‘Only 2 weeks after Rosie’s due date, we discovered we were pregnant. I had to give myself permission to embrace my beautiful son, while holding Rosie’s in my heart forever.’: After loss of daughter, mom braves difficult rainbow baby pregnancy

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Disclaimer: This story contains details and images of child loss that may be triggering to some.

“I lost my beautiful daughter Rosie just four months before falling pregnant again. For almost all of Teddy’s entire pregnancy, I was riddled with fear. I felt so sure something would go wrong and I would lose my baby boy.

Parents and their daughter place their deceased baby in a coffin
Courtesy of Tren Smithfield

Every appointment and scan came with unbearable anxiety, and the time in between scans seemed to lag on forever as I was desperate for the reassurance everything was okay.

It was only two weeks after Rosie’s due date we discovered we were pregnant. We were in the middle of our first lockdown. It had been four months since Rosie’s birth. I was still reeling at our new reality and the depths and rawness of grief for my beautiful little girl.

An infant baby girl who is deceased
Courtesy of Tren Smithfield

Throughout those next nine months, we faced many challenges. Mere weeks after finding out I was pregnant, my dad had a very unexpected and severe anaphylactic episode where he in fact died and was miraculously bought back to life while I was holding his hand. We moved in with my mom while Dad was in the hospital and while he was recovering at home. He had multiple broken ribs (from the CPR) and was struggling a little from the stress the episode caused to his heart.

Shortly after moving back into our own home, when I was just seven weeks pregnant, I began experiencing extreme abdominal pain. I was so frightened we were losing our baby. I had to enter the emergency department on my own and wait for my scans and tests all alone (due to Covid). I couldn’t believe it when they found Teddy’s heartbeat during my ultrasound. I cried so much. They discovered I had a large cyst, which had developed on my right ovary and was twisting to cause the pain. I refused to have it operated on and removed, as it increased my risk of miscarriage. I was told I had a 50/50 chance of it resolving itself over the next five weeks once my hormones settled a bit more. I was kept in the hospital for two nights to monitor, as they were worried it may burst with the twisting.

After just five months since being in hospital with Rosie, I found being back in a hospital setting really hard. They discharged me after two nights, and I was able to just monitor it from home. Thankfully, it did eventually resolve itself in time.

Not too long after I was discharged, Melbourne opened up from lockdown and in this time, our beautiful little Mishka (our family dog of 15 years) passed away. Only three short weeks later, we entered our second stage-four lockdown, which lasted a total of 112 days. Shortly after entering our second round of lockdown, our daughter Sunny had a horrible accident flying out of her trampoline head-first into pavement, leaving her unconscious for just over four hours. The entire day I sat in the emergency department (all alone) hoping and praying she was going to be okay. She had a severe concussion, and it took her around six weeks to fully recover.

Mere weeks later, my grandpa contracted Covid. We Skyped him daily and heartbreakingly watched him slowly deteriorate until his death three weeks later.

The day before our stage-four lockdown was dropping back to stage three, I was thirty weeks pregnant. I began having extremely intense chest pain, to the point where I couldn’t breathe properly. It was nearing midnight, so we had my mom race around to stay with Sunny while Ned took me to the emergency department.

I spent three nights at our local hospital where they exhausted all forms of investigation to figure out what was going on. They ended up transferring me to the Royal Women’s Hospital in the city (where I had Rosie), and I ended up spending five nights in the same ward I spent five nights in after Rosie was born. I was given pain medication every three hours, and I could barely move due to the extreme pain it caused. I had to stay sitting up day and night.

After having every test and scan possible, I was diagnosed with pleurisy. Unfortunately, as I was pregnant, I was unable to have the medication that would have helped to clear it up. I had to simply ride it out. I was finally discharged and was able to at least return home to recover. It took around three weeks for me to start moving around and to even just simply lie down flat again.

