There Is No Heartbeat | Guest Post: Alli Darr

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“There is no heartbeat”

The words every single woman fears hearing the second the plus sign appears and our hearts became instantly attached to our baby. Sadly the reality is a lot of us moms will hear those words and feel the pain that comes with losing a child that was so wanted. There is no chapter in any pregnancy book that can correctly detail the journey of loss.

I remember our first miscarriage, we had two healthy pregnancies and were excited for our third baby, around 7 weeks I saw spotting and knew something wasn’t right. I headed to the ER where they detected a baby who was much smaller with a very slow heart rate, they sent me home telling me it didn’t look good and the next day the bleeding came full force in the middle of a playdate I felt a giant gush and knew it was over.

I was so angry, and felt alone because no one knew I was pregnant yet, so I suffered in silence. I was angry at my body, angry at women who were pregnant, and it was insanely hard but by some grace of God I was pregnant 2 months later and we went on to have our third son Jude. I chalked our miscarriage up to just a fluke.

We went on to have another son, healthy pregnancy and delivery which now cemented in my mind that our loss was likely never going to happen again as we now had 4 healthy babies. I was grateful and we thought our family was complete. I had the most nasty PPD after our fourth and had closed the door shut to any more kids. I was ready to close the chapter of PPD and any more babies and the potential of another loss.

But God had different plans and we were pregnant two years later, I remember having to emotionally get over the fear of PPD and I started that pregnancy with the mindset of “Let go and Let God”, everything was going amazing. I had passed the dreaded first trimester risk of miscarriage, we found out we were having another boy, Henry. I was living in this weird fairytale where everything seemed to be going amazing, I was at the top of our company, I had just turned 30, had a great marriage, we had four healthy kids, and another on the way. I felt unstoppable yet weirdly in the back of my head kept thinking “when will the other shoe drop”. We announced our baby’s name and right before I headed to LA for a work trip I had a healthy 15 week appointment. Everything was great. 

A week after I got home I felt off, like my stomach wasn’t growing much, but I chalked it up to eating healthier and exercising (something I did not do with my first 4 pregnancies), so I ordered an at home doppler to ease my mind. Thank you amazon prime. I found the heartbeat and it calmed me.  I told my best friend “there is no way I could ever handle a loss this far along” and I continued to check the doppler daily until my 19/20 week appointment.

I went in that day alone, it was our fifth baby, we knew the gender and I figured it would be a quick in and out visit. I sat on the table and small talked with the midwife, and at the end she said “okay let’s check that heart rate”, she put it on my belly and I took a deep breath when I heard the same heartbeat I had heard at home. But her eyes were worried, I said “that’s him isn’t it?” and she said “No that is your heartbeat” and that’s when I knew. I knew what was coming.

She continued to try and find Henry and couldn’t. She exited the room to get me to the ultrasound and I lost it. I knew what was coming, yet I prayed. Prayed that maybe he was hiding, maybe it was just a mistake.

I got to the ultrasound room and our sweet baby popped up right away as my midwife was gripping my hand, the ultrasound tech said the words “There is no heartbeat” and I lost my breath, covered my face, wanting to completely disappear and bawled. My midwife walked me back to the room where I called my husband, which is one of the worst phone calls to make and he rushed over to be with me. Not only did we lose our son, we now had to deliver him at the hospital.

We made plans for our 4 boys to be taken care of while mommy was delivering their baby brother, but he wasn’t coming home with us. He was in heaven. This was my boys first heartbreak, they were so excited alongside us for Henry. This loss was impacting every member of our family.

The next day we went to the same L&D floor we had Samuel at years prior, and began the process to deliver our son. It was the worst experience of my life because my body wasn’t ready and I had complications and needed blood transfusions, but around 2am Henry was delivered. He was perfect, everything on him was complete, and it was painful to see him and hold him but I am so glad we did. Our amazing priest came in at 2am to pray over him and bless him and we said goodbye.

We were sent home with no child, and we picked up his ashes a week later. We buried him next to my husband’s grandfather and we visit him every Christmas as a family. He is our son, regardless if he is here on earth or in heaven. He is a part of us.

I shared my story this time very openly because everyone knew I was pregnant and I couldn’t hide from it. It was for the best honestly because me sharing my heart connected me with women all over the world. We went on to have our rainbow baby, Theodore Henry 2 years later and his pregnancy was the most terrifying, yet redeeming journey for me. I had to physically and  mentally walk through the fear again. And thank God it all worked out and he’s now a sassy almost 3 year old.

Loss scars you, it changes you in so many ways. It takes a piece of your heart but it also builds a heart full of empathy for others, I never understood loss until we had ours and I pray daily for those walking through it and living in fear of it happening again. 

Our story doesn’t end there on a high note yet living this hell before helped prepare me in a sense for 2020. We found out we were expecting another baby, a boy (pretty sure my husband only has boy sperm haha) and I pushed through the fear, especially after a healthy 8 week scan and strong heartbeat. But once again I felt off, I felt like my belly wasn’t growing right and sure enough I walked into my 11 week ultrasound, same room, same technician as we had with Henry, and I warned her before she began, I said “I don’t think this will be a good ultrasound, I haven’t felt right” and she for sure had to have thought I was insane, but she pulled the baby up and was silent “I was right wasn’t I?”, and said said “I am so sorry but yes there is no heartbeat”.

It doesn’t get easier, losing a child sucks. You have this plan for things to go a certain way and those plans just blow up and poof, they are gone. His miscarriage was very similar to Henry’s, landing me in an emergency surgery with 2 blood transfusions, and my body is just now feeling normal-ish.

I do not know what’s ahead for us. I am terrified to be done, but also terrified to allow myself to be in that position again. I want you to know it’s okay. It’s okay to feel all sorts of emotions. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to feel whatever the heck you want to feel sister.

Loss has changed me, but loss won’t define me. I got a semicolon tattoo on my wrist after Henry which signifies “this isn’t the end of our story”. Each of our babies live on in my heart, in my words, in my daily thoughts. I do not know what’s ahead for our family or for yours but I pray you find beauty in your journey. Our loss will never make sense, there will never be an answer as to why but we define what their lives mean. I am choosing for our 3 babies to have life, inside of their mama, spreading hope and speaking into other womens souls, as they navigate their life after loss. You were given this mountain to show others it can be moved sister, speak out, speak your truth and speak especially this month about your babies. I am alongside you every step of the way.

–  Allie Darr

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