THROUGH HER EYES
Finding faith after loss
I am a county girl born and raised in Baltimore, MD. I was diagnosed with PCOS at a young age & with that comes a lot of difficulties. What is a normal period? Wouldn't know, hardly get them. Ovulation? Not on my own. So having a family I was told would be a huge struggle and chances are I would not be doing it on my own.
I met my husband Robert and we had an instant connection. Of course then comes the part when I have to tell the man of my dreams that my body doesn't... "well work like it's supposed to" & I thought for sure it would scare him away. I felt like I had to explain and emphasize that there's always a chance it won't happen and he was extremely understanding. We got married April 8, 2017 and began our journey as a married couple. We began to try on our own for kids and had no luck. He then got promoted within his job in another state, so we packed up our bags and moved to Connecticut.
Once we got settled in we decided to call a fertility specialist to try and help us in our journey to starting a family. Two weeks before our appointment, on January 30, 2018, we found out that we were pregnant. Im sure you can imagine my shock. Many failed attempts and negative ovulation tests month after month. I didn't have my period for 7 months and never had any luck before. We were excited beyond words could describe and full of excitement as we jumped up and down screaming and crying happy with joy. I was four to five weeks along when I found out I was pregnant. It was too soon to see anything on the sonogram so we had to wait which seemed like FOREVER. Our six week appt was finally here and my heart was in my stomach. I felt knots as I sat there waiting to be seen. I was about to see my baby, my miracle, my forever for the first time. I was nervous, but even more...excited. We go in and there was our baby . Tiny like a little peanut with a tiny flickering heartbeat. The doctor said everything looked healthy and that our baby had a strong heartbeat and was conceived January 11th. It was without a doubt the most beautiful moment of our lives. We spent nights talking to her, reading to her, and even having my husband play the piano for her. And every day I made sure to play her her song and sing it to her when we showered.
Skip ahead a few weeks to March 19, 2018. I was 11 weeks pregnant, or so I thought. We had our appointment to see her again and finally hear her heartbeat and see her move. We sat anxiously in the waiting room discussing nursery themes, names, and how long it was taking. Then they called our names. I couldn't stop smiling my heart was racing as I held my husbands hand. We got back to the room and my husband was ready with his phone to record our baby's heartbeat. The tech started the ultrasound and for what seemed like forever went by and she wasn't saying much, and wasn't showing me the sonogram screen. She kept asking if this was my first pregnancy, if I had any bleeding and a few other odd questions. I see my husband put away his phone and the tech goes to get a nurse for a "second opinion" I kept asking if something was wrong but got no direct response. My heart dropped. It could have been a few minutes but to me it seemed like forever. All kinds of thoughts raced through my head as I sat in fear waiting for the doctor. The nurse returned with the doctor and then confirmed that there was no heartbeat and that the baby was showing the size of being 10 weeks. My baby was there, but the heart was not. It was at that moment that felt sadness like I have never experienced before. I felt like I was in total darkness. I changed my daily eating habits, routines, and took all my vitamins. What did I do wrong? How did this happen? This can't be right? From there I was sent immediately to another building to discuss procedures to having my baby removed. I never did get to see my child on the sonogram that day. Something that ate me alive all day and night. It itched under my skin. All night was filled with sadness and confusion and what ifs. What if she was still alive? I didn't get to see or confirm for myself. I blamed and hated myself. I was up most of the night filled with anxiety. I carried this child for 11 weeks. This child had a heart beat and now she has passed away and all I can think about is how I failed to protect her as her mother and failed my husband. All I could think about is where I could have gone wrong. I talked to her and played her our song and tried to rest as much as I could. But let's face it, rest was not going to happen that night.
