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In 2011 and 2013, I carried joyful babies to term and delivered them successfully. I was naive to the world of challenges and loss. I was nothing but confident when I got pregnant again. So confident, that it was not a big deal to go to the doctor alone. The day I went for my NT scan will be a day I will never forget. There I sat on the table with the biggest monitor in front of me- profile so clear and I did not see the pulsating heartbeat where I knew it needed to be. Up until this point, the only grief I knew was the death of my soul mate, my Bubbie, grandmother who passed at 102 years old. This was completely derailing. There were no resources in New York City at the time that were offered to me. My own mother told me I wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. The doctor had nothing to offer me, it’s common, she said. I spent days searching for a life ring. I did find an organization in Boston and was able to connect with a beautiful soul in NY and through journaling and ritual immersion in water, I knew I did not have to forget my baby, but it was safe to go forward, chin up. I had two losses after this and then got pregnant with my rainbow baby, Averie.
The longest pregnancy of my life, absent of joy and sharing. Enter paranoia, worry, anxiety. Following Averie, there were 3 losses, my latest in September of 2019 at 16 weeks. The lack of a supportive extended family threw me for a loop this time. I just moved on and went back to my routine.
Fast forward, my 45th birthday is coming up so I decided to set up a charity fundraiser through Facebook and searched their database for foundations supporting women with pregnancy and infant loss. I landed on Forever Footprints- practically in my backyard, Divine Intervention. Up went the fundraiser and an introduction to their support groups. In all this time I have never attended something like this.I was blown away. I never would have thought there was a correlation between my rigidity and lack of patience at times and my unresolved grief. Such an a-ha moment to no longer feel the lack of a support system and isolation, to be able to hear others stories, identify with the women, and safely share pain without judgment. I could start to feel the walls coming down for the first time. The days following brought a new sense of calm and softness. There is more mindfulness for gratitude and feeling a bit more balanced.I just made the 9th week mark of my current rainbow baby. I am present, joyful, and sharing because there is no point in living in my anxieties. I do hope to make it to the finish line- I have surrendered and am grateful to Forever Footprints for allowing me the opportunity to feel that I have a community that can identify with me and share in my joy and support me in my pain.
May 23, 2019. Just a normal day for most people. For us, it was the day our second daughter, Adalyn, was born too early at 21 weeks and died. She was our second loss in a row, my third pregnancy. We had lost her brother, Wyatt, on August 15, 2018 while 9 weeks pregnant. We have one living child, Zoey, who will be 3 years old on the very last day of the year.
Scott, my husband, and I had gone to a follow up 20-week anatomy scan appointment on May 20. This appointment was not supposed to happen, but the Radiologist 3 weeks prior didn’t get good heart views and wanted us to do a follow up. When the ultrasound tech didn’t come back for a while, I began to get very anxious and filled with dread. Scott tried reassuring me that everything was fine, the Radiologist was probably just busy. The tech came back and gave us the news: my cervix was very short, our doctor had been called, and we were to go to Hoag Hospital where they were expecting us.
We met with my ob and a perinatologist at Hoag and were told our options. I tried being strong and not falling apart, but I did cry once the news sunk in. My cervix was shortening, we could lose Adalyn. I was kept there for observation and told the next day they would do a rescue cerclage, if possible, to try and save her. The cerclage was put in and everything was going well. We were discussing going home soon and what the rest of the pregnancy would look like.
As per usual for me while pregnant, I threw up. I felt a small gush and my heart sank. The nurse testing my fluids and at the last minute, the test turned positive for amniotic fluid. This meant that I was leaking amniotic fluid, but no one knew if my water had broken, was torn, or if it was a small leak that would fix itself. I started dilating and having contractions. We had to make the heartbreaking decision to remove the cerclage and see what happens next, to avoid damaging my cervix or an infection that could harm myself or the baby.
At 7:50 AM on May 23, Adalyn arrived into this world. She did not move, nor was she breathing. She was still, warm and light. She looked like her big sister’s twin. She took our breath away. The wonderful nurses and doctors cried with us throughout our 4-day hospital stay, they guided us through Adalyn’s birth and death with kind, gentle hearts and ensured we never felt alone.
