I Have Three Daughters | Guest post by Kara Golden

Today's post is the second in my series "You're Not Alone." I think so often we get caught up in the "perfection" of everyone else's lives, especially as displayed on social media, and are left feeling a little irritable. But behind the pictures is always, always a story. It is a great truth that everyone is fighting their own hard battles, and most of those battles are just not evident in photographs. Today my dear friend Kara Golden is sharing her story of loss; if you're going through the same, please know you're not alone. All my love. xo, Emily_______________________I have three daughters. One lives with Jesus, one is a hilarious and brilliant toddler, and the other is due to arrive in October. This is the story of the one who lives in Heaven.  She was born in the most unexpected and unplanned way. She was born too soon. But can I first tell you how wanted and loved and hoped for she was? Shortly after we were married we found out I had some anatomical issues that would make getting pregnant very difficult. We decided to try for a baby sooner than maybe we would have in a perfect world for fear it would take a while. And take a while, it did. We went through a lot to get an actual diagnosis and even more for a treatment plan. Ultimately, it took two surgeries and almost two years to conceive her. When were were finally pregnant I felt such a sense of hope. All the crazy rare stuff was behind us and we could move forward with our family! We were so excited. She was loved from day one. So wanted and so hoped for.I woke up in the middle of the night in intense pain. I thought maybe it’s gas! Isn’t it always when you’re pregnant? I walked our stairs and tried to lessen the pain. It didn’t work. I called the on call nurse and she assured me it was round ligament pain, drink water (the cure for all things) and call back in the morning if it wasn’t better. It wasn’t better in the morning so off to my OB’s office we went. I will never forget the sense of relief I felt when I saw that perfect baby girl come up on the ultrasound screen. She was moving and bouncing and looked great! I will never forget how quickly that relief turned to panic as the nurses fell quiet and suggested they get the doctor. He came to let us know that I was 3-4cm dilated and needed to go immediately to the hospital. I was instructed not to laugh, cough, sneeze, etc as my membranes could rupture and we would lose our baby. I called our parents in tears to tell them to come quickly. My husband quietly cried the whole drive to the hospital. We were scared, and I was in pain. Much to everyone’s surprise the medicines worked and I made it through the night with a very healthy baby still safely inside. We started seeing doctors and specialists and devising plan after plan, that ultimately didn’t matter because I had such a bad infection that nothing could be done right away. For five days in that hospital room we waited and prayed hard for good news, me tilted with my feet above my head and terrified to move. Good news never came. On April 25th 2013, Everlee Rose Golden, was born and she died. My first born child never cried or opened her eyes. She never instinctively wrapped her fingers around mine. She was gone and my world was undone. I wish I could tell you I rallied right away and life got better and we felt hopeful again, but I didn’t. I was sad and angry and hurting for longer than society would think is socially acceptable. I felt so cheated. I still feel cheated. Why couldn’t my body just do what it was made to do? Why couldn’t I just have the easy, glowing, perfectly planned and executed pregnancy? I distinctly remember saying, “I don’t want this to be my story. I don’t want to be the Mom whose baby died.” Yet, in time I found ways to integrate my grief and my baby girl into our lives, even without her physical presence. I got a big lovely tattoo right where everyone can see it and it makes me feel close to her on the hard days. It makes me feel like she will never be forgotten. I say her name and I acknowledge her place in our family. And even though I didn’t want the title of bereaved Mother, I wear it now as a badge of honor. The Mothers I’ve met, the beautiful and courageous women, who walk this same path, are my heroes. They saved me. You will often hear us say that this is not a club we would ever ask to be a part of, but we are beyond grateful we have. I wouldn’t have made it out otherwise.Another year and a half, two more surgeries, and countless fertility procedures later we were pregnant with our second baby girl. And I was terrified. I just knew I wouldn’t survive another death like hers and the future was so uncertain. The only photos we have of Everlee are a handful of iPhone photos we thought to take at the last minute. This, among many, is a big regret. So, I was determined to find someone who could take photos of our second daughter no matter what happened. Cue, Emily Lapish. I think we talked for hours the first day we met at a coffee shop (*Cough* Starbucks, we are much more cultured now) and it’s been that way since. She was never really our “birth photographer” she became our friend that took amazing photographs of our family.The day Willa Emslee Golden entered this big beautiful crazy world is a day my heart will never forget. With the first tiny cry that escaped her, I began to heal. She came crashing in with a whole heart full of redemption. God had taken the ashes and made them beautiful. Everlee didn’t ruin me; her death did, and with Willa’s life came so much hope, so much joy. I can look back on those amazing photos and remember the sound of her cry and the explosion of my heart, just like it was yesterday. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in our case it couldn’t be truer. As I impatiently await the birth of my third daughter I would tell you two things: life won’t be perfect and it most certainly won’t be easy but it can be rich and beautiful. If you are hurting or struggling, you are not alone. Grief is heavy, but it won’t be forever. Hang on, the beauty is coming. Second, take all the photos, the real ones. Don’t wait for the perfect time, it will never come. Take the messy photo, the sad ones, the hard ones, the ones covered in laughter and a bit of exhaustion. I hate clichés but some of them become cliché for a reason. Life is short, do what you can to remember all of it.