Shared Stories

Elizabeth's Story

Being both an educator and a woman who lost her baby is mentally exhausting. I anticipated being out from the end of January through the remainder of the school year. Leave was granted and plans were made. Life changed November 30. Not only did I deliver my daughter, Aaliyah, still, but I needed to return to work mid-February. I returned to teaching children, all day long, after I had just lost my own.

Part of being an educator is teaching children how to love and respect themselves and each other- how to create goals, accept and grow from mistakes and realize that if something doesn’t turn out the way you want it to it’s okay, just try again. All of a sudden the phrase “practice what you preach” is almost impossible. I will always make an attempt, but when I think about the fact that I should be at home taking care of my child but instead I’m in a classroom taking care of other’s people’s children, it’s hard to keep going.

While in the classroom you can’t help but think of the milestones your own child would be making in one. Yet here you are, no child, but needing to help other children reach theirs. I became an elementary teacher because I love children, challenging them and expanding their ideas- my love for teaching is still present but it’s changed so much.

Every job needs resources for mother’s after pregnancy or baby loss. Reentering work after such a trauma can be triggering and, as an educator, adding children to the equation can make it much more difficult. I encourage conversations among women in education who have experienced loss to lean on one another during those dark days, of which there are many. We all know how strong our teacher networks can be - as teachers we also need to have a strong community as it relates to pregnancy loss. Remember, you are not alone and this tribe will have your back during your darkest and most challenging moments. We push forward for our children and will no longer accept the screaming silence around our losses.

Diana's Story

I had a hard time conceiving and we decided to try to adopt. The day we were going to have our house inspection I found out I was pregnant. We were over the moon.

Throughout the pregnancy I had bleeding and clots, but my OB said it was normal. He finally put me on bed rest. My paperwork from insurance was back tracked so I couldn’t go back to work for some time afterwards.

Spring Break came and went and I returned to work being 21 weeks at this point. That Tuesday I thought something was wrong as all day; I did not have to urinate. I made myself go and saw pink when I wiped. I was worried and called my doctor he said I might’ve irritated the uterus. That night I felt a pop and now I know my water broke. The bed was soaked. I called the OB again and he opened early to see me. He looked at me and said, “Your fear is confirmed, your water broke and I have to induce labor or you can risk becoming septic. The fetus still has a heartbeat.” I couldn’t do it and he sent me to a high risk doctor. The high risk doctor told me to go home and my body would tell me when I was ready to deliver.

I made it until Friday and began to run a fever and have contractions. We rushed to the emergency room and I delivered my baby boy the next morning. March 24, 2012. I went back to work 2 weeks later. Nobody said anything about my loss. Not flowers. Nothing. It was like my pregnancy nor son ever existed. I knew that I could no longer work there. I have not been able to conceive since then. We will be moving forward with IVF in the hopes of finally becoming parents.

Kelly's Story

December 2019 I was struggling with depression and anxiety. I thought Spring Break 2020 would bring some relief. I was a little shocked to find out we were expecting baby #3 after we gave away all our items. But surprisingly, hubs and I were elated.

I carried that babe during quarantine, exploring what it was like to be pregnant during the beginning of COVID and was working from home like everyone else. On the last day of school 2020, I went to my 12-week appointment to discover our baby no longer had a heartbeat. I was devastated and was scheduled for a D&C the following Monday.

While I was recovering from that, I got the call from my admin that I'd be reporting back to work next week (I am a 12-month employee.) I went back to work the following Monday, still in mourning and cramping from the D&C. Halfway through the day, the AP that works directly over me let me know she was most likely getting reassigned to a new school. It was a promotion for her, but for me it meant doing both of our jobs all summer long.

In June, most day cares and summer camps were still closed so I had no child care for my other two children. I told my principal the tight spot I was in but was essentially forced to take vacation time so that I could "work from home" while using my vacation time, simply to make schedules for my school while having childcare for my own kids.

I told my principal of my loss and my childcare situation but still had to keep it going most of the summer. When I did go back to campus, I was gutted to find that the principal's secretary changed the code to the copier to the last day of school. For everyone else, it's just a day. But to me, it was the day I had to say goodbye. To this day, every time I have to make a stupid copy or scan anything in the mail room, I have to enter the day my baby died as a code to get a stupid piece of paper.

