‘My baby was there, but the heart was not.’: Woman starts nonprofit in honor of angel baby she lost

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Disclaimer: This story contains details of pregnancy loss which may be triggering for some. 

Struggles With Infertility

“I am a country girl born and raised in Baltimore, MD. I was diagnosed with PCOS at a young age and with that comes a lot of difficulties. What is a normal period? Wouldn’t know, hardly get them. Ovulation? Not on my own. So having a family I was told would be a huge struggle and chances were I would not be doing it on my own.

I met my husband, Robert, and we had an instant connection. Of course, then comes the part when I have to tell the man of my dreams my body doesn’t… ‘Well, work like it’s supposed to,’ and I thought for sure it would scare him away. I felt like I had to explain and emphasize there was always a chance it wouldn’t happen, but he was extremely understanding. We got married April 8, 2017 and began our journey as a married couple. We began to try on our own for kids and had no luck. He then got promoted within his job in another state, so we packed up our bags and moved to Connecticut.

Husband and wife takes pictures in wedding clothes near railroad tracks.
Courtesy of Crystal Taylor

Miracle Pregnancy

Once we got settled in we decided to call a fertility specialist to try and help us in our journey to starting a family. Two weeks before our appointment, on January 30, 2018, we found out we were pregnant. I’m sure you can imagine my shock. Many failed attempts and negative ovulation tests month after month. I didn’t have my period for 7 months and never had any luck before. We were excited beyond words could describe and full of excitement as we jumped up and down screaming and crying, happy with joy.

I was four to five weeks along when I found out I was pregnant. It was too soon to see anything on the sonogram so we had to wait, which seemed like FOREVER. Our six-week appointment was finally here and my heart was in my stomach. I felt knots as I sat there waiting to be seen. I was about to see my baby, my miracle, my forever for the first time. I was nervous, but even more… excited. We go in and there was our baby. Tiny like a little peanut with a tiny flickering heartbeat. The doctor said everything looked healthy and our baby had a strong heartbeat and was conceived January 11th. It was without a doubt the most beautiful moment of our lives. We spent nights talking to her, reading to her, and even having my husband play the piano for her. And every day I made sure to play her song and sing it to her when we showered.

Excited To See The Heartbeat

Skip ahead a few weeks to March 19, 2018. I was 11 weeks pregnant, or so I thought. We had our appointment to see her again and finally hear her heartbeat and see her move. We sat anxiously in the waiting room discussing nursery themes, names, and how long it was taking. Then they called our names. I couldn’t stop smiling and my heart was racing as I held my husband’s hand. We got back to the room and my husband was ready with his phone to record our baby’s heartbeat. The tech started the ultrasound and what seemed like forever went by and she wasn’t saying much or showing the sonogram screen. She kept asking if this was my first pregnancy, if I had any bleeding, and a few other odd questions.

I see my husband put away his phone and the tech goes to get a nurse for a ‘second opinion.’ I kept asking if something was wrong but got no direct response. My heart dropped. It could have been a few minutes but to me it seemed like forever. All kinds of thoughts raced through my head as I sat in fear waiting for the doctor. The nurse returned with the doctor and confirmed there was no heartbeat and the baby was showing the size of being 10 weeks. My baby was there, but the heart was not.

It was at that moment I felt sadness like I have never experienced before. I felt like I was in total darkness. I changed my daily eating habits, routines, and took all my vitamins. What did I do wrong? How did this happen? This can’t be right… From there, I was immediately sent to another building to discuss procedures for having my baby removed. I never did get to see my child on the sonogram that day. Something that ate me alive all day and night. It itched under my skin. All night I was filled with sadness and confusion and what ifs. What if she was still alive? I didn’t get to see or confirm for myself. I blamed and hated myself. I was up most of the night filled with anxiety. I carried this child for 11 weeks. This child had a heart beat and now she had passed away, and all I could think about was how I failed to protect her as her mother and failed my husband. All I could think about was where I could have gone wrong. I talked to her and played her our song and tried to rest as much as I could. But let’s face it, rest was not going to happen that night.

Time For The Procedure

The next day came and it was time for my procedure. It was time to bring my baby into the world, not how I imagined it. Every second that passed was one less second I would have with my baby, and as a mother I did not want to give her back. With all the anxiety I had all night about not being able to see my baby on the sonogram, I decided to ask if I could see her before my procedure. I needed confirmation. I needed to see her. They were more than helpful with allowing me to do so and gave me all the time I needed, and even printed out a photo. The nurses also informed me about genetics testing which would allow for them to take a sample during surgery to be sent out to determine the gender and cause of death.

