After trying for three years to get pregnant, I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and “Unknown Infertility”. In December 2017 we had just finished our second Inter-uterine Insemination (IUI) and unfortunately it did not take. We were given the option to move on to Invitro Fertilization (IVF). In August 2018 we did our first egg retrieval resulting in 4 embryos. In September 2018 our first embryo transfer and it came back as positive! We had a smooth 23 weeks of pregnancy and we did not want to find out the gender of our first baby after all the planning of IVF.
At 23 weeks and 5 days I went into preterm labor and our daughter Adeline was born weighing just 1lb 9oz. After two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), we were given the facts of her survival rate and grim quality of life due to an extensive brain bleed she had received during delivery. After much prayer and tears, we chose to withdraw support and hand her over to God. She passed peacefully on my chest, when the doctor softly said she had no heartbeat, we felt a part of ourselves leave our body, a part of our souls had left with her. After a little while the chaplain came in and I handed our daughter to him, I didn’t want to just place her on the table and have her look so lonely. We left with a bear and box of raw memories, and bags of my milk so I could donate it along with the milk I pumped to wean myself off. Six months later we were cleared to do another embryo transfer, this one along with the two following ended in early losses before 8 weeks. 4 short pregnancies in the span of two years.
At this point we were out of embryos and had to look at our options, do another IVF cycle or adoption. We ended up starting the process of adoption paperwork when Covid hit in early 2020. Due to the pandemic I lost my job, but was blessed to receive the unemployment income along with donations from friends and family, we were able to fund another round of IVF. This time our results came back with 6 genetically normal embryos, 4 boys and 2 girls. I so badly wanted to choose a female embryo to have my “do over”. But in the end we let the doctor pick which one to put in, we didn’t want to choose and weren’t sure if we would find out the gender at all until birth, we just wanted a healthy baby! The transfer of the first of these embryos was mid October 2020.
On Halloween 2020 we got blood results back with a positive pregnancy test. We had been through this before, so we weren’t getting our hopes up just yet. A couple weeks later we saw the baby’s heartbeat, and a few weeks after that we heard it for the first time. Every time I had to go in for an appointment, my heart would race, would there still be a heartbeat? Every week I was terrified we would lose another one, until I started to feel the baby move. This let me breathe a little easier as it was physical proof without having to be at the doctor that baby was still there. At 20 weeks we did our gender reveal, we were having a boy! It was surreal that this baby was indeed very real and now had a name, James. The names James means “one who follows”, he is our rainbow following the storm of loss. In the book of James there are lessons of moving through trials, putting our faith in God and submitting our fears to God. In James 1:17 it states “Every good and perfect gift is from above…”. We finally had our gift, and I knew this baby had much to teach us!
Fast forward to the second trimester into the third, James was moving like crazy, and we made it to 28 weeks. We took a deep breathe, that if I went into preterm labor again and it couldn’t be stopped, we had made it to viability. Every week after that we breathed easier and easier as my belly grew. But even his regular movements couldn’t ease my constant underlying anxiety. We all know as loss moms who have had our own experiences and heard our fellow loss moms stories that there is never a “safe zone”. The few hours where he was most likely sleeping, my anxiety crept up like a vine, was he still ok? Would we actually have a baby to take home in the next 4-6 weeks? My first personal experience of giving birth was so traumatic, what would this one be like?
As loss moms we still have so much to work through, the outside world thinks our trauma is over, that we can move on. But we will always be waiting for the other shoe to drop, our bars have been set low for good news. Any sign of normalcy gives us cause to celebrate! But that’s all we can do, celebrate the small and big milestones, and try to enjoy a pregnancy that is not as naïve as before our loss. Try to put fear aside and decorate that nursery, buy the carseat, take maternity pictures. I never got far enough to take maternity pictures with my daughter, so I was eager to do so with our son. Thank you to Sarah for allowing me to use this rainbow skirt to celebrate this amazing milestone with our rainbow. We can’t wait to meet him face to face!
Photos taken by Vee Taylor Photo.
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