Bradford Ellissia McNeely

After 24 hours of labor and an epidural, Bradford Ellissia McNeely was stillborn on April 30th at 7 p.m. We both felt like as I was pushing our hearts were being ripped out as well. She was beautiful and seemingly perfect in every way. Every finger and toe formed down to the fingernails, eyes, lips, long arms and legs. She was a lot bigger than we expected and had to be held in two hands. What a horrific and yet beautiful moment as we got to hold her and tell her we loved her and goodbye. I do not lessen the loss of a child at any stage of pregnancy… the pain is always so great.

There is something unique though about having to deliver a stillborn baby. Our grief as we held her felt like it might consume us. All I knew to say over and over was “I am sorry I couldn’t keep you alive Bradford — I failed you as a Mom.” “I am so sorry David I couldn’t give you a daughter and failed you as a wife.”

I suppose these thoughts are a natural part of grief and more have continued to come and go as the days have gone by.

My milk came in, oh the bleeding (not just the natural but from my heart and mind as well.), the hospital bill that came…all reminders of Bradford not being at home with us. There will be reminders until we die, looking at our kitchen table wondering why she isn’t with us, David doing weddings and wondering why he doesn’t get to walk his daughter down the aisle, the boys questioning “why did Bradford die mommy?” Of course we have no answer to this last question and know we never will. We do not understand why God would allow us to get pregnant after 14 years and coming to a place of peace in our infertility and open a wound so personal to us and seemingly stab it again. How does God get more Glory from a stillborn birth than a wonderful healthy baby delivered in September. Once again, no answer and yet through our hurt, anger, tears, and frustration we somehow know God is an amazing God.

Oh how we love and miss Bradford as our heart just aches. I have been amazed at how David has embraced the grief and walked this horror out with me. We have wept uncontrollably together, talked, shared our hearts and minds candidly, and he has loved me well. I have a whole new respect and admiration for that man. I love him so much even as I have watched him wrestle with God too.

There is somehow some healing that comes with even writing this and I would ask as trite as it seems for prayers of God’s grace to carry us now. Once again His grace has been poured out to us through the generosity, love, and care of our friends during our particularly dark days. We pray each day the cloud is lifted (though we know we will still have hard days) and one day we will know true joy again.