I originally wrote this for my due date group, to update them after my daughter was born. I came across it again recently, and thought it was worth sharing here. One year later, and life is still strange, and also fine.
After losing Adrian to undiagnosed preeclampsia, I was terrified to experience pregnancy for a second time. Terrified, but also holding hope. And my Peanut is finally here. This is her story:
My pregnancy with Peanut was different from the beginning. I was 20 pounds lighter to begin with, and I committed to a regular schedule of working out, both of which I think helped to keep me in better general shape. I did still gain the same amount of weight as with Adrian, but I felt physically well, and that helped.
Instead of midwives, I saw an OB from the beginning, with consults with a perinatologist. The perinatologist went through the records of my first pregnancy, literally page by page, and we worked out a good plan. My OB checked in with her regularly, and was on top of my lab results, even pointing out some things I wonder if my providers missed the first time. Having them both take me seriously helped a lot also with fear and anxiety.
Throughout this second pregnancy, I had some abnormal liver function numbers, a slight case of anemia, and an intense amount of pressure and sometimes pain in my right upper quadrant. I was also sent for GD screening three times because of family history and also because my daughter consistently measured bigger than her gestational age. Through it all, my doctor kept me informed and we talked about every concern.
Around the beginning of May, I started to finally feel like everything was going to be okay. I was doing twice-weekly NSTs and weekly blood work, but I was mostly feeling well. We were scheduled to induce early, towards the end of May, and I felt ready for this.
Then during the week before Mother’s Day, I pulled my groin running after the dog. A very fluke injury, although I did break my pubic bone in the same place many years ago. The pain was intense though, enough that I went to the hospital for an evaluation, and they noticed I was contracting. The contractions weren’t regular, and they eventually stopped, but they ran some blood work just in case. At that point, I still wasn’t worried, more just annoyed I had injured myself in such a silly way.
My doctor had been out of town that day, but he called me twice afterwards, once to check on me, and once to ask me to go in for additional tests. The next morning, he called very early and sent me to the hospital for testing again. Somewhere over the previous days, I had started showing signs of both preeclampsia and HELLP, and even though I was feeling physically well, things were starting to get dangerous. After my newest results showed my levels had doubled overnight, he decided to induce me that day.
At that point, I was barely 37 weeks, and induction was a little hard. My body wasn’t quite ready, and we weren’t sure if it would work. But because we weren’t in immediate danger (being constantly monitored), my doctor agreed to let me try 24 hours of cytotec before moving to pitocin. This gave me a little more freedom of movement, and I spent a lot of time walking, stretching, and in the shower. I also tried nitrous for pain relief, but it didn’t work for me.
Unfortunately, while the cytotec did give me contractions, I wasn’t progressing, so we did move to pitocin and breaking my water the next day. Altogether, I was in labor for 36 hours, though I made the most progress in the last 5. My daughter was born in the early hours of Wednesday morning, after 10 minutes of pushing, and a brief scare when my friend passed out next to me. (She was fine).
This pregnancy has been scary and complicated, and full of intense emotions of all kinds. I’m writing this now, sitting next to my daughter. She coos and makes faces in her sleep, and I am fascinated and full of love. I also find myself searching her face for pieces of her brother, and wondering how differently things could and should have been. How differently our lives would be in another timeline.
I don’t use the term, “rainbow baby”. It’s not something that works for me. In my opinion, it places expectations on the child who immediately follows a loss. It gives her an identity defined by everything that came before.
My daughter is not a rainbow, because my son was not a storm. My life may have been a storm, a dark place I sometimes thought I would never escape. But my daughter is not the cure. Her existence doesn’t magically make everything okay. Her existence makes me happy. Her missing brother makes me sad. And I live with both of these feelings, constantly and without competition. This is life. This is how I’m living now.
My daughter and I were discharged on a Friday. She’s had a little trouble eating, and she’s been sleepy from the start. There’s been some worry about jaundice. We did extra blood work this weekend, and we’re seeing the pediatrician tomorrow morning. And all of this still feels so new to me. She’s real; she’s here. She’s really alive.
Life is strange and sometimes sad and often crazy. And I want to keep pinching myself; keep reminding myself of what’s true for today, what exists at this time. Because for now, we are okay. And I’m thankful, and I’m happy. And I’m always going to miss my son. And this is my life.