The Faces of Pregnancy and Infant Loss – We Are 1 in 4 (Part One)

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.

We are women who have lost a baby.

We are that 1 in 4.

We are brave.

We have survived the unimaginable.

We will never forget.

We will raise awareness.

We will stand with other loss parents.

We will experience joy again.

We will say their name.

We will be their voice.

Here are four local mothers who have experienced infant loss. I am one of them. I, along with these three other mothers, have found ways to honor our children who we no longer can hold in our arms, while raising, and carrying our other children. We have experienced the unimaginable and in the past few years have also been able to experience the joy of having another child or children following our son’s deaths. These are our stories…

Photo Credit: Simply Kacie Photography

Caleb Alex & Lindsey

My name is Lindsey Ghost and I’m from Connellsville, Pennsylvania. My story began when I found out I was going to be a mother for the first time in the spring of 2008 at the age of 24.  While I wasn’t completely ready to be a mother, once I found out about him I couldn’t wait to go on this journey. My family was very supportive of me, even when the father and I broke up. I was preparing for my new arrival and finally feeling ready when my baby was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 at 32 weeks. This genetic abnormality is fatal in the majority of cases. In hearing that my baby would not survive outside of the womb, my entire world shattered. It didn’t seem fair to me that my son would be taken from me just as I was adjusting to life as a single mother.  

During the final 10 weeks of my pregnancy, I was faced with decisions that no mother should have to make.  Do I choose comfort care and allow my son to leave the world as perfectly as he entered? Do I choose to fight for his life while knowing he probably wouldn’t make it to his first birthday? How will I handle this unfathomable loss? Will I survive this?

My precious, perfect son Caleb Alex was born still on December 12, 2008, at 1:51 pm weighing in at 5 lbs, 3 oz. I spent 12 hours with him. My family took pictures, we baptized him, and we tried to wait to mourn him until the next day.  

His birthday was a celebration considering T18 babies do not make it as far as Caleb did.

Caleb Alex

Every year following Caleb’s passing, I remember him by doing something to celebrate him. If I’m able, I visit him at the cemetery. I always put a post about him on Facebook, and I change my profile picture to one of myself kissing him on his swollen face. I talk to him regularly. At first, it was hard to talk about him openly with people because many don’t know how to participate in a conversation about such a taboo topic. I have gotten better. I believe that talking about Caleb is keeping him alive in my heart. It is so important for people to know he existed, even if he never took a breath.  

My mother also experienced pregnancy loss; her son Alex died shortly after birth in 1986.  She was my biggest support system during my journey with Caleb and a subsequent chemical pregnancy.  The rest of my family has always been willing to talk about my son and they are the first to send me messages of love with every passing birthday.  I have friends that make sure to talk about Caleb often with me and I realize the impact that one tiny soul had on so many people.

I waited almost 10 years for my storm to end. When I met my husband, Kevin, in 2015, I told him about Caleb almost immediately.  His response wasn’t typical of the people I’ve told in the past. I usually get looks of pity, sadness, or awkward silences. Kevin did nothing like that, but instead was sweet and responded in a way that made me feel comfortable talking about him.  When the conversation about children after marriage came up, I told him that I wanted to try as soon as possible for my rainbow baby. He agreed and we began trying the month after our wedding.

We discovered we were pregnant five days after Caleb’s 9th Heavenly birthday. I was in disbelief and a little cautious, but so deliriously happy that I was going to be a mom.  My husband was incredible during my entire pregnancy. He never missed a doctor’s appointment, he bought a new house and cleaned it constantly, cooked almost every dinner, and emptied the litter box to take care of us. He’s an unsung hero in this whole story, and he deserves a little praise here too!

Keaton Michael Ghost made his appearance on August 23, 2018. Every second since the moment he was placed on my chest has been an absolute gift. When I look at him, I see my first baby in him. I thank Caleb every day for picking the brightest rainbow just for me.

