The snow-drop, winter's timid child, awakes to life, bedew'd with tears. {A Story of Loss}

{This blog entry is written by Veronika. It's a story about loss and miscarriage, along with some images and video that may be triggering to some. Please read with caution or a support person if you think this may cause any pain to you. <3

ALSO. This experience was documented to help me and my family heal from the loss we suffered and I hope sharing it will help other women and families heal from theirs. In no way is this post intended to be a political statement. We are divided in opinion and beliefs enough already, and I want this story to unite us as a circle of women, a sisterhood, a strong force. Please do not use my story to promote any political agenda in any way.}

The snow-drop, winter’s timid child, awakes to life, bedew’d with tears.
— Mary Robinson

The month of January has been...a journey. The first week of 2017, after two years of suffering from invisible symptoms and fighting to find answers for why my health was declining, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease and signs of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). My husband, Todd, and I suspected I would struggle with infertility as my menstrual cycles were only occurring a few times a year. Not wanting to accept that we were done having children, we decided to stop preventing pregnancies and see what happened. After my diagnosis, our fears were validated even more so. But, the day after my diagnosis, I decided to take a test just to see, and sure enough- it was positive! We were shocked.

I was apprehensively excited...I felt from the beginning that something would happen and we would lose this one. A week passed and I felt more and more pregnant. Hiding it from our other children (ages 3 and 5) was becoming more difficult as I was sick and throwing up a lot. We decided to tell them on January 18th. They were so excited. Seeing their faces light up was one of the best moments of my life. 

We all planned ways to tell our friends and family, and my sister (who I told right away), came up with this adorable idea...

Both our girls wore these shirts to tell some friends and both of our parents. It was so. cute. Our oldest was so proud and excited. And the littlest was aching to help take care of a baby. The next week was filled with lots of imaginative play of having babies, feeding babies, wearing babies, and caring for their every need.

Coincidently, the day after we told them, the bleeding started. It started as just a little bit of brown spotting here and there. It didn’t stop all week, and eventually started to increase and turn pink. 

I had a dating ultrasound scheduled for January 31st since we had an unclear idea of how far along I was. I was so hopeful for that ultrasound. I wanted to see that little heartbeat so badly and know that my odds of losing it would be drastically reduced if we saw that flicker. I had spotting for nearly the whole first trimester with both of my previous pregnancies, so I was still hopeful it was normal and that the cramping I was trying to ignore was just how my body was reacting to a third pregnancy.

Thursday night, the 26th, the spotting turned bright red and was increasing more and more. The next night was even worse and I started to mentally prepare myself for a loss. I was just hoping it would be over with. The anticipation and trying to remain hopeful was agonizing. I told my midwife the bleeding increased and we decided to try and move the ultrasound up to Monday morning, the 30th. I just had a couple days to wait to find out what was happening…

Sunday was a difficult day emotionally and physically. The cramping was getting worse and the bleeding just kept increasing. I was angry and short with my family, and it was hard to stop myself from breaking out into random crying and sobbing. 

Todd went to work the next morning, and I planned on going to the ultrasound alone because I just wanted to be by myself. I knew it wouldn’t be good. I was losing a lot of blood and starting to pass tissue that morning. The cramping I had gotten used to started turning into what felt like early labor contractions. After a few intense ones, I passed a big clot and knew that it was ending for sure. I texted Todd and told him I was certain I was losing our baby and he said he was heading home right away to be with me.

We decided to cancel the ultrasound and I am just…so glad we did. So, so glad. Todd came home at 10:30, I started running a bath, and he packed up the kids to take them out for ice cream. At that moment, I looked at him and said I felt like something was dying inside of me. The cramping was intense and happening frequently. He left with the girls, which I am also beyond grateful for.

What happened next is the most surreal experience I’ve ever had in my life. I went upstairs to the tub and felt a gush. I undressed and noticed a super sad and tiny placenta with an intact sac attached.

I have seen dozens and dozens and dozens of babies enter the world. I've seen as many placentas, amniotic sacs, umbilical cords, and afterbirth. I've never seen anything like this before. I was stunned. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

I got in the tub with this tiny little water orb and held it in my hands. I looked it over for what felt like forever. Inside, I could see where a blueberry sized embryo was attached.

I wanted to see more clearly, so I gently tore the sac and peeled it away. A minuscule yolk sac was visible and I could see the embryo more clearly. You can see the yolk sac off to the right, placenta in the center, and embryo on top of the placenta...

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I took my time looking at this embryo, this fetus that was supposed to grow and be held and cushioned and safe and warm and protected inside of me for way, way longer than it was and who was supposed to become a baby that would be SO fricken loved. I took all the time in the world and let everything soak in. That's when I noticed a movement. A flicker. A heartbeat...

I could not believe my eyes.

But it was there.

Flickering in my hands as I stared and stared.

I held this little blueberry sized peanut for it's whole life. Till that little flicker stopped and the world's tiniest pool of blood drained from the yolk sac. I stayed in the tub with it until the water turned cold and then said my goodbyes. I tucked it inside a houseplant where it will stay until we will plant a tree this summer and bury it together as a family. Todd named it Cypress, which is the tree of January.

I have only personally heard from a few women who have miscarried intact sacs, but I've never heard of anyone being able to see their babies' heartbeat continue like this. My hope in sharing these videos is twofold- first, I want to help encourage more people to talk about their losses and I hope that being able to view these images and photos will help people heal from their miscarriages like it has helped me. Second, I would love for this post to reach other women that this might have happened to so I can talk to you. If anyone has experienced a loss and been able to see the heartbeat like this, please comment below or email us! I would love to hear from you!

I believe in documenting everything. Pictures and videos are what will help us remember the good times and will help us heal from the bad. I've watched these videos countless times over the last day and a half since this all happened. I've gone from feeling incredibly sad, to incredibly grateful that my loss happened this way. I've experienced anger in the past 36 hours and an inability to understand why this happened. It had a heartbeat. That's what I was hoping to see at the ultrasound. That's what would have helped ease my fears and brought our odds of a miscarriage down to somewhere between 5-25%...but...it didn't. I somehow lost it. 

I'm blaming my body and my rotten diagnosis. I'm blaming the medicine and wonder if it was too hard on my baby and my body but I'm also blaming the fact that maybe I didn't start the medicine soon enough...I'm wishing I could take the pain away from my husband and I wish that my girls wouldn't have to try and understand this.

But, I'm also thankful. I was able to document. And to document is what I feel I'm called to do with my life.

I was able to show my husband and girls their baby, and it helped explain to them what happened. My husband was apprehensive to see the pictures and video at first, but after I showed him, he said he felt more at peace. He saved the images on his phone and he will look at them when he struggles. And that is a gift this baby gave to us by coming in a perfect sphere of life and allowing me the time to process and say farewell. I don't know how I summoned the courage to take these photos and video, but I'm so glad I did. I will never regret having these.

And now for my last documentation during this period...a self portrait. Documenting my first loss of a child. A morning after. The ten years I've aged in a day...

Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability.
— Ho Chi Minh
Laura Kralovetz