My husband Zac and I decided in August 2020 that we were ready to start expanding our family. We didn’t know how long it would take, but miraculously, the next month, we became pregnant! We understood how fortunate we were that we were able to get pregnant so fast.
With my first pregnancy, I was very nauseous and tired in the first trimester, and once the second trimester started, I just had some ligament pain and discharge. Otherwise, I felt like knowing that I was having normal pregnancy symptoms was reassuring that I was doing well.
I was 18 weeks and 6 days on 12/29/2020 when we lost our son, Austin Lee Mathes. My water completely broke one week before. This was extremely scary, knowing how early I was. I was having back pain and thought it was just everything starting to stretch, but never would’ve thought that it would cause my water to break.
6 days later, we suffered cord prolapse, which ultimately led to Austin dying. We painstakingly decided to go through with the D&E procedure, so that meant that we were not able to hold him. We wanted to avoid any further complications. We did not know he was a boy until the week after we lost him because we were able to send to pathology to check his gender and see if there were any other abnormalities.
My diagnosis after we lost him was cervical insufficiency, which makes sense after I think back on the symptoms I had like the cord prolapse and painless dilation. The back pain and excess discharge were big signs that I was concerned about, but I did not want to worry so much. In the end, I think back and wish I could’ve been my own advocate and really fought for myself.
With our second loss, it was a chemical pregnancy, so I was 4 weeks and 6 days on 07/12/2021. I just had the back pain again, but I was able to pass the embryo naturally with no other medical management. We did not name this baby.
Both experiences were extremely different. With Austin’s loss, that fear of not knowing what was going to happen was absolutely awful. We just knew that we gave him the best possible chance we could and that what eventually happened was not anything that we did.
With baby #2, I went to the hospital knowing that I was miscarrying again, but this time, I wanted to be certain and not second guess myself. Having that confirmation with the blood test and seeing that HCG level at 12 was crushing. Knowing I just took a test the week before with a clear Pregnant on it, and now for it to be taken away so suddenly for the second time was terrible. We are fortunate that everything happened naturally and that no other intervention was needed.
We eventually made our own keepsakes with Austin’s name, like a shadow box with a certificate of life we got from the hospital and ultrasound pictures. We did feel extremely supported by all the medical staff. Since we knew that when my water broke it was really just a waiting game, they still gave us multiple options on what we wanted to do going forward, but never ever pushed us to one option.
They were completely understanding and empathetic throughout the entire process and we are grateful for all that they did. They even allowed both my husband and my sister, who dropped everything and came from Florida, to be with me during such a trying time. They also allowed us to do one last ultrasound right before the procedure even though we knew he was gone at that point. But having those moments meant the world to us.
The bereavement counselor, who was appropriately named Angel, was the sweetest person. She again gave us all of our options as far as if we wanted him cremated, sent to pathology, etc. but was always there to support us in whatever decision we made.
When we had our follow-up with Austin’s loss, the MFM doctors were again so gracious and helped us get an answer to why we lost him. The amount of support we have gotten from family and friends has been insurmountable. My husband has been my rock and going through this experience has only made our marriage stronger. My sister was with us for a week, and then my parents came up a few days later, and then my mother-in-law came the week after, so the amount of time I got to spend with them was the best thing I could’ve asked for.
When we announced our loss at the end of the year, the overwhelming amount of responses and stories I heard of loss was so much to comprehend. I’ve had people who I haven’t talked to in forever tell me that we’re strong and that we are doing something so important by being open about our loss experience. I do also have some amazing friends who have been a lifeline throughout this journey. I’ve even met two women online that have become my best friends in just a few months!
My emotions were all over the place. It was frustration, sadness, anger, self-loathing. Now, as I started therapy and learn to manage these feelings, I’ve learned that it is okay to feel all of these feelings, but it’s also learning how to take these feelings and sit in them for a bit, but then be able to move forward and learn what these experiences have taught me over the past year.
Knowing when to try again has been confusing in a way. Since we are always going to be considered high risk, knowing we were not going to be in town the next few months, we did not want to chance trying any earlier and then if something was to happen again and we’re not home, then it could be a danger to my health. At the same time, I know emotionally, we also need to be ready to try and know that yes, this could happen again, but maybe it won’t.
I’m learning to not fear the unknown. This is a very scary thought to process, but the anxiety of what pregnancy will be like in the future will be there, but I know that I’ve learned how to manage this anxiety and am trying to maintain positive thoughts and manifest that into the world.
