The Other Side of the Rainbow
I am a private person by nature - I am a good listener, but not a good sharer. One thing I’ve realized during my fertility journey is that not sharing or finding a community of other women on their own fertility journeys has lead to my most isolating moments. I think this isolation is far too common, which is why I am starting Roo’s Rainbow with the intention of sharing women’s stories, including my own.
Like many women and couples today, my husband and I spent most of our twenties building our individual lives. We focused on careers, travelling, redoing our fixer upper, and going back to school for advanced degrees. As my twenties started to slip away, we decided to focus on starting a family in 2013. My goal was to have a baby in my arms by my 30th birthday, which felt very achievable since that was still a year and a half down the road.
We were excited to find I was pregnant that summer - it felt surreal and exciting. I wanted to keep the experience as natural as possible – I found a midwife practice and we planned to tell our family we were expecting at Thanksgiving when we would be just over 13 weeks. The timing felt perfect, we were expecting baby to arrive just after David’s MBA graduation and I pictured us at the ceremony with David in a cap and gown and me showing off our baby bump in a maternity dress. Unfortunately, a few days before the holiday we had a miscarriage at home. We were both surprised and sad; however, we kept the loss private, decided not to waste any time and to try again. I was eager to try to get pregnant again as soon as possible. I felt like we were already behind from a timing perspective because of the miscarriage and I was disappointed that we lost those months being pregnant that didn’t result in a child.
In the spring of 2014, we were thrilled to learn I was pregnant again. We were worried about this pregnancy, but hopeful that the first miscarriage had been a fluke. I transferred care from the midwives to an OBGYN to be more closely monitored and started regular acupuncture treatment. Unfortunately, growth stopped progressing after 8 weeks and I had a D&C shortly thereafter. We opted for genetic testing on the tissue, transferred care to a more experienced OB, and had an infertility assessment done. The primary finding was uterine polyps and we scheduled a hysteroscopy to have them removed. The hysteroscopy revealed I have a uterine malformation which increases the risk of pregnancy loss and obstetrical complications. I had an MRI the following week which confirmed this along with a broader health condition.
We were concerned about the future, shocked to learn about my condition and disheartened for our fertility journey. I felt broken, disappointed in my body and responsible for our losses. We talked to our doctor about next steps and she recommended a quad therapy approach including daily blood thinner shots and steroids upon a positive pregnancy test in hopes one or more of the four tactics would help maintain a pregnancy. Following our second loss I focused on self care - I started maya abdominal massage, rid the house of all chemicals that could affect my fertility, began fertile grounding yoga classes and sought out an infertility therapist. I was upset that our first due date had come and gone and that our second pregnancy stopped progressing. I felt like I was constantly playing a game of catch up I couldn’t win. I knew I needed to rest and recover, at the same time, I couldn’t find a sense of peace in the idea of taking a break from trying, so we decided to try again. This time luck was on our side - we got pregnant quickly that summer.
We had weekly ultrasounds with our OB along with regular ultrasounds with our perinatologist. We were careful, diligent and knew we could leave any given appointment with reassuring or devastating news. Week after week things looked normal until we were part way through our second trimester. My amniotic fluid was extremely low, the baby’s renal system could not be found on ultrasound after 45 minutes of probing, and the perinatologist told us that he was 95% sure that something was seriously wrong. The following week we had a fetal MRI, which confirmed that our baby had bilateral renal agenesis (no kidneys) along with some additional heart and brain abnormalities, and would not survive outside the womb. David and I now found ourselves in a situation where we knew our growing baby would not survive outside the womb and we had the option to carry the baby to term or initiate a labor induction. It was the hardest decision I have ever made. David joined me in a session with my fertility therapist and we all cried together as we discussed our options. We ultimately chose a labor induction just before Christmas and Roo Emmanuel Berglund fleeted through this world on December 19, 2014. We were heartbroken.
We opted to have extensive genetic testing done on Roo, and based on the results our perinatologist compared what happened to a lightning strike. We were saddened to our core - we loved Roo more than anything and were grateful for the time we had with him and the joy he brought into our lives. David and I clung to each other and our sorrow brought us closer, but the future felt more uncertain than ever before. I wanted to try again, but I didn’t know if I could handle another potential loss – I worried it would break me in my already fragile emotional state. My best friend and confidant cried with me at lunch one day, and she bravely encouraged me to try one more time. In my gut I felt like I needed to try again before seriously evaluating other options, and so, after much deliberation, we decided to try one more time.
We were fortunate to get pregnant in late spring 2015. Week after week our ultrasounds were positively uneventful. I was so happy to be pregnant but at the same time, I was terrified that this pregnancy may not end well. So I kept my focus on doing everything I could for this baby. David was amazing, he came to every ultrasound with me in case we received bad news, which totaled about 50 appointments. In December of 2015 we welcomed our miracle Josephine Moon Berglund into the world. We brought her home from the hospital on the anniversary of the night Roo was born - Josie is truly our rainbow baby. After a miscarriage in mid 2017, we conceived again and welcomed our second child, Vera Rain to our family in May 2018. We appreciate having Josie and Vera in our lives every day. We feel so lucky and grateful; I pray those emotions never fade away.
I have led a charmed life - my fertility journey has been the hardest thing I have ever been through. It has helped me become a stronger version of my previous self. I know I am a better mom than I would have been without this journey. I look forward to connecting with many other women as they forge through their own journey to family.