When we found out our rainbow baby was going to be a boy, we were over the moon! We did a gender reveal with Lily Rose and our families and the look of surprise and joy on Jon’s otherwise calm face as the blue balloons flew out of the reveal box will be forever etched in my mind. My mother, who was on speaker phone so she could hear the news, said how she had been dreaming of a baby boy named Oliver, the name we chose before we even knew our first baby was going to be a girl. For days following the reveal I would catch Jon staring into space, then he’d shake his head in amazement, smile and say: “Exciting times!” And they were exciting times, but they were also hard, scary and sad times.
While the pregnancy wasn’t difficult, it also wasn’t stress-free like our first. I had the same “morning sickness” for about 13 weeks that I’d had before, but in the second trimester I didn’t feel amazing like I had been lucky to before. I was a few years older, a few pounds heavier, and I had that temperamental toddler to deal with. From the start, I was so stressed about miscarrying again. After a lot of cramping, my doctor did extra tests and found I had a bacterial infection that, while she reassured me wasn’t a big deal, did need treating. I also had hypothyroidism (discovered last pregnancy before I miscarried) so that required a daily pill. And after my ultrasounds, instead of being more reassured that this baby was healthy, my doctor said I had marginal cord insertion. As quickly as she said it she warned me not to google it, otherwise I would worry myself for nothing. But I am by nature a worrier, an over-analyzer, with things turning constantly in my mind from bad to worse. So of course I looked it all up online and of course I stressed. I had more sleepless nights, more aches and pains, and the worst heartburn that started way before it had last time, as did Braxton Hicks. Not all the new pregnancy symptoms were bad, as I felt this baby so much more, and that was something that reassured me. This boy was a busy one!
Our landlord informed us that she wanted to put the townhouse we had been renting for over two years, up for sale. Really, it was the push we needed to get looking at buying a home for our soon-to-be family of four, which we ended up doing relatively quickly. Packing and moving with a newborn was not part of the excitement though and this likely only added to the stress I was already feeling. At around 37 weeks my blood pressure started to spike. Then my mom had a major health scare: she was rushed to the ER with what was later found to be a blood clot that had traveled to her lungs. At the time, there was real fear that we would lose her, which shook me to my core. I visited her for how long I could before we all decided I shouldn’t drive back and forth to Moose Jaw so late in my pregnancy. I tried to focus on taking care of myself and our baby, hoping to bring Oliver into the world in a positive mind set. I tried hard not to assume the worst each time my mother had a set back, trusting instead in her promise that she would meet her grandson.
And for Jon, the fear of losing a parent was becoming all too real. For the past few years his dad had been fighting a battle with cancer and was undergoing chemo again. Watching his father suffer broke Jon’s heart, but he is so strong, and as always, he was our rock. He is like his father, who even when suffering more than I can imagine, managed to always ask how I was feeling with my pregnancy, and later how my mom was doing once she landed in hospital. We tried to make the most of our time together and Oliver’s arrival was something we were all excited about. It was a bright spot during a very difficult time.
At 39 weeks, our doctor decided to try to get things moving along; she swept my membranes and told me if I had any worsening symptoms due to high blood pressure, to go to emergency immediately, which we ended up doing two days later. After hours of testing and waiting, the doctor decided to start inducing labour that night. I was allowed to go home to wait for the Cervidil to take effect, and just before we were due back 24 hours later, while waiting to be admitted, my water broke. We were admitted and settled into our room around 9 pm, only for things to stall. I was at 2 cm dilated when we arrived, and nothing changed for hours. So they started Pitocin on a drip around midnight and that’s when the contractions went from mild to majorly painful, crazy fast! They warned me that things would intensify, my cousin and friends who had been through it said the same; it made labour faster, but much more painful. No standing or back rubbing or bouncing on a ball or breathing techniques helped. I finally took back my earlier statement about not needing an epidural. I hadn’t had one with Lily, but this was an all together different experience! When the nurse checked again and I was only at 4 cm, I almost shouted GIVE ME THE DRUGS!!!
