The birth of our third child, our much prayed for second son, is almost surely the most cathartic and fulfilling moment of my adult life to date. While having our first born daughter safely delivered in our arms was beautiful, miraculous and awe-inspiring as well, the birth of a child after multiple losses brings with it so many emotions that are far more intense than one could imagine you could feel before loss. Having a baby is the closest we’ll ever be to experiencing the power of God. Seeing how from an egg and sperm that joined together our bodies can grow a perfect little human that magically is brought to life from our womb is just mind blowing to me. Every time I’ve held our newborn babies I immediately fell in love and thought to myself, “Wow we made you? You were in there all this time?” Meeting our littlest son after the devastation of having miscarried, then lost his brother Owen at close to 32 weeks of pregnancy, then miscarried again, was a moment I long dreamt of, but never truly believe would happen for us until that moment he was in our arms.
To recap the pregnancy was far from perfect or easy. We had the anxiety to be expected of a PAL (Pregnancy After Loss) couple; Fearful every moment would be our last. Nights of insomnia filled with worry that I would miss a moment when my son stopped moving and it would be too late when I woke up to save him. Flashbacks of our loss. And from the beginning I had a nagging worry that for some reason I would have a premature delivery and my baby wouldn’t survive. I don’t know where that fear came from, probably because my brother’s girlfriend tragically lost a baby after us from her water breaking suddenly and then my sister sadly lost twins from terrible, unexpected complications in the second trimester. But based on my own history, I had no reason to assume my water would break early. I still decided to take it super easy during my pregnancy, not even going for walks though I know being fit is good for most pregnancies. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that if I did too much, I could lose this baby too. Sure enough at our 20 week appointment, after having the anatomy fully scanned and things seemingly going well, my doctor called in his nurse to deliver some terrifying news. My heart sank and my eyes began to flood as I feared the worse. Thankfully it was something we could act on. The doctor informed us that my cervix had begun shortening. We had the option of a cerclage which wasn’t a guarantee (“In lesser skilled hands”) but our amazing doctor had been successful with this method in many, many pregnancies before ours. We trusted our doctor (Dr. Tabsh) and his team fully, so we booked the surgery for that weekend and I put myself on at home bedrest until that morning. Good thing that I did, by the time of the surgery I had begun to dilate 1 cm as well. I was a complete wreck going into the surgery but had reached out to a support group online that sent me a prayer over our son that I read that morning which gave me a sense of peace. As I lay in the OR, my doctor and nurses cheerfully chatted and joked with each other which put me at ease since they apparently felt things were going smoothly. The entire time I just prayed for the doctor’s hands to act as God’s hands, so that he would skillful and be able to help keep my baby safe inside of me. After recovery we were sent home and that very moment I walked back in the house through the garage door I exhaled for the first time in days thanking God for letting me walk back in with my baby still in my womb. Tears of joy and gratitude rushed out of my eyes. We still had our baby boy with us.
Fast forward past 17 weeks of bedrest at home where I spent the majority of my time laying on the coach watching Netflix, crocheting and reading with the occasional visitor or trip to the doctor’s office and permission to attend a couple special events for our daughter (I will share more about this challenging experience in a later post). We were now at 31 weeks and 2 days having been admitted to the hospital after our last appointment due to low fluid levels. In reality the level wasn’t so drastically low, but low enough that our doctor didn’t want to take chances with us because of our history and we were too afraid to have me leave without our son being born after that so we begged to be kept there on the monitor and IV fluids until they could let us schedule our c section. This was another turning point for our bumpy pregnancy journey, but though I wished to be home with our daughter and my husband, I was so thankful to have been able to stay at the hospital under their watchful care because of our raging panic that if I went home something terrible would go wrong again and we would be too late getting back to the hospital. We could thank PTSD for that trauma since we lost our first son at almost 32 weeks of pregnancy after a “textbook” perfect pregnancy without any complications and no warning.
All I want to say to end this post is please always trust your gut instincts/mother intuition. If you feel like something can be wrong, be your own advocate and refuse to go home without all the possible screenings and tests done to assure you that everything is in fact ok. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to that awful day when we lost our son Owen to think what I could’ve and should’ve done differently to save him. Yes, I went in to the ER to check on him when I felt something was wrong, but maybe I shouldn’t have listened to the person who answered my call and waited to eat to try to get him to move more and then go in if he didn’t start reacting. I would definitely have run in now if I could do that all over again, but I was naive and unaware that I could lose my son in that moment (I had never even heard of stillbirth back then or kick counting, which I did but since Owen was such an active baby I really took closely tracking his movements for granted). So, while this story of my rainbow pregnancy will thankfully have a happy ending, my first son did not get to come home with us and I wanted to take this time to remind you that you have to trust yourself and speak up for you and your baby. I’ll finish sharing our happy rainbow baby pregnancy and delivery journey in a future post, but for now, let me also assure anyone who is struggling through PAL that although it can be a very scary and difficult journey, I am here for you (just as many others in our “club” of loss families are) to help you get through each of the days ahead, so please feel free to leave me a comment or find me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stillmysonOwen) if you need support.
As always, your sweet babies will live on in my heart along with our son Owen.