This is probably the most difficult and at the same time, most rewarding blog post I’ve written to date.
October is “Infant Loss Awareness Month” and I am a volunteer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep which is an international organization of photographers who provide a free gift of professional portraiture to parents suffering the loss of a baby. To protect the privacy of the families I serve, I do not mention much about my work with NILMDTS, but as the only Affiliate Photographer in the Golden Triangle, it can keep me busy.
A few months ago, I received a call from one of the nurses at St. Elizabeth with news about a family I had actively been praying for as I knew their history of struggling with infertility and infant lost. In fact, I had photographed their family several times and adored their daughter, Landry. As the nurse told me the mom’s name, I hung my head in the deepest sadness I had felt in a very long time.
I have continued to follow this mom’s journey in the grieving process and I am so honored that she wants to share her story, and her babies, with you. If you know a mom who has struggled with infertility or lost a baby, please consider sharing Lindsay’s story as it may help another mamma heal just one little part of her broken heart.
“There is no foot too small that it can not leave an imprint on this world.” – Author Unknown
Being a mother is what I have desired my entire life. After a fairy tale wedding in June of 2004, my husband Chris and I knew we wanted children very soon. I started my job as a registered nurse in the Neonatal ICU at St Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, Texas. Life was perfect.
Soon after, we hoped for a year that God would send us our first baby. It never happened. We thought, ok no big deal, let’s ask our doctor and I’m sure it will be an easy fix. After finding out that I was the problem, it made me really sad and I felt like I was letting my husband down. I do not ovulate at all. He accepted it as our problem, not mine, and has been supportive since day one.
We began Clomid – a simple pill to help women ovulate. I responded well and got pregnant the second month. We sadly miscarried our first baby in June 2006 while we were celebrating our second anniversary in Vegas. We didn’t give up. We kept trying and month after month — nothing.
We then sought the help of a reproductive endocrinologist. She was very positive. We were young and she assured us she has seen many cases like ours. She found some issues with my uterus, took me to surgery and fixed it, but still month after month — nothing. The shots, doctors appointments, frequent lab draws, trips to Houston all wore on us, emotionally and financially.
We finally became pregnant after an IUI ( Intrauterine Insemination). Chris called and got my lab results while I slept after working all night long. He woke me up with white roses telling me we were pregnant! We soon found out my pregnancy was ectopic. We found it in time thankfully and my health was not in danger. We were then told we would need IVF. I never dreamed we would need to go this route. We proceeded with faith and on our first attempt, we found out were pregnant again! We were terrified we would be disappointed again so we proceeded with caution, begging God to protect our miracle. And He did. My pregnancy was fabulous and uneventful.
Landry Leigh was born December 26, 2008. She is my world and I will cherish that angel forever – she made me a mom!! We are two peas in a pod. We enjoyed her so much and knew very soon that we wanted to expand our family and give her a sibling. When she was 2, we began TRYING. We tried clomid and miscarried very early. We did again – not once, not twice, but three times and nothing. We were devastated. We could not afford adoption. We went on with our lives and decided to wait for God to show us the way.
We were led to go and visit our fertility specialist again. Our road began — I started off having another surgery to clean out my uterus. After two failed IUI’s, our doctor recommended IVF again. We were doubtful and didn’t want to endure the stress again. But we moved forward trusting that God was in control. Our cycle was perfect. We transferred two beautiful embryos on January 24, 2014.
Days after, I became very ill. I suffered from what is called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. I had to admitted to a Houston hospital and spent 12 days there. I had three surgeries to drain fluid from my belly. I was in such severe pain. I just knew that my cycle didn’t work. Well it did. we couldn’t believe it. Our baby was strong! My pregnancy levels kept going up and at my 6-week ultrasound we received the best news of our life. We were pregnant with twins! Two perfect heartbeats, two perfect babies. We breathed a huge sigh of relief, knowing our fertility struggles were finally going to be over. We would finally be able to move forward with our life and our children. The 12-week ultrasound with the specialist was perfect. Our babies were healthy and beautiful. We were told then we were having a girl and a boy. What a blessing!!!
Later that day I began to bleed. My joy quickly turned to panic and fear. I had just seen them that morning. They were healthy, moving, kicking!!! What in the world? I went to my local OB/GYN and they scanned me and my babies were perfect. We never found out the reason for the bleed.
I layed low for a week then went back to work. On April 26th, my husband was out of town. It was just me and Landry home. I was awoken at 3AM with severe pain in my right side. The pain wrapped around to my uterus and I knew something was wrong. I tried everything — heat, ice; but the pain got worse and worse. I was hysterical. I have a Doppler at home so I checked and found both hearts beating fast and strong, but I knew I still needed help. I screamed for Landry to call her Noni.
Noni came immediately and rushed me to the hospital. Hours of waiting, hours of screaming, hours of pain with no relief. No diagnosis could be found. I was admitted and told it could be a kidney stone or labor and nothing could be done as I was only 16 weeks. I was scared to death.
