Angel mom. Married mom. Dog mom. Catholic mom. Working mom. Crafty mom. Loud mom. Planner mom. Childless Rainbow mom.
October 10th, 2018 was the worst day of our lives. It was the day that our first son was born into the world. Stillborn into the world.
My husband & I decided at the end of 2017 that 2018 would be the year we start trying for a baby, we had just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary & we were ready to share our love. On January 1st, 2018 I had my IUD removed & by February 10th I was pregnant. My pregnancy was fairly normal, light morning sickness, regular weight gain, normal blood pressure, normal blood sugar, normal scans, etc. everything seemed perfect & normal. We didn’t even know that it could be anything but that. We had a big fun gender reveal with all of our family & friends to find out that we were having a boy! We named him Anthony & had three baby showers thrown in his honor. I spent my last few weeks of pregnancy shopping for elephant decor, while Kenneth spent those last few weeks hanging it all up on the walls of the nursery & putting the crib together. We could not have been more excited to welcome that sweet boy into the world. You know the feeling, that beyond excited & scared shitless feeling of becoming a parent. We were there, we were ready & then I hit 34 weeks.
The day I became 34 weeks pregnant with Anthony, I had a normally scheduled OBGYN appointment. I was still working up until that point so I had my appointment that evening after work. One of the first things done during each appointment is a blood pressure reading, for some reason when they ran my blood pressure that day it was a little elevated. The nurse said “it’s a little high, we’ll check again before you leave” I saw the doctor, we discussed normal appointment stuff & then I had my blood pressure rechecked, it was still high. That being the case, my doctor decided to send me to labor & delivery, “to air on the safe side”. When I arrived at the hospital they hooked me up to the baby heart monitor, Anthony’s heartbeat was fine but my blood pressure never went back to a normal range, instead it continued to get higher… after about 4 hours of being monitored the doctor on call came in & told me he felt okay releasing me, he stated that because I hadn’t had any blood pressure issues previously, he wasn’t too concerned & thought it probably just a fluke, “maybe just a stressful day”…. he took me off of work & asked that I return two days later to have it checked again. When I returned two days later my blood pressure had returned to a normal level & the doctor was sure he was correct, that it was indeed just a hard day. My next appointment was scheduled for 36 weeks & 2 days. I didn’t make it that far.
At 36 weeks, while laying in bed I felt the urge to use the restroom, I sat on the toilet & a gush of fluid exited my body, I thought for minute that my water had broke. When I wiped and saw the bright red blood I knew it wasn’t my water. My mom had taken a sick day that day, by incredible luck was home with me and was able to rush me to the hospital. I called Kenneth on the way & I just remember saying “Just come, don’t drive crazy.”
I was calm & quite the entire car ride, I could tell that my mom was afraid, she was driving as quickly as she could & I’m sure Kenneth wasn’t listening to my request to drive safe. The truth is, I knew as soon as I saw that blood that Anthony was gone. I didn’t need to be rushed to the hospital or rushed to. When I arrived I was admitted to labor & delivery then sent to a check up room, Ken got there within minutes of me getting set up. The nurse came in & conducted an ultrasound, I have never heard a louder silence. She gave me this look that I don’t think I will ever be able to describe then said “okay, I am going to get the doctor.”
Then, that same on call doctor from the week prior came in 2 minutes later & told us that Anthony did not have a heart beat. I already knew this, but hearing the words out loud numbed me. Kenneth, either hoping to have heard it incorrectly or actually hearing it incorrectly said “he does have a heartbeat??” Making the doctor say it out loud again… There is no heartbeat. I glared at him in numb silence & Kenneth began to sob loudly. I couldn’t comfort him, I couldn’t barely hear him because I was covered in numbness. The doctor left the room & I looked up at the clock. 2pm exactly, they told me my son had died at 2pm. I don’t know why that stuck in my head, nothing else did. The rest of that day & the next day were a giant blur. Anthony was 36 weeks & had to be delivered. Even when babies die they have to be delivered… I never thought about that, I never thought I had to.
