‘We held our breath, anticipating our baby’s heartbeat. We didn’t hear anything. My doctor said the little stinker was probably hiding and prepared me for an ultrasound.’

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“The nurse said ‘Sign here. This means you are giving your consent to proceed with the dilation and curettage.’

An hour prior to this moment, I was sitting in the waiting room of my obstetrician’s office. I was currently 12 weeks pregnant with our fourth child. This was the appointment I had been anticipating because we would be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. My husband and I were chatting about strollers, I remember. We had just started an Amazon wish list the night before. That was new to us; Amazon wasn’t a thing when our older three children were born, and we were tickled to see how much had changed since then.

I was brought back to an exam room and went through the motions to prepare for the doctor. She swept in a few minutes later, simultaneously washing her hands and asking me how I was progressing. I assured her that I was doing wonderfully, happily nauseated and pushing through it. The doctor placed the Doppler on my stomach and moved it as my husband and I held our breath, anticipating the gallop our baby’s heartbeat.

We didn’t hear anything like that.

My doctor was unphased. She proclaimed that the little stinker was probably hiding and prepared to send me across the hall for an ultrasound.

She didn’t need to. I already knew.

Never in my life had I ever been so heartbreakingly sure of something. My baby was gone. I could feel it at the core of my being. My sweet husband was trying so hard to console me, to reassure me that everything was fine. All I could repeat was, ‘She’s gone. I know it’ as I sobbed.

I was right.

The only thing I can clearly recall is covering my own face with my fingers. My hands covered my eyes and I dug my fingernails into my skin, raking down the sides of my face as I drenched myself in tears. It had happened. My punishment from God.

I had an abortion at 21. It was prior to meeting my husband. I had made some poor choices in my life. I was single, scared, and felt like I had no other options. After that day, I knew that somehow, someway, God would punish me for committing such a sin.

I met the man who is now my husband and we started a family. We had 3 beautiful children in quick succession, and I became a stepmother to his incredible daughter. But I just kept waiting for God’s wrath. Each time one of the children got a fever or fell down, I held my breath, anticipating that something was triggered in them that would take them from me. I 100% believed that God would take these babies, because I didn’t honor my first baby.

When our daughter was 12, and our sons 10 and 7, we decided to try for another baby. We never had any trouble conceiving, and after 3 months we got a positive pregnancy test. I knew from the moment I saw that plus sign that this was our baby girl. We agreed that her name was Mila Josephine, and we happily told our children that our family was growing.

Fast forward to me and my husband sitting in the surgical scheduler’s office. I feel shell shocked; voices are dim and buzzing in my ears and I cannot catch a breath. My husband, who will never know how much he was my hero during that time, had pushed his own grief on the back burner to attend to me. They want me to sign something. A consent allowing them to take my baby out of my body.

For the first time, I break out of my fog. ‘Consent’ gives the idea that I have a choice in this matter. Suddenly, I am inwardly furious. Nobody asked my consent for any of this. I didn’t consent to Mila’s heart stopping. I didn’t consent to telling our children that their sister died. All this happened, and nobody asked for my consent. Why was it so important now?

As time passed and my body began to heal, my heart wasn’t faring as well. I was sad and guilty and so angry at God that I could hardly stand it. I knew I had made a huge mistake with the termination of my first pregnancy and I knew that God would have his pound of flesh, but I was lost. The world kept on going and I stayed rooted to the ground with grief. Adding to this was the fact that any hopes we had of trying for another baby were dashed when I had to have a complete hysterectomy four months to the day that we heard no heartbeat.

I stayed angry for a long time. Angry at God. Angry at myself. Angry at women who had the audacity to be pregnant around me. It all came to a head one evening when I found myself laying alone on my bed facedown thinking, ‘You know, I’m not brave enough to harm myself but if I had to face death right now, I wouldn’t fight.’ That was my turning point. I raised my white flag and called and scheduled an appointment to evaluate my mental health.

It’s been a trying journey. There were times that I didn’t think I could pull through. The most important thing that I have learned through Mila’s loss is that my God is not a God of wrath. He is not a vengeful God. He never left me, and He would never punish me. My God was with me when I made the choice to have an abortion and loved me through it. My God was with me as I scratched my face and sobbed as I look at the quiet image of my daughter on the ultrasound screen and grieved with me. My God placed amazing doctors and therapists in my life who gave me the tools to persevere. My God led me to my church family at Bridge of Hope Fellowship in the heart of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, who have loved on my family and I since the minute we walked in the door 3 years ago.

I learned that I didn’t have to be angry to remember Mila. I learned that I could ask Norah (the name I gave my first baby) for her forgiveness. When God says its time to come home, I know that my girls will be waiting for me.”

Pregnant woman whose baby died in her stomach smiles in mirror selfie in bathroom
Amy Own

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amy Owen, in honor of October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Do you have a similar grief journey you’d like to share? We’d like to hear from you, for others to know they are not alone. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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