After the third loss, we were wrecked. Having a baby was supposed to be joyous. Not heartbreaking.
When I look back at that time in my life, I want to cry. I was so heartbroken and yet expected to get on with life as soon as we left the hospital. I had a son that needed his mom and needed his mom to get out of bed and function. Needless to say, after about one week of that I desperately begged my husband for a weekend away from our lives. I needed to go somewhere and grieve. We went up north to my in law’s cabin and did just that. I sat on a bridge and threw 3 flowers into the Platte River and sobbed for my lost babies. I gave myself permission to fall apart that weekend, and fall apart I did.
Hiking at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. I remember sitting and crying at the top of the dune.
And then I was sitting on the couch reading a book to our then 23-month-old son when my husband walked out of the bathroom, looked at me and said: “You’re pregnant again.”
That was it.
There was no celebrating, no hugging or crying like with previous positive tests. It was much more clinical, much more fear-filled, much less exciting. We prayed that the pregnancy test would lead us to our rainbow baby.
Pregnancy after loss is a complete mind-blitz. Now in addition to the physical symptoms of pregnancy, my mind was a battlezone of anxiety and worry. I found myself running to the bathroom every spare chance and analyzing the toilet paper with scrupulous scrutiny. I made an immediate phone call to the reproductive endocrinologist to set up lab work and early ultrasounds.
My husband was 7 years sober at that point and his motto since I’ve known him has been to take everything just one day at a time. One day at a time seemed too much to handle in early days of pregnancy, so we took it hours at a time. We’d celebrate making it another morning without spotting, then another day, then another week. We went for our first ultrasound at 5 weeks, 4 days shaking with nerves and tears. When the ultrasound tech confirmed that this pregnancy was in my uterus, as opposed to another ectopic, we finally allowed ourselves our first smiles and first glimmers of hope.
Okay, one step down. Now we just need the baby to grow. Ten days later we returned for a repeat ultrasound and heard the miraculous sounds of the early heartbeat. Our excitement was soon stifled when the tech announced the doctor would be in to talk to us shortly. The doctor came in and, thankfully, led with the great news that the baby was right on track for growth, but that I had what was called a subchorionic hemorrhage and to not panic if I experienced some bleeding.
I walked out of the office, turned to my husband and said “I don’t care how cool, calm and collected I’m supposed to be. If I see blood, I’m coming back in and not leaving until they see me” and thankfully he’s a smart enough man to agree.
The remaining weeks left in the first trimester were spent evermore vigilantly checking the toilet paper for any blood. We finally graduated to my OB’s office at 10 weeks and received the news that the baby’s growth was perfectly on track, so we announced it to extended family and friends. An added blessing was there was no sign of the SCH at that point, so my body must have known it needed to reabsorb on its own.
I ordered myself a doppler for home to reassure myself until my husband tattled on me to my OB who highly discouraged me from using it (she knows me well enough to know that if I couldn’t find the heartbeat that I was likely to meltdown) and told me if I was ever worried to just call the office and they would squeeze me in for a heartbeat check. Turns out that wasn’t necessary because I started feeling the amazing first flutters of our rainbow baby shortly after 14 weeks.
Taking it week by week soon turned into taking it month by month. Then before we knew it it was time for our 20-week anatomy scan where we found out we were having our second son.
I won’t say the rest of my pregnancy was easy because the dread and panic of loss never truly goes away. I have friends that experienced late losses and those tragedies were always in the back of my mind. I will say that I was surprised that the second trimester was a joyous experience. We knew the baby was growing by my expanding waistline, and I could feel the sweet reassurance of his constant movements. It seemed surreal going into the third trimester knowing that soon we would have our take home baby. We also decided to move during that time, so we kept extra busy with moving and home renovations.
On September 16th, 2015, we were blessed with our beautiful take home baby and a beautiful delivery. My first son was born by emergent c-section after many, many hours of labor, but I had a successful VBAC with this baby after only 7 hours of labor. It was incredibly peace-filled and so the healing experience that we’d been praying it would be since before we conceived him.
It’s hard for me to write blog posts like this and know how to end them because I know that for every one mom that reads this and is given hope, there are more moms that are still waiting for their rainbow baby. I know there are moms who had twice as many losses and I don’t feel right grieving for the few that I had. There are moms who went through labor and still didn’t get their take home baby.
Please know this: if you’re in the midst of loss or struggling with fear during pregnancy after a loss – just take it one day at a time, or one hour at a time, for as long as you need.