Mom Shares What It Was Like to Miscarry Her Baby Girl While Photographing Friend Giving Birth

Black-and-white photo shows Tammy Wright's baby being born
Alex Michele Photography

TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains information about miscarriage, which may be triggering to some.

Photographer Alexandra Dovel of Jacksonville, Florida, shared a black-and-white image of her friend, Tammy Wright, on May 22 on Facebook. It showed Wright hunched over in a hospital bed, just moments after giving birth, and was accompanied by a lengthy, poetic caption about what it was like to witness the miracle of life firsthand and capture it on film. Dovel noted how in "awe" she was of her friend but also was struck by one central thought: How soon we forget about the mamas after a little one comes into the world. Our focus shifts to their well-being above all else, and we forget to ask, How is Mom? The simple, yet poignant post resonated so deeply with others that it's gone viral, shared more than 18K times. But perhaps even more moving -- and thought-provoking -- is the other story that behind the photo.

  • It was a story Dovel shared just days later, on May 30. One that began just hours before her friend gave birth.

    Dovel was in line at Publix, waiting to fill a prescription -- a prescription that, in her words, "would help continue to remove the life within me." 

    At 11 weeks pregnant, Dovel and her fiancé, Nicholas Zimmer, learned that their baby girl had stopped growing at six weeks gestation. It was news that hit them like a ton of bricks, despite the pregnancy being unplanned. 

    Dovel, who shares a 21-month-old daughter named Clementine with Zimmer and a 7-year-old son named Henry from a previous relationship, called it "a spontaneous surprise" that the couple "couldn’t have been happier" about. 

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  • "Adding a third (and final) baby to our family was what our hearts really wanted," she tells CafeMom. 

    After all, Dovel had lost her father to cancer in December 2017, just three months after Clementine was born, and this past January she lost her mother, who died of a heart attack in her sleep. 

    So, "this baby felt like griefs’ reprieve, the ultimate gift of new life, that we desperately wanted," she says. "Starting the year with a death and ending the year with a life seemed like such a genuine gift from God!"

    But in the end, it wasn't meant to be.

  • Looking back now, she says there were signs things weren't quite right.

    The pregnancy was normal until one day, it wasn't. She was hit with extreme fatigue and what she could only describe as "abnormal morning sickness." As the weeks progressed, Dovel says she felt "very odd and detached physically" from the pregnancy but wasn't sure why. 

    "Now I know," she says. "My body knew and responded so honestly, and man, this was such an ode and celebration to a woman’s intuition. We found out that we had miscarried our baby when we took our children to a spontaneous ultrasound."

  • Standing in Publix that day, she questioned whether or not she should photograph her friend's birth, as she'd promised.

    Considering what she was going through, it would certainly be understandable. But after about 30 seconds, she pushed the thought away and headed to the hospital anyway.

    Why?

    "Simply put, it was the right thing to do and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity," Dovel shares. "I am a strong woman. (I know that more than ever now) and I am a good and loyal friend. I felt supremely confident about doing this and I wanted to be there for her, for her family. Our actions have consequences, and I knew this one would be worth it."

  • And so, she showed up for her friend when she needed her most.

    "I tend to think that life is one big fellow partnership," she tells CafeMom. "You have to help your fellow human out whenever you can, and with that I was able to somewhat compartmentalize the event." 

    Watching her friend give birth on May 20 -- just as she was experiencing her own loss -- was "an unbelievable and beautiful experience all on its’ own" she says. 

    "It didn't take anything away from anything I was going through, but helped and magnified how present I felt and how close to God I became," Dovel continues. "Watching life before me helped heal my own grief, fears, and anxieties about what was going on in my life and what was to be -- when you watch a miracle happen before you your entire perspective changes -- and when you surrender, you surrender and accept it all."

  • That doesn't mean it was easy, though.

    In her May 30 post, Dovel recalled both the emotional and physical journey she took inside that delivery room, writing:

    "I remember being in the room feeling blood dripping from my body, the signs of my own child’s life going and knowing that in just a few short hours I would no longer be pregnant. I watched my friends’ body bleed simultaneously in agony and pain, signs of life, the movement down the birth canal, as she waited to bring her baby into the world. A life leaving and a life beginning all in the same room at the same moment and I was transfixed. I wasn’t as sad as much as I was painfully magnetized by the heaviness of God’s love in that space."

  • In the end, there was nothing but joy in that delivery room, as baby Christian entered the world and curled up into the arms of his mama.

    When it comes to her decision to be in the room that day, Dovel says she'd take nothing back. The emotional heart-pull, the physical pain, and the burst of light that finally came at its end ... it was all part of this miracle called life.

    "I believe with every fiber of my being that every event happens exactly as it should," she tells CafeMom.