It all happened so quickly. My mother had just flown in from California, ready to help out as we prepared to welcome our rainbow baby. A long list of things to get done awaited us in the coming days. But we never had a chance to check off the to-do list. An hour after my mother arrived, my water broke.
It was 10:20 on a Saturday night. My husband and I had just fallen asleep, when I woke up in a panic. I jumped out of bed and burst into tears, my heart racing as I feared the worse. When my water broke six years ago, I was only 20 weeks gestation, far too early for my triplets to survive outside of the womb. My mind immediately went back to that day before I realized this time around was different. I was 37 weeks gestation; my baby perfectly healthy.
As the reality set in, my groggy husband called the doctor. It was “go” time. And talk about perfect timing–It was as if our newest addition hung on until my mother was here, ready to help out with our older daughter at home.
About 12 hours of labor later, we were about to welcome our sweet little girl to this world. It was a moment I knew would be bittersweet. I was about to give birth to a healthy baby just a few rooms down, in the same hospital where we delivered our triplets six years ago. Our memories in this hospital are filled with grief and heartache, yet so much hope and happiness. Even though two of our children died within those hospital walls, it’s a place that is so near and dear to us. We met our children for the first time in this same maternity wing and much of the staff remembers our children and will never forget our family. Life was about to come full circle. These same doctors and nurses are some of the few people who knew Parker and Abby, our children who lived less than two months. And they all cheer on our survivor, Peyton, as she proves to the world that the youngest and sickest babies can be living miracles.
The tears that poured out of me that day were not from pain. Sure, giving birth is not for the faint of heart. It’s pretty amazing what women endure to bring a beautiful child into this world. But the tears on this day, were filled with memories of the past, along with hope for the future.
There are no words to describe what it’s like to hear a baby cry for the first time, to see their eyes explore your face. These are things I never experienced giving birth to micro-preemies born on the edge of viability. Piper Avery, our nearly 8lb daughter arrived with a full head of hear and hearty lungs. She was healthy and absolutely perfect. There was no team of neonatologists waiting to perform live saving measures, no rabbi arriving to offer condolences. This time was different. I would actually leave the hospital with a healthy baby in my arms.
The day didn’t go exactly as planned, not a shock to anyone who knows my health history. I became very sick after delivering Piper and gave my doctor and husband quite the scare. But thanks to the medical staff and a hearty blood transfusion, I bounced back (much quicker than my near-death experience 6 years ago).
It’s taken me more than two weeks to begin processing all that I went through, to allow my heart the ability to love another tiny human, all the while dealing with the anxiety and fear that come with pregnancy after loss. Just because I have a healthy baby at home, doesn’t mean the life is perfect. There are so many emotions and PTSD I deal with on a daily basis, especially now as a newborn triggers so many memories from the past. The thing is—the past will always be part of me. It’s shaped who I am today. And this sweet “rainbow baby” does not take the place of the two babies I lost.
But as I hold my sweet baby girl, all feels right in this world. The past 9 months felt like the longest year of my life, but at the same time, it went by at lightning speed. The sleepless nights and the loud cries are worth it. This perfect baby was the missing piece in our family’s puzzle and we are so blessed to have her in our arms.