Rainbow babies and pregnancy after loss

One mother shares her personal journey of getting pregnant again after miscarriage.

Each mom has her own totally unique path through pregnancy—with lots of great advice to share. So the Pipette team is asking interesting women from all over the country to open up and tell us stories from their nine long months—and what they’ve discovered along the way. Next up: Luci Wormell, mother of three from San Tan Valley, Arizona.

Our two oldest are a year apart. They are our “Irish twins,” as most people call it. When we decided to try for our third, our younger child was just a little over a year old. We were so excited and pictured our kids growing up to be close, like each other’s best friends.

I found out I was pregnant with our third late in September of 2018. I couldn’t wait to surprise my husband: I got a plush baby animal, a onesie, and a card, arranged everything in a box along with the pregnancy test (just in case he didn’t get the hints), and left it all for him to find. He came home from work that evening and went upstairs, where I’d left the box. My heart was beating so fast. Had he seen the box yet? Finally, he came down and just looked at me with the biggest smile. We talked about how crazy it was going to be with three kids so close in age, but also how over the moon we were for all of that craziness. We decided to tell the rest of our family in a few weeks during our family photo session. I coordinated with the photographer on how we were going to do the pregnancy announcement. It was all going to be perfect.

Fast forward to the week of our family photos. On Wednesday, I had noticed some spotting after using the restroom. It was midday, and I texted a girlfriend of mine who said it was probably normal. I tried to recall if I had had any spotting with my previous pregnancies; I hadn’t. But I knew that every pregnancy was different and that my girlfriend could be right. I hoped so.

The next morning, I was in a panic: the spotting I’d had the day before had gotten worst. Something was definitely wrong. I remained calm and called the doctor’s office. They asked me to come in that afternoon for an emergency visit. My husband had already left for work, and I needed someone to watch the kids so I could go to the appointment, because it was getting worse by the minute. I decided to call my mom and asked her to leave work due to a family emergency. I told her a little bit of what was going on: “Mom, I’m bleeding. I’m not supposed to be bleeding.” Without hesitation, she told me she was on her way home and she would meet me and the kids at her house. Driving to my mom’s house in silence, I tried to remain calm for my kids and myself but I wanted to cry; I knew what was happening, but I didn’t want to believe it.

At the doctor’s office, the OB told me there was no sign of a heartbeat or a viable pregnancy from the ultrasound. I lost it. Everything was in slow motion. I cried and nodded but I really wanted to run out of that office and hide forever. They did bloodwork and told me they would confirm everything once the results were back, but we all knew–I miscarried.

I had had two successful pregnancies with no complications. I had no prior history of miscarriages. My mom did not have a history of miscarriages. Everything was supposed to be fine. Why did I miscarry? What did I do? There were so many questions going through my head and there were absolutely no answers for them.

It was so hard to accept the fact that we lost our baby.

I didn’t need a D&C. Instead, I had to wait for the tissue to pass. Anyone who has had a miscarriage knows that this process is devastating. I would bleed so much every hour. Think of it like having a menstrual cycle, but now multiply that by a thousand. I went mute. I shut family and friends out. I declined help. I wanted to be left alone. I tried to be there for the kids, but it was hard being drenched in blood (I know it’s so graphic, but that was the truth). The process of having a miscarriage, waiting for it to pass, and learning to heal emotionally, physically, and mentally was so difficult. My husband took two weeks off to be by my side and help with the kids. During this time, I was in bed from day until night.

 

Pregnancy after loss

I found out I was pregnant again at the end of December. I had doubts about whether it was real or not, so I took several tests. But when the digital test had a “YES+” my heart lit up. I told my husband that evening. I knew he was happy for us but he also had some reserved feelings. We did not want to get our hearts crushed again. We kept it to ourselves except for close friends.

At every one of my doctor appointments, I was so nervous. The ultrasounds gave me a brief sense of peace. I could see my little bean, my baby boy, and hear his heartbeat. He was a healthy little one. But waiting to hear his heartbeat again every four weeks had me in knots. During this pregnancy, I was always anxious and paranoid. I was overly careful about what I ate, what I drank, what my daily activities were. I always remembered to take my prenatal vitamins. This pregnancy was also my hardest to get through physically. I was so sick at the beginning that it was difficult to move off the couch. I threw up so much during the day. With two high-energy toddlers, some days felt like an eternity; by nighttime, I was drained.

When our rainbow baby finally came, I was able to breathe again. The whole time I had been pregnant with him, I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to see him in the end, or if he was going to be born with some complications that were completely unforeseen. What if his organs suddenly weren’t functioning correctly–just some weird, unexplained, crazy scenario? Because I had never thought I would have a miscarriage, and yet I did. I had been healthy. I had never had a history of pregnancy complications. Nothing’s guaranteed.

