Rainbow baby… a term I don’t typically use just because I feel it gives a negative connotation to Norah. I do; however, understand and appreciate why people use the term. I understand how people use it to represent the sunnier days ahead that follow such a dark, stormy time. After nearly two years of heartbreak, I certainly hope we are in for some sunnier moments ahead!
Being a mom is something I have always known was meant for me! The struggle of infertility and miscarriage was always a concern in the back of my mind but shortly after our wedding, my husband and I found ourselves pregnant and excited so I assumed it wouldn’t be an issue for us. My pregnancy with Norah was uneventful; a normal, healthy pregnancy.
Around 40 weeks, I began to experience prodromal back labor (the worst kind of labor, if you ask me). After several days of this, I woke up around midnight with intensifying contractions. I took a bath to allow my husband a little bit more sleep. Around 1:30AM, I woke him up and told him it was time to head off to the hospital.
Upon arrival, we discovered I was dilated to about 5cm and, throughout the morning, I progressed to 9.5cm. The midwife said I was almost fully dilated but I had an anterior lip. Around 1PM, I hadn’t made much progress and I was completely wiped having been up since midnight the night before. My midwife suggested I get an epidural to help me rest some to see if this would help my progression; I reluctantly agreed. Around 4PM, after a couple hours of rest we started pitocin to get things moving again. By 7PM, the midwife told me I was fully dilated and could start pushing. At 8:25PM, I was EXHAUSTED so I asked if it was possible to take a short break from pushing. The nurse and midwife both agreed it would be okay and said they would return at 8:45.
At 8:40PM, the nurse and midwife came rushing back in and started flipping me telling me it was time to start pushing on my hands and knees. After getting into this position, the OB charged in followed by many other nurses, doctors, and medical staff. The OB said he wanted me to be on my back so I was then flipped an entire 360 degree. Cords from the epidural, pitocin, and IVs were choking me. Everyone was very obviously anxious. The OB calmly stated that Norah’s heart rate was decelerating quickly and we needed to get her out NOW. And so I pushed, with everything I had in me.
Within about ten minutes, Norah was born and whisked away to the NICU team who worked hastily in the corner of our room to get her heart beating again, while I was sewn up from an emergency episiotomy. I had never prayed so hard in my life. Tears were streaming down the cheeks of every medical staff member surrounding me during this time. Everyone was silent. Once they got her heart beating again, she was rushed up to the NICU.
Later that night, the neurologist came to my room to explain to us that Norah was showing no signs of brain activity, she had been without oxygen for too long. The MRI confirmed this much the next day. As Norah’s parents, we made the impossible decision to take her off life support and she passed away in my arms at 36 hours old. We went into the hospital with full hearts and a healthy, living baby, and left with an empty car seat and unbearable heartbreak that no parent should ever know.
On Christmas morning, about five months after Norah was born, I got a very faint positive pregnancy test. What a gift!! I quietly wrapped it up for my husband to open later that morning. We were ecstatic! An early ultrasound showed the tiny flickering heart beat. However, this pregnancy was not as uneventful as Norah’s was. I had some brown spotting that changed red and I knew something was not right. I went in for a follow up ultrasound and, where the tiny flickering heart had been just a week prior, there was now stillness. A miscarriage.
A few months go by and, again, a faint positive test! I told my husband on Mother’s Day. We were cautiously excited, after all, who would possibly have to go through all that we had and suffer ANOTHER loss?!? It certainly wouldn’t happen to us. Another early ultrasound showed us the tiny flick of a heart beat, once again. And…. once again…. About a week later, that flicker disappeared.
Months go by, and I get another positive test that quickly fades over several days of tests… a chemical pregnancy. So, if you’re keeping track, this is now the infant loss of our daughter Norah, two miscarriages after seeing the heartbeat, and a chemical pregnancy (a very early miscarriage). What is wrong with my body?? Am I not meant to be a mom??
In November and December of 2021, I had TWO MORE chemical pregnancies so when I got a positive test again in January, I was fully prepared for it to end as a chemical pregnancy as well. I did not tell my husband about this one. I had several blood draws to test for HCG in my body and…. It was rising. This little one was holding on! After weeks of hiding appointments and blood draws from my husband, I finally decided it was time to tell him that we were pregnant. I warned him not to get too excited because, as we now know well, babies can die at any point.
As I sit here writing my story, I can feel his not-so-tiny kicks (I swear, he’s a kickboxer!), reassuring me that, at least in this moment, he is okay. Although he beats up on his mama and is nowhere near as gentle with me as his big sister was, I am extremely grateful for every single movement. This pregnancy has been challenging and rewarding at the same time, filled with so much excitement and so much anxiety. Thanks to my wonderful medical care team and our amazing family and friends, we are more than ready for this little guy’s arrival; he should be here in just a few short weeks and we can’t. fricken. wait!
I used to be a firm believer in everything happening for a reason but I now understand this is not the truth. Sometimes life deals you a crappy hand and there is no reason at all. Norah will always be a huge part of our lives and we hope to someday get the opportunity to share her story with her little brother.
Photos taken by Twig & Olive Photography.
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