March 20, 2018- The next day came and it was time for my procedure. It was time to bring my baby into the world, not how I imagined it. Every second that passed was one less second I would have with my baby and as a mother I did not want to give her back. With all the anxiety I had all night about not being able to see my baby on the sonogram I decided to ask if I could see her before my procedure, I needed confirmation. I needed to see her. They were more than helpful with allowing me to do so and gave me all the time that I needed and even printed out a photo. The nurses also informed me about genetics testing which would allow for them to take a sample during surgery and to be sent out to determine the gender and cause of death. I was so grateful for all their help and knew finding out more info would help eliminate some of the stress that I had been putting onto myself. The time had come and I was prepped and ready to be taken back. My husband and I said our goodbyes and I was taken to the room where all my emotions let out as i walked into this cold, sad room filled with doctors and unfamiliar faces. A table sat next to the bed filled with tools, looked like pure torture. They laid me on the table to put me to sleep and all I could think about was what they were about to do to my baby. I told my baby I was so sorry about what was going to happen and how I was so sorry I could not protect her. I woke up from the procedure and felt so empty, like I had a huge hole in my heart. Apart of me was missing. My baby was born asleep, not full term, not natural, not by c section but by a medical procedure, not how we wanted or had hoped for. Had I gone over all options, I would have done things differently. But there stood my husband as I woke from my slumber with this adorable little penguin from the gift shop. He had no idea that day how special that penguin would end up being for me. I left knowing that apart of her was with me, and that was going to forever be my baby girl's penguin. 2 days go by and I thought I was healing rather nicely when all a sudden around 8pm and I start to go into labor. Confused? Yeah me to. I was going into labor with blood clots many to large to pass. So I found myself back at the hospital where I was then admitted to the maternity ward. At the time I had no idea that's where they were taking me. All I remember is looking around and seeing new mommies, congratulations banners and balloons and decorations and that's when I lost it all. They took me into the birthing suite where I had a major break down. I felt like it was such a huge slap in the face. I felt so sad that I was there surrounded by new moms and my baby was just taken from me. There we waited until surgery time. A painful stay at the maternity ward surrounded by arms full of love and life while mine was empty and sad. I finally went down for my procedure and ended up in the same room I was just in 2 days ago. It was like dejavu and I felt like I was living a nightmare. I came out and eventually was sent home where I recovered fairly well and quickly physically.
A few weeks went by and the hospital called. They had our results from the genetics testing, however the reason of her passing only happens to one gender. And we had planned on still going through with our gender reveal so we decided to keep the information in a sealed envelope. We had a wonderful photographer that helped us make everything possible for our mini angel gender reveal. It was the week after easter, so we bought both blue and pink paint and handed her a carton of empty egg shells that she then filled with paint along with the gender results. Gender reveal time came and she handed us the carton full of eggs. We slowly opened the carton of eggs to reveal eggs filled with PINK PAINT! We were so overjoyed, we finally had a name, she was CELESTE FAITH TAYLOR. We threw the paint filled eggs at an art canvas and had family and friends on live video to see and join in on our excitement. It was a very emotional day. After reading into her diagnosis it told us that she passed away from Turner's syndrome which is a result of a missing or incomplete sex chromosome and can cause short stature, delayed puberty, infertility, heart defects, and certain learning disabilities. This only occurs in females and 2% of those with turner syndrome actually survive. This is not genetic and is unlikely to happen again. I was relieved to hear this as I blamed myself for so long. We took that canvas from the gender reveal happily covered in pink paint and hung it in our room with her shelf and memorial pieces.
