Mom to Baby Sawtelle

Lost September 14, 2005

Etna, Maine

My name is Donna. I met my husband Jerry through a mutual friend of ours, and I think I had some idea right from the start that we would spend the rest of our lives together. 

I always knew, ever since I was a little girl, that I wanted to be a mother.  I had a book that chronicled my school years when I was young, and for every year there was a section in the book asking what you wanted to be when you grew up.  I had some of the typical things, nurse, movie star, etc.  But I always put “Mommy.”

When I first met Jerry, I wanted 2 children, but he didn’t want any.  I never saw this as a deal-breaker, I knew I could change his mind.  I knew that we loved each other enough that we could find some middle ground to agree upon, and we did.  We agreed on one.

Jerry proposed to me on January 3rd, 2005, I was so excited!  I knew I wanted a fall wedding and we decided to plan for October 14th, 2006, I figured that would give us plenty of time to plan.  Plans changed.  In July 2005, I found out I was pregnant.  I was terrified and thrilled all at the same time.  I went for an ultrasound in August and found out that I was about 6 weeks along, due on April 7th.  I still have the pictures of my little bean, framed in my bedroom.

We decided, September that we would move the wedding up by more than a year (call me old fashioned, but I wanted to be married when I had my baby.)  We set a date of October 1st, 2005.  That gave me a little more than 3 weeks to put something together.  A little more than 2 weeks before the wedding, something was wrong.  I was convinced that I had a UTI, but my doctor said I was just dehydrated and just needed to drink more.  I went along with that until I started bleeding after my first OB visit.  I was told then that it was just because of my internal exam, and I would be fine.  I went along with that too, until I woke up one night with what felt like the worst cramps ever!  We took a trip to the ER and after some blood work I was told that my hormones weren’t where they should’ve been.  I was devastated.  We went home and I took the rest of the week off from work to stay at home so I could grieve and eventually miscarry.  I was told that the bleeding I experienced could be very heavy, but not too worry, it was normal. 

Within the next day or so I knew what I was experiencing wasn’t normal.  I was in unbelievable pain and I was bleeding, a lot!  Back to the ER we went.  I was hemorrhaging, and the doctors felt that I may not have miscarried on my own, like I was supposed to.  Now this is the point where I pretty much stopped grieving for the moment and had to worry about my own health.  I was shipped by ambulance to the hospital that my OB worked out of, and the following morning I was sent down for an ultrasound to confirm what the doctors had said.  Looking back on it, I feel like the ultrasound tech was a little bit unprofessional in letting me see the screen, but I’m almost glad I did get to see my baby.  There on the screen was my little 10 1/2 week baby, it looked pretty much like any other ultrasound picture, except in this one there was no movement, no heart beat.  I was in shock, so I didn’t really register what I was looking at. 

After the ultrasound I was taken to the OR to have a D&E, and I was sent home later that afternoon.

Everything hit me the next day, Thursday.  I cried I think the entire day, and then off and on for the rest of that weekend.  What really bothered me was people telling me that it was meant to be, and there’s nothing that could’ve been done.  Now, I don’t know if this makes any sense, but it bothers me that there wasn’t anything to be done, because it was my job as this baby’s mother to protect it at all costs. 

To this day, I will tell my story to anyone who will listen, simply because miscarriage and infant loss is still such a taboo subject.  I had no one to talk to almost 7 years ago, I felt like everyone around me ignored the elephant in the room, simply because they didn’t know what to say.  All I wanted was a shoulder to cry on, and I never really even got that.  I cried all by myself.

After the loss of our baby, Jerry promised me we would try again.  We still got married on October 1st, and by that November we were given the ok to try again.  In July of 2006, almost exactly a year later, I was pregnant again, with a due date of March 28th.  I feel like it was more than a coincidence that I was pregnant at almost exactly the same time as I was with our first baby.

On March 25th, at 3:24pm I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, Jenna Louise, our one and only.  Even though, I had always wanted 2 children, I wholeheartedly agreed with Jerry in only having one by this point, mostly because I was terrified of having to go through a miscarriage again.  I didn’t think I could handle that again.

Jenna is 5 years old now and she is the light of our life!  We would be lost without her. 

I wear a small silver bean pendant every day, in remembrance of our little angel, and sometimes Jenna will ask me about the ultrasound picture on my bedroom wall.  “Mama, were you sad when that baby died?”  I tell her yes I was very sad, and I still think about that baby every day, but that it’s okay to be sad, and to talk about it.  I hope by the time she is ready to have children of her own, if, God forbid something like this should happen to her, or to someone she knows, that people will be aware, and educated enough to talk about such a horrible loss, and it will no longer be an issue that is swept under the rug.

 You can contact Donna at

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  1. Stefanie says:

    Thank you so much for your story. I could not agree more that we need to remove the stigma from infant loss. I feel like the women in our generation will do just that.

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