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Rose

Written by Devin Stearns, Rose’s mom

After a year of receiving negative pregnancy tests, I finally was prescribed Clomid. It’s a fertility medicine meant to help regulate my cycle. I was nervous about all the possible side effects, but so hopeful. We were beyond ready for a baby and to grow our family. To my disbelief, the medicine actually worked the first month!!! PRAISE THE LORD! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I was finally looking at a positive pregnancy test.

It finally happened for us! Mike was out of town when I found out, and that was the hardest secret to keep. I remember walking by mirrors in my house that week, looking at myself and saying, “You’re pregnant!” I just couldn’t believe it. Mike was only gone for two days, but it felt like a lifetime. I couldn’t tell him over the phone, because I definitely wasn’t going to miss seeing the look on his face when I finally got to tell him the news. He was going to be a Father. That moment was priceless, and one I’ll never forget.

After sharing the news with some family members and close friends, we wanted to wait a safe amount of time before publicly announcing. We have seen first hand the struggles of miscarriage through friends and knew the gift of life is a true miracle. We wanted to wait until our baby had a heartbeat.

We made it to our 8 week appointment and while holding our breath, we saw the heartbeat flicker during the ultrasound!!! My baby! There it was on a screen, and with a healthy heartbeat. Even though everything looked great at the ultrasound, I still didn’t feel comfortable publicly sharing the news yet and decided, I’ll announce on Mother’s Day. However, that quickly approached and at 10 weeks, I still didn’t feel ready. Something just told me, not yet.

We saw the beautiful fluttering of the heartbeat at our first ultrasound and everything looked great at every appointment in the months that followed.

We went in for our 12 week appointment. Our baby was growing, still had a strong heartbeat, and looked like a cute little penguin. I was amazed at how much our baby had grown, and that it already had arms and legs. We left feeling overjoyed, and I told Mike I wanted to announce that evening. However, he suggested we wait until we received our genetic testing results back. With only having to wait one more week, I agreed. Might as well announce our news all at once with the gender, right? I was eager to find out boy or girl, but more importantly that our baby was healthy.

We finally got the results back and was asked to set up an appointment with a counselor. I didn’t think anything of this because it’s our first baby, Why would I? If there are words that can make your world stop spinning, we heard them. “Your baby has a strong chance of having Trisomy 18.” I was clueless of what that meant, and quickly went to Google. Our baby was pretty much given a death notice, and there was nothing we could do about it.

I have never felt so hopeless. I just sat there completely numb. How can this be? The agony we felt having to wait for further testing is something I never want to remember. I just kept thinking, this has to be a false positive. It has to! We were so consumed with heartache that we never even looked at the gender.

After undergoing further testing with the amniocentesis, it was confirmed on Memorial Day that our sweet baby had Full Trisomy 18 (FT18). We were crushed. For the first time in my life, I prayed that I wouldn’t grow angry at God. We wanted to be parents so badly and the one time we finally got pregnant… this just didn’t seem fair. Not only was I devastated, I was also faced with the question of, “How would you like to proceed?” A question a Mother should NEVER be asked.

Our baby was pretty much given a death notice, and there was nothing we could do about it.

The weeks following were absolutely draining. I was an emotional wreck. Knowing the outcome and carrying the weight of making an impossible decision, just overwhelmed me. Do we proceed and knowingly put ourselves in a heartbreaking situation of having a stillborn? Or if our baby miraculously made it to full term, watch it suffer to live only a few short hours/days then pass? How will this affect my body and future pregnancies? The what-ifs were endless, and it felt impossible.

Our joy of finally becoming parents had been stolen and replaced with fear, hopelessness, anxiety, and depression. I never in a million years thought I would pray so hard for a miscarriage. I wanted the Lord to call our baby home. I wanted our baby to never experience an ounce of suffering, and I didn’t want the weight of that decision on me.

I sought counsel from family, friends, and women of faith. I was even connected to another Trisomy 18 Momma, and I joined a Trisomy 18 fb group for parents. I read so many stories and did so much research thinking that would help me make a decision.

I learned that not only do you need a birth plan when you go to deliver an FT18 baby, but a funeral plan as well. How do parents do this?!?!?!?

No one knew what to say, but what can you say? No one could even begin to imagine what we were going through.

One day, my mind was made up on how to proceed, then the next, it wasn’t. I can’t tell you how many times Mike and I discussed what to do, and looked at every angle of our options. Since we knew our outcome, why delay the inevitable? Why put ourselves through more heartache? Would I regret allowing my child to suffer knowing I could have prevented that? Would that make me selfish? These are thoughts that beat us up for weeks.

The only peace I found, was when I just didn’t focus on our new reality. A good friend of mine told me, “While you’re praying for God to answer your prayers, don’t forget to praise Him too.” That’s when my perspective changed.

How could I not be thankful? We finally got pregnant, and I was finally able to carry! We got to see our baby’s precious tiny fingers, it’s arms and legs moving all around in my womb. When my mind focused on the true blessing of what I was given, I was able to find joy and praise God through it all. It’s absolutely magical being able to watch your baby move all around on a monitor. Even though we could see the extra fluid and swelling, (all signs of FT18) | refused to think that our baby was anything less than perfect.

