by Kelli Smith

Editor’s Note: The Devil Strip is currently working with Kelli Smith as a human resources specialist. Kelli pitched this story to Hell Raisers editor Megan Combs independently, and the organization’s business relationship with Kelli had no bearing on its publication.

October is the start of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I know this month all too well, unfortunately. 

In 2015, I suffered my first miscarriage around 8 weeks… I had no idea what was happening except I was bleeding heavily. I proceeded to the ER where a doctor — very bluntly with zero empathy — told me I was having a miscarriage and that this happens to 20% of women. 

Wow! This is not what one wants or needs to hear when their head is spinning with thoughts and emotions. 

Jump to 2017 where I had a wonderful pregnancy for 9 months and on Sept. 28, I gave birth to the most beautiful little girl named Finley Genevieve. She was 6 pounds, 9 ounces and immediately became my husband and my whole world! She was perfect! We held her, kissed her, fed her, changed her and couldn’t take our eyes off of her. A very short 18 hours later, she was very ill and we had NO idea why. The doctors couldn’t figure it out. 

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At 2:26 pm on 9/29/17, I held her in my arms while I sang “You Are My Sunshine” and she slipped away. I never thought in a million years something like this would happen to us. Quite frankly, I was just told at a rotary meeting “ah, you have nothing to worry about when you deliver. You’re white and higher middle class.” Wow, that is a very sad and disturbing way to look at a woman giving birth. Ohio currently ranks 47th in the nation for infant mortality. Summit County ranks as one of the counties with the highest infant mortality rate.

We didn’t find out until two days later our little girl passed from Group B Strep, which led to sepsis. All she needed was a simple, affordable antibiotic that was not given to her. We still can’t figure out why. My husband and I were and are heartbroken over our loss. We grieve her daily. 

Fast forward to March 2018, I was pregnant and had seen a heartbeat. At our second ultrasound, we were told no more heartbeat. Again, we were left empty and me passing at home what the doctors referred to as “productive tissue.” Cue the eye roll. To me this was not just a productive tissue, this was our child, another child we would mourn. 

Let’s jump to June 2019… My husband and I welcomed Pierce Finley into this world at 9:28 pm!!! 9:28 pm…Finley was with us that night as she was born on 9/28. Pierce is an amazing 15-month-old now.

So, when I became pregnant during the pandemic we laughed and thought “well played, COVID.” We found out we were having another little girl. I went to several appointments alone due to COVID and on my 17-week appointment I was told “I’m so sorry, we can’t find a heartbeat.” 

I couldn’t even react. I felt numb. I then had to go into surgery because there was NO way I could go through labor and not bring home another baby. 

Through all of our loss, we are so shocked and disappointed in friends and family who will not speak to us because they are uncomfortable. Not only do we grieve our children but now we have to mourn our relationships. When we do try and speak to some family and friends, we’ve had a few even ask “Can we not talk about this?” 

Thankfully, we do have some really amazing friends and a small family support system. 

Kelli Smith, MBA, is a proud mother to four girls, wife to my best friend Kevin Smith, program director for local nonprofit cancer charity Life Is Good No Matter What, and lastly, she’s been a human resources professional for over 12 years.

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