A “Rainbow Baby” is a term that is used to describe a baby who is born into a family following a previous pregnancy which resulted in a miscarriage, premature birth, still birth, or infant death. The rainbow symbolises the hope that this new baby brings to the family without forgetting the impact of the storm of losing a child. Every month at Kidz Unlimited Photographic Studio we give away one FREE RAINBOW MINI SHOOT. Baby Loss by miscarriage is something which is very close to my heart having lost twins myself. It is something which happens to more people than you would imagine. It is also a subject that is rarely spoken about. This year, I made a commitment to photograph one Rainbow Baby every month for FREE!! My aim being to make this a subject that we speak about and share more….and to honour my own Rainbow Twins. So here is our next little Rainbow…… Noah and his Mummy, Nicola’s story.
My husband, Alex, and I got married in October 2017 and planned to start trying for a baby after our honeymoon. We both assumed that starting a family would be easy but nothing prepared us for what was to come. After two months of trying, we were overjoyed to see those two blue lines on the pregnancy test. We started imagining what our future would hold now that we weren’t just going to be a couple. We thought about how our baby might look -would they have my eyes, Alex’s nose, or blonde hair? We started to think of all the things we would need to buy in preparation for our baby’s arrival.
We were so excited that we told our parents and a few friends. Then I had to tell my work colleagues due to the high risk environment that I worked in. As I eagerly awaited my first midwife appointment and first scan, I did everything that a pregnant woman is advised to do: take the right vitamins, eat and drink healthy options, don’t lift heavy items, and stay safe.
I will always remember waking up on the 8th February 2018 with abdominal cramps and lying there next to Alex frozen in panic, before rushing to the bathroom where I discovered I was bleeding. The doctor uttered the words “threatened miscarriage” and rang the hospital to book a scan at the Early Pregnancy Unit. After waiting for five agonising days, my worst fears were confirmed: I had suffered an early miscarriage. Alex and I were devastated.
In the days that followed, I researched miscarriages and tried to find answers as to why this had happened to us. Despite the fact that there was nothing I could have done differently to prevent the loss, I still blamed myself. Many people tried to reassure us that early miscarriage was common for the first time and that if we tried again we would probably be successful.
When we did try again, I started to become obsessed with tracking my cycle and trying to figure out my fertile period each month. So, when I saw those two blue lines again, I started feeling very anxious. As I passed the point where I last suffered a miscarriage, I started to relax and become as excited as I was before -but it wasn’t to last.
This time I was at work when the pain and bleeding started. I made a panicked call to the Early Pregnancy Unit myself and another to Alex to tell him what I feared was happening. Again, I waited several days for a scan and had it confirmed that I had suffered another early miscarriage.
Somehow, this one was harder to bear for both of us. I was inconsolable with grief whilst my husband became angry at the cruelty of it. We both went through a range of emotions over the next days and weeks. I became depressed and suffered panic attacks due to my anxiety. Everywhere I looked I saw pregnant women, babies in proms, and friends getting pregnant.
I did find some solace in reaching out over social media to miscarriage support groups and doing research on early miscarriages. I found a wonderful book called “Saying Goodbye” by Zoe Clark-Coates which really helped me cope with my two losses. It was also around this time that I came across the term “rainbow baby” for a child born after the loss of a previous baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or death in infancy. It gave me hope that I may have my rainbow baby one day.
I decided I needed to make some changes in my life, including changing my job so that my mental health might improve. Alex and I remained a strong, loving couple and tried to move forward despite our grief. We decided to remove the stress and pressure of trying to conceive from ourselves and just enjoy being husband and wife again. We were going to let nature take its course.
Not long after starting my new job, I realised my period was late. I took 2 different tests just to be certain and woke Alex up with the news: I was pregnant for the third time. We were both happy but I found myself holding back as I feared that it could all be taken away from us like my last two.
I took it a day at a time and found myself anxious every time I had to use the bathroom or got a stomach ache. As the weeks went by, my anxiety and fears continued so a friend suggested that I buy something for the baby as a positive step to help me believe that this pregnancy would be successful. I took her advice and bought a black and white babygro that said “I love you very much” on the front. I kept it close by and looked at it every day as my pregnancy progressed.
In January 2019, we reached our first scan and there on the ultrasound screen was our beautiful baby alive and well. I was so relieved and happy. Then, when I heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time at my midwife appointment, I cried. I still have it recorded on my phone. Alex started compiling a list of baby names that we liked but I wanted to hold off choosing final names until the birth as I still feared something going wrong. After having a scan at the hospital where we were unable to find out the gender, Alex and I paid for a private 3D scan. It was a wonderful experience that I won’t ever forget as we found out that our rainbow baby was a boy! One evening, I was sat watching television with Alex and feeling our little boy move around in my growing bump, when I turned to Alex and said that I liked the name “Noah.” Alex looked at me surprised as it wasn’t a name that we had even considered at first. But we both agreed that we loved the name.