In this time of being so unwell, in pain, not sleeping and in the hospital, my mental health spiraled down once more. I just felt like I couldn’t catch a break. It was like I was back in those early weeks after losing Rosie where I’d stay awake all night long and cry. I just couldn’t pull myself together. Throughout the year, I fought so hard to always push through so I could protect Sunny from my grief and keep her little world happy and positive. However, I was just so exhausted. I just couldn’t see how I was going to get through the remainder of my pregnancy, let alone everything beyond.

Parents look at the body of their newborn baby who is deceased
Courtesy of Tren Smithfield

One day, after about three weeks of being home from the hospital when my mobility was slowly improving but my mental health was still deteriorating, my mom came over and made me get out of bed and get dressed. It was the last thing I wanted to do, however, I did it. We took Sunny out for lunch. It was so strange being able to sit at a café—it had been so long since we’d been able to do this. Even though it felt so hard, it also felt good. This day was definitely a massive turning point for me.

That week (34 weeks) at a follow-up appointment for my pleurisy, I had another ultrasound to discover Teddy had unfortunately turned into breech position. I was informed if he did not turn, he would need to be removed via C-section.

I worked so hard over the next few weeks, working on myself, my body, my mind, and my pregnancy. I saw my psychologist biweekly. I went to see my beautiful acupuncturist and chiropractor weekly. They managed to get Teddy to turn…twice…as he turned, then turned back again over the course of the next three weeks. I also had amazing support from my hospital, where I saw my doctor weekly. I was also assigned a beautiful social worker who called me weekly to check in with me. My family and friends were so supportive during this time.

I still felt so vulnerable, like I was bracing myself for the next thing to go wrong…I feel so lucky I also felt so supported. I slowly started regaining my hope. I made up my mind: I had to just keep pushing through one day at a time and make the most of each day as best as I could.

I eventually made it to 37 weeks. I could barely believe we were almost there. I was in a pretty good headspace by now and felt so proud we had actually made it. Teddy was head down, which was fantastic; however, it was picked up in my 37-week appointment I was still measuring 35 weeks.

At my 38-week appointment, I was unfortunately still measuring 35 weeks. They told me due to the fact it appeared my baby boy had stopped growing and my amniotic fluids were low, I needed to be induced within the next 48 hours. I asked for the full 48 hours to see if we could get things going on our own. We tried everything…but had no success. By this point, I was desperate to just have my baby boy safe in my arms.

On New Year’s Eve, I walked through the hospital doors ready to begin the process to be induced the following morning. I was to bring in the new year once again all alone lying in a hospital bed. However, after we arrived, they checked my cervix and found I was already 3 centimeters dilated. This meant I was no longer required to stay overnight, as I no longer needed the balloon. I was so happy I could come home and be with Ned and I was able to just come back in the morning. It felt like a good sign.

On New Year’s Day, at 7:00 a.m., I once again walked into the hospital ready to have my baby boy. I wasn’t scared of the birth. I just couldn’t seem to shake the lingering fear something was going to go wrong. As we walked up to the birth suite, I remember trying to hold onto hope and trust that maybe everything would be okay.

We sat in our little room for a while feeling a little nervous. Eventually, our midwife cheerily bounced through the door and began bustling about. I was a little surprised she was the midwife I had been assigned. For my previous two births, I had the most quiet, gentle, and nurturing midwives. Even though we discovered this midwife had 42 years of experience and was very nice, I remember feeling a little disappointed this was not the midwife who I envisaged to be by my side. I was relieved when Lacey, our doula, arrived shortly after.

Eventually, at 10:30 a.m., the doctor came in to break my water. She wanted to start the syntocin straight away, however, my midwife stepped in immediately and informed the doctor we hoped to have a chance to bring labor on ourselves. We would take our full hour to try before connecting to the syntocin. I felt grateful to be heard and advocated for in this way. I was given the full hour, and my midwife encouraged me to go walking up and down the corridor and up and down the stairs. The hour passed by without any success. We resigned to the fact I would need assistance from the syntocin to get things going. At 11:55 a.m., I was connected to begin my labor.

