Miscarriage is something many families experience. The numbers vary on just how common this is but it’s anywhere from 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
For the Billings’ family, this heartbreak has hit them over and over again. Seven times to be exact.
7 Angel Babies
Whitney and Justin Billings were already parents to a four-year-old girl, Layla and a two-year-old boy, Hunter when they decided they wanted to expand their family again.
While the pair found themselves pregnant seven times, every single pregnancy ended in a heartbreaking miscarriage.
Whitney’s first miscarriage occurred around the same time she had her IUD removed and remained optimistic that this had something to do with the loss. However, it then happened again. And again.
In one year, Whitney suffered six miscarriages, all around the five to eight-week mark in her pregnancy.
Whitney and Justin underwent extensive blood work and repeated doctor’s visits to determine why this kept happening there was no explanation.
‘There is no baby in there’
On her seventh pregnancy, Whitney remained hopeful as she got three positive pregnancy tests. She was considered high risk, so she also saw her doctor regularly who confirmed a strong heartbeat and rising HcG levels. All great news!
Whitney passed the eight-week mark and her bump started to grow. Her baby seemed to be doing great and she even felt the first kicks. They told the children and started to pick out names and nursery furniture.
Allowing herself to get excited, Whitney decided to bring her then-three-year-old and her mum to the sonogram appointment.
But then the ultrasound technician spoke:
“There’s no baby in there. I’m not getting anything and definitely no heartbeat.”
While Whitney explained how she could feel the movements, the technician was adamant there wasn’t a baby.
“I lay there frozen. My body didn’t move and all I heard was my little 3-year-old saying, ‘Where’s the baby mama?’ I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe this!” she wrote.
Whitney should have been around 14 weeks along.
“We were devastated beyond measure. I felt my life shatter before me and I crawled into a deep dark hole, where no good thought became.”
While the doctor suggested a D&C, Whitney went home and her body went into natural labour. Unfortunately through the process, Whitney began to hemorrhage and, with every contraction, she was passing large blood clots. After a long wait, Whitney was whisked to surgery and delivered her 7th angel baby.
Suffering in silence
Whitney shares her story on her blog, Billings clan, admitting this journey has been extremely dfficult, especially losing their baby so far into the pregnancy.
Through every crushing miscarriage, Whitney tried to mask her pain and suffered in silence. While she did reach out to friends at one stage, their reaction wasn’t what she was hoping for.
“I left feeling more empty and unsupported. [For] some reason people liked to remind us what we already had, when they would find out about us losing a baby. ‘Oh well you already have a boy and a girl, so you will be ok,'” she wrote. “These comments were hurtful to us, and so many more comments that were made that aren’t even worth mentioning.”
As Whitney was silently grieving the loss of her angel babies, she was also bravely putting on a positive face to the outside world. Whitney hosted baby showers for her sister and friends while hiding the fact she had lost so many herself.
“Even though I post a lot of pictures, I also don’t share a lot about myself, personal struggles, or anytime I have lost and grieved a baby,” she wrote. “I’m more the type to suffer in silence. Somehow it made me feel more normal. Or maybe I was just burying all the pain, hoping it would go away?”
Whitney was also a professional photographer and she continued to capture those perfect baby bliss moments through her newborn and maternity photography.
“Honestly, it was bitter-sweet for me. I loved the opportunity to hold these sweet, new and fresh smelling babies while I photographed them,” she wrote.
A family photo to commemorate 7 angel babies
Two years after trying to fall pregnant, Whitney and Justin decided to expand their family in another way – as foster parents. But before they did, they wanted to capture all of the angel babies that they had lost.
Whitney’s close friend Emily Grace, who also happens to be a professional photographer captured a stunning portrait of Whitney, Justin, and their nine children – their two children along with the seven angel babies in heaven.
The photographer used Photoshop to ensure the family had one magical photo altogether.
“I want people to know that being a mom of angel babies means my babies DID EXIST and they are real!” Whitney shared with CafeMom.
“People have said, ‘Oh well you were only pregnant for six weeks, so it’s not really like a loss.’ THIS IS WRONG. No matter how far along you are, 6 weeks, 12 weeks, 27 weeks, that’s a little person you created living in your body. THEY ARE REAL!
I feel like it’s really important to educate the world on what occurs when someone loses a baby. How it affects the woman, the man, and the family. I would love to normalize miscarriage as a whole, and by me opening up to society and telling my story it’s a start! Women shouldn’t feel ashamed when they lose a baby, they should feel like they can reach out to people and get the help they need.”
Thank you Whitney, for sharing your story. If you have had a miscarriage, you don’t have to reach out or talk about it. But, it can help. There are your doctors, your partner, your friends, your parents. And if you don’t want to reach out to them, there are books, Facebook support groups, and websites like SANDS and Pink Elephants.