I learned that not only do you need a birth plan when you go to deliver an FT18 baby, but a funeral plan as well. How do parents do this?!?!?!?

We took Rose on a family beach trip.

I told my baby every day that it was fearfully and wonderfully made. That it was perfect, beautiful, and we loved it so much. We prayed over our baby, and continued to thank God for CHOOSING us to be the parents. We knew this wasn’t a mistake. The one time we finally got pregnant, we received the gift of our rare yet precious one. We knew the Lord was using us for a bigger purpose.

As time passed, I decided I just wanted to monitor the baby. To keep setting up ultrasounds and check for fetal viability. To me there was no rush on making decisions, and to be honest, I was avoiding it all costs.

Out of sight, out of mind was where I liked to be. To just enjoy being pregnant with my baby while I had the chance to. To be able to sing to it, love on it, talk to it, and even take it on a family beach trip. I sure loved every second. I continued to take bump pictures, and write in my baby journal. If this was all I was getting, I wanted to make sure that our baby knew how much its Mom and Dad loved it.

We were coming up on our 18 week ultrasound and I was faced yet again with, how should we proceed? As terrifying and heartbreaking as that question was, facing a decision yet again brought me extreme anxiety. It felt like an elephant was on my chest, I had trouble breathing, and I couldn’t stop sobbing. I was a complete mess, and hated feeling like I had a deadline.

It felt like an elephant was on my chest, I had trouble breathing, and I couldn't stop sobbing. I was a complete mess, and hated feeling like I had a deadline.

In NC, 22 weeks was the cut off for me to decide what to do. That same week leading up to the appointment was also the same week Roe vs. Wade was overturned.

How ironic?!?!?

I prayed so hard that week for guidance, peace, and clarity. I had none!!!! What on earth was I going to do? I sat in my driveway that Monday just sobbing, and asked God again to take this from me. All I kept hearing though was to just wait. I opened my Bible that night and started reading. I kept seeing over and over in scripture to wait on the Lord.

“When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” – Isaiah 60:22

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” – Psalm 37:7

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” – Lamentations 3:25

I was extremely frustrated because I felt like that’s all I had been doing. I was so tired of waiting and praying for answers. Then it hit me. The only time I felt anxious and overwhelmed was when I was faced with making a decision on how to proceed. I fully believed that God would have given me peace by then and I had none. As clear as day, I knew that was my answer. It’s not my decision to make.

The Lord kept telling me to wait, and I kept seeing it over and over in His word. He will bless those who wait on him and expect Him to show up and provide. I realized then that I needed to fully let go of control. I needed to let go of my backup plan of taking care of it myself in case He didn’t pull through. I was too consumed with the facts of my situation, rather than the truth of the Lord. As a Christian, if I were to base my decision just off the facts of my situation, then I don’t live my life differently than non believers.

I told a few people that Tuesday I had made my mind up. I just couldn’t do it. I had to let this play out the way God intended it to. I couldn’t be the reason my baby’s heart stopped beating. As terrifying as that was, I finally had peace. Mike was out of town but when he got home Wednesday, we had a long talk about my decision. I told him we just needed to trust that the Lord would see us through. Of course we talked about all the what-ifs all over again, but I just knew the Lord would provide. We just needed to expect that he’d move this mountain.

We drove to my ultrasound appointment on June 30th in complete silence. Terrified of what the update would bring. I silently cried and just prayed. We got checked in and they called us back. I laid on the table and the ultrasound tech got me prepped. She put the doppler to my belly and asked, “Did you have a heartbeat at your last appointment?” I told her yes. She then said, “because I’m not seeing one today.”

The Lord had called our baby home, made our sweet angel whole in heaven, and took the weight of the world off our shoulders that we had been carrying for months. I looked at Mike and instantly said, “The Lord was waiting on my heart to change before He answered our prayers.”

We finally looked at the genetic results that evening. Our precious angel is a girl, our Rose. Her name represents so much to us. She’s the beautiful flower, and the thorns represent our pain. However, I also think about the crown of thorns Jesus wore on his brow as he died for our sins. Because of what He did for us, we will one day get to be with our daughter in heaven.

We love you Rose, and miss you terribly. We will honor your name, and bring purpose to your short time here on this earth.

Donate to our “Still their mom” campaign to support our ministry efforts for moms like Devin

Real life ways we support loss moms as an organization – and the associated cost:

  • Our organization is sending 20 of the 100 moms to the Bereaved Mother’s Day Tea this Sunday. (cost: $50 to send 1 mom)
  • We have sent 60 free care packs to new loss moms in the last year. (cost: $2,400, approx. $40/ea)
  • We sent 300+ cards to bereaved moms and infertility warriors this year. (cost: $450)
  • This past year, we gave out $25,000 to cover loss-associated medical bills for 18 moms and their families. In the fall, we plan to give $25,000 more.
  • We design spaces and connection events for moms to share and meet other moms. (cost: ~$25,000)