In February 2016, my husband of nearly 3 years and I learned we were pregnant for the first time. We were beyond thrilled! It was fun having our own big secret. A secret we only got to keep for four short days. One day at work I began bleeding. The details of this experience are foggy, but when I did ultimately get to my doctor’s office, the miscarriage was complete. I was told it was probably a chemical pregnancy. The OB laughed at my questions. I was told “at least you can get pregnant” and that there may never have been an embryo. I was brushed off, and thereby brushed an entire miscarriage off to myself as no big deal.
Even so, the door to the empty room meant for a nursery in our house remained shut. I couldn’t look in there without feeling sad. Would I ever be a mom, the one thing I knew in my heart I was meant to be? I work with infants, toddlers, and children, so every day was a reminder of what I didn’t have. It was a blip in the grand scheme of my life, but felt agonizingly long at the time.
I was fortunate enough to get pregnant again a couple cycles later. We were skeptical, terrified, and anxious for a long time. After a difficult pregnancy and birth, God blessed us with a rainbow, our daughter Hattie, born January 2017.
Fast forward to June 2019– after months of TTC, we discovered we were expecting again. Skeptical, we kept the news to ourselves. We were packing up at the end of a 4th of July family beach trip, about to head back home. I had been cramping that morning but didn’t think much of it, until I went to use the bathroom before hitting the road. There was blood we immediately fell apart. It was the longest, quietest, most emotionally painful trip home. We dropped our daughter off with neighbors and went to the ER. I had to suffer through an ultrasound by myself and was left alone for a hours at a time when I needed my husband more than ever. Hospital staff were hush hush around us and didn’t really share much information. Eventually, we received confirmation of what we already knew in our hearts: for the second time, we lost our baby.
Not only were we completely broken and devastated for this particular loss, but for the first time, we fully felt the grief of the loss of our first baby. Because this meant the prior was not a fluke. I felt like there was something wrong with me and that I was broken. I felt like God was punishing me.
I learned for the first time about HCG blood tests to make sure my body “returned to normal” after a loss. This became important in my future pregnancies.
I was vocal about both miscarriages. When people asked if I wanted more kids, I openly responded with the truth. Some people met me with empathy, others with horror that I overshared, and sympathetic people who have also experienced loss shared their stories.
One cycle later, I was pregnant again. We decided to tell our friends and family immediately this time because they were going to find out baby or loss anyhow. We needed the prayers and support.
I requested another series of HCG blood tests to insure my hormones were increasing properly. Praise the Lord, they were!
I praised God every day of that pregnancy—even the days I was barely functioning. At the time I had undiagnosed HG and was very ill all day every day until my 2nd trimester.
Obviously, the 2020 shutdowns happened when I was 7 months pregnant with a 3 year old and a first-responder husband that had to continue to work. But after my first trimester, the rest of my pregnancy was otherwise relatively normal. Our 2nd rainbow daughter, McGuire, was born May of 2020.
Unfortunately, our loss journey doesn’t end there.
We suffered a sudden midday housefire in August of 2021. We still count our blessings about that day because nobody was home, our animals all survived, and we didn’t suffer a huge loss in personal property. Unfortunately, we were immediately displaced from our home with a 4 year old and 15 month old for almost 6 months. I’ll leave out the details of this story, but we all experienced clinical trauma from this experience and process.
Shortly after the fire, we learned I was pregnant again. Just as quickly at that baby snuck into our lives, they were gone. We suffered our third loss in September 2021, a month after the housefire. Trauma on trauma. I thought I was broken before, but this was a whole new level. Don’t get me wrong, I was counting my blessings and reminding myself I could have lost so much more. But that doesn’t negate grief. Devastation and blessings can, and do, coexist, even in the same moment.
Once we were settled back home and we felt strong enough again, We began TTC at the end of 2022.
We began to visiting a reproductive endocrinologist (RE; aka fertility dr). As many parents in loss frustratingly know, once you experience 3 or more losses it is officially considered “recurrent pregnancy loss” and you qualify to finally get specialized medical attention. I was 32/33 years old. Blood test after blood test, there was no apparent reason why I experienced recurrent losses, nor a reason for secondary infertility. At that point in time, we did not need treatment, but were diagnosed with secondary infertility, unexplained female infertility, unexplained multiple miscarriages, and both received clear karyotypes, therefore there shouldn’t be any genetic chromosomal abnormalities in our embryos.
The doctor advised a few minor lifestyle and diet changes, but recommended TTC on our own for another 6 months, then revisit thereafter. Nate and I had already discussed that we didn’t feel that ART (ie IVF, IUI…) would be for us, if it came to it, though we were not quite at the point of needing to make such a decision yet.
Month after month of cycle tracking, BBTs, hundreds of ovulation strips, and repeated negative pregnancy tests was wearing on me. I was (and am) in therapy to work through all my trauma (in addition to grief, anxiety, depression, and new ADHD diagnosis). I leaned a lot more into my faith than ever before. I often prayed for God to allow me to have faith and patience in His plan for us. I knew I didn’t understand (still don’t) the reason for my (our) suffering, but prayed to trust that He will reveal it in time. If my family was meant to be of 4 on earth and 6 in heaven, then I would be okay with that. Right as I began to make peace with this, God revealed a piece of His plan to us.
It took lots of test strips and 6 hopeful blood draws to convince us that God has blessed us with our third miracle rainbow baby girl, Aletta, due in February.
So here we are, 10 years married. 18 years together. 3 babies in heaven. Soon-to-be 3 rainbow babies in our arms. And though I never would have picked life to unfold this way, I am grateful for everyday and all we have built together. I love my girls.
Added bonus to this story: I, too, am a rainbow baby.
Pregnancy has never ever been an easy journey for us. Getting pregnant. Staying pregnant. Being pregnant. (HG anyone?)
It’s all hard.
But my God, we are blessed. I don’t wish loss on anyone, but I pray for a rainbow for everyone that has lived these or other traumatic loss experiences.
Photos taken by Mary Gorry Photography.
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