This post is long, but so special to me. This is the story of the journey to our third baby, who just turned one in March. I have shared snippets of our story of secondary infertility and our losses with many, but I figured I would share it all. The journey to welcoming our third baby, Eli Parker.
In 2014, only one year after welcoming our second baby, we decided we wanted to try for a third. Our first two were only 19 months apart, and although some days I felt insane, we really enjoyed the age gap and were hoping our second and third would be less than 2 years apart. We got pregnant very easily with our first two, so once we decided that we would try for baby number three we assumed it would be a matter of only a couple months before we saw another positive pregnancy test. We had no idea we would embark on 3 very difficult years of secondary infertility and miscarriages, both in the first and second trimester.
After we started trying for baby number 3, and each month a negative test came I remember crying. Every single time. Even after only a couple months of trying it was so hard seeing that negative when you wanted a baby so badly. Each month passed, another negative test came, and more tears fell. After about 3 months of trying I remember being a wreck. Who was I to be so upset over not being pregnant within 3 months, when so many that I knew had been struggling with infertility for years. I just couldn’t believe we weren’t pregnant yet. Again, I had no idea that was only the beginning. Looking back, three months and being that upset was ridiculous, but the feelings at the time were real. And no matter how long you have been trying, each month you aren’t pregnant is devastating. We continued to try each month for over a year. I tracked my cycle obsessively, we even did three rounds of clomid, all without avail, still no pregnancy. After a year of trying we learned my husband would be leaving on deployment and I felt like we had to get pregnant before then. I would be so upset if we weren’t. Those three months came and went and still no pregnancy. I remember within a week before he left I was sitting in the doctors office waiting for blood results after our third round of medications. Not pregnant. It was probably the hardest one to hear because I knew that at that point, after almost a year and a half of trying my husband was leaving on a 7 month deployment and everything we had done to try and have another baby would have to be put on hold. It was a very emotional time. We said our goodbyes and for seven full months I couldn’t see my best friend, my rock, my sweet husband. Luckily with two young kids, a move across country on the horizon, having to rent out a house, find a house to buy, pack up our whole lives, all while running my business the seven months went by relatively quickly.
Two weeks after he arrived home, we loaded up our truck and moved across country. Settling into our new home in Colorado we both knew we wanted to continue the journey to try and welcome baby number three. I went to the doctor to start medications again and was hopeful that maybe this time we would actually get pregnant and not have to try for another year plus. Shockingly within a few months I was pregnant. We were ecstatic. I was in true disbelief but was so excited everything we had hoped for was finally happening. I started seeing a midwife right away and we went in for an early ultrasound at 7 weeks. It didn’t look good, but it wasn’t a confirmed miscarriage quite yet. Unfortunately, at only 8 weeks into the pregnancy I experienced a miscarriage. Although I had no signs of a miscarriage we learned that we had lost the baby. Several days later, I passed everything at home. It was the hardest thing I had ever gone through (up until that point) and I was in a very dark place. I went into a depression. I told very few people of this loss, and it was a terrible feeling go through it alone.
A couple months later we decided to start trying again and hoped for the best. Again, shockingly, we were pregnant a few months later. It makes no sense to me that you can struggle with secondary infertility for over a year and then all of sudden you are able to conceive again. I remember texting my midwife (before I even told my husband) a picture of the two dark pink lines and was in complete dis-belief. Because of our previous miscarriage she got me in at 6 weeks for an early ultrasound and we saw the most perfect little peanut and the tinest little heartbeat. It was hard to see, but it was there. Our baby was growing right on track. We were still cautiously optimistic, but hopeful because we never got to see the heartbeat with the first loss. After several first trimester ultrasounds, a great first trimester screening, bloodwork that looked great, we were so thrilled to be in the second trimester. I had an at home doppler that I used on the regular starting at only 12 weeks or so. I heard the heartbeat every time. It was so reassuring. At almost halfway through the pregnancy I went to listen to the heartbeat like I always had before and couldn’t find it. After several minutes of nothing I really started to panic. This was just before bed, so my husband calmed me down and told me to get some sleep and we can listen to it in the morning. I thought maybe the baby was just “hiding.” The next morning, as soon as I woke up, I listened again. Nothing. The sound of silence was so daunting. I was so overwhelmed and really was so confused. Why couldn’t I hear it? I just heard it two days ago. I called my midwife and asked if she could fit me in that morning for some reassurance that everything was fine. I arrived at her office and we both laughed at how paranoid I was being, as she was sure everything was fine and it was just my doppler wasn’t strong enough to pick it up. After she listened, we still heard nothing. I then really started to panic. She powered up the ultrasound machine and as soon as she put the wand on my belly we saw the sweet baby, but no fetal movement. Confirming there was no heartbeat and no movement. How does this happen? I was almost halfway through my pregnancy. I was devastated. I called my husband sobbing and he knew right away our worst fears were happening yet again. As I’m typing this the tears are falling just reliving those moments. The next 24 hours are such a blur. I remember crying so much that I thought I had no more tears left to cry. The following night I was induced and several hours later I delivered our sweet baby. We held her and cried so many tears. It was the hardest day of our lives. I remember watching my husband hold our tiny, but perfect baby in his hands and feeling so guilty. Like it was my fault, I did that to him. Although deep down I know there is nothing I did that would have caused this loss. We had no answers, we still have no answers, and that is the hardest part. Holding your micro preemie baby that looks so perfect, knowing all of her genetic testing came back clear and she was healthy, but she passed in utero. I felt so awful that my body failed her. Several years later and I still feel that guilt. It put me in the deepest depression I have every been in.
