My rainbow baby journey began almost six years ago:
It’s November 2015 and my daughter and I are traveling from Texas to California to deliver the good news to my parents. Saríah, my oldest, is sporting a Big Sister t-shirt and on our drive from the airport we stop to buy balloons. We still have a 45 minute drive to my parents’ home and we stop for a potty break. It is here when I notice I have begun to spot. I start getting nervous, my stomach is sick, I feel helpless. My mind starts racing, What’s this? Is this normal? I read somewhere it’s okay to spot… What if I just lost the baby in a gas station bathroom? Do I call my husband? No, I can call my OB in my hometown..
I come back to reality and my daughter and I continue our drive to my parents. Except I am no longer excited, I’m scared. Saríah continues talking to me about the balloons, her excitement for the new baby and delivering the news to Nana and Tata. I engage in the conversation because if I’m positive, nothing bad will happen. I’m just a nervous person who stresses about little things. It’s nothing to worry about, besides, I already have an appointment to see my OB later that afternoon.
Once we arrive at my parents, I tell my daughter we need to wait on the surprise until everyone has arrived. My parents were having a family gathering to greet us. The balloons stay in the car, I’m glad no one has noticed my daughter’s Big Sister t-shirt. My parents are excited to see us, it’s been over a year since we last saw each other. My siblings are there. We engage in small talk and everyone continues prepping food, snacks and drinks to receive guests.
I sneak to the bathroom on multiple occasions to see if my spotting has changed. It’s minimal- I knew it, it’s just stress from all the travel. I’m fine. I called my husband to let him know I have an OB appointment later. He asked if my parents were coming to see the baby. I say no. Just me and tell him it’s because they need to stay with the guests from the gathering. I didn’t tell my parents about the appointment, I just asked them to watch Saríah while I ran an errand.
I drive to the doctor, it’s a quick drive. I get checked in and wait for her to see me. I have not seen her in a while, probably since I moved to Texas. She asked me about my daughter’s pregnancy and other questions. I told her my parents were supposed to come to this appointment because I wanted them to hear the baby’s heartbeat, but I decided not to since I had started spotting. She assures me, spotting is normal especially at 8 weeks. Again, I knew it- I’m a stress ball.
We go into the exam room and she begins to examine. She does an ultrasound and tells me she is having a hard time finding the baby, but it’s early in the pregnancy, it’s normal. She changes tools to get a better look, again she is having trouble. She finally finds the baby! I feel relieved, but then she tells me “There is no heartbeat.” My heart sinks. My stomach hurts. I start to panic. I want to run out of the exam room, but I can’t. I start to cry. I need my mom. I need my daughter. Why isn’t my husband there? I can’t believe it. How could this be? What am I going to tell my husband? My daughter? She was so excited to be a big sister. What about the balloons? The surprise we had for my parents.
The doctor checks me out, tells me she will have me do some more ultrasounds to confirm. So I can be reassured it’s not a mistake. She tells me I will need a D&C and that they can perform it within the next few days. I need to make so many decisions and I am alone. I get back inside my car and I can’t drive. I have to call my husband, he needs to know. My parents need to know. What am I telling them? Surprise, I am pregnant, but I am not. It was too soon to travel, I should have not flown. That’s what killed my baby. The workout, I should have not been working out if I knew we were trying to have a baby. How can this be? Saríah was healthy, her pregnancy was normal.
I call my husband and I tell him the news. I don’t recall his reaction, just asked me to come home soon. He wanted to be there, but couldn’t.
I drive to my parents. I know the drive, I’ve done it hundreds of times. I cried the entire drive there. What will Saríah say? She wanted to be a big sister so bad. She was ready to be a big sister. How am I going to break her heart? I’m her mom, I can’t do that to her. How can this be happening? I was home, in the place I grew up with my family nearby, but somehow it did not feel like home. I needed my husband and my daughter. I wanted to take the feeling of emptiness away.
My baby, what did I do to kill you? I’m sorry if I ever had a bad thought for you, or complained about morning sickness. I really wanted you. You were wanted. Did we rush into this pregnancy? Oh my baby, did I wish this upon you. The baby shoes I had for you. Is this the world telling me I should not have more babies? Was my timing off? I knew I should have waited. That dream that I had of you. Is this what you were trying to tell me? I know you are a baby boy. I saw it in my dream. Baby, I love you. Your sissy loves you. Your daddy loves you.
