Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Trigger Warning: This post talks about miscarriage and infant loss.

Both my children are rainbow babies. A rainbow baby is a child born after the loss of another child. They are called rainbows because they bring light back to your life and give you hope again.

Being pregnant with a rainbow baby can be an incredibly anxious time. I realised I was often more worried than I needed to be, especially with my second child. It felt almost like it was inevitable that something would happen because something happened in the past. Obviously, it ended up well because here I am with two beautiful boys.

First

My husband and I planned getting pregnant and having kids. We waited till he received his PhD and had a new job. We waited until after we’d flown to Australia to have a second wedding and introduce him to my family.

Once we got back from the trip we started trying right away. And right away I got pregnant. It was funny because I’d joked about getting pregnant straight away and here I was. I went to the doctor, started reading pregnancy books and we planned.

Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be and around eight weeks I started bleeding.

The level of sadness I felt then seems shallow to me now. I’ve been through more intense things and I miss that innocent sadness I felt then.

Of course, at the time I was devastated. I remember calling a friend who’d had many miscarriages to tell her I was so sorry and I understood better what she went though. At the time I couldn’t imagine going through this again.

The doctor told me to wait three months before we tried again. We didn’t wait and I took got a positive result on a pregnancy test five weeks later. Eight months later our first child was born.

Second

I told my husband that I wanted our children to be close in age. We had already decided on having two (I gave him the choice of zero or two children). When our first child was six months old my body seemed to be getting back to normal, so we started trying for a second.

Every month I would track my cycle and every month I would feel bad when I got my period. I knew that stressing over it happening wasn’t the best idea to make it happen, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. I wanted to be in control and it was frustrating that I wasn’t.

Finally, exactly 12 months after we started trying, I took a positive pregnancy test. It actually happened at an awkward time. We were visiting my family in Australia and had just decided that my husband would fly home and I’d stay there with our child for another month. But I was happy it finally happened.

I had my husband make appointments for me for when I got back to Canada. I was nervous and excited for my first ultrasound the week I got back. I was feeling pretty anxious and wanted some scientific evidence that things were okay.

I started having brown discharge a week before we were supposed to fly back. Doctor Google said it was probably fine.

The night before my flights the airline called me and said that there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to fly and there was a chance I’d get stuck in Taipei. Panic, of course. I wouldn’t know until I checked in if I’d be making it home or not.

I didn’t sleep that night. We had to be up really early to make it to the small regional airport near my mum’s place. I was feeling that level of calm that comes to me after a night of minimal sleep. It’s not that I was actually calm I was just too tired to process emotion and deal with my active 20-month-old at the same time.

We made it to Sydney and I was so happy when they told me my flights were not cancelled and I’d make it home as planned. I got myself a giant coffee and tried to keep my bundle of snakes firstborn occupied.

The flight was on time and very full. I had a middle aisle seat with my child in my lap. I was thankful to be short because if I was a little taller it would’ve been even more uncomfortable.

The next part is pretty intense so be warned and skip over it if you need to.

Two hours into the flight and I went to the toilet and found bright red blood. I went back to my seat and cried into my son’s hair. I knew it was over and this child wasn’t meant to be.

I became very worried when I realised I was bleeding too much. I knew that if I was at home I was supposed to go to the hospital if I was bleeding this much. I think it was partially because my son was pushing himself into my belly and forcing everything out (not a medical opinion just my feeling). Then I passed a large clot and my heart broke.

Even though I’d intellectually accepted that the pregnancy was over, seeing the clot forced my heart to accept it too. My son’s hair became very damp and salty on that flight.

And I was scared to tell anyone because I knew if they thought there was any chance I was in medical distress they wouldn’t let me on the next flight and all I wanted was to get home to my husband.

I probably wouldn’t have made it home without a total break down if the next flight was as crowded as the first. But we got lucky and there was an empty seat next to me when we boarded. I asked if it was okay for me to put my son there after takeoff and it was.

And I will be eternally grateful to the woman sitting on the other side of my son. She watched him sleep and let me sleep a little. It was such as small act of kindness but it’s one of the most important encounters I’ve had with a stranger. I told her before we left that plain that I really appreciated her help and that she had no idea how much that meant to me. I regret, sometimes, that I didn’t get contact info for her so I could truly express how much she helped me but maybe it’s better this way.

Third

When I found out I was pregnant again, just two months later, I was very anxious. I scheduled an ultrasound for the day I was eight weeks (this was the earliest they would do it).

At seven weeks and six days I started spotting. I knew it was going to be another miscarriage, but I couldn’t just wait and see. I was able to change my ultrasound appointment to that evening. I went into the room pretty sure that the pregnancy would be over but I still had hope in my heart.

The ultrasound tech told me it looked like I was around five weeks. I told her it wasn’t possible for it to be that early. My husband was in the waiting room and I couldn’t even speak to him when I came out.

We had to catch public transit and as we got on the bus I just started crying. I remember the older woman across from us looking at me curiously but I just didn’t care at that moment. I was going home to wait for the miscarriage to start.

It actually was the least difficult emotionally. Physically it was the worst. But because I found out before it really started I had emotionally processed it by the time I really started bleeding a few days later.

The last pregnancy

I told my husband when I got pregnant five months after my last miscarriage that I was done. No matter what happened this would be my last pregnancy. I couldn’t handle anymore emotional or physical stress.

We were lucky and we have our two beautiful boys. It took its toll on both of us but they are worth everything.

Photo by Alex Jackman on Unsplash

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