“On July 1, 2019, around 7:45 p.m., mom-to-be Amber texted her pal to say her water had broken earlier in the day. Her fluid had disappeared by the time she was 19 weeks and five days old. She didn’t have a choice but to give birth. She was terrified and distraught, and she had no idea what she should do. Lina, a friend of hers, agreed to come and support them.
Amber requested professional photographs of the entire procedure, no matter how painful or graphic they were from beginning to end. I packed my cameras and hit the drive into the night right away. To get to the hospital, I drove approximately two hours. I was halted and witnessed a life flight helicopter take off when I arrived. I assumed I didn’t come in time for the birth and that they were whisked somewhere else for some reason. HOWEVER, when I arrived in the room, I discovered that I had not missed anything. There was a lot of love and strength in the room. For the sake of everyone, everyone was strong.
I met Amber and Monty on both their best and worst days, but love was all I felt when I went into that hospital room. Monty had a hand on Amber’s shoulder as she sat on her yoga ball, arms on the bed. I had the privilege of photographing two individuals who were surely going to survive this loss together, squeezing every ounce of joy out of the time they had with their baby. The reciprocal tenderness between them made me aware of this. Even though Amber was the one who gave birth that day, she looked at Monty and cared for him, fully aware that he was losing his daughter as well. Even though Monty was also reeling, he prioritized Amber for the 12 hours I was with them.
Amber’s mother, Anne-Marie, had driven the three-hour trek from her home in New Hampshire barely 2.5 hours after receiving the news. In a circumstance like their one, I’m sure anyone would want to have a mother like her. Her unshakable love and support for them both were palpable.
There were a lot of people that came to see Amber and Monty. Their support system was incredible, and each person contributed something unique and valuable to their day – encouragement, coffee, comedy, snacks, hugs, distractions, stories, and so on. While the circumstances were unimaginable, watching how their friends and family members rallied around them and shared their sadness was incredible. They walked, bounced, laughed, and wept their hearts out. I believed that cheesecake and grief couldn’t coexist, but I was proven incorrect. Monty fed Amber because she was apprehensive about eating while they grieved and prepared to see their daughter.
There was never a time when love was not abundant in Room 114. Amber had a fantastic birth companion in Monty. He wiped her sweat away, held her hand, breathed with her, caressed her back, made her laugh, and told her how much he loved her regularly. He’s a 6’4″ jokester, and it’s evident he doesn’t enjoy it when people are upset. He pushed aside his sorrow to ensure that everyone else was okay. But we all knew this was ripping him apart on the inside. I mean, how could it not be?
As everyone gathered around the two of them, Monty was on his knees at Amber’s bedside. I stood there watching as he grabbed her stomach and brought her back to reality. It all came crashing down on him like a tonne of bricks. It was an experience I’ll never forget. It’s vital to the Ross family that others in similar situations understand they’re not alone and that fathers understand they’re allowed to mourn as well. Your pain is both valid and raw. You don’t have to hide your tears or your heartbreak. You have the option of allowing your emotions to flood. You’re both stumbling through this nightmare at the same time. This is a loss that you BOTH feel.
Their family and friends surrounded them. There was not a dry eye in the room as they all sensed the gravity of the situation and managed to keep their composure.
Amber pushed her baby out after another 20 minutes of labor. At 10:52 p.m., Emily-Anne arrived. Emily-Anne was placed on her mother’s chest after her husband, Monty, cut the cord. Amber had spent her entire life caring for her daughter. While against her mother’s chest, her tiny heartbeats. Emily-Anne only knew love during her brief 17-minute existence on this planet.
Amber raised her eyes and cried out to Lina, who had been by their side the entire time. ‘Lina! Is she here? ‘Is she here for real?’ As Monty crouched by the bed, staring in awe at the young girl they had brought into this world, Lina took Emily-little Anne’s hand and placed it on Amber’s finger. Amber beckoned everyone over to look at her tiny fingernails and hair follicles, and both she and Monty were shivering with excitement.
I can’t express how lovely everything was. Emily-Anne only knew love for the 17 minutes she was alive. Hers is an inspiring story, but it is just one of many. Her parents wish to share their accounts to help eliminate the shame associated with premature child death. You are NOT alone if you have or are going through this, no matter how frightening or lonely it may seem.
When she was born and died, she was surrounded by her family. It was everything when her father held her, dressed her, kissed her, and kissed her. Witnessing a guy love with all of his heart while it simultaneously breaks was a life-shattering and eternally life-changing experience. When it comes to expressing feelings, men should not be ashamed. It’s also not a good idea to nest newborns.
You are permitted to post pictures of your baby, regardless of when they were born, just as any other parent is allowed to share images of their children. Your child and your story are equally lovely and significant. Your child will never be forgotten, and you will always be adored.
Olive Ross, Emily-Anne
10:52 p.m.-11:09 p.m. on January 7, 2019
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