The school year brought much more heartache with a new superintendent, virtual learning, angry parents, budget issues, and a ton of other heartache, including my new AP and our social worker BOTH being pregnant with TWINS with offices on either side of me. Thankfully most co-workers were sympathetic, and my principal now knows how hard I worked to keep our program at our school going during the AP change and the maternity leave of the new AP. But the copier code remains.

...And now this school year is ending. The worst school year ever for so many reasons, including a tragedy for two teachers at my school that will eventually make the news. And I just want my baby to be remembered. I'm still on meds and in counseling for my anxiety and depression. And I'm making huge strides and optimistic about the next school year and the stability I see ahead. But at the same time I'm also terrified I'll relive this trauma at the end of every school year, long after the copier code is changed.

Sierra's Story

It was very easy for me to get pregnant the first time with my son. It only took the first month and I had kind of a rough pregnancy so much that it made me want to wait before trying for a second.

We started when he was almost two and it took us a year to get pregnant again. I lost that pregnancy at 5 weeks. I've never experienced a miscarriage like this and no one else I know has. I go to a midwifery so they wanted me to lose it naturally and it took 10 days. In media it always shows that being this big bloodbath that maybe lasts an hour and it's traumatizing but no one warns you for it taking two weeks.

They say to capitalize on the baby hormones and try again right away so I did and now I am miscarrying again. I work at a charter school, we don't have enough substitutes. It's a pandemic - it's all hands-on deck. Everyone is overworked and it feels selfish to take time to mourn.

In my first miscarriage I lost quite a bit in the work bathroom and would take breaks to go cry in the corner. My first thought when I started bleeding the day before the last day of school was at least I wouldn't have to get a substitute or burden my friends with my body's failing.

I plant a fruit tree to mourn the baby I have only held inside my body and my biggest fear is owning an orchard.

Jenna's Story

I got pregnant with my first child very quickly. Pretty easy pregnancy, though I had some bleeding that put me on bedrest for a week early on.

We waited a few years and got pregnant again, fairly quickly. I had made sure to tell the nurse in my building as soon as I knew, just like I had done the first time. I went to a high risk practice and he had me come in right away for blood work.

Two weeks later I went to work on a Monday. I went to the bathroom and saw blood - a decent sized clot. I immediately went to the nurse and asked what it meant. She looked at me and just said, "Oh I'm so sorry." And hugged me. I was so confused. I knew what she meant but thought she had to be wrong. I ran in to my principal, who also knew, and she asked how I was feeling and I lost it. She called my husband, he picked me up and my doc told me to rest and come in the next day. That appointment confirmed I was no longer pregnant. He told us, "This was a fluke. You can try again after your next period." We did and - boom - pregnant again. Again, the doctor had me come in immediately. Bloodwork looked good. Ultrasound. All good. Heard the heartbeat at 7 weeks. Told our almost 3 year old and bought him a big boy bed.

Two weeks later, no heartbeat. Dr said, "We'll try again next week." For a week, I Googled: "heartbeat then no heartbeat," "how early can you hear a heartbeat," "is 7 weeks too early to hear a heartbeat." I was taking progesterone and I looked like I was 12 weeks pregnant. I talked myself in to, "Everything is fine!" Needless to say, it wasn't.

So, at 9 weeks, we went back and were told that the baby was no longer. I don't remember why but he told me that he didn't want me to do a D&C at that point. I think he expected my body to do what it needed to do. So for the next 3 weeks I waited.

Finally the bleeding started. I expected it to be like the last time, but on the first day of school I finished the day with cramps. I remember texting my husband and telling him, "These are bad. I need a 3rd Advil when I get home." By dinnertime I couldn't stand up straight. The cramping came in waves. I believe my body went in to labor. I was bleeding so much I went through 2 overnight pads in 30 minutes. The pain was excruciating. The practice told me to go to the ER. They were ready for me and got me hooked up to morphine right away. I stayed overnight. The attending gyno checked me and said I was going to pass the clot soon. They gave me a suppository of some medicine and we went home. I put in for two personal days so no one would ask me where I'd been (our contract prohibits HR from asking for proof, etc for personal days).