My pregnancy progressed well and I was lucky that I didn’t suffer with morning sickness. There were a few smells that set off my nausea such as leftover foods, strong deodorants, and car fresheners! However, at 28 weeks, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was heartbroken and worried that what I was eating and drinking could be harming our precious baby boy. I immediately started researching the condition and found lots of useful information regarding diet and exercise on the internet. I had to be strict with my diet to keep control of my blood sugar levels so that I could ensure both myself and Noah would stay safe and healthy. Alex supported me throughout and even followed the diet with me. I managed to remain diet controlled until 35 weeks when I was put on tablet medication which helped to keep my blood sugars within targets. After doing so well, my consultant and diabetic team agreed that I could go to exactly 40 weeks before they wanted me to be induced.
The date for my induction was set for Tuesday 23rd July 2019. I read up on induction of labour and found various stories of both failed and successful inductions. I listened to the advice of my midwives and felt that I was well prepared for the process that would enable me to finally meet my rainbow baby. How very wrong I was!
I arrived early in the morning to the Maternity ward and was taken to my bed on the induction suite where I joined 2 other pregnant women. I had the 24 hour pessary inserted later that day and was told to keep active so I walked around the hospital with Alex and bounced on the exercise ball. Nothing happened. The pessary was removed the next day and I had my first lot of gel inserted. Again, I was told to stay active. I had to watch as both of the other women had their labours start and were taken onto the labour ward to have their babies. Two new women arrived to have their inductions started. I had another lot of gel inserted and waited patiently for something to happen. Day three, more gel and more examinations, but no labour pains. More pregnant women came and went in the other beds. By the end of Thursday, I was getting upset and frustrated so the midwives offered me a bath which I eagerly took. Friday morning arrived and a consultant examined me. She gave me some positive news: she would be able to break my waters.
I thought that finally something was going to happen… but I didn’t progress at all after having my waters broken. So I was taken to the labour ward and put on the hormone drip. By this point I had been examined and monitored so many times that I was ready for it all to be over. I just wanted Noah to arrive safe and healthy.
My contractions started and I used gas and air to get me through the next few hours. Then I started to struggle with the excruciating pain. My midwife, Barbara, suggested I have stronger pain relief and I agreed to have the epidural. The relief for me was instant but it was still several hours before I was fully dilated enough to push. At 3am Saturday morning, I was 10cm dilated and ready to push. My midwife coached me through the next hour of contractions but something was wrong as Noah wasn’t getting any closer to being born. A consultant was bought in and I was told that I would need further interventions to help bring Noah into the world. I signed the paperwork and was wheeled into theatre.
After being examined again, it was quickly determined that forceps or ventouse delivery were not an option as Noah was stuck in a very awkward position. The only way to deliver Noah safely was via emergency C-section. At 5:25am on Saturday 27th July 2019, our beautiful rainbow baby boy was born weighing 8lbs 13oz. He was perfect. Alex and I cried with happiness. We were finally a family.
However, things were still not straightforward for us. During the surgery, my temperature had spiked and there were concerns that I may have an infection which could have passed to Noah. So we were both put on antibiotics for sepsis. Then a couple of days later, Noah began treatment for jaundice after which his temperature started to rise and nothing we did was bringing it down. The midwife made the call to send Noah to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) in the early hours so that he could get the care and treatment he needed. It was heart breaking watching my baby cry in pain and not want to be touched. Alex and I saw him taken into the high dependency area in SCBU and the lovely staff tried to reassure us that they would do everything they could to help Noah get better.
Alex and I cried so much after returning to my room on the maternity ward. In the days that followed, Noah was treated with four different types of antibiotics to treat a viral infection. Alex and I were so worried that Noah wouldn’t pull through and that, after everything we had been through, we would loose him. But Noah was a fighter and, on the evening of August 7th, he was finally discharged from hospital. Alex and I were so happy to finally be able to take our baby boy home.
When I was first contacted by Tracey at Kidz Unlimited Photographic Studio back in March 2019, I was surprised to hear that I had been nominated by a friend for a free rainbow themed mini shoot for Noah. I loved the idea of celebrating rainbow babies and sharing my story. Once he was born, we quickly arranged the shoot and I took Noah on his first bus ride to the studio. Noah was 17 days old and a very alert baby wanting to be awake and see what’s happening around him -which didn’t bode well for a photo shoot which needed him to be asleep! However, Tracey took it in her stride and swaddled Noah up and managed to settle him to sleep every time he woke. Any anxiety or worries I had disappeared and I was able to watch as my precious rainbow baby was posed for the beautiful photographs which Alex and I will treasure forever.