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Memphis Whitbey | Featured Story


This is my story of miscarriage & stillbirth. I have been through more at 23 than most people go through in their entire lives. Anyone who knows me knows I have a passion for family. I absolutely love being a stay-at-home mom and wife. It might drive some crazy being home, but I truly enjoy caring for children, my home, and my husband all day, every day. I was born to be a mother.


Last year, my husband and I decided to have another child. We hit most of the checkmarks of when it’s a good time to have a baby. We excitedly told literally all of our friends and family that once I graduated college, we would try for another baby. To our surprise, next month, I was expecting.


On August 26th, 2021, when I saw that the pregnancy test had come back positive, I was at first in disbelief, and then I was overwhelmed with joy. I prayed and praised God through tears of thanks for giving us this little life inside me.

We told everyone right away. I didn’t worry for a second that anything would happen to this baby. Everything was perfect—for about 7 days. I had intense lower abdominal cramping that I knew was not normal. I went in to get checked out with my OB. They drew blood and sent me on my way, assuring me everything was probably fine. I went to Walmart afterward, and as I stood in the medicine aisle, I felt the awful gush of blood. I knew what was happening.


I rushed home and confirmed my worst nightmare. I had lost my baby. The following days were a blur. Grieving the child I never met. I hardly knew anything about this baby other than it was absolutely loved and wanted. Two weeks after my miscarriage, I got pregnant again. On October 1st, I woke up with a strong sense that I could be pregnant. I drove to my best friend's house and took the test with her. I was terrified of the results.


Two pink lines or not, I just lost a baby. After the longest two minutes of my life, I flipped the test over to see the two bright pink lines. Positive. I immediately burst into tears and fell into my friend's arms. I wanted to be pregnant, but I never would have imagined I’d become pregnant so soon after such a devastating loss. The next 12 weeks were terrifying. I held my breath every day until we got past the first trimester. I thought surely I had made it out of the woods. I felt another sense of peace when we hit viability at 25 weeks.


We had made it this far. It was time to start enjoying this pregnancy and preparing our home for another little one. I had everything in the house organized perfectly weeks before he was due. I couponed and had diapers and wipes stocked up for probably about a year. I had everything labeled so that when we came home with our baby boy, my husband or anyone at the house would be able to find everything. I had our bedroom set up and ready for him for months, I was so incredibly excited.

The pregnancy went perfectly. My husband and all of our families were excited and ready for this new addition to the family. I was happily, joyfully, gratefully pregnant. May 21, 2022, started out like any other day. I got up, made some coffee, hung out with my toddler watching Mickey Mouse, and ate breakfast. It was a calm Saturday but a perfect day for nesting and deep cleaning. I had a list a mile long of all the crooks and crannies that needed to be cleaned before Memphis made his big arrival. I didn’t sit down for hours. Everything had to be perfect.


Sometime after lunch, I realized I hadn’t felt Memphis move much. I didn’t think too much of it, because I had been so active all morning, I probably just wasn’t paying any attention. Over the next few hours I really tried to focus on kick counts, with every quiet and still moment my fear grew greater. That afternoon I told my husband we should go to labor and delivery just to get checked out. I was sure we would drive down there, hear the heartbeat, and turn right back around to come home. God, how I wish that is how it happened.


I believed arrogantly that God wouldn’t allow me to go through another traumatic pregnancy experience. We got checked into triage and waited for them to check my baby’s heartbeat. The first nurse couldn’t find the heartbeat, and so another nurse came in to check. I prayed to God to please, please let my baby be OK.


I locked eyes with my husband, terrified. The nurses seemed frantic and called the on-call doctor to come do an ultrasound. We waited about 30 minutes, shaking with fear, as we listened to a continuous heartbeat on a monitor of another laboring mother's baby with only a curtain separating us.


When the doctor came in to do an ultrasound he wheeled us to a private room. My stomach sank. My prayers changed. I knew where this was going, but I prayed they were wrong. The doctor put the cold gel on my belly and began looking for his heartbeat. He tried and looked around for what seemed like forever. He looked up at me, and my heart dropped. His eyes were full of sorrow, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t find the heartbeat.”


No words can adequately describe the sorrow and despair felt when you are told your child has died. But there is always a light, and from that moment on, I have never witnessed or felt so much love in my entire life. My heart stopped. My world stopped. My baby? I was taken aback in disbelief.


Friday, we had a check-up, and he was perfectly healthy 24 hours ago. I saw the ultrasound screen, and I saw my baby’s perfectly healthy body and spine curved around a heart that was still. No flickering. I honestly can’t remember exactly what happened. All I know is that anguish, despair, and heartbreak barely break the surface of what wretched feelings I felt. I screamed. I cried.


