Should I Have Held My Baby?

By |2016-10-13T17:14:26+00:00July 16th, 2015|13weeks, 1st Trimester, Pregnancy|16 Comments

Should Haves - Faithfulness Declared


I was a few short days away from my entering into my second trimester. The “safe” zone.

It was a quiet Saturday morning at home with my husband and I started bleeding. After a full day of bleeding and cramping, the pain became intolerable. My aunt and uncle drove us to the emergency room. As soon as we arrived, my insides were in anguish and I began blacking out multiple times.

I laid in an ER room, writhing in the most pain I had ever endured. I now know what I was experiencing as labor. But at the time, I truly thought I could be dying. “Oh, Jesus, help me,” I repeated over and over. I was desperate for even the smallest degree of relief from the pain.

Finally, the doctor put something in my IV and my entire body started to relaxed. After the physical pain subsided, reality began to set in and the weight of the emotional pain smothered me. As the doctor examined me he compassionately said, “Yeah, I don’t like this. I see tissue.”

The tissue he was talking about was my baby.

My baby.

All of a sudden, it felt like a water balloon burst inside me. The precious contents of my body rushed out into a container that the doctor was holding and it was immediately taken out of the room and sent to the lab.

Four years and two healthy babies later… and it’s only recently that a couple “Should I Haves” became burdensome on my heart.

We never named our baby. Not really. Every memento and treasure we’ve kept says Baby Butler 2011. But I also lost another baby at 5 weeks last year and we use Baby Butler for that baby too. Should we have given our babies first names? Should we give our babies names now?

I never asked the sex of the baby. If the doctor knew, would they have told me? Or should I have asked?

But the thing I’ve been questioning the most…the thing that weighs the heaviest on my heart right now is that I didn’t ask to hold, or at least see my baby.

I go back and forth and second guess myself. Why didn’t I? Would it have been good for me? If I could change it, would I? Should I have?

Should I have.

Should I have.

Should I have.

And then, I pause and take a deep breath. I close my eyes and I remember the details of that night. The pain. The brokenness. The shock. And emptiness. The surrealness. The crying. The anger. The disbelief. It took all my focus just to make a few simple decisions. It took all my energy to simply take my next breath. It took every ounce of bravery I could muster to think about getting through the night, much less make decisions that I would now. I’ve walked four years of grief and healing. In that time, so much has changed. In those dark hours at the hospital, I did what my heart needed at the time.

So now instead of looking at the “Should I Haves” as regrets, I view them as growth. Growth from where I was to where I am now. Proof that I’m healing. Proof that I’m growing stronger.

I’m learning that the grieving process can and probably will be a lifetime’s journey. When your heart, mind and body are transformed by your baby, how can grieving that loss not last a lifetime? The process of healing is not a straight line and can’t be strategized on a calendar. It is a constant ebb and flow.

We do what is good for our hearts. We do what helps bring a little peace in that moment. And as I keep going and allow the tidal waves of both grief and peace wash over me, I can’t allow the “Should I Haves” to anchor me down. I have to remember to love and support myself through this process and know that what I’ve said and done…or not said and not done…does not minimize my love for my heaven babies.

So when the “Should I Haves” start to seep into my heart, I stop, I breathe and I remember. I feel all the details of that night all over again. I give myself grace. I love myself. And I tell myself I am strong.

My baby will forever be a part of who I am. And no name, no memory, no decision can ever change that.

And that…is what matters.

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About the Author:

Heather Butler
Heather Butler is a proud Colorado native and a mountain girl through and through. She is married to her best friend and lumberjack of a husband. They have 2 daughters (who are by far the coolest little people ever) and 1 on the way. They also have 2 precious heaven babies who were lost in miscarriages at 13 weeks and 5 weeks. Although all too brief, their little lives continually reveal a lifetime's worth of beauty and truth. Through their entrances into heaven, Heather found her calling and passion in life-to walk alongside other women in their journey of loss and healing-and is currently writing her first book on the topic. Heather shares her adventures as a wife, momma and woman on her website, Faithfulness Declared.


  1. Sanja July 16, 2015 at 10:40 am - Reply

    This broght me to tears …but i needed to read because i didnt see my stillborn baby born at 36week and the pain is bigger every day i wiah i just see her. i would give half of my life to hold her for one minute. i was so scared i thought i wouldnt survive that moment yhat i will not have strenght to let her go after that…
    nobody encouraged me and i felt so weak and only i wished i could die with her

    • Heather Butler
      Heather Butler July 16, 2015 at 11:57 am - Reply

      Sanja, I’m sitting at my computer, crying with you and for you. My heart aches so deeply and it’s wrapped around yours. From what you said, it sounds to me that you made the right decision for yourself in that moment. I know for myself, I was so broken right after my loss, I may not have been able to emotionally handle seeing or holding my baby. And when my mind starts thinking about it and I wish I had, I have to remind myself that I’m in a different state of mind and heart now than I was then. Sanja, you are strong and I admire your strength and beautiful heart. You are not alone. I pray your heart finds a little more peace each day. <3

  2. KJ July 16, 2015 at 11:13 am - Reply

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Did the doctor do any sort of genetic analysis on the tissue? If he or she looked for chromosomal defects, he would know whether it was a boy or a girl. Otherwise, at five weeks, it’s impossible to tell by looking.