On Monday I returned to school like nothing happened. No one knew where I'd been or why I'd missed the first 2 days of school. I was very nervous to try again, but we did once we got clearance from the doctor. We got pregnant right away. I cried from fear when I saw the 2 lines on the test. But that pregnancy stuck and our daughter was born in 2016.

Allison's Story

I went through two miscarriages a year apart. The first one was in 2018. We had gotten pregnant unexpectedly when I was 39 after just getting diagnosed with Hashimoto's.

At 6 weeks pregnant everything was fine. Baby was growing well and had a nice heartbeat. By 8 weeks I was having some bleeding and cramping and was seen at the ER of a military hospital. My care there was enough to give me PTSD and switch doctors to a civilian provider. I miscarried at 8 weeks and needed a D&C.

I was blessed to be working as a pre-k teacher at the time and have some of the most understanding coworkers who took care of my students for me while I was out for around 2 weeks. They checked on me daily as well as my principal. When I came back my parents were very supportive too. I had several who prayed for me and offered resources and support.

Almost a year to the date I lost another baby at 5 weeks. Then, in March of 2020, amid all the pandemic craziness, I found out I was pregnant with my rainbow 🌈. She is the biggest blessing and I have the most amazing colleagues who covered for me while I took a month off for maternity leave.

Lashana's Story

I understand the desire to heal through pain of infant loss. I lost my baby girl at 34 weeks, she was born still due to placenta abruption in February 24, 2018.

I woke up that morning around 7:45am. Just saying to myself, I can’t wait to have and meet my daughter Shaniya. Around 8pm I started having contractions. They started to get intense, and my boyfriend drove me to the ER. When I got hooked up to the monitor, my contractions were getting painful. The nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat, and she called in the doctor for an ultrasound. By the look on his face I knew something was wrong. He told me my baby girl didn’t have a heartbeat. At first I was shocked and didn’t believe it until I delivered a beautiful girl born sleeping.

After losing my baby girl, I didn’t know that I could still take my 6 weeks leave because I delivered a stillborn but still born baby. My school principal informed me of the 6 weeks leave and the FMLA leave because she had contacted the CEA of NJ.

Lashana is the founder of Shaniya's Gift, a non-profit organization, in memory of her daughter. Follow her on Instagram: @shaniyas_gift1

Kirstin's Story

I lost my son in 2017 when he was 2 hours old from a birth defect called Anencephaly. We were informed of this diagnosis at 16 weeks gestation. We decided right away to continue with the pregnancy instead of the popular termination due to the zero survival rate.

I ended up needing an emergency c-section after 3 days of active labor in the hospital. I ended up needing to stay 10 days due to a pulmonary embolism post surgery. I had to start my grieving process while going through a horrific physical recovery in the hospital. Luckily the team at Virtua Voorhees Hospital, including Ann Coyle, were amazing and went above and beyond to honor our son.

Memories start to fade and sometimes I have to look at pictures to remember the shape of his lips and chubby cheeks, but he holds a piece of my heart that will always belong to him. We released a butterfly for him in the Angel baby garden at the hospital soon after he passed and to this day there are always butterflies surrounding my family and I. The moments where I watch the butterflies fly and picture my sweet boy are the most vivid and connected moments we share together. I may never know why we had to lose our son, but I am forever thankful for the connection I share with my own little guardian Angel.

Andrea's Story

I had a hard time getting pregnant and when I got that first positive pregnancy test I was overjoyed. I took two more just to be sure. I even left the tests out and filmed my husband coming home to the news. I was so overjoyed. My numbers were really high and I even thought at one point it could be twins.

I went to the fertility specialist and he did not see the cells that should have been present at 6 weeks. I came back the next week and can never erase the image of the empty sac in the ultrasound. When I think of that image it still makes me shudder. I had never felt the despair that I felt in that moment. I was enraged, distraught, and disgusted. Why couldn’t I have a baby? What is so wrong with me? What did I do to deserve this? I felt like less of a woman. My husband checked out just fine and I figured it was all my fault.

