Amanda is the third in our series of Rainbow Baby Maternity Photography Sessions. We’ll be sharing her heartbreaking history with infant loss and how she became a rainbow mommy. If you missed the first post with all of the Rainbow Mommies, you can catch it here.
My precious little miracle is due to be born on May 1st! I’ve always had a girls name picked out, inspired by my grandpa and grandma, but was stumped when we found out we were expecting a handsome little boy! After a lot of thought we decided on Rowan! The middle name is proving to be the real challenge and we are currently going between Wells and Jackson!
My journey to become a mommy started about 4 years ago. I never could have imagined what the next 4 years of my life would bring when we decided to start trying for a family. It was fun and exciting at first, but after about 6 or 7 months I started to worry. Why wasn’t it happening? But then my doctor said it takes the average women 12 months to conceive, so we tried to put our worries aside and enjoy the ride. But month after month came and went. I ended up changing doctors and starting fresh. Immediately my doctor saw that something was wrong and I underwent a minor surgery and was sent to a fertility specialist.
The next 2 years or so were spent going back and forth to the RE’s office and lots and lots of fertility drugs. Between many cancelled cycles, we underwent 7 IUI’s (Intrauterine insemination) and 1 failed round of IVF. In October of 2015 we decided to take a break and step away for a bit. We were emotionally and financially drained. During all that time I never saw a second pink line. We were devastated. In May of 2016 we decided to start over with a different fertility clinic for one final try. This was it, we had 1 chance and we were going to do whatever it took to help our chances.
In July of 2016, we started our 2nd IVF cycle and we transferred 2 beautiful 3 day embryos. I felt good about it, but I was scared to be too excited. I was so used to to disappointment at that point. I had actually seen my very first pink line on a pregnancy test the month before after a cancelled cycle, but it ended up being a very early miscarriage. I was crushed of course, but it gave me my first glimmer of hope. So 1 week after our embryo transfer I took an early pregnancy test ( the one thing they tell you NOT to do but I couldn’t wait any longer) and was shocked to see a light pink line. You didn’t even have to squint to see it! I couldn’t contain myself and made my husband come look to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. It was there, that beautiful pink line!
As I cried tears of joy I realized that I had to wait one more week before I could go take my blood test. It was the longest week of my life, but I continued to test every morning, and watched as that pink line grew darker and darker each day. This was it and I couldn’t believe it! My HCG blood test came back with a high number and I was elated! I secretly hoped that both embryos had implanted, but never in a million years did I actually think that would be the case. At my 6 week 5 day ultrasound all of my dreams came true. 2 beautiful little heartbeats were detected and everything looked great! I was going to be a mom!!!
The next few weeks were like a dream as I carried my 2 biggest secrets. I felt great and couldn’t be happier! When I went in for my 9 week follow-up ultrasound the doctor showed baby “A” and it was magical. He kind of looked like a tiny gummy bear. But then he moved the wand over to where baby “B” should be and my world was shattered. There was no heartbeat and the tiny lifeless gummy bear was smaller than baby A. Sometime between 7 and 9 weeks I had lost my baby, and I didn’t even know it. I didn’t feel any pain, I didn’t bleed, nothing. How could I not know that my baby died inside of me? I laid on the table and cried. The doctor told me there was nothing I could have done, and it was probably chromosomal. But nothing he or anyone said was going to bring my baby back and take the pain away. I felt ashamed because I was still carrying one beautiful baby, but I couldn’t make myself be happy. I felt lost and broken, but most of all scared. I wouldn’t experience a typical miscarriage. The doctor warned me that I may have some bleeding, but more than likely my body would absorb the sack and most of my lifeless baby. Anything left would come out when I delivered baby “A.” I couldn’t actually enjoy my pregnancy until I was about 20 weeks or so. I worried every moment of EVERY DAY that I might lose my baby. It was hard to be happy knowing that I lost his brother or sister, but eventually I allowed myself to feel happiness. I knew that my little baby was up in heaven with my grandmother, and that brought me comfort. I’m carrying my rainbow baby, and I couldn’t be happier!
