pregnancy

"I've been pregnant four times in five years. Only two of our babies made it earthside."

Warning: This post deals with themes related to miscarriage and pregnancy loss and may be triggering for some readers.

For the past five years, I have been on a journey I never thought my life would take me on.

I am a mum of two beautiful boys, but in order to grow our family, my husband and I endured what many families sadly also experience: the loss of our two beloved babies that grew and existed before them.

I have been a mother now for four years. Technically though, I’ve really been a mother for five years. The day I learnt my husband and I were pregnant for the first time was really an incredible day. Little did I know that the weeks that followed would change me as a person.

I am no longer the women that I once was. Am I a better person? In some ways, yes, in other ways, no. Am I a stronger person? You had better believe it. Would I change a thing as heartbreaking as 2013 and 2014 were? That answer is also no.

If I hadn’t been through what I went through, I would not have our two beautiful boys, Ollie and Oscar. But sadly, two of our little babies didn’t make it safely earthside. I know that I’m not alone. So many other couples out there are in the club that you never thought that you would receive an automatic membership to.

When we first lost our first son, it was truly devastating. I still remember every single detail of our pregnancy journey. The day those first two positive pink lines appeared, how I told my husband and how we told our family and close friends.

Mia Freedman talks about ‘feeling lost’ after a miscarriage:

Video by MMC

Hearing our son’s heart beat for the first time is something that will never leave me. The joy of seeing the very first sonograph, despite our little “Chickpea” only being so small.

Little did we know back then, he was in fact a he. Our first son. That’s right, I’m actually a mother to three beautiful boys, just one of them is in heaven. He is not alone though. He is also in heaven amongst the angels with his little brother or sister. In my heart, I believe he had a little sister.

Life had other ideas though. Life chose to give us a harder journey to parenthood. I know that people say ‘things happen for a reason’ and that those babies sadly ‘where not meant to be’. But, in my heart, and my husband’s heart, they were always meant to be.

I will never forget the questions, “Was there a heartbeat?” and “When did you have your dating scan?” Deep down, I think I knew something was amiss. I had confided in my husband and family, but of course, everyone brushed it off. You never think it will happen to you. But it happened to us twice. In a row. The odds were not in our favour.

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The hardest part was finding out that there was no reason for our loss. Deep down, and still to this day, I worried if a reaction that I had contributed to or caused the loss. But despite the circumstances, we will never know. I just have to be at peace that our baby boy was so very loved and still is so very loved.

pregnant after miscarriage
"I know that people say, things happen for a reason and that those babies “sadly where not meant to be”. But, in my heart, and my husband’s heart, they were always meant to be. I still truly believe that." Image: Supplied.

For a long time, I didn’t know how to express my thoughts and feelings, my hurt, anger and frustration. I went through some dark times after our loss and my anxiety was triggered from the experience, without a doubt.

I didn’t see a psychologist for a few years. It was only when I was expecting our second son, that I finally got a referral to see a wonderful psychologist. Sadly though, she passed away after a few sessions with her. Dr Lisa understood – she too had lost three angel babies.

Speaking to someone helps. You might not be ready straight away, but you will know when you are. There are so many amazing support groups available these days, which is so much more than five years ago. It’s incredible how many friends and family members that you speak to and confide in who have also been through loss.

It’s healthy to talk, to open up. To not be afraid to share your feelings. Bottling them up in the long run is not healthy for you, nor your partner. There are wonderful support groups out there for men as well. We can’t forget what they go through as well. It was their child too. They also need love, care and support.

We had booked a trip overseas before we found out that we were expecting. It was a trip to Paris and Italy for our 30th birthdays. I should have been holding our newborn son in my arms for my birthday, but the universe had other ideas. Luckily we didn’t cancel our trip. In the end we did still go, as by May 2014, we had also suffered our second loss.

pregnant after miscarriage
Today, Rachael's kids, Ollie and Oscar are both healthy and happy boys. Image: Supplied.
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I had found out we were expecting again, the very same day that we bought our house. Our first pregnancy, I had morning and all day sickness. I had the embarrassing vomiting at my work’s morning meeting café. The works. But with our second pregnancy, I didn’t feel sick. Tired, but not sick.

In 2014 at a close friend’s wedding, I started bleeding right before the ceremony. I had never had that with our first loss. I was worried, but I didn’t let it completely ruin the night. In hindsight, I should have really gone to see the hospital doctors.

In the week that followed, I did phone our doctors, emailed and also went to a private scanning facility on my own accord in conjunction with care with my GP, and the emergency of a local hospital. I also had blood tests taken every few days. Everything was off when it came to what the doctors were seeing.

“Do you have your dates wrong?”

“It could be a natural miscarriage.”

“There is no baby in your uterus.”

Google was telling me that it could be ectopic pregnancy. It was only when I called the home doctor and asked my husband to come home with some anti-inflammatory medication that I realised things were not looking good.

I had experienced excruciating pain at work and it was getting worse with a stabbing pain in my right side. The home doctor thought it could be an ectopic pregnancy.

He asked me if I wanted an ambulance. We didn’t have a car at the time as we lived in the inner city. One regret I did have was not taking up that offer, as waiting for a cab and then waiting in the waiting room added more time to the process.

pregnant after miscarriage
"Every single pin prick, every single appointment and scan, was the reassurance to know that our bub was doing well." Image: Supplied.
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After a scan with the sonographer before too long, it was confirmed that I had a “mass”. The mass turned out to be my ruptured right fallopian tube. I now only have the left for luck.

Thankfully, both of our boys were conceived naturally with some medication in the earlier days once we found out we were expecting with our eldest and blood pressure medication later in pregnancy for both.

You would think I would have been owed some luck to have a smooth and hassle free pregnancy. But of course, this would also not be the case. I think I have experienced most text-book examples of pregnancy conditions.

We were recommended by a friend who had also suffered two losses to see the amazing doctor who delivered both of our boys via c-section. Our very first appointment with him around the four week mark with our eldest.

I loved his preventative approach. He was caring, but clinical. Just the right balance that you hope to have in your doctor.

I took medication which did help me conceive a happy and healthy baby boy, at 37.2 weeks gestation. It was a rollercoaster ride. Gestational diabetes, hypertension, a fibroid, a low lying placenta, and baby being breech. Just a few little things to add to the mix.

You know what though? It was all worth it. Every single pin prick, every single appointment and scan was the reassurance I needed that our baby was doing well.

Despite being predicted to be a bigger baby, he was tiny 3 kilograms. His younger brother, was a similar size, just under 3.2 kilograms. They were both born at 37.2 days, but little Oscar arrived in a more dramatic way via emergency c-section.

He had to spend the first nine hours of his life on breathing support and having blood tests done after some trouble breathing. He hadn’t had the steroid shots, whereas his older brother had.

To all of the beautiful mums and dads out there who have been through a similar journey, I salute you. My heart breaks for you. Despite everyone’s journey being so unique, we can empathise with each other. Thinking of you. Stay strong and have faith.

A version of this post originally appeared on The Pink Jubilee.

If this post has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.

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