Photo Credit: Simply Kacie Photography

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month always holds a special place in my heart. October is always hard for me because that was the month I heard my sweet Caleb was sick. It was the month my life changed. I never thought at 24, I would be giving my child back and telling my entire family to prepare for the worst.  Most importantly, it is the month that I reflect on the 10 months that my body took to produce an angel. This year, Kevin and I will be returning to where we got married one year ago and showing Keaton where it all started. I will eventually take him to where Caleb and his Uncle Alex are buried.  I will tell him about his amazing older brother who went to Heaven and hand-picked him for us. Caleb will always be a part of Keaton’s life because he was such a huge part of me and shaped me into the mother I am today.

Griffin Thomas & Mindy

My husband and I both grew up in Monroeville.  We went to Gateway High school where we were high school sweethearts. We were married at Heinz Chapel on Pitt’s campus during my final year of pharmacy school in 2008. We lived in Edgewood together for 2 years prior to finding out that Craig’s unit (he was a captain in the National Guard) was going to be deployed in August 2012.  We ended up getting pregnant with our first daughter right before he left and she was born May 14th, 2013.  Thankfully, the Army sent Craig home from Afghanistan for 10 days so that he could be present for her birth.  She is now our beautiful, healthy 5-year-old daughter Quinn Charlotte.  Just over two years later we were blessed to welcome our second daughter Rilyn Grace.  She was born June 5th, 2015 and came quite quickly.  My labor went so fast with her that I ended up delivering her in our living room!  But despite her dramatic entry, she is now a healthy, thriving 3-year-old girl.  As our family grew, we found that we were needing more space and so in March of 2016 we moved our family to Murrysville.  A few short months later we found out we were pregnant with our third child.  At our 20 week ultrasound, we were thrilled to find out that we would be having our first son!  Griffin Thomas was born April 17th, 2017 and was 7 pounds 1 oz born at 39 weeks and 1 day by an induction (to avoid another unplanned home birth)!  For the next 8 months life was crazy, but wonderful as we adjusted to being a family of five. 

Our son Griffin Thomas passed away this past Christmas Day, December 25, 2017, when he didn’t wake up from his afternoon nap.  He was 8 months and 8 days old.  It was completely unexpected we are still pursuing answers regarding why our precious son was taken from us so suddenly.  The initial autopsy results were that he died from undetermined, natural causes.  With the exception of an ear infection that was getting better, Griffin had been a healthy, happy baby boy prior to December 25th.

Griffin had a big personality from the beginning.  He had big emotions too!  He was either really happy or really unhappy and he would let you know. Out of all three of my children, Griffin was definitely the neediest in terms of my attention.  I can remember thinking, “I just need to be able to put you down for a couple minutes,” in order to get something done or attend to his sisters.  Now, looking back I am so grateful for all of that extra one on one time I had with him.  I held him more than either of my daughters and nothing can ever take those moments away from me. Griffin’s presence in our family made each of us better people, in his short sweet life he somehow made us all love each other better, more fully, more unconditional.  We all needed to offer a little more of ourselves but the result was beautiful.  Our family’s hope is that this will continue to be Griffin’s legacy and the way we honor his life.  To love not only each other better but to show love to everyone we interact with.  In his eight beautiful months of life, Griffin has impacted us in ways we are still learning.  In this way, we will carry him with us forever and we believe that because of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ we will one day see our sweet boy again.


