My baby boy turned four years old a couple of weeks ago. We celebrated with a Paw Patrol cake, and he ripped open his presents which included a mechanized race car track and lots of matchbox cars. He ate too much sugar, bounced off the walls, then passed out. Just your typical story for a little boy’s birthday. But he’s our rainbow baby, so even the typical stuff is extra special.
We brought him home from the hospital on Thanksgiving day and gave thanks for this gift of a child after years of heartache and loss. We feasted on pumpkin pie (See recipe here!), and stared at this beautiful rainbow baby. His 8-year-old brother’s wish had finally come true. We had no idea that this tiny little bundle would be filled with so much light and happiness. This kid is absolute JOY. He smiles and laughs with his entire body. He lights up a room …and then he works a room. And he has healed me in ways I didn’t think would ever be possible. The open wounds of the past are now just faded scars.
I wrote the following post on Andy’s first birthday. It was the first time I had ever publicly discussed our struggles with secondary infertility and multiple miscarriage. Despite my hesitation and fears, I really felt called to tell our story. The outpouring of love, support, and private messages of thanks from those also struggling made me realize the importance of bringing this subject to light. If you know someone battling infertility, please share this message. If you are battling infertility, I hope this story helps in some small way. Never lose hope, and don’t let fear make your decisions. Not everyone’s story may end as ours did, but overcoming infertility can happen in many ways.
November 20, 2013 …
A year ago today, Travis and I were driving to the hospital for the scheduled C-section of our second child. We drove in silence for a while, and then Travis looked over at me and said, “Well, I think we’re really going to have a baby this time.”
Unlike the birth of John where we had run rampant in Babies R Us, we had purchased only the bare essentials this time around. A carseat, a cradle, one boy outfit and one girl outfit, a pack of newborn diapers and one box of wipes. And that was it.
Seven miscarriages in a row creates a pretty thick and burly wall around your heart. Our first one absolutely crushed us, but by number seven we were hellbent on not letting it bring us to our knees. We had experienced just about every kind of miscarriage out there — missed, chemical, standard, ectopic … we had dealt with waiting it out, three D&Cs and injections of a cancer drug in hopes of ending the ectopic pregnancy before losing a fallopian tube.
I really can’t say why we kept trying … we just did. Doctors continued to tell us that there was nothing wrong, that there was no reason why we could not have a healthy child. And personally, I was determined not to let my fear make any decisions for me. I knew God would let me know when it was time to stop trying or to explore other options.
And then, for no known reason at all, this pregnancy stuck. I went to the ob/gyn over and over, waiting for the ultrasound tech to look at me with pity in her eyes and say, “I’m sorry, we cannot find a heartbeat.” Because those are the words I had heard over and over. I had a completely normal, uncomplicated pregnancy … except that I didn’t really talk about it or think about it much so I wouldn’t get too attached. Because surely this wasn’t really going to happen, right? I have miscarriages … it’s what I do. It’s what I’m good at. But this baby’s heart kept beating.
So a year ago today, we were blessed with a beautiful, healthy baby boy. We looked like every other couple in the birthing center, happy and elated to have a newborn child after the typical nine months of pregnancy. But for us, it was anything but typical.
As I write this, I almost feel as if I’m telling you about someone else’s life. Because this little boy has brought so much joy and peace into our lives that it’s almost like the bad stuff didn’t really happen. But when I read a pregnancy announcement on Facebook, my body reacts before my mind. I feel intense grief hit me like a truck and my heart starts pounding … but then my brain catches up and I remember that I’m not in the midst of that battle anymore.
Infertility is a nasty, cruel thing. Whether it’s not being able to get pregnant or not being able to stay pregnant, your first child or any one after that, it slowly consumes every corner of your mind and eats away at your hope until it’s almost completely gone. But there’s always a tiny glimmer of it somewhere very deep inside, because if it was all gone then the loss wouldn’t devastate us every time. And it’s everywhere. Women and families are struggling with it all around us. And yes, there are much worse things in this world and much harder things to endure. But it’s still really, really awful.
I know this is a really long post. To be honest, it’s more for me than for anyone else. But maybe someone out there can see themselves in my words or my experience … and their hope can grow just a little bit. I promise you, God is doing wonderful work in you right now. Every single thing about me is better than it was before I started this journey.
So happy 1st birthday to my precious Andy. Thank you for fully restoring our hope, for making your big brother’s dream come true, for showing us that God’s plan is bigger and better than ours, and for proving that the very best things in this life are worth every second of heartache, loss and pain. I would gladly do it all over again in a heartbeat.
365 days of healing deserves a celebration. Bring on the cake!