“I had been avoiding writing this for so many reasons. First, I was not sure I was mentally prepared for all of the emotions that would come to the surface as I open up about our rainbow babies and the journey it took to get them here. Second, I know that no matter how deep or vulnerable I get there are no words that will EVER do this experience justice and honor all of the little lives that were created during this journey. However, I know that there will be a mama reading this wondering if she will ever be okay again and if she will be able to forget the pain of the loss. One of the only things that helped me navigate the loss was hearing from other mamas who have been through the same thing. So here I sit, against everything in me, ready to pour out my soul in hopes that it reaches a mama who needs to hear it and feel understood.
I am here to tell you that yes, you will be okay but you will never be the same again. And that’s okay. How could you be? You experienced a life growing inside of you and then you experienced a loss inside of you. You are forever changed. Physically, genetically, emotionally, spiritually… in every way possible. I am also here to tell you that you will never forget the loss but the pain will become less and less. Your pain will turn into power. You will learn to love deeper, have more empathy for others, realize the miracles that surround you, and know that you are a survivor. I want the mama who is in pain reading this to know that I understand and you are not alone. I’ve cried the same tears you have cried. When your heart aches, my heart aches with you. When I pray for my healing, I also pray for yours.
My husband and I could not wait to be parents. In fact, we sprinted down the aisle so that we could begin the process of growing our family. We were blessed enough to get pregnant less than a week after our wedding. We were on our honeymoon and we both just KNEW I was pregnant. We were beyond excited to find out what our future held. We waited until the day we got home and took a pregnancy test together. The 3-minute wait seemed like forever, yet not at all because we both just KNEW. The 3 minutes finally pass and there they were. Two little pink lines. Our lives were never going to be the same from this point forward.
I have tears in my eyes as I write that sentence because we thought our lives would never be the same for happy and amazing reasons, not heartbreaking ones. What I wouldn’t give to go back to that moment of pure bliss and naivety, just to sit in it for just a moment longer before my heart would shatter in a way that the pieces could never be put back together. I would hug my innocent and ignorant self, so I could brace her for what was about to come and let her know she would never be the same.
My husband and I embraced each other with tears in our eyes and a smile on our faces. We were so excited. We immediately looked up what our due date would be and started thinking about our future. I spent the rest of the morning searching for baby clothes online and mommy apps to join. Finally, Monday rolls around and I get to the appointment with a mile-long list of questions for the doctor, including questions that were about delivery…8 months away! Once we had our official confirmation of pregnancy, it was a waiting game until our first ultrasound appointment. We were so excited!
However, from the time of the first appointment to our first ultrasound, I had a pit in my stomach. I had no reason to believe anything would be wrong but I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. I felt guilty thinking about it. I worried that my thoughts would cause something bad to happen. I thought there was no way something could be wrong, but also… something might be wrong. I had no signs or symptoms other than a mother’s intuition which I believe starts immediately. I kept the scary thoughts to myself so I wouldn’t jinx anything but I was terrified.
We sat down with the ultrasound tech to prepare to see our baby. I take a deep breath in and I am pretty sure I didn’t exhale for another 12 months. The heartbreaking reality was clear as day on the screen. Our baby had no heartbeat. Just like I KNEW I was pregnant, I KNEW something was wrong. I couldn’t shake the feeling. Now I know that was my baby preparing me so my heart would break just a little bit less. But right there at that moment, I was broken. Forever changed. I would never be the same. They asked us to come back in 9 days to either give my body time to take its course or to confirm our worst nightmare and make plans to move forward. So we waited. 9 days. Truly the worst 9 days of my life. I spent the majority of those 9 days convincing myself the doctor was wrong and everything would be okay. I tried to convince myself that as long as she was inside of me, there was still a chance. But I would end each day KNOWING there wasn’t.
I have never cried so many tears. I was so broken. I could not believe this was our reality. All I wanted to give my husband was a child and I couldn’t do it. What If I never could do it? Would he still love me? Was he mad at me? Why did my body turn on me? Did I do something wrong? Was it my thoughts that created this? What if I never get to be a mom?
