Weathering the storm: My journey through multiple miscarriages to our Rainbow

Twins Rocco (top) and Enzo Picariello (Bottom), meet their infant brother, Luciano, for the first time Aug. 12, 2016 at their parents’ last duty station in Montgomery, Alabama. They are the children of Maj. Joseph Picariello, National Security Space Institute assistant course director, and Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs non-commissioned officer in-charge. (U.S. Photo illustration by Staff Sgt Erica Picariello)

Twins Rocco (top) and Enzo Picariello (Bottom), meet their infant brother, Luciano, for the first time Aug. 12, 2016 at their parents’ last duty station in Montgomery, Alabama. They are the children of Maj. Joseph Picariello, National Security Space Institute assistant course director, and Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs non-commissioned officer in-charge. (U.S. Photo illustration by Staff Sgt Erica Picariello)

Maj. Joseph Picariello, National Security Space Institute assistant course director, comforts his wife, Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs non-commissioned officer in-charge, during labor with their third son, Luciano, in an undated photo. The Picariellos endured three miscarriages over the span of five years before bringing home their rainbow baby. A “rainbow baby” is a term commonly used to describe a baby born after loss. (Courtesy photo)

Maj. Joseph Picariello, National Security Space Institute assistant course director, comforts his wife, Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs non-commissioned officer in-charge, during labor with their third son, Luciano, in an undated photo. The Picariellos endured three miscarriages over the span of five years before bringing home their rainbow baby. A “rainbow baby” is a term commonly used to describe a baby born after loss. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- “I don’t see a heartbeat,” said the polite, Hispanic technician with trepidation. “Let me go find the doctor,” and she scurried away.

That scene from a year ago played in my mind as I sat on a sterile table, staring at pictures of fetal development on the walls inside of a civilian obstetrician’s office in Alabama. A year before, I had went in for an initial ultrasound in California to see the little life growing inside me and heard those words.

“This can’t be happening again,” I thought to myself, optimistically. “Who has two miscarriages in a row?”

Enter the obstetrician, Jennifer Logan, an upbeat southern woman with a dark hair and a bright smile.

“Sweetheart, I do not see a heartbeat. I’m so sorry. We will track your numbers until zero and then we’ll have you try again.”

Me. I do.

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and according to an article by the University of California Los Angeles, approximately 12-15 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage; the same article estimated that at least 30-60 percent of all conceptions will end within the first 12 weeks of gestation.

My first pregnancy had been spontaneous triplets, but one stopped growing around six weeks, eight days. I managed to carry the remaining twins and successfully delivered healthy boys three years before this doomed pregnancy, so the news floored me. Since I was so sure that there was no way this “bad luck” could strike me three times, I’d already told close family and friends. Well-meaning individuals quietly told me that maybe I should have waited to announce, you know, “considering my history.” The comments made me feel ashamed and embarrassed. Why wouldn’t my family want to share in the joy of this pregnancy?

This is a common occurrence among multiple loss and infertility moms that I know. It seems like society doesn’t want you to talk about it –as if the subject is taboo. An article from the American Pregnancy Organization states that, “When a miscarriage occurs, society’s attitude is to not talk about it, in fear that it’s too upsetting. However, not talking about it only makes it harder to move on. A miscarriage leaves a woman in a state of physical and emotional readiness for a baby that will never be.”

What helped my resiliency; kept me mentally moving forward during my miscarriages and to remain hopeful that I would be able to carry another child to term was the emotional support from my husband and close friends. Once I collected myself and mustered the courage to explain to my family what was happening in my body and brain, I was surprised at the number of people who I knew that had also experienced miscarriages or infant loss. Also, in retrospect, seeking counsel from a mental health professional in the local area was also very critical to my well-being. That person helped create a safe-space for me to grieve and allowed me to believe that the babies that I carried existed, they were mine and they mattered.

Two years after my last miscarriage, Doctor Logan and I delivered my third (and last!) boy. My seven pound, six ounce ball of fire with twinkling eyes has my grandfather’s smile. Even though we are now a family of five, I often think of how we are really a family eight – a guardian angel for each boy. I honored them by giving my rainbow the middle name “Storm.”

In the circle of miscarriage and infant loss moms, there is a poem that explains that a baby after loss is called a “rainbow baby.” The poem, penned by an anonymous author, states, “A rainbow baby is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravage of the storm. When a rainbow appears it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and the clouds.”