My name is Kristina, my husband is Boone, and our beautiful daughter Ella was born as a stillbirth. We are blessed to have two Earth side daughters, Brileigh and Sadie.
My story starts on September 15, 2020. It was mine and Boone’s 3rd wedding anniversary. I remember it well; Boone had gotten me 2 bottles of wine and we were going to pop one of them suckers open later that evening to celebrate. Boone had already left for work, and I had the feeling that I needed to pee on a stick, so I did… and it came back positive! A little surprised, I called Boone and asked him “hey for 3 years of marriage, how would you like a 3rd kid!” Boone was excited right away; I was a little more cautious because my pregnancy with Sadie was not pleasant. I grew to be the size of a house and had crazy hormones. But to my pleasant surprise my pregnancy with Ella was more than a breeze… it was calm. I felt great and loved being pregnant with her. When people asked how my pregnancy was going, I would reply with ‘Well it’s been great, but I don’t want to jinx it!” Call it a jinx or the big man’s plan above, but my breezy pregnancy was about to take a turn and become my worst nightmare as a reality.
It was a sunny day; I remember the exact outfit I was wearing. I went in for my routine doctor appointment. It was a Friday. The following Monday would make me 38 weeks pregnant, so I was really hoping for happy news of ‘hey you are dilated, the baby could be here any day now!’. Well, be careful of what you wish for… They were unable to find my sweet Ella’s heartbeat using the Doppler. No panic yet, because this had already happened a time or two before during my other appointments. So, the midwife wheels in the ultrasound machine. I saw Ella’s little silhouette on the screen, she wasn’t moving. She usually was pretty active around this time, so it was a little strange. But I figured she must be napping. The midwife was still unable to find her heartbeat. The midwife smiled and said this can happen and that she was going to send me to the ultrasound room to use the bigger machine. That is where they confirmed that there was no heartbeat. It was the most confusing thing anyone had ever said to me. I didn’t know how to process this. ‘What do you mean there is no heartbeat? Can that even happen? Maybe you are wrong! ‘ I thought to myself, but I stayed quiet incase a faint heartbeat sound would appear.
Coming home to tell my husband was such a hazy conversation but I somehow worked up the words to tell him. My labor was just like my pregnancy, simple and calm. And quiet. Deafeningly quiet.
I thought labor would be the most difficult part, but I was wrong. It was just the first of many hurtles. Leaving the hospital with no baby, coming home to an empty crib, putting away cleaned and drying bottles, having a funeral for a sweet innocent baby, visiting her grave, seeing mothers with newborn babies on social media, hearing babies cry when out and about. Every day there is a new hurtle to get past.
It has been 9 months. 9 months may seem like a long time to others, but to me it still feels like I had her last week. And somehow, I don’t know how, but somehow, I have made it 9 months without my sweet Ella being physically here with me. The wound is still very present. And I think it always will be. But I am learning how to be ok with that and I am continually learning how to live with it. I have learned a lot on my grief journey so far. I am learning my strength, my husband’s strength, my daughter’s strength. And I am learning a totally different feeling of happy. A simple happy. It may seem odd to say that I learned what real happiness is after my baby died, but death has a way of shaking you and making you learn how to truly appropriate the little things in life. For instance, the little kicks that my sweet Ella would do are now one of my favorite memories with her. A beautiful sunny day is more pleasant, and I want to soak it in even more than I did before. A simple conversation with my sweet Brielgih, which might not seem very relevant, is now one of my favorite parts of the day. Hearing my little Sadie laugh is one of my favorite sounds to hear, even after she has been ornery all day. And just spending time with my husband, just chatting about our days is even more important than it was before. And we are lucky- we have all prayed for strength and healing and through that our sweet Ella shows us she is here with us, all of us, every day. Maybe not the way we imagined she would be, but she is always here.