waking me up telling me it went really well. Then I remember saying, where is my baby? I want to see my baby. It was like I was expecting to see this full term healthy baby.  A baby that grew in my belly for 9-months, and I just delivered. Maybe it was the drugs I was coming off from the surgery talking, but either way, I felt empty inside. Later on, my Doctor told me that I was in full active labor, completely dilated to a 10 & my uterus was contracting pretty strongly during surgery. He turned it into a positive thing because he’s just that way. He said that it was amazing to see my body in labor. A little back history, I never went into labor with my last two children that I had. My body just didn’t do it naturally.

It was time to go home now. I think I cried silently the whole way home, with tears rolling down my face. I had to go home and figure out life after all this. I had to figure out how to be a mommy again. I had to find the courage to get up every morning to get my little girl to Kindergarten. I had to find the energy to chase around my active 3-year old boy. Then somehow I had to remember how to be happy again. To be a good wife and hold down the fort. Let me tell you this, NONE of this is easy. None of it! I felt hopeless. We had a lot of friends and family step in to help. Without asking of course, because I could never bring myself to ask for help.

Looking back I REALLY wish I had the courage to do so. I wish I could have been more open and let people in. I’m working on it. The next few months were pretty hard. I was slow to come back. We talked about DEATH a lot in our home, having very curious children and all. We prayed every day for strength. The kids, oh bless their little tender hearts… they prayed for a baby. ME, I prayed NOT to get pregnant ever again! I was so terrified of the chances. I had to rebuild myself slow and steady.

I was shaken and so was my faith. I’m still working on it, but I find myself going through terrible anxiety and at times depression. I wish there was an easier fix, but there’s not. Here’s what I learned, life can SUCK big time. It doesn’t discriminate or go away if you are a good person, pray a lot or do your best. LIFE will and can SUCK. BUT WAIT… It’s not all bad. It’s part of the greater purpose. Everyone has struggles and NO you don’t always see their struggles. This is my purpose for sharing my story. I hid from my own pain and from sharing it with the world. I was always ‘fine.’ Fine now has a new meaning to me.

Are you wondering if this story ever ends? I promise it’ll be worth it. So let’s fast forward down the road a few months. Well, we finished our foster parenting courses and graduated. It was so liberating and therapeutic for us. We really grew as a couple, and let me tell you I couldn’t love my husband more than these moments where we grew together. We also purchased our first home together. We moved, changed schools and the whole shebang! While all these things were happy things added to our lives, I found myself pondering a few months after moving and wondering why I didn’t feel happiness yet. While I was happy with our new home, I still felt empty inside. It’s now been 5 months since we lost our angel baby, in a few weeks that sweet baby would have been joining our world here. As it comes to a head, I have started to feel more sadness. Luckily, it’s been a positive motivation to get my feelings out and finish this story!

Some things we are doing to stay positive are, prepping our home to welcome a foster baby! We’ve been preparing the nursery for the baby and it’s been a really positive thing for our family. We also like to pick one service project a week, we can do as a family. It’s been really great for the kids, especially coming up with ideas. I was once given the advice that when you are struggling in life, serve others and you will lose yourself in the service. I can testify it is true and I tend to always fall back on it.

This month Justin and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. No, we didn’t fly off to Hawaii or somewhere seaside. In fact, we live by the beach, so we pretty much live in paradise. Instead, we realized how blessed we are that we have two healthy children and we were able to purchase a home, after many years of trying! So that’s something to celebrate. The one thing I did ask for was…photos. Family photos of course. I wanted a photo captured, to honor all of our babies we lost in the past two years. This has been the greatest gift and I will love it forever.

I can honestly say, I am grateful for all of these experiences we had. I feel so humbled by them and I know much worse goes on in the world. If this is the pain I was meant to endure, then I will take it. I’m grateful for every single contraction I felt, the pain my body had to endure, the blood that left my body and the emptiness I felt because it reminds me that our baby was real. I carried that sweet baby, and I knew him. I felt him kick, I talked to him, his siblings talked to him and every single day I was pregnant and nauseous was all worth it.

In TEN years of marriage, we moved 8 times, brought our first pup home, welcomed two beautiful children to the world, lost 7 angel babies, became foster parents, purchased our first home, and bought a vintage 1950’s truck. Justin and I together lost a combined total of 90 pounds, climbed the workforce ladder to the top, became a successful photographer, and fell in LOVE more than I knew was possible!”

Mother and father stand with their two children and ghosts of seven children they had lost
Courtesy of Whitney Billings

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Whitney Billings. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your story here. Subscribe to our best love stories here.

Read more from Whitney here:

‘She is my BABY! You can’t take her!’ I felt like I was being choked. We knew we had to do something.’: Mom writes emotional letter to foster baby, ‘I won’t ever forget you’

‘MOM, why did you say no!? We want that kid to come here!’ We fell in love. and it wasn’t hard or forced or even on purpose.’: Mom’s long foster journey leads to adoption, ‘It wasn’t a dream anymore. This was real’

‘I was driving with my newborn in the back. ‘Can you take in a 12-month-old emergency placement for a few days?’: New mom takes in child from foster care, ‘Bubba is truly one in a million’

‘We met the birth mom. ‘Come to the hospital to greet your daughter.’ Days later, I got an email: ‘Your birth mother has been located.’: Adoptee adopts child from birth mom and foster care, becomes birth mother

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