After I became pregnant with my rainbow baby, it seemed as if I was expected to brush the heartache of past pregnancies aside and assume that nothing would go wrong this time. People often remarked that this was a different pregnancy, implying that certainly there would be a different outcome. But was it really that different? Sure, there was a different life growing inside of me, but it involved the same body, same genes, and same potential problems. There was no predicting if this pregnancy would produce different results than my last two. And after two failed pregnancies, I didn’t think that the odds were really in my favor.
My pregnancy prior to this didn’t come with definite answers as to why it ended just after the 20 week mark. My water broke at 17 weeks, 6 days, but the reasons for what caused that were unknown. The theories included incompetent cervix and undetected infection, among other things. Without knowing the definite cause of my prior loss, there were no answers as to what could lead to a better outcome this time, a different outcome.
Around the 14 week mark of my rainbow pregnancy, I happened to have an ultrasound and was immediately informed that my cervix was thinning and I needed to get home and stay in bed until I could meet with a specialist the next day. It was January of 2016 when I was given this news. I had lost baby Micah in January 2015 and I had an early loss in January 2014. History seemed set to repeat itself and this January seemed to be headed in the same direction as the previous two.
The next day at my appointment with the specialist, the ultrasound appeared to show that there weren’t actually any problems with my cervix. I was told that I must have been having a contraction during the ultrasound on the previous day, which apparently changes the appearance of the cervix. While this news provided initial relief, the difference between this pregnancy and the last remained to be seen.
A few weeks later, during another ultrasound, I was informed that the doctor had discovered amniotic sludge in my womb which, even for medical jargon, sounded made up. Despite its not-so-professional sounding name, I was told that there is an association between the sludge and Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM) which is what was responsible for my previous loss. And after doing a little research of my own, I discovered that this mysterious sludge could also be a sign of infection. Every week, at every ultrasound, the sludge was still there and I was continuously reminded that there was real potential for my rainbow pregnancy to end in the same way as my previous pregnancy. It was a different pregnancy, but there were too many similarities, too many connections to expect a different result.
While my doctors seemed optimistic, the words were out there. Incompetent cervix, PPROM, and infection. The same things we had discussed in various offices over the course of the previous year were continuing to be discussed throughout my rainbow pregnancy. Nothing was different, not yet anyway. The real difference would come if I made to the full term mark and gave birth to a living baby.
After months and months of praying that my rainbow pregnancy really would be different, my prayers were answered, and I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I was stunned. For months this pregnancy had been plagued by fear, threatening medical terms, and flashbacks to previous pregnancies that ended in loss. Despite making it safely through each week, only in the end did it truly turn out to be different.
While I know that those who assured me that this pregnancy would be different were trying to plant seeds of hope in my weary heart, I knew that nothing was certain. A different pregnancy doesn’t guarantee different results. And for a loss mom who is carrying her rainbow baby, the only difference between this time and last time might just be that she gets to leave the hospital with her baby.