When one bee-loving Ohio mom discovered she was pregnant for the fourth time, she thought the perfect way to honor the occasion was by posing with 20,000 of the little honeys. Unsurprisingly, when she posted these unbeelievable maternity photos online, it created quite a buzz. But, later in her pregnancy, the woman went online again to announce some devastating news.
Emily Mueller, 33, and her husband Ryan, 37, are both busy bees. Hailing from Akron in Ohio, they run their own business as well as raising three kids – Cadyn, 10, Madelynn, three, and one-year-old Westyn. The couple’s joint enterprise, Mueller Honey Bee Removal, allows them to combine their passion for the stripy insects and making a good living.
According to the Mueller Honey Bee Removal website, Emily and Ryan are, “saving bees one hive at a time.” They offer a service that humanely removes the insects from properties and then provides a sanctuary for the rescued bees. The Muellers have 24 hives and an amazing 1.2 million or so honeybees. So there is no lack of source product for the couples second venture, a store called the Mueller Honey Bee. This outlet sells honey and natural remedies derived from the sweet stuff. And while spending time around so many stinging insects would be murder for sufferers of melissophobia – the fear of bees – Emily and Ryan just love it.
But it wasn’t just the hives at their workplace that were growing, things were also expanding at home. Emily fell pregnant in early 2017, and the couple decided to mark the event in a very idiosyncratic way. The Muellers felt it would be ideal to incorporate their love of bees with their love of family into a unique set of maternity photos. However, rather than just having the odd insect here and there, Emily decided to pose with a massive swarm of 20,000 honeybees.
According to Emily, the insects held a very important meaning to her and her husband. “Bees represent life and death,” she explained to the local news website Cleveland.com just after the shoot took place in August 2017. She continued, “We’ve had three miscarriages, so these pictures are dedicated to life and death, to all of the children we’ve had.”
After making arrangements with local photographer Kendrah Damis, the Muellers made their preparations. First they removed the queen bee from the hive. This causes the rest of the colony to want to follow her, but first they load up on honey to sustain them for the journey. Feeding so much makes them nice and docile – the ideal state for what the Muellers had in mind. To achieve the effect she was looking for, Emily held the queen bee in a small container. This caused the rest of her hive to swarm on to her baby bump, and Damis did her thing. Unsurprisingly, when the Muellers posted the breathtaking images online, they created quite a buzz.
However, while some praised the extraordinary maternity pictures, they made other people’s skin crawl. Not only at the thought of being swarmed like that, but also the risk to the unborn baby. As a result, Emily was quick to stress that – although she had been stung three times – it had been perfectly okay. The mom insisted that she and her baby had been completely safe for the duration of the photo session.
“A lot of people think I’m insane, but I’m so comfortable with bees, so it was never something I had anxiety about,” she told U.K. tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail in November 2017. “I wore a dress that was long and covered my stomach and legs so the bees would be on the outside of my body as a cautionary measure, but I knew it was safe.”
Given the massive popularity of her maternity shoot, there was also a surge in interest over Emily’s pregnancy in general. Many of the online community were excited for the arrival of the Mueller’s “little beekeeper.” So much so, that when the pregnancy took a heartbreaking turn, Emily decided that she had to announce the fact on social media.
The mom shared her sad news on November 12, 2017. “It is with the most deepening sadness I share that our sweet Emersyn Jacob was born an angel yesterday at 10:18 p.m.,” she revealed on Facebook. And then Emily added some touching detail, writing, “He weighed seven pounds, one ounce and was 20.25 inches long. Please pray for us today and the days to come.”
Emily had delivered her baby stillborn just six days before his delivery due date. The mom first knew something was amiss when she stopped feeling her unborn child moving in the womb around November 9. Then Emily started experiencing contractions. However, the movements felt different to the contractions she had experienced with the births of her previous children.
At first, Emily tried not to worry too much. “I just told myself he was sleeping,” she explained on Facebook. “But as the time passed, I felt uneasy about it.” So, after she and Ryan had tried to monitor the baby’s movement and listen for a heartbeat to no avail during the night, she decided to act. Still worrying that she was being paranoid, Emily put a call in to her midwife’s office.
A male obstetrician there advised Emily that she should get checked out at the Summa Health Maternity Services center in nearby Barberton. As she later wrote on Facebook, “I’m glad he did because I still felt I just needed to give it time but knew in my heart something was wrong.” However, when she attended the maternity center for an ultrasound on November 10, a doctor told the parents some devastating news. He told them that their baby had died. It was a moment that broke Emily and Ryan’s hearts in two.
“I can’t and don’t want to explain that feeling to anyone,” a devastated Emily later updated her followers on Facebook. “Turning to your husband and seeing him die inside. Seeing him completely break. Seeing your children feel and suffer your pain in front of your eyes. The pain is unbearable.”
But sadly, the Mueller’s agony did not end there – what was to follow would be a truly testing time. “Finding out your baby died is unfathomable. Learning you have to be induced and deliver your deceased child is way beyond that,” Emily wrote. “My heart instantly ached for any woman that has told me she had a stillborn.”
When Emily returned to the Barberton hospital the following day, two birth doulas from Sufficient Grace Ministries were there to greet her. The non-profit organization based in Deshler, OH, supports families that have suffered stillbirths, miscarriages and infant death. And its trained staff were on hand to help Emily through what was no doubt one of the hardest experiences of her life.
“After Emersyn was born [Sufficient Grace] did [Emersyn’s] footprints on many keepsake items, gave us a comfort bear, did newborn photography and provided so many amazing memories,” Emily recalled in a Facebook update. “It felt like we had Emersyn for a day; for one day we got to give him all of us and to do important things that mattered.”
In her post, Emily also revealed she and Ryan had decided to send off Emersyn’s placenta for testing. She was concerned that a blood clotting issue had caused her to miscarry. Emily revealed that other members of her family had experienced similar problems in pregnancy. However, there is a chance that the Muellers will never learn what caused the loss of Baby Emersyn.
During the days that followed Emily’s emotional Facebook post, the grieving mom was comforted by an outpouring of love and compassion. Due to the nature of social media, the well wishers included both friends and strangers alike. And it was that support from the online community that helped the Mueller family come to terms with the bitter loss of their little beekeeper.
In a joint update made on November 13, a sorrowful Emily and Ryan were full of gratitude. “You could not deny he was loved by so many people,” they wrote. “And we continue to see this through the outpour of love and support you all are providing. Just knowing people are thinking about us and hurting with us relieves so much of our own pain.”