Mom to Westly Storm
Born May 23, 2011 and died May 25, 2011


Baby lost November 3, 2011 at 12 weeks

Portland, Oregon

We had waited years before trying. We wanted to be as “ready” as two people can be. We had been together 8 years and married 4, graduated college, got dogs and had bought a house when we got pregnant with our baby son Westley. We decided early on to name him in part after the character in The Princess Bride…we wanted to give all our love and attention in hopes that are son would be honest, brave, and loving and share in our happiness.

We had a completely healthy pregnancy and a long but otherwise uneventful birth at a water birth center. It wasn’t until our beautiful, perfect son was brought up from the water in the birthing tub that we all realized something was wrong. He did not breathe, he did not cry and we soon found his heart had very recently stopped beating. He was resuscitated immediately and rushed 5 minutes away to the hospital. I had complications of my own and ended up as a patient 15 minutes later.

The first hours after his birth were devastating. I almost died and my son was in the NICU. Not much was diagnosed with certainty…The culprit was guessed to be an undetected (and undetectable) cord anomaly which they guessed had only caused issue the time between when his head was delivered and the rest of his body (about 10 minutes). The guess is that the 6inches closest to his body stretched out behind his shoulder at that time causing the oxygen deprivation that led to his severe and permanent brain damage. My very active in womb son never cried, moved or even had reflexes after his birth. He was 8 lbs 15.9 ounces and 22 and ¾ inches long.

My son who kicked when our Kitty purred on my belly, my son who moved like a whale from side to side in my belly to the sound of his grandfather and the tapping of his father’s hand.

My son was not going to get better. Only his brainstem had any function. His body had also been damaged and would not transition to post partum life. His organs too damaged to donate outside the valves of his tiny heart. He passed his physical death in our arms 36 hours after he was born. The doctors could not say that we could have had a different outcome had done anything different.

Devastated. We continue to fight the intense grief his absence has caused. Our empty arm syndrome pushed me to decide to become pregnant as soon as we had the physical green light from my OB. We became pregnant with our other child sometime in August. We had a heartbeat and a growing child. We had some hope for this rainbow. We decided to wait until the 12lth week ultrasound to share. At my 12th week appointment, the RN midwife could not detect a heartbeat. Unworried, she sent me to a nearby clinic that could provide a better quality ultrasound. I have a tilted uterus and had an empty bladder, so we thought thatwas the most likely reason. At the ultrasound I watched with grim denial as my technician became more quite, less cheerful…I am an RN and knew what we were seeing, but waited to collapse until she said the words, “I am afraid there is not a heartbeat, the baby is measuring at 8 weeks. I am so sorry.”

This is the story I can tell with my heart tucked into a safe little pocket. That pocket has allowed me to put socks on, eat, do household chores and eventually return to work. I cannot put the emotions of our loss into words. I am incapable, there are no words.

I am an atheist and have found nothing but comfort in the fact that we are victims of pure chaos. All testing that has been done (and we have been through all of it) points to the same conclusion. Nothing is wrong with me and there is no reason my babies died. It just happened. There is no relief with a diagnosis but there is that hope that our losses are pure bad luck and there is no reason to believe it will happen. That’s a fact that provides a sliver of comfort. Hope.

It’s 15 months after Westley’s death that I can write this. We are just reaching a point where we feel we can face fear and try again. That room for love that our babies created is infinite and greater than fear. Love is worth the risk. The grief is still there. I cry every day. But their worth and legacy are greater than fear. Here’s to infinite love and hope.

Joy blogs at

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  1. Joy, I am so sorry for your losses. I had a stillbirth on 9/12/00, and a miscarriage on 11/11/08. I know you don’t believe in God, but I hope you don’t mind that I said a prayer for you anyway.

    • Thank you Jamie for your thoughts. I respect and accept all positive thoughts and energy for our family. I don’t claim to understand the universe in the least but I do believe in the power of love and support. Thank you for taking your time and energy to think of our pain and think of our future.

  2. Joy I am not quite sure how I came upon your story – but I had to write and let you know how very well you put words to emotions that I have not been able to put words to. I lost identical triplet baby girls this past December at 23 weeks and then miscarried another baby in May at 8 weeks. I too cry every single day. I appreciate your words of hope and the beautiful language with which you honor the memory of your children. I know I that don’t know you but I do know that you are a wonderful mother and you do your children proud. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  3. I would like to add an update. I am currently 16 weeks pregnant. At the first ultrasound I was terrified it would show a baby that had stopped growing. My husband and I were shocked to be told there were in fact two heart beats… We are expecting twins. ..

    I am scared beyond belief but am filled with hope and the belief that I have the strength to do this. Every day is precious and sacred. Some people have been quick to say things like “God took two babies and now he is giving you two babies…” I have learned that my losses have been the most painful thing I could live through and peoples comments are most often for their own sake not mine. It’s a forgivable thing as no one can do this grief work except me.

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