There's a plush bunny that sits in a small box with a collection of ultrasound photos and small items for a baby that was never able to meet his mom and dad. This box rests on a bookshelf as a reminder of the first pregnancy that Amanda and her husband, Justin, had together before she miscarried at 13 weeks.
"I gathered everything up and put it in a box because every time I would see it, I would cry," Amanda wrote.
After coming across their positive pregnancy test, it prompted her to pull the box out of the front hall closet where it was stowed.
"My husband and I went through it and decided we wanted to keep it out. We plan on sharing the box with our future children so they will always know about our first pregnancy," she wrote.
"Sometimes I wish I could get the #Ihadamiscarriage hash-tag tattooed to my forearm but even then, some people still wouldn't understand. Sometimes, I don't even understand," Amanda wrote in a Facebook post. "I am a mother, yet I don't fit in with all my Mommy friends who are planning play dates, soothing teething toddlers, or marveling at their little ones first milestones. I am a mother, yet my arms and uterus are so painfully empty, sometimes the hurt is just too much to bear. I am a mother, yet the world doesn't recognize me as such."
Three months after marrying her husband, who she had been dating since 2014, the 28-year-old Instructor Therapist was surprised that morning when she took a pregnancy test.
"I was laughing and joking with my husband while taking it. We figured there was no way we were pregnant," she wrote on Facebook. "The doctor had said we'd have trouble conceiving because of my wonky cycles and on top of that, I had had my usual PMS symptoms, complete with a now hysterically funny meltdown over my husbands haphazard shelving of the groceries the night before. We couldn't possibly be pregnant, right?"
To her surprise, everything changed that morning.
"Within seconds, that urine-soaked stick changed our lives. Within seconds, the reality that we were now parents to a teeny tiny human sunk in. A pink urine soaked stick with two distinctive lines held our hopes, our dreams, our prayers, and our fears," she wrote on Facebook.
Amanda has worked with children with autism for the past 7 years, but nothing could have prepared her for what motherhood had in store.
Continue to the next page to see how her life changed.
"I've never felt the weeks drag on like I did while I was pregnant. Getting to the 12 week "˜safe zone' felt like I was slogging through a nausea inducing, sleep depriving, mood swinging marathon and my poor husband was cheering me on the whole way," she wrote in her Facebook post.
The couple got to experience those monumental moments of listening to their baby's heart beat through a Doppler, seeing him squirm on an ultrasound and watch him grow week after week.
They got to share their excitement with family and close friends, all while picking out nursery decor and Amanda's maternity wardrobe to accommodate her growing baby bump.
"After a stressful couple of months I felt like I was nearing the safe zone," she posted to Facebook.
"At 13 weeks, I was at work and experienced a weird pain in my abdomen. It wasn't like the round ligament pain I had become accustomed to. It was different and took my breath away. I emailed my doctor and he called me to tell me to head to the emergency room. Thus begins one of my worst nightmares. After two ultrasounds, a blood test and a urine test, we were sent home with no answers. The ER doctor couldn't detect a heartbeat but wasn't forthcoming with a definitive answer on the life of our tiny human," she wrote.
"That night I clung to my husband and we prayed together. We prayed for our baby, for the future, for the Lord's will," she wrote.
After a sleepless night, they went in for the third ultrasound that confirmed their worst fears. Their baby passed away in the past 24 hours.
"My husband crumpled in his chair beside me as the tech switched off the TV screen that seconds ago held the last image we'd see of our tiny human," Amanda wrote on Facebook. "That day was a blur of talking with our OB about options, and throwing clothes into our suitcases to head to my parents for the long weekend as we waited for my body to miscarry naturally or for a D&C date to be set, whichever came first."
Continue to the next page for the next chapter in her story.
"My Mom used to say this thing when I was younger "Once a Mother always a Mother" and it used to bug me so much. It was always centered around protecting us and doing what was best for us and I thought it was so lame. But I get it," Amanda told us in an online conversation. "I understand now that motherhood is about sacrifice and not always doing what you want or what feels good for you but looking out for your tiny human, or in some cases your big grown human."
Amanda went to stay with her mother in Brockville while getting the D&C procedure, which involved removing the tissue from the uterus after the miscarriage.
Her family took care of laundry, meals and provided support while the couple endured the physical recovery and emotional trauma.
"This experience also changed my relationship with my Mom for the better. I have a newfound respect and love for her and what she did to bring my siblings and I into the world and also how she was there 110% for us during our pregnancy," Amanda wrote to us.
Their friends, family and medical team have been a huge support structure to the couple. They took care of their laundry, made their meals and were just there when they needed to talk.
"I think the key to support for us was that people were just there loving on us. I never felt alone in all of it," Amanda told us.
She also sought out a Facebook community with other people that have had miscarriages, and being a part of that group has been cathartic for her.
"What really helped was when friends and family would just send a text saying 'thinking of you today' or when people acknowledged what I'd gone through," she wrote to us.
Not everyone knew what to do or say when trying to help deal with the loss.
"I found it hardest when people would just push what happened under the rug so to speak and pretend nothing happened," she wrote to us. "I guess that was part of why my husband wanted to put what I wrote on Facebook, to let his friends know what did happen and to acknowledge the tiny human that changed our lives so much."
"Through it all, it has brought my husband and I closer together. We talk a lot more now (not that we didn't talk before) but we talk about feelings, and memories, and just little things," she wrote to us. "We also talk a lot about the three months we were pregnant and the huge impact that our tiny human had on us."
They are still surprised at how much of an impact their pregnancy had on their lives.
"I never realized how fiercely I could love someone I'd never met or how protective I was from the very beginning. Before being pregnant, I didn't understand any of that, I just scoffed at my own Mom when she would try and tell me about it. I didn't think motherhood was easy, but I never understood that I would literally invest my entire self into this teeny tiny human."
It's common to have feelings of anger, resentment and despair when someone goes through a loss of a pregnancy.
"A few of my friends are due within days of when I was supposed to. I remember seeing one of them a few weeks after and just marveling at her little baby bump and being so happy that her little one was still safe inside," she wrote to us. "Some days, I'm sad when friends send me ultrasound pics of their little ones or I hear a friend has given birth but I've never been angry or resentful. I'm just trusting that when we're meant to bring a baby into this world and hold it in our arms, we will."
While Amanda is still both physically and mentally recovering from the loss, she and her husband are open to a conversation of trying again for a baby. For now, they have the memories of their baby that left too soon.
"We named our firstborn (who we suspect was a boy) D'Arcy Alexander after his Great Grandfather and his Dad. And we trust he is in heaven."
"To conclude, I am a mother. I might not fit in with my Mommy friends right now, but I am a Mother. I carried D'Arcy for 13 short weeks but I'll love him for eternity. Someday, I hope to be reunited with him in heaven. I had a miscarriage and I am a Mother."