Woman who experienced pregnancy loss holds up sonogram picture.
Courtesy of Crystal Taylor

I was so grateful for all their help and knew finding out more info would help eliminate some of the stress I had been putting on myself. The time had come and I was prepped and ready to be taken back, my husband and I said our goodbyes. All my emotions let out as I walked into this cold, sad room filled with doctors and unfamiliar faces. A table sat next to the bed filled with tools, and looked like pure torture. They laid me on the table to put me to sleep and all I could think about was what they were about to do to my baby. I told my baby I was so sorry about what was going to happen and so sorry I could not protect her.

I woke up from the procedure and felt so empty, like I had a huge hole in my heart. A part of me was missing. My baby was born asleep… not full-term, not natural, not by c-section, but by a medical procedure. Not how we wanted or had hoped for. Had I gone over all options, I would have done things differently. But there stood my husband as I woke from my slumber, with this adorable little penguin from the gift shop. He had no idea that day how special that penguin would end up being for me. I left knowing part of her was with me, and that was going to forever be my baby girl’s penguin.

Penguin stuffed animal purchased from hospital gift shop.
Courtesy of Crystal Taylor

Two days went by and I thought I was healing rather nicely, when all the sudden, around 8 p.m., I started to go into labor. Confused? Yeah, me to. I was going into labor with blood clots, many too large to pass. So I found myself back at the hospital where I was admitted to the maternity ward. At the time, I had no idea that’s where they were taking me. All I remember is looking around and seeing new mommies, congratulations banners, and balloons and decorations. That’s when I lost it all. They took me into the birthing suite where I had a major break down. I felt like it was such a huge slap in the face. I was there surrounded by new moms and my baby was just taken from me. There we waited until surgery time. A painful stay at the maternity ward, surrounded by arms full of love and life while mine was empty and sad. I finally went down for my procedure and ended up in the same room I was just in two days ago. It was like dejavu and I felt like I was living a nightmare. I came out and eventually was sent home where I recovered fairly quickly physically.

The Gender Reveal

A few weeks went by and the hospital called. They had our results from the genetics testing, however the reason of her passing only happens to one gender. We had planned on still going through with our gender reveal, so we decided to keep the information in a sealed envelope. We had a wonderful photographer who helped us make everything possible for our mini angel gender reveal. It was the week after Easter, so we bought both blue and pink paint and handed her a carton of empty egg shells that she then filled with paint, along with the gender results.

Husband and wife hold carton of Easter eggs for baby's gender reveal.
Courtesy of Crystal Taylor

Gender reveal time came and she handed us the carton full of eggs. We slowly opened the carton to reveal eggs filled with PINK PAINT! We were so overjoyed, we finally had a name. She was CELESTE FAITH TAYLOR. We threw the paint filled eggs at an art canvas and had family and friends on live video to see and join in on our excitement. It was a very emotional day. After reading into her diagnosis, it told us she passed away from Turner’s syndrome which is a result of a missing or incomplete sex chromosome. It can cause short stature, delayed puberty, infertility, heart defects, and certain learning disabilities. This only occurs in females and 2% of those with Turner syndrome actually survive. This is not genetic and is unlikely to happen again. I was relieved to hear this as I blamed myself for so long. We took that canvas from the gender reveal, happily covered in pink paint, and hung it in our room with her shelf and memorial pieces.

Couple paints canvas with pink paint from baby's gender reveal.
Courtesy of Crystal Taylor

Turning Mess Into A Message

I became severely depressed and didn’t have a lot of support. A month went by and I spent most days in bed or crying. Then one day, it snapped. This is not how she would want me to be and I never wanted any parent to feel the way I did. I wanted to make her proud. I got involved with the pregnancy, infant, and child loss community. I even found a children’s memorial garden in our local park that has a brick pathway around it with the names of children who passed away. So we had a brick put down for her. I got a tattoo in her memory and found ways to honor and remember her any way I could.

Couple add lost baby's name to brick pathway at park.
Courtesy of Crystal Taylor

Then I took the leap of faith and created Faiths Wings. Faith, not only my daughter’s middle name, but also having faith, a strong belief and confidence after loss. All things needed when walking the journey through grief. Faiths Wings started out at my kitchen table. It was a place to talk about my loss, share graphics and personal experiences, and to connect with other families of pregnancy and infant loss. I made tiny angels and would give them away to help provide small items for families to hold when times were hard and they needed comfort.

