My name is Jenna Smith, and here is my story of our rainbow after the storm....
A "rainbow baby" refers to a baby that is born after miscarriage(s), stillbirth, or infant loss, because in the real world a bright, colorful rainbow follows a storm and gives hope for a better, brighter future. "Rainbow baby" was a term that I honestly knew nothing about until November 2014. It was then that we experienced our first miscarriage. Looking back, while it was devastating, we remained hopeful because having one miscarriage is quite common.
The real devastation came over the next several months. I went on to have three more recurrent miscarriages (four total losses in eleven months), and losing those sweet babies was absolutely heartbreaking. Each miscarriage was a little different in regards to the timing, physical pain, and medical management, but one thing remained constant: the heartbreak. There was also great frustration, as no cause was ever determined, so it left me feeling broken without a way to "fix" the problem. As a nurse, I'm a "fixer" by nature, but I didn't know how to fix this. In between the losses and after, Andy and I both had countless tests and they all came back normal. Two of the babies had testing as well, and the results were normal/inconclusive.
A lot of people who knew my story told me that I was so strong for continuing to try to have a baby after the losses, but in reality I was terrified. I experienced so many various stages of grief, emotions, and thoughts during this time. I was tired. I felt that we were doing everything right, but kept getting the same end result. If I'm being completely honest, I had feelings of guilt as well because we had one precious child already, and that is what some people hope for: just one child. I also contemplated long and hard over whether we should adopt or foster, but I had this overwhelming and relentless desire to carry, birth, and nurse another child. I dreamed of nursing my baby and experiencing that special bond again. As silly as it may sound, I worried that the losses would affect Andy's love for me. I worried that my dream of having another baby may never come true.
The only way we were able to get through this journey is by leaning into God. I can honestly say that I've never prayed harder or more for anything in my entire life. I prayed in the closet of what is now Charlie's nursery each night after putting Emery to bed. I got down on my hands and knees and cried out to God for help. I prayed in the shower, on the way to work, and all throughout the day. We also attended 21 days of prayer (prayer service at our church) before work and prayed consistently for a healthy pregnancy and baby and requested others to do the same. We went up after church services for one on one prayer, and I filled out the prayer request card over and over. I prayed with my physician and medical team before procedures. I also cried out through worship music, which gave me hope.
After a whole lot of praying, discussing, and researching, we ultimately decided to go through in vitro fertilization, as this is what our specialist strongly recommended for us after the third loss. After the fourth failed attempt on our own, we decided to try IVF and it worked! Hallelujah! It was the hardest decision we have ever had to make, but we wanted to give it our all and have no regrets looking back.
All who know me know that I have little patience. I just thought the miscarriages tested my patience. IVF took it to a whole new level. The waiting for the phone call to hear if I was pregnant was excruciating, but I remember so vividly the day I got the call from my doctor. I was actually at work in a room with a patient, and my phone starting vibrating. I excused myself from the room, and my doctor was on the other end. He said in a very calm, but excited voice, “Well, you better answer the phone because I have good news!” My hcg level was in the clouds, and so was I. I was ecstatic. I was PREGNANT! I had concerns that the transfer had failed because I had some cramping and spotting a few days before his call. The next days and weeks ahead were difficult as I continued to have some bleeding, but each lab and ultrasound looked promising. I know the reproductive endocrinologist was probably as ecstatic as we were that this worked because I was not a great patient. I was so worried and relied on him heavily for reassurance. Several times I went in twice a week for ultrasounds. I remember at the end of the first trimester my specialist telling me I had graduated, and he was referring me to a regular OBGYN. This was good news, but I was still nervous. When I met my OB for the first time, I fell in love with her. She was so compassionate, and handled me well. I almost wonder if she had been pre-warned about a needy, neurotic patient named Jenna?!
Ironically, November was the month of my first loss, but it is also now the birth month of our beautiful, precious “rainbow baby” boy, Charles Garrison Smith! Charlie was born on November 14, 2016 at 3:59 pm weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 and 1/2 inches. God is so good! “For this child I have prayed, and the Lord granted me the desires of my heart.” 1 Samuel 1:27.
I don't think it is by coincidence that November is also the month of Thanksgiving. We are so extremely thankful for Emery and Charlie. Each baby born into this world truly is a miracle, and after experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss, I believe this with all my heart. While Charlie doesn't erase or take away the pain of the lost babies for us, we were granted a healthy, precious child of God, and we are so grateful.
During the journey, I tried so hard to have "faith over fear." There were days that I did and days the fear won. There were days I dreaded going the restroom because I was so terrified of seeing lots of blood. There were days when I had my ultrasounds I was literally shaking in fear waiting to see/hear the heartbeat. As terrified as I was, I always remained hopeful. I never lost hope that I would eventually have this baby. I know God worked out so many details when I look back on the whole process and believe wholeheartedly that He heard and answered our prayers.
Infertility comes in so many different scenarios for so many women. Some are far more devastating than mine, and outcomes vary greatly for everyone. I remember reading so much negativity when going through recurrent pregnancy loss, so I write my story mainly to encourage others by sharing the positive and also to glorify our Heavenly Father. I write to encourage others who are on a journey to trust that our Father is right there every step of the way. Cry on His shoulder. Fully lean into Him. Let Him know the desires of your heart.
During the journey, I tried to remind myself of these verses, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4 6-7.
Know that God knows what is best for each and every one of our lives. He's a good, good Father!