*This story does contain talk of abuse.*
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
All I ever wanted was to be a mom and wife.
As a little girl, I played for hours with my dolls and Barbies roll playing and pretending. It was no secret that my soul longed to be a caregiver to my own family one day.
Growing up into my teenage and young adult years, I was often called the mom of the group. Caring, providing, and protecting those around me is my nature.
When I was 18, I married a man I thought truly loved and respected me. However, our marriage didn’t last. It wasn’t built on love and family but on other things that were not sustainable. During my short-lived marriage, I became pregnant with my first daughter and gave birth to her in 2010. She changed my life and saved me from many self-destructive things, like eating disorders, bad sleep habits, and depression. Being her mom meant I had to care for myself to protect and provide her with a life of peace and happiness. Shortly after she was born, her dad and I got divorced. It wasn’t ever meant to be. That marriage wasn’t ever where I was supposed to end up.
A few years passed, and I was dating another man, who was great at the beginning of everything. One argument changed my entire life. I experienced a side of this person I never saw coming. The abuse, the manipulation, the violence. Every day I spent with him was painful. There were moments he’d hit me for not picking up socks or he’d hold a knife to my throat for dinner not being done when he walked through the door. I had never felt so guilty and trapped. I wanted to leave, but he always had a way of apologizing. He’d buy me something expensive and promise to change. He even bought me a van at some point. Things never changed and I was stuck.
During the 3 years of my abusive relationship with him, I experienced mental, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. I fell pregnant with my youngest living daughter. I welcomed her into a scary world in 2013 after a complicated and abusive situation surrounding her conception and birth.
Her dad refused to claim her as his. He “couldn’t have” children (an excuse he still uses today to manipulate women), so there was no way she was his. I sat on my couch holding her, just a few days old, and remember feeling so disconnected, flooded by hormones, pain, and depression, I wanted to take her to a fire station and leave her. I never thought I could give her the life she deserved. Thankfully, with some support from others, some medication, and some time I grew to love this child more than anything. I knew I couldn’t have another baby with her dad, though. I couldn’t do this twice. I secretly got an IUD put in place and started working on a plan to leave. It took my abuser no time to realize what I had done. He held me done and ripped the implant from my body.
Eventually, I fell pregnant again and was completely unaware. My body didn’t change. I was having regular periods, I didn’t gain weight, and all of my “symptoms” were just ordinary day-to-day things I experienced because of my environment. It was normal to be sick, tired, and sore.
I remember the day I learned about the sweet baby I was carrying and didn’t know it was unfortunately the same day her life tragically ended. On that day I experienced hours of abuse and several blows to my abdomen, among other things just hours before I learned of her. I was bleeding badly enough that he thought he had nearly killed me, and allowed me to seek medical help. I went to the hospital and found out I was miscarrying a “15 week gestation fetus” I delivered this sweet, perfect baby girl on my own, signed her over to the hospital, and walked out like nothing ever happened. I didn’t speak about her for the longest time. I told him what happened, and he called me a combination of names including a liar and told me if I ever said those things to him again to try and manipulate him, he’d kill me, and I believed him.
So she was MY baby, and I kept her to myself. I named her Evangelina Grace.
Eventually, I made the choice that I could not stay, I could not live, and I could not let my daughters be in a home where there was no love, life, or joy. I couldn’t raise my daughters in an environment where they thought it was okay to be treated this way. I made my plan and carefully, secretly, and swiftly executed it. In one day, I picked up keys to my apartment, signed my lease, filed an EPO, packed what I could and left what I couldn’t, and fled for a better life, for me, for my girls, for us.
I didn’t date for a long while, I didn’t know what I wanted, and I barely knew who I was anymore. I wanted to be a mom and a wife, but I couldn’t seem to do both. Or either, at least not well enough to please my inner child. I felt so much guilt and shame. There was so much healing that needed to take place. My children and I had to grow and recover together as a family.
In 2016 I met my now husband, we dated for 5 years before we got married, but we knew we wanted to build our family.
My husband loves my girls with his entire heart and wants to have a child of “his own” to father. I wanted to continue my family and journey into motherhood.
Before our wedding, I met with my midwife, had my checkup, and was given the all-clear to start our family journey. 6 plus, Months after our wedding, with no baby, we met again with my midwife and started to figure out what might be happening with my body. We didn’t do anything significant because we knew that even though it felt like an eternity, 6 months wasn’t long.
A few months later, we started hormones to help my cycles lengthen out and hopefully allow things to develop. The thought was that before pregnancy could develop, my body was already gearing up for the next cycle. In February of 2022, I got my first FAINT positive. Over the next day or so, the test darkened just slightly. Still, by the time my doctor’s office could get me in for blood work, the line on the at-home test was starting to fade, and one of the heaviest periods I have ever had came right behind it.
My midwife said it sounded like I was experiencing a chemical pregnancy. We could only wait for our next cycle and the next round of hormones. The very next cycle, in March of 2022, I found out I was pregnant again. Fear and doubt that the pregnancy would develop quickly took hold of me. I was able have blood work done a little faster, and it came back positive! A healthy, sticky baby.
