The grief is still raw for Justin and Alyssa Young who lost their baby daughter at the beginning of October to a miscarriage.
But the Youngs also believe their daughter’s short life was meaningful. The couple recently shared their experience and photos of their daughter, Scarlett, with the blog Little Things to encourage families who are grieving the loss of a child to miscarriage or stillbirth.
High school sweethearts, Justin and Alyssa said they were so excited when they found out they were pregnant with Scarlett – their first child.
“Something in my gut told me I needed to take [a pregnancy test]…” Alyssa told the blog. “I laid the test on the corner of the sink and whispered to God: ‘God, please let it be positive, please. I’m begging you God. Please.’ Lo and behold, there it was two glorious pink lines. I wept from the overwhelming sense of joy my heart had.”
Because Alyssa has cerebral palsy and type 2 diabetes, her pregnancy was treated as high-risk from the start. Doctors closely monitored her and her unborn baby, and both seemed to be doing well. In late September, however, Alyssa said she began experiencing a concerning amount of pain. She went to the emergency room, but the doctors did not find anything wrong with her or baby Scarlett; so they sent Alyssa home.
“My husband and I were so relieved. We thanked God our girl was fine. Monday approaches, and I call my Obstetrician back… .I was told that everything I was experiencing was normal,” she said.
Still, Alyssa said she sensed that something was wrong, and the next day, she went back to the hospital. There, a doctor determined that she was suffering from an incompetent cervix.
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Here’s more from the blog:
Medical staff gave Alyssa magnesium in an attempt to keep her from dilating any further and kept her on bedrest, hoping that these measures would be enough.
Unfortunately, despite the magnesium, Alyssa’s cervix continued to dilate the next day.
She writes, “I don’t really remember what time they came in to check on me, but I know it was early. The ultrasound showed I was dilated to 5 centimeters and Scarlett was basically on her way to meet us…I felt like I had failed. I felt like I failed him and our daughter. All I could spit out was “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I must have repeated that a dozen times. We both cried and prayed, prayed and cried. We called our family and close friends to tell them the news. We told them that it’d be a good idea to come to the hospital. We were surrounded by so much love that day. So many prayers, and so much love filled that hospital room.”
At just 20 weeks and 5 days along, baby Scarlett was just a bit too young to survive; the youngest documented premature baby to ever survive was James Elgin Gill, born at 21 weeks and 5 days.
Scarlett was born on Oct. 4 weighing 15 ounces. The Youngs called their family to the hospital where they all greeted baby Scarlett and held her for two hours until she died. Scarlett’s grandmother also took photos to help them remember the moment.
“As I held her, she gasped for breath,” Alyssa remembered. “I told her that I was so sorry. I told her I loved her. I told her it was okay to let go. Seeing your child dying and knowing that there is nothing you can do to save them, it’s a terrible feeling. You’re helpless. Everyone took their turns and held her. Everyone got to love her. That’s all she ever experienced was love.”
The Youngs shared Scarlett’s story and photos as part of Infant and Child Loss Awareness Month to remind people that their baby girl was precious and valuable. Alyssa said she hopes to encourage other grieving families to share their stories, too. She said her daughter’s story also is raising awareness about cervical incompetence, and hopefully will help save other babies’ lives.
“She was perfection,” Alyssa told Fox 43. “She was very well-developed, and the most perfect combination between her father and I. She holds a special place in our hearts. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. My little girl yesterday, my angel today, my daughter forever.”