My journey to motherhood was not the fairy tale journey I thought it would be. My story - Bristol’s birth experience forever changed me, to my core. It set off a passion to help other women who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, to support those women who are overwhelmed with a myriad of emotions during a pregnancy after loss, to raise awareness about maternal & infant health, to improve our standards of care and emphasize the importance of perinatal bereavement education. If you meet me, you know this is my passion. God set my soul on fire the day Bristol was born. My prayer of, “God, if you are real, if you exist, then let there be a purpose for this pain.” And, He answered. Beats for Bristol, Inc. was formed in her honor- to give purpose for my pain.
…that we can comfort those in trouble with the same comfort we ourselves received from God…” - 2 Corinthians 1:4
After months of fertility treatment, I found out I was pregnant at a NASCAR race my husband had drug me to…we were excited and dreams began to form about our baby-to-be. And despite extensive fertility treatment, we had no reason to be concerned about our pregnancy. We were transitioned to a general OBGYN in our hometown after being released from the fertility specialist. Once we passed 12 weeks I thought we were in the clear - I was naive to the extent of pregnancy loss. At a routine ultrasound appointment in my six month, our worlds were forever changed. The words: I’m sorry. There is no heartbeat. Your baby has died. My world stopped in motion.
We were sent to the hospital to deliver our baby. So much of that day seems to blur together - but there are some specific things I remember. I remember feeling numb trying to absorb the impossible task of delivering a dead baby. I remember not wanting to see or talk to anyone. I remember an emptiness that seemed to swallow me. I remember a horrible joke our physician made. I remember a nurse praying with me as I cried. I remember hearing the doctor say: One more push honey and it’ll all be over. (Little did she know, that was just the beginning.) I remember the medical staff leaving immediately after Bristol silently entered this world. I remember asking my husband where the baby was? I remember the look in his eye. I remember him carrying over a pale pink puke bucket and wondering why he was bringing it to me. I remember seeing my baby, for the first time, laying in that bucket. I remember holding her, brokenhearted but somehow overcome with peace. I remember asking to see her again and being told she had been sent to the morgue…We were sent home just a few hours after she was born.
There were a lot of “bad” things that happened when Bristol was born - and I won’t get into all those details. But I will say, after picking up her ashes from the funeral home and reading her death certificate, I knew that no woman, no family should have to endure what we had experienced. A spark was lit.
A few months after Bristol was born, I found out I was pregnant with my first rainbow baby. It was quite the collision of grief - post-partum hormones - new pregnancy hormones - and trauma/anxiety as I tried to prepare for a new pregnancy. The journey of PAL was one I would not have survived without a peer support group. I was blessed with the opportunity to use a fetal doppler at home during that pregnancy and it was my saving grace during moments when fear and anxiety took control. My rainbow baby was born a few weeks shy of Bristol’s birthday. This journey has been a rollercoaster of emotions - and it shed light on the lack of resources available to women, families, medical staff…it brought to light the contradiction of how frequently pregnancy loss occurs but how taboo it is to talk about…it brought to light so many issues in regards to maternal and infant health, prenatal care and education, and perinatal bereavement.
Beats for Bristol, Inc. was founded in May 2011 in hopes to walk the journey of pregnancy after loss with women. We aim to support the mother’s emotional health, to raise awareness, and to change lives one heartbeat at a time. It has grown into a global resource for women. My hope is that we will continue to reach more women, medical facilities, and providers in the years to come. If we want the best outcomes for the mother & baby, then we need to look at the big picture of prenatal and post-partum care. We can do better, we must do better.