In November 2021, after 21 months of trying for our second baby, we finally got our positive pregnancy test. We were ecstatic and simply overjoyed. I always imagined having a large family and we were finally making it happen! I often play in my mind when my husband would come home from work in the evening. He would greet me, ‘Hello my beautiful wife, the mother of my two children’ and we would look at each other smiles so big. We could not believe I was finally pregnant. We joyously disagreed about names, explored stroller color options, and discussed future travel plans. As the days went by, our excitement continued to grow. To say we were caught off guard by the events to happen next is an understatement. I started to spot, as the night progressed I knew I was miscarrying.
I was undeniably the most heartbroken as our plans of 4, went back to 3 and we began to navigate life after early pregnancy loss.
After our loss, we decided to do blood work. Those tests showed some not so exciting results – Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I worked with my OB and an Endocrinologist to get my labs in order throughout the month of December. I began waking up at 4am to take my medicine. I needed it to be on an empty stomach and 4 hours prior to any other food/drinks.
The first week of January we got another positive pregnancy test. I immediately called the OB and requested an HCG draw. It was over 25 (the number they wanted to see) and appropriately rising. I couldn’t help but get cautiously excited. We scheduled an ultrasound for 6 weeks – by that point we would be able to see a heartbeat.
I began to take a prenatal while focusing on my health and doing my best to nourish our baby. It was finally time for our ultrasound! The screen showed a 5 week 3 day sac and nothing more. I felt all the symptoms. I was so confused. The dates did not line up. I calculated I was 6 weeks based on ovulation test strips, tracking my cycle, etc. My OB was insistent to go off my LMP making me almost 7.5 weeks. I began to cry. I knew it meant my pregnancy wasn’t progressing. She confirmed, but also scheduled another ultrasound for 3 weeks – ‘just to make sure’. I was heartbroken and so anxious leaving that appointment.
The pregnancy symptoms continued that week. The lines on the daily tests continued to get darker. I was anxious, depressed and unable to function in my day to day activities. I spend days in bed just waiting for the bleeding to begin. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare. Even more, I wanted my baby.
The first week of February I requested another HCG draw – I needed to know what my number was – why haven’t I miscarried yet? The nurse told me it would ‘be a waste of my money’ to check my HCG based on the previous results. I insisted for my own peace of mind. Much to my surprise it was ‘progressing beautifully with numbers indicating 8-9 weeks pregnant’. My OB called and apologized for the uncertainty. She then said ‘we would for sure see a heartbeat’ at the upcoming ultrasound. She was so positive. I felt the vibes and prayed it was my time.
I was so excited. We spent the next two weeks narrowing down our boy/girl name choices, planning our pregnancy announcement and sharing the exciting news with our preschool aged son. We ordered a huge bouquet of rainbow balloons at Party City for our announcement. I used my circuit to create the perfect Big Bro shirt. I was ready to share our news of our sweet rainbow baby with the world after months of sadness and alienating myself.
Our ultrasound day came. I was even more blindsided than the last time. The sac measured 8 weeks 3 days and it was empty. Empty… that’s how I felt. I use that word a lot to describe my infertility journey. Even as I’m writing this I feel empty when thinking about that day. I was not okay. Our family was not okay.
I scheduled a D&C procedure. It was the last thing I wanted to do. Depression kicked in. I lost interest in everything and everyone around me. Through the months of TTC and back to back losses, I wasn’t sure I was meant to be a mom of more than one living child.
This started our IVF path. I researched all the local clinics. I crunched numbers. I researched, called and scheduled consultations. A few of my mutual friends had success with CNY fertility so we decided to give them a chance. To give our family a chance.
In March 2022, we started the endless testing, communication with the clinic and process to having our miracle baby. The process was long. CNY has a lot of travel patients, so there wasn’t always a timely way of getting the appointments we needed. In June 2022, we became pregnant naturally again. I didn’t have much hope at this point. Life had knocked me down so many times I felt like my chance of a ‘normal pregnancy’ was over. Just a few weeks later, our nightmare became another reality. We ran through the motions yet again. Three losses in less than 7 months – We were all exhausted from this, from trying and from failing.
In August I reached back out to CNY and begged them to add me to their calendar at the first sign of a cancellation. Two days later they called and we were scheduled for our egg retrieval come September. A lot of the IVF process was a blur – is this really my life? I am both privileged and so unlucky to be in this position. Will it work? How much is it going to cost us?
Our first transfer was a fail. Our Felicity Grace was so wanted and loved. Felicity means happiness – I had no doubts she was going to be my earth side rainbow baby – my happiness after all this pain. She was our best graded embryo. The doctors described her as perfect – a word that is very triggering to me now. Nothing is perfect. Embryo loss is something that not a lot of people acknowledge. The pain is real. The sadness is real. We had so many hopes and dreams for our sweet Felicity, but we didn’t give up.
The following cycle we decided to transfer our next best graded embryo. While I didn’t have much hope, I wanted this to be a success. On Christmas Day 2022, we found out our second transfer was a success. We have had some scares – high blood pressure, SCH, spotting in third trimester – but come August our baby girl, Catherine Meredith, should be joining our family. She doesn’t replace the babies we have lost. She is so much more than that. She is the sibling my son always wanted. She is the little girl that my husband and I never imagined we would be lucky enough to have. She is our beautiful rainbow baby who we can not wait to welcome to this world, love and cherish with everything we have to give.
Pregnancy after loss is hard, but I promise you it is so worth it. I feel so privileged to be able to share my story and be apart of the rainbow skirt journey.
Photos taken by Chelsea Richardson Photography.
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