My labs doubled every 48 hours like clockwork, and on April 21, 2022, we had our first ultrasound. The baby was tiny, but we were extremely early, only 6 weeks, so our midwife had us return for another scan in a week. On April 28, 2022, we got the first bit of bad news, the baby hadn’t developed like they should have for being a week further along, and we were told it looked like the start of a miscarriage. She ordered labs and told us to come back in 4 days.
My husband was supposed to be leaving town for one of his best friend’s bachelor party, he had already booked his flight, and it was too late to cancel. We were stuck between a rock and a hard place. Should he go and enjoy himself for the weekend or stay home just in case we lost the baby before our next scan. We were full of questions, and they had no answers. My blood work showed a rise in HGC, and I was hopeful, yet, it wasn’t enough. I remember going in the next day for another draw and bawling my eyes out because just as I was getting my blood drawn, I got an email that the crib we ordered for this baby was to be delivered the next day.
I was angry, scared, nervous, lost, and confused, and my husband and I felt so alone and helpless. He stayed home, and we prayed and spent as much time together as possible, trying to stay busy. Keep our minds occupied.
During our follow-up ultrasound on May 2, 2022, we discovered our baby had no heartbeat. Their little heart, too frail, had finally stopped, and they were gone.
My heart shattered, and I couldn’t help but scream into my husband’s chest after our midwife walked out of the room. We were devastated. Our midwife told us our options, and I chose to undergo a D&C. So we had to meet with an OB in the office. I remember sitting in his office, and the first words he spoke to me were, “I’m so sorry you are experiencing this, and I want you to know that absolutely none of this is your fault.”
The guilt ate away at me regardless. We signed our consent forms and went to the hospital the following morning for surgery. We had just told the world about our baby, and now we had to tell the world they were gone. Our daughter’s and our hearts broke.
We chose to send the baby off for pathology. I needed to know why my body failed my baby. I needed answers, and I thought they would make me feel better, but they didn’t. I felt guilty and ashamed even after discovering the baby had trisomy 16. As a mother, it was my job to keep this baby safe. Our OB made a special request for gender, knowing how important it was to us, and we found our baby was a boy. We named him Jesse Chase.
In the weeks following the loss of Jesse, I had weekly blood draws to track my HCG levels to ensure they were falling as they should. I felt like my miscarriage would never actually be over. I struggled to cope. I felt like I was drowning in my own grief. My peers around me struggled to offer me support and would often say things like, “Well, you can try again.” “God needed them more.” “At least it was early” I eventually found that my pain turned to anger. I couldn’t be around well-meaning people and didn’t know what to say. I started seeing a therapist, as well as a psychiatrist, for medication. The psychiatrist looked at me and told me about his upcoming fraternity leave and how he and his wife were excited about their new baby. I, a grieving mother who just lost hers. He left a few weeks later to hold his new baby and I mourned the loss of mine on my therapist blue couch.
The guilt, pain, and sorrow completely consumed me and in June of 2022 and I nearly ended my life. I didn’t want to die, but I couldn’t keep living in a world where I couldn’t hold all of my children. I didn’t know how to function. The weeks passed, and after some adjustments to my medication and some time, I started feeling better.
We finally got the all-clear to start trying again. Everyone in my life had their opinions on that as well. People told me it was too soon, others told me I needed to think about what would happen if I had another loss, and others told me it wasn’t anyone’s choice other than my husband’s and mine.
After some talking, a lot of praying, and a lot of back and forth, we decided that we couldn’t let the fear of another loss prevent us from trying again because then we would never try again. So I restarted my hormones, and we started trying for our rainbow.
August-positive, just kidding, another chemical pregnancy.
So much fear surrounding this baby, those 2 pink lines, and the amount of test I took was ridiculous. I was constantly testing and checking the color of the lines making sure they were getting darker, even though my HCG was more than doubling every 48 hours. Every time I went to the bathroom, I checked for blood. Every cramp, pain, and day of light/ no symptoms sent me into a mental overload of anxiety.
I’m currently due on June 2, 2023, with our sweet rainbow boy. This pregnancy has been far from easy. I’ve had several complications, bleeding in my first trimester and again around 12 weeks. At 20 weeks, they couldn’t get clear images of the baby’s heart, and in my 3rd trimester, I’ve had several different complications from decreased fetal movement, hypertension, and have been in labor and delivery for contractions twice (once at 31 weeks and again and 33 weeks)
Throughout the pregnancy, I have struggled with hyperemesis gravidarum and had to have iv infusions weekly. At one point, I was going 3x a week.
I can not wait to meet this sweet boy and watch him grow.
I will always wonder who his siblings would have been and what life with them would be like. I know they told God to send me this baby.
Learning to be a mom in a world where I can’t hold all my children physically has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
My grief will never go away, it will be part of who I am for the rest of my life, but I’m learning to cope. I’m learning that while it’s tragic to mourn a loss of life when you are simultaneously joyful to be creating one, it is possible for them both to exist simultaneously.
A harmony of sorrow and joy swirling around like a strong wind. Powerful to destroy, but beautiful enough to bring a change of season.
And after every storm, there is a rainbow.
Photos taken by Erin Harper Photography.
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