A Rainbow at the End of a Journey
By Olga Bernhardt
PICTURED ABOVE: LUKE & OLGA BERNHARDT, TOGETHER WITH THEIR CHILDREN ELIZABETH & LEX.
At 32 years old I found myself with an amazing husband, a step-daughter I adored, and embarking on the journey of expanding our family. IVF was a necessity and I got pregnant on the first try, but that excitement was short lived as the little heart never started beating. I got pregnant again and the pregnancy progressed beautifully, we were expecting a little boy. We had the perfect name picked out and joyfully went to a fancy dinner to celebrate being halfway to meeting our miracle!
Except two days later everything changed. They called it pPROM (pre-term premature rupture of membranes) and Christopher Kyle Bernhardt was born December 20, 2015. A perfectly healthy boy who at 20 weeks was just too small to survive outside the womb. An angel of a nurse, and my rock of a husband got me through a labor and delivery that nightmares are made of. We held our son and recognized our features, 10 perfect fingers and toes, a button nose, the most peaceful expression. We walked out of the hospital without our son and heavy with grief. The weeks that followed were full of sadness, anger and confusion, we felt so isolated, we missed Christopher so much. Telling Elizabeth that the little brother she was so excited to meet was born and died was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do. The doctors called our loss a “fluke” and we were encouraged to try again. So we did.
We approached the next pregnancy with hesitation, the heartbeat, the ultrasounds all on track – another boy. Except pregnancies didn’t all have happy endings. We were scared to pick a name and referred to the baby as Anakin (after a joke with RADfertility clinician, Rhonda Wright, that the baby looked like Darth Vader). We didn’t even tell Elizabeth another baby was coming. The worst came true and just before 17 weeks we were losing him too. With this loss came an official diagnosis – Cervical Insufficiency. Little Anakin Skywalker Bernhardt was born July 24, 2016. An even tinier perfectly healthy little boy. An even greater grief.
“It is only because of RADfertility that we ended up with our 3 miracle boys, sadly only 1 of them got to come home with us.”
Our boys changed our life in remarkable ways. Christopher was the catalyst for bringing us to our current church. He gave us the gift of a renewed faith and an amazing church family. Anakin gave us a diagnosis and through him we learned about a treatment. Dr. Arthur Haney, an amazing surgeon in Chicago placed my Transabdominal Cerclage (TAC) in November of 2017 enabling me to carry future pregnancies to term. He (along with our incredible medical team here in Delaware) assured us that we would not lose another child.
And they were right. In January of 2018 after a mostly uneventful pregnancy we finally experienced the incredible joy of hearing our rainbow, our little Lex, crying. A sound we will never take for granted. Our third boy, but the first one who got to come home from the hospital. We walk each year in the Delaware Rock & Walk for Babies event to honor the Bernhardt Boys we carry in our hearts. It is an incredibly special experience to walk beside others who share our unique appreciation for life and loss, who understand what it’s like to have each family portrait have very real missing pieces.
Bonnie Raley Photography
This sweet rainbow boy was the result of our 5th embryo transfer, so needless to say we got to know the RADfertility staff pretty well during that time frame. There were so many friendly faces and encouraging words (leading up to and) at his transfer in May of 2017, and as we left the office as 3rd time RAD Grads (but finally with the game changing TAC in place) I remembered tearing up because this group of amazing clinicians, doctors, and all of the office staff were really rooting for us. I even suggested to my husband that we should swing by RADfertility the morning of my scheduled c-section because they were such a big and important part of our journey I felt like they needed to be there for the delivery (and I was only half kidding). Thank you RADfertility!
And to everyone out there who is still on the journey to meeting their miracle – I know the wait can be debilitating. To any other family who has experienced loss, whether before or after a heartbeat is on that ultrasound screen – I know that a loss after fertility treatment feels like a double whammy. Remember that you are resilient, strong, and your story may be long and hard but it is oh so meaningful. I somehow landed on the other side of this and I can tell you that you will have an appreciation for parenting that is beyond anything you ever imagined – until you get there too, know that The Bernhardts are praying and rooting for each and every one of you from afar. You’ve got this!
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"I feel so lucky to have found RADfertility. I tried two other clinics before I expanded my search and found RADfertility. I drive an hour each way to go to them but I don’t regret a thing. They are so caring and so professional. Every time I message them they respond quickly. Every time I see them they have a friendly smile and warm welcome. They explain everything so well and I never feel lost in the process as I did elsewhere. They also took the time to figure out what was wrong. Other clinics threw up their hands, said 'I don’t know' and pushed me to try IVF."
"Dr. Feinberg and the entire staff at RADfertility are absolutely amazing. The receptionists, coordinators, nurses, and lab staff are compassionate, caring, and straight forward. I’ve had a 12-year infertility journey and I’ve tried other clinics but RADfertility was the only one I felt at ease with. They answered any questions that I had and were there any time I needed them. My coordinator, Amy, was the absolute best and always had my back. Dr. Feinberg’s dedication to his patients is incredible. You are not just a number there, you are a person with individualized needs and care."
"My journey with RADfertility and Dr. McGuirk started when my husband and I were trying to conceive and were having difficulty. We went to RADfertility, where we met Dr. McGuirk. I always say she changed my life and 'fixed' me. Dr. McGuirk is always learning more about endometriosis and how to help her patients. She’s brilliant and truly cares for you! I’m eternally grateful to her and everyone at RADfertility for their unwavering support, love, and care."
"Every step of our journey was tailored to us. We were treated so respectfully. Every detail was clearly explained and we felt so comfortable. Rhonda Wright was a Godsend and inspiring. I highly recommend this place! I cried when my weekly appointments were done and I 'graduated.'"
"The staff and doctors are amazing. It will feel like home every time you walk in the door. They gifted us with our miracle baby and we couldn’t be happier. I will always recommend RADfertility above all others!"
"RADfertility's staff has heart and provided me with exceptional health care. I knew I was in good hands and felt like we were in this together. The doctors and nursing staff always answered all of my questions and provided thorough information about all of my options. I am so fortunate and appreciative of the care that I received at RADfertility. They go above and beyond."
"I cannot begin to explain how wonderful RADfertility is. We were frustrated with trying to start a family and it not working for us. The entire team of doctors and nurses made us feel comfortable and hopeful that we would be parents. We experienced so many ups and downs but we never felt like we were on our IVF journey alone, we had our RADfertility team every step of the way. If you're looking for a supportive team on the IVF journey, look no further. RADfertility is the absolute best."
"Dr. Schillings always kept us informed and never gave up on us. She always explained our options and risks with each procedure. She called us personally when there were any issues or sensitive subjects to cover. Dr. Schillings was the first doctor that had answers for us and wanted to help us have our miracle baby!"
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