I am sitting in the car crying. Trying to find the courage to tell my parents the news. I sit there for a while, but I cannot face my parents and all the relatives that are over for the gathering. I don’t want everyone to know that I can’t carry babies. I don’t want them to know my body is broken. I don’t want them to know I just killed my baby. I don’t want them talking about me.
A close friend knocks on the car window and knows something is wrong. She sits in the car with me, she hugs me and the tears start pouring. I tell her my baby doesn’t have a heartbeat. She continues to sit in silence and holds me. I finally have the courage to ask her to call my mom.
I shared the news with my mom. She doesn’t know how to react. She didn’t know about the pregnancy and now this. I felt awful for not sharing about the pregnancy earlier. She tells me we will go back to the doctor the next day.
I don’t recall any more of my conversations with my parents about my miscarriage because they were not supportive. My father was angry. I didn’t tell them sooner, but I was only 8 weeks along. He began questioning my physical activity, my food intake as the reasons why I had lost the baby. “If you hadn’t started working out.” “You drink too much carbonated water, that’s why!” My mother would tell me I already had a healthy daughter. That there would be other times to have a baby. That it was so early on it was okay.
No one seemed to have comforting words. It was all my fault. By what about the plans I had for my baby boy. What about the names? The baby shoes I had bought. What about the photos for the pregnancy announcement?
-”Saríah. Mama, the baby is gone. The baby died.”
-”Mommy, he is with God. There is this one lady who has him in a crib in heaven.”
Out of all the adults in my life at this time, my child, my almost 3.5 years old daughter, is the only one who can comfort me. I was speechless with her response. I cried. She said “It’s okay Mommy. He’s happy.”
We try to return to Texas, book flights and change reservations. We missed our last connecting flight to Dallas. I was tired, my daughter was tired. We had lost the flight. I had a breakdown at the airport counter. I just asked the attendant I needed to be home with my husband and my daughter. I told her I was having a miscarriage and I just needed to be home. After a night stay in Phoenix we were finally at home with my husband and my daughter.
I was ready to continue with the next steps, a D&C. It had been an emotional few days. I needed to be at peace because my daughter needed me to be her mom. I wanted to turn the page. My body was holding on to this baby, the spotting had completely stopped. I called my OB and scheduled an appointment. To my surprise the doctor said it was too early for a heartbeat and that my hormone level was just fine and not declining. Despite the medical records I had brought from the CA OB visit, the doctor said he would continue monitoring the pregnancy. A few days passed and I am still pregnant, no signs of a miscarriage. No bleeding. No pain. What’s going on? I was told there was no heartbeat. Was the doctor in CA wrong? Why do I need to wait more days? I return to the doctor’s office. The doctor says the baby is measuring the right size and the hormone level continues the same. I ask about the heartbeat. Again, he states it’s too early and that I was off on the dates. This continues for 4 weeks. I am now 12 weeks pregnant and I can no longer take it.
It’s been 4 weeks. A month. A whole entire month with a baby that has no heartbeat. Why can’t they just listen to me and help me move on? Am I being punished? Baby, it’s not that I don’t want to carry you inside me, but I need to move on. I love you. I need to be there for your sister and I hate that everything reminds me of the what ifs. I am tired, I am emotionally tired. I have cried at every appointment. The doctor doesn’t listen and I feel helpless. I don’t know what I told the nurse that comes into my room, but she is finally listening. She tells me she will do everything she can to get a D&C scheduled.
December 2, 2015 I am admitted to what is one of the most painful procedures I’ve experienced. That day was hard, both emotionally and physically. The nurses were mean, detached, rude and rough. My husband was not allowed to be with me while we waited for the procedure. Even when I begged to see him they said no. I felt alone. I missed my daughter. All I wanted was to hug her since after this day I would never be able to hug her baby brother. The only thing I have from that day that gives me comfort, is a blanket given to me by a sweet lady who was my tech. I hold on to that blanket because its all I have left of him.
I remember it was a gloomy, gray, cloudy winter day. Whenever I look at the sky and I see gloominess, it takes me back to that day being wheeled in the hallways of Parkland Hospital into the OR. I think of the baby that was discarded as medical waste. I didn’t get to see him or hold him.