I became severely depressed and didn't have alot of support. A month went by and I spent most days in bed or crying. Then one day it snapped that this is not how she would want me to be and never wanted any parent to feel the way that I did. I wanted to make her proud. I got involved with the pregnancy infant and child loss community. I even found a children's memorial garden in our local park that has a brick pathway around it with the names of children who passed away. So we had a brick put down for her. I got a tattoo in her memory and found ways to honor and remember her any way that I could. Then I took the leap of faith and created Faiths Wings. Faith, not only my daughters middle name but also having Faith, a strong belief and confidence after loss. All things needed when walking the journey through grief. Faiths Wings started out at my kitchen table. It was a place to talk about my loss, share graphics and personal experience and to fonnect with other families of oregnancy and infant loss. I made tiny angles and would give them away to help privide a small items to hold for families when times were hard and to bring comfort. After awhile our oage started to grow and thr project became expensive so we chstged bare minimun to help fund the materials. It became a fun environment and helped thise struggling alone. After awhile it grew and we were able to expand on thr keepsakes we made and sold and were able to fund more giveaways. After some time we expanded to having a full blown shop, and doing in person and online events which is when we decided to became a licensed Charity in hopes to bring comfort and support to other families who have also faced pregnancy, infant and child loss. Since becoming a licensed Charity we have been featured on th4 news, in articles and on podcasts. We have also been able to raise money for 2 tomb stones in our local pregnancy and infant loss section of the cemetery. Baby Charlie's story is on our website. As well as the story for thr 2nd Tomb stone we raided money for. I have also graduated to be a bereavent Doula with StillBirthday to be able to work in hospitals to assist mothers during the birth of their angels. Together with myself, my husband Robert and my amazing team we are able to give back and offer alot for families who are grieving. We run the exclusive Angel Crown project, donating hand made crochet crowns by myself and our wonderful volunteers to hospitals all over. These small crowns fit babies from 10 weeks to full term. Most hospitals have basic hats and we wants to put a mote modern twist on the hats. We believe every prince and princess deserves a crown no matter how small and we know that when you aren't expecting a loss that it can be difficult and overwhelming to find items small enough to fit a smaller baby. Stores don't typically carry sizes to fit smaller babies of loss and with our items this helps provide something for them to wear during their final hours. We also offer hospital kits to those local that include our angel crowns and blankets made by our team, as well as keepsakes to remember their angel by and a gown for them angel to wear thats donated to us by Sew Sweet Angel Gowns. We continue to expand and offer in person and virtual events and other services like our monthly birthday events that display the names of thr babies during a live memorial birthday event, holiday photoshoots and our big wave of light event. We work side by side with Ashlee O'Connor of Ashlee Rose photogrpahy who helps create everlasting memories with the power of photography for parents of loss. We do Santa and Easter Bunny photoshoots for babies of loss as well as other special photos that we offer free to the families. So many families who never thought they would ever see their angels with santa are giving the opportunity and having them remembered during the holiday really brings families so much comfort. Our Santa and Easter Bunny also visit the local cemetery where there's a special section for babies of pregnancy and infant loss and we leave each one a gift. We also work with Arrow Rose designs to help expand what keepsakes we can offer families of loss. This Easter we did something new and gathered hubdreds of names of babies who have passed away and we put their names along with an angel inside of easter eggs and hid them around CT to help remember them and spread awareness. Each egg had our website listed allowing the finder to post a photo of the egg for thr families to see. We plan to continue to grow and expand and spread awareness. My Husband has been my biggest support since Faiths Wings started. We go live together to talk to our members, he dressed like Santa and the Easter bunny for our photoshoots, and he helps with all the setting u0 of events. Together we have powered through our loss to help so many others like us.
After out loss we decided to go down the path of trying to conceive again so we reached out to UConn fertility in CT and after many attmepts we had a wonderful rainbow baby named Liam Zachary Taylor born October 9, 2019, only 2 days apart from when our daughter was due. What are the odds of that one? He will be 3 years old this year and is such a joy. He was diagnosed with autism at 2 and we work hard to make sure he gets all the help he needs and will grow up to lnow and love his sister in heaven as much as we do. We are blessed for them both and will continue to keep her name alive by turning our mess into a message.
THROUGH HIS EYES
I remember the day very well. It was early afternoon on January 30th, 2018. We had celebrated the life of my late father the night before and I was at work doing techie stuff. Then, I got a phone call. "Rob, I need you to come home quick". My mind started racing like crazy. I asked, "What's wrong". She refused to tell me what was wrong, only that it was a surprise. Unbeknownst to me, my life would change forever.
I finally got home and I was told to sit down on the couch and hold a bag. My thought process immediately was, why did I just take off early for a present? ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when I heard those two words that caused my heart to race instantly. Crystal shouted "We are Pregnant!" I was so excited. My first child. We had tried so hard to have a child. Finally, it was a reality. We were pregnant with a little one on the way. My mind was already in dad mode. I asked myself, Ok so where do we start; where do we get baby things; is it going to be a boy or a girl? It's worth noting that my father came to me in a dream a few months prior to all of this. He shouted, "Your baby girl is on the way". I immediately woke up and told Crystal. I was really shocked because I haven't had any dreams so real of him in quite some time.
