First off, please know that my blog is NOT going to turn into a rainbow baby blog. That is not my intent anyhow. I am writing about my rainbow pregnancy here in order to sort through the highs and lows of that experience, because pregnancy after loss is extremely complex.
That said, this is still my space to GRIEVE for my first born son. That grief has NOT disappeared with the birth of my second son. If anything it has brought up a lot of emotions that were hidden before. But that's for another post.
* * *
Things were rough in the beginning. I was sick, then not sick, then sick. So of course my PTSD mind goes straight to, "I must be miscarrying!" Right? I mean when you suddenly don't feel ill anymore, it must mean the baby died and your hormones are going down, right? Not having been in to get an ultrasound yet wasn't helping matters any. I know many women demand to be seen earlier. Six weeks or five weeks. Not me. I get it, I really do, but in my mind I want to be further along in a pregnancy before I get an ultrasound and potentially don't see a heartbeat and have to hear, "Well it might just be too early" or "maybe your dates are off". I know how that all plays out and the extra agony it can cause, so I acted like anyone else and agreed to be seen around eight or nine weeks or whenever they scheduled me in.
But. Then there was the whole I feel sick, oh wait I don't feel sick, okay WTF is going on thing.
So I called and explained my history. Was given the run around at first and then was finally told to go ahead and get blood drawn to get an HCG level. Had to go back and have another one a few days later. Waited, waited, waited until I finally got a call. The nurse told me my HCG level. I looked down at the number I had scribbled on my notepad about where my number SHOULD be based on how many weeks I was per Dr. Google. So when she read a ridiculously LOW number, I just said, "Oh God." And she asked me how many weeks I was, so I told her, and she got kinda quiet. And finally said, "Well let's not jump to any extreme conclusions here. The number does seem really low. You need to come in for an ultrasound so we can see what's going on." "You mean so we can verify I've miscarried?" I said. "Well let's just wait and see" she said.
I got off of the phone and sobbed. I wasn't numb - I was so angry at the world for bonking me on the head YET AGAIN with ANOTHER loss. Three babies in heaven and one on earth? How the hell would I ever survive that??? And should I miscarry naturally, which was so traumatic last time I can't even blog about it...I lost my baby in public and bled so bad I had to go to the hospital...Or should I have a D&C and risk scarring and problems in a future pregnancy? My mind spiraled to try to think of the "practical" matters while my heart twisted and turned and felt it might just stop altogether. I called my dear friend M, who helped me through my last miscarriage and has personal experience, and cried.
My phone beeped, but I ignored it. Who could I possibly want to talk to right now? After I finished up my conversation with M, I got off the phone to see whose call I had missed, hoping it was my husband so I could get this horrible news over with.
The number was not one I recognized, but there was a voicemail. It was the nurse telling me to call her back.
When I did, she simply said, "Honey, I'm so sorry. I read the number wrong. Your HCG levels are perfectly fine. I can't believe I just did that. I don't know how that happened."
I wanted to scream at her, but I was too relieved for that. The relief was soon taken over by paranoia that the woman was lying, that she was trying to give me some ray of hope so that I wouldn't stress so much before the ultrasound, so that I wouldn't assume the worst.
But then of course that's not rational. And then of course I could view my own medical records to see my HCG results if I really wanted.
So I finally told my anxious mind to STFU, and I finally absorbed the reality that the baby was most likely fine. At that point I really wanted to find this nurse and beat the living crap out of her. I mean really, who misreads an HCG reading to someone who has already suffered a miscarriage AND a stillbirth??? THEWORLDMUSTFREAKINGHATEME!
That first ultrasound...I was so nervous I was literally sick. I cried in the examination room waiting for the on call doctor to come in. Dr. V came in and told me she understood my concerns. My husband held my hand as the ultrasound started, and there it was, this tiny wriggly little baby with a heartbeat.
At that point there was joy and sorrow yet again. Sorrow that I officially had to let go of the dream I've had since childhood to ever parent multiples. Sorrow that I would never again have the chance to hold my own set of twins in my arms. Sorrow that I would never get to prove to myself that I could grow and birth a healthy living set of twins.
I cringe to admit any of that, but there it is.
Knowing that even if I could have twins again, it would never bring Elias back, it would never fix my broken heart, it would never make things right.
Knowing, knowing in my heart of hearts that I didn't need to really prove anything, that I did grow healthy twins last time, that some random medical mystery stole my son's life swiftly, that it was nothing I could have caused short of being in a car accident or taking a tumble down the stairs, neither which had ever happened.
This knowing gave way to joy.
Joy that the baby hadn't miscarried. Joy in my baby's strong heartbeat and wiggles. Joy that this was officially a new chapter for us, one that might involve a pregnancy whose outcome for the first time wouldn't entail loss. Joy that a singleton would allow for my pregnancy to be less sensationalized, easier to keep to myself, less of something that people would brand as my entire identity. Joy that this one baby had my uterus all to itself, that it didn't have to share with a sibling, that I could focus all my energy on this one, that it could have all the nutrients I was putting in. Joy that I shouldn't have to do bedrest, that I shouldn't have to worry so much about premature labor, that I could worry a little less about the laundry list of hundreds of things that twin pregnancies are at a higher risk of. Joy that I could have a "normal" pregnancy perhaps for the first time ever. Joy that I could prove to myself that I could be "normal", that I could bond with this one itty bitty one intensely and individually, that I could soak up the wonder and excitement of pregnancy a little more not having to worry about the additional risks that a twin pregnancy present. Joy that my daughter might just have a younger sibling to play with, to bond with, without having to watch a younger set of twin siblings flaunt everything she should have had.
Carrying one healthy singleton.
It felt so perfectly right.