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After the grief comes the rainbow (baby)

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I started my second pregnancy distrusting my body. It failed me and our first baby, why would this time be different?

Pregnancy after a miscarriage is so many things. It’s hard, beautiful, anxiety-inducing and healing. For me, it was a relentless internal struggle between being excited and not allowing myself to be, in case it was taken away from me again. Self-preservation.

In fact, I didn’t just want to protect myself, I felt a duty to protect those closest to me too. I wasn’t the only one impacted by our miscarriage and I didn’t want to be responsible for that again. Yep, that self-blame rationale crept straight back in. I didn’t tell my partner straight away.

The first time was so thrilling—tears and celebratory beers. For him, not me. Well, the tears were mine, let’s be honest. This time, I took the test without him knowing. There was no exciting or romantic gesture.

I walked into the bedroom one night and held out the positive test. I didn’t say anything and neither did he, he gave me a reassuring kiss on the head, squeezed my hand and we went to bed.

Daily blood tests saw my HCG levels rise as they should. At our first scan, the sonographer had barely finished putting gel on my tummy before we heard it. The sound that quickly became my favourite soundtrack—his heartbeat. Thank goodness.

The sound bounced off the walls of the room and caught me off guard. I tried to keep it together and so did my partner.

Weeks later, we met with our obstetrician for the first time. We discussed my medical history, our miscarriage and the chance of it happening again because as much as I didn’t like it, I was a tiny fish in a sea of heartbreaking statistics again.

I remember saying in that appointment “I know it’s one in four but I’ve already had my turn”. I wanted it to be like chickenpox, you go through it once and then you’re in the clear. If only it worked like that.

I felt hopeful, things were looking good. Except for my morning sickness, that was not good. The term ‘morning sickness’ is misleading—I was sick all. day. long. Those little black bags you use to clean up after your dog on a walk saved my car and the streets of Canberra countless times.

I didn’t leave the house without them. They were in my car, pockets, bags, my bra. Everywhere. Our poor dog is only just starting to get excited again at the sight of them. I was convinced pregnancy glow was a rumour.

Being so sick was arduous but it was strangely soothing too. I figured while pregnancy symptoms were kicking my butt every day, it meant our little babe was ok.

We finally reached our 12-week scan—that milestone every parent-to-be yearns for. I was relying on this appointment to put me at ease, I told myself that I could relax and be excited afterwards.

The 12-week scan was meticulous to check that the baby was developing well and to check for any genetic concerns. We had such a positive and fun relationship with our obstetrician so when his demeanour visibly changed, I knew something wasn’t right.

We watched him remeasure the same part of our baby four times. The nuchal translucency (fluid at the back of the baby’s neck) was much thicker than we would expect or want. This can indicate a chromosomal abnormality. We were now classified as higher risk.

“How can this be happening?” I asked, knowing that no one in the room could give me an answer. It’s definitely me I thought, I couldn’t carry the last baby and now this. I tried to be positive, though I often reverted to those thoughts.

We returned the following day to have a CVS (placenta biopsy) which would give us the most accurate results and picture moving forward. The 10 day wait for our results was harrowing. I felt completely out of control and vulnerable—two feelings I was pretty unfamiliar with.

As promised, our obstetrician called the minute he got the results—it was good news. We needed to continue monitoring the nuchal translucency but the results were favourable.

There were tears for me and celebratory drinks for my partner—scotch this time! It’s not lost on me that a lot of families aren’t as fortunate as we were and my heart truly aches for them.

From here, my pregnancy seemed laidback. My last trimester was actually my favourite, albeit a thousand times longer than the first two! We discovered that our baby was quite the little boofhead—perhaps that contributed to the thick neck measurement. He is his father’s son…

I’m still yet to find the words to describe the moment he was born and put on my chest. Transformative is the closest I can get. I have never felt so complete or content.

I often think about the baby we lost. That experience helped shape me as a mother and in those early days in pure survival mode, it moulded my mindset.

Some days were full of sheer exhaustion and overwhelm but we were more fortunate than a lot of parents. We had our healthy, beautiful baby and I vowed to embrace it all and make sure he always knows how special he is to us.

Recently, my Mum asked me if I would endure it all again if I knew it led me to him.

In a heartbeat.

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