My world immediately came crashing down. Everything changed. I lost her.

My world immediately came crashing down. Everything changed. I lost her.

My world immediately came crashing down. Everything changed. I lost her. 

Ashley Ballone

I lost my first baby in 2001 at the age of 17. I learned the day after my son was born that I had originally been pregnant with twins but I had lost one early on. It was something known as vanishing twin syndrome. We didn’t even know that baby had existed until after I gave birth to my full term, healthy, surviving twin.

 It wasn’t until 13 years later, after the birth of my fourth living child, that I truly began to process my loss.

This past October, two weeks before our wedding, I had a positive pregnancy test.

 On October 16, 2019, at 5 weeks and 2 days pregnant, right before leaving work for the day, I started bleeding. 

I contacted the head of our local pregnancy loss support group and my midwife and they immediately sprang into action. Both checked in on me regularly and made sure I received a miscarriage homebirth kit. I was asked by our loss support group coordinator if I would like support during the labor of our baby and I declined it because my best friend and midwife was going to be with us through the process. 

Our loss group coordinator explained what everything in the kit was and made sure that I knew that she was available at anytime should I change my mind or just need to talk. I was very thankful for her support. 

The following evening, after about five hours of constant contractions, I delivered our baby. 

M was born at home, in the bathtub, at 11:30 pm on October 17, 2019. 

Two days before our wedding. Our loss group coordinator continued to be there for both my husband and I. We were invited to attend loss group the next month and share our story about our baby. 

The coordinator and our midwife continued to check in with me daily, especially the following Monday, after I had a follow up appt with my OB. 

I expressed how angry I was that my doctors office didn’t tell me I would go through actual labor. When I had called to let them know that I was bleeding, they told me I’d have some cramping and bleeding similar to a period. They lied. Our group coordinator listened and offered much needed comfort and support. She was a light in a time of darkness. Along with my husband and midwife.

My husband and I began attending group every month. We both took turns talking and describing how we felt about the loss of our baby. We processed our grief and we decided to try again. 

We breathed a sigh of relief when I passed 5 weeks and 3 days with no bleeding. 

We had an ultrasound on March 17, at 6 weeks and 6 days pregnant. 

We saw our miracle. We watched the tiny flutter of it’s heartbeat and cried as we listened to it come from the speakers.

We had another scan at 8 weeks and again at 10 weeks 6 days. Both times we saw our baby. We watched it wiggle and turn. We listened to its heartbeat. We began to relax. Based on my previous pregnancies, I knew by her heartbeat that she was a girl.

On April 27, 2020, I had a regular OB check. I was 12 weeks and 5 days. My doctor had a hard time locating the heartbeat with the doppler. I told him during my last scan the tech said that it looked like I had an anterior placenta. So he turned on the ultrasound machine and my beautiful baby popped up on the screen. 

Except this time, I immediately noticed that there was something wrong. I didn’t see that beautiful little flutter in the middle of her chest. After searching for several minutes he finally said to me, “I’m so sorry. It looks like there isn’t a heartbeat. Your baby is gone.” She had passed sometime in the last 7-10 days. 

My world immediately came crashing down. Everything changed. I lost her. I had to call my husband and break the news to him over the phone. Due to Covid, he wasn’t allowed at the appointment with me. I messaged our loss group coordinator. I messaged my midwife. I sat alone and cried. 

We were given several options on how to proceed with bringing her earth side and I was told by my OB to take the day and decide what was best for us. 

Ultimately we wanted to have her at home like we did with M. We talked our options over with our midwife and she offered to give us some herbal tinctures that would help my body along with going into labor. Sadly, due to being on progesterone since my pregnancy was confirmed, my levels were just too high to go into labor without harder medications.

I kept in touch with our group coordinator. She had brought us another homebirth miscarriage kit. She included 2 boxes in it. One for memories, one to bury our baby in. 

When my body didn’t go into labor with the herbs, I spoke with her about our other options. She made sure that I was making the best choice for me. She wanted to ensure that I didn’t feel pressured by anyone to do anything that I wasn’t ok with. She wanted to make sure that we were bringing our baby into the world on our terms. She talked me through options. Helped weigh the pros and cons. She was a wealth of knowledge. 

We ultimately decided to have a D&C. When the hospital that my OB is affiliated with said that my husband absolutely could not be with me for support due to COVID, she helped us find other options. She gave me the name of another OB who, in her experience, is amazing with loss moms. I called his office and he worked me in that day. They allowed my husband to attend the appointment with me. 

The doctor came in and apologized repeatedly for our loss. He explained what the procedure would entail and made sure that every question we had was answered. He took his time with us. He made us feel extremely supported. He was also quite upset to hear that the other hospital wouldn’t allow a support person in. 

He said to us, “no mother should have to be alone in birth, even if this is the way her birth has to happen.” 

He asked us if we had contacted our local loss support group and I proudly told him that was who had given us his name. I reported this all to our good friend and group coordinator. Our doctor knew her by name. That made me feel safe. 

Our group coordinator helped to answer any new questions we had and offered ways for us to honor our baby with the new birth we chose. She told me that she had a special container that we could bring our baby home in and bury her next to her sibling.

The morning of the surgery we got up, showered, and dropped our younger kids off to my parents. We picked up cupcakes for the hospital staff to celebrate our baby and went to pick up our birth items from our coordinator. The short chat we had with her was definitely needed. It helped ease the anxiety that was starting to grow within me.

After checking in at the hospital and setting up an area to honor our baby girl, our doctor came in to say it would be time for surgery soon. He answered our last minute questions. He walked over and looked closely at the items we had set up to honor our baby. He said he really loved what we had done. The nurses came back in and it was time to go to the OR. My husband gave me a hug and kiss and I was on my way. 

Everyone at the hospital honored our baby and our loss. They were kind and extremely sympathetic. They gave us exactly what our hearts needed. On May 6, 2020 at 12:45 pm, at 13 weeks and 6 days, our baby girl, Bree, was born by D&C. Exactly 19 years and one day after I delivered the placenta of the twin I had lost when I was 17. In a little less than 6 months time, we laid two babies to rest. 

A part of me feels like a failure. Six years have passed since I gave birth to my youngest living child. My eggs are six years older. Everything is six years older. I’m considered to be at “an advanced maternal age.”

 I really just want to give my husband a living piece of himself that exists on this earth. He is a man who is selfless and patient. A man who took on a ready made family completely effortlessly. He is a man who I feel deep in my soul deserves to experience fatherhood from the very beginning.

I am absolutely terrified to try again. I am angry and confused. I am trying to put my faith in a greater power that knows what we need even when we don’t understand why. My emotions are still very raw and somedays, I’m just too angry to try to understand. Some days I feel like I’m being greedy. I have 5 beautiful, healthy children already, one of them I didn’t birth but I have had the honor of raising. I feel greedy because there are some women who have none. But I’m trying. I’m trying not to question but to have the faith to understand. I’m praying that one day, we will get our miracle.

Want to share your story?

It might be just what someone else is praying to hear right about now. 

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