Our story begins 22 years ago, where Cody and I met in Mrs. McKinney's 2nd grade class. Fast forward through many years of grade school puppy love, high school sweethearts and engaged college years to a happily newlywed couple.
Cody and I had been married for about a year and a half when we decided to start trying for our first baby. After several unsuccessful months I made a trip to the doctor and was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Nope... we had never heard of it before either. Turns out it is a leading cause of infertility in women. We were devastated. We had picked out names for our kids when we were 16, how could it be possible that we may never have any?
Luckily, after a year of trying and several months of fertility drugs we found out we were pregnant with our first baby girl, Rayley. I had a "perfect" pregnancy (as Dr. Green constantly reminded me) and Rayley was born on March 19, 2006. She was truly our little miracle.
After Rayley turned 2 we started throwing around the idea of trying for another baby. We both wanted more kids and agreed 3 years was a good "spacing". Determined not to have to take on fertility drugs again, we halfheartedly started trying to conceive on our own. This time we were pregnant within 2 months! We were amazed, and in shock... how in the world could it have been so easy this time?!
After another perfect pregnancy, our second precious baby girl, Karley, was born on June 17, 2009. Although neither of us were dead set against having any more kids, we were definitely content with our lives and our beautiful little girls. Our family.
When Karley was just 1 month shy of her first birthday, we found out we were pregnant again. Shock can't even begin to describe what I felt. Being the analytical person I am, I immediately put pen to paper and determined it was physically impossible. I immediately made an appointment to figure out what in the heck was going on with my crazy body.
Dr. Green did an ultrasound that very first visit and said we were in fact very pregnant, almost 8 weeks along! Instead of the overwhelming joy and excitment I had felt with the first two, I was overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. How in the world could we afford another child so soon? Karley was still supposed to be the baby, how could I steal that away from her? These and many other mostly negative feelings filled the first few weeks that followed. By about the 12th week though, those feelings were being replaced with anticipation and excitement. Yes it would be hard, but we were solid. We would figure out how to make it work.
At 18 weeks our little family watched a bouncing, wiggling baby on the monitor in the doctor's office. When she told us it was a boy it was like it was just meant to be. Our family was complete. I don't think I have ever seen Cody and Rayley so excited. Now the shopping for clothes and decorating could officially begin!
Just 2 weeks later our world stopped. At my routine 20 week check-up there was no heartbeat. It was impossible. It seemed like just yesterday we had watched him on the screen bouncing around like crazy. When the ultrasound image came up this time though, I immediately knew there was no mistake. It was still. It was silent. There was our perfect, precious baby... sleeping.
I was checking into the hospital later that afternoon and after 14 hours of induced labor Brady was delivered at 5:05 am on August 6th. In the middle of a painful contraction straight into the bedsheets, with no doctor or nurse in sight. They had warned me that was likely to happen, but nothing can prepare you for that feeling. A baby is supposed to enter this world red-faced and screaming into the hands of a smiling doctor... not lifeless and cold laying against my thighs under the sheets. That was the worst moment of my life.
Although the memories of the physical delivery are something I pray one day I will forget, I feel blessed to have been able to touch and hold my baby boy, even for a short while. He was so tiny, only half a pound and nine inches long... but he was perfect. His little arms and legs were so fragile. His peaceful face looked just like his daddy's, no mistake. I didnt't want to let him go.
I thought being able to bring home his ashes would give me some sort of peace, but I have yet to feel it. Even the necklace I wear every day around my neck, which holds a small portion of his ashes inside, doesn't provide nearly the comfort I was expecting it to. When you have carried your baby inside you and felt him moving inside you, no outside tangible token can replace the hole that is left when they are gone.
So that is where we are now, one month and ten days later. Still trying to fill the void and move on with some semblance of a normal life. We have to, we have two little girls who don't yet understand the pain of death. To Rayley heaven is a temporary place that Brady stopped to visit. She gets upset when I cry and she cries too, but it's an innocent cry. She knows something is wrong but she doesn't really understand it... and five minutes later she is playing again and asking for a snack. Resilience. What I wouldn't give for resilience in place of anger, guilt and pain. I was ambivalent about my pregnancy early on. Is this punishment? God thinks I didn't want my child bad enough so he took him away from me? Absolutely not, logic says. There is nothing I could have done. Still, some things simply cannot be rationalized away. I know they are not true, but they still haunt me every day.
"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
Please Lord, help me find it.