Today, Meredith Coe, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, is sharing her home with us. Not only is her home incredibly charming and stylish, but Meredith really opens up about a second-trimester miscarriage she suffered during her first pregnancy. I am sure there are readers out there who have gone through something similar, or who have a friend or loved one who has. I hope that Meredith’s story might lend some light and perspective.
One of things I love the most about Living With Kids is getting to hear stories from all sorts of families. And I especially love when someone is brave enough to really be vulnerable and share tough things they’ve been through. Welcome, Meredith!
Hello! My name is Meredith and I live in King of Prussia, PA (Philly Suburbs) with my husband, Luke, and our one year old son, Nathan. My husband and I met about 7 years ago when we were both working at the same company. He would find reasons to come over and talk to the people who sat around me — throwing out his best jokes and stories, hoping that I was listening! This tactic clearly worked. We dated for a little over 3 years before getting married in 2015.
Our son, Nathan, was born in July of 2017. He’s a total wild child! Unless he’s sleeping, you can bet that he’s sprinting around our house and trying to find new surfaces to climb and jump off of. He loves making people laugh and waving to strangers in Target — he can put a smile on almost anyone’s face.
We bought our first home in May of 2017. Our town is called King of Prussia and it’s most famous for having the biggest mall in America (yes, bigger than the Mall of America). We ultimately decided to buy in King of Prussia for a few different reasons. We loved the convenience of its location — we’re close to major highways, grocery stores, both of our places of employment, etc.. It also has extremely low property taxes and a great school district.
Most of the homes in our neighborhood sell for between $300,000 and $400,000, which was right within our price range. I love our neighborhood. We’re on a quiet street, tucked back from the busier roads, and there are sidewalks so we can safely take Nathan on walks. I actually grew up in a town about 10 minutes away, so my parents live close by — which has been awesome.
We decided we wanted this home after walking through it on our lunch break. It was a relatively easy process — we put in an offer, they countered, and we accepted. We were renting before this and had a two week overlap between the time we closed on the house and when we had to be out. This gave us enough time to paint every room before moving in.
I was 8 months pregnant at the time and couldn’t do much, so thankfully my in-laws and one of our good friends came out to help get it all done in a week! After moving in, we discovered some problems that the previous owners had left us. We assumed that since they had lived there for the past 20 or so years that they had maintained and taken care of it.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case. It’s taken a lot of time and money, but I think we’re getting to a place where we feel like we have some control over our home again and it’s becoming a place we really love. We are so lucky to have amazing friends and family who are more than willing to help in any way they can — from watching Nathan while we do work, to showing us how to replace a light fixture. We 100% would not have been able to make as much progress as we have without them.
When designing the rooms in our home, I spend a lot of time looking through the inspiration photos that I save on Instagram and Pinterest. I try and pick out the similarities in the designs I like the most. Do they all have a lot of neutrals? Do they have similar lighting fixtures? What style of furniture do they have?
For example, I’m participating in the One Room Challenge right now and I’m designing our master bedroom. I saved a ton of pictures from my favorite designer, Amber Lewis. I picked out the elements of her designs that I love (neutrals colors, organic textures, and modern lines) and am trying to recreate the feeling in our space.
Once I have a general idea of the look I’m going for, I create a mood board in Excel. Sometimes I’ll spend the time saving photos of actual furniture and accessories that I can get (this helps me plan for how much it will cost overall). Other times I’ll google a picture of the style I’m looking for (like “vintage mid-century modern dresser”), and copy and paste that random piece of furniture into my mood board. I save these mood boards on my phone and pull them up when I’m out shopping.
This process has really helped me stay on budget and has kept me from buying stuff that really isn’t right for our space. If you don’t have a plan, it’s so easy to walk into a store like Home Goods and get carried away — then you get home with a bunch of stuff that really doesn’t work or maybe isn’t actually your style (been there!).
My mom superpower is being able to calm Nathan down when he’s in full tantrum mode. I’m usually able to figure out what it is that he needs to settle down; whether it’s a silly song I make up on the fly or some Cheerios and Sesame Street. He’s been teething for a while now, so this “superpower” has been coming in handy a lot. Loving him and wanting to do my best for him has come the most natural to me. I’m far from being the perfect mom, but I love my child with everything I have and more — and I think that makes me perfect for him.
Our first pregnancy ended in miscarriage in July of 2016. I was 17 weeks and 5 days along when I went into preterm labor. I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix — which means that the weight of my baby was too much pressure for my cervix to hold. I first went to the hospital on a Saturday and was kept for observation until Monday (which also happened to be my birthday). They discharged me home on orders of strict bedrest for the remainder of my pregnancy.
However, that night I began having terrible contractions. We ended up going back to the hospital the next morning. As soon as I got out of the car at the ER, my water broke. After that, there was nothing else they could do. I was admitted to a room in Labor and Delivery — being wheeled past all the posters of the smiling babies was awful.
I can’t even begin to describe how I was feeling being in that delivery room; waiting to give birth to our daughter and knowing she wouldn’t survive. I would not have been able to get through it without my husband by my side. The nurses were also amazing; the way they handled our situation with such compassion is something I will never forget.
