Gaining Hope one Rainbow baby at a time

Heather and Chris Carter were married in 2001. Through the course of their marriage, they have had 4 miscarriages, 4 live births, and lost one child to CHD. Each of their children is a rainbow baby which gave them hope to continue with their goal of having a large family.

They got married in their late 20s and both wanted to start a family right away. Their first 2 pregnancies ended in miscarriage and Heather had a hard time.  She said, “Those first two losses threw me for a loop, and I was kind of lost there for a while. We both wanted to have a big family…so the thought that this might not happen for us was devastating.”

Benjamin was their first rainbow baby, as her first pregnancy after loss, she experienced some anxiety over knowing if he could be okay or not especially when she found out he was breech and she had to choose between trying to turn him or having a c-section. She opted for the c-section to keep him safe.

Their second son William was a sunshine baby or a baby born after a rainbow with no losses in between. However, due to a congenital heart defect known as Hypoplastic left heart syndrome and total anomalous pulmonary venous return, he did not survive and passed away at 4 days old. These heart defects affected the way the left side sent and received blood through the rest of the body. According to the CDC article Congenital Heart defects, “about 1 out of every 3,841 babies born in the United States each year is born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.” There are several treatments and surgery options to help those who are born with this survive. Unfortunately, William passed away before he was stabilized enough to be able to perform these interventions.

Ryan was their next rainbow baby. He was born after the loss of William and another early miscarriage. Because of all the miscarriages, Heather and Chris chose to go through genetic testing to see if any underlying medical problems made the miscarriages a higher risk for them. They soon learned that Chris had Balanced Chromosome translocation.  From that moment forward they were given a 25% chance of miscarriage with every pregnancy.

Ryan’s pregnancy was mostly uneventful. She was monitored by a high-risk doctor due to being exposed to 5th’s disease and the other losses. The hard part came when he was born. “When he was born, he had an issue with them getting his airway clear… Then he had problems with jaundice,” she said.

Maren was their final rainbow and was born after another early loss. Her pregnancy was rough from the beginning and filled with lots of fear and hope. Heather’s first ultrasound with Maren came back abnormal so they went for more testing and found out that there was too much fluid in Maren’s stomach. Although Heather was monitored closely, combined with the increase of amniotic fluid, Maren’s pregnancy was filled with the constant wonder and anxiety of whether she would be okay or not. At 29 weeks, Heather went into preterm labor. While they were able to stop it, Maren went into distress a couple of days later and was delivered via emergency c-section.

The genetic disorder that was linked to their losses is known as balanced chromosomal translocation.  According to the article Balanced Translocation and Recurrent  miscarriage in the Very Well Family online magazine, this disorder occurs “when part of a chromosome is broken off and reattached in another location.” In this case, the chromosomes switches places which can cause issues and defects making the baby unsustainable with life.

There are many different causes of miscarriage regardless of the gestation length, just like there are many different causes of infertility. None of which are the fault of the person or family suffering from loss or infertility or both.

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