20th June 2018
My caregiver instinct runs deep and I have always wanted to be a mom. My husband grew up in a home daycare and even in college, we talked about one day having a family. Years later, in our early 30s, we finally felt as ready as you can be. Very quickly, let’s have a baby became plotting fertility and with a little hormone help, I got pregnant seven months later. I took a pregnancy test so early that the double line was faint and I told Kirk, cautiously hopeful: “I think I’m pregnant.” We spent the next days together, basking in our excitement and love for the mass of dividing cells growing in my belly. A week later, we sent my parents a little note saying “I’m so excited to meet you in May 2011! Love, Bear”.
I had been a neonatal ICU nurse for six years when I first became a mom. I had seen a bazillion ways things go wrong with pregnancy, birth, and babies. I had seen babies fight hard against disease and circumstance, and had sent many families home to happily start their new lives. I had also seen babies and families struggle and had witnessed the primal scream of a grieving mother.
Even knowing too much about everything that could go wrong, I managed to stay pretty calm and hopeful during my pregnancy with Bear. Every milestone we checked off felt like a little victory. Despite the usual aches, overall I felt really good until Bear died unexpectedly at 39 weeks. Suddenly I was that grieving mother screaming in pain through labor and birth of my beloved baby, who was perfect in every way, except his heart stopped beating for unknown reasons. As Kirk and I cuddled our beautiful boy, we told him how much we loved him and how we wanted to give him siblings. The weight of my mama guilt felt suffocating (it still does sometimes).
As a nurse and a mom, my entire life revolved around keeping babies alive and I had failed. I went to a counselor who specialized in pregnancy and infant loss. I did acupuncture, hoping to get pregnant again asap. Kirk and I focused on making decisions that were best for our little family at any given time. I read many books about infant loss and grief. And I connected with an amazing group of women online who shared their stories of loss, but mostly of love. I went back to work with supportive coworkers who let me talk about Bear, share his photos and included him seamlessly into my story. Over the next years, I became a resource and advocate for families whose babies were dying in the NICU. Helping other families feel good about the limited time they had with their babies also helped me grieve.
I got pregnant again, and with the help of a wonderful midwife, perinatology consults, my counselor, and my tribe, we trudged onward. We had monthly growth ultrasounds and starting at 32 weeks, did biweekly testing to check baby’s status. At 38.5 weeks, it was time to induce. My labor team included a midwife who was herself a grieving mother, and the nurse who helped me through Bear’s birth, who came in this time on her day off for us. I sobbed with love and relief when Bode Bear Trangsrud was born alive and healthy, 17 months after his brother.
A few years later, in the middle of moving across the country, the need to expand our family once again conquered fear. Despite the stress, growing a baby is the coolest thing in the world. With hope, intense medical testing, and lots of self advocacy, Koda Bear Trangsrud was born healthy.
My living boys are now one and five—rambunctious, loud, snuggly, and sweet. We talk openly about their older brother in heaven and how much we love all three of our boys. Motherhood is exhausting, indescribably wonderful, often frustrating and the stuff of dreams. I will always wish that my house was one boy crazier.
To everyone yearning to be a mom—keep trudging, find your tribe, and be kind to yourself.
To understand more about your reproductive health, Adia offers whole body fertility check through easy finger-prick blood tests and short questionnaires. Find out more about our Fertility Tests here.