Birth Stories

A Fertility Journey: Melissa Harness, Angel No. 5

This story was written by Melissa Harness, who has suffered through five miscarriages. She has carried eight pregnancies, given birth to three healthy children, and lost five angels. She wants to tell her story to “give a voice to all those that have suffered in silence behind closed doors … who have hid their tears and tried to put a smile on their face when they just want to collapse.”

“We need to normalize loss and grief, ” Melissa says. “We shouldn’t be hidden away or forced to deal with this. We all grieve differently and we need to openly support each other in these times of loss.”


I said positive affirmations. I had more people praying for us than I can even count. This baby defied all the odds. You were so strong. We were told we would lose you so many times, but each time you proved that wrong. Each time my love grew stronger and I knew you’d make it through … until the day I knew you wouldn’t.

At our ultrasound appointment, we heard a tiny heart beating 119 times a minute. The moment the sound came on, I burst into tears. I couldn’t even hold the phone steady to record video for Eddie since he was unable to get off work. The nurse so kindly took my phone and helped me. I was overwhelmed with joy. The sweet sound of your beating heart made it all worth it. Loss after loss after loss. After three losses, we had Bryson, so we know it’s possible to conceive a healthy child. But why all the losses. We were told to come back in a few weeks for a repeat ultrasound. The yolk sac was still measuring large but maybe it would go away in a few weeks. We waited … the waiting is horrible. You dwell on the what ifs, you push yourself to remain positive and go about your normal life. Be a good mom to the other kids, be a good wife, go to work, put a smile on your face, but inside you’re a wreck. Loss changes you. Each loss has changed me differently. I proceeded to our repeat ultrasound on Monday, May 6, 2019. I had Bryson with me. Eddie had to work.

Melissa and her three children.

I purchased a baby giraffe with a heartbeat recorder the day before the appointment. Eddie hadn’t had the opportunity to hear our baby’s heart beating due to work conflicts. They pointed out the baby and were able to pick up a beat here and there, nothing consistent. I knew that moment that something wasn’t right. We made excuses, trying to hold on to the hope we had been given. This was an abdominal ultrasound … I’m early … my bladder wasn’t full … The sonographer was either picking my heart beat up (not sure if that’s possible), or picked up the last few beats of our baby’s heart as he/she faded away.

Onto the repeat ultrasound. As we waited an hour after our appointment time, we were finally brought into the dimly lit room where the fate of our baby would be revealed. Ugh, my stomach was in knots. I sat Bryson on the chair next to the bed. I undressed from the waist down and covered up with a sheet. Early ultrasounds are usually done vaginally. I looked forward to a clearer picture of our baby, and I grabbed the recorder so I was ready when we listened to the heart. My heart was beating so fast, my eyes fixated on the screen as I waited. Nothing. The blood flow was showing up, but not inside the uterus. There was no flicker. She tried and tried. She gave me a smile and told me the doctor would be in. I feel sorry for those girls. It must be so tough to see those things. I didn’t shed a tear. I knew it was coming. The doctor came in holding my chart close to her and told me, “I’m afraid I don’t have good news.” I told her we expected this at some point. We were instructed to head to the birthing center to discuss our next steps with the midwives. We were greeted with the familiar faces who had helped me through Bryson’s birth, and had been there for our last miscarriage a year ago in March. Hugs. They helped. I still was in shock? Maybe? I hadn’t cried yet. A script for Cytotec was called in, and I was instructed on what to expect. The next few days were not going to be easy. I walked out to my car and called work to tell them I’d need to take off and get through this at home. Severe cramping, backache, heavy bleeding and passing tissue was not going to happen at my job. Not to mention the emotional trauma of going through this. As I prepared to leave the hospital parking lot, I caught a glance of my pregnant belly … ugh.

You were there, then you weren’t anymore. I put my hand on my belly and cried. I didnt think I’d ever stop. I cried for the pain my heart was feeling. I cried because I heard your heart beating. I cried because I just didn’t understand God’s plan. Why??!!! Why give us hope just to take it away!? Bryson kept asking, “Mommy, what’s wrong? Why you cry?” I just kept telling him, “I’m OK.” But I wasn’t. I texted Eddie. No words can describe the feelings you go through. Finally, after we settled in at home, and decided to start the process. Mom picked up Carter and we got Bryson some toys to distract him. I went into the bathroom and stared at the three little white pills that would bring this journey to an end. I cried more. I can’t believe it’s over. Just like that your gone. Another loss … my new number is five. Five angels in heaven. I used to look back on my patients’ charts and feel so bad when I would see a mama pregnant six, seven, eight times and (with) maybe one child … how could they go on? How did they do it?? Here I stand … eight pregnancies … three children … five angels. I took a deep breath, said a little prayer asking God for peace and comfort and inserted the pills.

I walked out and sat on the couch awaiting my worst fears. Eddie and I watched TV, talked, tried to pass the time. After only a few short hours my back started to ache. Soon after, the cramping started. It became more intense. I couldn’t sit still, a heating pad wasn’t helping, so I went into the bathroom to sit in a tub of warm water. As I undressed, I felt something warm trickle down my leg … I heard drops hit the floor. My hell was beginning.

I sat in the bath for quite some time. It eased the cramping and pain. When I stood up to get out, another gush as I lowered myself to sit on the toilet. Large clots had fallen out. To look or not to look. I was scared to see my baby, formed … forever imprinted in my memory. Just clots and nothing more … that’s all I saw. I cleaned myself up best I could and got dressed. We went to bed soon after. I was up and down numerous times through the night. One big gush soaked through my clothing and onto the bed … a reminder this morning of what will never be.

Melissa and family.

