A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison.
I had never heard the term Rainbow Baby until after we experienced our loss, I was doing my nightly ritual of googling all things related to loss, infertility and cervical mucous. Sounds amazing doesn’t it. Most people who know us know that we suffered a loss, because we heartbreakingly lost our angel baby a few days after announcing excitedly at 13 weeks that we were expecting baby #2. What many don’t know is that late last year I was diagnosed with secondary infertility after unsuccessfully trying to fall pregnant again for 3 years
We had been married for just over a year when we decided to try for a baby, and in blissful ignorance I went off the pill, had my bloodwork done (I needed the Measles, Mumps and Rubella Booster so we had to wait 3 months before we could start trying) and without knowing anything else about trying to conceive we gave it a go and bam! First month of trying we were pregnant with Bebe. I had a horrible pregnancy, diagnosed with Hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme morning sickness) until 24 weeks and then sever hip pain in the third trimester which meant movement was limited. And even after a 3 day labour which ended in an emergency C-section, once I had Bebe in my arms I was ready to do it all again (despite all the times I had cried on Hubby’s shoulder telling him we were only having one). So we didn’t use contraception once Bebe was 3 months old and decided that not-not-trying while I was breastfeeding would mean we’d have another soon enough, but not too soon.
I fell pregnant with our angel baby when Bebe was just over 12 months old (in 2013), and I wasn’t as sick although still very unwell. At about 12 weeks I had a day or two of very light spotting (not enough to be concerned about according to the hospital when I called) and then my sickness completely disappeared overnight. A few days before our Nuchal Scan was scheduled I started bleeding heavily and a trip to emergency confirmed that we had lost the baby.
Fast forward one month shy of 3 years, and we have had every test under the sun which all came back clear. According to science, hubby and I were in fantastic reproductive health and there was absolutely no reason that we weren’t getting pregnant again. And so we were diagnosed with secondary infertility. I would like to think I handled myself with grace through this period, but you would need to ask my closest friends if I succeeded. We didn’t share with anyone else that we were still trying, and to be honest my hope diminished about 6 months before we fell pregnant. I don’t deal well with not knowing things, not being able to fix something, so to be told that there was nothing wrong with us frustrated me to no end. I honestly wanted something to be wrong so we could know for sure how to fix it or to stop trying.
After about 2 years of trying I sold all out baby things. I kept keepsakes for Bebe, and packed a few favourite pieces away in a box out of sight, and sold everything else. I couldn’t bear to look at it anymore. After 2.5 years one of my best friends fell pregnant unexpectedly and was diagnosed with Hyperemesis gravidarum – even worse than what I had – and although it hurt incredibly, I was there for her every step of the way and tried my best to not feel anything but joy for her. Her journey was rough and complicated and I reminded myself if I ever felt sad, that everyone has their hardships even if they’re different. And of course now I have the most beautiful nephew who has just stolen my heart forever, and a little best friend for Bebe. But I had very little hope left.
In December 2016 we saw a new Obstetrician who sent me to have a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) with Lipiodol (iodinated oil) – which is basically an X-Ray while they flush the tubes to see if there are any blockages. The Lipiodol isn’t standard, but our Obstetrician recommends it as there is an increase of 30% in fertility for the 3 months following the procedure, and although they don’t know why it seems particularly successful for patients with unexplained infertility. My tubes passed with flying colours, absolutely no blockages at all, and that left me crying on the table. There really was nothing wrong with us. My hope died.
The HSG procedure can mess with your first two cycles, so I wasn’t surprised when I ovulated a week later than I usually did, this however meant my egg was older, my uterine lining older and therefore of course in my mind it was a washout. We had decided that we would try for those allegedly magical three months following the procedure and then would completely stop. We were blessed with our beautiful son, which is so much more than many others, and I was worried about the ever expanding age gap between Bebe and another since we had decided very early on in our relationship that we only wanted two children.
The cruellest part of trying to conceive (TTC) is that early period and early pregnancy symptoms are exactly the same. Your brain is telling you not to get excited, while your heart is whispering ‘this is it!’. This was the first cycle in 3 years though that I honestly didn’t care or pay attention to any of it. So impatiently waiting for my period to turn up, grumpy, crampy and with sore boobs… I went and bought more pads. As you do. And waited, and cursed the HSG for messing with my cycle so much, and waited some more telling myself not to waste the one digital pregnancy test I had left (oh how many of these I have bought over the past three years) when it was clear my period was due to arrive any minute. Except I have no self control, so I took the test just so I could show myself that I WASN’T pregnant. And yet I was. 2-3 Weeks worth of pregnant according to the test. I put the test back on the counter and waited for it to change. For it to have been a mistake. A cruel mistake. But it didn’t change. Somehow, my old egg had successfully attached to my old uterine lining and we were finally pregnant.
I cried. I told Hubby. He cried. I cried again. I cried some more. And secretly I waited for the loss. I prepared myself to lose this baby created from an old egg and old uterine lining. But just like its brother, this baby is pedantic and stubborn and still growing away and I have my hope back. And a beautiful Rainbow Baby due in September.