I chose to have the pill to speed up the process of getting rid of the embryo. The pain was excruciating and I passed out while trying to contact my husband to come home. I ended up getting an infection from taking these pills and had to get surgery because I could not stop bleeding. Why were all these other women able to get pregnant so quickly and easily and I had to go through all of this physical and emotional pain?

While all of this was going on I still went into the classroom and taught my high school students as if nothing happened, even though I was bleeding nonstop. My dedication to my profession never wavered. My students deserved a quality education regardless if I lost my child or not.

Meredith's Story

My name is Meredith. I never wanted children until I met and fell in love with my husband. I was 33 when we began dating, 36 when we married and 38 when we attempted our 1st pregnancy. I had my IUD removed and as instructed by my OBGYN, we waited for me to have 3 "healthy cycles" prior to our attempts of getting pregnant. We got extremely lucky and became pregnant on our 1st try in December of 2018 and we were so excited!

In February of 2019 I began spotting and was told that it was probably normal, but I insisted on having an emergency ultrasound because I believed otherwise. I will never forgot the sound of not hearing my baby's heartbeat as I did on the previous ultrasounds, nor the look on the ultrasound tech's face when she realized that she needed a 2nd opinion from my OBGYN when we all knew that I had lost the baby. The OBGYN was very sympathetic, compassionate and informative as to maybe why I had a spontaneous miscarriage. She informed me that since I had been carrying my deceased baby for over a week that I have to force my body to expel the pregnancy. I was given 2 choices for that to happen and I opted to have a D&C rather than a medically induced miscarriage at home because I didn't want to pass the pregnancy there and see what would have been our beautiful baby.

We were very nervous and sad the morning of the surgery, but my OBGYN was so kind and assuring, plus the perinatal program at the hospital kindly gave me a pregnancy loss gift, which was a tiny crocheted baby blanket and I held it in my hand up until the surgeon checked in with me again before my surgery to go over my paperwork with me. I thought nothing when she warned me of the possible effects of this surgery, which was potential uterine scarring and infertility.

After the elective D&C my period disappeared and was replaced instead with severe cramping every month for nearly six months. I was told that it was normal due to my D&C. At month nine of no menses, my OBGYB referred me to a fertility specialist who diagnosed me with Asherman's Syndrome which was acquired due to the severe scar tissue that developed after my D&C.

I was referred again to a surgeon in Philadelphia who specialized in the Hysteroscopy that I needed. The 1st surgery went longer than expected and I had complications with the uterine balloon catheter. It gave me a uterine infection and consequently my uterus scarred over again. I had two corrective surgeries to reverse the scarring over the next two years.

I had to us FMLA from my job at school two times for medical recovery. My Director and Principle were amazing supporters of me as was the Head Teacher of our Art Department.

In 2020, my husband and I were given the news that we were good to try again, but this time with the help of fertility medications as it was suspected that my age and a potential sudden drop in Estrogen were to blame for the 1st sudden miscarriage.

We became pregnant again in April of 2020 during the pandemic, but sadly lost our 2nd pregnancy in May of 2020 at the exact same gestation as our 1st pregnancy. I was furious with my body and the fertility doctor because again, I was spotting and was told that it was implantation bleeding, yet I knew what it was.

The check up visit was devastatingly traumatic for my husband and I. Again, I held my breath while waiting to hear my baby's tiny, strong and rapid heartbeat, but the ultrasound tech wouldn't allow me to see the monitor and ignored my questions when I asked her if I had lost this child too. She looked terrified and rushed out of the room. My husband and I were left alone, in shock and sadness over what he didn't want to believe, but what I already knew, which is I can't have children of my own.

We were eventually summoned and brought into my fertility doctor's office. He closed the door and told me what we feared. We lost the baby, he said, which is shocking he said because I thought we knocked this one out of the park. He suggested extensive fertility blood work be drawn immediately to only now find out what is wrong with my pregnancies.

Once again, my body wouldn't let go of the pregnancy, so this time I chose to pass my baby at home. It was very painful and the process took two days to complete. Both the sound and sight of seeing my baby pass is unforgettable. I chose to look at him/her as did my husband. Another baby that would never be.

