Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day: A personal story
This is a bittersweet post, mamas. But one we wanted to share, from a member of our community, that we’re certain some of you can relate to in a very deep way. Ashley of Southern Social reached out with this beautiful space she designed for her baby boy and the story of her heartbreak when he mysteriously passed away just days before her due date. It’s nothing short of devastating, but it was her wish to share his story in the hopes that other mamas who have lost a child would feel less alone in their grief. We are so honored to be able to publish this beautiful tribute to baby Beau on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day! Thank you so much for opening up here, Ashley.
The journey of sweet Beau began on a Monday in early October – I remember that day so vividly. It was October 6th, and my husband and I had dinner with our cousins in Austin. Bryan, my husband, ordered the usual wine and oysters. I slowly sipped my wine and avoided the oysters feeling like something was different. Bryan had just accepted a new job in Nashville and he was preparing to travel the next day. On the way home from dinner, I managed to convince him to stop to get a pregnancy test. Within minutes of returning home, our lives changed forever.
We were so innocent and naive throughout pregnancy – taking for granted so many small moments. We never hesitated to tell friends, and actually shared the news before 12 weeks. We experienced a pretty normal pregnancy. I was tired, sore and ready to get my body back. I had cravings and a long list of aversions. We prepared the nursery, bought thousands of dollars worth of gadgets and baby must-haves. We filled his dresser with tiny clothes and monogramed his belongings. I imagined sharing his nursery and all his sweet newborn photos with the thousands of readers of 100 Layer Cakelet. Selfishly, I spent hours thinking about how I would manage a business, nurse a baby and have a life. After nine months of hard work and doing everything right, we were ready.
The last few weeks of pregnancy, I felt Beau slow down. As a new mom, I worried about everything. I avoided any food, smell, or danger that I felt might harm my sweet baby. So, naturally, I asked my midwife if his slowness was normal. Beau was fine – at least all the tests pointed to a healthy baby. Our families were on speed dial and awaiting daily updates – they all live out-of-state. We patiently waited for Beau to arrive on his time. But, we wouldn’t make it to his due date.
On a Sunday afternoon, Bryan and I strolled the back roads of Nashville enjoying what we anticipated as the last weekend as a family of two. I was 39 weeks, 5 days that day. After breakfast, Beau became unresponsive. I desperately tried to get him to move, but nothing seemed to work. After a quick call to our midwife, we rushed to the hospital. In that moment, all our dreams for Beau were shattered.
The nurse spent five minutes trying to find Beau’s heartbeat. Many times in those five minutes, she would say “That’s him, not me” and we’d sigh in relief that he was still moving and alive. But, she never did find his tiny heartbeat. She called a code and the room filled with a team of doctors ready to perform an emergency c-section. Bryan and I held tight to each other, the room filled with fear, and the OB performed an ultrasound. She told us our baby did not have a heartbeat. Beau died. The room cleared and the hard decisions began. Bryan, my pillar of strength, called our family and friends. He spent hours destroying the excitement of those answering the phone – as so many of those calls started with “Is he here?”
We were induced and delivered Beau Wayland Coston on Monday, June 15, 2015 at 1:38 PM. He weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces and was 21.5 inches long. We were surrounded by our doula, labor and delivery nurse and our incredible midwife. We spent five hours with Beau studying every inch of him. He resembled Bryan and was sure to be tall. We made so many difficult decisions in 24 hours – genetic testing, autopsies, and cremation. And, finally, the hardest, handing our son to our nurse to say goodbye. We walked out of the hospital with heavy hearts and empty arms. Our world was turned upside down.
We were and are stunned.Stillbirth was never a fear – it never made my worry radar. I’ve thought so many times if I had known it was a possibility, maybe I could have worried myself into action. Frankly, I believed only sick babies died. I was healthy and did everything right. Through all the testing, the only answers we’ve received for Beau’s death were micro blood clots found in the placenta. These clots explain the decreased fetal movement I was experiencing. Beau was a perfectly healthy baby and nothing I did during pregnancy led to his death. To all the moms-to-be, please don’t read this in fear. But, don’t be naive. Listen to your instincts.
