Isabelle’s Story


By the time I became pregnant with Isabelle, I had been taking prenatal vitamins for months. She had been very much planned down to the month she was conceived. We were overjoyed when I woke up early one morning in November 2013 and had a positive pregnancy test. From then on, Matt and I devoted ourselves to a healthy pregnancy. I ate all the right foods and avoided anything with even the slightest risk. We attended weeks and weeks of birth classes. I didn’t take so much as a Tylenol during my pregnancy. I battled through the nausea, exhaustion, Carpel Tunnel, heartburn, and restless nights. I religiously got on the treadmill and walked for 30 minutes everyday after work. I had a very healthy low-risk pregnancy and we treasured every kick and ultrasound.

Isabelle was quite content in my belly. At 41 weeks, an induction was scheduled. On July 24, 2014 with the house completely clean, food stocked up, and a beautiful nursery ready to go, Matt and I loaded our bags into the car and headed to the hospital. We were incredibly excited about the journey ahead of us. We had read all the books, taken all the classes, saved money and planned for our baby girl’s arrival. We were living the American dream and were completely thrilled about it.

The night that we arrived at the hospital, a huge storm blew through the area. With it seemed to bring a wave of laboring women. Since I was a scheduled induction, paperwork was filled out, tests were run, and since everything looks great, I was sent to a room in pediatrics to sleep until a room became available for the induction.

A few hours later, I woke up with cramping that eventually developed into contractions. At first I was excited that things had progressed naturally and that an induction would not be necessary. In a matter of minutes though, everything changed. The pain became severe and I began to bleed. The nurse struggled with finding Isabelle’s heartbeat and called the doctor. Minutes later I was rushed to the operating room and given general anesthesia. Isabelle Clare was born at 4:59 am on July 25. She was 9 pounds 14 ounces and 21 inches long. She beat her mommy’s birth weight by 1 ounce. I woke up a few hours later with the doctor and a group of nurses hovering over me. I was foggy and slowly began to piece together what had happened: placental abruption, my daughter was resuscitated after 15 minutes, lack of oxygen, brain damage, uncertainty – These words rung in my head as the doctor spoke. Was this really happening to us? We did everything right!

Isabelle was transferred to another hospital by ambulance a few hours later. Before she left, our parish priest baptized her, and I was able to hold her for the first time. She was hooked up to dozens of wires and a breathing tube. My heart completely broke.

That afternoon, I was transported by ambulance to join her at the other hospital. It was the longest two hours of my life. Not only was I in pain from the surgery earlier that morning, but the uncertainty of Isabelle’s future also plagued my mind. I relived the previous evening over and over. I began to play the “what if” game, wondering what I could have done differently to prevent this. I was terrified of losing my beautiful daughter.

That evening and the next morning were a complete blur. I visited Isabelle as often as my body would allow. Very early on July 26, it became apparent that Isabelle was not going to make it. Devastation does not even begin to describe the pain we felt. Our beautiful daughter, Isabelle Clare, died in my arms the morning of July 26. Shock and pain radiated through my whole being. I was completely numb to the world and everything around me for days.

Isabelle’s funeral was held at our local parish on August 1, 2014. It is by the grace of God that we were able to put one foot in front of the other the day of the funeral. My incredibly strong husband spoke at the end. It was beautiful and heartfelt. I know that Isabelle was looking down on us proud that Matt is her father. We were surrounded by love and support. Family and friends flew in from all over the world. Our work families were also present. A huge number of teachers and Marines in uniform filled the church.

The massive showing of support still couldn’t seem to alleviate the pain and sadness that consumed me. Moving forward seemed impossible. I wanted to wake up only to realize that this was all a terrible dream. Unfortunately, this nightmare was my new reality. I still couldn’t believe that this had happened to us. I longed to be a mother, to hold my daughter, to live the life that we had planned so long for, but each morning I would wake up and be reminded that she was gone.


Be sure to check out Isabelle’s Rainbows.


    • Sarah says:

      I’m sorry for your loss, Jill. The days seem to get a little bit easier but that crack in our hearts doesn’t ever go away.

  1. Kerry says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, she is absolutely gorgeous, we lost Rhianna Lily to a placental abruption at 23 weeks and 5 days all our love xx

  2. photographsnmemories says:

    Reading your story broke my heart in ways that I can’t even describe. I never got to see my baby on ultrasound, feel it kick, hear the heartbeat, anything; Sometimes I feel so selfish to grieve our loss when I see that others, like you, have gone through so much more. You’re so very strong to come through this, even if it doesn’t feel it. Your baby girl was beautiful <3 I'm so very, very sorry for your loss :(

  3. Sara Hopper says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss of beautiful Isabelle. I love her name. She is so cute and perfect. This is such a hard road we are walking, but being a bit further ahead on it than you (my first son Luke was lost 5/13/13), I can tell you that it does eventually get easier. It sounds like you have faith in God, which is the best healer there is. I will pray for you guys. Isabelle will be waiting to greet you at the gates of heaven and you will get to be with her for eternity then! This life is just a short blip along the way.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks, Sara. My husband was the one who picked the first name and I picked the middle name, and then we both agreed on it. It is good to know that things get a bit easier in the coming years. I have wondered about that. I certainly feel better off than I did four months ago, although my heart still hurts. You are so right – God is the best healer! He has been a wonderful source of comfort and strength for us. We look forward to seeing her again someday in heaven. :) Thanks for reading.

  4. coastalmom says:

    What a beautiful Angel you have waiting up in heaven for you… She was truly beautiful. You sound so strong and I always admire someone who takes heart break and turns it into lessons of strength. May God bess you with abudance of comfort and strength.

  5. melissahmead says:

    You write so eloquently and with such grace. Your story really captured my thoughts, i am so sad to hear about Isabelle. I have found that writing a blog also has helped an enormous amount since losing my son William before Christmas 2014, it is in its infancy but has allowed me to somehow organise my mind if that makes sense, you can visit it here xxx

  6. Under the Guise of Glitter says:

    My soul aches for you. I have 2 angel girls and they all throw tea parties in heaven I am sure if it. I am sending you my sparkles wishes because I know the pain never does go away. July 26th is my birthday and now I share it with an angel <3

  7. egb91011 says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Our first and only daughter was born at 24.5 weeks due to IC and preterm labor. I too had a placetal abruption causing the doctors to have to resuscitate our daughter at birth. She ended up with severe brain bleeds and brain damage and also did not make it. She was with us for 3 weeks in the NICU and passed this summer on July 10th. I couldn’t, and still can’t, understand why this happened to us, we did everything right as well, I am healthy and young and I followed all the books and doctor’s advice to a T. I miss her everyday and just hope that one day I can give her a little brother or sister. I know that she made me a mom but it is so hard to feel like a mother when you have no child here to hold. I was due this month.

    • Sarah says:

      I am so sorry for your loss and hate that we are apart of the same “club.” I am glad that you were given three weeks, as short as they were, with your sweet daughter. I too struggled with the fact that my pregnancy had been picture perfect, but that I didn’t have a baby in my arms. That feeling that someone is missing doesn’t go away in the coming months. We just learn to live with it and accept it as the new normal. I do pray that your daughter has a little brother or sister someday. Be patient with yourself and give yourself time. The grieving journey can be bumpy at times, particularly when you get into the realm of pregnancy after loss. Again, I am so sorry for the loss of your little girl, and pray that you are able to continue to move forward during what is I’m sure a difficult month for you.

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