 

Mama with her baby

 

I am so grateful my son, my rainbow baby, was born healthy; he is now almost seven months old. I love him and I adore every bit of him. However, to say my pregnancy was easy would be inaccurate. Sure, I put on a strong face for my family and friends. And physically I was healthier than most, but mentally I was battling those negative voices and facing anxiety until the day I had my son. It is hard to look on the bright side of things when you’ve experienced something so traumatic with no explanation. Pregnancy after loss was tough for me. I relied on a lot of online resources and personal prayer.

If you’re pregnant and have experienced a prior loss, my heart goes out to you. I know how hard it can be. I cannot speak for all women, but I know your mind is in such a different zone when you are pregnant. Often it’s painful to have to talk about it. But if you find someone who will listen and who you feel comfortable with, share your thoughts and feelings with them. For me, I’ve found that you have to let it all out in order to find some healing power. Otherwise, it’s this hidden pain that you carry with you day in and day out. And that pain can be an obstacle to your healing.

 

My rainbow baby postpartum journey

There have been many days when I find myself missing the baby that we lost. The other night I googled “How to grieve appropriately.” The top search results were: healthy ways to cope with grief, healthy grieving, and signs of incomplete grief. I read all of these articles. Based on my readings, there’s not a right or wrong way to grieve, but there is a healthy way. I have also been experiencing incomplete grief which shows up as irritability, anger, being stuck on emotional rewind, and pulling away from others in order to avoid potential future loss and pain.

What triggered me to look all of this up was another dream I had of Dawson. No one really knew that we’d named our unborn child whom we lost, or the meaning behind the name. I’d been wanting a gold band with Dawson’s name engraved on it, and I dreamt the other night that this ring was given to me. The fact that Dawson’s name was on it was a huge trigger, and seeing that name DAWSON so loud and vividly in my dream was tough. I still do not understand why something so cruel could just randomly happen without any forewarning, blindly, and then scar you forever.

I thought I had finished my grieving already, but I haven’t always done it in the healthiest way to help me move forward. You know you’ve finished your grieving when triggers like these occur and you don’t spiral back to all of that emotional turmoil. You are still heartbroken, but you’re also at peace with it all. And it turns out I’m not there yet, even though I thought I was.

Grief can be about anything that you have lost. It can be loss of a job, a home, an opportunity, or a relationship. To those who are grieving someone or something right now, I am sorry there are not more answers. Unfortunately, time moves forward as we keep trying to move backward. So I sit with you and hold this moment with you. Because I want someone to do the same for me right now.

And of course, during this process of grief, I have been lucky enough to have my rainbow baby to help me heal. Rainbow babies are a different kind of special. It’s hard to explain, but my heart is always overflowing whenever I hold him; whenever I see him; whenever he smiles at me. I love all three of my children equally, but I connect with him differently. It is one of those hard-to-describe feelings but if you have experienced it, you just know how beautiful and magical it is.

 

Pregnancy after loss support

Honor your angel baby. This will look different for everyone. However, if you find a way to honor your angel baby, you will not have that feeling of “guilt” for being happy that you are pregnant again. To honor my angel baby, I had a custom necklace made with two vertical bars. One bar had my due date for my angel baby and the other had the date I lost my angel baby. For me, I found comfort in knowing I will always have these two dates close to my heart. I will never forget them. As hard as that day was, it gave me strength and opened my heart even more – to love, to accept, to be grateful, and to live each moment fully. (my necklace was by made by @madebymary)

Communicate with your doctor. With my first two pregnancies, I went to my regular appointments every month, and never asked a single question. Everything looked fine, so there was not much for me to ask, right? After my miscarriage, I found myself researching, reading my lab reports over and over again, going through article after article about various pregnancy topics. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to really understand what was going on at my appointments. What is the heart rate? Is that normal? What is considered not normal? What is the size of the baby? Is the baby growing on track? Ask questions that are relevant to you – doctors are there to help you and comfort you during this time. They should be able to answer all of your questions with ease. If there is something that you don’t understand, ask.

Find a support system. Pregnancy after one or more losses is not easy. Some women have the fear that they are not going to be able to make it full term. Some women have the fear that they are not doing “enough” for their unborn child. Some women get paranoid the way I did, and every little movement, pain, etc. scares them. All of these things can cause anxiety. Anxiety is fear. Fear is anxiety. That is why it is important to find a solid support system for the next nine months or as long as you need it. There are some great online communities that helped me during my loss, while I was pregnant with our rainbow baby, and after. These communities help you connect with other women who have similar experiences and journeys so that you feel less alone:

You want to find someone or a group of people who will understand your situation. That doesn’t always mean that they have gone through exactly what you have gone through, but it means that they’re educated about the topic and your situation, and they understand the emotions you are experiencing. Trust me, you don’t want to do this alone. It is a lot to keep to yourself. Once you find that support system, it will allow you to breathe and maintain a healthy mental state of mind during your pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

 

The information provided by Pipette is intended solely for educational purposes. The information is not to be used for medical diagnostic purposes and is not intended to serve as a recommendation for treatment and/or management of any medical/surgical condition. Most of all, this information should not be used in place of a physician or other qualified health provider. If you believe you or your child have a medical condition, please contact your physician immediately. 

 

 

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