Craig and I always wanted a big family.  Craig was not so sure, but by the time Griffin was about six months old, he was already saying that I think we should try for one more.  After we lost Griffin, our lives were forever changed and we found ourselves living in a nightmare every day that never ended.  However, even in the pain and the grief we both knew we would one day want to grow our family again.  We lost our son on Christmas and so I knew that I could not imagine having a rainbow baby prior to Griffin’s one year anniversary.  April was the first month that if we got pregnant the baby would be due in January.  And so starting in April, we decided we would just let nature take its course and trust that God knew the timing of when and if we were supposed to have another baby.  Amazingly we found ourselves pregnant about a month later.  Again, we felt so blessed to be carrying another baby. This time though, grief and pain were interwoven with hope and joy in a way that I never knew was possible.  Such opposite emotions felt simultaneouly.  I began to learn that this is what my life was going to look like.  There would never be a day without the pain of losing my precious son.  However, God is still good and I would feel joy and hope again.  It would just be a more complex joy as it sits next to my sorrow as they are both so real to me.  Our rainbow baby is due this January, just two weeks after the anniversary of Griffin’s death.  They have already brought us so much hope- hope that we will have joy again.  However, while we do have hope this rainbow has also made us experience the pain of losing Griffin in a deeper way.  Each day as I carry this baby and they grow I am reminded of my pregnancy with Griffin.  While this pregnancy has been uncomplicated which is reassuring, so was Griffin’s and so it is hard not to worry, not to fear that something awful will happen again.  That is when I am reminded of one important truth—I am not in control.  No matter how much I want to be—I am not.  I believe that God is and that gives me some peace.  It doesn’t make me like what happened.  In fact, I hate it.  I don’t understand nor do I pretend to understand why our loss was part of God’s plan for our life.  However, whether I like it or not- I am not God and so I don’t have to understand.  I am beginning to learn that part of what it means to have faith is that you choose to trust God even when you can’t see beyond the tears streaming down your face. 

Photo Credit: Simply Kacie Photography

This is our first year since losing Griffin and so I think we are still figuring out what this month will mean to us.  It is somehow comforting to know that we are not alone in this pain.  Many times these last nine months we have felt alone.  I guess one of my hopes for the future is that as a move through this pain and grief I will be able to reach out to another that is hurting in the future and offer love, support, and hope. 

Photo Credit: Simply Kacie Photography

We hope that you will remember, after reading the stories of these four mothers, that Pregnancy and Infant Loss is not a taboo subject. It should not be something that parents have to hide, not talk about, and not be comfortable with speaking their child’s name. Just because they are not here, does not mean they do not exist. We carry them with us every single day. They are a part of us, just as our other children are. We wonder who they would be today. We know that they all had a purpose and that their lives have changed and impacted so many, even though their time on Earth was far too short. Please don’t be afraid to ask us about our family, about our loss, about our journey. There is something to learn from each of our families stories.

A special thanks to Kacie at Simply Kacie Photography for your creativity and taking these photos for our mothers. Also, to Nicole Hough, Heather Gockel, and Christine Giovanetti – thank you for providing hair and make-up for each of these mothers and making them, and their children, feel special. 

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Katie Stern
Katie is a wife and mom of 3 boys, Lucas, Zeke and Toby. She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, with a degree in Marketing & Communications. Katie has worked in the construction industry for the past 12 years, building and restructuring brands and marketing departments, for companies in the Baltimore and Washington DC market, before returning to Pittsburgh and starting a family. Their second son, Toby, was born May 27, 2016 and died suddenly in August from SIDS, at 12 weeks and 5 days old. Katie and her husband, Dan, made a promise to Toby that they would work to do good in his name and never let the story of his life be forgotten. Through this loss, they have founded The Little Fox | Toby’s Foundation with the hopes of bringing joy, laughter, and lots of smiles to families within the Pittsburgh community, while working to spread awareness about child-loss and the lives of grieving parents. This is not the path they would have chosen for their lives, but it is the journey they are now on and will strive to be the best parents they can be, to one child on earth and one in Heaven. Katie is currently the Director of Marketing for A. Martini & Co., and General Contracting and Construction Management Firm. She has been heavily involved with juvenile diabetes research, because she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 2. Currently, Katie sits on the Executive Leadership Council for the American Diabetes Association, Pittsburgh Chapter and is part of the planning committee for Step Out: Pittsburgh each year. Their family moved to Monroeville, one week after Toby was born, and have enjoyed getting to know that area of Pittsburgh and what it has to offer. While in the throes of motherhood, Katie is also active throughout the week with exercise routines, Paw Patrol and PJ Masks episodes, blogging at Our Happy Place & Co., a lifestyle blog she started in 2013, and working with her husband on the mission of The Little Fox.