    • Heather Butler
      Heather Butler July 16, 2015 at 11:41 am - Reply

      KJ, I don’t believe he did any testing. I was a little over 13 weeks, so I’m sure it would have been possible to find out the gender. But at the time I had no idea that you could find out that early. Thanks for your words:)

  3. Missing Mikayla July 16, 2015 at 11:22 am - Reply

    Oh my how I needed this! I have been struggling with this feeling after Mikayla was still born at 22 weeks. I did see her, but only for a few minutes, and never touched or held her, and didn’t get any pictures. While I still wish I had done things differently, I am learning to be gracious to myself as well, and trying to focus on the positives. I’ve realized that in hind sight there will always be things we wish we did differently, but we were only doing the best we could at the time, and it doesn’t lessen the love we have for our babies.

    • Heather Butler
      Heather Butler July 16, 2015 at 11:32 am - Reply

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Mikayla is such a lovely name – “Gift from God.” How beautiful. And your words are so true. Even if our decisions would have changed, our love doesn’t. <3

  4. Dawn July 16, 2015 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Hey, doll! Thank you for sharing your heart. I too, lost a baby. I was 12 weeks. The emotional pain was indescribable, I felt no physical pain. I went in for my routine exam, and to hear the baby’s heart beat. There was no heart beat. They did an ultrasound, and only saw tissue-no more baby. I had to go in for a DNC. It was quick, too quick. The nurses and doctors were robotic. If that makes any sense. I was so panicky, they had to sedate me. It was an awful experience. Chris decided we should name our baby. So, together we chose Jordan. I am just now, 16 years later, resting in God’s goodness and grace. He has my little Jordan in His arms. Someday, I’ll get to embrace our baby in mine. Love you, Heather, thanks for letting me share.

    • Heather Butler
      Heather Butler July 16, 2015 at 3:05 pm - Reply

      Dawn, thank you for your words. I can’t imagine everything you went through. I love that Chris was such a support to you and that you both got to name your baby together. xo

  5. Mae M. July 16, 2015 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    Thank you Heather! This post was so needed! You are a blessing<3

  6. Heather July 16, 2015 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    My daughter passed a week after being born at 31 weeks. I was so traumatized at the moment it happened it was too hard for me to hold my baby. My entire family stayed back and held her. It’s 3 years later and I still give my self a hard time for not holding her. But you do what’s right for you at the moment. I can’t take that moment back but yes your right it doesn’t make you love them any less. I actually loved her too much to hold her not living .

    • Heather Butler
      Heather Butler July 16, 2015 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      Heather, thank you so much for sharing. I really don’t have the words to express how sorry I am for your loss. We are definitely in agreement that the love we have for our babies doesn’t change even if we think our decisions would. Blessings.

  7. lisa July 18, 2015 at 9:07 am - Reply

    had to read,i know these feelings only too well,have 2 healthy normal pregnancies,had a mmc,a year later in 2012 fell pregnant,had spot bleeding,docs put me on antibiotics,bleeding stopped,said i had a urine infection,everything was fine until 26 weeks,woke felt sick ,cold etc,but had to do the school run etc,as the day went on ,i felt i needed to visit,the toilet,frequently,my waters had gone,phoned hosp,took in,was sent home after 4 days,given steroid injections for babys lungs,told there was a risk of infection,to rest as water completely gone,went home on the monday,went back in that night as was in labour,baby was comimg feet first was given an emergency c section,woke up to find baby was born and was in neonatal unit,was wheeled down to see him,he survived a week,as what i can only describe as an emotional rollercoater,3 blood tranfusions,haemorrages from the arteries around the lungs,i went home a week later,when that night i went home got a phonecall from hosp to tell me babys heartbeat was slowing down,baby kyle passed away just before we got there,the doc was working on him,but i could see he was away,we held him cried so much,wept for him still to this day,then 1 year and 11 months later,at 14 weeks my waters broke again,gave birth to baby ryan born asleep after crying and seeing ryan my world collapsed,made the decision to bury our ryan in with our kyle,i take comfort in thinking how both my boys are together,up in gods arms,trying to explain to their big sister and brother,that baby ryan had gone to heaven with baby kyle wasnt as hard as i thought,as i suppose somewhere deep inside i just knew it could happen again after kyle,i feel so blessed to be a mum of 4 2 kids living and two angels,and here we are ack again trying to conceive again…………

    • Heather Butler
      Heather Butler July 30, 2015 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      Lisa, I don’t even have the words to express how sorry I am you’ve gone through such pain and loss. My heart is broken for you. Thank you for your words and sharing your story. There is bravery and strength intertwined in each of your sentences. To keep trying…and keep loving…despite such loss, just shows how powerful a mother’s love is. Your heart is beautiful and you are strong. Please keep in touch.

  8. Janice October 9, 2015 at 12:04 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom from the heart. I to struggled and still do at times struggle with those “should I have” questions after having a second trimester loss of my twins 6/3/15. My heart still aches in disbelief that it happened, seems like a dream. I’m so grateful I came across this article it truly brought some healing to my soul❤

    • Heather Butler
      Heather Butler October 9, 2015 at 10:50 am - Reply


      I’m so sorry for your losses. My heart aches with yours. Thank you for your kind words. Blessings to you on your journey.

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