So here we are, ready to be parents. Two anxious people ready to bring a little one into this world. We collaborated on what we would need. We found the finances to get everything ready for the big day. We found really cute cribs, nurseries, and strollers. Even the colors of the walls in our spare bedroom had been decided. We were stoked.
One night, approx.. 6 weeks into the pregnancy, Crystal began experiencing excruciating back pain. I finally convinced her to let me take her to the hospital, because you know, we're both hard headed when it comes to going to the hospital. We told them she was pregnant. They immediately took us back and called in the on-call ultrasound technician. She was very pleasant. She looked over the baby and said everything looked fine. She estimated the baby to be 6 weeks old. The back pain subsided the next day unrelated to pregnancy. The next day we had our first, scheduled ultrasound appointment. We were both excited, looking at the small size of our little one. There was a one second moment where the heartbeat could be heard. It registered at 135 bpm. Little did we know this would be the last time we would hear it. We were scheduled for a 11 week visit and went home.
We were excited for our 11 week appointment. This was a key appointment for us. We were going to listen to our babies heart for the first time in a durated time. My job was simple. Record it. We were in the waiting room talking about nursery related stuff when the tech called us back. She began scanning the baby but early on I could sense something was wrong. The two other techs who worked with Crystal was able to locate the heart beat very quickly. However, this technician could not. She tried to find the heartbeat but nothing was coming up. Crystal asked me, what's wrong babe, as I stand there with a pale face as I suspect what's going on. In my heart I knew something went wrong. A doctor came in and confirmed our fears. Our baby was dead. We were devastated. Crystal and I were in tears as we couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe what was happening. We drove to another doctor for a second opinion only to have it confirmed. Our baby was dead. Our lives were forever changed.
The events that occurred afterwards only made things worse. I took off a week of work as I watch my wife in ruins. I&pos;m with her trying to keep my composure so that I can be there for my wife. She went through her first of two DNC operations. She told me after the surgery that she felt empty and that she wasn&pos;t ready to leave our baby behind. I wasn&pos;t ready either but we had no choice. She woke up and there I was, with her new little best friend. I was scoping the gift shop downstairs while she was in surgery and there it was, a cute little penguin. I remembered my wife telling me a story about penguins and how they display affection for other penguins. I was hoping to at least lift her spirits a little. When she finally woke up, there I was with her new penguin. She loved it. To this day, she still has it and stays very close. After she stabilized we piled our broken hearts into the car and went home.
The next day I stayed home to take care of her when she began having massive stomach pains, to the point where she couldn&pos;t breathe. I put her back in the car and took her back to the hospital. After some time the doctors confirmed she was having contractions due to residual tissue left behind. They said another operation had to be performed. They didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have anyone available for surgery until the morning so they gave her a room to sleep in. Unfortunately, no one was thinking when they gave her a bed assignment. We got off the elevator and walked right into the maternity ward. Everywhere there was celebration, joy, excitement. Our room was filled with devastation as we wait for Crystal&pos;s second operation. She came back from surgery in tears. She told me they took her to the same room where our baby was removed. She was devastated. She had to relive the torture of what just happened. Again, we got into our car and went home, devastated.
While Crystal was in the hospital we requested to know the gender. It was unacceptable to not give our baby a name. After two weeks we had a gender, but we asked not to be told. The nurse gave us a sealed envelope with our babies gender and paperwork explaining what happened. We both agreed not to peek until our gender reveal. Crystal had arranged for a friend, Rebecca, to photograph our gender reveal. She also volunteered to pour paint into the eggs behind our backs so we would still be surprised. She closed the container and gave it to us. Here it is. We were both excited to know. We opened it and were blessed to see pink eggs in the carton. "IT'S A GIRL" we screamed. We were ecstatic. Our baby had a gender and even better, an identity. We named her Celeste Faith. It was such a perfect name, only fit for a princess, my princess. With that was the sad new of her cause of death. Our baby girl suffered from Turner Syndrome, a genetic disorder which is the direct result of a missing X chromosome.
While she's in heaven she loved very dearly. Celeste has forever changed our hearts and she will always be with us. She will always look over us, take care of us, and guide us. Celeste, mommy and daddy love you very much.