The blogger is sharing her story with the world to help other families heal and to remove stigma around pregnancy loss.
Whitney Billings and her husband Justin had been married 8 years when they decided they wanted an additional member to their beautiful family. They were already parents to a 4-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy and couldn't wait to have one more to call their own. But heartbreak struck the family when the mom from California went through the pain of losing 7 "angel babies" in a row. The pregnancy losses took place between five and eight weeks. "I felt empty inside. I remember reaching out to some girlfriends. To my surprise, their reaction wasn't what I was hoping for. I left feeling more empty and unsupported," she wrote on her blog, Billings Clan.
As a professional photographer who often photographed for maternity shoots, the sessions weren't easy. She added that she was "Depressed, sad and blaming myself for what had happened. Every time I experienced this, I fell into this deep pit and couldn’t pull myself out. While this may not seem far enough along to be attached … let me tell you the emotional and physical aspect of it all is enough to rock your world." One time her pregnancy went as far as being able to feel the baby's kicks. She finally began to feel a rush of excitement until the ultrasound technician one day said, "There's no baby in there. I'm not getting anything and definitely no heartbeat." She was shocked and in disbelief. The heartbroken mom wrote: I lay there frozen. My body didn't move and all I heard was my little 3-year-old saying, 'Where's the baby mama?' I didn't believe it. I couldn't believe this! All I remember saying is, 'No, I felt the baby kick' and she replies with, 'No you didn't that's impossible. There's no baby there...' I just picked up my stuff and left. Straight walked out. AND YES I did feel that baby move! Who was she to tell my body what I did or didn't!?
The family went through immense grief through the years but was determined to be parents again. They decided to tweak their initial plans and were now set on becoming foster parents. The family wanted to celebrate this milestone a little differently. The mom explained that she didn't want a foreign trip but something else instead. She wrote: The one thing I did ask for was … photos. Family photos of course. I wanted a photo captured, to honor all of our babies we lost in the past two years. I'm grateful for every single contraction I felt, the pain my body had to endure, the blood that left my body, and the emptiness I felt because it reminds me that our baby was real. I carried that sweet baby, and I knew him. I felt him kick, I talked to him, his siblings talked to him and every single day that I was pregnant and nauseous was all worth it. Close friend Emily Grace captured the one-of-a-kind image which included everyone: her two children along with her seven "angel babies" in heaven.
"I want people to know that being a mom of angel babies means my babies DID EXIST and they are real!" Billings told Cafe Mom. "People have said, 'Oh well you were only pregnant for six weeks, so it's not really like a loss.' THIS IS WRONG. No matter how far along you are, 6 weeks, 12 weeks, 27 weeks, that's a little person you created living in your body. THEY ARE REAL!" The mom wants to help end the shame and stigma around pregnancy losses and encourage people to be more empathetic. "I feel like it's really important to educate the world on what occurs when someone loses a baby," she added. "How it affects the woman, the man, and the family. I would love to normalize miscarriage as a whole, and by me opening up to society and telling my story it's a start! Women shouldn't feel ashamed when they lose a baby, they should feel like they can reach out to people and get the help they need."