After years of struggling to get pregnant and early miscarriage, my husband and I were ecstatic to see those two pink lines on what seemed like the millionth pregnancy test taken. Though we were cautiously optimistic at first, once we made it past the first trimester, we felt like we could finally relax a little bit and really start to enjoy and embrace being pregnant. Being Type 1 Diabetic and having some mild kidney issues, I was automatically considered a high risk pregnancy. We knew this from the start, but also knew many who have successfully had children in the same position as me. The pregnancy itself was not the easiest at first. I immediately started struggling with morning sickness and was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. I had to stop working, and was in and out of the hospital. It was a constant struggle and there were days I felt I would never make it through. Our baby was perfect throughout it all though, so to us and to me, that is all that mattered.
Soon after the diagnosis, we found out we were having a boy. At first we were shocked because we both swore it was a girl, but of course we were over the moon! We started buying baby clothes, planning the nursery, and researching all of the best products and deciding which ones we wanted for our baby boy. After several disagreements on what we both liked we had finally chosen a name: Grayson Ellsworth Lee. Ellsworth in memory of my beloved Pappaw and Lee in honor of Clayton’s father and in memory of his grandpa and great-grandpa. Every day we both daydreamed about all of the memories we would make with him; exploring, camping, old and new family traditions, morning snuggles, how he would become best friends with our fur babies. You name it, we dreamt about it.
As the hyperemesis started to simmer down, I was able to enjoy pregnancy a little bit more during the second trimester. It wasn’t gone, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been. Our bi-weekly appointments were something we both looked forward to. Everything was measuring perfectly, all screenings came back good, and we got to see Grayson every appointment on the ultrasound kicking, punching, and rolling all around. We found out early on that he was already very opinionated and stubborn and would only get his “picture” taken on his terms! My favorite was when we got a thumbs up, it was the cutest.
We started planning the baby shower with my mom and mother-in-law, and every day closer, it kept getting more and more real. As we prepared to travel home for the baby shower and to have one last trip together, we both couldn’t help but fill with excitement. With my husband being in the military, we don’t get to spend a lot of time with family, and this time with our family was going to be extra special as we would celebrate and prepare for Grayson to come into this world.
August 5th, 2021. The day before we were supposed to travel home. The day our lives came to a screeching halt. We went to our routine baby appointment, expecting it to be like any other. As the sonographer started the ultrasound something felt off, but I thought I was being paranoid since she was still taking pictures of the placenta and cervix. Then as she moved to the baby, I didn’t see movement, but again I told myself I was being paranoid. He was just sleeping. Then she said she needed to go get the doctor, and I knew at that very moment that something was wrong. My heart was beating a million miles per minute and my husband and I squeezed each others’ hands. He asked her “ma’am, is everything okay?” and all she could say was “no, I’m so sorry.” The tears instantly started and I knew the words coming out of the doctor’s mouth were not going to be good ones. “Clayton and Aimee, I’m so sorry but there is no heartbeat. Your baby has passed.” Those words will forever haunt me. Everything said after that was all a blur. All I knew was our world had stopped and there was absolutely nothing either one of us could do about it.
After my husband called my mom and his, we spent the rest of the day crying, screaming, holding each other, asking why, anything you can imagine. Instead of traveling home for what was supposed to be a time of celebration and preparation, my parents were now traveling to us so we would not have to be alone. We had to make so many decisions that no parent should ever have to make. When to deliver, do we want pictures of our son after the birth, do we want to see him, hold him, do I want an epidural, cremation or burial, what funeral home do we use, where do we bury him, when do we have a funeral, and the list goes on and on, or so it seemed.
I went into the hospital the next day, August 6th, and was scheduled to be induced at 7pm. We were warned it could take up to 5 days, but I was praying it wouldn’t. I dreaded it and didn’t want the time to deliver to ever come but at the same time I wanted it to be done as quickly and painlessly as possible. 24 hours had passed, and other than some mild cramping nothing had happened yet. The next day they inserted a balloon which got things moving a little more and by that afternoon I was asking for an epidural. The hours between the epidural and that night seemed to stand still and around 10 that night I felt something and knew it was time to deliver our son. My husband was by my side the entire time, and kept reminding me to breathe. I don’t know if I was holding my breath because of the delivery or because I was hoping for the impossible when Grayson was born. He was born at 10:10PM, and it was quiet. The silence was deafening. We chose to see him and hold him and we held our beautiful boy for over an hour. We talked to him and told him how much we loved him and how that will never, ever change. The nurse then took him to get his weight, length, pictures and footprints, and after that was the last time we held him. Our perfect baby boy. We both kissed him and watched as the nurse rolled him away. I was so numb, and everything that was happening just didn’t feel real. I felt like at any moment they were just going to bring him back in and tell us he was fine, but that never happened. The next day we went home, and that’s when everything hit me. As they rolled me out of the hospital with my box of his footprints, hat and blanket instead of a baby, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Our baby was not coming home with us. We weren’t fighting with a carseat for the first time or about to have sleepless nights. We were going home to silence and an empty room full of gifts we had no idea what to do with. Over the next two days, my milk came in which is something I didn’t give much thought to, but quickly realized it was another reminder of what we didn’t have.
Although we are still in the very beginning of our journey, the impact this has had on our lives is so heavy. The trauma, the pain, the tears; everything. We don’t know how to get through all of this, all we know is that we can’t do it alone. We continue to hold on to each other and to God and to our closest family and friends. We are unbelievably grateful for all the love and support we have received as we try to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts.
As we go through this journey, we are always trying to find ways to honor and remember Grayson’s life. Supporting Star Legacy’s mission is one very important avenue we have chosen as part of our journey. Any donation helps to fund their research efforts aimed at finding ways to prevent stillbirth, as well as support for families who are going through any type of perinatal loss. We, including our angel, are grateful for your continued support. And of course, through it all, we continue to hold on to the memory of, and abundant love that we will forever have for Grayson.