Adalyn was cremated at Natural Grace Funerals and Cremations. They remembered us from when we had Wyatt cremated less than a year ago. They went above and beyond to help us and were so kind to us too. We cannot thank them enough for how they took care of us through this heartbreaking time.
Shortly after Adalyn died, I found The Cooper Project on Instagram. She is a loss mom from New York who makes necklaces for other loss moms. Her son, Cooper, died while she was pregnant with him at 39 weeks. She actually saw his heartbeat disappear on the monitor while at the doctor’s office. In honor of him, she has made necklaces for other loss moms and uses the money from necklaces sold on her Etsy shop to make more necklaces for free for loss moms. Not only does she do this, she also created the Pink and Blue Awareness project. She asked for volunteers to help make pink and blue friendship bracelets and send them to her, so she can send them out to people all over the U.S. to raise awareness during the month of October, which is Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness month. To say she is amazing is an understatement. This year, she collected over 30,000 bracelets.
Scott and I made 500 bracelets for this project and we wanted to continue to make more bracelets for Forever Footprints. We want to continue to honor the memory of our two children we have lost too soon. So please feel free to reach out and grab a bracelet for yourself or anyone else you know. We are hoping to continue to make bracelets year-round, not just for October. – Lisa Sato
Forever Footprints would like to thank the Sato Family for sharing their precious babies and their journey with our readers. With every bracelet made they are honoring and celebrating Adalyn and Wyatt. Sending our support and gratitude to the “The Cooper Project” for the advocacy they are bringing to the loss community.
You can stop into the Forever Footprints Office in Orange, Ca and pick up a Pregnancy and Infant Loss bracelet made lovingly by Lisa and Scott. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or call (714) 509-0065. They have donated 500 to Forever Footprints and we are so grateful. You can follow Lisa on Instagram @mother_trucker13. You can follow “The Cooper Project” on Instagram @thecooperproject141
This is a season of new life. Spring is my favorite season of the year with freshly bloomed flowers spotting the green earth. Bees and butterflies dance and flutter in the breeze. I love the sound and smell of light showers falling from full clouds. Near my town, there are hills painted with bright poppies with the roadside littered with parked cars where people snap pictures of the beautiful scenery. I love this season because it reminds me of hope and a new beginning.
Over the past year, I have been slowly adapting to my new life as a bereaved mother. I’m getting used to the unfamiliar colors, sounds, and smells. Each day I embrace unique experiences. All the while, with my daughter in my heart and mind, a greater purpose for this season has risen. I never thought I could be like this. I thought my life was forever doomed for a bleak, lifeless existence.
You see, another valuable lesson has erupted from the ashes. There is a time to mourn, but there is also a time to rejoice. “But, Kaitlin, how can you rejoice after losing your daughter?!” Seems crazy, I know, but I do rejoice in my new life. I belong to a close community, yet at the same time Wendy gave me a perspective of life like I’ve never known. I have started to think for myself and take care of myself more deliberately. I have gained a better appreciation for my friends, family, and especially my husband. Yes, I see the world in different colors, and they are more vibrant than I could have imagined.
All because of Wendy. I rejoice in that.
I rejoice in new experiences every day, because I believe that suffering such incredible loss has developed me into a better version of myself. I have grown in many ways I wouldn’t have otherwise. However, rejoicing doesn’t take away the deep yearning I feel for my daughter every day. I wish she lived. I wish I could watch her grow up. I wish I knew the true color of her eyes.
It has taken me over a year to get to this place. The ability to stand amidst the charm of lovely, flowering elegance cost me crawling desperately through the dark, mournful mud. I know how hard life can be after losing a child. I know that you may feel like life will never be happy again. I know the feeling of immense loss, but it will not last forever. I promise you. It is a season, and a new season awaits. Spring will come.
Kaitlin McLaughlin is currently a grad student at Grand Canyon University, obtaining her Master’s in Education in hopes of becoming a single subject high school teacher. She’s also an Intake Specialist at a local non-profit which specializes in helping at-risk youth finish their high school education and get connected with paid work experience. After Kaitlin and her husband Ryan experienced their daughter being still born due to a neural tube defect, Kaitlin has developed a passion to help her new community of bereaved parents. They reside in Southern California with their one your old Golden Retriever. Also, they spend their time going to the beach, hanging out with friends, and exploring new eateries around their neighborhood.