After a while, our organization started to grow and the project became expensive, so we charged the bare minimum to help fund the materials. It became a fun environment and helped those struggling alone. It continued to grow and we were able to expand on the keepsakes we made and sold and fund more giveaways. After some time, we expanded to having a full blown shop and doing in-person and online events, which is when we decided to become a licensed charity in hopes to bring comfort and support to other families who have also faced pregnancy, infant, and child loss.

Woman holds tiny crochet crown for babies born prematurely.
Courtesy of Crystal Taylor

Since becoming a licensed charity, we have been featured on the news, in articles, and on podcasts. We have also been able to raise money for two tomb stones in our local pregnancy and infant loss section of the cemetery. Baby Charlie’s story is on our website. As well as the story for the second tomb stone we raised money for. I have also graduated to be a bereavement Doula with Still Birthday, to be able to work in hospitals to assist mothers during the birth of their angels. Together with myself, my husband, and my amazing team, we are able to give back and offer a lot for families who are grieving.

We run the exclusive Angel Crown project, donating crochet crowns, hand made by myself and our wonderful volunteers, to hospitals all over. These small crowns fit babies from 10 weeks to full-term. Most hospitals have basic hats and we wanted to put a more modern twist on the hats. We believe every prince and princess deserves a crown, no matter how small, and we know that when you aren’t expecting a loss, it can be difficult and overwhelming to find items small enough to fit a smaller baby. Stores don’t typically carry sizes to fit smaller babies of loss, and with our items, this helps provide something for them to wear during their final hours.

Tiny crochet crowns and baby blankets.
Courtesy of Crystal Taylor
Tiny crochet crowns and angel wings.
Courtesy of Crystal Taylor

We also offer hospital kits to those local, that include our angel crowns and blankets made by our team, as well as keepsakes to remember their angel by and a gown for their angel to wear that’s donated to us by Sew Sweet Angel Gowns. We continue to expand and offer other services, like our monthly birthday events (that display the names of the babies during a live memorial birthday event), holiday photoshoots, and our big wave of light event. We work side by side with Ashlee O’Connor of Ashlee Rose photography, who helps create everlasting memories with the power of photography for parents of loss. We do Santa and Easter Bunny photoshoots for babies of loss, as well as other special photos that we offer free to the families. So many families who never thought they would ever see their angels with Santa are given the opportunity, and having them remembered during the holiday really brings families so much comfort.

Santa takes special holiday photos with lost babies.
Courtesy of Ashlee Rose Photography
Easter Bunny takes special holiday photos with lost babies.
Courtesy of Ashlee Rose Photography

Our Santa and Easter Bunny visit the local cemetery where there’s a special section for babies of pregnancy and infant loss, and we leave each one a gift. We also work with Arrow Rose designs to help expand what keepsakes we can offer families of loss. This Easter we did something new and gathered hundreds of names of babies who have passed away and put their names, along with an angel, inside Easter eggs we hid around Connecticut to help remember them and spread awareness. Each egg had our website listed, allowing the finder to post a photo of the egg for the families to see. We plan to continue to grow and expand and spread awareness. My husband has been my biggest support since Faiths Wings started. We go live together to talk to our members, he dressed like Santa and the Easter bunny for our photoshoots, and he helps with all the setting up of events. Together we have powered through our loss to help so many others like us.

Santa visits cemetery to leave gift at graves of babies.
Courtesy of Ashlee Rose Photography
Easter bunny visits cemetery to leave gifts at graves of babies.
Courtesy of Ashlee Rose Photography

After our loss, we decided to go down the path of trying to conceive again, so we reached out to UConn fertility. After many attempts we had a wonderful rainbow baby named Liam Zachary Taylor born October 9, 2019, only two days apart from when our daughter was due. What are the odds of that one? He will be three years old this year and is such a joy. He was diagnosed with autism at two, and we work hard to make sure he gets all the help he needs and will grow up to know and love his sister in heaven as much as we do. We are blessed for them both and will continue to keep her name alive by turning our mess into a message.”

Rainbow baby brother takes picture next to sister's penguin.
Courtesy of Crystal Taylor
Family takes selfie together.
Courtesy of Crystal Taylor

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Crystal Taylor. You can follow Faiths Wings on Facebook and their website. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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