The anesthetist came after what seemed to be the longest 20 minutes of my life! Before he arrived, the nurse asked to check me again, but I assured her nothing had changed; I wasn’t having the urge to push, I was just in extreme pain. But as the anesthetist was getting ready, explaining the risks and process involved, I had to keep breaking for contractions, and suddenly the urge to push was too strong to ignore. The nurse checked me quickly and there was no denying that baby was coming, and quick! She assured me she could deliver him if no doctor came in time, but suddenly the room was filled with women ready to get baby out: the nurse who had been with us before, and three other doctors. And of course there was one very concerned father (it still hurts Jon to describe watching me in that kind of pain). I started pushing and it was excruciating, especially when baby got stuck and we had to wait until the next contraction (I blame Jon and his broad shoulders). But focusing on the pushing was better than dealing with the contractions. I pictured meeting my little boy, holding him in my arms, snuggling him close. I closed my eyes, bore down and gave it everything I had.
After 15 minutes of pushing, Oliver was out, bigger and more beautiful than I could have imagined. My reaction: I laughed! I laughed that the pain was gone. I laughed because I had in fact done what every woman fears doing while pushing out a baby and therefore I could not quit apologizing to everyone in the room (again, sorry;). And I laughed because after all the worry, after all the craziness of life leading up to this, my baby boy was here!
Jon cut the cord as they laid Oliver on my chest, then he snapped the first pictures of our baby boy. We kissed and we cried. The nurses weighed and measured him, gave him to Jon to hold as we took in everything about him: 8 pounds 9 ounces, 21.25 inches long, the most gorgeous complexion and most kissable chubby cheeks. Then as everyone but Jon and one nurse left the room, I breastfed Oliver for the first time and sang him “You Are My Sunshine,” through tears of joy.
The things I stressed over during the pregnancy had no effect on the labour, Oliver or me. The delivering doctor asked to keep the placenta for study due to the marginal cord insertion, just as my doctor had said they might, but that was all that came of it. After checking my thyroid months after Oliver arrived, I no longer had hypothyroidism. And because of how amazing Jon is, and with the help of supportive family and friends, moving with a newborn wasn’t as stressful as I had feared, and we had the most beautiful home to settle into.
Luckily, my mom was on the road to recovery and she met the baby boy of her dreams when he was only two days old. Following some rehabilitation and a short stint back at home, she made the difficult but smart decision to move into assisted living. This makes for much less worry on everyone’s part though, and it is a great place for her grand kids to visit her.
Jon’s dad met Oliver even earlier, when he and Jon’s mum came to the hospital to meet their new grandson. Jon’s dad spent time cuddling and cooing with Oliver, saying over and over how it was just like holding Jonathan as a baby. Oliver really is the spitting image of his father: bright blue eyes and full lips, and just the tiniest bit of blond hair on his perfectly round head. And Oliver carries John as a middle name, in honour of Granddad, who had 5 months with his new grand baby before sadly, he passed away.
After we miscarried, I saw a rainbow and it helped give me hope. And not long after Jon’s dad passed away, we saw one while driving, high in the sky, like a reminder of bright things looming on the horizon. The first two months with Oliver weren’t always easy (more on that in a future post) but once he learned to smile and got through that difficult newborn stage, it became apparent that our Ollie was very easy going and in fact, a very bubbly baby. He brings joy to all of our family, just when we needed it most. Our rainbow baby, who was the happiness that came after miscarriage, has now helped us through an even bigger loss.
Until recently Oliver slept in his bassinet in our room. Once he woke in the early morning, I’d bring him into our bed to feed. Even though he was hungry, he always took time to give Jon the gummiest of grins, often while lying upside down, squealing in delight as he looked at Daddy. No matter how hard the night before had been, no matter how much sadness we were all feeling, those moments between father and son were everything! The look of intense love and pure happiness that washed over Jon’s face in return is etched into my mind as well. Jon would smile back at his baby boy, shake his head in awe, and say: “Amazing, just amazing.” And it really is amazing: this boy and his light; the brightness he brings to our world; and, the power of love to help us heal.