My name is Rachel Whalen. I live in Vermont where I am a writer, a Kindergarten teacher, and a mother. Out of all of my jobs, deciding to become a mother was the easiest decision I ever made. It was becoming a mother that proved to be more difficult than I ever imagined.
In 2015, after two first trimester miscarriages, I became pregnant with my daughter, Dorothy. My pregnancy with her went well until I was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia at 28 weeks. After a week of hospital bedrest and monitoring, Dorothy died after a placental abruption caused by complications from preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. On February 22, 2016 Dorothy Grace Helena Whalen was stillborn. Although she slipped into our world silently, her impact has been profound.
After Dorothy’s death, I turned to writing as a means of healing my broken heart. In July of 2016, I started my blog, An Unexpected Family Outing. My blog became a place for me to share my journey with my friends and family and to continue finding the words to build Dorothy’s legacy. That same month, I found out that I was pregnant with Dorothy’s little sister.
Being pregnant after so many losses was an experience riddled with anxiety and fear. Writing continued to be my outlet as I navigated my pregnancy and a year of milestones without Dorothy. On March 19, 2017 Frances Michele Whalen was born and I learned just how much love a heart can hold.
Since Frances was born, I have committed myself to helping other mothers and their families navigate life after loss. Through my writing I share my story in the hopes that others will share their stories with me. Pregnancy and infant loss are shrouded in shameful silence and I want my words to play a role in breaking that silence.
In addition to my blog, more of my writing can be found at Scary Mommy, Pregnancy After Loss Support, and Still Standing Magazine where I also serve on the editorial team as the magazine’s graphic designer.