Bringing Up Bates' Josie Bates Reveals She Has Suffered a Miscarriage: 'Heartbroken'
Josie Bates and husband Kelton Balka were set to welcome their second child in March 2021
Josie Bates has suffered a miscarriage.
The Bringing Up Bates star revealed the sad news on Instagram Wednesday, explaining that she and husband Kelton Balka were "over the moon" to be expecting a sibling for their 13-month-old daughter Willow Kristy in March 2021 but found out during "a recent ultrasound" that she had lost the baby.
"Sometimes you have to walk through experiences you never thought you would have to. This has been a very difficult time for our little family," wrote Bates, 21, sharing two photos of herself and Balka on the beach.
"We were filled with anticipation as we began to dream of what it would be like as a family of four and for Willow to have a little playmate," the reality star added. "We surprised our family and friends with the news at Willow's one year old birthday party! Already, my heart felt an unexplainable amount of excitement!"
"Sadly, when I went for a recent ultrasound, we were heartbroken to hear our precious baby had gone to be with Jesus," she continued. "Our hearts have been completely broken. I've never experienced the type of pain and loss that I've had these past weeks. There is an empty spot in our hearts and in our home."
Bates went on to say that she and her husband "know God has a purpose for" their baby's "short life," even though the grieving parents "never got to see our baby face to face or hold its tiny hand."
"In spite of our grieving, we have peace in knowing that our little baby is in heaven with Kelton's sweet mom," she said, referencing her mother-in-law who died when Balka was 13, while giving birth to her fifth child.
The second snapshot in Bates' post showed a close-up of a delicate necklace in the couple's hands, which bears two circular charms: one for their daughter, and one for the child they lost.
"I added a charm to my necklace, next to Willow's, to help us never forget the memories of how this little one made us feel and how much love and joy it brought to our family," Bates said. "We are grateful for the love and prayers from so many during this time."
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Bates and Balka, 25, tied the knot in October 2018 during a romantic outdoor ceremony overlooking the Tennessee mountains. They announced their first child on the way the following February.
"We couldn't be happier to announce that we're having a baby!" the then-mom-to-be told PEOPLE exclusively. "We are a little nervous but totally flooded with joy as we're starting this new journey of love and parenting together!"
Balka and Bates revealed they were having a girl the following month, and a rep confirmed Willow's birth exclusively to PEOPLE in July 2019. "Our hearts are so full after welcoming Willow Kristy early this morning," the couple said at the time. "We are so thankful to God for our little blessing and can't wait to start our journey as a family of three."
Bringing Up Bates' Sept. 24 episode will feature Bates telling Balka about her second pregnancy. While UPtv offered to edit this portion of the episode out, the footage will remain, as the couple want to preserve the memory of learning the happy news and cement their unborn child's place in their family.