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October 15, 2021

Our Birth Story

Trigger Warning: Love after loss.

It’s not often that we share this portion of our lives publicly, but with so many couples speaking up it only felt right to share our birth story especially in the month of October. This will take us back to the summer of 2020 before the arrival of our sweet baby boy. This will likely be a long one, so buckle up!

Following our marriage in February 2020, Cody and I were so excited to start our family. It was not long after truly “trying” that we became pregnant. For anyone that knows me, I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mom and could not wait for that time to come in our lives. I did a fun reveal to Cody after work one night and we officially scheduled our first appointment with the OB office and ultrasound. We were so excited to get there (honestly I was shaking, I was so excited). Out comes the ultrasound equipment and up pops our little baby on the screen, moving things around and we see another! Yep, TWINS!! We were in absolute disbelief but with twins running in both of our families, we should have known it was a possibility.

Of course our minds were racing trying to figure out how to plan for two little ones on the way. How will we renovate the house to make this work? How will we afford daycare? Where on earth will we put all their things!? These were the first grand babies in each of our families and telling our parents was just as exciting as finding out ourselves. “Here’s baby A….and here’s baby B”. You can imagine the looks!

With having a destination wedding in February, we had decided to have a celebration of our marriage back home in July. With COVID, we changed our initial plans of an initially larger celebration to having a backyard reception. We were so close to hitting the second trimester at this point, I had to hide any signs of my pregnancy as we weren’t planning on telling anyone until we had that confirmation. After hearing our wedding song played again and seeing our closest family and friends in front of us, it seemed it only made sense to tell everyone. When would we all be together again, right?

The following week I went into my 12-week appointment at the end of July. My sister accompanied me as Cody had to be at work that day. Our ultrasound tech came in and seemed quiet. Pointing a few things out but not being joyful or talkative at all. He left the room and I turned to my sister to say, “Did you think he seemed quiet? Maybe I’m just overanalyzing but he was quiet”. In walks the doctor to inform us that we lost BOTH of the twins. No movement or heartbeats from either. It was a missed miscarriage. In that moment I was absolutely frozen (I don’t know what I would have done without any type of support there). We have an amazing OB GYN friend who explained the risks of twins to us before this appointment which did help prepare us but there really is not a way to be truly prepared. Our life completely changed in a matter of minutes from what would be to what could have been.

We were taken to another room to explain what the process was from there. My D&C was scheduled for the following week. My tears didn’t come until I had to say out loud to Cody that we lost the twins. Our twins would be what felt like truly taken from us in a matter of days. Part of me continued to think, they’re still in there, they have to be. It’s a weird feeling walking around with a lost pregnancy. Until you know, it’s truly indescribable. I’ll spare you all the details of the D&C but will share that everyone on our medical team was an absolute dream for the circumstance. When the tests came back, we found out we had lost two little boys.

The month of August was absolutely terrible. Not only were we mourning the loss of our twins and what we thought our new life would be, we were also informing all those around us over and over again that we had lost them. At one point, we told a pair of our friends to start telling people for us because it was too hard to say the words repeatedly. The uncomfortable conversations with those asking how I was feeling and turning around to tell them we lost the twins became too much. As a friend or acquaintance, I can’t imagine how it felt when we had to inform them when all they meant was well wishes. We felt so incredibly lost and unsure of what our future would hold. There aren’t any words that really help heal the loss of children, even if they didn’t ever make it earth-side. As fulfilling as our lives are, we will always be missing something (or in our case two little somethings).

Flash forward a few months to October…

For those that don’t know, October is known as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. October 15th specifically is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It had been some time since our D&C and we were able to start trying for our family again. I hadn’t taken a test since before the twins and honestly I was scared. October 15th came and I thought, “well, I guess I could check to see”. I waited my three minutes…and there in front of me were the most amazing words to read…PREGNANT. I sat in the bathroom absolutely stunned, I couldn’t move. Cody came in a few minutes later not knowing I had just taken a test. I initially hid it behind my back, hoping he wouldn’t see. Maybe it was a fluke, right? Slowly I brought it in front of him and told him to look. No big announcement, nothing on video, just a private moment between the two of us. On the day we were remembering our loss, we had found out we gained something in return. Our rainbow baby.

