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02 May, 2013

The story of the brief life of Albert John Francis Buergler

The Pregnancy.

The last week of March I had a feeling.  A feeling that I was pregnant.

My friend Rebecca came over for a playdate with her two kids and shared with me that she was expecting. I told her that I was waiting on my period or a positive pregnancy test.  And in her natural joyful self, she text me every day, "Did you get it?" "Test?" until I finally had good news.

On Friday, April 5 I couldn't stand it any longer. I was going to wait until my sister's wedding weekend was over, but I just KNEW!  As I drove home from the bridal luncheon I stopped at CVS and picked up a real, easy to read pregnancy test, not the cheapies that come in the multi pack with my ovulation tests (yay NFP!).

I only had 45 minutes to change, get Evie ready and make sure Eric was ready before we had to leave for the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

In that short span I peed on the test and sure enough, positive.  It confirmed what I knew in my heart.

I ran into the kitchen and hugged Eric from behind waving the good news in his face!

I was a total ball of emotions all weekend. Between the pregnancy hormones, hiding the good news, and my sister getting married I just couldn't keep it together.  Tissues everywhere.

Eric and I were so excited though.  Already making plans to redo the guest room as Evie's room and trying to figure out the Christmas holidays with a newborn.

At seven weeks the top part of my belly started sticking out, just like it did with Evie.  (It's so strange to me that this happened both times since it's not baby belly.)

The Passing.

Thursday morning, April 25, I dropped Evie with my friend Mandi and headed for my first midwife appointment. I was giddy with excitement.

We talked about all the health concerns I had after having Evie: bed rest, high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, and post-partum depression. She had a plan to tackle each one. And oddly enough I was excited to give all those things a try (even the placenta encapsulation after birth). Anything for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

After the appointment was over we scheduled an 8.5 week first ultrasound for the following week.

I left to get Evie and almost immediately started feeling mild, mild cramps. But I shoved it off knowing that I'd had that with Evie.

That afternoon I was overwhelmingly exhausted so I took a deep nap.  But when I woke up I felt different.  I just thought it was a great nap. In hindsight, I think it's when the baby's heart stopped.

Friday and Saturday were filled with celebrating friends and family and sharing the good news of the pregnancy with our families.

I had little hints of spotting, but I brushed it off because it's normal around 8 weeks and I had it when I was pregnant with Evie.

Sunday morning I woke up and knew something was wrong.  The spotting was getting worse.  I consulted girl friends who were also cautiously optimistic that it was just the usual spotting.  

By Sunday evening when we headed to Mass I was definitely transiting from spotting to bleeding.  I asked for prayers during Mass from my dear friend Kathy. Her intercession calmed me enough to hear Fr. Josh's homily on heaven. (Interesting how God prepares us, huh?)

We had our usual Sunday dinner with the youth group teens before I took Evie home for bed. 

That evening I just knew. I knew in my heart of hearts that our baby was no longer with us.

I sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed.

I questioned God. 

I questioned myself.

I doubted. 

I feared.

I was angry.

And I sobbed some more.

Eric made it home around 11pm.  By then the bleeding was really picking up.  We talked, but mostly I just needed his embrace.  There were no words.

I was in and out of sleep and having weird nightmares (similar to my early labor with Evie, actually).

At 4am I woke up and it started. The only way I can describe is like labor: back pain, headache, cramping, the urge to poop, the overwhelming desire to throw up --- all at the same time.  I made it to the bathroom to do some combination of those things and after about an hour I'd passed a good bit of tissue and most likely the baby (confirmed by the ER).

Eric fed me a banana and water and tucked me in for the most amazing sleep.  I didn't cry. I didn't grieve.  I was at peace. I knew for certain that our tiny blueberry sized baby was in heaven.  It was all I needed.

We woke up at 8:28 and called the midwife at 8:31 the minute they opened.  They were slammed with baby deliveries and told us to head to the ER.

The ER.

I woke up in medical mode. My heart grieved the night before, before I'd even gone into "labor".

The hospital was full of tests: urine, blood, ultrasounds, etc.  After 4 hours the results were conclusive. My hormones were on rapid decline and I'd definitely passed the baby and a good bit of tissue already.

After a phone consult with my midwife, the ER doc administered a RhoGAM shot and discharged us.

But I couldn't leave. I wanted to stay. As if staying there was going to bring back our baby.  But all the hugs and tears in the world did not.

The After.

So here I am. May 2.  It's been a few days. Physically, I am re-living a mini version of my after birth experience with Evie.  The hormone-dump migraines, nausea and cramps. I'm still bleeding and I am absolutely exhausted.

