For Nikita Razo, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month is personal. Several years ago, during a routine 12-week check-up, she found out that her growing baby had died. An ultrasound tech was unable to find the heartbeat. After sitting alone in the waiting room for an hour and a half, a doctor finally confirmed the news. It was days before Thanksgiving 2012 and Razo, her husband and the couple’s first son had been planning to visit family and announce her pregnancy over the holiday.
To honor her experience, and the experiences of others like her, Razo ― a Savannah-based birth and family photographer ― arranged a photo shoot to help women tell their stories of miscarriage and stillbirth. She put calls out to her Facebook community, as well as on local parenting boards, and in mid-September, assembled a group of six women. They posed with white balloons that signified each of the babies they had lost.
“I was standing there by my car with a helium tank blowing up these balloons and the counting off the number I needed to hand every woman,” Razo told The Huffington Post. “I handed one women 12. I’ve only had one miscarriage, and that was hard enough. Handing her that many really hit me.” Several of the women have living children. Others don’t.
Ultimately, Razo said that she hopes the project gives the women she photographed a concrete way to acknowledge what they’ve been through (several haven’t even told their friends and family how many babies they’ve lost, she said), and helps further the message that miscarriage is common and shouldn’t be hidden in any way.
On July 14, 2011, I was almost seven months pregnant and I noticed that I hadn't felt baby move in an hour, so I called my OB. She advised me to drink cold orange juice and head to the hospital for a check up. What followed after no one could prepare me for. They couldn't find a heartbeat. I had just seen my OB two days prior and everything was fine. I couldn't wrap my head around what they were telling me. They needed to induce labor. I went through labor and delivery without any medications to give birth to a daughter I knew I could never bring home with me. I held her in my arms before they took her away. I asked questions. Why? How? I begged for her to come back to me. It was, and still is, the most heartbreaking moment of my life. We paid for an autopsy, but we got no closure. We were told: "These things happen sometimes and it's not anyone's fault." Six months later, I also miscarried twins. I can't put into words how devastating life is after each loss, but I want others to know they're not alone in this.
Our first miscarriage was when I was only 19 and my husband was only 21. We had been married a few short months and hadn’t been planning on children yet, but there we were! We were excited, nervous, happy and overwhelmed all at once. At my first prenatal appointment, we heard the heartbeat, but a week later, I knew something wasn’t right and made a same-day appointment. That time, there was no heartbeat -- only a nurse who wouldn’t look at me, and a doctor who said, “It's not uncommon, and you can always try again. Get some rest and if nothing passes, come back in and we will clean you out.” Clean me out?!Over the next three years, there were more miscarriages, more appointments, more prayers and, sadly, less support. Finally, I got pregnant and made it to 36 weeks. Upon arriving at the hospital for some monitoring before induction, I learned our son had passed away the night before. I delivered a 9 pound, 22 inch boy on March 6, 2009, while my husband was fighting in Iraq. Again, we grieved and to our surprise, started to be judged. “When are you going to give up and realize you’re not meant to be a mother?” “When will you stop putting your husband through this?” The list goes on. We suffered another two miscarriages before being blessed with the opportunity to adopt a baby. After our son came, I had a few more miscarriages. We eventually met with a specialist in Savannah and decided to give it six months on treatments. If it didn’t happen, we were done. After a reproductive surgery and tons of monitoring, our first round of treatments took! It was a long 42 weeks, but I had a healthy baby. After nine long years, we have decided this is our family and we are extremely blessed.
Three months after I found out I was pregnant with my second baby I had an ultrasound, which is when we found out that the baby didn't have a heartbeat. I remember that the ultrasound technician didn't say a word at the beginning, and then she told me she wasn't sure how many weeks I was. I spent almost an hour in that room, with millions of things running through my mind. Deep inside, I knew that my baby was dead, but at the same time I was hoping for a miracle. Two weeks after the ultrasound and tons of blood work, I had a D&C
. I still remember that day and the emptiness I felt when I woke up. Five months after that, I found I was pregnant again. My husband and I kept it secret, but then I started bleeding at work. Once again, I was losing my baby. My heart hurts every time I meet someone who went through, or is going through, the same thing, because you know the pain they feel and that there are no words that you can say to them that will make them feel better.My babies will always be in my heart and I know that some day, I'll be able to meet them.
I experienced my pregnancy losses pretty close together when I was in my early 20s. The third pregnancy loss was especially hard, because I was 16 weeks along and just knew in my heart that I had beat the "first trimester curse." When the bleeding and pain started, I could not wrap my mind around what was happening. I broke up with my fiancé out of grief and anger, returned home and started giving away the baby items I'd been acquiring. Well-intentioned people started offering advice: "You are young and you can just try again," or “God has a plan and this just wasn’t your time.” But it wasn’t enough to console me. It wasn’t enough to help me make sense of what happened to me. It awakened an anger in me that kind of pushed all of my pain to the back of my mind with the hopes of never revisiting it again. As the years went by, I could not stop seeing those babies in my dreams. I could not stop myself from wondering who they would be and what they would look like. Would they laugh like me? I could not stop hearing the echo of “mommy” in my mind. I have no rainbow after the storm. I will forever be in this storm. I will carry my babies in my heart until God calls me home. I have the month of October to remind people that my babies existed and to join families like mine in remembering our angels.
While these days it is much more common to talk about miscarriage and pregnancy loss, it is still an incredibly difficult subject for me to talk about personally, especially once you move into the realm of multiple losses and no children at home. I miss my babies every day, but I worry about talking about it too much.I've heard from people that I "just need to move on and accept that I'm not supposed to be a parent." They've told me to "just adopt and then it will happen" or that I should "be more faithful and trust in God to bring me a child when the time is right." None of these words make the journey easier. They make it even harder. I'm still left waiting with empty arms, knowing that the babies that have grown under my heart will never be in my arms.
I lost my little angel in February of this year. I was originally scheduled to have a doctor’s appointment at 9 a.m., but was added to a pregnancy education class so my appointment was moved back to 1 p.m. My husband and I were so excited after the class and talked about all of our baby plans over lunch. At 1 p.m., we went into our appointment only to be told that they could not find a heartbeat. We never expected to hear these words and it was truly so hard to hear. My doctor said, “I am so sorry, but know this is very common and you will get pregnant again.” I've heard everything from, "Did you do anything to cause the miscarriage?" to “Imagine if you had lost the baby further along" and "Maybe you shouldn't try again because you are almost 40." I think people mean well, but truly don't know what to say. My bond really started the moment I found out I was pregnant. I began talking and singing to my little angel. The loss of a child is extremely painful, even if that loss happens just two months into your pregnancy.
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