By: Jessieca Dingler
Three and a half years ago, our daughter, Madelyn Grace was born still. I was 30 weeks pregnant and did not have the textbook pregnancy – we constantly received a mixture of news “Your tests indicate no abnormalities” to “There is something wrong with your baby.” My heart was heavy during my pregnancy with this rollercoaster of emotions, but I was still having a baby, so I tried to remain joyous.
My baby shower was a blessing as our sweet Madelyn received so many gifts and it was a time that I finally felt like we were on the mountaintop – it was really happening, Madelyn was almost here and she was so loved. She had all these new gifts to be brought home, too.
In the middle of my baby shower, however, I suddenly felt weak. I took a break from opening Madelyn’s gifts and ate something because I felt so bad. I finally got oriented to my normal self and finished opening the gifts. It was such a blessed and happy day, but I still felt off. The next day, I started having some pain in my abdomen and sincerely thought it was round ligament pain. I continued having this pain, so I called my doctor Monday morning and they wanted me to be seen if the pain continued. So I went to my doctor, alone, because we did not think it was anything to worry about. What I thought was a normal day turned into a nightmare.
The fetal doppler did not pick up Madelyn’s normally strong heartbeat, so I was immediately put in line to have an ultrasound. The ultrasound did not pick up a heartbeat nor any signs of life. I had to stare at that screen in complete silence. I walked back into a patient room and my doctor opened the door with a somber look and spoke the most horrific words I had ever heard in my life – “I’m sorry, Mrs. Dingler, your baby no longer has a heartbeat.”
That’s when all my joy seemed to dissipate – my baby had died inside of me.
I was induced, endured seven hours of labor, and gave birth to our lifeless Madelyn Grace. I was in complete shock when I was holding her. I was hoping she was going to start crying and she was going to be fine, but she was lifeless. We got several photos of her (that my husband and I decided to keep private) and then she was carried away by the funeral home attendants.
It would be the last time I saw my dear Madelyn on this earth. We had her funeral and I just wanted to go home afterward. I did not want to be around anyone, I did not want to talk, I did not want to do anything but get my Madelyn back.
Fast forward to today, I still struggle to find joy. It has been nearly four years since Madelyn was born, but it has been four years of heartache that I cannot explain to anyone. The day Madelyn died was the day my joy died, too. I am expected to find my joy and conform to all the happiness that everyone else has, but it is not that easy.
Just as when a human heart is revived during a medical emergency, it is not as strong as it once was. That heart must be monitored, and it may need additional support to remain viable – reviving your joy is no different. I am always keeping busy finding new things to do that make me happy and this is very helpful in my healing. There are moments where I am happy and have revived some joy, but it is certainly not the same as it was before Madelyn passed.
Keeping my heart guarded to my surroundings and finding the little things in life that bring a smile has been the best medicine. It takes work to revive your joy and it has taken me nearly four years to understand that concept. I am thankful of my progress, even though it has been small, teeny-tiny steps, but I am indeed, reviving my joy.
About Jessieca Dingler
Jessieca is married to the love of her life, Drew and they have a daughter, Madelyn in heaven. They have a lab, Sadie and a cat, Holly that they greatly enjoy having around. Jessieca enjoys outdoor activities such as gardening, running, and drinking coffee on the porch. She also finds joy in cooking and making homemade goods like soap and jams.
Jessieca is very humbled to share the story of Madelyn with you. Madelyn Grace was born still on November 14, 2018. This loss not only brought the difficult waves of grief but reinvented the woman who everyone knew beforehand. Jessieca not only endured loss, but horrible postpartum depression that lingered for quite some time; however, she is thankful for the Lord’s Grace during dark seasons. As painful as it may seem, Jessieca believes that sharing her little girl and the things that help her through each day is an honor. Jessieca loves to share their story in hopes that others find encouragement through the stormy seasons of life – especially in the realm of infant loss.