My doctor was out of town all weekend so when Monday rolled around he came to make rounds on me. He came to my bedside and said he did not believe I was in labor. He knew something else was wrong. He asked me to point to the exact spot I was hurting from. He ordered a stat ultrasound and the problem finally was able to be seen. My right ovary was twisted tightly (ovarian torsion) and there was zero blood flow coming or going. I had suggested previously that this could be the issue since I had ovarian hyperstimulation recently but I was assured it was very rare. Well I had it! So to surgery I went. Sixteen weeks pregnant, cut wide open on my precious c-section scar. My necrotic ovary was removed but Dr Bost found other bad news. The trauma that this twisted ovary did to my body, it caused my body to try to get rid of anything foreign, which to my body was my babies. My little girls amniotic sac was very low, bulging through the cervix. I was 2 cm dilated. He placed an emergency cerclage and gave us a 5% chance of the babies making it. I cried, I cried and I cried. I was very critical. I was on strict bedrest. I stayed in the hospital 12 days and miraculously did not go into labor.
We sang our praises to our precious Lord and knew our babies were fighters. We were sent home with strict orders and IV antibiotics to prevent infection. I was petrified each and every day. I was constantly uplifted by my husband, family and friends. They all had a peace that everything would be just fine. I started feeling them move and kick. I listened to their precious heartbeats several times a day. I talked to them and told them how proud of them I was everyday.
I went to the doctor for a checkup a week after being home from the hospital. I got bad news. I was 2 cm dilated again and my cervix was gone. I was 100% effaced even though I had a Cerclage. I was in shock. We were told it could go either way. We prayed and cried and went home to continue the fight. I made it two more weeks.
One normal morning my world fell apart. I began bleeding. We went straight to the hospital, admitted and was monitored. No labor, still 1-2 cm dilated. We thought, ok some blood, but nothing else alarming. Within the next 24-hours I began having contractions. I was put on Magnesium Sulfate to try to suppress the contractions. It really only delayed things a couple of days. On May 25, 2014, at 20-weeks gestation, I woke up to horrific pains and pressure. I called Chris to my bedside and he immediately called the nurses in. After a few minutes, we all knew what was happening. The babies were coming.
In walks Dr. Bost at 6:30 in the morning. I could tell he was so upset for us. My labor was intense and hard. There was no time for a c-section so I had a VBAC which is a vaginal birth after a c- section. They were trying to shoot pain medicine in me but it wasn’t helping. Gentry Lyn was born first. She had no heartbeat once the cord was cut. My precious baby girl only weighed 7 ounces. Crew Brenton came 10 minutes later and bless his heart, had to be maneuvered and pulled out because he was transverse in my womb at the time. He weighed 10 ounces and he had a weak heartbeat. He fought and his daddy even witnessed him take one deep breath. Just one and daddy saw it. My two miracles were then handed to me.
What was I supposed to do with my tiny babies? I cried, I apologized to my precious husband, who stood there not knowing what to do or how to act. He was a new father to two beautiful children that would never cry or call him dad. He stood by my side and we admired our babies. We told them how much we loved them and how proud of them we were for fighting for so long. I told them how sorry I was over and over. I felt I failed them. My body had failed them. Chris kept telling me it’s not your fault. He said he was proud of me. They had to take the babies because my doctor needed to take me to surgery. He could not delivery the placentas and he needed to remove my cervical stitches. I still do not understand how my babies came through but my placentas could not. I pray they did not feel any pain.
My Crew man went to be with Jesus while I was in surgery at 8:50AM. All of our family made it to the hospital and I saw them in the hall as I was rolled back to my room after surgery. I felt so defeated. We couldn’t save these babies that meant so much to everyone in our family. I felt guilty.
The precious nurses returned with Gentry and Crew, dressed in the most adorable tiny gowns handcrafted for angels like mine. Gentry in pink, Crew in blue. One by one, we all held them. We talked to them. We kissed them a million times.
Later that morning a photographer came in to take pictures of the babies. We couldn’t believe that it was Yvette. I had no idea she volunteered for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. We know Yvette and it was extremely special that she was the one there to capture the fragile moments with our babies. She was so tender and loving. She addressed them by name. She was so gentle with them and took precious photos of them and then included me and Chris in the photos. We knew we would cherish these photos forever. She went and printed some of the photos to have that day.
We held our babies as long as we could that day. The funeral director came to get them around 6PM. It was very hard to let them go. After many tears and telling them how much we loved them, we said goodbye. We felt lost after they left. How do we move forward now? We worried about sweet Landry and how she would understand or cope. She did not meet them. We did ask her, and she said no. We didn’t push it on her. We did not want to scare her. We told her she is the best big sister and that she’s lucky to be a sister to two angels! She felt proud of that.
The funeral was three days later and we got through it. It was beautiful.
We soon after received the CD from NILMDTS. It took me a couple of weeks to look at the photos, as I knew the pain they would bring. We finally looked at the photos. Memories and tears filled my eyes. They were just as we had remembered. Beautiful, peaceful and tiny. We are more than thankful to have these photos that we can look at anytime we want. They are all that we have left of our babies, except their memories in our hearts. I look through their pictures often and miss them oh so much.
This journey has brought us so much pain, but it has also brought our family so much closer. People who never met Gentry and Crew say that the babies touched their lives and that means so much to me as their mother. I am a proud momma and I hope to always make them proud as well. We cling to every cloud or rainbow, hoping that it was sent to us by our angels. We carry them with us everywhere we go.
Through many tears and pain, I am back at work. I am weak and it is not easy being a nurse in the baby field after experiencing such loss. I am praying that with God’s help and with my babies by my side, I will be able to continue working with babies and having an impact on the lives of my precious patients and their families.
I am taking life day by day. That is all I can do. As it says on Gentry and Crew’s grave marker…”Forever in our hearts”–that’s where they will stay.
Beaumont Photography, Beaumont Photographer