What we do to remember our precious babies is go to a local church that has a beautiful area designated for those who have experienced any form of child loss. The hospital we went to takes the ashes of babies that have passed and spreads their ashes at this church. That is what we decided to do with Austin’s ashes and now on their due dates and the days we lost them, that is where we go to remember them.
If I can give any message to those who have experienced loss, just know that you are not alone! When you’re in the throes of loss, your whole world comes crashing down and you feel alone, isolated, like you’re the only one this is happening to, but you’re not!
When I created my Instagram in September, I never would’ve thought I would meet one of my long distance best friends on there who went through the same experience I did and the number of women who are still trying to bring their rainbow babies home or who have to go through fertility treatments is astounding. There’s a whole tribe of people here who go through the unimaginable, but are able to pick themselves up from the rubble.
We are proof that we are able to stand and hold our heads high and move forward, but never forget our precious babies. I am hoping that once we start trying in April that we will have our double rainbow baby and I hope for those that are still trying that you get yours too! You all deserve it!
When we submitted our story in January 2022, we said we would be trying for our double rainbow baby in April. Well, as fate would have it, I got pregnant with our double rainbow baby in February!
On February 24th, two days before we left to go out of town, I took a pregnancy test because I had this gut feeling that I was pregnant and I was right! The two pink lines were the darkest I had ever seen them! We thought maybe it would be twins because Zac has them on his side of the family, but it wasn’t. We had one healthy baby!
With my diagnosis of cervical insufficiency and then history of early loss, I was able to get a 6 week scan to make sure baby was in place. Of course I was filled with anxiety because I had been having some pain on my left side and I was so hoping it was not ectopic. Everything was great and baby was measuring right on time!
I was with the high risk clinic at the hospital I was at when we had our two losses for this pregnancy! I got my cerclage put in at 14 weeks. In my first trimester of my pregnancy, I got a promotion at work, so I was standing up quite often, but they worked with me to make sure I had plenty of sit down breaks, but I was super fortunate to not have to be on bed rest! I also got to be a part of a study with the Makena progesterone injections, which meant I did not have to spend money out of pocket, so along with the cerclage, I got the shots from 16-36 weeks. All of this was pretty uneventful.
Once 36 weeks hit, out came the cerclage and I stopped the progesterone. Now it was just a waiting game. So throughout the pregnancy, we never found out the gender, but we had been told since the anatomy scan that this baby was going to be big. We kept an eye on everything, even though I never had gestational diabetes or preeclampsia or anything like that.
At 36+6, I definitely started to feel contractions. I was super uncomfortable, so I asked my mom to take me to the hospital. So I was in triage and I was at 3 cm. They wanted me to stay for 2 more hours there to see if I progressed. Sure enough, I got to 5 cm. But now…all of a sudden, the contractions stopped! So my sister, who traveled from Florida because we all thought the baby would arrive, ending up staying a whole 2 weeks!!!
That’s right! Our baby was not ready to come out! 36 weeks and on, it was just so many things after another! Baby had excess fluid, so I got tested for gestational diabetes again. Luckily, I still tested negative. But still, this baby was measuring big. Now we were like “okay, we are going to have to get induced” and the possibility of a C-section was greatly increasing.
So I ended up making it to my induction date at 39 weeks and then it still got pushed up a day ahead, so at 39+1, I finally got induced! We all still can’t believe that I was 5 cm dilated and 75% effaced for 2 more weeks!!! I was so uncomfortable towards the end!
They ended up having to break my water, which was so relieving and it helped me progress to 9.5. 4 hours later, I started to push! But it was another very long four hours. Even with epidural, baby did not want to come out. Luckily, they handled everything great, but it was getting frustrating. Ultimately, the doctor on call did not want to risk any complications like shoulder dystocia because she said that their head was just too big to fit through, so into the operating room we go!
My C-section was overall a great experience from the hospital staff! I didn’t like the way I physically felt after some nausea and vomiting, but I felt so safe with my team! My husband was able to be right by my side and told me when they delivered our baby that he was a very healthy baby boy! So healthy in fact that he measured 10 pounds and 4 ounces!!!!
Everyone was astounded at just how big he was! Overall, our gorgeous and perfectly healthy son, Kenneth Van-Lee Mathes was born on 10/28/2022 at 1:23 am!
Even though he battled RSV at two weeks old and had two more colds since then, he has proven that he is a fighter and that he was meant to be here with us at this moment in our lives! We are so eternally grateful for every single day with him! As he’s about to turn 6 months old in April, I think about what we went through to have him here. Through the heartache and troubles, it led us to him and we still can’t believe he’s ours!
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