Needless to say, we didn't cope very well. I knew that I could reach out to my mother's friend, Ann Coyle, who is a nurse that worked side by side with my now retired mom when they were a part of the Neonatal program at Virtua Hospital together when I was growing up. Ann is an amazing Nurse, mother and friend to my mom. She actually used to create hand sewn Halloween costumes for me when I was a child. Ann is the person who organized and runs the perinatal program at the hospital where I received my D&C.

After I reached out to her, she mailed my husband and I information on local support groups and programs. My husband began a grieving father's support group. I resumed intensive individual therapy.

After I "recovered" from my medical miscarriage, we resumed fertility treatments. All of our bloodwork results came back within normal ranges and my husband's sperm also checked out as good to go, so my husband and I under the assistance of even more fertility medications, once again began month of a new pregnancy attempt.

The stress of the infertility kept building and several IUI procedures were scheduled and cancelled because he wouldn't commit to them while we were in the middle of fights or periods of no longer speaking to each other. Because of the infertility issues, amongst other older marital and personal issues that remained in our relationship, my husband requested a divorce and left our marriage in March of 2021.

I now continue my journey towards motherhood on my own and view what it may potentially be one day in a different way. I might be able to conceive through a male donor or maybe even with another partner if my advancing age isn't an issue or perhaps I'll adopt, which is what I wanted to do, but my husband did not. Everything happens for a reason and I finally believe that. I am happy, I am healthy and optimistic for my future of becoming a mother to a human. For now, I am an amazing K9, cat and beta fish mom.

Jessica's Story

I am a special education teacher in a middle school setting. Teaching students with Autism. I’ve learned after the second loss…one chemical and one miscarriage (5 1/2 week loss) to not share with coworkers and friends until my wife and I got to hear a heartbeat…

We decided to announce around 3 months. It’s just so devastating to have to go back and say it didn’t work and then the constant whyyyyy. I’m currently 15 weeks after 3 early losses and two missed (yes, I had another miscarriage at 6 1/2 weeks). Everyone knew I did IVF, so we stopped talking about it after the 4th try.

My wife and I were struggling to get answers. I just wish I didn’t share a lot with coworkers... I was even told it’s ok you can always adopt. Or it will happen when the time is right.

We didn’t give up and kept looking for answers. I was diagnosed with lupus anticoagulant (blood clotting issues that can cause blood clots to the placenta). We decided to try one more time with aspirin and Lovenox (on day of transfer). This time it didn’t take at all.

We went onto a laparoscopy and had tubes removed and little endo removed. New protocol with meds and continue the Lovenox and aspirin (5 days before transfer with higher 10mg Prednisone). This is now giving me my rainbow miracle.

I am currently 15 weeks pregnant and in constant worry. I’m trying not to stress out and go with the flow. I think it’s helping that I’m working back in-person with less staff this summer. In September I will be about 5 1/2 months and hoping I’ll be more at ease to take more freely about it. My guard is up for the most part.

Sheryl's Story

It was May 2017 and prime State Testing time for schools! We were all under a lot of pressure to ensure high test scores from our students. A close friend of mine had a family member related to a top fertility specialist. My friend sent me a text giving me the go ahead and I called the doctor's office after she had called on my behalf. The secretary told me that they could see me in August and my heart sank. 3 months felt like more forever and an entire summer of doing nothing towards achieving our biggest hope and dream. I began to give the secretary my name and information and she said, "Hold on a moment, your name is on a post-it here. Actually, the doctor said he would skip lunch to see you. Can I put you in for next week?" In those moments, nothing else matters. You'll move anything and everything to get those appointments, those retrieval dates, transfer dates, nothing else matters in the pathway to parenthood. And then I realized, next week was State Test Week. The week we had worked all year towards.

I approached the Assistant Principal responsible for state testing schedules. I explained (while holding back tears), that my husband and I had trying to get pregnant for several years but with no luck. We had an opportunity to meet with a top specialist but it would have to be the afternoon of one of the state testing days. She held up her hand and said, "Say no more. Not a problem, I'll figure out scheduling. You do whatever it takes to have a baby, Nothing is more important than family." I went down to the Principal (had to request personal time off), and gave the same explanation. She rolled her eyes. She told me that it was really inconsiderate that I didn't care how my students did on the state test. She told me that it was selfish that I was making doctors' appointments the week of the most important test our students have worked towards. That I was indicating to my students that my life and personal time was more important than their academic success. Tears silently poured down my cheeks. She threw the tissue box towards me and said, "I'll think about it."

