My journey to motherhood wasn’t what I expected. Like most others, in sex education class I was taught how to prevent pregnancy as though it was the easiest accident to happen. Never did I realize how difficult it could be for families to bring home healthy babies.
My first pregnancy happened the first month we started trying, shortly after we got married, in 2016. I was so excited and instantly scared. I googled everything I should be doing: what to eat, what vitamins to take, and how to take care of myself. A few weeks pregnant, I noticed some bleeding and my ob office scheduled me for an ultrasound. I should have been 5-6 weeks but there was no heartbeat. In fact, there was no baby. They gave me the news but told me it was also possible I wasn’t far enough along. Then I got instructions for what to do if I began to miscarry on my own. I left devastated and with a follow up ultrasound the following week. This continued until I was 8 weeks and we could confirm that the baby had not grown; I had experienced a blighted ovum. I opted for a D&C because I couldn’t stand the idea of waiting even longer for this process to happen, knowing it could take several more weeks. The date is forever etched in my mind, the day I lost our first baby: February 23, 2017.
My rainbow, Brynn, was born in March 2018. It was a pregnancy filled with nerves, but she was born perfect and healthy.
As Brynn grew older, we wanted to give her a sibling. I had hoped to have my children 2 years apart, so we started trying. I got pregnant fairly quickly and the pregnancy progressed as easily as it could while also chasing a toddler and working full time. I was ecstatic to have two girls so close in age. My mind daydreamed of two sisters growing up together.
When I was 37 weeks pregnant, I had a regular appointment for follow up and the midwife realized my baby, Nora, was probably breech. She ordered an ultrasound but since it was a Friday afternoon, they couldn’t get me in until Monday. I spent the weekend agonizing over how to flip a breech baby and researching c-section recovery in case she wouldn’t flip. Monday came and I went for my ultrasound: she wasn’t breech! I was so relieved, but the sonographer was so quiet. I remember her jiggling my belly with the wand and my husband saying “she’s being stubborn!” That was when I knew something was wrong, and I squeezed his hand. Etched in my mind forever are her face and her words: “Amanda,” a long pause, “I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.” It was the first time in my life I truly believed I was in a nightmare. I didn’t yell or cry at first, I just lay there willing myself to wake up. After a few minutes it finally hit me and I became hysterical, but somehow convinced maybe it was a mistake.
My husband and I left in a hurry to get to the hospital where I was certain there was a chance she was alive and the machine was faulty. I was feral in the car and feel terrible for my husband to this day- I was hysterical, yelling and sobbing as we called our babysitter to tell her we wouldn’t be home as we planned and were going to the hospital instead. Yet, the moment we got to the birthing unit, I knew. I immediately collapsed into devastated sobs knowing that there was no mistake and my baby had died. They induced me that night and Nora was born silently the following morning, on New Year’s Eve. She was perfect and beautiful, but her cord had wrapped around her so tightly she had lost her source of oxygen and life. I never felt so betrayed in my life: the thing that kept her alive had killed her, all under my watch. I was horrified and devastated. We spent the maximum amount of time we could in the hospital with her, trying to make a lifetime of memories in just a few days.
After losing Nora, I sunk into grief but was very fortunate to have a community who gathered around us for help, emotionally and financially. We buried Nora in the most beautiful place we could think of and it became a place I visited frequently.
The longing for a baby and a sibling for Brynn did not dissipate, which I’ve now found is very common following the loss of a baby. Although I beat myself up for wanting to “move forward” so quickly after losing her, we began trying again as soon as my medical team said it was safe.
On May 4, 2020, I took a pregnancy test and was shocked to see a positive. I panicked about all the options for another loss but tried to remain optimistic. I kept taking tests each day and noticed they weren’t getting any darker. I called my doctor for blood work and it was low, but confirmed I was pregnant. I went back two days later to see the level had dropped: my fears come true, a chemical pregnancy (or early miscarriage). That very day, I started spotting and miscarried at home. I felt so helpless and hopeless: my fourth pregnancy and again, a loss. It seemed so unfair that this kept happening to me. The doctors reassured me it was another random occurrence and there was no reason to believe I wouldn’t have a healthy pregnancy in the future, so we decided to keep trying.
Nora’s half birthday was June 30, 2020. I didn’t think I would get pregnant again so easily but I decided to take a test anyway. It was positive. I was in shock but couldn’t help but think the timing was some sort of good sign, like Nora was sending her approval.
The first months of the pregnancy were excruciatingly slow and worrisome. Every twitch, every appointment, everything was so triggering. At 12 weeks, the midwife couldn’t find the heartbeat and I had a full blown panic attack and went to the ER for an ultrasound. I saw a perfectly healthy and very active baby with a heartbeat. We did genetic screening and he passed everything with flying colors: a perfectly healthy baby boy, who we named Nolan. At 18 weeks, I started feeling him move. This reduced my anxiety significantly because I could now get him to reassure me whenever I wanted. Unlike my daughters, he moved very intentionally and frequently, so I never have to wait long for reassurance if I’m wondering if he’s okay.
When I saw this skirt, I was desperate to include it in my maternity photos. In my photos with Brynn, I had used rainbow smoke bombs in the background and I wondered how I could make these photos special too. I was ecstatic that the skirt was available for my photos and I love the way they came out. The next couple weeks of waiting for my rainbow to be here with us are going to be difficult, but I’m trying to have faith and hope that he has the best guardian angel there is.
Photos Taken By Chanelle Sanches Photography.
Read more about Project Finding Your Rainbow.
For those who don’t know my story, I’ll make it brief: I had a miscarriage, then my rainbow baby girl, Brynn. When Brynn was almost 2, my daughter, Nora, was stillborn at 38 weeks pregnant. I got pregnant again shortly afterwards and had a chemical pregnancy on Mother’s Day. I got pregnant again and had my rainbow boy, Nolan, just over a year after Nora was born.
The last time I used the skirt I was pregnant with Nolan, hoping that I would get to meet him alive when I had already lost 3 of his siblings. Pregnancy after loss is such a mix of emotions: hope, joy, sadness, fear, worry, grief. This time, I used the skirt to celebrate his first birthday. I feel so fortunate that I’ve had two rainbow babies and have these pictures of them together with the skirt. Even Nora was able to get in on one of the pictures. Neither of my children felt like smiling for the pictures, but I still cherish these photos that I wasn’t ever sure I would get to take.
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