When I found out I was pregnant in March of 2020, there were a lot of mixed emotions. Terrified, as this was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, amazed, as I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 16 (and firmly believed I was unable to conceive), but most of all excited, as I would finally have the chance to share this amazing experience with the love of my life.
Telling my husband we were expecting was an unforgettable experience; he cried nearly as much as I did, and reassured me in the best of ways that we would navigate a pandemic pregnancy in the best way we knew how: together. I suffered from consistent and relentless morning (see: all day) sickness from the day I found out, until the day I was eventually admitted in the hospital. In addition to the sickness, I was incredibly exhausted and had little to no energy throughout my days. Despite my concerns, my doctor assured me that this was completely normal and par for the course with pregnancy.
All of my scans, genetic testing, and general blood work came back with shining and positive results. No abnormalities. No illnesses. No reasons to be concerned. Because we elected to to genetic testing, we were also able to find out pretty early on that we were being blessed with a beautiful baby girl. I was ecstatic, and my husband, even more so.
Around week 12 I was able to push past the fatigue and sickness and was even able to resume my workouts with a fitness trainer 3x a week, and keep my diet as close to healthy as possible. I took my prenatals, drank my water, and even downloaded one of those “growth tracker” apps so I could cheekily inform my husband of how her growth compared to select vegetables every week. I began to shop for all of the cute baby girl outfits. I bought a stroller. And I even bought her first Halloween costume.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband was not allowed to attend any of my appointments. And by the 20th week, I had almost become accustomed to the solo-nature of each one. During her 20 week anatomy scan, each precise measurement was taken and the radiologist happily informed me that her growth was right on track for a baby her gestational age. The only “issue” as she put it, is that our little jumping bean was moving around way too much for them to accurately get a measurement and scan of her heart and brain.
“Come in exactly one week from today & we’ll probably catch her at a better time”. I excitedly agreed, as this would be an “extra” shot at seeing our baby girl up close & personal. After the scan, I got to meet with our OB, and mentioned in passing that I had only felt slight flutters vs. the baby kicks everyone said I would be feeling at that point. He informed me that due to this being my first pregnancy, I more than likely wouldn’t feel strong movement for another couple weeks, and because she looked so healthy on her scans, there was truly nothing to be concerned about. He then briskly sent me on my way.
In the week that followed, I continued to feel slight flutters, all the way up until the Friday of my follow up scan. I still distinctly remember telling a coworker that morning that I hadn’t felt a flutter yet that day & was slightly worried. He assured me that she was just sleeping and that the appointment would go off without a hitch. When I arrived at the doctors office that afternoon for the follow up scan, I was informed that my OB was running behind but that I would be taken back for my scan shortly. That scan is one moment I remember so distinctly, yet wish I could forget entirely. The exam room was setup in a way that her scan was projected so that it took up the entire wall opposite of the exam table. And that’s when I saw. She wasn’t moving. And there was no heartbeat.
The moments that followed seemed to take an eternity. It seemed that the radiologist spent hours (when in reality it was maybe 3 minutes) scanning and rescanning before confirming my absolute worst fear. There was no heartbeat. Our baby had passed. I was inconsolable. My cries sounding like nothing I knew I was even capable of producing. I begged for my husband. I needed my husband. And yet they still informed me he wasn’t allowed to come. After what seemed like ages, I was sent to an exam room to speak with the OB. The only thing I could muster was to ask him “why” or “how”. “Sometimes these things just happen”. An answer I will never forget. And one that I will never be able accept.
The rest happened all in a blur. I was told to go home and rest, and I would be contacted by a local hospital to schedule a D&C. My husband left work early and was home by the time I arrived. He had been crying before I arrived, but somehow managed to stay so calm in my presence. Another thing I will never forget.
We were contacted and scheduled for 5A the next morning. Loss is still taboo. Nobody warns you about experiences like this. Nobody warns you that you’ll still be placed in the Labor and Delivery ward, directly next door to mothers who are delivering perfectly healthy, loudly crying babies. Nobody tells you that as you’re lying in both physical and mental anguish, you’ll have to listen to baby cries and nurses talking right outside your door about healthy deliveries. Nobody tells you that as your being wheeled around, you’ll have to pass by new moms holding their bundles of joy in their arms.
