Sharing The Loss Before My Rainbow Baby
I recently read that Rainbow Baby Day is approaching in August. I have to be honest, this touches me in so many very special ways. If you’re not familiar with the term, a Rainbow Baby is a child born after the loss of a baby.
I have never told this story before. I often glaze over it. I am comfortable sharing my story of losing a baby, but rarely do I move through the details of that experience as I share. I’m feeling ready to get vulnerable and share this birth story.
You believe it could never happen to you. You try to do all the things right. You tried every health hack you could find to help you get pregnant, only to feel devastated at another awful monthly bleed. You have to just get through it and try it again. You have to forget how devastated you feel and continue to wait. Your friends don’t get your grief.
And then you finally see it. The magical second pink line. Is it really there? Is it an evap line? You put it away and try to forget about it before you get your hopes up again. Next day, BAM two pink lines. AWESOMESAUCE! You did it!
That was how it started. We told our families really early into the pregnancy. We were getting married soon, and we were focusing on the final wedding plans for our Buffalo wedding. It was a blissful few weeks of planning and excitement. A few days before flying to Buffalo for our wedding, I started bleeding a little. There is no greater sinking feeling than being pregnant and seeing blood when you wipe. It is unexplainable doom and anticipation of grief, walking side by side with your worst fear. Your heart just sinks into the earth through your feet and melts like a pool of blood.
I had an ultrasound and they found a subchorionic hematoma. HCG levels looked promising and were increasing, so we were told to just wait and see what happened. My bleeding stopped and I was feeling hopeful.
We flew to Buffalo for our wedding. At our wedding, we told the rest of our family about our pregnancy. Word spread through the wedding party and soon enough everyone knew. My sister had to sew me into my wedding dress because those few weeks were enough to change my dress size. In my pictures, I was wearing a white cardigan over my dress to cover up the on-the-spot stitching in the back.
After our wedding, before flying home, I started noticing some more bleeding. It was on and off bleeding throughout the next few weeks. Another ultrasound. No one knows what the hell is going on. I was prescribed progesterone. On and off bleeding for a few weeks and nothing. My doctor said we would check using a final ultrasound to see if the pregnancy was progressing normally. I went in that week expecting to see a baby. I remember that hopeful feeling. This isn’t something that could happen to me, right? No way.
No baby. I remember seeing the ultrasound and somehow knowing exactly what I was looking at. A shriveled up baby that was no longer full of life. I instantly started crying, with this crushing fear of losing all hope. I remember a somewhat supportive sonographer, but I was just totally swallowed by grief. I was a lone, sobbing, and told I needed to move on.
I was told I had to get it together and go through “check out” at the office. This involved a blood pressure screening where I was told that I had high blood pressure. I almost killed this woman. I mean, did she have absolutely no sensitivity at all?
I then sat in an office with my doctor. He told me my options. I could wait for my body to pass the baby or choose to terminate the pregnancy with a D&C. I just lived through weeks and weeks of some of the darkest hours of my life. I needed this nightmare to be over.
I chose a D&C. I was prepped for the surgery by a nurse who was an absolute angel to me. She was caring, peaceful, calming, and helped me through my fear of the procedure (sounds like a doula, right?). I remember how bad the IV hurt and I remember just sitting in the bed and sobbing. Not simply from the pain but just the total feeling of being utterly defeated.
I was absolutely terrified of waking up during the procedure and having the memory of someone scraping my dead baby out of my uterus. I was absolutely terrified of this memory. I was given some medications and some drugs to knock me out for a while. The last memory I have of my first pregnancy is the surgical lights of the OR room circling above my head.
Out of surgery, no longer pregnant. It’s very strange to be pregnant one minute and wake up the next without a baby. What the hell are you supposed to do? Just carry on with your life? And I remember all the people around me, going about their seemingly normal day. Didn’t they know what just happened to me? It was just a normal day.
At my follow up appointment with my doctor, he advised me to wait a long time before trying to get pregnant again. His exact words were, “You should probably wait a while to get pregnant. You’ll be scared shitless.”
5 years later, 3 babies later
Please visit this great WNY resource for bereavement support.