2019 Ambassador Family
We are thrilled to share the story of Sheldon and Danielle Bryant, the 2019 Ambassador Family Award recipients. This incredible couple has not only faced the heartbreaking loss of their son but also dedicated their lives to supporting and advocating for other families who have experienced the same.
I first became pregnant in 2014. I was 29 and had been trying for a few years to get pregnant. We didn’t have any reason not to get pregnant at that point, as we could not find any issues pointing to infertility. As happy as I was to be pregnant, it was short-lived as I miscarried at about 8 weeks gestation. I then had two more early miscarriages in the following two years.
In August 2017, I became pregnant with little excitement, as I knew the pain of loss too well. I had no answers about why I had three previous miscarriages and was unsure how to prevent the next. But, to my surprise, with close monitoring, I made it to the 8-week mark with no issues. I then went on to the 12-week mark, which most women deem as the “safe” week when the risk of miscarriage drops to a minuscule level. After 15 weeks, we publicly announced our pregnancy, unaware of the tragedy coming our way.
We were scheduled to find out the gender at my 20-week appointment, but because of an ill family member, we found out at 19 weeks instead. It’s a boy! All was well, and again there was another announcement.
But one short week later, on the day of my 20-week appointment, I began to spot. Very light. I was concerned, but I knew I had an appointment scheduled, so I decided to wait until my appointment to address it. At my appointment, something serious was apparent as my urine sample was completely red with blood. I had dilated nearly 2 cm.
My doctor came to see me and immediately sent me to the hospital. I was immediately admitted and given a choice to terminate the pregnancy, knowing that my baby would not be able to survive or take the slight chance to do everything we could to stop my contractions and possibly salvage the pregnancy and get a cerclage. I opted for the latter with no certainty that it would be successful.
After 3 hours with no signs of labor stopping, I delivered our son, Landon Wyatt Bryant, at 20 weeks gestation. He was born alive and breathing, and we held him alive for only a few minutes.
This was when we were introduced to Heather and Kennedy’s Angel Gowns. A mutual friend connected us. A few days after returning home, an unexpected knock was on my door. It was Heather, and in her hands was a small gift bag. She said she wasn’t sure about coming over unannounced so soon after our loss and without us meeting beforehand. But God told her to go. It was perfect timing. She handed me the bag; inside was a blue glitter tree ornament with Landon’s name and birth date. It was the only ornament on our tree that year. Since then, my family has decided to do our best to support Kennedy’s Angel Gowns.
After a time of rest, mourning, and gathering ourselves together, Sheldon and I went through some extensive genetic and additional testing to determine the cause of our devastating loss. But I was pregnant again before we could even get the results back from the tests. Ecstatic yet terrified.
I was identified as a high-risk patient and was monitored again ever so closely at 8 weeks. 12 weeks. 15 weeks. 24 weeks pass. Not one problem. The only concern was my chronic hypertension which I dealt with in the previous pregnancy and was managing with medication. Our baby boy was perfect each step of the way.
After our experience, we decided not to announce our pregnancy until after 24 weeks, the week of viability, knowing that if we did have him early, there was at least the hope of a chance of survival. Joy was ignited in our circle of family and friends.
Again I was seen for a routine check-up at 26 weeks, but because of dangerously high blood pressure and signs of pre-eclampsia, I was hospitalized for the weekend. Sunday, I was discharged. Despite being stabilized and feeling good, I asked several times if I could be kept until Tuesday. I was denied. I returned home to my family (my husband had just been discharged the same day from extensive surgery on his intestines).
Early the following day, I woke to excruciating pain in my abdomen. Not contractions, just pain. There was no blood, which I was relieved of. I contacted the emergency physician and was told, “Drink a glass of water and lay on your left side for an hour. If the pain persists, call back.” I thought this strange, especially after my history of miscarriage and preterm birth. But I gave it a try. After drinking several sips of water, I immediately threw it up and everything else in my stomach. And the pain persisted. I immediately went to the hospital.
My son’s heartbeat had dropped to 80 bpm, and my pain worsened. An emergency C-section was ordered. I only know the rest from the physicians’ notes and what others have told me.
I suffered from an occult abruption which is the very worst type of complication to have. The placenta had detached so that I had begun to hemorrhage, but the blood collected in a pocket between my uterine wall and the placenta like a bubble. So there were no outward signs of bleeding. I bled so much internally that after the delivery, my body had lost all ability to clot the blood flowing from my body.
This medical phenomenon is called Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC). A nurse told me that in nursing school, they are told DIC means “Death Is Coming”…I digress. This situation is one of the most common reasons women die during childbirth. I was given 22 blood transfusions and 10 units of other fluids. I also suffered an acute kidney injury, which potentially could have meant dialysis had it not resolved.
Our son, Logan Winston Bryant, was born almost 13 weeks prematurely at 26 weeks and 6 days, weighing 1lb 9oz.
During this time of so much uncertainty, both my son’s life and my own life in balance, our family and friends surrounded us with massive amounts of love and support. Besides my family (who were already present at my admission to the hospital), Heather was the first person to show up by my bedside after my delivery. She checked on us and walked me through some of the most difficult times in my life.
Nobody understood pregnancy after the devastating loss we endured. Nobody understood the anxiety, the fear, the doubt, the disconnect, the racing thoughts, and the inability to see yourself at the end with a live baby in your arms. My framework prepared me for loss. Now, I can move forward with both realities as a part of my existence.
Thank you so much for the care given to families in such devastating times. It is desperately needed and appreciated from the bottom of our hearts. •••