I am 25 weeks pregnant with my third child.
Reading this sentence alone could be unremarkable for some, but it could be loaded for those who are trying to conceive, those who have experienced pregnancy/infant/child loss, or anyone at any point in his or her own parenthood journey for any number of reasons.
For me, this sentence means a lot.
I found out that my first son had died in utero when I thought I was 23 weeks and 6 days pregnant. He was stillborn the next morning. It turns out that he was actually a week older than we thought. But for so long, I thought that I just hadn’t quite made it to 24 weeks pregnant, let alone 25.
Well-meaning people have told me why my son was stillborn. ‘He would have had a hard life had he been born alive,’ (not necessarily, his autopsy showed that he was perfect, it was just my body that cut him off from life when my placenta abrupted). ‘He’s in a better place,’ (sure, but I would have loved to have him here on earth with me before he went to heaven, and I think he would have loved that, too). I am a believer in there not being a reason for everything, but there were potential causes. And there is an ‘after.’
When it happened, I NEEDED to know the causes.
And I couldn’t imagine an after. After delving into my medical records with the help of an attorney and a doctor, I learned that my son Brayden was stillborn at least partly due to a series of unfortunate misses. Very clear signs had been missed, dismissed, and/or ignored (but recorded in black and white), which led to undiagnosed severe pre-eclampsia causing a complete concealed placental abruption. After several phone calls and extra appointments, I trusted those whose care I was in, believing them when they told me I was just worrying too much.
After a prenatal appointment, I learned the hard way that my instincts had been right.
I was sent to the nearest hospital for an ultrasound after hearing my own heartbeat on my OB’s doppler and thinking it was my baby’s heartbeat. She was concerned but did not tell me that he was gone, so I didn’t let that thought cross my mind. Rubbing my belly, telling myself and my baby that everything would be okay, I was ever-hopeful until the second I heard the hospital’s doctor say, “This is what we call fetal demise.” My then-boyfriend (now-husband), Matt, and my parents met my sister and me at the hospital as soon as they heard; the news spread and hurt waves of loving family and friends all around us.
At a bigger hospital I was put on magnesium sulfate and induced to deliver him quickly because my health was in danger. It felt like living a real-life nightmare. Brayden was stillborn at 5:39 a.m. the following morning on May 17, 2014. The ‘after’ included a foggy haze of tears and asking over and over again, “What happened?” I then met a community of people who had been just as shocked, just as unprepared, just as ready to be parents to a living child or children or already were, who had had that sweetness taken from them also, just like that.
Four months later we were fortunate to conceive our first rainbow, Ainsley Hope.
My pregnancy with her was nothing short of terrifying. She was born healthy on June 7, 2015 after a weekly-monitored high-risk pregnancy, induced at 36 weeks. She is now two and a half years old and has brought us all of the joy that one can imagine after going through what we have been through. In no way has she replaced Brayden, but a rainbow brings light and hope, and that is our Ainsley.
We are expecting our third child, a boy, in April.
I am honored to have been asked to be a Bump Day Blogger for Pregnancy After Loss Support, the site that has helped me so much during my pregnancies after loss. The pregnancy and infant loss community, one that none of us wants to be in, is actually a really incredible place. The connections I have made with those who joined before me and after me are all so important and have contributed to the peace I feel regarding the loss of my son. I will always wish that we had had a different outcome, but I know for sure that I was meant to be his mom and he was meant to be my child. I feel closer to him now than I ever have; he has taught me so much about myself, strength I didn’t know I had, love, compassion, understanding, and being brave. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.