As she shared the picture with the world, the mother said: "Even if it only reached five women, that was enough medication for me."
In August, 2014, Whitney Billings and her husband, Justin, were over the moon as they celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary with a romantic date on the pier. They were both in good places and decided it was time to set out on a new adventure—adding a new member to the brood. They were parents to a daughter and son, 4 and 2 years old at the time, and the couple thought they were ready to welcome a third child.
Whitney soon had her IUD removed, but sadly, a few days later, "I was in the bathroom and passed this blood clot that was quite large and different looking," Whitney wrote on her blog, Billings Clan. "Later discovering that it was not a blood clot in fact, it was a 7-8 week old baby. I held my own baby in my hands with no knowledge that I had ever been pregnant. I felt baffled."
About a month later, she was pregnant again. Whitney and her family were beyond excited by the news. But on December 3, 2014, "Our plans crashed and our hearts broke. I lost that sweet little baby of ours," the mother wrote. "Seven weeks along and that baby was gone. We were devastated." The following March, Whitney, and Justin were ready for a fresh start. "We found out we were pregnant again," she recalled. "This time we were excited but nervous. By late March, we lost our sweet baby at five weeks along. We didn’t even get a chance to be excited. I felt defeated, lost & broken. Again..."
What followed were months of trying, getting pregnant, and going through the heart-wrenching grief of losing a baby again and again. Whitney went through the cycle all whilst seeing her sister and her friends getting pregnant with babies of their own.
To the world, she put on a brave face but inside, she was silently mourning the death of her miscarried babies. Hiding her grief, Whitney would go for maternity shoots and capture sweet moments between parents and babies as she worked as a professional photographer. She would also organize baby showers for pregnant women. "Honestly, it was bitter-sweet for me. I loved the opportunity to hold these sweet, new & fresh smelling babies while I photographed them," Whitney went on to say. "However, at the same time, I was bottling up the deepest depression inside."
In the span of two years, Whitney lost seven angel babies. But she never lost hope of becoming a parent again. So she and Justin decided it was best for them to become foster parents.
Although they went through two years of heartache, the family also went through two years of immense growth. Proud of how far they came, Whitney said, "In TEN years of marriage we moved 8 times, brought our first pup home, welcomed two beautiful children to the world, lost 7 angel babies, became foster parents, purchased our first home, bought a vintage 1950’s truck, Justin & I together lost a combined total of 90 pounds, climbed the workforce ladder to the top, became a successful photographer and fell in LOVE more than I knew was possible!"
With the help of a friend and some Photoshop, Whitney also did a photo shoot that showed her what her entire family really looks like. She found it therapeutic to see the portrait with her family, including their seven angel babies, and she hopes the picture would help other families as well.
"Even if it only reached five women, that was enough medication for me. I feel like it's really important to educate the world on what occurs when someone loses a baby," Whitney told CafeMom. "How it affects the woman, the man, and the family. I would love to normalize miscarriage as a whole, and by me opening up to society and telling my story it's a start! Women shouldn't feel ashamed when they lose a baby, they should feel like they can reach out to people and get the help they need.
Cover image source: Billings Clan