"When I found out I was pregnant again, my husband Steve and I were hesitantly optimistic and excited at the same time. Having experienced two early miscarriages and a son with a serious heart defect which required multiple surgeries before the age of 1, we knew the difficulty and heartache pregnancies could bring. We also knew we were thrilled to give Len a sibling and, what we thought, would make our family whole. 

Due to her brother’s heart condition, we were able to have a level 2 ultrasound at 20 weeks to take a closer look at our baby girl's heart. Everything looked great. We began to throw our hesitation out the window and do all the things: paint the nursery, collect all the hair bows, and prepare Len to be a big brother. 

One Sunday morning, at 35 weeks pregnant, I wasn’t feeling baby girl as much as I usually felt her - she was a dancer for sure! I called the doctor, who advised me to come in just to check things out, even though I had a routine prenatal appointment scheduled for the next morning. Steve and I dropped Len off with his grandparents and went to the hospital. When the nurse couldn’t find her heartbeat right away I held onto my optimism; my placenta was up front so she was probably just in a weird position, I thought to myself. But when the doctor came in and searched for the heartbeat herself, we heard the words we had already heard one too many times, “There is no heartbeat. I am so sorry”. 

The tears flowed so hard that day as well as days and days to come. We went home to spend one more night at home as a family. We tried to explain to our two year old, after reading all of the new baby books, that the new baby, in fact, was not coming home with us. 

The next day, April 11th 2022, Otillia Florence Elaine Schaeppi was delivered via C-section. We spent some hours just holding, cuddling, and hugging her as much as we could. Len was able to come meet her as well, which we were so thankful for. He called her “Baby O” and immediately “booped” her little nose. He was so gentle and loving with her, just as we knew he would be. 

Tilly was perfect, with 10 little fingers and 10 little toes. Saying goodbye that day was the hardest part of it all. I know she is spending her time with her family who went before her as well as the crew of baby angels whose parents continue to help me through this journey as well. It is still a journey and a story I am learning to tell and understand myself. I’m sure my story and things I share will change as I’m still exploring it myself. For now, many different feelings come and go, hour by hour, day by day, but my love for my family is overwhelming + constant."