I was angry at everyone who was pregnant. I was angry at everyone who had children. I was angry at everyone who had never experienced this. I was angry that my experience of pregnancy would never be blissful again. I was angry. I was scared. I was broken. I was sad. I was grieving. It did not feel good to cry all day but it felt worse if I would catch myself having a happy thought.
The 9 days pass and we get the confirmation of what we already knew. Our baby was gone. My body still didn’t have a single sign or symptom which meant I had to have a D&C procedure (dilation and curettage). I was angry my body couldn’t even lose a baby right. I took such good care of myself, why couldn’t it at least do this?
In retrospect, I now know my body holds on to my babies for as long as possible because it knows they are safe there and just like me, it didn’t want to let them go either. Today, I love my body more for holding on to them for me. The next day, I had my D&C. As they were prepping me they asked if I had any pain. Through the tears, all I could get out was, ‘Just my heart. It hurts. Everything about it.’
The D&C went smoothly and now we were supposed to move on. I knew I had no choice but to move forward but moving on was never going to be an option. This changed me to my core. I didn’t tell anyone about this experience for a long time. They would interact with me and see that I was different but didn’t know why. I knew it would be easier for them if I told the story. It would answer so many questions about who I had become. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It felt private and sacred.
The one positive that came out of this was that I KNEW in my bones I was meant to be a mom to a baby here on earth. I knew a new baby would not replace the one we lost, but I knew that I was called to be a Mother. We were blessed enough to get pregnant on the first cycle post-surgery. I was terrified. I was filled with fear and scary thoughts but at the same time, I KNEW that this would be okay. I KNEW that I would hold this baby in my arms.
The next 9 months were filled with many moments of fear, but mostly reassurance from my mother’s intuition. It was like my babies were saying, ‘Hey mom, your fear is valid but just know everything will be okay and I will see you soon.’ The day finally came where I would get to meet my son, our rainbow baby. When they finally laid him on my chest, I let out the exhale I was holding onto for the last 12 months. I could finally breathe again. Just like his big sister, that little boy changed me forever. He healed me in a way that only he could. He healed parts of me I didn’t know needed healing. He cracked me open in a way that lets the light into my darkest places. He is truly the rainbow after a heartbreaking storm.
I knew being his mom was a gift, a blessing, and a privilege. One that I did not take lightly. When you feel called to be a mother but your first chance was ripped away too soon, your only option is to dive in full force to the opportunity you didn’t get to see through. I felt like I had stepped into a role that I was made for. So much so that I was ready to do it all again, right away.
We started trying to grow our family 2 months after he was born. When he was 7 months old we found out we were pregnant again. We were just as excited as all the times before that! But something was different…that pit in my stomach was back. I KNEW something was off. I didn’t even think it was possible we could lose a baby again. I had my ‘one’ it just had to be the hormones making me feel this way. But I couldn’t shake the feeling so I took test after test after test. All of them came back bright pink and ‘pregnant.’
This reassured me for a while, but it wasn’t the same reassured feeling I had when I was pregnant with my son. I tried brushing it off and moving forward. I made it to our first ultrasound and there he was, just a tiny little bean on the screen but with a nice strong heartbeat. I exhaled and laughed by myself (because I was alone due to Covid). ‘See you were just being paranoid,’ I thought. I felt reassured for a few days, but then the pit came back. I made it through the next 4 weeks by looking at the ultrasound to calm my nerves.
As I drove myself to the next appointment (alone again due to Covid), I was sick to my stomach. To someone else, it would be for no reason. I had no signs or symptoms that something was wrong. But I KNEW. My mother’s intuition was telling me something was off. As I drove I played ‘This Woman’s Work’ by Maxwell to give me some comfort. It is a song that is special to our family for many different reasons, one being that I played it often as I was coping with our first loss.
Sitting in the waiting room I text my husband, ‘I’m nervous.’ He says, ‘I know babe, but everything will be okay.’ The next sentence that I said to him was, ‘It happened again.’ It was all I could get out through the tears. Our baby stopped growing at 12 weeks. The ultrasound tech said, ‘I am so sorry.’ As tears rolled down my cheeks, I responded, ‘I have survived it once, I know I can survive it again.’ Part of me was in shock. There was no way this could happen again. But a larger part of me already KNEW. My babies and mother’s intuition were preparing my heart for the last few weeks and softening my landing as I inevitably fell.
