• Rachel Schwenn

Holding on to Hope

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

Have you ever had a day where you were just in your feels? Like you could cry at the drop of a hat, or if someone shared exciting news, you might literally jump up and down for them…until you cried? All your emotions are heightened. Sometimes for no reason you can find, but often because there is something significant about that day, either currently or in your past. Well, yesterday was one of those days for me.

Yesterday marked 6 months since I got pregnant. Half a year has gone by since we finally got to that point, and let me tell you we ( Me, my family, friends, other families, all the Dr's and techs and pharmacists) ALL put in work to get to there. Though, that work is a story for another day and another post. 3 weeks and 5 days later, we had our 1st ultrasound and that little embryo had liked my uterus so much it decided there was room for two babies in there. WOW, identical twins…growing in my body…for the second time! As wild as it is, this was not my first twin rodeo and in fact my first pregnancy was also surprise identical twins. While their mode of entry was different, it was no less an affirmation to me of God’s handiwork in this pregnancy.

In my heart I knew this was God’s plan, but it also inspired fear in me. Fear, because I had been here before, I was aware this time of the risks, I knew how this was not going to be a simple pregnancy, like any pregnancy can be called “simple”. I went to the appointments, I had multiple ultrasounds, the babies were growing, had strong heartbeats, I was gaining just the right amount of weight, I managed my morning (see ALL DAY) sickness like a pro, and just as I was starting to get some energy back at the end of my first trimester, our world was declared as being in the midst of a pandemic. Being pregnant during a pandemic was new to me but I was sure I wasn’t the first or last woman to experience it, so I rolled with the new challenges.

Fast forward 4 months, and I wish I was posting a 6.5 month (giant) twin bump pic. I wish I was large, round, and hot in this 90 something degree weather we are having. I wish I was having to put on the annoying mask and go to awkward doctor appointments and worrying about who would be allowed to be at delivery or if I’d be able to have a doula with me or have to get my support over a zoom call. I wish in 2 months I'd be delivering 2 perfect, so so wanted, and loved little boys.

But instead, here are my feet... relaxing in my bed... laying flat on my back comfortably...

attempting to artistically convey my hopeful heart. Those wishes I have aren't happening right now. At 16w5d during a Maternal Fetal Medicine ultrasound, my tech couldn’t find these sweet babies heartbeats. My doctor came in and searched around for what seemed like an eternity, until the words any expecting woman dreads to hear came out “I’m so sorry, they are gone”. I don’t entirely remember what I felt or thought in that moment, I was shocked, I tried to process all the information, I tried to breathe through the blue mask covering my face but I just was numb. I took the doctor up on her offer of a cup of water, called my husband and told him he had to come home from work now, I walked to my car, and I cried hot salty ugly tears.

We took a few days to process and say our goodbyes. The physical healing took a few weeks but I’m not sure the emotional pain ever completely goes away. I could go on and on about the additional challenges the world around me was going through during this time and the complexities of home life during a pandemic, but the reality is, loss anytime is difficult. Though I only have this experience and those who I have spoken with about it, I believe grief over the loss of a child, no matter when it happens, transforms. Grief transforms over time in how you feel it and it transforms your perspective. I found safe outlets to talk about the vulnerable feelings I was having, I sought out a professional to help me process through some of the more confusing parts, I spent time writing and thinking of ways to honor the lives I carried. I imagine there are many ways to healthily process such a thing but these things were helpful for me.

To anyone going through this or something similar I would suggest bereavement groups, grief counselors, journaling, take time to process internally but whatever you decide you need, don’t isolate completely

. Over 12 weeks later, I can say that I am grateful for this experience. I would never in a million years have wished for it, but God got me through it and grew me from it. I can empathize now even more with those who struggle to have children, I'm glad I got to have those boys in my belly, even if for less time than I expected, I have gained more love in my heart, I appreciate the miracle that my living children are, I am blessed with friends and family who will make my family food and leave it on my porch without a word. I am healthy and I continue to have HOPE this story will end beautifully.

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