“I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.” One of the most devastating lines a mother can hear, that one can almost define their life as Before and After. Unfortunately, also one that is far too common, as more than one quarter of pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth.
My husband and I have always required the assistance of reproductive medicine to have our babies. Our first daughter was the result of endless tests, medication, and IUI. The road to our second pregnancy was even longer, requiring even more tests, even more medication, injections, and four failed IUIs. Naïvely I assumed that the heartbreak was over once we passed our first trimester.
Unfortunately those were not my circumstances. I heard this phrase, alone, while wearing a mask at my anatomy scan. It was April 2020, and new Covid-19 protocols meant that expecting mothers in my area were now required to attend all prenatal appointments alone. An appointment I went to with some trepidation as I hadn’t felt baby move as much, but my OB assured me was normal at 21 weeks. I was still excited to find out the gender and gain some small peek at the precious baby I was carrying. Instead, I was told my baby was only measuring at 18 weeks, meaning she had passed about two weeks before. Instead, I was given my options for delivery, far too soon, which would also be done alone. My husband learned of our loss via phone call, while we both discussed the options moving forward. We didn’t learn she was a girl until almost two months later, when the genetic testing and autopsy came back. We named her Hope.
The next week was both a blur and forever ingrained. We shared our grief with our friends and family, until finally I posted the sad news of our loss on social media.
My body still had my not realized that my baby had passed, and given the long period between my baby’s passing, we opted for a D&E. I went to my pre-op appointment alone, where my doctor and her intern prepared my body to release the “retained tissues of pregnancy”. It’s grim, but I felt like a walking tomb during that week. I went home to let the medications and procedures work to prepare me for surgery the following day.
I checked into the hospital the next day, still alone, save for the staff of the hospital. My husband was only allowed as far as the curb. While the protocols were in place to reduce exposure risk for both patients and staff alike, I don’t think I’ll ever quite get over the feeling of incredible isolation of those weeks. I dressed and prepared for surgery, and waited for each member of my care team to come by for consultation and preparation. I remember being wheeled into the operating room, and thankfully don’t remember anything else until afterwards.
We never got to see our little girl except on scans, but given the state of the tissues from the reports, I only have some regrets about that. I’m glad our memories were of her alive, rather than after her death.
Only 2.5% of pregnancies end after the first trimester, which made my husband and I very unprepared and left reeling with a very small community to turn to for support. I’m so thankful for social media, as I was able to find a small number of women who had also experienced a #secondtrimesterloss. It made me feel less alone, especially at a time when I was not allowed the support of my partner at any medical appointments. As such, I knew I had to post our story out there, to share the love and hopefully give back to the community. This is when I discovered the Project Finding Your Rainbow; a sisterhood of a traveling rainbow skirt, women connected by loss, hope, and a desire to share our stories.
Fast forward almost to one year later, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share the skirt and share the story of our rainbow after the storm. To share our story of Hope and hope. Navigating a pregnancy after loss, especially during a pandemic where I am still attending all prenatal appointments alone, has not been easy. I am scheduled for a repeat c-section the day after the anniversary of my D&E with my sweet rainbow, and I do not overlook the coincidence.
Photos taken by Images By Lori.
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