WARNING: Article Below Contains Graphic Content
Kailey and Ben Clymer were ecstatic when they learned in 2017 that Kailey was pregnant with their first child. But their joy turned to mourning when the baby boy, Cayden, was stillborn on July 7, 2017 — at just 25 weeks.
The death proved to be the start of an emotional journey for the couple.
“It was scary. The entire time I was delivering [Cayden], I was praying that I would hear him cry,” Kailey tells PEOPLE of the birth. “I wanted to hear a noise, that maybe the doctors were wrong. But it was complete silence. That was the worst part. [Doctors] asked if we wanted to see him and hold him, and we did. It was very special.”
One day earlier, Kailey and Ben went in for a routine ultrasound, and medical staff were unable to find the baby’s heartbeat.
“I started hysterical crying. My husband was in shock and devastated and I was a mess,” she says. “I was told I would have to deliver him. I wasn’t prepared. It was all very surreal and scary.”
In the months that followed, Kailey and Ben worked to cope with their son’s death, keeping to themselves at their Pennsylvania home. They experienced joy again about five months later, in late November 2017, when they learned Kailey was pregnant.
“When I took the pregnancy test, I started crying. It was a mixture of happy tears, but I was also nervous,” Kailey tells PEOPLE. “After Cayden, pregnancy for me is forever changed. It’s happy and beautiful, but I’m scarred with being scared and nervous because I know the pain of what a failed pregnancy can be.”
After learning of the pregnancy, Kailey and Ben went to see a doctor, where the couple was hit with more difficult news. Kailey was diagnosed with a bicornuate uterus — also known as a “heart-shaped” uterus. She first shared her story with Love What Matters.
“I started looking online [and] I learned there are risks involved,” Kailey says. “Instead of being shaped like a pear, my uterus looks like a heart. I have a divider, an indent, and it is said to minimize space for a growing baby.”
Women with a bicornuate uterus develop the abnormality before they are born, James Nicopoullos, with the Lister Fertility Clinic in London, told Cosmopolitan. The condition has been known to cause miscarriages and prohibit the growth of the fetus.
“I had fears, but I was never expecting miscarriage. It just seemed so cruel. But at five weeks, when I got an ultrasound because of my history, they couldn’t find an embryo,” Kailey says of the moments she learned she had miscarried her second child in January 2018. “I was scared … I had all these different roller coasters.”
Although bicornuate uteri are not usually associated with stillbirth, Kailey says she often wonders if the condition played a part in Cayden’s sudden death. And she says she sometimes fears she’ll never be able to have children of her own.
“I don’t think anyone who goes through pregnancy loss is ever really healed,” she says.
“My husband and I have spoken about and came to terms with the very real possibility we may not be able to have biological children. And although it will be a blow to the heart, we will be okay. There are other ways, other children, out there waiting for the love we are ready to give.”