I was induced & given an epidural shortly after the doctor gave us the news. Then there was a lot of waiting around. Anthony was born at 1am the next day October 10th, 2018. We were able to hold him & take pictures with him for as long as we wanted before he was taken away. Once he was gone I remember so badly wanting to get out of that hospital, to just go home. They released me the next day, but when the nurse came with the wheelchair & I realized that I had to leave Anthony there… I didn’t want to go anymore. I finally cried, they rolled me to the car & Kenneth drove me home balling the entire way. I stayed in bed for a couple of weeks, only getting up to decide on funeral arrangements. Yes, funeral arrangements. When your baby dies, before you leave the hospital you have to decide on what to do with their remains. Instead of picking their going home outfit, you pick burial or cremation… unluckily for me, my family already had a cemetery we liked. We’ve had a few deaths in the family.. I wanted Anthony to be buried close to my grandparents. So that’s where he went. We picked his plot, we picked his headstone, we picked his prayer cards… then we had to pick an outfit & if we wanted to bury him with anything. My mom bought him a very tiny rosary that we buried him with, he was also buried with a stuffed elephant that we had bought for him to enjoy when he got home. After the funeral, life went on. Somehow everyone else’s lives kept moving & for a long time I wasn’t sure how that could be.. how everything can just be the same when nothing was the same. Over time it got easier to get out of bed, it got easier to smile & see people again. Even with that though, it has never gotten easier to be without him. If you have lost a child you know, but if you haven’t you never will… people lose parents, they lose siblings, aunts, cousins… and those losses are awful & hard. But they are not losing a child. Someone that you carried inside of you, someone that is you.
A year later Kenneth & I decided to try again, I never thought I would be completely ready to have another baby but I was ready enough. I decided that I would try again when my desire for a baby surpassed my fear of having a baby. It had. Unlike Anthony’s conception, it took us much longer to conceive our second baby… one year & one month exactly. So, in addition to being nervous about being pregnant again, I became nervous about getting pregnant again! That year felt like a lifetime. I started thinking that God might not have wanted us to have children. I tested my ovulation regularly, saw an infertility specialist & I peed on so many sticks, I’ve lost count. Finally in July 2020 we found out that we were expecting again! Right in the middle of a pandemic. It was easier than I thought it would have been to get excited about my second pregnancy, I thought for sure that I would be more guarded. Because of my obsessive pregnancy test taking, we found out that we were pregnant the second time super early on. I enjoyed 5 symptom free weeks before the nausea kicked in. During my first appointment at 7 weeks, my doctor asked how I was feeling & by that point I was already so sick that most of my meals weren’t staying down. She prescribed several anti-nausea remedies and medications. I tried them ALL. Then at 9 weeks I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. A rare form of pregnancy nausea, my case was severe. By 12 weeks, I was no longer able to hold down food or drink… including water. All of my nutrition & vitamins had to begin being given to me by a picc line iv. I was put on bed rest & my plummeting weight loss monitored closely.
Although my pregnancy was incredibly hard, at each appointment our baby looked perfect. Then, at 16 weeks we found out that baby number two was another boy! We considered not having a gender reveal but decided that his gender was worth knowing and sharing. We had a small (covid friendly) reveal in our backyard, took photos & decided to name him Logan. The weeks seem to go by extremely slow during my pregnancy with Logan, being on bed rest & hooked up to an iv all day every day was hard & lonely, even with Kenneth working just in the next room. But, we made it work. My thought process the entire time was “this is hard but it will be worth it, you are fighting for your baby.”
I didn’t win the fight.
On November 1st, on our way to visit my parents (iv packed) I began to feel contractions. I had never felt Braxton Hicks before but recalled seeing on my pregnancy app, that they could start right around the 21 week mark which was exactly where I was at & felt like that was for sure what was going on. I let them go for about an hour, feeling them on & off until they became increasingly stronger & harder to ignore. Leaving my parents house, Ken & I headed for labor & delivery. Again, I was admitted as soon as we arrived & sent to a check up room. A nurse came in, listen to my complaint then checked for Logan’s heartbeat. It was there. His heart was beating. A few minutes later the on call doctor came in and looked at the screen, she said “I’m going to do a vaginal check” within 5 seconds she was able to confirm that I was in active labor. She told me that my membranes were gone & that I would be delivering my baby that day. To their surprise I didn’t know what that meant. Logan was alive, way too small, but living. So, I could deliver him now? How? The nurse leaned in close to me.. almost as though she had a secret to share & said, he is too small to survive.. we cannot save him this early.
So… you’re telling me that I have to deliver my son, to his death?…
I fell apart, how could this happen again? I yelled loudly, that moment in that room. Half out of anger & half out of labor pains. Because of covid, Kenneth was outside waiting in the car during this whole interaction. They called him & had him come up as they wheeled me off to a labor room, the contractions became unbearable & I begged for an epidural but it was too late to get one. Logan was born at 7:44pm that day, just about an hour or so after arriving to the hospital. I was handed him as soon as he was delivered, he was so tiny. Skin still somewhat translucent, features not fully developed, weighing only 13oz. He had already stopped breathing by the time he was placed in my arms. Honestly, I don’t know how I had the energy to birth that baby boy… I had lost 40 pounds by that point, I hadn’t had one bite of food in almost 5 months. Not only did my body find the imaginary energy give birth to our boy but a drug free labor at that?! To say I was exhausted would be an understatement, however… Even through the exhaustion, I sat with him & soaked him in, every inch of him, as did Kenneth.