I remember standing outside my classroom confused how I'd gotten there. I didn't recall walking up three floors, across the old building to the new wing, past the cafeteria where the after school club was happening. I sat down at my desk and just sobbed. Was I being selfish? Was I failing my students? My family? My friends? Had this become all consuming? Did I recognize myself? 30 minutes later the classroom phone rang, "Fine. You can keep your appointment." Click.

Spencer's Story

I remember finding out I was pregnant for the first time. My husband, Justin, brought home cinnamon raison bagels (which I usually love) and I could smell them from far away and the smell made me so sick. The next morning I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. My pregnancy was smooth (even though the whole I time, something felt off). Every appointment went great. We had a heartbeat at 6 weeks, great growth at 12 weeks, and found out we were having a boy at 20 weeks. The anatomy scan was perfect. Baby boy was coming and he was healthy.

At 28 weeks I had my glucose screening and again all was well. However, at that appointment, they began talking about kick counts. The doctor I saw seemed relaxed about it and even when I mentioned my baby didn't move a lot, she kind of blew me off. Looking back, I will always wonder, what if that doctor had just listened to me. Would that outcome have been different?

That Saturday, I felt baby boy move so much inside of me. I was so excited. This was also the last time I truly last felt movement. I called the doctor early the next week, as movements had stopped. I went to the doctor's thinking nothing could be wrong, only to find out the total opposite. My sweet baby boy no longer had a heartbeat. I went through so many emotions. How does this happen? What did I do wrong? Is this all my fault?

Later that night I was induced and delivered our silent baby boy Spencer the following night on August 10, 2012. The weeks after were a blur. I laid around most days crying not sure how to move forward. Adding insult to injury was when the milk came in and I had no baby to feed. Nobody can really explain that heartbreak.

Spencer was due October 22 and I had planned to take the whole year off. Going back to work on October 1 when I was supposed to be preparing for my maternity leave was devastating. People at work tried to be supportive and sympathetic, but I felt alone in my grief. I was embarrassed, worrying if people were judging me and assuming I caused my child's death. It was hard to work with families who had lots of children, but didn't seem to be able to care for them. I encountered one Spencer and I felt a pull towards that student. Being able to use my son's name even for someone else, helped in a small way.

I was told I could take as much time as I needed, but they would be unpaid leave and my insurance would run out. I also would have to use ALL of my sick days. These were sick days I had been saving to take care of a baby and instead I was being forced to use them, which was a daily reminder of what I had lost. It was insulting. I wasn't sick. I was grieving. If I heard one more doctor call my baby a fetal demise I think I would have lost it. He had a name. His name was Spencer. I wish people felt more comfortable to say his name. He existed. He was alive inside of me. I felt his movements. He was a person. He was my first child.

We never found out what happened to Spencer, even with all the testing done. Some doctors referred to it as a cord accident and other's compared it to SIDs, but in utero. Having no answer almost made it harder to accept.

In late October of 2012, I got pregnant again, only for the pregnancy to be an ectopic one. On a Thursday night in November, I was rushed into surgery after a day of stomach pains, as my tube had ruptured. I was "lucky" as the surgeon was able to save my tube. I remember not telling anyone at work why I was out for a week recovering. I couldn't handle any more pity or any more of those sad looks. Some people still don't even know till this day.

On February 10, 2014 and May 10, 2016, I did deliver my two rainbow baby boys healthy and happy into this world. Pregnancy after loss is hard. It may be one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was much more alert to kick counts and even spent a few times at the emergency room. I didn't trust my body. By the time I delivered both boys, I was mentally drained from pregnancy.

Something special is that all three boys were born on the 10th of the month somehow and Spencer is always remembered as he is both of my rainbow baby's boys middle names. Sometimes I even enjoy getting to reprimand them cause I get to say, "Brandon Spencer and Ryan Spencer" out loud. Using Spencer's name reminds me every day of the struggles we went through to get to the end of the rainbow.