Madelyn Hope was born on July 27, 2016 at 3:22 in the morning. She was 8.5 inches long, weighed 5 ounces, and was absolutely perfect. I am so thankful that they were able to give us some cards with her tiny footprints on the back. We keep them in a memory box that the hospital gave to us. It also has her hospital bracelet, the announcement card that I posted on Facebook, and some other mementos that remind us of her.
Leaving the hospital without our baby was so difficult. I had already announced my pregnancy to everyone — we had even waited until we were beyond the “safe zone” of 12 weeks. After returning to our apartment, we had to begin contacting all of our friends to tell them what happened. It was like reliving the nightmare over and over. Thankfully, my parents and sister took care of letting my family members know.
We were flooded with cards and flowers. It was nice to have people acknowledge the loss of our baby. I remember feeling so strongly that I didn’t want people to forget that she existed. Talking about what happened helped me so much. I still had the “What to Expect” app on my phone, and I was looking through the different forums they have. I found a “Grief & Loss” group, where women who suffered losses could post their thoughts and feelings. I ended up relating to so many of these posts and it was comforting to know I wasn’t alone.
I know that this loss is something that I will struggle with for the rest of my life. The weeks leading up to her due date (12/30) are especially tough. Losing a child isn’t something that you can get over and having another baby does not replace the one you lost. Everyone else around you moves on, but the pain is always with you. You just get better at handling it.
For a long time, I cried every single day. Now I only cry every once in a while, but I still think about her every day. We plan on telling Nathan all about his sister in heaven, she is a huge part of our lives and not something I want to hide away. It makes me sad to know that so many women have to go through this alone. My loss happened during the second trimester, when only 2-3% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. However, first trimester miscarriages happen to 1 in 4 women. That statistic blows my mind — you most likely know someone who has suffered this tragedy and you have no idea.
I hope that bringing more awareness to miscarriage will help others to know they aren’t alone and that there are so many resources out there to help. I hope that by openly talking about it, people will realize just how common it is and that we need to let go of those feelings of guilt and shame.
My number one piece of advice to anyone who might be going through this would be to get your feelings out. Talk to someone who will just listen, cry when you need to, write it down — do anything but try to bury the pain. Continuing to address what happened will help you work through what you’re feeling. And please know that everything you’re feeling is valid — don’t let anyone try to minimize your loss.
It takes time, but you will get to a point when you feel stronger because of this. Whenever I feel myself getting upset or discouraged about something at work or when another problem pops up in our home, I remind myself that I’ve already been through the hardest thing in the world. I can handle whatever else the world throws at me.
Suffering a miscarriage has definitely had an impact on the way I parent. When we were in the thick of Nathan’s newborn phase — waking up multiple times a night, having to hold him all night, or even during the day to get him to nap — I was beyond exhausted!! But then I would look down at him and remember the pain of losing his sister, and how after that happened I would have given ANYTHING in the world to be up all night with my baby. You’re not going to enjoy every second of parenthood — I could definitely do without the tantrums — but having that perspective, knowing that in an instant your whole entire world could shatter, it helps me see the bigger picture.
I hope Nathan looks back on his childhood here and remembers having dance parties in the living room and making up silly song lyrics! I hope he remembers us being goofy with him, laughing all the time, and how much we love him. I hope that as he grows, he knows he can come to us with any problem and that we will do our best to help him through it. I hope he forgets the times that I’ve lost my patience and yelled, and the time that I put all his blocks and Legos in the basement because I was tired of picking them up every day (I’ll put them back when he’s older).
My favorite thing about having a kid in our home has been the noise and energy he brings. Sometimes we will drop him off at my parents for a date night, and when we’re home without him you can just feel that something is missing. The energy of our home is all off when he isn’t there. Watching him grow and learn has been amazing, and each new stage is more fun than the last. I do miss his tiny baby toes though, and when he was small enough to curl up on my chest for a nap!
I wish I had listened to people when they told me to accept help when Nathan was first born. I thought that asking for help was the same as admitting that I couldn’t handle being a mother. But the truth is that those first couple months home are really, really hard. Nothing can prepare you for the sleep deprivation.
I waited until I was at my breaking point before letting my mother-in-law come help. She stayed with us for a few days and took over the night shifts so I could catch up on sleep. After just 1 night of uninterrupted sleep, I felt like a brand new woman! I was able to clean and run errands, and truly enjoy the time with my newborn.
Everyone is so focused on the new baby in the beginning, but you cannot forget to take care of yourself too.
Thank you so much, Meredith! This home is so charming and cozy and livable. You can really feel the love that the family has. And I loved her great advice about creating a mood board and taking that shopping to you so you don’t buy ALL the things at Target.
What I really appreciated was her willingness to share about her loss and how that impacted her. I think most parents’ greatest fear is losing a child. I really appreciate Meredith’s vulnerability and fearlessness in helping us understand what she went through. I’m so glad she was willing to open up and I hope there are people reading who are helped by hearing her story.
Living Room Wall Sconce
Lamp on Sofa Table
Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.