Disclaimer: This story contains details of miscarriage which may be upsetting to some.
“When you see our family photos, you see 6 beautiful kids, and a baby girl surrounded by 5 older brothers. What you don’t see is the fear filled road, full of joy and heartache to get there, and I think it’s a story others should be encouraged to share for their own family.
A year ago we were pregnant with our 9th baby, I was laying in bed at 11 weeks along when my phone chimed at 11:13 p.m. It read, ‘Your results are ready.’ I paused, wondering if I should wait until morning to open with my husband together, but I have zero patience so that wasn’t going to happen. I braced myself and reminded myself to be prepared for it to say ‘boy’ as it had 7 times before. One we lost was too early to know the gender, so assuming boy was what I mentally did every time we were expecting. I clicked the email and PINK confetti lit up the screen with ‘It’s a girl’ across a banner. I couldn’t believe my eyes; I honestly did not believe it! I woke my husband from a dead sleep and said, ‘Honey, it’s a girl.’ He easily went back to sleep as I called my mom to tell her the news. She and I started crying because it had been a long road and I had given up hope of experiencing having a daughter.
The excitement quickly turned to fear as I was still early in pregnancy. I was second guessing if it was smart to find out the gender so early because what if ‘it’ happened again and we lost the baby? The second you see that plus sign, you’re attached and already planning what life will look like with this child. When you find out the gender and pick a name, all that planning multiples by 100. You imagine who they will look like, what they will grow up to do, even the details of dancing at their wedding plays in your head. And for years I had felt sad my husband would never experience a ‘daddy daughter’ dance. Sadly, myself and countless women know the reality of having this taken away in an instant, ripped out of your hands without warning.
We lost 3 babies during pregnancy. We lost a child at 7 weeks pregnant, a son at 20 weeks pregnant and another son at 11 weeks pregnant. This pregnancy already had some cards stacked against it. I was 35 and my body wasn’t producing progesterone, so I had to supplement this daily, which I knew could work but also had a chance to not work. So, here I was knowing our first daughter was inside my womb, and I was clinging to my faith she would make it.
Our story to parenthood started 13 years ago. I remember the day my soon-to-be husband walked into my life. It’s cheesy, but I always say, ‘He walked into my store and into my heart’ because he did. I was 21, living in a big city alone in a one-bedroom apartment. I had dropped out of college the year before, and had no idea what to do with my life. I was offered to become a nanny for a family with 3 children; it was the first time I made over $10 an hour and I could try to make it on my own, much better than living in my childhood bedroom. I hated the silence of my one-bedroom apartment, so I picked up another job in retail at Express so I could pack my days full enough to only be in my apartment to sleep. The silence was suffocating to me, my friends were graduating, getting real jobs and moving on and I felt stuck.
I was working at the checkout on a busy Saturday when in walked my manager Harold and his roommate Jordan. I saw them walk in the door and immediately my heart started fluttering; I knew I had to meet him. We had walkie talkies, so I voiced over to have someone send Harold and his friend to say hi to me. He was tall, handsome and my heart felt hopeful. We set up a double date the next week and have been together every day since.
Our love was fast and furious, likely all things I would caution my kids against. We moved in together the next month, bought a dog and started playing house. Little did we know this was the house we’d have a decade after. We talked about kids; I wanted a girl and a boy, maybe by the time we were 30. 6 months into dating my period was late. I grabbed a pregnancy test and took it in the bathroom one afternoon when I was nannying. A positive sign appeared. I started crying, terrified to call him. We had just met, we weren’t engaged, he just started an MBA program that was 2 years long, I barely knew his family and I was just legal to drink alcohol. Playing house was fun, but it was all happening so fast.
Terrified, we decided to start before we were ready. We got engaged, moved into our first home, had our son Vincent and got married when he was 4 months old. I had never changed a diaper or done anything motherly until we had our son. I felt completely unqualified to just be handed a tiny human being, but day by day we figured it out. I still feel this way with a house full of 6 kids.
When Vincent was 9 months old, we were met with another positive pregnancy test and along came our second son Luke. Shortly after Luke’s birth, my husband finished his MBA, which led our family to relocate to a new city. A few months after our move once again my period was late, and I was pregnant. I remember the events that came after like it was yesterday: I went to the bathroom and wiped and noticed a little blood, which I had never had with my previous pregnancies. I knew then in my gut something was wrong. I went to the ER and the baby was smaller than they should have been; they gave me a 50% chance. The next day I was at a play date and felt a gush of blood when I picked one of the boys up. I went to the bathroom and the toilet filled with blood. I felt robbed; I was so angry. Why would I be given this pregnancy to have it taken? It was an extremely confusing time, and before I could even come up with a plan, I was pregnant again. I wasn’t sure if I should cry happy tears or cry in fear of it happening again.