I got up and showered again. More gushes, more clots … more feelings of sadness and confusion. With the others I had D and Cs (dilation and curettage) … I went to sleep, I woke up and besides a small amount of spotting, it was over. It was hard emotionally but nothing like this. I opted to go this route. This was my choice. I had an assignment (optional, luckily) due last night. I couldn’t do it … I couldn’t even think straight.

The process continued until my uterus was completely empty. The fullness in my belly that I so eagerly embraced was now fading away slowly. My breasts hurt. I know what’s next. No one prepared me with our first loss. My milk came in. A few days after our loss, I woke up to find my T-shirt soaked. My body knows I had the baby, but it doesn’t know they passed. My body is still trying to produce milk and nourish my baby. I relive the trauma of my loss as my body takes the steps to care for my little one. I’ll go through this again. People have asked me so many times, “When will you stop? When will you say enough is enough and quit putting yourself through this!?” To you, this is my answer: “We have Bryson. We know what God can do. We believe in miracles. We have one running around our house right now. We aren’t giving up. Our journey has taken a long time and been so very hard, but if we are meant to have another child it will happen.”

Rainbow baby, Bryson.

I’m just focusing on breathing today. Trying to take in what has happened and move forward. Trying not to let this lost feeling consume me. Trying not to feel broken in this mess. A friend recently told me that the God of the Mountain is also the God of the Valley … so very true. I will lean on him in these times of frustration and sadness. We aren’t meant to understand … you just have to have faith. I sit here on the couch writing this … using this as my therapy to work through the loss of my baby. I’m searching for a tattoo in memory of all the babies we have lost along the way. When I find the right one and it’s the right time, I’ll know. For right now, I just have to breathe and trust in God. Thank you to everyone that has been a part of this journey with us. We can’t thank you enough for all your kind words, prayers, thoughts and so on. We will get through this, too. One day at a time. Fly high sweet angel, mommy and daddy will see you again one day.

Written by Melissa Harness

Birth Stories

Birth Story of Daisy Reese

Daisy Reese was born on Nov. 23, 2017, Thanksgiving night. Her story really begins six months before she was conceived. Daisy and Juliet (my oldest) had a brother, named Madsen. I got pregnant with Madsen literally days after our eldest turned 1. I carried him for over three months, before having him at home on Jan. 16, 2017. He had one extra chromosome that caused his heart to form improperly. A month or so, after he was born, the sky opened up for a break from the rain, beholding the most beautiful rainbow. I knew it was a sign from my son. The next day I got a positive pregnancy test. Daisy was on the way. A lot of fear and uncertainty filled this pregnancy. Genetic testing put some of my worries at ease, knowing she didn’t carry the same burden. At 30 weeks and 2 days, I went into preterm labor.

This is where Madsen and Daisy’s stories come together. While preterm labor is still somewhat a mystery, it was a consensus between my medical-care team that my body was tired and still traumatized from my going into labor so early just prior to this pregnancy. It’s an honest guess amongst those studying me, and I agree with it.

While it should of scared me, I knew even if she was born 10 weeks early she would be just fine. I’d had a 4D ultrasound done just a day earlier, and I held comfort in the images that showed a pudgy baby with a full head of hair. My hospital stay was long and intense. I was able to go home for a bit between stays, with close monitoring, inevitably back in labor and delivery a total of five times. Dominican Hospital took wonderful care of us, the NICU team is sensational. I felt a deep gratitude every day I stayed pregnant, as I watched the other NICU parents and babies fighting for growth and health just down the hall.

I loved the genuine comments of surprise of me still being pregnant, every check-in and hospital visit, from the doctors and staff. Id grown to be friends with these ladies.

With a great deal of medical assistance, medications and modified daily activity, we kept Daisy cooking all the way to 39 weeks, to the day! The night before she was born I started having very intense and regular contractions. We called Sutter Maternity, our local birthing center, and they were full. I felt so discouraged and angry. I had finally made it past 36 weeks (the limit for delivering at Sutter), and I couldn’t  deliver there like I had hoped! I chose to stay home and wait, which was brave given I’d been walking around at 6.5-7 cm dilated the last 24 hours.

I kept visualizing having my baby in the car, on the way to the birthing center. I doubted my knowledge of my body a few times. Though, through, and through I knew, I knew my body. Truly. We made it to the next morning. My water started a slow leak around 6:15 a.m.—it was Thanksgiving morning. I knew It was time to go.

Dreadfully, I called Sutter. They were COMPLETELY open! How was this possible?! We were admitted into a room right away. Only one other mama was laboring in the whole birthing center. Nothing was really progressing, so I was put on a very low dose of pitocin, still just coasting. My water fully broke around 10:55 p.m. and Daisy was born at 11:10 p.m. So. Gnarly. Those last few centimeters felt like a train through my hips.

I only had to push a few times, I knew my body and what it needed, the pushes were so effective and brought relief. In between my second to last, and last push, Daisy began shimmying her way out on her own. My midwife looked at me and asked if I was pushing, I said no. She said she had never seen a baby do that in all her years. I felt proud. She was strong and a fighter. During the last push, as her chest fully emerged, she let one mighty cry out. My husband delivered Daisy himself, what a victorious and healing moment. My midwife could not get over how big she was, 2 oz shy of 9 lb.

After all the fear of preterm birth, it was a great moment to see a plump babe. She latched on right away, and we’ve been nursing like champions ever since. Her natural nursing skills were so impressive the lactation consultants came just to watch. Jokingly, they asked if we could teach a breastfeeding class. Difficulty breastfeeding was one of my biggest fears with preterm birth. It was greatly appreciated praise to receive. My sweet booby baby. Our family brought us heaping dishes of Thanksgiving food. It was the best Thanksgiving of our lives.

Written by Rachael Mann