I rushed out of the ultrasound room to the bathroom and pounded my fist on the door, let out a huge cry, and slid down to the ground. It was truly something I only thought happened in movies, but it was the only thing my body could do at that moment. How could this happen again? It is supposed to be 1 in 4. How can I be 2 in 4? I finally picked myself up and put myself together to meet with the doctor. My heart broke as I spoke to her because I knew exactly what questions to ask and what I was about to go through. Once again, my body held on to my baby for me and didn’t want to let go. I had to have another D&C procedure.
At exactly 13 weeks pregnant, I arrived at the hospital. I was supposed to be announcing my pregnancy that day and being celebrated by family and friends. Instead, due to Covid restrictions, I was at the hospital all alone being wheeled back to remove our baby. The procedure went smooth and we were once again at a place where we were supposed to move on.
This time, however, I had a better understanding. I knew I would never move on, but that I could move forward. I knew I would be okay, but I knew I would never be the same again. I knew there was life after loss and that it was still beautiful. I will never forget that little boy who I carried for 13 weeks. Just like his two siblings before him, he changed me to my core. However, because I knew what it felt like to hold our rainbow, all I wanted to do was grow our family again so I could get out of that dark place and into one that I knew was so amazing. I was already doing the math as to when we could try and get pregnant again and when our due date would be.
Just a few days after our surgery, I got a call to come in for an early follow-up. I had been through this before and something about the call felt off. I told my husband I was concerned and he assured me everything was fine and it was just a routine follow-up. I tried to brush off the feeling I had, but once again I just KNEW something was off. This time, I knew to listen. This was my babies prepping me for the dark storm that was headed my way.
The doctor informed me that pathology discovered I had a partial molar pregnancy. During a partial molar pregnancy, two sperm fertilize one egg, and in addition, cyst-like tumors grow alongside the baby (I’m sure doctors are cringing at my description). This chromosomal abnormality makes it impossible for the baby to survive. It also presents a chance of malignancy (again, sorry to the doctors for my poor description), which meant we had to assure no cancer was present and follow strict guidelines.
The guidelines included preventing pregnancy at all costs. My heart was absolutely crushed. The feeling of holding my future rainbow baby was the only thing that was getting me through this loss and now that was being taken away also? At that moment, I truly could not think of anything worse. In addition to preventing pregnancy for the foreseeable future, I had to come in for testing once a week until my numbers were where they wanted them and then once a month after that to assure that no cancer was present and I had a clean bill of health. I was devastated. 6 months felt like a lifetime to me. I was already completely broken inside from the loss of our second baby and now I had to be reminded weekly of the trauma I had endured.
I was so angry. I was sad. I was scared. I felt every single feeling I felt the first time but it truly felt amplified by 2. How could this happen to me again and how could they put my dreams of growing our family on hold? How could this be my story? It felt completely unfair.
Lucky for us (and I say that in a profound and powerful way), cancer never presented itself. I was given clean bill of health. After 6 long, dark months we found out we were pregnant with our second rainbow baby. Just like all my other pregnancies, I instantly felt joy encompassed with a lot of fear. However, just like my second pregnancy with my son, my babies and mother’s intuition have given me the reassurance I need and I KNOW that everything will be okay. I am still holding my breath because I am human, but I can’t wait until the day they place our rainbow baby girl on my chest and I can exhale once again.
To all 4 of my babies, whether you are in my arms or in the stars, I hope you will always KNOW how much I love you and that no matter the circumstances you were all the best thing to ever happen to me. It is the greatest honor of my life to be the vessel that let your soul touch down on this earth, even if only for a moment. I think about you daily and try to honor you in all that I do, because I know that’s all I can do.
To all of the mamas who have endured this unimaginable pain, I am right there with you. I know that although you will never be the same, you will be okay. You will turn your pain into power. One day you will be holding your rainbow baby and you will finally be able to exhale.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Madison Pinebird of Phoenix, Arizona. You can follow her journey on her Instagram accounts, and her website. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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[9/24, 12:57 PM] Sophia San Filippo