We went on to have two more healthy pregnancies, welcoming Jude and Sam. 4 boys. I honestly felt so blessed and felt like our one loss was just a complete fluke. Despite having those 4 healthy pregnancies, after two of them I suffered major postpartum anxiety and depression. After our 4th son, I remember not being able to function. I missed Christmas with our family that year and I couldn’t understand why I was so anxious and unhappy when I had what was such a beautiful family. But postpartum anxiety and depression doesn’t care, it attacks regardless of how beautiful your family is.
After this, I had honestly closed the door to another pregnancy because mentally I didn’t want to ever experience another round of that hell. If you’ve learned anything from my story thus far, it’s that God has other plans and I was once again pregnant. I was terrified of another postpartum anxiety period, so I spent the pregnancy getting as healthy mentally and physically as I could. We made it past the first trimester and I felt solid we were in the clear; life was going amazing in all aspects. We found out we were having our 5th son. I announced his name with the cutest personalized onesie and blanket; Henry.
I felt smaller this pregnancy, but figured it was just from eating healthier and working out. I didn’t want to burden my doctor with a visit, so I ordered an at-home Doppler and found a heartbeat and felt confident all was well. I walked into his 20-week appointment alone because it was our fifth kid and my husband had already spent years coming to appointments, so I told him to stay home. The appointment was normal – until it wasn’t. I was laying on the table and she was searching for Henry’s heartbeat. She landed on the heartbeat I had heard on my own Doppler and I said, ‘That’s his, isn’t it?’ and she replied, ‘No, that’s yours’ and I knew what was coming. She walked me down to the ultrasound to get a better look and I laid in the dark room with my doctor holding my hand. She applied the jelly to my stomach and up popped a perfect baby with no heartbeat. I melted into the chair I was laying, wanting to completely disappear. I covered my face and just sobbed.
I had to make the phone call to my husband that our son had died and we had to make a plan to birth him. When you’re this far along, you have to give birth and the reality of giving birth to our son who died was too much to handle, on top of telling our kids, family and friends. We left our kids the next day, and spent the day bringing Henry into the world. I experienced a lot of blood loss and ended up with blood transfusions, so I left the hospital without a son and completely depleted as physically.
The door I had wanted to close on pregnancy felt like it needed to be closed and dead bolted now so I never experienced this again. A year later, God decided it was time to face my fears and I was pregnant with another son. Theodore Henry’s pregnancy was terrifying but beautiful. Walking the road of heartache and having to walk into each appointment knowing I could be faced with bad news truly helped me grow in ways I never imagined. It didn’t take away the pain, but it helped me make sense of why it’s important to not let the fear win.
We had 5 beautiful boys here on earth and 2 babies in heaven. I had in a sense grieved the reality I likely wouldn’t ever experience having a daughter; I was meant to be a boy mom. I think it’s important for mothers to know it’s normal to envision your life with the opposite gender. There’s so much shaming and guilt around wishing you had the opposite and there shouldn’t be. We dream about all sorts of things and envision life going down many paths. It doesn’t mean we don’t cherish what we have.
So yes, I wanted a daughter, but I also knew from our past how much risk is involved not just in pregnancy, but in postpartum. Nothing is guaranteed, so I didn’t want to push it. So, along came God with yet another plot twist – I was pregnant with my 7th son, and just as quickly as we started to pick a name, he was taken away. I was greeted at my 11-week appointment with the same words, ‘I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.’ I figured for sure it was a sign to be done. To close the door and my heart. But as we all got quarantined in our homes, when 2021 started I got a positive pregnancy test. Our 9th pregnancy, and having lost 2 of our last 3 babies I was once again terrified, especially after seeing my progesterone was dropping in the first trimester. But as women do, I walked ahead, despite the fear every day.
One year later we have a daughter, Lucy Lou Jeanne. She is loved and adored by her 5 older brothers. And while we were so very blessed to have a healthy pregnancy and daughter, a month before Lucy was born, I lost my own mother suddenly. The same mother who answered the call one year ago to hear her baby girl was having her first baby girl. Having a daughter is beautiful, and having a daughter without my own mother is heartbreaking. I know my mom is up in heaven holding our 3 babies and smiling down on us. I feel like I’m living for the two of us now, infusing this sweet girl with love from both of us.
Marriage, pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood are all so complex. We can look at another and think how lucky they must be from their pictures and assume their life must be easy, but just know many of us have scars and heartache that aren’t portrayed in family photos. I pray daily for every woman out there, walking a life with loss of a child or loved one. I see you, I am you and just know there is beauty ahead. I have 3 rainbow babies to help me see the good in this world. There is light ahead if you’re in the middle of the storm and I pray my story helps you see that.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Allie Darr of Chattanooga, TN and originally appeared here. You can follow her journey on Instagram. 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.
Read more from Allie here:
‘I’m going to be honest – marriage isn’t exciting.’: Woman encourages others to find joy in the mundane of marriage
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