I took tests the following 5 days, I really could not believe it was true. They were all positive. Through all the ultrasounds that followed, I still didn’t believe it was true until I heard it. I didn’t believe it until I heard the heartbeat, the one thing we never got to hear with the twins. It was the most magical sound I have ever heard. I sat on that table and cried tears of joy. I will never forget that moment or that sweet sound.

This pregnancy was easier than expected. No morning sickness, no cravings, no aversions. I really didn’t start to show until the last few months and didn’t truly get the “pregnancy waddle”. The months flew by and we kept our secret, until we were about 5 months pregnant on our first wedding anniversary, from everyone outside of our immediate family and closest friends. The same month we were 5 months pregnant and announcing, we were remembering what would have been our due date with our twins. Deep in my mind, this wouldn’t be real until I held this baby in my arms.

Unlike many people, we chose the more traditional route of NOT finding out if we would be having a little lady or gentleman until birth. Cody and I were in disagreement on finding out vs. not. He didn’t want to know while I did. Unfortunately that was not a secret I could or wanted to keep, leaving us guessing until birth. Gender neutral EVERYTHING was to come for us. Also, it’s definitely a vibe I was on board with! The months seriously flew by and before we knew it, it was June!

We elected for an induction on our due date, June 23rd. Weighing all of our options, this made the most sense to us and our medical team was comfortable with this as well. There have been TONS of studies on this, if you’re curious definitely do some research, ask the professionals and do what makes the most sense to you!

The 23rd came and we officially headed to the hospital.

It was slowly starting to become real that we would actually be adding to our little family. Again with COVID, it would just be the two of us as well as our Doula/Birth Photographer. Upon arrival to the hospital, I was only a few centimeters dilated. Meds were started and we began the LONG journey to see our little one. After almost a full 24-hours after being induced, it was time to start pushing. FOUR HOURS of pushing later (a total of 28 hours awake since being induced), our team needed to send me in for a c-section…baby was not coming naturally! In what seemed like a flash, our baby was finally here… our beautiful BABY BOY!

It feels like I am saying over and over again, it’s hard to describe certain feelings within this experience. I have absolutely no words for holding your rainbow baby for the first time and watching your significant other do the same. The warmth, the overwhelming feeling of true happiness is indescribable. Something I had longed for, for SO long was finally here in the most perfect bundle.

**Side note on hiring a doula/birth photographer: if you have the means, DO IT. I can’t tell you how many times Anya, of Birthside Doula Care, was helping to support us during our birth as well as capturing some of the most amazing memories we would have missed on our own. Of the HUNDREDS of photos captured, these are just a few of our favorites!

Our birth story didn’t quite end there…

After a few days recovery, we were finally discharged to return home. Of all the things recovering from a c-section, the lack of abdominal control was the worst in my opinion. During pregnancy you are wanting to avoid abdominal workout to “reduce the risk of diastasis recti” (and having a little human inside of you makes things a bit more difficult), now post pregnancy I can’t even lift my legs onto the bed after standing due to, quite boldly, a small portion of my torso being sliced open. Gaining back strength and settling into our new normal was on the schedule for the next few weeks. What was not on the schedule was the pressure I began to feel in my chest, small pains in my stomach and the outrageous amount of water my legs were retaining about 24 hours after being discharged. When I say my legs were retaining water, I mean they were the same size from my thighs to my ankles. Bending my knees far and flexing my feet was not an option.

