Welcome to the world Raylynn! I have been eagerly anticipating meeting this adorable little girl for months and was thrilled to be introduced to her and her lovely family as a part of the Extraordinary Love Project. Extraordinary Love Sessions are meant to honour a family’s struggle with miscarriage, infant loss, or infertility. You can read more about these special sessions on my website here.

Raylynn’s mother Jordan, her father Rene, and her big brother Marshall were happily expecting another little girl, Waverly Rose,  just last February. After what seemed to be a perfectly normal pregnancy, they were heartbroken to learn of Waverly’s stillbirth on her due date. In the hopes of helping other families experiencing child loss, we are grateful that Raylynn’s family is sharing their story with us today. Child loss is incredibly lonely and by sharing their experiences with the community, Raylynn’s parents hope they can make others feel less alone.

Our story really started on February 8th, 2019. Waverly’s due date.

My pregnancy was completely normal aside from weight gain and heartburn. No red flags ever, and no indication that anything was wrong.

Two days before, I had a doctor’s appointment. We listened to her heartbeat and he gave me a membrane sweep to potentially get things moving along.

On February 8th, around 12am my contractions started. I woke my husband around 6am and told him he should let his work/boss know that he wouldn’t be in that day. We called grandparents to come care for our son, and told close family and friends that things were starting and we were headed to the hospital. My daughter last kicked me during a contraction around 7 am. I remember telling her that kicking during a contraction wasn’t very nice to mommy.

We arrived at the hospital at about 9am and proceeded with checking in. We met our triage nurse and I got hooked up to some machines to monitor both mine and Waverly’s heart beat. The nurse struggled to find Waverly’s heart beat. For the first 15 minutes I didn’t think anything of it. I joked with the nurse and told her that “She always dodged the doppler at her appointments.”

At about 9:20am the nurse left to call our doctor. I questioned my husband wondering why they were having such a hard time finding her heart beat. Neither of us had any idea anything was wrong.

Things started to move a bit quicker. The nurse came in with a wheelchair and asked me to take my clothes off as they were taking me to the OR. I still didn’t really know anything was wrong at this point. I did as I was told as the nurse told me that things were about to start moving quickly and not to panic. I stayed calm, thinking we’d get to the OR where the ultrasound was, they’d see her and everything would be fine.

I remember the doors opening from triage on our way to the OR. The way any staff members got out of the way, or looked at me… my heart started to sink. I still held onto waiting for the ultrasound to prove everyone wrong. There was nothing wrong with my baby. She would be fine.

My husband was left behind to change into scrubs. They kept telling me he was coming. I laid down on the operating table, and one doctor on my left was questioning me about what I had eaten that day as other staff tried to lie me down quickly. I barely remember the ultrasound starting. All of a sudden, from my right hand side where the doctor was scanning my belly, I heard “Stop. There’s no point.” I asked if there was anything they could do… she shook her head.

I started to cry. She was just moving! We just heard her heartbeat two days ago! Like every mom that goes through this I started to think about what I could have done to hurt her. I cried for my husband who was still left behind. They had told him I was going in for an emergency c-section and he couldn’t be present.

He met me at the OR and they moved us to our room. We were very much in shock. The doctors came in and we spoke about what happened. Today we still have no explanation. They offered drugs to help progress labour, which I declined. I didn’t want this to move any faster, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

We laboured for another 14 hours before Waverly was born at 11:57pm. All day I wondered how to tell our son that his baby sister didn’t make it.

After that, my story is grief. It took me about four months to leave the denial stage. For weeks I couldn’t leave the apartment for fear I would run into someone that knew I was pregnant and would ask questions, fear that I would see someone else’s newborn. I couldn’t take my son to school, because I couldn’t face his teachers, so I had a friend of mine walk him over.

The questioning over what happened and feelings of guilt continued in Jordan’s mind. Everything that she did in the lead up to Waverly’s stillbirth was wondered to be if it was the cause of her death.

Did I bend the wrong way putting my boots on? Did I eat something on the no no list? Maybe the membrane sweep stressed her out and I didn’t catch it.

The entire family was greatly affected by Waverly’s loss. Marshall avoided talking about it in the fear of upsetting Jordan and Rene. They moved, Jordan changed jobs, but they continued to struggle and ache from the loss of Waverly. 

After Waverly died, Jordan and Rene knew that they wanted another child but did not expect the process to be easy because the conception of Waverly had taken five long years due to PCOS. Their family doctor started Jordan on medication to treat her PCOS and help regulate her ovulation. The couple was shocked to find that the medication worked the first month and they were again expecting a baby. While the pregnancy was very much wanted and anticipated, after having a straightforward pregnancy that ended in stillbirth it was impossible to celebrate in the same way as before.

The moment I got that positive I started to panic. We were destined to go down the same road again. I tried to be excited, so we started talking about names. This caused panic attacks as did any other conversation relating to the pregnancy. Morning sickness was awful. I hadn’t experienced it with my last two pregnancies. Was it worse because of the grief? Once the morning sickness stopped I felt a bit better. Every ultrasound in the early stages was hard. Every doctor’s appointment was a trigger. 

Throughout her pregnancy Jordan’s high risk doctor tried to reassure them that everything was normal and there were no red flags. Weekly checks on baby’s heartbeat were arranged and everything appeared to be going perfectly normal again. Waverly’s pregnancy had also gone smoothly with no issues or signs of a problem up until the day of labour starting. Nothing could reassure them that their baby would be okay, all they could do was hope that their little one would arrive safe and sound. 

On April 12th, after a very stressful and anxious wait, Jordan and Rene were thrilled to safely welcome little Raylynn into their family.  Congratulations to their family on the birth of their very special and beautiful rainbow baby! 

Thank you again to Jordan and Rene for sharing their story and their children with us. They would also love to share with those experiencing child loss themselves some of the things that they found comforting and helpful to them.

From Jordan, to those experiencing child loss:

The Roger Neilson House was our shining light in very dark times. We started with some one-on-one counselling and joined a bereaved parents’ support group. Child loss is so, so lonely. No one understands unless they’ve been where you are.  We met five other families and are still very close almost a year later. Having your feelings validated by other parents makes such a difference. There is no right way to grieve, no timeline for grief. 

Before we started our group session, I was completely shut down and in shock about what happened to Waverly. I didn’t know how to talk about it, I didn’t want to talk about it because the pain was and is unreal. Group session helped me realize that talking about it made me feel closer to Waverly. Group sessions taught my husband that dads don’t have to be strong all of the time, and it’s okay to cry. 

Most of all we learned that it was okay to laugh and smile again. It didn’t mean we loved Waverly any less if we did. 

We also had Marshall attend a counseling session. Before he met with the social worker he wouldn’t talk about his sister, he was afraid to upset us. After that session he opened right up. He’ll tell me now when he’s thinking about her. 

Rene also turned to music. It was very therapeutic for him. Music changed after we lost Waverly. The words to some of our favourite songs were different now, and punched us in the gut when we heard them. Some songs brought us closer together during some of the biggest waves of grief.