We had Beau for nine months. Now, we treasure every kick, every stretch mark, every sign he existed. We are reminded of our sweet son everyday. We spend time in his quiet nursery and find comfort in the only memories we have of him. We don’t have a birth certificate; we have a proof of birth. We don’t have his tiny feet to tickle; we have his footprints. We don’t have his soft head to kiss; we have a lock of his gorgeous auburn hair. We don’t have loads of laundry; we have one tiny hospital outfit that smells so sweet. In the midst of the news, we dared to not look at Beau. We feared the pain of remembering our son. Thankfully, we found the strength to hold him tight and have photos taken of us – our family of three. Our doula hired Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a non-profit organization providing free photography for parents who lose their babies. Without their help, we wouldn’t have any photos of sweet Beau.
Because of Beau, we have learned so much about the fragility of life. Beau has been gone for 14 weeks and we miss him every single day. In our healing, we find peace in visiting with our infant loss counselor, and speaking openly about Beau and his short life. We encourage anyone touched by stillbirth or infant loss to never stop sharing and be sensitive. There is no right or wrong in grief. Grief is proof of our love. One day, we hope to share the story of Beau’s brother or sister – our rainbow baby. As well as, share the strength we achieved to grow our family. We will cherish Beau as our first child, forever.
When planning Beau’s nursery, I knew I wanted it to be whimsical, not theme-y and timeless. I spent months sourcing, printing and framing art! I loved a dresser from West Elm, but couldn’t stomach the price tag. So, we saved an old dresser from Craigslist and refinished it. We purchased the simple crib from IKEA – super cheap and functional. I found the airplane mobile, and instantly loved it! Beau’s great grandfather, Wayland, was a pilot in World War II. Bryan’s father, Bryan and Beau share his name!
The majority of the items I sourced from Etsy, and loved supporting small businesses. We didn’t have a baby shower, instead we registered on Amazon and waited until about 60 days before our due date to buy everything all at once. Amazon gives you a 15% registry completion discount. When we completed our registry, I bought the big comfy Nurseryworks rocker! Our good friends from Austin made Beau a Texas – our home state! We had the coordinates of our house in Austin made and in tiny print at the bottom it reads, “Where you were created.” Bryan loves music, and decided to hang his guitar on Beau’s wall for safe keeping.
The room feels finished and true to us. Nothing really matches, but somehow it all works. Bryan fought me on the teepee, but it’s the best part of the nursery!
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Ashley. It’s beautiful and true and will certainly help comfort other mamas who have found themselves in a similar and inconceivable position. We hope your rainbow baby makes his or her way to you as soon as you’re ready.
*All photos by Lindsey Mueller.
Nursery resources below:
Crib: IKEA / Nurseryworks Sleepytime Rocker: Amazon / Shaggy Pouf: The Land of Nod / Clear Acrylic Wall Shelf: CB2 / Personalized Coordinates : The Printable Studio (Etsy) / I Love You to the Moon Print: The Printable Studio (Etsy) / Andy Warhol Print: Sofiprints (Etsy) / Eat.Sleep.Poop Print: Sam’s Simple Decor (Etsy) / Bear Print: Seventy Tree (Etsy) / Johnny Cash Quote Print: Simple Kid Industries (Etsy) / Constellation Prints: Fybur (Etsy) / Metal Letter B: The Land of Nod / X Book Caddy: The Land of Nod / Wild & Free Banner: Partybot Studio / Large Canvas Vintage Pull Down Map : Gritty City Goods (Etsy) / Guitar Baby Rattle: Projects by Zac (Etsy) / Child’s Teepee: House Inhabit (Etsy) / ABC Print: Snug Studio (Etsy) / Tiny Texas: Hemlock & Heather / Baby Bedding: Woolf With Me (Etsy) / Mini Triangle Wall Decals: Urban Walls (Etsy) / Teepee Pillows: Things that Sing (Etsy) / Large LAPPLJUNG RUTA Area Rug: IKEA / Small RENS Sheepskin Rug: IKEA : GADDIS Basket: IKEA / Large Felt Storage Bin: Loop Design Studio (Etsy) / Airplane Mobile: Meraki and Co (Etsy)