Written by Nicole Bronken, Guest Blogger
When you get married, talk about wanting children, and plan for your future family, no one ever prepares you for the possibility of miscarriage. Or fertility struggles. When my husband and I got married in 2015 at the age of 29, we decided to wait a bit to try to have kids in order to enjoy married life. About a year a half later we “pulled the goalie” so to speak. But after about 12 years on birth control my body wasn’t responding the way I expected. I wasn’t getting my period nor was I ovulating. For five months. Finally in the sixth month of trying I got a positive ovulation test and two weeks later, a positive pregnancy test. We were ecstatic. Immediately I was designing a nursery in my head, thinking of possible names, planning on how maternity leave would affect my job. We even told our immediate family members. Fear of miscarriage wasn’t something that even popped into my baby-crazed brain.
Finally at eight weeks, we had our first doctors appointment. I chose to see a midwife and she wanted to do an ultrasound to get an accurate date. I remember joking around that I hoped I was further along than I thought I should be because being pregnant was already not my favorite state of being. The ultrasound technician said our baby didn’t have a yolk sac. I wasn’t quite sure what that was but I knew it wasn’t good. When the midwife rejoined us, she walked in the room and callously stated “This pregnancy isn’t viable” as if she was telling someone they were out of a particular food item as a restaurant. No sympathy. As if she wasn’t breaking our hearts in that room. Nothing prepares you for that gut wrenching ache that goes through your whole body. I cried uncontrollably the whole way home and for days after. I scheduled my D&C for the following week not knowing it would be my first of three in the next three years.
Fast forward about six months in which there were many emotional highs and lows trying to overcome this heart break, and we find out we are pregnant again. This time, fear sets in. Our first ultrasound was scheduled for six weeks. I can recall the technician looking at her screen puzzled saying there wasn’t a heartbeat and the baby was measuring at about four weeks. I was heartbroken, unsure how this could be happening again. She told us I most likely miscalculated the conception date and to come back in a few weeks. I let three painstaking weeks pass before going back. This time I found out there was a heartbeat. I cried tears of joy and I couldn’t stop. I knew we weren’t out of the woods yet, but this was a beautiful first step.
Each appointment after the first ultrasound was perfect. Our baby always had a strong heartbeat and measured exactly as he should. We decided to find out the gender at the anatomy scan but we both were convinced the baby was a boy. Turns out, at the 19 week appointment we were right. My husband was so excited to have a hunting and fishing buddy for life and I couldn’t wait to raise this little boy. I remember the ultrasound technician’s concerned look when she examined his face. Something wasn’t quite right. She called in the perinatologist who explained that our little boy would be born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. I can’t begin to describe the fear that went through my mind. No blood relative of ours had been born with a cleft lip or palate and we had no idea what this meant for our baby or how it would affect his life. We worried and prayed every single day that he would be as healthy as can be.
Having a diagnosis while your baby is still in utero is a blessing and a curse. Knowing before he was born allowed us to educate ourselves on clefts. We read books, articles, talked to parents of children with clefts, researched cleft clinics across the country and chose the one that would treat our baby throughout his life. But it also meant that we learned the worst of the worst. We saw pictures of babies with severe clefts and read about issues that might accompany a cleft. In the end, we loved our baby so much and we knew we would do anything and everything to make sure he had the best medical care.
Because of our son’s cleft, I had ultrasounds about every two weeks. It was at my 38 week ultrasound appointment that we got two bits of good news. The first was that according to the latest scan, the doctor said it looked like our son had a unilateral cleft lip only. This was such good news because it meant less surgeries and less complications for him. The second piece of good news was that we would meet our baby sooner than we thought. My amniotic fluid was very low and they were going to induce me in two hours. Now, any pregnant woman knows the constant feeling of “get this baby out of me” but when they tell you that you are going to deliver soon, it’s scary. We went home, finished packing my bag and headed back to the hospital.
We arrived back at the hospital at 7:00 pm, I was induced at 11:00 pm, started pushing around 5:15 am, and he was born at 6:11 am weighing 6 pounds 6 ounces and 20 inches long. It was THE happiest day and moment of my life. That little boy makes every worry leading up to his birth worth it. And the doctor was right. He was born with a unilateral cleft lip but other than that he was perfectly healthy.
At four months old we headed to Denver for his cleft lip surgery. It was a scary day to send our baby off to undergo surgery but we knew he was in great hands and those little babies are so resilient and tough. His surgery went wonderfully and he recovered quickly. He is such a feisty little fighter and continues to be two years later.
I’ve had two miscarriages within nine months of each other since having our son. Although at one point I declared to be “done trying”, I’ve since changed my mind. If another baby can bring us the joy that our son has, it will be worth it. Our rainbow babies are special miracles and I can’t wait to hold another one in my arms.
To any mamas out there struggling with conceiving or miscarriage, I hope your rainbow baby comes to you as our son came to us. I can’t imagine not knowing him and for that I’m thankful for the pain we went through before he was born. From the pain is born a rainbow.