The process with Logan was almost identical to Anthony. Again, we had to decide on arrangements for his body before being allowed to leave the hospital & again he was to be buried at “our” cemetery. Picking a second headstone & a second casket wasn’t as hard as you might think it would be. Yes, I know that that sounds harsh, but once you’ve buried a child, it doesn’t get harder. The worst part was that even through the bed rest, I had high hopes for my pregnancy with Logan… I remained cautiously optimistic but I thought there was no way that it could happen again, that Anthony’s death had to have been a fluke, that God couldn’t possibly inflict that pain again… I was wrong & Logan was buried one headstone away from his brother, almost two years later.
When I was asked to share my story I thought a long time about how I wanted to present it. Did I want to be sensitive? Did I want to share everything? Who’s going to see this? Who should see this? I decided to just do it, just share my full truth… & you know what? It turned out to be pretty therapeutic. I began writing my story out for two reasons, one was because I truly feel like pregnancy loss needs to be seen more. It needs to be thought about, we need more prevention & I don’t think we will get there if the subject stays hidden away… & while my story may not make headlines, it may encourage others to share theirs, the second reason was because I was asked to share it for a rainbow moms website…. which brings us to today.
After losing baby Logan, Ken & I weren’t sure we wanted to try again… we actually couldn’t agree on trying again. I felt like I could do it. Kenneth had reservations… he hated seeing the way pregnancy affected me. Not only my physical, but my mental health took a toll both times, as did his. We started to weigh our options… looking into adoption, surrogacy & foster care but decided to hold off until we could come to a decision… enter baby miracle.
8 (very) short weeks after delivering Logan, I found out that I was pregnant again. The news of this pregnancy shocked us. Yes, we know how babies are made… but it had taken us over a year to conceive the last time & who knew you could get pregnant again on your first… uhh… experience, after a delivery?!? Is your body even back to normal yet?? The answer is yes. My obgyn ran the labs twice to confirm.
Since my delivery with Logan, I had lost a significant amount of weight & I was still working on eating normal meals again when we found out that I was pregnant again this third time. That made me nervous, I was scared that right as I started to recover from my HG, I would be thrown back into the daily IV’s & bed rest. That was thankfully not the case. Each week that baby miracle grew, I waited for the other shoe to drop, I waited for the morning sickness, I waited for the fainting spells, the pain & the heartbreak. None of it came.
Instead, somehow my body flourished, I felt healthy & okay. My doctors stepped their games up & at just 6 weeks along I started seeing a specialist every other week. At 12 weeks, I was instructed to start taking baby aspirin to help reduce my risk of high blood pressure, at 14 weeks a medical cerclage (stitching) was placed in my cervix to keep it closed for the duration of my pregnancy & at 16 weeks I was ordered to start coming into the hospital every Monday to receive a shot of progesterone in my hip. There was a lot going on, I had a lot to juggle & with a brand new job & with the covid virus still in the air, it was an obstacle at times but I made! Every appointment, every dose, every shot.
Kenneth & I decided early on that we weren’t going to tell anyone about our pregnancy. We wanted to keep baby miracle our special secret for as long as possible. Not only did keeping that secret make our pregnancy feel special, but it also helped me to remain in my own head… after losing a baby, or two… People want so badly for you to be happy, every single one of our friends & family members wanted to help in any way that they could. Some even offered to carry our next baby! We were surrounded by amazing, loving people who always felt helpless, who offered their prayers, kind words & positive energy but who also worried & stressed for us. While the prayers & positive vibes do definitely help… I couldn’t help but want to avoid the worried, stressed “thinking about you” texts & calls this time… this pregnancy needed to be different, I needed for it to be different… so we kept our secret & pushed forward… then, after 36 weeks of secret pregnancy bliss, the stitching was removed from my cervix & I was able to stop my weekly shots! It was finally time to bring a Miracle into the world.
On August 12th, 2021, Kenneth & I made our way to the hospital to be induced & on Friday August 13th at 8:38am, Aurora Michelle Thompson was born living. Weighing 5lbs. & 13oz at birth.
Today, we are the parents to two angel sons & one living daughter.
“Your anxiety is real. Your fear is real and valid. This baby does not take the place of what you lost, but sadness & joy can exist together. You are changed forever. But, when you hold that baby, you will breathe again. You will be lighter & you will be okay. That Storm nearly broke you, but you are here – and now so is she.”
Photos taken by LeAnn Kathleen Photography.
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