The contractions kicked in immediately. They very quickly started coming in hard and fast. The intensity picked up so quickly it was completely overwhelming. They ended up turning the syntocin off as my contractions were so long and strong and I was barely getting a break between them. I was so confused, as it seemed that within a very short space of time my body was already bearing down. I couldn’t control anything. I felt panicky and just completely overwhelmed.

I don’t actually have much memory except for the fact that Ned and Lacey were by my side holding me and stroking me, which I know I found grounding. But honestly, it was so overwhelmingly intense, I feel like I lost all reality of what was happening. I felt Rosie’s presence in the room so strongly. I couldn’t see her. But I could feel her. She gave me the strength when I would panic.

I got to a point (I think the middle of transition), and I think I started to cry. In that moment, I just desperately wanted to hold Rosie. I wanted her. As if my midwife knew what was going through my head, I remember her trying to bring me back into the room. Reassuring me this birth was different. This was our son’s birth. It didn’t have to be sad and awful, it could be beautiful. It was like she knew that was where I was. Even though I have no visual memory of this time, I remember feeling everyone’s presence around me, and I just felt so supported.

I was contracting so strongly and bearing down so intensely. I could feel Teddy descending through my birth canal. I knew he was coming soon. My midwife also knew. I was kneeling on the bed, and she told me I had to sit up more so he had space to actually exit my body. I was griping the back of the bed with all my might. My whole body was rigid with fear at the intensity of it all.

I started to feel him crowning. I was petrified at the velocity he was exiting my body. I felt like I was going to split completely open. My midwife came up next to me to get me to focus and listen to her. She told me, ‘He’s coming out too fast,’ and I had to try to hold him in with every contraction, then we would push in between. I realized later this was to try to stretch and dilate my perineum. We did this through a number of contractions, and I felt like it was splitting in two. My midwife told me afterwards it very nearly did, however I only came away with a first-degree tear and some grazing. I know she definitely saved my perineum. I was so grateful I had the incredible midwife I did, she was everything I needed.

It was 1:23 p.m. The moment Teddy came out between my legs, I think I was in shock. It had only been 1.5 hours from the moment the drip went up to having him in my arms.

A mother holds her rainbow baby boy shortly after giving burth
Courtesy of Tren Smithfield

I just picked him up and held him to me. In this moment, all I could see and hear was him. I couldn’t believe he was here. It then felt like I re-entered the room. I looked around to see who was in there. The doctor missed my birth, however, I had my midwife and another one also assisting. Ned and Lacey were right there smiling at me. Then, I looked back down to the beautiful little baby in my arms. My Teddy, he was so perfect.

Parents hold their newborn rainbow baby in the hospital
Courtesy of Tren Smithfield
A mother holds her newborn rainbow baby while her husband kisses her forehead
Courtesy of Tren Smithfield

The next few hours were complete bliss. I was so wrapped up in how perfect he was. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. The joy was immeasurable. The next couple of hours went by in a blur. He was eventually measured weighing 7lbs. I showered, and we made our way up to the ward. Ned went to collect Sunny, and we had one hour all together. Sunny was in awe of her little brother. It felt so special.

A baby boy with his head tilted sideways on a couch
Courtesy of Tren Smithfield

After Sunny left, it was the first time it had been just Ned and I. We played Teddy’s song. Through tears, I felt a major shift taking place. I remember crying for a long time. It felt so big. In some ways, I knew I would hold Rosie’s place in my heart and our family forever, however, now, I am able give myself permission to embrace my beautiful son, Teddy. With him came so much peace and happiness and such deep love.”

Parents and their two children lie together on a blanket
Courtesy of Tren Smithfield
A mother holds her newborn baby boy while standing with her husband and daughter
Courtesy of Tren Smithfield

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tren Smithfield. You can follow their journey on Instagram. 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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