My husband and I began our journey to create a family in 2015. After two years of negative pregnancy tests, an incorrect diagnosis, and no clear answers, it was time to see a new infertility specialist who concluded that we had only a 4% chance of getting pregnant without the assistance of IVF due to unexplained infertility. I started IVF immediately and after 3 cycles became pregnant in May of 2018. However, at the 8 week appointment, I found out the baby had no heartbeat and was given medication so that I could miscarry at home. At the time this seemed to be an insurmountable task, but little did I know what joys and heartache we would continue to face.
In December of 2018, I became pregnant with twins after a fourth cycle of IVF. Those first few weeks were full of anxiety and worry, but after hitting the 12 week mark, I started to become excited. We shared our news with family and friends and took pictures to announce the pregnancy on social media. Our journey had other plans for us though. Late at night, when I was 18 weeks along, my water broke. We rushed to the local Emergency Department in search of answers, but were sent home and told to see my maternal fetal medicine specialist in the morning. After seeing the MFM, we were told that one of the amniotic sacs had ruptured and I would be hospitalized. On April 5, 2019, at 20 weeks old, our daughter, Amelia, was born sleeping. We were fortunate that the hospital had a cuddle cot and we were able to hold Amelia immediately after. The nurses and social worker also made sure we had handprints, footprints, a crocheted outfit, and pictures to take home with us in memory of Amelia. I was also still pregnant with the second twin and remained in the hospital where we did everything we could to give the second baby a chance. However, on April 11, 2019, the second amniotic sac ruptured and I started hemorrhaging. At 21 weeks old, our son, Otto James, was also born sleeping. This delivery was much more complicated and we did not get to see his tiny face though the kind nurses did get an intact footprint and handprint that we cherish.
The loss of our twins crushed me in ways that I didn’t think possible. I took several months to heal physically and emotionally before starting to think about what the next step of our journey would be. I connected with a local support group and found comfort in the infertility and pregnancy/neonatal loss community. My husband and I planted flowers for our angel babies and built a new garden in our backyard. As summer turned into autumn, I knew I was ready to try again and explored options to manage incompetent cervix in addition to the infertility. After surgery, to have an abdominal cerclage placed, and a fifth cycle of IVF, I became pregnant with our rainbow baby in March of 2020. This pregnancy proceeded without any major medical concerns until I was 30 weeks along. Despite my best efforts to isolate, I tested positive for COVID-19 and became quite ill. Thankfully, I did not require a hospital stay, but I was unable to go for my weekly perinatal visits until I was well again. My first visit back to the doctor was October 12, 2020 for my 34 week check. During the ultrasound it was determined that there was very little amniotic fluid around the baby and I would need to deliver that day. Our sweet and sassy rainbow baby, Sadie Hope, came into the world that night and was immediately transferred to the NICU due to breathing difficulties. I remember speaking with the attending physician the fourth day she was in the NICU and the physician telling me her condition was serious. I responded back to him that I could do serious, but just wanted to know if she had a chance of coming home since our twins had not. He told me that yes we would get to take our rainbow home. After 16 excruciatingly long days in the NICU where she was intubated twice and had 3 chest tubes placed, Sadie came home.
Here is where I thought our journey would end. We had a living, breathing daughter who is the light of our world, but life had other plans for us…the most extraordinary plans. About 5 months after our daughter was born, I found out I was pregnant. The first positive pregnancy test that didn’t require shots, medications, and tons of pokes and prods from doctors. I was so scared. It couldn’t be real, something was bound to go wrong. You would think that having a pregnancy that resulted in a live birth would make subsequent pregnancies easier, but it doesn’t. I just kept waiting for something to go wrong and am so thankful to my husband and team of doctors and nurses who continued to reassure me along the way. Exactly 364 days after his sister was born, Quincy Thomas, our “pot of gold” was delivered on October 11, 2021.
Over the last 6 years, I have learned that anything is possible in the best and worst ways. That there may not always be answers, but there is hope for a rainbow after the storm. The day I was discharged from the hospital after losing the twins, two swallowtail butterflies fluttered past our window. I see pairs of swallowtail butterflies often when it is warm enough and like to think that our twins are coming by to say hello and let us know that they are in heaven, now watching over our “Irish twins” here on earth.
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