The holidays, I don’t remember the holidays. I was sad, I felt guilty, but I needed to move past this. My daughter needed me.
Months later, on what would have been his due date, June 15, 2016, I got a tattoo of a bee and the word “Dallas.” Why Dallas? I didn’t like Dallas for the name for my son. But we didn’t have a name picked out. Dallas had been the place where my son had been conceived and the place where he died. It was now the perfect name. I wanted to honor my baby. I also wanted to experience the pain of delivering my son. The tattoo gave me both. I was now at peace and I knew we had an angel watching over us.
July 2016. We have another trip planned to visit my parents. This time is to spend the summer break, but I had also just found out the day before that we were pregnant again. This time, to be safe, I would tell my parents. This time things would work out.
The night before our flight to CA I began experiencing strong pains. When then pain didn’t go away with painkillers I knew what this meant. I was going to lose this baby too. I had just learned I was pregnant one day ago and I was already losing this baby too. The pain became unbearable and my husband rushed me to the hospital. “This is what a body feels when you have a miscarriage.” The pregnancy is confirmed, but they also state this is an ectopic pregnancy and I need to terminate because I could risk my life. Within a matter of hours I am in the Labor and Delivery unit. I consent to the procedure. I am administered strong medications and I am sent home. Unlike the previous miscarriage, this time my body would experience bleeding and pain. During the next few days, my body does just that.
In a matter of 3 days I learned I was pregnant and then I wasn’t. I didn’t get attached to the baby. I didn’t make plans. This baby didn’t have a name. Maybe it was because I had just gotten a tattoo and that’s what caused it. I felt guilty. Guilty because I didn’t make plans. Guilty because I didn’t get attached. Guilty because I didn’t have a name. Guilty because I gave consent to terminate. It was my fault. I caused it. Maybe I shouldn’t have any more babies. My body is just not made to have babies. How can my body not do what it’s supposed to do? I hated that my coworker was having a baby shower. Her baby and mine would have been the same age. Is the world trying to tell me something? Am I failing my daughter? Am I failing my husband? My body is failing me.
I feel guilty that my daughter is stronger than me. I should be the strong one. But again she has the right words and the right name. She names her angel sister, Elena. I still feel guilty I didn’t name her. I still feel guilty I never got attached to Elena.
After giving my body a break and mentally preparing myself that I would not be able to have more children, I became pregnant for the 4th time. This time I told my parents. No balloons, no surprises. Just a “ I am pregnant, but don’t get excited.” For the next 41 weeks I will live a very anxious pregnancy. I didn’t want to do anything to harm the baby. I also didn’t want to get attached. I didn’t tell anyone. I avoided traveling, family gatherings and pictures. I went on to have a long, but healthy pregnancy. Aside from immediate family and coworkers I kept my pregnancy a secret. I didn’t want to have to explain myself if I lost this baby too. At each step of the way I was anxious about miscarriage, then stillbirth and then SIDS. I had to make peace with myself. Even if I carried this baby for a few days, weeks or months I needed to love him. I needed to enjoy day by day and celebrate the pregnancy milestones. Even if it was just that.
Three years later from my first miscarriage, to the surprise of many, we welcomed our son. Along with his birth, I also shared about the loss of our two angel babies, Dallas and Elena. I became open about my journey. The struggle, the taboo, the lack of support from family and friends. I began to acknowledge my losses and I began to meet many women within my close circle who had similar experiences.
Today, I can openly talk about my journey to finding my rainbow baby. It was a long, lonely and hard journey. But along the way I have found support groups, friends who have helped me heal. I still cry when I see my Dallas’ shoes or when I acknowledge that I did not get attached to Elena. It still hurts, but I keep them alive in my heart and my earth babies do too.
On June 18, 2021 when I got to do the rainbow skirt photo shoot I was finally able to honor both my summer angel babies alongside my earth babies. I can’t help but get excited to think I want to add another child to our family. However, deep down I am afraid of taking on this journey again.
To my daughter, Saríah, thank you for being my little rock and always having the right words to say.
To my rainbow baby, Darío, you are the best gift our angel babies could have sent.
To my husband, Juan, thank you for being a supportive partner and because of this we have a stronger bond.
To my friend, Nancy, thank you for being the first one to share your story and listening to me when I left lost.
Photos taken by Esther Medina.
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