Go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids . . . that was THE plan. My husband, T, was no stranger to family tragedy and this was going to be happily ever after. That is how all the fairytales end, I followed most of the rules, and we were pretty good people. Like most little girls, I rocked my baby dolls as a toddler, had my live baby doll brothers in junior high, babysat through college, then worked in pediatrics and neonates as a profession … I was 27 and so READY!
Well, turns out MY plan wasn’t actually THE plan. I had a lengthy story written with specifics of our 6 babies we lost over the 11 years of dealing with pregnancy loss and infertility, but that was so very long (yep longer than this) and well took away from sharing about how Anna’s Grace has impacted my family.
Let me just summarize to say it started after a year of marriage and 9 months of trying to conceive with emergency surgery for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy where I saw our baby's beating heart that had to be stopped because it was not in the uterus and I would have died. Shortly after, we were pregnant again with a strong heartbeat for it only to end again. Years and lots of money later with the help of infertility treatment we were pregnant three different times with three more babies in heaven.
T and I, like all men and women, grieve differently. We process differently. We had one rule: We never did anything unless all 4 of our feet were in. If one of us had reservations about the next step, we waited and didn’t push. It worked for us and at this point we were ready to pursue adoption. After many closed doors, the process finally started and we were matched. I had just changed jobs due to the toll that grieving while working with babies in deliveries and the NICU was taking on me. Weeks later we were matched and were parents! All of the closed doors led the three of us together.
This is where I say “and we lived happily ever after” . . . well for a while. We decided to grow our family again because we felt there was a piece meant to be added, so the adoption process started again (sigh). The saying “adopt and you will get pregnant” still haunts me (by the way this is not something someone struggling with infertility wants to hear for many reasons …) because we did indeed get pregnant, had yet another strong heartbeat, only to send another baby to heaven. This time we grieved with a toddler, while trying to understand all of the why’s that you go through in grief. Because the baby was a partial molar pregnancy with a slight risk of cells causing cancer later along with years of female issues and surgeries, I had a hysterectomy at 35. The door was CLOSED and sealed to genetic kids that have my husband’s pretty eyes, their uncle’s smile, or one of my grandmothers' hair. It was also closed to seeing ultrasound pictures of my baby growing, feeling them move, delivering them then being surrounded by family, and breastfeeding.
A few more years went by and we welcomed another baby by adoption and our little family felt complete. As much as I think about the things I missed, I would not change the kids I have for anything not even the pain we experienced. This is where we lived Happily Ever After … at least until the flood ;)
Romans 5:4 “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. “
Because our first baby was emergency surgery, it was no secret what had happened and others shared their
stories with us. I realized early on my purpose in all of the pain and their little lives was going to be to share. We were always open and honest with anyone who asked. There are so many things you aren’t prepared for after a miscarriage. There is typically no name to be spoken or anything tangible to hold on to when you cry for your baby. You may have an ultrasound pic, an outfit you bought, etc … but there isn’t much of their mark on earth. I found myself questioning my faith, womanhood, and purpose on earth. Learning that other women and men felt the same opened my eyes, pushed me to lean on my faith to find my purpose, and eventually surrender to what was HIS plan ... not mine.
Anna’s Grace gives us, as a family, moments to remember their lives during the year in a way that is a celebration. Every story is different whether it is 5 weeks of pregnancy or 8 months after delivery … it is the loss of a baby. The support is the same. Anna’s Grace is a community who knows you are still a mom, dad, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, family or friend who is grieving a loss. When you go to an Anna’s Grace Event you realize just how big of an impact 1 in 4 really is and that you truly are not alone. When you are on that path and the sign representing your baby or babies comes up it hits you: it is their mark … which is healing.
The foundation also has helps with burial expenses. As someone who has worked in the NICU where far too many families leave having to make funeral arrangements, I find it healing to help raise money in memory of the patients I have lost. My goal is to raise $1500 to cover the cost of one baby’s funeral expenses. Please join us! Either Join Team Hurst, make your own team, donate money or goods, volunteer, or just come celebrate with us one day.
About Anna’s Grace Foundation Anna’s Grace Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting families in the Greater Baton Rouge Area who experience miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. Each and every day one of our neighbors, friends, coworkers, or family members will experience the devastating loss of a baby, and Anna’s Grace is there to provide emotional and financial support so that families can focus on healing. The Anna’s Grace Quarter Marathon is on March 25, 2018. For more information or to register, visit http://www.annasgrace.org/registration.