I wanted to be a part of something that helped raise awareness to a sensitive subject that affects so many women and families. So many suffer in silence, and I hope that by talking about it, more women will see that they are not alone. I think that miscarriage, infertility, and anything that has to do with pregnancy that doesn’t end with a happy ending is kind of Taboo in today’s society. It’s almost as if you’re not supposed to talk about it, and it’s a dirty little secret that you have to carry with you. In the last year or so I’ve seen more and more people opening up about their experiences, and I hope it continues. I’ve been very open and honest about my loss, but I see the uneasiness in people when I talk about it, and I hope that more awareness will help people understand it better.
Losing my sweet little baby is the hardest thing that I have ever experienced. It changed me, but it made me stronger, and more grateful for this sweet little baby inside of me. The pain never goes away though. I think about that tiny beating heart everyday. I think about the first ultrasound and the joy I felt when I found out I was carrying twins. I lost my sweet grandmother in February of 2016 and she always said that she would do anything she could to help me have a baby. And when I saw those 2 babies on the ultrasound, I knew that she had a hand in it. I’m comforted knowing that she’s watching over my beautiful baby in heaven, and I thank her everyday. Most people don’t know what to say or do when I tell them I lost one of my babies. Some say the worst thing, “at least you still have 1”, but most just say I’m sorry or try to tell me a story about a cousins best friend who lost her baby. But mostly I see the same uneasy look on face after face.
I’ve had a few friends that have lost babies, and I’ll be completely honest when I say that I had no idea what they were going through before I experienced my own loss. I am guilty of saying the same things that would upset me with my loss. There is really nothing anyone can say that will make it better and take the pain a way. For me, I found it to be most comforting when family and friends just offered a shoulder to cry on, and an ear to listen. I didn’t want advice, I didn’t want to hear I’m sorry over and over again, I just needed someone to be there. Just letting me know you’re there when, and if, I wanted to talk about it was everything to me.
It’s ok to be sad, and it’s ok to talk about it. All those emotions you felt will always be there. But along the way, I hope you find peace in knowing you’ll meet your little love again one day. Don’t feel ashamed, don’t feel like you have to hide your pain. Be proud that you were able to be a mommy to that beautiful baby. It doesn’t matter how long you carried, losing a baby is devastating and life changing. But don’t let it break you, cherish the time you had, and allow it to make you stronger and help others that are struggling.
I personally want to thank Amanda and her willingness to open her heart and share it so freely with me, and now every single one of you. Our hope in sharing her story is to raise awareness about infant loss, miscarriage and still birth. Throughout this series you will read other heartbreaking stories as this, but the focus is on the strength these women have, their beauty and hopefulness for a bright future with their rainbow babies. I pray that each of these pregnancies results in happy and healthy babies!
I would love nothing more than for this concept to catch on in other cities and states with photographers to bless rainbow mommas! Not only does it create a sense of community, but it gives back with you sharing your talents with your fellow community members. So, if you take me up on my challenge, please hashtag #RainbowBabyMaternityEvent so I can follow your adventures, too!
If you’re looking for a Louisville KY Rainbow Baby Maternity Photographer, please get in touch via the contact form or send an email to Hello@jlritt.com. You can also book online here.
More about the photographer:
Jennifer Rittenberry Photography has been photographing clients throughout the greater Louisville area since 2010. She is a published artist in Beauty & Lifestyle Mommy Magazine and Newborn Photographer Magazine as well as named 2016 Parent’s Choice Award winner for her portraiture. In 2013, she focused her client base to Newborn and Maternity as she created a niche for herself after mentoring with three of the nation’s leading photographers in these industries. She has spent countless hours on continuing her education and sharpening her skills each year with the sole purpose of creating beautiful artwork for her clients to share with their families and preserve as precious heirlooms for generations to come. Located in Central Kentucky, her residential studio is in the heart of Mount Washington; only minutes outside of Louisville. Jennifer Rittenberry Photography session fees can be found on the website but detailed pricing and availability may be requested by email using the contact form.
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Located at 268 Deer Park Way, Mount Washington, KY 40047. Get in touch at (502) 523-2180!