I am honored to share this week’s Story of Hope & Healing featuring Katelyn Woolley.
Katelyn, thank you for trusting us with your story. I am grateful for all the ways God has made beauty from your ashes.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a 30-year-old mama from San Diego, California and I’m passionate about designing beautiful paper products to support women struggling through miscarriage, infertility, and other pregnancy-related issues. Most days you can find me chasing around our two-year-old-rainbow-baby, working a full-time job as an Art Director at an advertising agency, and running a small business in my spare time. I founded The Noble Paperie after suffering a miscarriage, and then an extremely high-risk pregnancy that included 40+ days of hospitalized bedrest, an emergency C-section at 32-weeks gestation, and an additional 34 days in NICU with our son before we were able to finally bring him home
Tell Us Your Story of Loss.
I was diagnosed with a missed-miscarriage at 8 weeks for our first pregnancy. My husband and I went to our OB’s office for what we thought would be an exciting appointment to see our little babe for the first time and were devastated to find out there was a baby in my belly…but no heartbeat.
Crushed. Shattered. Empty. The emotions hit us like a ton of bricks. And on top of it all, I felt that my body had failed me. Even though our baby was no longer alive, my body was carrying on as if I still pregnant and had a viable life inside of me. After a lot of waiting and prayer, I opted for a D&C which made me feel like I had some control over an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
The grief I had was all-consuming. A baby-sized hole was suddenly placed in my heart, and despite my best efforts, there was nothing I could do to fill it. After weeks of the darkest grief and depression I had ever experienced, I decided to have coffee with a trusted friend and finally shared my story. She listened, and then offered me some incredible insight and ways to start coping with my grief.
My experience with the hospital where I had my D&C was less-than-stellar. My friend recommended I send them a letter to air my grievances, and to help give myself some closure from the situation altogether. So, I wrote a letter. I spent a few days writing down all of the points where I felt the hospital could have improved their post-op care, and how they could have sent me home with some information on grief.
To my complete shock, the head nurse called me a few weeks later to apologize and personally walk through the letter with me over the phone. The nurse mentioned that the hospital was going through some major renovations, and she was so sad that I had had such a traumatic experience. She deeply appreciated me bringing our specific situation to light and vowed to do everything in her power to make it better for future patients.
One of the items I mentioned was not having any information or resources on grief counseling once I was home and on the path to recovery. We came to the conclusion that every woman who entered the hospital for a D&C should leave with their applicable discharge paperwork for their own self-care, and also documents and resources for coping with the loss of a child. What hope that brought me! The fact that the loss of our baby was helping to facilitate change for other mothers walking the same path, was so comforting.
My friend also suggested I use my artistic talents to help process my grief. I reluctantly began designing, and after a few months, came up with 6 greeting cards to support women struggling through miscarriage. I quickly found that these cards were so desperately needed, and they are now providing hope to other mothers walking through their own miscarriage journey! Designing these pieces slowly helped me grow and heal. I started to let go of the situation, and although my grief was still there, it felt like less of a burden. There was something so therapeutic in using my artistic gifts to give back and knowing deep down that our baby’s life was the inspiration behind these cards gave me so much hope.
What was the most meaningful thing done for you during your grieving?
We were very private about our miscarriage before and after it happened. We didn’t want people to know we had been trying for a baby, and we didn’t want to deal with any awkwardness in sharing our loss. My husband and physician were really the only people who knew about our situation.
When I went in for my follow-up appointment, I broke down, sobbing uncontrollably in front of my OB. Going into that office was a reminder that I was no longer pregnant, and I couldn’t keep it in any longer. My doctor came across the room, embraced me in a huge hug and simply told me not to worry-she would deliver my babies. She didn’t tell me this happens all the time. She didn’t belittle my experience and she certainly didn’t tell me not to cry. She held me while I wept, and she let me grieve. I don’t think I will ever forget that. My doctor treated me as a human being, instead of a patient, and I can’t think of a better example of love or support for a miscarried mom.
What advice would you give to someone who has a friend who is grieving the loss of a baby?
What resources have been the most encouraging or helpful to you in your grief?
I read the book “Love Letters to Miscarried Moms: Written in the Midst of My Grief So That You Won’t Be Alone in Yours“. The book was written by a preacher’s wife who had walked through multiple miscarriages and the tone is one of sincere compassion and empathy. It was a short, but incredibly cathartic read and I think it was profoundly helpful in processing my own grief, especially since I didn’t feel comfortable enough at the time to share our situation with any close friends or family.
What verses have you found to be the biggest source of encouragement and/or comfort?
Don’t worry. God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers, and never silent to your pain.
What encouragement would you give to another mom who is grieving?
What is one family tradition that you have established to remember / celebrate your baby?