2017 brought on a lot of joy and yet a lot of heartache for us. We had decided towards the end of 2016 that we were going to start trying for a baby once the new year rolled around.

I found out I was pregnant mid-January.

During my 13 week visit in April, I went to the appointment by myself on my day off. The nurse practitioner put the doppler on my stomach and couldn't hear anything. She kept reassuring me that everything was probably fine and that baby was still so small so it may be a little harder to find the heartbeat. After her 3rd time trying, she told me she was going to call my primary ObGyn doctor to do an ultrasound.

After being sent up and down different floors and being put in all these different rooms, they were able to do the vaginal ultrasound that day. I can still remember the both of them staring at the screen and the silence that filled the room. Our baby's rapid heartbeat that Danny and I heard just 4 weeks earlier was no longer there. She turned the screen so I could see the still image. She said something about how our baby looked like it had stopped growing around week 8. Week 8? But I was here for my 13-week appointment. You're telling me I was carrying a dead fetus in my womb for almost 5 weeks? She said something about how this is very common, but I wasn't really listening anymore. We had miscarried.

And then I did what I always do best. I shut everything out and kept myself busy. I went to Party City afterwards to pick up balloons and supplies, spent the rest of the day cooking and cleaning to prepare for a surprise bridal shower that we had at our house that night. We entertained guests and slapped on smiles. After everyone left, I crumbled. I cried myself to sleep that night.

I saw the initial signs of bleeding the next day, and 2 days later we lost Jeremiah while I was in the shower. I had worked that Saturday and was feeling the cramps/contractions throughout my whole shift. We had dinner with my dad and his office staff that night, and I couldn't make it through dinner because the contractions were getting so bad that we abruptly left without finishing. For the next several weeks Danny kept saying how every time he closed his eyes, all he could see was me crouched down in the shower screaming with the baby's sac behind me as blood was rushing down the tub. 

People don't talk about miscarriages often. The doctors told me I would feel pain. The doctors told me I would bleed. The doctors told me that it might look like small tissue in the toilet. They didn't tell me the emotional pain mixed with the physical pain would be so debilitating. They didn't tell me that this bleeding they talked about would equate to huge blood clots the size of my palm. And they didn't tell me that this small tissue that would come out would actually be more of a big water balloon that I would push out. I will never forget the sound of the sac hitting the floor of the tub. I fell forward and screamed the loudest scream in my whole life knowing that this was the end. Danny kept trying to comfort me and kept telling me not to look while he took care of the sac and tossed it, not really knowing what to even do with it.

Oh, how we mourned. I took a day off work that Monday and cried and cried and cried. I was broken. I kept blaming myself that it was because of all the baggage I carried that I was being punished. Why did God let us conceive so quickly only to take it away just as fast? 13 weeks isn't that long but at the same time it felt like a huge chunk of my life. It felt like wasted time.
We actually didn't know the baby's gender since we had opted out of the blood tests. We decided to pick the gender on our own and name him because even if it was just for a short time, he was still and will always be our baby. As Maddy's due date is rolling right around the corner, I can't help but think about JJ as it has almost been a year now. His "birthday" is April 8th.

Looking back on 2017, our Denver trip may ironically be one of my fondest memories. 2 of our friends from Chicago and 2 of our friends from LA flew with us to Denver, Colorado last minute to be with us and to mourn with us. We spent mornings outside in the crisp air chatting and reflecting. We hiked up a mountain and had a little memorial service. We rolled down the snowy mountainside. We cried during our car rides. We laughed hard. In the midst of one of our deepest sorrows, God still surrounded us with angels to remind us that we are so loved.

I pulled up my old Instagram post that I had written during this trip last year:

"To our little nugget: 
We brought you up to the top of the mountain so that you will forever have these amazing views. You were loved by so many aunts and uncles before they even met you. So many people prayed hard over you even before they saw your face. And now so many people grieve with us over the loss of your presence. We all know your little soul is dancing, laughing, and being goofy as ever in heaven.
On this Easter morning I grieve heavily, but reminding myself that He has risen today and that death does not triumph. Death is not the end.
See you soon, our little JJ"

The sad thing about grieving and about death is that it never really leaves you, but life goes on for every one else. They don't cry anymore. Fewer people stop checking in. Some people may have even forgotten that this ever happened. But we will never forget. We will always remember you, JJ, and we will never stop telling your sister about you.