‘I can’t get a heartbeat’: Labor and delivery nurse talks women’s struggles after infant loss

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Celebrity couple Chrissy Teigen and John Legend opened up about pregnancy loss shining a light on stigma around miscarriage.

The celebrity couples loss comes just at the start of October, which is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month.

One Ascension Via Christi labor and delivery nurse, Kelli Johnson said she knows the pain all too well. She’s not only helped mother’s suffering the loss of a baby but she herself has had two miscarriages.

“We had so many questions, it’s like ‘Why again? What did I do wrong?’ I thought everything was fine this time because I had all these symptoms of being pregnant,” said Johnson.

Johnson who has a son got pregnant in 2015, that’s when she had a miscarriage, she got pregnant again in 2018 and lost her baby once more. She was in nursing school, studying to work in labor and delivery, a dream she had since she was 16 years old.

But, her losses started to make her question whether becoming a nurse was the right choice for her.

“I really did kind of question if this is what I wanted to do,” said Johnson. “I will say it is hard. You hear people say we weren’t even trying or you see that mom who does not want to be pregnant and you’re like ‘I would take this baby, why? Why are you having a baby and I’m not?'”

For Johnson the stress and anxiety she felt only intensified when she got pregnant a fourth time. She worried she may lose another baby.

“After my two miscarriages, getting pregnant again, that was harder,” said Johnson. “Here I am pregnant again and I remember literally looking at the pregnancy test going great when’s this going to be done, surely this one’s not going to make it. That was hard because working here you see women who don’t always go home with their babies because sometimes women lose a baby at 18 weeks sometimes 30 weeks and then here I am anxious to be pregnant again and all of a sudden, oh no, 18 weeks isn’t safe.”

Johnson now has her rainbow baby, Ryleigh who is one years old and despite all the pain and loss, Johnson said she feels she’s right where she needs to be.

“I really feel like I’m meant to help women during their pregnancies and help them during labor,” said Johnson. “I just really feel like I’m here for a reason, and, you know, I just had to push past it.”

She does have advice for other moms who may be experiencing the loss of a baby or going through postpartum depression.

“You’re going to have days where you’re angry, days where you lash out at God, you’re going to have days where you’re going to cry and I feel like nobody ever told me that,” said Johnson. “So that’s what I tell my moms, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t grieve.”

Johnson isn’t alone, there is support out there, like Bridget’s Cradles.

Executive director and founder of Bridget’s Cradles, Ashley Opliger said she lost her daughter nearly six years ago and that is what made her decide to start helping other grieving parents. Now she not only offers families support groups, but also craft nights to help honor babies in heaven.

In addition, the organization is hosting an event in honor of Infant Loss Remembrance Day on Oct. 15.

“We are doing a very special event called wave of light remembrance drive, and that’s going to be here near our headquarters in Kechi, Kansas. We are going to have a quarter mile light display with over 50,000, pink, blue and white lights twinkling for all the babies that are in heaven that we miss and love and want to honor,” said Opliger. “That’s a free event for any family who’s experienced miscarriage or stillbirth or infant loss.”

For more information on services and support click here.

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