It took two full days to deliver our Olivia Grace. My body wasn’t responding to the induction meds; I wasn’t ready to let her go. On August 7, 2020, we finally delivered and I was able to hold our perfect, sleeping angel. She had all 10 fingers and all 10 toes. She was beautiful. The nurses were amazing and gave us all the time in the world to spend with her. She was blessed by the chaplain. And we were able to kiss and hold her as long as we needed. I will never forget the nurse who was kind enough to wheel me through “the long route” in the hospital, in order to avoid any and all new mothers and their babies on my way to the recovery room. I will never forget the hugs and words of sympathy from every care provider I encountered.
We never learned why or how this happened. All of my postnatal testing came back inconclusive. Her tests came back inconclusive. We were again told “sometimes these things just happen”.
We buried our angel in the plot right next to my husbands brother, her uncle, so that she would always have someone close to watch over her.
The months that followed were filled with tears, and anger, and…love. My husband and I never turned on each other, and instead grew closer than we ever had before. We took a belated honeymoon to the mountains of Colorado and hiked some of the most beautiful trails I had ever seen. We stayed in a cabin that was built into a mountain. We visited an alpaca farm (Olivia’s nursery was alpaca themed) and a donkey sanctuary.
I eventually returned to work and began trying to socialize again. And after about 5 months after losing our daughter, we made the mutual decision that we were ready to try again…and nothing happened. I was on every supplement I could think of, and tracked my ovulation religiously. I was devastated. It was like suffering a loss all over again after every failed cycle. In August 2021, a full year after losing our Olivia, I met with our OB and relayed my concerns. Only to be told, once again, there was nothing to be concerned about. “We want you to try for 8 full cycles before we start considering fertility consultations”.
In September of 2021, I tearfully told my husband that I was done trying and ready to accept that this path simply wasn’t meant for us.
And on October 5, 2021, we found out that we were expecting. I immediately switched from our OB to a nurse practitioner and midwife who then referred me to a perinatal specialist. Together, they managed my care and have been a “night and day” difference compared to my last care provider. We attend weekly monitoring appointments, all of our concerns are addressed immediately, and most importantly, we are listened to.
Our Melody Grace is due on June 16, 2022. We have been told that she is the picture of health and though it is a relief to hear, the anxiety still remains. The morning sickness wasn’t nearly as severe this time around, but was that necessarily a good thing? Did this mean my hormones were weaker? Her kicks are SO strong in comparison, especially as she grows bigger. But every hour that passes sometimes leaves me more fearful than the last; did she kick enough today? Was today a day of reduced movement? Weekly monitoring appointments are great, until I remember that I lost our angel in a span of less than 7 days last time, and had absolutely no idea.
I try to start everyday by reminding myself that she’s healthy and this time will be different. At this point we only have just under 7 weeks to go, and there are no hints of any danger. Cautious optimism is the name of the game. My husband has been my rock. I finally began decorating the nursery. I allowed myself to build a registry. We’ve held our Baby Shower. I go on maternity leave in one week. It’s all happening. I’m learning to allow myself to enjoy each moment. Feel all of the emotions. Acknowledge the anxiety, but won’t let it win.
I still attend every appointment and scan with bated breath. I don’t think that will change even up until delivery.
We cannot wait to welcome our Rainbow baby into this world. We cannot wait to tell her all about her big sister who left all of her clothes and nursery items behind for her little sister to enjoy. We cannot wait to take our little Melody to go visit her uncle and sister one day.
We have chosen to embrace our loss and enjoy our rainbow pregnancy as best we can.
There’s no doubt that loss is widely under represented. I wish I had been informed about the 1 in 4 statistic. I wish someone had told me that this was even a remote possibility. Being blindsided by such a loss is one of the worst pains I could have possibly imagined. Also, If you have experienced anything remotely similar, I highly encourage reaching out to someone. I had an amazing support system in my husband and surrounding family. I was told about support groups after my loss, and while that wasn’t a path I was interested in, it’s an option that should be available to everyone, in my opinion.
I don’t think this is something that necessarily gets easier with time. The pain from loss is something that never goes away. With that being said, I do believe healing is possible. And important. You deserve to live your life to the fullest; we all do. Our losses do not define us. Instead, they give us the ability to honor our angels with every moment we choose to live on in their honor.
Photos taken by Aubree Lorraine Photography.
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