MADISON (WKOW) -- It was exactly one year ago when I found out I was pregnant with a rainbow baby. I don't even know what compelled me to take a test. My husband and I hadn't been trying. I wasn't really "late." I wasn't even sure I wanted to go through another pregnancy.
But I went into the bathroom in the early morning hours of December 23, 2016 and fell to my knees crying when the stick told me I was pregnant again. Those who know me know I have a lot of work to do in the faith department, but that morning I prayed to God - or whoever might be listening - that this wouldn't end in another tragedy.
For those who don't know, a "rainbow baby" is the one born after a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss. It's meant to symbolize hope after a storm.
We certainly had been through a storm. In April of 2015, our triplets - all boys - were born prematurely and died within a few hours. We named them. We held them. We buried them.
I hurt for a very long time. I still do.
And that's why, when I saw that stick with a plus sign on it, I didn't know how to feel.
I had been meaning to have a conversation with my husband about whether we wanted to get pregnant again. I didn't know if I did. I had no idea what he thought. Not only was this a complete surprise, it was completely scary.
I waited a whole day to tell my husband I was pregnant. When I sat him down, he said, "You're pregnant. I heard you crying in the bathroom yesterday."
I cried a lot during this pregnancy. I also got sick a lot. I was miserable. I wanted it to be over.
That's horrible to say when you've been given such a gift, but I didn't know if that gift would be taken away.... again. I was always on edge. I kept thinking about my boys, McKay, Asher and Kenji and how guilty I felt for getting pregnant again.
As the months went on, I started to become more confident. I tried talking to my baby. He would kick me in response. He was a strong little stinker. I thought maybe he would be strong enough to endure my failure of a body.
Then I went to the hospital at 22 weeks with contractions. I lost the triplets at 22 weeks. That was the worst phone call I've made to my husband. He sped to the hospital, his stomach in knots the entire way.
Braxton Hicks. Everything would be fine for today.
After that scare, I went to the hospital two more times for contractions. But each time, they stopped and I was in the clear. By the time I was 37 weeks though, I was already dilated to 4-5 cm and 70% effaced. That means I was RIGHT THERE. The doctor said I would have the baby any day.
"Any day" was three weeks later.
Because I was so close, my doctor warned when I did truly go into labor, it would be quick. He said I would probably have to call 911 because driving on our own would take too long. He also prepared us for an at-home birth. We looked at the doctor in disbelief, thinking surely he was joking. He wasn't. So we gathered up towels to put in the car and bring to work just in case.
THE BIRTH OF BROOKS
My due date came and went. I woke up September 1st feeling normal. I had the day off work. My husband asked if he should stay home since I was overdue. "No!" I told him. "I'll call you if anything happens."
About half an hour later it happened. I started feeling contractions, but I had felt them every day for the last 18 weeks. So.... who knew if they were the real thing?
I texted a couple of neighbors to see if they were home, just in case. My daughter was still sleeping in my bedroom. School hadn't started for the year yet.
About five minutes later, I called the neighbor to tell her I just didn't feel right. She quickly got dressed and came over. It was only about three minutes. But by the time she walked in, I was on my knees in the bathroom in major pain. She said she could drive me to the hospital. Or she could call 911. I told her, "I don't think we'll make it. You better call an ambulance."
The next 15 minutes were embarrassing but hilarious. I'll keep the details secret, but you might imagine what it was like having your neighbor there when you're ready to give birth on your bathroom floor and EMS workers trying to get you into an ambulance while you're screaming your head off and half in the buff. We all became very close that day.
During the ambulance ride, I just remember the EMT telling me NOT to push. I really needed to. The contractions were constant. They would last a minute and come every minute. So there was never any "down time." I could barely breathe.
We got to the emergency room and I told them the baby was coming now. Three minutes, three pushes and Brooks was born. From the time I thought I might be having contractions to his birth was one hour. One hour!
I was still on the gurney when they began to wheel me up to recovery. Just as I was about to get on the elevator, with Brooks on my chest, I saw my husband come around the corner. "What???!! He's here already??!!"
The look on his face, I'll never forget. I do remember at some point my neighbor telling me she called my husband. But everything happened so fast, I didn't really comprehend and honestly, didn't care about anything but the pain. But now realizing my husband missed the entire thing, I felt terrible. He was fine with it though and I've come to love our son's birth story. I also love that Brooks and I shared that moment exclusively.
Brooks Bock was perfectly healthy. Born at 8:30 a.m., 6 pounds 14 ounces and 18.5 inches. While he and I rested and recovered in the hospital, my husband and daughter had a wedding to get to in Chicago. I'm not kidding. They were the best man and flower girl in my brother-in-law's wedding the next day. Talk about poor timing. But everything worked out beautifully.
Since Brooks has become part of our family, things are wonderful. Our house is always a complete mess, but he's an extremely good baby. He smiles and laughs often. He loves his sister and she loves him dearly.
I do have moments when I look at Brooks and cry. It's a mix of happiness and sadness. I still miss McKay, Asher and Kenji. But I also have good thoughts when I think of them. I'm so grateful for the time we spent. I'm grateful they taught me how to be a better parent and are a reminder of the great gifts I have.
I know how lucky I am. Many people who want to become parents never get their happy ending. I certainly didn't think we ever would. My daughter is also a rainbow baby. I had six miscarriages before she was born. Back then, I had never heard of the term "rainbow baby." But I certainly felt the immense joy she brought into our lives after feeling so depressed for so long.
Having children has been a hilarious whirlwind of fun. And the best time in my life. I can say that even with all the heartache it's brought.
Right now as I'm writing this, I'm listening to Rylan read a book to Brooks. He's completely engaged and is loving the attention from his big sister. I'm counting my blessings this Christmas. I sure hope you are too.