I watched the hearts break of the loved ones around me. With every phone call, our hearts shattered again. How could this be? This happened to other people, not me. How could we be in the tiny minority who have stillborn babies? It should be a perfect delivery . . . we should be calling everyone telling them the long-awaited baby brother was on his way.


The family around me loved and comforted me when I couldn’t even think straight, let alone truly wrap my head around this devastation. After about 15 hours of painful labor and delivery, I gave birth to a baby I knew was already gone. How could I find the strength when I knew I wouldn’t get to hear his cry—to give birth to death?


It took all the little strength left in me and through tears to do it. At 3:33 pm, May 22, 2022, my son Memphis Keith Whitbey was born. He was the most beautiful perfect little boy I have ever seen. I sobbed. I was in love. He was a perfect mix between me and my husband and looked just like his big brother. I held him tightly. I knew this time was the only time I would get with my long-anticipated baby. Most of our immediate family was there by then and were able to hold him—for the first and last time.

Up until this point, the reason behind this tragedy was unknown. But, when I delivered him, we learned he got tangled up in the umbilical cord, and it was wrapped around his neck. Knowing the cause does not make it any easier at all, but we are thankful that it provided some closure. Some bereaved parents will never have answers as to why their babies were okay one minute and not the next.


After a night spent with him, it was time to say goodbye. I kissed him and told him how much I loved him and how sorry I was. Gut-wrenching. Impossible. Horrifying. My husband and I carried him down to be placed in the coroner’s van. I wanted to rip my hair out, I felt like I was about to explode.


How could life possibly go on without my baby? The thought of having a stillborn baby who was healthy, full term, and fully developed the day before seemed like an incomprehensible far away concept. But there I was. Barely surviving without my baby in this world.


The grief settled on me, weighing heavily all over my body, mind, and spirit. I would look around, angry and confused that the world was still turning while mine had stopped. I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t breathe, and it was so hard to see past this pain. I didn’t want to live in a world my Memphis Keith wasn’t in.

To say it has been a difficult journey for me and my family would be a grave understatement. But God has had us in his arms. We have had more love and support from our community, family, and even strangers than I ever knew was possible. My marriage has been strengthened.


All of my relationships have strengthened through this tragedy, and many broken ones restored. I have seen just a glimpse of God’s beautiful, wonderful, mysterious plan. God is good all the time. I say all of this to say that, truly, no matter where you are in life, there is hope.


Even when you look around you and only see death and darkness. When you want to die. Feeling as if the pain or circumstance is too much to bear, there is always a light. Choose joy. Choose love. Choose God. My son has made me a better person. A person who is fully dependent on God to get me through each day.


While my heart aches deeply, and I desperately long for him to be in my arms, he is not. But I do believe he is being rocked in the arms of Jesus in Heaven. Many have told me I am so very strong. I am not. God is. Without God, my heart may have hardened and turned cold because this world is cruel and unfair.


But I choose love. I will fight every day to get through a world where my child isn’t with me. A world where another day isn’t promised and is full of sin and sadness everywhere. I will fight to always see the good. I am unbreakable. But that comes from a great trust in God. I choose to seek Him and see the beauty in all things—even when I don’t understand.


While I was in the hospital, I remember receiving a box full of homemade mementos for grieving mamas, along with resource pamphlets and cards. I remember seeing the business card for Cradled in Hope, and one day tuned into episodes that related to stillbirth. To my surprise, there were many stories just like mine and questions and situations I was able to fully relate to, which nowadays is increasingly hard since, as a bereaved mother, you feel like a fish swimming out of the water now. 

 

An Episode that completely impacted the course of my grieving journey was the episode Bridget's Cradles did with Moria, Mother of Wilde. I fell in love with her ministry and ordered prints for myself. Over the course of navigating the first year of grief fog, It was pressed hard on my heart to donate a cuddle cot in honor of my son at the hospital where he was born. This led me down the path of connecting with Moria, and we collaborated to get birth prints gifted to the first family to use the cuddle cot that we were able to donate. 

 

This community is incredible, and the connections I’ve been able to create started with Cradled in Hope. At this point, I believe I’ve listened to just about every episode, and I will continue to support your amazing work for the Lord. 

Written by Rebecca, mother of Memphis Keith Whitbey, born on 05/22/22 at 38 weeks.

Please leave some love and encouragement for the Whitbey family in the comments below. We appreciate your prayers for their family.


To read more stories, visit here.


For more information about Bridget's Cradles, visit here.


For hospital staff looking for bereavement resources, you can request a free donation of Bridget's Cradles here.


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