Today, we celebrate Emma Rose’s first birthday and honor her sweet, short little life. I wrote and published this piece a few days after we lost her last year, and am sharing it again as we remember her today. Because even the smallest of feet have the power to leave everlasting footprints upon this world.
18 weeks of life. 16 hours of labor. A lifetime of love. Forever in our hearts.
Emma Rose Birchfield
Born still at 10:07 PM on April 28th, 2016
8.5 inches long | 5.3 ounces
Time has been a curious thing – dragging on with each tear I shed, yet slipping through my fingers like sand as I attempt to imprint every tiny detail of this past week upon my memory.
This week has been filled with the hardest moments I’ve ever walked through during my 23 years of life. I’ve sat down to start writing this post multiple times and yet couldn’t seem to find the words. Yet today, I long to reflect upon the beautiful 18 weeks and 3 days of life we had with our Emma Rose.
On January 18th, 2016, that tiny, faint blue plus sign made its appearance on a cheap, generic pregnancy test I bought on a whim – and changed our lives forever. As I mentioned in a previous post, Craig and I had been trying to conceive for several months prior. The moment we knew of the little life growing inside me was one of the happiest of our lives. My due date was to be September 26th.
The dreaming and planning of our new future that included a little one began. And so did the doctor’s appointments, along with wicked morning sickness and other typical first trimester unpleasantries. Each time I found myself laying on the bathroom floor, praying for relief, I was reminded that my sickness meant our baby was growing more and more in every moment.
Doctor’s appointments were normal check-ins, and ultrasounds meant a chance to see our precious Emma grow. Assured that both our baby and I were healthy and progressing perfectly, we shared our pregnancy with the world on March 3rd. We were overjoyed to finally share our secret with friends and family.
My second trimester began and in the midst of our excitement, I still wrestled with the fear that something would go wrong as most expectant mothers do. Yet, I was assured that after 12 weeks of pregnancy and hearing our baby’s heartbeat, my chances of miscarrying became less than 2%.
At 15 weeks, I began to feel our sweet babe move. Though most first-time mothers don’t experience this until closer to 18 weeks, her movements became stronger and more distinct every day. I cherished spending my first moments each morning simply sitting with Emma, holding my growing belly, praying over this little life, bonding with her as she rolled and tumbled within my womb.
On April 11th, at 16 weeks along, an ultrasound revealed what I already knew in my heart – we were having a baby girl. In an instant, our dreams for the months to come gained even more clarity. Our thoughts were filled with pink, precious dresses, nursery decor, starting our registry, and wondering things like which Disney princess would become her favorite.
Just past my 18-week mark, Craig and I went in for a normal doctor’s appointment. Everything began normally – they checked my blood pressure, asked me how I was feeling, assigned me bloodwork that needed to be done in the coming weeks, and spoke about our upcoming 20-week ultrasound appointment. We chatted with the doctor about our excitement, and how at 18 weeks, we were almost at the half-way point already.
And then in a matter of minutes, our whole world fell apart. After being unable to find our baby girl’s heartbeat on a doppler, we were shuffled from room to room as they hooked me up to multiple ultrasound machines. There was something wrong – I squeezed my husband’s hand in anticipation for the news I never could have been ready to receive.
As I lay on the table, my doctor and ultrasound tech spoke in hushed voices as they stared at the screen that was tilted out of my view.
“I’m so sorry – we aren’t seeing a heartbeat.”
As my eyes flooded with tears, my mind flooded with a million questions. How could this have happened? Why was our baby girl being taken from us? What does any of this mean?
We were taken into a private room where our doctor talked with us about what had happened – at 18 weeks, we had suffered a missed miscarriage. Only about 1-2% of pregnancies end in late-term miscarriage or stillbirth. If it would have been two weeks later, at 20 weeks, our Emma Rose would have been considered stillborn. My body showed no signs of going into labor naturally, so I was scheduled to be induced two days later.
We arrived at the hospital at 4:45 am on Thursday, April 28th to begin the process of saying goodbye. I was administered medication to kick start my body into labor. Slowly, but surely, my contractions began. Surrounded by family and my husband by my side, we spent the day laughing and crying, grieving and praying – all the while, my labor intensifying.
After an exhausting 16 hours of labor, Emma Rose Birchfield was born still at 10:07 PM on April 28th, 2016. In the moments following her birth, the entire world seemed to stand still – I’ve never experienced a more intense silence. Yet, where there should have been cries coming from my beautiful baby girl, the presence of God filled the room in the midst of the stillness.
It’s been one week since we’ve said goodbye to Emma Rose. And yet, I know that while I don’t hold her in my womb or in my arms, I will hold her in my heart for the rest of my days – until I’m able to embrace her once more someday when our souls finally meet again.