After reading through all the materials we were sent home with and after a short call with urgent care, we loaded our little family in the car to head to the emergency room thinking it’d be a quick in and out. After a few initial tests, they asked I stay overnight for observation. There was no way I was letting my 5 day old baby or my husband leave my side. We were ALL staying overnight! We hadn’t packed anything outside of the essentials for traveling a few hours with a little one. Thank god for my sister running us phone chargers in the middle of the night and my mom bringing more diapers for B. We were also thankful (in a sense) that they originally moved me to the birthing center again where we had access to nurses if we needed them for baby, a bassinet and also a breast pump/feeding supplies. To add a little comedy to this post, the nursing staff in the emergency room asked if I was some sort of “super athlete” because my resting heart rate was so incredibly low. I am in fact not a super athlete.

A night of observation and an early morning echocardiogram led us to be moved to the hospital “penthouse suite”…the cardiac floor. My results were trending towards the possibility of heart failure. Of all the moments in this process, this was the scariest. For a total of three days, we did test after test to find out what exactly was going on in my heart. The CT scan and angiogram helped us see that there were no blockages that could be found. What our team could come up with was that I not only had postpartum preeclampsia, which was ultimately missed on my charts, but my heart was under stress from the amount of water retained in my body from such a long labor and a surgery. For the next year I will be monitored every three months via echocardiogram and am on meds to help my heart heal. Never in my life did I think our birth story would include the first week of B’s life to essentially be in the hospital.

If you’ve made it this far I have a few final thoughts…

  • As mentioned earlier, if you have the ability to have a doula/birth photographer, DO NOT pass up the opportunity. From a doula perspective, she was able to give us great explanations of what was happening as well as help us be advocates for ourselves during the entire process. From a photography perspective, there was absolutely NO WAY we would have been able to capture these images and be present in our birth experience. Being so incredibly exhausted, it felt like I had holes in my memory of what had happened. These photos helped me piece together the birth of our first son.
  • I’m not sure how to make this happen for everyone, but have the BEST L&D nursing staff with you during your birthing experience. This obviously will depend on your hospital and who is on call during your birth but we had the best nurses with us. In delivering at a teaching hospital, there were a TON of people in our room at a time and a TON of people…poking around. There came a point when I had the OB GYN and about four residents doing the same cervical exam right in a row. It brought me so much anxiety and I communicated this to our nurse. She immediately kicked out their entire team and helped me through the remainder of my labor solo with our doula. After being moved to the L&D recovery floor, she not only continued to check on us but also came back the next day before and after her shift on a separate floor to check on us. I’m honestly not sure how we would have made it through that experience without her!
  • Make sure to talk with your partner or support person on your thoughts on all the birthing options. Cody and I had spoken at length about delivering naturally but didn’t truly talk about having a c-section. Although there aren’t a lot of things to talk through once you are headed in that direction, he didn’t feel confident speaking for me because we hadn’t discussed it. Check off all the boxes with your person long ahead of your due date!
  • You are an absolute unicorn if your birth goes exactly as planned. From a few close friends who also recently gave birth, having a more “traumatic” experience is more common than not and should really be talked about more openly. Someone’s birth story on the outside is likely not how things actually happened.
  • My final thoughts (and why I wrote this in the first place), any type of loss is a loss. I have seen a lot of numbers on percentage of pregnancies that end in miscarriage or loss and I think they could all be correct depending on who you talk to. From the amount of people that I have talked to who recently gave birth, almost 100% of them had some form of loss in a previous pregnancy. We were extremely lucky to have the support system around us to truly get through our miscarriage. It’s ok to think about your loss and the children/family you could have had. I think about our twins daily and don’t ever want to clear them from my mind. Recently I heard that some parents dislike the term “rainbow baby”, that this refers to your lost children as the storm before the rainbow. I like to think of the storm as the days following a loss, the healing that is still taking place and B truly being our rainbow after the storm.

If you have them, hug your babies tight. The sound of cries and frustration are nothing compared to the deafening silence of a miscarriage or leaving the hospital empty handed. Here’s to those trying, waiting, praying and living for their rainbow baby.

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