Experiencing pregnancy loss
Buzz Baby is a column about life with babies from the perspective of a first-time mother of twins.
There’s a members-only parenting club that nobody wants to join. Charlotte and David Hedrick belong. So do Betsy and Parker Amis.
They have experienced the devastating and unexpected loss of a pregnancy. They are parents on the front lines of grief, with family, friends, doctors, nurses and even strangers as their support system.
Charlotte and David lost Thomas David Hedrick Jr. at 35 weeks into Charlotte’s pregnancy, in April 2012. “I had gotten in bed that night and realized I had not felt him move,” she said.
Hours later, while their 2-year-old daughter Hayden slept, Charlotte awoke to contractions. “I went into the bathroom to run a bath, and I looked in the mirror and saw my body,” she said. She knew something was wrong. Her stomach had changed shape, and things just didn’t look right. Hours later, nurses at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women told her they couldn’t find a heartbeat.
Through shock, tears and prayer, Charlotte made it through that day. “I knew I had to be strong. I had to deliver the baby.” Later, she held him. “We said our prayers and looked at every little part of his body,” said Charlotte. Their parents arrived and had their own moments with Thomas before his little body was taken away. Despite tests, no cause was found; it was an unexplained stillbirth.
After a small funeral service, Charlotte sought grief counseling at Bo’s Place. She wanted to tell Thomas’ story. “We want to remember him and remind everyone else. He was a real baby. I didn’t want people to forget him,” said Charlotte.
David ensured they stayed strong together. He said he put his feelings on hold to keep their emotional grounding. “It took three years and another child for me to have the time to grieve. I don’t recommend waiting that long,” said David.
Questions still loom and, Charlotte knows, always will. “I wish I could have seen his eyes. I’ll never know the color of his eyes, until one day when I get to Heaven and we are reunited,” she said.
Charlotte and David welcomed a healthy child the next year, Vivian, who is now 2, and have a little boy on the way this November. Big sister Hayden is now 6.
Betsy Amis, an occupational therapist, and her marketing-manager husband Parker, excitedly made the announcement to their family during Christmas Eve dinner in 2014 that they were expecting their second child.
Betsy knew the news would be uplifting for her grandmother, Anne “Mamoo” Wallace. “[Mamoo] had been battling cancer for a long time,” said Betsy. “She always seemed to perk up or attempt more chemo when she had an event like a wedding, baby or engagement to look forward to.”
Betsy embraced pregnancy. “My first, Charlie, was an easy pregnancy, so I assumed nothing bad could possibly happen to me.” One week later, at 7 weeks along, Betsy miscarried. She called the doctor, frantic, only to hear a seemingly cold medical explanation of what to do if excruciating pain began. That did not happen, and she stayed home to weather the miscarriage.
Afterward, she wondered: "Did I do something wrong? Eat something bad? Are my eggs bad? Will this happen again?"
She said at first she was embarrassed that she had announced her pregnancy at only 6 weeks. “A few people heard I was pregnant, and I hated having to tell them it wasn't true any longer. Looking back, I am so glad I told my family and close friends. Otherwise, I would not have had that support system.”
Parker would take their toddler Charlie for playtime so Betsy could have some alone time to grieve. “That time was all about supporting” Betsy, said Parker. “Though very sad, I wanted to focus on the positive, that we were fortunate to not have problems getting pregnant and it would happen again when the time was right."
“We were pregnant again in February,” said Betsy. “[I was] still very anxious and scared until my second trimester. I thought every cramp was a sign something bad was coming. I tried my best to leave it in God’s hands.”
They welcomed a healthy baby boy, Henry, nine months later, Nov. 3, 2015, on what would have been Mamoo’s 90th birthday. While Mamoo never got to meet her great-grandson, Betsy feels comfort in trusting he has a guardian angel.
For more baby stories, see Annie Blaylock McQueen’s column, “Mommy Moments.” If you have stories to share, leave a comment online or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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