Two Rainbow Babies

October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Everyone around the world is encouraged to light a candle at 7 p.m., as it falls in each time zone. If everyone lights a candle and keeps it burning for one hour, there will be a continuous Wave of Light over the entire world.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss
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I have been pregnant five times. I have two living children.

My first miscarriage occurred on my honeymoon in December 2013. It was an early miscarriage, only seven weeks pregnant at the time. I never thought it would happen to me, even though I had many friends who had experienced a miscarriage. We were heartbroken but hopeful.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the chances of having another miscarriage were only about one percent.

We tried again and my daughter was born in February 2015 and though she was born five weeks premature and spent a week in the NICU in Erie, we ultimately brought home a healthy, rainbow baby, girl. After about a year we wanted to give her a sibling so we began trying to conceive again.

My second miscarriage happened in November 2016. This was another early miscarriage, at six weeks. I knew multiple people who were pregnant around the same time. I found it so difficult to watch so many women go through pregnancy and experience all of the fun aspects of it, from gender reveals to decorating nurseries to growing bellies, and then give birth to healthy babies.

While I was happy for them, I couldn’t help but think that I should be enjoying those same milestones. I still think of that baby every time we celebrate one of those children’s birthdays. Desperate to try again, and still not overly concerned, we found out on Mother’s Day 2017 that I was pregnant again.

I began seeing an OB/GYN in Erie for my prenatal care and everything was going well. However, I was terrified of losing this baby. I didn’t take pictures of my growing belly. I didn’t announce the pregnancy on Facebook. I tried to not even think about the baby in fear of jinxing something. I regret all of that now and wish I had taken the pictures and enjoyed the short time we had together.

On Aug. 4, 2017, at 16 weeks pregnant, my body went into pre-term labor, and, with the doctors unable to do anything to stop it, I gave birth to a half-pound baby girl who clearly couldn’t survive. We were able to hold her and tell her hello and goodbye.

It was the worst day of my life.

My world grew darker that day and I will forever have a hole in my heart after losing her. We had her cremated and have her ashes at home with us.

I remember that the doctor kept telling me it wasn’t my fault multiple times throughout the day that I gave birth and I realized why later on because the guilt was just as crippling as the grief. Did I do something wrong? Could I have prevented it? What was wrong with me?

I’d like to note that the maternity nurses at WGH – Holly and Jayda especially, and Dr. Maljovec were amazing throughout the entire experience and I’d like to thank them for the amazing care that they provided for us that day.

I went into a pretty dark place after that; I unconsciously wore black for months, cried for days at a time, and could barely think straight. I was working on my nursing degree at the time and went back to school only because I wasn’t thinking clearly, just did whatever I needed to do next.

How I made it through is beyond me. I saw a high-risk OB/GYN specialist in Erie after that and they never did find a reason for my miscarriages and difficulties with pregnancy. My body apparently can’t handle pregnancy well.

A year and a half later, with the help of that specialist, weekly injections and bi-weekly ultrasounds, and some dedicated doctors in Erie, I was able to give birth to a baby boy in February 2019, who also was born five weeks premature and spent over a week in the NICU, just like his big sister, but again, was able to come home with us.

Words cannot express how grateful we are for our two miracle rainbow babies.

I am also grateful for my miscarriages, weird as it sounds. They taught me to appreciate every second with the two kids I have. They taught me about death and how to handle it. They taught me about grace and faith and joy and grief.

I think one of the hardest aspects of miscarriages is that you feel so alone. And in some ways, you are, because not everyone knows and loves the baby as strongly as you; often not everyone even knows about the pregnancy if it’s an early miscarriage. So, the others don’t feel the same grief and sense of loss that the immediate family does because they didn’t have the chance to know and love the baby yet.

However, you are not alone in a way; miscarriage is so unbelievably common and it helps to speak to others who have been through it because while they may not have known your baby, they understand the loneliness and loss and grief in a way others cannot. I am always happy to share my story in the hopes that it will make at least one parent of an angel baby feel better.

Editor’s note: Your Daily Local reached out, through Addie’s Gift Foundation, to families willing to share their stories for National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Week (Oct. 9 – 15). All the stories were written by those who shared them and have been edited only for style and spelling/grammar where appropriate. More stories can be found here.