Rainbow Birth Story by Deanna Mousaw

In April I gave birth to my second daughter, Ember Rose, after losing her sister, Wren Lisette, to SIDS, followed by a miscarriage. Even though there were no issues with my first pregnancy and Wren was a thriving infant, my anxiety during this third pregnancy was hard to conquer. I knew what loss felt like this time. I knew what was at stake. I knew bad things happen to good people. I felt like now tragedy knew where I lived, and it would come knocking again.

I took lots of deep breaths. I repeated mantras like “different pregnancy, different baby, different outcome,” and “whatever will be, will be.” Each pregnancy milestone and doctor’s appointment was like a little victory against my anxiety, but I still was cautious in my hope. When I could feel Ember move and I began counting kicks it helped because I had something quantitative to focus on, and she was such a lively baby in the womb.

I had a scheduled c-section this time, rather than do a VBAC. It helped because the actual birth process was different, no labor, no Pitocin, no fruitless pushing. I had a date I could count down to until I could hold my rainbow in my arms.

Arriving at the hospital for the surgery was a surreal feeling. It was hard to believe that after a year of such pain, loss, and (slowly) joy, I was a few hours away from meeting Wren’s sister. But something could still go wrong; I tried to stay calm and take each step as it came. I liked my nurse a lot, and being a nurse myself I can be a judgmental patient! She made me feel comfortable, even though I was familiar with the admission procedures of getting my IV started, having labs drawn, answering lots of questions and meeting the team. It still didn’t feel real. Ember was in my belly, happily swimming around with no idea what was about to happen. I didn’t feel real fear until I walked into the operating room. True, I’d been through this, but that was after a 16-hour day of labor. I didn’t exactly have my wits about me at that time. This time I was aware of everything, and I’d seen a c-section done in nursing school, so I tried hard not to remember all the details. It was so cold in the OR; that was the main thing I noticed. I had to sit very still on the edge of the table to get my spinal anesthesia administered, then I could feel my legs going numb as I laid down. Although I trusted the staff and my doctor, and my mom was in the room, I started to cry. Something could still go wrong.

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They began the surgery, and it seemed like before I knew it I heard Ember’s voice for the first time, and my fear and anxiety started to melt away. When they brought her over to me she held my finger so tight, it was like a big hug from her.

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I wasn’t sure how I would react to her initially, if I’d be afraid to open up as quickly as I had to her sister. I was able to do skin to skin with her in the operating room, and I’ve hardly put her down since.

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I have more patience with colic and the other challenges of infancy this time around. I have less anxiety than I thought I would, but as she approaches 6 months old (the age Wren was when she died) I think my anxiety will grow. All I can do is take things moment by moment, knowing that in this moment Ember is ok, and trust my instincts as a mother, and know that this time the odds are in my favor.

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