The following four months after that loss I was in the darkest of times. I could hardly get out of bed in the mornings, and was in bed by 7-8pm every night. My world was shattered and I wasn’t the best mom to the two beautiful children I did have. I feel guilty for those days, but at the time its all I could do. I didn’t know how else to handle everything that had been thrown our way. While going through this dark time, I continued to put a smile on my face and photograph some beautiful babies for my clients. As a newborn photographer I had to face my fears and put my personal battles aside. It was bittersweet because I LOVE what I do and LOVE capturing those memories for clients, but as I watched friend after friend, client after client welcome their beautiful healthy babies I was disappointed I wasn’t welcoming mine.
In July of 2017, 4.5 months after losing sweet Ava, things started to look up. I saw another positive pregnancy test. I tested super early (only 3 weeks pregnant) so the second line was very faint, but it was there. I was terrified, oh how I was terrified. It was hard to get excited when I had just suffered 2 losses in the previous year. Week after week went by. I started seeing a therapist to try and navigate my feelings through this pregnancy. My HCG levels were rising, my sweet baby looked perfect on ulstrasound, my morning sickness was on point (haha). All good signs, but I still couldn’t bring myself to get excited. I just assumed we would lose the baby soon. At about 15 weeks pregnant I went to the bathroom right before bed and was shocked to see a lot of blood. I burst out in tears and disbelief. I couldn’t believe this was happening again. Was I really experiencing yet another loss> My older kids were already tucked away in bed so I told my husband to stay home with them and I would drive myself to the ER. I showed up expecting the worst, for them to tell me my sweet baby had passed. But to everyones surprise, there he was kicking and moving and looking beyond perfect. A huge sigh of relief, but I knew we weren’t out of the woods. Why was I bleeding? As the weeks went on we started seeing a maternal fetal specialist and was diagnosed with a sub chronic hematoma. Basically a bleed on the lining of the placenta. They told me to limit my activity but with that they were optimistic I would continue to have a healthy pregnancy. The pregnancy did in fact continue on healthy. I was an emotional wreck most days and was so afraid of the worst, but continued to try and hold out hope that this would all end the way it should. As we got closer and closer to full term I remember telling my doctor that I just couldn’t get excited. I knew it was likely I would have a healthy baby seeing how far along we were, but I was in the 2 percent club that had lost a baby in the second trimester and I was convinced I would lose this baby in the third trimester. At 37w5d pregnant I lost my mucus plug and was so hopeful I would meet my baby soon, and I did. That night at 11:53 after a very quick labor I welcomed our long awaited third baby, Eli Parker. He was perfection. As soon as he was born I brought him to my chest I said over and over “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it” I squealed with joy as I held my third baby that we had tried so hard to have.
In the last year this sweet boy has brought so much joy to our lives and I can’t imagine life without him. If you are struggling with infertility, secondary infertility or have recently gone through a miscarriage, please do not give up hope. Most days will feel hopeless but hold onto hope <3 If you ever need to talk about what you’re going through and need someone, anyone to talk to, please reach out. I remember those feelings of not feeling like I could talk to anyone after our first loss. I have been and was so open after our second loss that it really helped with healing. Being able to talk about her. She was our baby. It is part of our story. And whatever you are going through is all part of your story. I am always here to talk <3
The video below is a video of our sweet double rainbow baby’s first year.