My body feels empty.  I didn't get why Ashley titled her miscarriage post last week about being Empty until the moment I knew the heart stopped. I felt empty. 

I felt alone.

It's difficult to describe unless you've been pregnant -- but there is a feeling of constantly having someone with you.  I had that.  At eight weeks I had that.  And that Thursday afternoon I felt it. I felt empty.  I felt alone.

My husband, parents, in-laws, girlfriends and co-workers have been my rock.  For the first time in my life I've felt like I can really trust people with my heart and it's okay.

The emails, text message, hugs, phone calls, dinners, everything. It's just been wonderful. I have never felt so loved. And a special thank you to all the beautiful women who have shared their stories with me. Seeing the depth of your heart has been the most precious part of this process. 

My faith has saved me.  A few weeks ago I attended a funeral for a co-worker who lost her baby at 17.5 weeks. And just last week for a friend who lost hers at 31 weeks.  Our parish priest encouraged them to name their tiny little saints and to have a funeral Mass for them.  His words at both funeral Masses changed me.  They gave me an understanding of why these things happen, how to grieve, that it's okay to cry and to remember --- for a life time.  But to know that in heaven we are already reunited because there is no time in heaven (kind of mind blowing, huh?)

But most importantly that we have tiny saints, who knew their mother so intimately, praying for us in the presence of God.  Those words are embedded deep in my heart and are holding me together.

Sure this sucks. It does. My heartaches in a way I didn't know was possible.  But I have hope. And I have Eric. And I have Evie.

His Name.

Last week I called Eric with a ridiculous amount of excitement.  I already knew what our baby's name was. I didn't know if it was a boy or a girl, but I knew the name without a doubt...(hopefully it was a boy! ha!)

Albert John Francis Buergler

Here's why ---  
  • my grandfather and my dad's brother were Albert John
  • Eric's Confirmation sponsor is John, the uncle he most favors
  • my grandfather was born in December, the same day as Pope Francis --- the baby was due in December
  • my uncle Albert's birthday is the day after our little baby's funeral
  • my good friend John from high school died exactly one year before our baby, their funerals are exactly a year apart. John's life and death changed me
  • The baby was due around the Feast of Saint John of the Cross
  • Saint John of the Cross has been my stalker saint since college
  • Moments after telling Fr. Josh the baby's name I looked on his bookshelf and saw a book on St. John of the Cross. (I take this as a sign of affirmation we chose the right name)

The Funeral.

We're having a funeral next week for our tiny little saint Albert John Francis.  Not so much for his soul, because we know he's sinless. But for ours.  To have closure. To have community. And to ask his intercession on our lives.   If you're in the area and would like to come, please don't hesitate to ask for details. We'd love to celebrate with you.

The Future.

I don't know what the future holds. Right now I don't care.

I am still grieving.

I am still hurting emotionally and physically.

 I know I will be for a while. All the beautiful stories from friends have indicated that this takes a long time.  I am okay with that.  I am so thankful for my short time with this little guy.  I have learned so much and grown in my faith, my relationship with Eric, and in my friendships with women.  I know I'm going to continue to need everyone. For a phone call, for a lunch date, or for a really funny story to make me laugh a healing laugh.  Thank you.


  1. Elizabeth, this was beautiful to read. Your faith and trust has really inspired me. Your witness of life has impacted me. Your words put written words to prayers & thoughts of my own heart. I love you friend!

  2. Oh, Elizabeth. This was seriously beautiful...Please know I am crying with you. Thank you for the courage to share your story. Little Albert is so blessed to have such amazing parents. Let us pray he is with Gerard worshipping before the throne of our Hope.

  3. This is an amazing tribute. This momma's heart knows just the sorrow and emptiness you describe. It's a "gift" that I have often sat with Mother Mary reliving...she's a woman with great faith who understood well losing a child. I think it's an emotion reserved only for a woman's heart, a mother's heart. There is something so profoundly supernatural in carrying life. It changes me instantly both physically and emotionally. I'm better for having carried seven little souls, three of which intercede on our behalf. Those three are my rocks when I am low on grace and holiness. Those three accompany the four guardian angels in charge of our little ones here. Those three, Anne Marie, Joseph Joachim and Monica Therese, are my little babies I hold not in my arms, but in my heart and SOUL. They are indeed still part of me and will be forever. I'm sorry for your emptiness. I am, however, rejoicing even more in your gift of this new little one coming in 2014 and growing more and more everyday within you. Congratulations!!!!! You are a great mommy. I'm sorry I missed this "announcement" in real time and learned of it only in your year-end newsletter. God love you sweet momma. This morning, a special prayer through your Albert's intercession.


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