I saw it plain as day: “pregnant” written out in digital form on a stick!
Me! Pregnant! At 42!
I drove to Walgreens, bought two more tests and used their restroom. Right there on a public toilet, it read the same: Pregnant.
I laughed as the tears rolled down my face in that Walgreens store. This was not expected. Shock! Crying. Laughing. So many questions: “Am I really capable of this? Five kids? How did this happen? How will I balance business and a brand new little one?
My “baby” is almost 11. Is this even possible?
As the week went by, I stopped dwelling on weighty issues like my age, possible problems, work responsibilities, and the fact that this baby would be a more than a decade younger than my others. I started dreaming about nurseries, pregnancy announcements, gender reveal parties and baby names. I had visions of my kids holding this little one...truly relishing each and every stage. I began to see the joy this baby would bring to our family.
As far as work, well, Taking Cara Babies was about to get an up-close view of me and a newborn. I made a vow to use my social media platform to be real and transparent about pregnancy after 40. Knowing all the risks and the ups and downs, the joys, trials, triumphs- I decided, no matter the outcome, I would publicly share it all.
I allowed myself to really dream. Names began racing in my mind: I decided if it was a girl, her name would be “Eva Jo.”
Eva means “LIFE.” This baby would give our family a new breath of LIFE like we had never known. And “Jo”...well, you know, after my girl: Joanna Gaines. (If she could have baby #5 in her 40s and be excited, then I could too.)
While waiting for that first doctor’s appointment, I checked the pregnancy tests a few more times. Positive, positive, pregnant, positive. (Moment of honesty: I took 12 pregnancy tests. All positive. Definitely pregnant.)
About 4-5 weeks after that first test, we headed to the doctor’s office for our first appointment. As I laid there on the table my heart was bursting with anticipation. I could almost feel the joy pouring from my soul. By my sister’s birthday, January 17th, I’d hold this final addition to our family, but for now, just a little glimpse of a heartbeat would be enough.
As the ultrasound tech inserted the probe, it’s like we saw it simultaneously: Stillness.
No flicker, No flutter. No heartbeat.
And the rest was a blur…"I’m sorry"'s, blood draws, tests, and more ultrasounds with no heartbeats.
These were the echos deep within my soul:
“I shouldn’t be this attached. I’m only 8 weeks along. How did I let myself get excited about this? I’m dying inside. I feel like someone is crushing my heart and ripping it out. I can’t handle this pain. I didn’t ask for this baby. I didn’t plan it. But…now I am fully attached in the depths of my being!"
The prayers, pleading, and questions began:
Dear God, I told you I’d use my platform to be transparent. I’d show other women they can do it too, but I can’t do THIS. Anything… just not THIS! You know I love babies. Why would you want me to endure a miscarriage? I’ll take this baby no matter what. Please. Please just let it grow. Can’t you do just this one miracle?
I tried to convince myself that I shouldn’t be sad. I told myself that I should just be grateful for the four babies I have.
But…I really wanted THIS baby too. I didn’t know so many tears could fall in such a short time.
The waiting continued and the pain felt neverending. More tests and more ultrasounds all pointed to the inevitable. I scoured Google looking for reassurance that maybe this baby could still make it.
I held onto hope and tried to believe against all odds.
Then, my kids began noticing.
Jace asked, “Can you guys talk to us? Does someone have cancer?”
Kids know! They know us all too well. Even when we think we’re hiding our tears and sadness, they know.
We sat them all down and explained that I was pregnant, but the baby wasn’t going to make it.
They just stared at us in shock. All four. Quiet. Wide-eyed. Confused.
The shared pain felt unbearable until my youngest, 10-year-old-Charlie, stood and with tears rolling down his cheeks, hugged me tightly. He had no words, but I knew he hurt because I was hurting. That kind little heart was such a blessing. Those tender arms were a sweet balm.
The next weekend, as we sat together on a beach blanket soaking in the sound of the ocean waves on Coronado Island, Ella leaned in close and asked: "Mom? Do you think we could still have a baby"?
“Oh Ella, I don’t think that’s the plan.”
After a moment of deep thought, she suddenly piped up:
“Mom, let’s ask God for a sign. If He wants us to add a baby to our family, He can show us a sign TODAY. IF He shows us a baby today, that will be our answer. But, not just any baby - a ½ Filipino ½ White baby... like me. White babies and Asian babies are everywhere, but that combination TODAY would be a miracle- a SIGN.”
“Okay Ella,” I say as I pat her hand. “Sure.”
But then... It happened!
Later that evening, as we walked into a restaurant, there, in the very first booth, sat a beautiful Asian woman next to her white husband holding their little one.
I know this is so rude, but I looked right in her eyes and blurted it out, “Ma’am, excuse me. Are you Filipina?”
“Yes,” she responded.
With shocked expressions, we told her about our prayer for a “sign.” Her eyes filled with tears as she said, “My baby is your sign! May God bless you.”
I lovingly rubbed the head of her sweet little one and asked to snap a picture.
So, now what?
I don’t know the future.
I don’t know the plan.
But this baby, the baby we lost, WAS added to our family. That’s what Ella asked for- a sign that a baby should be added to our family. And let me tell you- this one, even without ever making it earthside, was added to our family.
And our baby, who we might have named “Eva Jo,” did breathe LIFE into our family in a way we desperately needed.
But more, this sign allowed me to feel deep in my heart that I had not been forgotten, that my pain was valid and that miracles were still possible even when they look different than how we had hoped.
Someone needed me to know that the baby inside of me was real- with or without a heartbeat.
Please know, I vowed to use this social media platform to share my story. This is not the story I expected or hoped to tell when I made that vow, but here it is: REAL and BROKEN. SHARED.
If you’ve also experienced a loss, I am so sorry. I share this story, my story, to say what I needed to hear when the pain and darkness felt overwhelming:
You are not forgotten. These little ones are REAL. They are loved. They ARE an added part of your family... no matter how tiny they were when they left this earth.
For me, even if the pain never goes away, I’m thankful for that baby who was added to our family.
These words by Mercy Me from the song “Even If” helped me in my darkest moments, I pray if you are walking through the darkness that they help you too:
They say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now, right now I'm losing bad
I've stood on this stage night after night
Reminding the broken it'll be alright
But right now, oh right now I just can't
It's easy to sing
When there's nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I'm held to the flame like I am right now...
...I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But EVEN IF You don't
My hope is You alone…
It is well with my soul