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Life after loss

Posted on February 13, 2020 in Patient Stories

Danielle Rouse and her baby EllieIn this season of love, Danielle Rouse’s heart is full of joy. The birth of Ellie Nicole Rouse at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center last year was an especially happy time.

“Just seeing her and seeing that she was okay was such a blessing,” Rouse says.

Today she shares the joy and the struggle of having a baby after a heartbreaking pregnancy loss.

In 2018, Rouse had been looking forward to bringing her baby son Levi into the world. Because of medical complications, her pregnancy ended at 29 weeks, and so did the life of her baby.

A few months later, Rouse was overjoyed when she found out she was pregnant again.

Still, grief made occasional unwelcome visits. Fortunately, Rouse wasn’t blindsided because her doctor had let her know there would be some difficult days.

“I caution mothers and families to be aware of important dates on the calendar,” says Gary Stephens, DO, perinatologist at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center. “For example, the day the deceased baby would have been born can trigger a new wave of grief.”

After Ellie was born, Rouse couldn’t help having some mixed emotions.

“I loved that she was there with us,” Rouse says. “She was safe. She was healthy. But then again, it made me miss Levi.”

Dr. Stephens explains that a woman who has experienced pregnancy loss can grieve a baby she only held for a short time – or never even had a chance to hold at all.  

“Women need to know that it’s okay to grieve the loss of an unborn child at any stage,” Dr. Stephens says.

Rouse remained under the care of Fort Sanders Perinatal Center throughout her pregnancy with Ellie. There she found skilled care, encouragement and compassion.

“They opened their hearts up to us and they opened their arms up to us.” Rouse says. “I could never repay or thank anybody enough.”

Today the Rouse family is full of hugs and giggles, laughter and love. Levi will never be forgotten, but the sorrow of his loss becomes easier to bear with every passing day.

“You can’t keep hanging onto it,” Rouse says. “That hurt’s always going to be there, but you learn how to cope with it and turn something bad into something good. God’s strength can bring you through it and open your eyes to something better.”