Mom Who Suffered 7 Miscarriages Includes All Her 'Angel Babies' In Touching Family Photo

TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains information about miscarriage, which may be triggering to some.

It was Whitney Billings' eighth wedding anniversary when she and her husband Justin officially decided that they were ready to expand their family one more time. The pair was already parents to a 4-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy, so they didn't realize in the moment just how much pain would come with that decision.

Even after suffering her first miscarriage around the same time she had her IUD removed, this mom from California remained optimistic. That is, until the unthinkable toll went from one to seven lost "angel babies" in a row.
Most of her losses came early on.

The majority of the time, the devastating news for Billings would come at between five and eight weeks.

"I felt empty inside," she wrote on her blog, Billings Clan. "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."

It was a nightmare.

It was becoming her new nightmare routine of getting pregnant only to lose the babies. She felt completely alone and hid her pain by hosting baby showers for her sister who was pregnant with twins and close friends who were also expecting.

"Even though I post a lot of pictures, I also don't share a lot about myself, personal struggles, or anytime I have lost and grieved a baby," she wrote. "I'm more the type to suffer in silence. Somehow it made me feel more normal. Or maybe I was just burying all the pain, hoping it would go away."

She couldn't escape babies.

To make matters worse, she's also a professional photographer, which meant that she would be off for newborn and maternity sessions right after miscarrying her babies. "Honestly, it was bitter-sweet for me. I loved the opportunity to hold these sweet, new and fresh smelling babies while I photographed them," she wrote.

"However, at the same time I was bottling up the deepest depression inside. Holding it all in just to keep my professional status. Unfortunately, [it] didn't matter what I did."

It's not something you ever get used to.

And if you think that someone must get used to the heartbreak and disappointment that comes along with so many miscarriages, Billings wants people to know that it doesn't happen that way.

"I was right back where I left off. 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," she wrote. "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."

Doctors couldn't explain what was going on.

Despite repeated doctors' appointments and extensive blood work that came back perfect, Billings had six miscarriages within a year without any explanation as to why. And as she struggled, many around her didn't know how to react.

"Some reason people liked to remind us what we already had, when they would find out about us losing a baby. 'Oh well you already have a boy and a girl, so you will be ok,'" she wrote. "These comments were hurtful to us, and so many more comments that were made that aren't even worth mentioning."
Her next loss was tragic.

But when she got pregnant yet again, things were completely different. Her bump began to grow and her baby seemed to be thriving. After feeling the first kick, she decided to bring her mom and then-3-year-old to a sonogram because she was finally letting herself get excited.

But then the ultrasound technician spoke: "There's no baby in there. I'm not getting anything and definitely no heartbeat," she recalled.

They didn't give up.

"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!" she wrote. "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!?"

By the time the couple's 10-year anniversary had come around, they were still working to grow their family. But after seven miscarriages over those two excruciating years, they were doing it differently than they originally intended: by working to become foster parents.
The commemorated the milestone with a family photo shoot.

To celebrate this milestone both for their marriage and family, they decided against fancy gifts or an exotic trip. "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," she wrote.

"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."

It was a special way to honor the family members they've lost.

Billings' close friend Emily Grace happens to also be a professional photographer and captured a true family portrait unlike anything the couple has, because it included everyone: her two kiddos 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 tells CafeMom. "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!"

Although it's been years since Billings first saw what her entire family looks like together thanks to her friend's talent and Photoshop, she's sharing it with the world to help other families as she continues to heal.

"Even if it only reached five women, that was enough medication for me. I feel like it's really important to educate the world on what occurs when someone loses a baby," she says. "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."

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