I never expected to be waiting on a rainbow.
When we got married, we knew we wanted to try for children right away. So we did, but after a year with no success we learned that we were facing an uphill battle with infertility. One round of IVF later, we were blessedly pregnant with our son. After a healthy pregnancy, I thought maybe this infertility stuff wasn’t going to be so terrible after all- treatment had gone exactly the way we had hoped it would and now we had a baby boy- our first son, Micah. We had always hoped that we would have a few children, so after a year and a half we thought we would try again. After all, it had been so easy the first time, what could go wrong?
So, we did another transfer, and held our breaths. Just 4 days after our transfer, I took a test. There were two beautiful pink lines. I was ecstatic. Our infertility story was really shaping up to be a beautiful one, I thought. For 2 weeks things were blissful. One baby at home and one on the way, life felt impossibly good. At 6 weeks and 6 days pregnant, I felt a gush and walked to the bathroom to see blood in my underwear. I had an ultrasound scheduled for the next day to see if our baby had a heartbeat, but my own heart sank in that moment. This couldn’t be good. I spent the rest of the day in bed, crying and praying that things would be okay. The bleeding wasn’t terribly heavy and ended after about 2 hours. I barely slept all night, and in the morning we learned that our baby had a heartbeat, but I had an SCH, a sub-chorionic hematoma, which is an internal bleed that occurs between the placenta and the uterine lining. They can resolve themselves, or they can end in a loss. I prayed for resolution and went on my way, the bleeding had stopped and I was told the baby looked perfect. We graduated from the clinic to my OB that day and I expected that we’d be meeting our little one in about 7 months.
When we went to our first appointment at my OB’s office, they pulled out the ultrasound machine. My husband and I were happily chatting about our plans to learn the gender, our expected due date, and all of the other happy things people talk about when they don’t have fear of the worst case scenario. My doctor was very focused on the ultrasound machine, and in the moment I didn’t notice that because I was just so happy. I asked if the SCH had resolved, and she said that it definitely had, but she asked me again how far along I was. That’s when I noticed her face, and that something wasn’t right. I was 9 weeks and 4 days pregnant, and our baby was measuring 9 weeks and 5 days pregnant. But then she said the words that haunt me, “I’m sorry, but there is no heartbeat”. I asked how that could be, if he was the right size, how could our baby be dead? She explained he had likely died in the last 24 hours, and we made a plan that involved a D&C. I wanted to sure that there was no retained tissue and we could do testing this way to hopefully find out what went wrong. We learned that our second baby was a boy, and he was genetically perfect. We named our baby Oliver, and took a few months to process losing him. Moving forward to try again seemed scary when our loss was unexplained.
We wound up taking 6 months off before trying our next transfer and chasing a rainbow baby. Our next transfer was another success, and I spent the next 9 months convinced that something was going to go wrong. And honestly, many things did. First, we had another SCH. Then, the gestational sac was measuring small. Then I had Hyperemesis Graviderum. But every scan we had ultimately showed that our baby was healthy and growing. At the end of our pregnancy, our little boy was breech so we scheduled a C-section for the morning of June 1st. But, on May 31st my water broke while I was home alone with our older son. I waddled to the bathroom, and that’s when I realized it wasn’t water. It was all blood. I knew this meant that I likely had a placental abruption and I had to move fast but time was painfully slow. I was terrified we were going to lose our rainbow, but we didn’t. I drove myself and our 2 year old to the hospital going about 70mph on side streets while trying not to pass out from the immense blood loss. We met my husband there, and I went up to Labor and Delivery where they immediately prepped me for an emergency c-section. All said, from the time my water broke to when our son was born was less than 2 hours and that included getting a 2 year old ready to leave the house and a 30 minute drive to the hospital. Our rainbow, Judah Marvin Spatz, was born with a bang…but he was born alive and to me nothing else in the world mattered.
The trauma of losing our second son, Oliver, was immense and had a huge impact on my experience of pregnancy with our third son Judah. Then that compounded with Judah’s birth becoming a traumatic life-or-death situation that I am still processing and still have a difficult time reflecting on four months later. Nonetheless, it is amazing to have a rainbow baby and I know how incredibly blessed we are that we both came home from the hospital. I am so grateful for all three of my sons, and the things they have taught me along the way. I think, in a way, Oliver saved both my life and Judah’s lives, because I learned what a placental abruption was by joining the loss community. I wouldn’t have known the gravity of the situation without having lost our second son. I still think of Oliver every day, babies don’t replace babies after all, I just find little ways to love him despite the fact that he is waiting for us in heaven.
Photos taken by Brittany Spatz. Newborn and family pictures taken by Brittany Stanly Photography
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