For #MotherlyStories |

In July of 2013, I took a pregnancy test on a whim while my husband, Joe, was out of town on business.

I’m not sure what prompted me to take the test, or why I even had one on hand since we weren’t trying to conceive, but one thing is for sure—I was absolutely unprepared for the journey that was about to unfold.

The initial shock my husband and I felt about the pregnancy quickly gave way to joy as we dreamed about our little family of three.

Naively, we decided to tell our entire family about our baby due in March when I was just six weeks along.

Two weeks later, I went to the doctor’s office for my first prenatal appointment without Joe.

He was traveling for work, and I assured him there was no reason he needed to be at a “boring first appointment” that involved little more than taking a medical history and drawing a couple vials of blood.

When an overly cheerful nurse practitioner suggested doing an early ultrasound to accurately date our pregnancy and baby, I jumped at the chance, eager to see a first glimpse at our little one.

But as anyone who has experienced a miscarriage knows, it’s never a good sign when the ultrasound tech gets extremely quiet during your scan.

Our baby had a very slow heartbeat and was measuring weeks behind my dating estimate.

I was sent home with instructions “not to worry” and to come back a week later to see how things were progressing.

Our follow-up scan revealed that our baby had passed just days after our last appointment.

I was frozen, washed with emotions I had no idea existed until that moment.

Sitting in the hospital room with a doctor I had just met, I struggled to hold back the tears.

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Perhaps I turned a blind eye to the conversations around me, but I never really heard people talk about miscarriage.

A friend growing up told me about how her mom had another baby before her that died before birth.

A college girlfriend wrote a couple posts on her blog about losing their second baby.

But other than those couple mentions, I was completely unaware of the very real pain and sense of loss associated with losing a baby you never got the chance to know.

Five months later, we were pregnant again and cautiously optimistic.

The joy we felt for our first pregnancy was replaced with fear and anxiety, counting down the days until the 12-week mark when the chances of miscarriage were greatly reduced.

An early ultrasound for peace of mind revealed that our second baby was thriving at seven weeks with a strong heartbeat. We returned five weeks later for our big 12-week appointment.

The second our doctor couldn’t find the heartbeat on the Doppler, I knew something was wrong. Since the ultrasound tech had gone home for the day, my doctor did the scan; I’ll never forget the pain and compassion in her eyes as she turned to us and delivered the news—our baby had stopped growing around eight weeks.

There would be no happy announcement. Instead, I was booked for a D&C two days later.

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I started writing about my experience, blogging my way to healing.

In the midst of the deep pain, I needed to know that there was a greater purpose in our suffering.

More than anything, I wanted to connect with other women who understood what it was like to lose babies.

Sharing about my miscarriages opened my eyes to an entire group of women bound together by a similar pain.

Women I’ve known for years, acquaintances, and strangers alike wrote to me to tell me their stories — and hearing them was so good for my weary heart.

None of us would have ever chosen to be part of this club of women bound together by sadness, but walking together helped lessen the burden for all of us.

Most importantly, sharing about my miscarriages validated and honored the babies we lost.

They existed, they mattered, and they made me a mother despite never setting foot on this earth.

Sharing their stories and mourning those babies publicly helped bring healing and gave me a sense of closure that would otherwise have been lost.

On February 25th, 2015 we welcomed our darling Ainsley Moriah into the world.

She is redemption in so many ways for our family and the greatest joy that I’ve ever known.

Being her mother is an honor that I’ll never take for granted because of the sorrow that I experienced.

And one day, when she is older, I look forward to telling Ainsley about her siblings in heaven who came before her and paved the way for her arrival.

Madison is a midwest-based food editor, blogger and recipe developer. She blogs about food, lifestyle and motherhood at Espresso and Cream.