1. Describe the process of getting pregnant. Was it easy for you? Was it hard? Did you have to go through fertility treatment?
With our first baby Breagh we became pregnant immediately. We assumed it would be the same for the rest. It was -not-. For Josephine, we tried for over a year then had help from a fertility clinic. We took ovulation induction meds and a trigger shot. That worked the very first time! After we lost Josephine, we tried on our own, got pregnant the second month (it was a chemical), then did two months of the same protocol we did for Josephine, which didn’t work. We then moved on to iuis (many failed, one worked but ended in a chemical), then moved on to IVF. Our first transfer resulted in an early miscarriage, and our second transfer was with this current pregnancy. It took us about two years of trying after losing Josephine to get, and stay pregnant again.
2. What was the pregnancy like? Was it easy and smooth? Hard with a lot of pregnancy symptoms?
Josephine’s pregnancy taught me a lot of empathy. My first pregnancy was pretty easy; with Josephine I was SO sick and anxious for the entire first trimester, and a bit in to the second. I finally began to feel hopeful and better about the pregnancy shortly before finding out that she had died.
3. Did you have a reason why your losses occurred?
Other than having PCOS, we have no clue. We have done karyotype testing, testing with Josephine, additional fertility tests and some tests that I did outside of the clinic, on my own dime. No answers, nada, zip.
4. How far along were you?
I was 19 weeks with Josephine. We aren’t sure when exactly she died, but we saw her alive, as a family at 17 weeks when we found out she was a girl.
5. What are your babies names?
My living baby is Breagh, my baby that died is Josephine. I did not have it in me to name my other, early losses. I think it is amazing when people do, but my heart couldn’t handle it.
6. What was the birthing/loss experience like?
The trauma of birthing a dead baby is something you cannot easily put into words. I laboured beside other moms who were giving birth to living babies. Their babies screamed and cried, while I knew my girl would come silently into the world. However, my birth team was phenomenal. After connecting with other loss moms, I realize my experience is not the norm. They were kind, patient, caring, created a memory box, got her hand and footprints for me, helped me connect with a chaplain in the hospital, connect with a funeral home, all kinds of things. They gave me a book about loss and explained some of the things which I never would have known (a description of what she would look like since she was so early, and they told me my milk would come in. That was traumatic, but I couldn’t imagine not knowing that would happen).
7. Did you get to spend time with your baby or get any keepsakes?
I did! Our hospital gave us as much time as we needed. In hindsight, I wish we had spent longer, but as my therapist said, “I did what I could with the knowledge I had at that time.” We had a little baptism ceremony, held her, and took photos (not enough, there never will be enough).
8. How was the medical treatment/support during your loss?
Amazing. They walked me through everything. While my RE/OB was not the one who delivered Josephine, he still came to check on us in the morning, and had tears in his eyes. I will never forget that.
9. Did you receive support from family and friends after your loss?
I would not have survived without the help of my family and a group of friends constantly checking in on me. None of these people experienced the same thing as me, but stepped up to help with Breagh, to keep me busy, to listen to me, to allow me to grieve.
10. How were your emotions after loss? (Angry, sad, scared, confused, etc)
All of the above. I was definitely in shock for the first little bit, and our brains are amazing at protecting us. I still cannot believe I survived those initial weeks. I went through every emotion daily after those first few days. Actually, probably even hourly! You’d get glimmers of happiness/who you used to be, but the world just seems so dark and wrong after a loss. You wonder how do people keep living after something like this?! And yet, you survive. Somehow, some way, you make it through.
11. How did you know you were ready to try again?
I wasn’t. In hindsight I should have waited longer, but I knew that with PCOS the first three months after a loss/pregnancy we are at our most fertile due to our ovaries being dormant for a while. So, I started to try, not ready at all. However, it took two years to get here again, so who knows!
12. What has the pregnancy with your rainbow baby been like?
More nausea than my first pregnancy, not as much as with Josephine. Currently dealing with GERD and sciatic issues which I’ve never had either. Mentally? Harder than can truly be put into words. Every day I try to remind myself that I am pregnant, and that even though there is a chance the baby could die, there is just as big of a chance that the baby could live. My anxiety has gotten slightly better now that I’ve passed the gestation of my loss, but still, the innocence and blissful ignorance of pregnancy before loss can never be felt again.
13. Is there anything special you do to remember your angel baby/babies?
If I wrote everything, this would be a novel haha! We have a Josephine area in our bedroom with a photo of her, her urn, keepsakes from the funeral home and a few other items. It is on the wall, on my side of the bed. In our backyard we have a Josephine tree and bench beside it. We celebrate her birthday every year, just as we would if she were alive. We have a Josephine beach, we visit butterfly conservatories, all kinds of things. She is very much a part of our family and ongoing in our dialogue.
14. Is there anything you want others to know about going through loss?
While nothing can ever prepare you for loss, seek out others who have walked a similar path. Whether that be in real life or through social media, they will be a lifeline in understanding your feelings and letting you know you are not alone. Therapy, journaling, being open and simply allowing myself to feel every feeling that comes with grief has helped immensely. Nothing will ever take this pain away, but your life will grow around this pain with time.
Photos taken by Ciera Kathleen Photography.
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