I had my first miscarriage when I was in my 30s. After that, I had another. And, then one more, before giving birth to my first son, Sam. After Sam, I had three more before giving birth to my second son, Massimo.

When I was around 18, I was told by my then-doctor that I would not be able to conceive due to a plethora of reasons I was too young to understand or mature enough to question and ask for more information. There was no Internet, therefore, I couldn’t research on my own. And, surely none of my friends were experiencing this. In addition, he said in the odd chance that I did conceive I would surely not be able to carry full term. This news built the landscape of my future, or at least how I envisioned it. From that point on, I made life choices, chose partners, and followed dreams that didn’t include any plan of becoming a mother. As it was, I had no real interest in becoming a wife either. I never dreamed of having a family. I dreamed of living an adventure as a world photographer and never, ever did I see someone standing next to me or a baby in my arms.

I was surprised when I found out I was pregnant in my early 30’s, but not surprised when I lost the baby.

I had hoped to hear the sound of a baby’s heartbeat, but instead, I heard the Universe sternly whispering, “Stop crying, you only lost something that was never going to be yours in the first place.” I was six weeks pregnant. My soon-to-be spouse and I never told anyone.

The next time I was pregnant, I told myself I would not be robbed of the experience, even if this joy were temporary. So, I embraced it. I loved the comfort of someone growing inside of me, even though it highlighted my life-long feeling of loneliness. Thankfully, the loneliness took a break from hovering over me and I was able to feel what other women felt and possibly took for granted. Every doctor’s visit, I was overjoyed to hear a heartbeat. Until, during one appointment, it was gone. I felt as though my heart stopped beating as well. I was about three months pregnant. But, again, the universe reminded me… “Stop crying.” My father-in-law passed away soon after. My spouse’s family was painfully mourning the loss of an amazing man. I went through my own loss alone.

The third time I was pregnant, the joy of carrying, coupled with knowing it would be temporary, was too much to bear. I shut down. This time, I miscarried at work. I called and spoke to the doctor on call (mine was on vacation). He said, “These things happen.” I thought, yes, I know this all too well. I was getting very good at not feeling anything. I let people know but did not want anyone to feel sorry for me. I was two and a half months pregnant. I was back to work the next day, every bit of pain buried deep inside me, filling a now vacant spot.

At this point, I told my husband I was done. I could not bear to go through this again.

We stopped trying. For the first time in my life, I was actually afraid to get pregnant. During this time, we bought a house. This was going to be my baby. My focus. My life project for now.

Some time went by and a prescription I was on was making me severely nauseous. I went to see my family doctor. He did a full blood count, gave me something over the counter assuming I was dealing with a stomach issue causing nausea but told me not to start taking it until after the blood work came back. He called me the next day to say I was pregnant. I told him he was wrong. I couldn’t be. We were very careful. He said I was. My husband was shocked. Nope, no way. We couldn’t be.

We went to the OB-GYN, a new one, for confirmation via ultrasound since there was a very good chance my body was carrying hormones sort of ‘left over’ from the last pregnancy. The doctor confirmed I was two months pregnant. They also suspected I suffered from Antiphospholipid Syndrome and I began a daily regimen of blood-thinner injections. A month later, I was still pregnant. Now came the hard part. All of the precautions, tests, doctor visits, etc. I was 36 years old so amniocentesis was recommended. Months after that, still pregnant. I let myself begin to bond and something wonderful happened. The baby bonded back. I could feel him being aware of me. The world around me moved further and further away, and I moved deeper and deeper into the world, and love, growing inside of me.

At around eight months pregnant, Sam told me his name.

It was at this point I decided I didn’t want to ever give birth. I was truly in love for the very first time in my life. I didn’t want to share him with the world. I wanted to keep him where he was, inside of me, where I could keep him all to myself. My body may have taken this literally, because at 40 weeks and after my due date, Sam showed no signs of being ready to come out. They checked the conditions of my uterus, which reflected a perfect environment for him. He had no reason to leave, aside from the fact he was overdue.

Two weeks later, still nothing. Yes, 42 weeks pregnant. I guess once it became a reality for me, I just didn’t want to let him go. But, the day finally came. Twenty-two hours of labor turned into an emergency C-section. Sam’s heart stopped beating while I was in labor. When this happened, all hell broke loose in the delivery room. Is this the inevitable moment I lose the heartbeat of my baby? My heart stopped beating as well. Life in the delivery room sounded like a distant, muffled echo. But I could hear Sam. We were now in this together. F*ck you, Universe. If I was going to lose Sam, I was going with him.

Shannon with her son, Sam - when life with your rainbow baby is hard

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannon Cayer

The emergency C-section was a disaster and I still bare the horrible scars from it. But at least I was able to have my baby. For that, I was grateful. There were complications during and after the birth, but he was mine. All mine and I had him in my arms or on my breast 24/7. He was an awful baby, I mean awful. Severe colic, projectile vomiting, couldn’t keep anything down due to a poorly developed lower esophageal sphincter. I had to nurse him every two hours, 24 hours a day, to avoid malnutrition. Add the fact he was born with a Dyssomnia (a condition where babies cannot fall asleep or stay asleep) and life was truly a nightmare. Speaking of, his Dyssomnia transitioned into Parasomnia at around two years old. Sam would sleep-walk and suffered from night terrors. This went on until he was about five years old. Still, he was mine. All mine.

Sam is my miracle baby. Not all miracles are easy. But, Sam is MY miracle. He is my heart and soul and I am forever grateful that he chose me to be his mother.

As I mentioned earlier, after I gave birth to Sam, I suffered three more miscarriages before giving birth to his brother Massimo – a total of six miscarriages in all. The details are heartbreaking, but every one of them was a teaching moment. And, I’m still learning.

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